The weekend of 23/24 October saw the 38th Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress held at Moreton Hall Community Centre. Having been held at the Apex in the town centre for several years, that venue had become financially unviable. Increasing hire costs meant we needed to be fully booked to break-even, and uncertainty around Covid made that an even riskier prospect that usual. Alternative venues of a similar capacity to the Apex are in short supply in Bury St Edmunds, so we opted for the smaller community centre, which is also the home of the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club. As it turned out, we needn’t have feared a low attendance. Players starved of over-the-board chess by Covid restrictions were more eager to play than ever. We swiftly reached our capacity of 90 players and at points had a reserve list of more than 30.
After four rounds of competitive chess, we entered round 5, the last round, with a close contest in all three sections. The Open section had, as usual, several very strong chess players. The two top seeds, Richard Pert and Alan Merry, both on 3.5 points, played each other. They are both International Masters. Richard is originally from Ipswich and Alan lives close to Bury St Edmunds.
In this event the players each had 90 minutes fixed time for the game but in addition received an extra 15 seconds for each move made. A position was reached where Alan had two Queens and a Rook plus a pawn against Richards Queen, Rook, Knight and three pawns but Richard could capture Alan’s Rook giving him a slight plus. Both players only had seconds to make their moves and unfortunately as Rich was about to Capture the Rook his time ran out. Alan thus won and with 4.5 points could not be caught up by the five players who were on 3 points after round 4. All five games were drawn and with one other player reaching 3.5 points there was seven players tied in second place.
In the Major Max Pert, Richard Pert’s son, was on 4 points after four wins. In fact he was the only player on maximum points which was a great performance from a 14th seeded player (based on rating) in the Major. He was up against Stuart Nelson on 3.5 points and with 6 others on 3 points Max knew a draw would be enough to win the section. The game finished first, after Stuart offered Max a draw. A very impressive performance by Max who may well be challenging his father in future years.
Stuarts draw put him on 4 points and guaranteed him at least a share on second place. Of the 6 players, two drew their games but the of the four others who were playing each other two won to make it a three way tie for second place. There was also an impressive performance by Mae Catabay to win the U15 Junior prize in this section.
The Minor after round 4 had Stephen Ashworth, from Ely, on 3.5 points and four players on 3 points which was another close contest. Stephen had a hard fought game with David May that ended in a draw meaning Stephen was guaranteed at least a share of first prize. Two of the other players, Colin White and Richard Dickinson, won their games, and thus tying for first place. A Junior, Jacob Liu won the U1400 rating prize and the U15 Junior prize was won by Rowan Kent.
The organisers would like to thank Chess & Bridge for supplying all our chess equipment, British Sugar for their financial support, and various local business (the Dragonfly, the Coffee House, the Moreton Hall, Moreton Hall Fish & Kebab) for offering discounts to those competing in the event.
Full details prizes won, cross-tables and round-by-round results via our results page. Games from the Open section will also be available to play through in the coming days. You may also be interested in Brendan O’Gorman’s great photos of the event.
Main text by John Wickham with additions from Steve Lovell