The 43rd annual Kidlington Tournament was held on the weekend of 1 & 2 February at our regular venue, Exeter Hall. Despite a somewhat lower number of entries (182 at the time entries closed) than last year, we were unaffected by bad weather and therefore started with a very healthy total of 180 players in the draw for the first round: 20 in the Open section, 46 in the U180, 59 in the U145, and 55 in the U120 section.
We were back with our regular team of controllers throughout the weekend this year, Tim Dickinson (Open & U180), Priscilla Morris (U145), and Lucy Smith (U120). After the software problems of last year, we switched this year to Swiss-Manager as our tournament software, and that all went very smoothly, with the rest of the team benefiting from Tim’s expertise with the program. I am, as always, most grateful to all three of them for their hard work, calmness, and efficiency.
In the Open section, FM Marcus Harvey of Witney Chess Club was a point clear on 100% after four rounds, and therefore repeated his outright victory of last year despite being held to a draw in the final round by Oxford University’s Yuting Fu. FM Daniel Abbas (Oxford University) finished clear second on 4 points, followed by IM Andrew Greet (Bearsden) and Yuting Fu (Oxford University) on 3.5 points.
The Open section also incorporated the second leg of the 2019-20 Oxfordshire Individual Championship, the first leg being the Open section at last November’s Witney Congress. The winner would be the player with the highest score from the two legs taken together. It turned out to be a very close finale, though admittedly this was largely because Filip Mihov (Oxford University), the winner at Witney with 4.5/5, was not at Kidlington and Marcus Harvey had not played at Witney.
By the start of Round 5, three players (Nick Burrows and Nigel Moyse of Cumnor Chess Club, plus young Dimitrios Zakarian) had all caught up with the absent Filip Mihov’s Witney total of 4.5 points, with Marcus breathing down their necks on 4. But as things turned out in the final round, Nick and Nigel both lost and, with Marcus being held to a draw, Dimitrios’s draw was good enough for him to take the title of Oxfordsire Individual Chess Champion for 2020. I don’t know for sure (and will welcome correction if I’m mistaken), but I suspect he may well be the youngest ever winner of the title. He also follows in the footsteps of his father, FM David Zakarian, who won the title in 2017.
The U180 section produced a clear winner in David Ireland of Coventry, who scored 4.5 points. Roger de Coverley (Bourne End) fell just short of sharing first place for the third year running, despite again scoring 4 points, but he still shared second place with Anita Somton (West Nottingham) and Witney junior Adam Sieczkowski.
A notable feature of the event was the return to Kidlington of Nick Jones (formerly of Witney Chess Club, and my predecessor as Kidlington organizer), who shared the Veteran Prize with Reading’s Michael Redmond.
The U145 section was won by another Oxfordshire player, with Gareth Stevens (Cumnor) finishing first equal on 4.5 points with Peter Dove from Newbury. Other local players in the prizes were Rod Langham (Oxford City), winner of the Round 1 Loser Prize, and Joshua Soanes of Witney, who took the junior prize.
Only the U120 section winner saw a winner with a 100% score, Oxford resident Zulfi Heydon. Other local players in the prizes were Cowley’s Advaith Panicker, taking the Junior Prize, and Ian Brooke (Oxford City) and Kelly Riley (Cowley), who shared the Veteran Prize.
In the U120 section, remarkable pairings have in the past usually involved a great age disparity between a very young junior and a veteran of many years standing. This year, in Round 1, the pairing of veterans Ian Brooke and Banbury’s Michael Campling produced a game in which the combined age of the players was 183 years!
In the team competition, the winners were Bourne End (Roger de Coverley, David Turner, Darrell Watson, & Juan Perez) with 13 points out of 20.
Andrew Butterworth of Chess Direct again provided the excellent bookstall as well as the boards and sets for the tournament and the clocks we used in the U120 section. And Helen Hackett (Hackett’s Food & Drink of Witney) sustained us through the weekend yet again with the fine selection of refreshments. I thank them both warmly for their important role in making the tournament a success.
After thanking the controlling team of Tim, Priscilla, and Lucy, as well as Andrew and Helen, I want to record my gratitude to Raj Panicker (now my Co-organizer) for all his help with the organization of the event, in particular with the online entries and the tournament website, and for entering the games from the Open section to put on the website, in addition to his taking photos at the Prizegiving.
I also want to thank the staff at Exeter Hall for all their help and courtesy. (Many of you who have been coming for years will will have missed Bert, the caretaker, this time. He has retired since last year’s event, after 27 or 28 Kidlington tournaments, I’m told. But the caretakers who set things up and were on duty at the weekend, mainly Mark and Gerry, were very helpful.)
Last but not least, my thanks to all 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 continued ability to provide support for other local chess events during the year.
We shall return to Exeter Hall for our 44th annual Kidlington Chess Tournament on Saturday and Sunday 6 & 7 February 2021. 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!
(10 February 2020)