Blackpool Chess Congress March 2010. Report by Ernie Lazenby
For many years this excellent well attended congress was held in Blackpool’s winter gardens, a venue well able to cater for 500 plus players. Sadly financial issues between the winter garden management and Blackpool Borough Council resulted in financial support for the congress being withdrawn. In 2009 the congress moved to Blackpool Football club premises but this was not a well received move. 2010 saw the Congress being hosted at Blackpool’s prestigious Imperial Hotel; financial support from Blackpool Council and the Barcelo group of Hotels.
The venue provided a number of rooms for the chess weekend. The main function room on the ground floor had the Open, Major and Intermediate sections. The minor and standard were located in the basement but the rooms were well lit and roomy.
Chess Direct Limited provided a book stall at very short notice and this was located on a large room on the ground floor very near to the main playing hall.
Drinks and food were available throughout the weekend however my only adverse comment is that the food was overpriced for what was on offer.
I arrived at lunch time and during the next 2 hours saw the playing rooms transformed very quickly from being empty to ready for combat.
The ECF President CJ de Mooi attended the opening and spoke a few words of support. Thereafter he remained until late on Friday evening and for about two hours on Saturday morning. I took the opportunity to speak to him and found him a very agreeable individual who took a genuine interest in what people had to say.
Mobile phones were not an issue until Sunday. In the morning a mobile phone made a very audible noise. The young female owner appeared mortified as to what was going to happen next however her opponent did not complain; although eye brows were raised and some muttering took place no official complain was made and the arbiters did not default her.
In the afternoon a very high profile incident occurred. Going into the last round Grandmaster Mark Hebden was on 3 1/2 , joint leader with Stuart Haslinger. On move 6 Marks opponent’s phone went off whereupon Mark called an arbiter and the games was concluded there and then. 1-0 to Mark. People watching on a screen in the bookstall room were understandably perplexed to find the game finished on move 6 and initially thought it was a quick 6 move GM draw. Another victim of the FIDE mobile phone rule but fair to point out that over three hundred people turned their phones off or set them on silent..
Ron Sather, Peter Ridsdale, Gary Hewitt ,Kevin Wilson and John Garnett made up the Cleveland contingent with me.
John had a good tournament playing in the open only losing one game, he scored three points playing strong players. Well done John.
Unfortunately none of us made the prize winners list but all in all we had a very good weekend away playing Chess in very good surroundings.
The organisers and arbiters did an excellent job running as they did an excellent well attended congress. A lot of behind the scene work went into the live broadcast of games in the open and those involved are to be congratulated.
This congress is a must attend, there are not many that are as well run and attended. I applaud the efforts of all those involved and look forward to 2011.