Guernsey Chess Club and Federation Reports

Fred Hamperl reports from the 50th Southend Open Tournament, Easter 2006

The tournament was held in the Southend Civic Centre from 14th to 17th April. There were seven rounds, two on friday, saturday and sunday and one on monday. The time control was 2 hours for 40 moves then 1 hour to finish each. So a lot of chess over such a short period.

Playing conditions were generally good. Spectators could sit on the seats around the sides of the room and were tempted to whisper from time to time, which was often disturbing when playing on boards at the end of a row. The Jack Speigel Memorial tournament was held at the back of the room which involved 8 titled players. GMs Jim Plaskett, Danny Gormally, John Emms, Mark Hebden and Chris Ward with IMs Hariet Hunt, Andrew Ledger and Lawrence Trent. There were other tournaments on the floor below.

Parking was free on all days apart from Monday.

3 Guernsey players attended the event. From left to right, Peter Kirby, Fred Hamperl and Toby Brookfield (CM). We're all in the Guernsey Olympiad team and were looking for some practice for the Olympiad in May in Torino.

We booked our rooms at the Gleneagles Hotel many weeks before the event but the hotel let us down and allowed some builders to stay in our rooms. This was most frustrating and I expect a one-off event peculiar to the management of this one hotel. Anyway we had to spend a couple hours on Thursday 13th finding another hotel with 3 single rooms over Easter, not an easy task. Eventually the tourist office found us the Asgard Guest House.

Margaret Galbally made us all feel really welcome and looked after us, we all agreed fate had taken its course and we were much better off than if we'd got our original hotel.

Southend was bussling over Easter. We decided to make up for lost time and went out for something to eat and some beers, we were on holiday after all. The Guest House was a little further out than our original Hotel, in the Westcliff area. On our walk back on the first night we passed the Cliff pub, which was buzzing. So naturally we go in, Peter gave me 20 to buy a round. I had to push my way through the girls dancing and battle to the bar. While waiting to get served I have a conversation in German with a Danish builder who's working in the area. He offers to buy my drink, I explained I was getting a round in and feeling more generous than normal as I'm holding Peter's money, I buy him his drink. On my way back to find the guys, I notice they're sat at a table with a bloke sat between them, anyway I sit down to join them and moments later my Danish mate comes along and stands next to me. Toby starts talking to him and he ends up shouting at him because he's a bit drunk and won't accept any of Toby's points on why the British speak less languages than the Danes. The Danish guy's mood then seems to change and he says something most odd, to which I reply "you must be gay" to which he replies "yes", the penny was only just beginning to drop for me. He kissed me on the forehead and went off into the night. We left rather sheepishly laughing at our ignorance. Many locals told us the next day it was the local gay bar. We never found it again.

On friday morning Peter was at the bottom of top half of the draw and had an easy game with the bottom seed. I on the contrary was about at the top of the bottom half of the draw and played International Master Simon Knott and eventually lost. Toby also got a hard game and lost. Following our antics the night before Peter had to retire to bed in the early afternoon and just as well because he had to play a long endgame in the next round which he drew. Toby and I hit the sea front.

Toby and Fred with our ice creams. We won our games in the afternoon.

Southend Pier. It had burnt down at the end so we didn't pay the 2.50 to go out there. The train that goes along the pier makes an horrendous noise, sounds like a flinstones designed cog system.

Saturday morning Peter drew and Toby and I lost. One of the arbiters tops up his drink from the bag under the desk in the morning session and chats with co-arbiter Mary McDermott from Guernsey.

In the afternoon Peter takes a bye so we all go to Canvey Isalnd. It wasn't too exciting. We did find a really nice cafe on the river's edge built into the concrete embankment.

One man and his dogs in Canvey Island. I won my game that afternoon and Toby eventually drew a queen ending a pawn-up and came to meet us in town.

Back in Southend the amusement park is more lively. On Sunday morning we all lost. But in the afternoon Peter and I won and Toby drew, so we went to our favourite italian restaurant.

Peter goes to bed early, as he wants the grading prize the next day. Because it was our last night in Southend, Toby and I have a few more drinks. We end up in a night club out of town called Bellini's, we thought our Olympiad team captain Robert Bellin would have approved of the name, but perhaps not the time of day we were there. The next morning Toby and I are not feeling too great to say the least. Toby doesn't even finish his breakfast (sorry Margaret). Needless to say Peter wins his game and shares his grading prize. Toby lost and I managed to win after going behind and then pulling out an amazing queen sacrifice tactic to force mate in my opponent's time trouble. Peter got 4.5/7, Toby 2/7 and Fred 4/7. Peter finished on the same score as Grand Master Danny King to put his performance into perspective. That's 50% overall for the Guernsey players.

A great weekend was had by all!

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