Suffolk Closed Championships

Report by Tim Lunn

The Suffolk Closed Championships took place at the Ipswich Chess Club on 22nd & 23rd June.   The Championship section was to decide the Suffolk Champion for 2013.

The event was a six-player all-play-all, which seemed the fairest way to decide the title as every player has to face the same opposition (barring themselves of course).   With a late withdrawal two days earlier, a late-night call was made and Silas Peck agreed to step up to the Championship.

The invited players became: Dagne Ciuksyte 227, Shaun Munson 206, Ted Matthewson 182, Phil Hopkins 177, Stephen Gregory 174 and Silas Peck 154.

Round 1 saw a minor upset with Steve Gregory beating second favourite Shaun Munson.   Then in Round 2 Dagne and Steve drew.   After further wins for both, Dagne and Steve were tied in the lead on 2½ points after the first day. The second day became a bit difficult as Phil Hopkins had withdrawn overnight.   This was a difficult situation and someone pulling out of an all-play-all messes up the balance.   I decided to ignore all results involving Phil but this was unfortunately in favour of those who had yet to play him, they being Shaun and Steve.   I decided to step in and play Shaun in a graded friendly so that his pattern remained the same, ahead of his game against Dagne in the last round.

Steve won his fourth round game against Silas Peck as did Dagne against Ted Matthewson.   With Steve having a bye in effect due to Phil dropping out, it was up to Dagne to defeat Shaun in order to take the competition to a tie-break with Steve.

Dagne seemed to have the game under control with Shaun having his queen misplaced in the corner and his king a bit open.   Just as it seemed that Dagne was going to execute a winning sequence she missed a counterattack, and suddenly Shaun had a forced mating sequence in three.

This meant that Stephen Gregory (left) was the new Suffolk Champion for 2013.   Congratulations to Steve!

The fact that someone withdrew from the Championship made me reconsider whether the all-play-all invitation system was in fact best as if we were in a Swiss we could more easily cope with someone dropping out.   I decided that a withdrawal was a rare occasion and that having everyone face each other was the fairest way to contest the trophy.   Also, all-play-alls are such rare events at County level and the atmosphere is I hope very enjoyable.

Each time I pushed for more contestants to join the Challengers and the Swiss I seemed to lose more players than I had gained.   Unfortunately with so many removing themselves from the list I was left with a dilemma of what to do with the eight remaining players.   The simplest solution was to combine the two sections into an eight-player Swiss competition.

The contestants were: Malcolm Lightfoot, Scott Taylor, Keith Woodcock, Andrew Shephard, Melvin Steele, Mark Weidman, Mike Coughtrey and Rory Goldsmith.

After the first day, two players were clear tied for first, with Malcolm Lightfoot and Scott Taylor having won their first two games, then drew against each other in a long tense struggle.

However, Round 4 saw four wins for Black, with one of the casualties being Scott against Melvin Steele (on time).   Malcolm returned to his winning ways with two wins on the second day.   The end of his final game was rounded off with a very nice tactical move which was a fitting way for Malcolm Lightfoot to become the winner of the Challengers section. (see diagram, right).

Play continued:   Rf6!   Bxf6,   Bd3   1-0

With this, Malcolm gets an automatic invite into the Championship section next year, should he wish to play.

As there had been eight players I decided that the highest player in the lower half of the competition would win the Intermediate trophy.   That meant that Melvin Steele retained the trophy having won it the previous season.

All in all I believe most people had an enjoyable time, though a few people were a bit upset on the Sunday morning by the withdrawal from the Championship.   However all the remaining competitors made it a nice competition to run.   Thanks to Ted for sorting out the venue, which as always was a really good price for us.   The rest of the monies went on supplying food for the players!

Hopefully, we’ll see everyone back next year and a few more to boot!

I believe that it would be best to keep the Challengers and Intermediate as a combined Swiss in future.   Hopefully I can find someone else to run the event as I would like to have a go at the Championship (if I qualify).

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