Nottinghamshire County Championship 2006

Ian Kingston

Fifty-six players (the most for many a long year) competed in the 2006 County Championships, held on 21–22 October at Beeston Youth and Community Centre. Alex Posazhennikov claimed the title with a perfect 5/5 – a grading performance of 216.

The venue proved to be as good as expected, with plenty of space available for everyone. Noise was rarely a problem, with the juniors having freedom to run around outside when their games were over. We were startled to discover that a rock band had been booked in to another part of the centre for a practice session on Sunday afternoon, but not a single drumbeat could be heard in the playing hall.

Three local residents who found out about the competition from this web site came along to play in their first ever tournament. I think they found over the board chess to be a different proposition from Internet chess, but all three enjoyed themselves.

There were some surprising ‘firsts’: Mike Falgate delightedly revealed that his share of the slow starter prize was the first prize he had ever won at the chessboard – at the age of 80. Equally surprising was the discovery that John Crawley, after so many years of coaching juniors and working for chess in Nottinghamshire, was playing in a congress for the first time in his life.

David Levens provided a couple of extras not announced on the entry form. On Saturday and Sunday he posted a (difficult) puzzle for competitors to solve. Sunday’s puzzle proved too tough for everybody, so David demonstrated the solution just before the prizegiving. The puzzles will appear here soon. Between Rounds 2 and 3 David demonstrated how, with a laptop computer, a projector and a copy of ChessBase, he coaches groups of people. ChessBase can highlight open lines, attacked pieces, weak squares and so on, making it easy to explain the ideas in a position.

I made a big goof in assuming that I’d have time to look through all of the games in time to award the Game of the Day prizes at the end of the competition. Eventually, I decided to give the Saturday prize jointly to Anjali Lakhani and Gary Hopkinson for their draw in Round 1 and the Sunday prize to Sally McIntosh for her instructive bishop ending in Round 4. These games can be replayed online.

Our sponsors kindly provided new trophies for their events. The company names disguise the fact that the people donating the money are active members of the local chess community: the Keetleys (U150), the Lakhanis (U125), Dave Griffiths (U100) and the Parmars (Junior Championship) all deserve credit for supporting not just this competition, but the next two years as well. Krishna Parmar also sent along some Specsavers beach balls to distribute, which put a smile on some young (and not so young) faces.

As the sole controller/arbiter I had nightmares before the event about trying to keep track of multiple simultaneous time scrambles, or of having to resolve a dispute at a critical moment. Instead, I’m delighted to say that everyone conducted themselves magnificently and I had a very easy ride. All the queries raised were friendly, and the problems arising from those queries were quickly resolved.

Thanks to everyone who came along, including Len Darby and Barry Redburn, who weren’t able to play but still showed up to lend their support. Thanks are also due to the various members of West Nottingham Chess Club who helped with the organising; to the NCA Executive Committee for backing us when we told them how much we wanted to spend; to West Nottingham Chess Club and the NPSCA for lending the equipment; to the Youth Centre staff for their friendly and efficient help; and once again to our sponsors. The organisers greatly enjoyed putting on the show and look forward to a bigger and better repeat next year.

Championship

Alex Posazhennikov was coolness personified as he swept to victory. Tony Wright pushed him hard in Round 1, but cracked late in the game. In fact, none of his opponents rolled over and died, but Alex was clearly on top form and clinched the title with a round to spare. The highest graded player, Gavin Nguyen, dropped a point in Round 1 to a delighted David Levens, and although he came back strongly and looked as though he might take a draw from Alex in the final round, he wasn’t able to cope with Alex’s endgame technique.

Since players were allowed to win only one prize, Kishan Lakhani’s victory in the Junior Championship took precedence over his second place in the main event. The second prize was therefore shared by Gavin and Pete.

NameGradeTotal
1PosazhennikovAlex1855
2LakhaniKishan166
3NguyenMinh Ngoc (Gavin)1863
4MercsPeter1763
5LevensDavid166
6WebsterRichard1552
7BaseyMatthew148*2
8WrightTony1542
9SokiZdenek1512
10ThompsonBrian1501

* Last published grade

All of the games from the Championship section can be replayed online.

