Chester le Street summer congress

This event took place on August 21-23, 2015, with three sections: Open (15 entries), Major (under 171 grade, 29 entries) and Minor (under 136, 31 entries). Steve Larkin was the only club member to enter (why is it that, as a club, we make such a poor showing even at our local congresses?). He played in the Minor, where he was rated 22nd of the 31 entries. After a half-point bye on the Friday, he played Brian Whitaker of Thornaby, graded 111, on the Saturday morning. After the opening (a French Defence, Advance version), Steve had won a knight but had lost 3 pawns. However, this meant he had open files for his queen and rook to go marauding, trapping his opponent’s king on the queenside before delivering mate. In the afternoon he met Eddie Czestochowski of South Shields, graded 122. Steve’s improvised opening with black was wholly inept, leaving most of his pieces with no effective squares, and Eddie punished him accordingly.

Sunday morning saw him facing John France of Gosforth, graded 130, Playing with white, Steve produced one of his best games ever, making all his pieces tell, especially doubled rooks on a half-open file, before producing a move to which black could find no answer, even in the analysis room, and which led directly to a forced checkmate. Highly satisfying! Needless to say, the afternoon provided the usual antidote, as Steve was always on the back foot against Barry Edgar of Hetton, graded 133. The game came down to king and pawns on both sides, but Barry’s extra pawn proved decisive. So with 2.5 from 5 rounds, the outcome overall was average, but the game against John France will sustain Steve’s enthusiasm for months to come!

In the Major event, Ian Mackay of Haydon Bridge likewise recorded 50%, a creditable performance considering that he was rated 25th of the 29 entries.

In the Major, Ian Mackay of Haydon Bridge

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