Twenty-four members and guests participated in the popular pre-season time handicap blitz, run very smoothly by John Swain.
There were five rounds with players having the basic 10 minutes each adjusted by the difference in ratings, with the most extreme possible being 3 mins v 17 mins for a gap of 70 points or more. As a result of this format, it was impossible to predict the result of individual encounters, which is part of the fun of the event. The small entry fee (£1) was returned as cash prizes.
This year’s joint winners were defending champion Jonah Willow (now a FIDE Master having reached 2300 and, at 217, the highest graded U16 in the country) and promising newcomer Nikola Baltov, with 4.5 points. Michael Barnes, also a FIDE Master, came third on 4 points. Florian Biermann and Mick Harper finished on 3.5 points to share the Slow-Starter Prize (no more than one point from the first two rounds).
Nikola (FIDE 1645 but, judging by his play, clearly stronger) outplayed Florian in round 2 and then beat Hambel Willow and Pete Mercs before sportingly offering a draw to Michael Barnes in the final round – Mike had a won position but only a second left! Top seed Jonah Willow drew in round 4 with Michael and had to be content with sharing the spoils with Nikola.
The final scores were:
4.5: Nikola Baltov (1645 FIDE =126 ECF), Jonah Willow 217 (£7.50 each)
4.0: Michael Barnes 200 (£4)
3.5: Florian Biermann 173, Mick Harper 120 (£1.50 each)
3.0: Richard Edwards 125, Peter Gorecka-Marshall 137, Onos Kofi-Ofuafor 159, Drag Sudar 163, Hambel Willow 133
2.5: Maggie Gretton 96, Mike Naylor 172, Derek Padvis 123
2.0: Alan Groves 93, Ken Heath 71, Gary Hopkinson 129, Pete Mercs 184, Ronnie Watson 97
1.5: Brian Hayward 140
1.0: Graham Gibson 114, John Huthwaite 150, Keith Roper 136
Additionally, Simon Scott (133) helped out by playing in three rounds, scoring 1 point and new member Robert Baker (ungraded, estimated 70) played in the last two rounds, scoring 0 points.
As always, it was a highly enjoyable event, and helps brush off the cobwebs before the new season starts in 3 weeks time.