British Championships at Hull 2018

reviewed by Lumpy Kustud

5 August 2018Hull City Hall main venuePhoto by Roger Noble for BCC, nicked unashamedly from the BCC website

This year’s British Chess Championships were held in Hull.

What is it about the Leeds League clubs and the British Championships when the latter comes home to Yorkshire?

Limewood fielded four entrants flying under the Limewood flag plus two others (of “dual nationality” so to speak) who played regularly for Limewood last season.  That was more than the rest of the Leeds League clubs put together.

Scouring the entry lists for players from the other 8 Leeds League clubs shows 1 from Alwoodley, 1 from Pudsey and 1 from Leeds.  Correct me if I am wrong but that seems to be a grand total of 3 players.

Limewood had more than that in the Weekender events alone.

So how did our merry little band fare against the cream of British chess?

Paul Johnson was in the tough Major Open, a gruelling marathon of 9 rounds.  His starting rank was 50th out of 77 players but he finished joint 41st, above statistical expectation.  His 4 points came from 3 wins and 2 draws.

In the top Weekender tournament, the Atkins (Open) event, Tom Leah improved his relative standing, from a starting rank of 22nd out of 40 to end joint 18th with 2½ points.

In the Weekender Under 150 competition, Paul May (who he? – never ‘eard of ‘im, officer) took joint 6th place out of 53 entrants, collecting 3½ points – 3 wins and a draw – from the 5 rounds.

In the Weekender Under 120 event, Philip May and John Light both ended with 3 points from 5, with John (grade 85) claiming the scalps of players graded 118, 101, 109 in his last 3 games.  Having started well down the rankings, our valiant duo both finished as joint 11th out of 53.

Now how should I describe the Weekday Under 100 event?

The ‘U100’, banished off to an upstairs room, was more like a combination of kindergarten and old people’s home.  Half the players looked as if they would be taken home in a pushchair.  The other half were more likely to be taken away in an ambulance.

Rumour has it that next year’s U100 will be sponsored jointly by Mothercare and the Co-op Funeral Services.

Toddlers are certainly learning to play chess earlier these days.  One young player told me she had learned to set out the chess board when she was three.  Nearby, a young competitor (male) kept a cuddly toy on the table throughout his game.  Almost all juvenile players spent more time checking how their age-peers were doing than working out their next move.

ECF is preparing for the trend to continue.  It is said to be already in discussion with Cow & Gate for the supply of complimentary baby milk so that the youngest players can take a bottle feed after every 20 moves.

A spokesperson for the ECF did not deny the rumours.  She stated that “It is our declared policy to do everything possible to encourage young people to take up chess.  When better to start than while the infant is in the pram or playpen”.

Asked about the interests of the older players, she said policy is under consideration regarding provision of mid-game blood pressure tests and the offer of life assurance specifically for geriatric participants, adding,  “We have a duty of care towards the old dears”.

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