Two Tynedale club members took part in this event at Grange over Sands on June 12-14. Both entered the Minor 2 section for players graded 110 and below. There were 33 entries in this section, with Steve Larkin being ranked 8th and Stephen Rowley (who had been given an estimated grade of 95 which was clearly much too high) ranked 16th. Both took half-point byes on the Friday night.
On Saturday morning, Steve L had a fairly straightforward win over Jo Woollard (81) of Sheffield Nomads, though it took him 2 hours and 35 minutes to finish the job.Stephen played Robert Smialek (80) of Aigburgh and was still going strong after 2 and a half hours, with material even and Stephen enjoying a slight spatial advantage. The outcome, a loss for Stephen, was only decided in a time scramble in the last few minutes.
On Saturday afternoon, Steve L had a long game (c3 hours and 20) with Stuart Wood (97) of Kynock. Steve developed a strong attack and was pressing for two-thirds of the game but Stuart, though he dropped a couple of pawns, defended well and took full advantage of weaknesses in Steve’s defensive set-up. In the last 20 minutes, Steve made a series of errors, culminating in the loss of a knight. When Stuart offered a draw, in the belief that that reflected the overall run of play, Steve accepted gratefully, for by then the game was clearly lost. Stephen found himself up against Bill Burgess (107) of Austins, a really tough assignment for him. Blundering his queen early on ensured another loss.
On Sunday morning, Steve L faced Nick Holmes (92) of Teleport Shrewsbury. At one point Nick had 3 pieces en prise simultaneously and Steve felt sure a decisive advantage was coming his way, but a check by Nick transformed the situation into a series of exchanges and the game petered out into a draw after 90 minutes’ play. Meanwhile, Stephen was playing Jo Woollard (81), Steve’s opponent the previous day. Stephen mounted a strong kingside attack but Jo defended stoutly, picked up some loose pieces and went on to win. Even so, Stephen enjoyed the experience.
In the final round, Steve L played Dave Broderick (104) from Newport. Steve sacrificed a bishop for a potential mating attack early on, and Dave had to play very carefully for half a dozen moves and had to sacrifice a knight to see off the attack. Though only 20 moves had been played, over 2 hours had elapsed, at which point Dave offered a draw which Steve accepted, as the fatigue factor was kicking in yet again. So he finished on 3/5 and to his great surprise won a grading prize! Stephen was paired with Raphael Romaya (estimated grade 50), who by this point had played and lost 4 games. After 2 and a quarter hours Stephen was a pawn up and was taking the game to his opponent, but the latter was playing extremely slowly and when I left the venue the outcome was far from clear. What is certain is that Stephen will have leaned a lot from his first ever congress.
Also competing in the Minor 2 section was Tom Bradford of Haydon Bridge. He recorded an impressive 4/5 to share second place. Former Tynedale player Colin Davison competed in the Major event for players graded 170 and below and picked up a grading prize.