The Bristol tournament scene continues to go from strength to strength with a whopping 117 entrants to the Spring Congress – including a GM, two IM’s and a host of other masters in a very competitive Open field.
The British weather was compliant also – not taunting dedicated chess fans with too much sun streaming through the windows.
I entered the Open but I also had clubmates from Horfield in every section to cheer on, and a good excuse to loiter around the top boards and try to ‘improve by osmosis’.
The Open was more than twice the size of some previous tournaments which meant that drawn games were likely to cost you at the top. After 3 rounds nobody had a perfect score – though plenty on 2.5.
Before the final round there were three on 3.5 and GM Arkell lurking on 3. The Merry-Arkell match-up (seed 1 vs. 2) was the final round everyone wanted to see – this time Merry sealing the deal – he couldn’t take the prize outright though as Mike Waddington beat Graham Moore to also finish on 4.5.
Another dream final match-up was for the title of Bristol League champion – between league players only. Patryk Kryzyzanowski was leading on 3, whilst a host of others (including myself) were on 2.5. Steve Dilleigh got the honour of trying to leapfrog Patryk – and was doing well in a rook ending, up a pawn and with a slightly easier king position – could Steve emulate Carlsen and squeeze it to steal the title? After some calculated risks to keep his rook active, Patryk did enough to hold it and is now Bristol champion!
Over the last year the juniors have been threatening a takeover, this time the prize was shared between one of them (Yuyang Wang) and 3 ‘non-juniors’ (Bob Radford, winner on tiebreak; Brendan O’Gorman; and Chris Strong) with 4/5 each.
Bob won a crucial game in round 3 vs. Max Walker, where he showed tremendous resolve to come back a piece down – making use of a few tempi and some useful central pawns and eventually forcing a rook to drop – winning this game gave him the best progressive scores overall and the title of major champion!
More good news for my own club (Horfield) with Mike Jennings sharing first place along with three others: Daoyi Wang, William Taplin and John Harris.
It was a fantastic weekend for Bristol chess – the organisers have done a great job raising interest and ensuring everything runs smoothly; more players, more newcomers, more non-Bristolians and more prizes.
We’ll be back soon with analysis of a few games from the Open section.
Look out for the Steve Boniface memorial on the 24-26 August for more high quality chess bouts!
Mike Harris is co-editor of Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess in Bristol