Under 150

Sponsored by Kirk Hallam and Grangewood Dental Practices

With just 11 grading points separating the top eight players, this was always likely to be an open contest. Oliver Exton and Janos Wagenbach set the pace, sharing the lead at the end of the first day. Jonathan Day was in clear third at that stage, just half a point behind, but the Round 4 results contrived to leave Oliver a point ahead of the field and assured of the title. Steve Hunter fought hard to try to catch Oliver in the last round, but a draw sealed a clear win for the latter. Neil Graham emerged from the pack to snatch second prize.

NameGradeTotal
1ExtonOliver1284
2GrahamNeil133
3HillMaurice1323
4HunterSteve1393
5WagenbachJanos132
6DayJonathan119
7CranmerStan139
8MorganPhil1342
9WilliamsonEric114
10CollinsJohn1301

Under 125

Sponsored by Jaysons Pharmacy (Wollaton and Long Eaton)

This was the tightest of the four competitions, with over half the field in contention for first place going into the last round. The Radcliffe & Bingham trio (Mike Nailard, George Murfet and Marcel Taylor) all stayed close to the lead throughout the contest, while Anjali Lakhani, Lateefah Messam-Sparks, Dave Dunne and Robert Willoughby also kept pace. Anjali was first to 4 points in the last round, while Mike and George fought a tense battle to see which (if either) would join her. George’s extra pawn led to an easily won position with an extra queen and knight, but he was very short of time. Mike hung on until mate was inevitable, then sportingly resigned when there was still some doubt as to whether mate would arrive before the flag fell. George’s superior tie-break won him the title; Anjali took second prize.

NameGradeTotal
1MurfetGeorge1134
2LakhaniAnjali1174
3MarcelTaylor1203
4NailardMichael1063
5Messam-SparksLateefah1203
6DunneDavid1003
7ThackerStephen1053
8WilloughbyRobert114
9HambyStephen
10BrownAllan872
11HopkinsonGary101
12WalkerRoger104
13LinDaniel1180

Under 100

Sponsored by Sterling Financial Services Ltd

Nigel Wright and Len Morrell sprinted away from the field on Saturday, with only Michael Zhang managing to stay in touch. Sunday saw the unfortunate Nigel suffering from a cold, and his chances disappeared with it. Len and Michael both won to set up a last round decider that ended in a draw, allowing Sally McIntosh and Eamonn Lim to draw level with Michael in a share of second place. John Crawley was left ruing a missed opportunity in his first round game against Nigel, but had the consolation of picking up the senior prize for the highest score by anyone aged 60 or over, regardless of which section they were playing in. (George Murfet and Len Morrell had higher scores, but had also won other prizes.)

NameGradeTotal
1MorrellLen88
2ZhangMichael824
3McIntoshSally914
4LimEamonn754
5Gupta-KaisthaAarav44
6CrawleyJohn68
7WrightNigel983
8YilmazMesut3
9MilfordMichael69
10AliHamzah77
11GuptaYash10
12ButteryJohn84
13VijayaduraiVidhoshan
14FillinghamIan94
15FalgateMike742
16ToddPaul812
17CleggTracey602
18AshTim2
19WhitehouseGuy82
20MainiArun0
21GathercoleMichael
22AshDavid1
23MehanSaaras½

Junior Championship

Sponsored by Specsavers (Long Eaton and Ilkeston)

Since the Junior Championship is awarded to the highest placed junior in the Championship event, Kishan Lakhani, as the only junior in that competition, was assured of the title without moving a pawn. Nevertheless, he fully justified his status by finishing in clear second place. To find the second prize winner, we had to look to the Under 150 competition, where Oliver Exton was the leading junior, However, as he won the Under 150 title, the prize went to Jonathan Day.

Other prizes

As mentioned above, John Crawley’s congress debut brought him the Senior prize. Fortunately the shock was not too great.

The Game of the Day prizes will be announced as soon as I can play through all the games. The winning games, and others of interest, will be published here.