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Scarborough Chess Congress 2016

Posted by fellman01 on October 28, 2016

Steve Larkin flew the flag for Tynedale at the 40th version of this event, held on October 21-23. One of 76 entries in the Foundation section (120 and under), Steve found himself equal top seed with two other players on 120 – an unnerving situation to be in! In round 1 he had a very long, tough game against Tim Bowler (104) of Maryport which only finished at 11.10 p.m. The initiative swang wildly from one side to the other, but a couple of very nice combinations by Tim, both of them taking Steve by surprise, put Tim a knight and a pawn up. It was looking a lost cause for Steve when Tim blundered a bishop and Steve was back in the game. In the final minutes, both players queened a pawn, but Steve’s queened first and that proved decisive.

On Saturday morning, Steve had black against Charles Ayton (109) of Louth. This proved a somewhat shorter but still closely contested game in which Steve’s central passed pawns eventually prevailed.

In the afternoon it was white against Michael Page (107) of Rugely. Again there was nothing in it for most of the game, then Steve missed the chance of a clear win when, with two black pieces en prise, he took the wrong one first, to emerge completely even, and a draw was agreed.

So after two days and three rounds, Steve had notched up 2.5 points, a half point more than he managed in the entire Northumberland congress, but fatigue was kicking in in a big way – what would Sunday bring?

The morning brought another very close game, against Patrick Coleman (107) of Preston. After Patrick’s initial pressure with white eased, the game looked increasingly drawish as pieces were swapped with no advantage gained. The draw was agreed on move 27.

After 4 rounds, there was one leader on 4, four players on 3.5, and nine, including Steve, on 3. His final game, with white, was against another opponent from Louth, Neil Milson (109). On move 21, Neil blundered a bishop, then dropped a rook for a knight and resigned on move 44 when another knight went.

This left Steve on 4/5 which, it transpired later, gave him a share of third place with 3 other players, plus a share, with 7 other players, of the veteran’s prize! Thanks to his opponents’ mistakes, this was Steve’s best performance in a congress for a long time and quite possibly his best ever, as he closed the event on an average grade of 137. Quite a relief after his poor showing in the Northumberland congress!

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