Tournament Report, 2019

The 42nd annual Kidlington Tournament was held on 2 & 3 February at our regular venue, Exeter Hall. Having had a full house of 192 players on each of the past two years, we decided to increase the prize fund again for this year, adding several new £40 prizes: Junior prizes in the U120 and U145 sections, a U130 grading prize in the U145 section and a third Veteran prize for the U180 section. This brought the prize fund to over £2200.

We had reached our full complement of 192 entrants (the maximum we can accommodate at Exeter Hall) even earlier this year, a full ten days before the tournament. However, in the final few days before the weekend, the weather intervened to thwart the plans of a number of entrants and our hopes of a third successive full house. As a result, even though we replaced from our waiting list eleven players who had withdrawn, we eventually had ‘only’ 180 players—still a very good total, of course—of whom 21 players played in the Open section, 34 in the U180 section, 62 in the U145 and 63 in the U120. Competitors’ ages ranged from 8 to 91!

For this year’s event we welcomed an extra controller to the team, Agnieszka Milewska, who took charge of the Open section. We were all the more grateful to have her join us, because Tim Dickinson, in charge this year of the U180 section, was unable to join us till the Saturday afternoon. Andrew Varney again took charge as controller of the U145 section on the Saturday, with Priscilla Morris taking over from him on the Sunday. Lucy Smith, as usual, was the controller of the U120 section. I’m grateful to them all for their hard work calmly and professionally carried out.

In the hard-fought Open section, FM Marcus Harvey of Witney Chess Club secured first place with 4.5/5 by beating GM Mark Hebden in the final round. Having come first equal in the Open section at the Witney Congress in November (the first leg of this season’s Oxfordshire Individual Championship), Marcus also far outpaced the opposition with his Kidlington victory to take the title of Oxfordshire Champion for the first time. The only draw he conceded at Kidlington was against Banbury’s FM James Jackson, last year’s winner of our Open section. James finished clear second on 4 points, likewise unbeaten, but having also drawn against Hebden. Another local player, Oxford City’s Jon Manley, who finished second equal last year, had another successful tournament, finishing third equal with Shabir Okhai (Syston). Among other local prizewinners were Cumnor’s Nick Burrows and Eldar Alizada, who were among five players sharing the U190 grading prize. The full list of prizewinners in this section and the others can be found on another page on this site under the ‘Kidlington 2019’ tab.

In the U180 section Roger de Coverly repeated his success of last year by again tying for first place on four points, this time with Robert Taylor and Witney’s Csaba Koszta. Among other Oxfordshire players, Didcot’s Andrew Webb took the U160 grading prize, while Phil Neatherway and Witney’s Csaba Biro shared the Round 1 Loser prize, and Banbury’s Neil Staples took a half-share of the new Veteran prize for the section. The other sharer of that new prize was Brendan O’Gorman, whose selection of excellent photos of the tournament can be seen on his website.

The U145 section saw two visitors from China (such is the drawing power of the Kidlington Tournament!) in the prizes. David Dyer, of Cowley Chess Club, went one better than his second equal of last year to share first place on 4.5/5 with Steven Harris, who (after a few years away) was returning to the tournament from China, where he now works. Four players finished half a point further back: Peter Lim, Callum Evans, Hashim Jusoh and William Thomas. The first three named players shared the prize for third place, while William Thomas was awarded the new U130 grading prize. Our other visitor from China was Chinese junior, Jiaying Dai, over in England with her family on vacation during the Chinese New Year holiday. She won the new Junior prize outright with 3.5 points out of 5. Another local player in the prizes was Cowley’s David Keeling, who took a share in the Veteran prize, also on 3.5.

The U120 section was won with a 100% score by Ryan Cheung, followed by Chris Fraser on 4.5 points. Three of the four players (William Stock, Barry Miles, Cumnor’s Robin Carr, and Tim Cutter) who finished third equal on four points were veterans, so we combined the third prize with the Veteran prize to give a bigger share to all four players. The new Junior prize in this section was won by Jack Tye (last year’s joint winner of the section) with a score of 3.5.

The Hots (GM Mark Hebden, Shabir Okhai, Robert Taylor and Anita Somton) won the team competition with a total score of 13 points out of 20.

As usual, Andrew Butterworth of Chess Direct provided the excellent bookstall as well as the boards and sets and some of the clocks we used, and Helen Hackett (Hackett’s Outside Catering of Witney) again provided a fine selection of refreshments. I thank them both warmly for their big contribution to the success of the tournament.

The organizer of a tournament such as Kidlington relies on many people in many different ways to make things happen and run smoothly, and it is a pleasure to thank them all for their commitment and their efforts. I have already mentioned the section controllers. (Their job was made harder this year by the failure of the tournament software on two different machines to produce the pairings for the Sunday morning round in the U145 and U120 sections. This necessitated doing the job manually, and I am grateful to Priscilla and other members of the team for remaining calm under pressure to carry out that task with quiet efficiency. This problem unavoidably led to a significant delay in the start of Round 4 in those sections, so I’m also very grateful to the players in those sections who, almost without exception, remained patient and quiet till everything was ready. With a view to avoiding any future occurrence of such a problem, we have decided to switch to different tournament software for next year’s event.)

In addition to thanking each and every member of the controlling team,  and Andrew Butterworth and Helen Hackett (already mentioned), I’m grateful to Raj Panicker for his help with the organization of the event and with the website, and for entering the games from the Open section to put on the website. (Raj also took some video footage of the prizegiving, which you can find here on YouTube.) I also want to record my thanks to the staff at Exeter Hall (especially Bert) for all their help and courtesy.

Last but not least, I thank all those who came to play at this year’s Kidlington tournament, and particularly those who made donations to our tournament funds—vital to our long-term survival and to our support for local chess events. I also commiserate with those entrants who were disappointed not to be able to make it to the tournament this time, mostly because of the weather.

We return to Exeter Hall for our 43rd annual Kidlington Chess Tournament on Saturday and Sunday 1 & 2 February 2020. As every year, we look forward not only to welcoming very many returning entrants from this year and previous years but also to welcoming a good number of players coming to Kidlington for the first time. We hope to see you there!

Gerard O’Reilly

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