Two club members, Steve Larkin and Damian Rudge, were amongst the record-breaking 356 players who took part in this event. Both played in the Foundation event for players graded 120 and under. There were 82 entries in this section, with Steve ranked c35th and Damian c76th.
In round 1 on the Friday night, Steve had a rapid win (45 minutes) over Les Hall (71) of Crewe. Les played very passively, allowing Steve a massive kingside attack which proved decisive. Damian was active for much longer, but still played too passively against Anthony Robinson (107) from Branstone(?) and found himself trapped in a very cramped position before losing.
In round 2 on the Saturday morning, Steve had a cracking match with Chris Budd (118) from West Bridgeford. We castled on opposite sides and both attacked. The game was equal throughout and came down to his bishop and 3 pawns to my knight and 3 pawns. I had 2 connected passed pawns in the centre and he had a passed pawn on one flank and threats on the other! It was all very exciting and we agreed a draw on move 63! Damian achieved a drawish position against Peter Willoughby (100) from Ecclesall (?), but then blundered his queen.
In round 3 on Saturday afternoon, Steve was pressuring Marvin Carbin (113) from Priorslea from the start, so much so that in the end Marvin had only 3 minutes to the time control while Steve had 40. Along the way Steve picked up 3 pawns and Marvin resigned when it became clear that this advantage would be decisive. Damian had a fine win over Frank Tanner (91) from Crusaders. When Frank castled kingside, Damian castled queenside and pushed his pawns to devastating effect. No blunders this time!
In round 4 on Sunday morning, I offered a draw to Andrew de Santos (112) from Preston on move 19 and he accepted. We both had queen, 2 rooks and 7 pawns, but the position was dead level, I had no ideas, and a seaside walk seemed a better option than another 2 hours or more of chess! Damian set a much better example against Boris Garanins (98) from Preston. Boris, with white, played very aggressively and by move 25 had a 2 pawn advantage, at which point Damian pinned white’s 2 rooks with a bishop. Damian continued to defend until white miscalculated the exchange on move 35, losing knight and bishop for rook. Shortly after, white forced the exchange of queens, leading to a drawn position after 49 moves.
In round 5 on the Sunday afternoon, Steve was up against Mark Radley (120) from Grimsby. The game was level till I miscalculated a complex exchange and emerged a rook down, whereafter my opponent was clinical. So 3/5 for me. Damian was up against Stan Johnson (111) of South Shields. Damian, with white, pushed his queenside pawns, restricting Stan’s major pieces and gaining rook for bishop on move 19. Alas he too subsequently blundered a rook and, like my opponent, Stan was clinical. 1.5/5 for Damian.
We both enjoyed the congress very much. Despite the large numbers, the event ran like clockwork and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.