Report by John Swain
Sixteen players participated in the traditional curtain-raiser for the new season, the Time Handicap. It was great to see several new members and guests amongst the competitors. With less than ten points between grades, the players had ten minutes and an extra two seconds a move (the increment was an innovation this year, facilitated by the club’s fairly recent acquisition of several more digital clocks). In extreme cases, with a difference in grades of 70 or more, the stronger player had just three minutes against his opponent’s seventeen minutes (in both cases with a two-second increment). Differences in between these extremes were on a sliding scale. This time handicap helped to create a level playing field, with several lower graded players emerging victorious thanks to this fun format.
Three players set a cracking pace, winning their first two rounds: Dick Edwards (113) Mike Naylor (169) and Hambel Willow (138). They were therefore ineligible for the Slow-Starter Prize, available for the best performer(s) who scored no more than one point in the first two rounds. However, over the next three rounds, they all scored points against each other: Dick beat Hambel in round 3, Mike beat Dick in round 4 and Hambel beat Mike in round 5!
This set up an exciting final round where these three, all on 4/5, played against opponents on 3/5. Dick could only draw with Derek Padvis (120) whereas Hambel beat Drag Sudar (159) and Mike emerged victorious against Pete Mercs (185) after a titanic struggle where Mike had seven seconds left when Pete lost on time in a complicated position. All the £1 entry fees were returned as prizes.
Final scores were
1st= Mike Naylor and Hambel Willow 5/6
3rd Dick Edwards 4.5/6
4th= (sharing the Slow Starter Prize) Derek Padvis and John Tassi 3.5/6
6th= Pete Mercs, Keith Roper, Drag Sudar 3/6
9th= Simon Scott 2.5 (from four rounds) Peter Gorecka-Marshall 2.5/6
11th= Gary Hopkinson, Thomas Pownall, Mark Radford 2/6
14th= Jose Vieira 1.5 (from three rounds) Brian Hayward 1.5/6
16th Alan Groves 1/6