Scarborough Fair

Scarborough Chess Congress, 20-22 October 2017
reported by our special correspondent, Dim Parcio

6 November 2017

Outside Wales there can be few chess congresses as good as Scarborough.   The town is one of the finest jewels in Yorkshire’s crown.  As a Welshman I have to admit that it is nearly as attractive as Llandudno and maybe just a shade better than Rhyl.

The venue too is pretty good by English standards.  (We have better in Wales.)  The Spa Centre stands on the seafront in a prime position to be swept away in the storms and sea surges that will come with climate change.  But while it is still here it is a wonderful building to play chess in.  The Ocean Room is spacious enough to take all 340 or so competitors and still have a bit of space to spare.  No wonder it is popular.  It even pulls in some of us from the Land of Song and Snowdonia.

Scarborough Spa Centre

Limewood had 6 reps there this year, spaced out over 3 different tournaments.  Up in the rarified atmosphere of the Open, where players take their chess deadly seriously, was Paul Johnson.  Two hierarchical pegs down in the Intermediate was Paul May.  And another 2 pegs down in the Foundation was the rest of the Limewood squad.

Scarborough Ocean Room

So how did they all fare in this fair venue?

At first sight, not so well.  By the end of the congress only Paul May, with 3 points, was able to go home with as much as half marks.  Indeed, by the end of Round 3 the four in the Foundation had amassed a grand total of 3 points between then – and one of those points was from two of them having to play each other.  (See footnote.)
Scarborough John Light
But a closer look at the results shows a slightly different picture.  Being at the lower end of the gradings, most of the group in the Foundation had to play “uphill” – that is, against distinctly higher-graded opponents.  For example, John Light (pictured) faced an average grade difference of 21 points – the lowest grade that he played against was 109 compared with his own 90.  Yet he beat a 111-grader in round 1 and followed that up by a draw with a 109-er in round 3.  Relative to grade that was clearly the best Limewood performance of the weekend even though it only gave him 1½ to take away.

Curiously there were few familiar faces at the congress from other Leeds clubs.  One of them was Ken Marsden who plays for Pudsey.  Ken is easy to spot at chess congresses as he is invariably the best-dressed man there (admittedly not difficult) with his smart tie, natty suit and well-polished shoes.   But it does prompt a serious question:

Why is Ken Marsden like a Christmas tree?

Answer:  Because he is always spruce.

Footnote:  The epic battle between clubmates can be played through here.  It is annotated by both of the players with helpful ringside comments from my pal Lumpy Kustud.

And now I must be off back to Wales.  I’m getting homesick after so long away.

Iechyd da!
Dim Parcio