On a cool Friday February afternoon a rag-tag team of students (and alumni that can’t seem to get away) gathered in the shadow of the Royal Albert Hall to take a van-load of trestle tables into Imperial College’s Union Dining Hall in preparation for an event that has been a long time coming – the 2013 edition of the Imperial College Chess Congress.
For the last two weeks entries were flying in thick and fast, to the point where we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to accommodate all the players! For this congress we used the improved venue of the dining hall, which was opposite the space used at the last one (but had the gym above and bar below so potentially noisy). The downside of our new space is that we had a capacity of between 80 and 90 players compared to the old room’s 110-120 – luckily, the number of entries peaked on the day at a cosy 88 which meant that despite promising to potentially turn cash-on-the-day entries away, we didn’t have to in the end.
(The two boards on the left were boards 45 and 46 – the only two empty boards after setting up as many tables into the room as we could while keeping everyone comfortable!)
The round on Friday night got off to a lovely start. There was a brief scare as Metric (Imperial College’s nightclub) was directly below the venue but it turned out not to be a problem, with the faint hum of a Gangnam Style remix barely audible at about 10pm as the games finished and provided a background beat to tidying up in the evening.
Saturday brought a fresh, crisp start and the free tea, coffee and snacks provided to the players throughout the tournament assisted in waking everybody up in time for the morning round. We also had the pleasure of Ray Morris-Hill of Battersea chess club drop by to take some lovely photographs of the room and players with the morning light streaming through the windows.
This presented a rather interesting challenge, as the angle of the light shifted throughout the morning and two boards were moved to areas where the light wasn’t in a player’s eyes – sunlight in England admittedly wasn’t high on the list of things we thought could interrupt a chess tournament (ha!) and we will be petitioning the Union to assist us with some curtains for next year. There was a lot of fighting, aggressive chess being played as well with players eager to start their Saturdays off with wins. Several very exciting games in both the morning and afternoon sessions lasted all the way through the 4-hour sessions (and in a few cases even longer owing to the 90min+30sec/move time control).
IM Thomas Rendle sporting his handsome Chess.com jacket and WIM Sue Maroroa
In-between rounds the players tended to flock towards either Gloucester Road or South Kensington where plenty of food and drink outlets were available for lunch – Sandwich World (simply known to Imperial College students as THE sandwich shop) on Gloucester Road was a particularly popular destination with a large number of freshly made baguettes making appearances in the playing hall at various points.
The amount of sugar (biscuits) and caffeine consumed by the crowd was also impressive, and underestimated by us as we had to go back to supermarkets to buy more supplies on no fewer than four occasions after the start of the congress – but completely worth it despite foam cups now becoming an endangered species as players and staff alike stayed in high spirits throughout the day.
Team Caffeination (also the organiser and arbiter respectively)
Going into the last round, the Open had two players race ahead of the pack in IM Thomas Rendle and FM Miguel Navarro-Cia of Imperial College on 4/4, and the resulting draw in the final round guaranteed them joint-first place in the tournament as their nearest competition was on 3/4 going into the afternoon round, due to Thomas Rendle grinding a very hard-earned victory over IM Augustin Madan in the morning.
The next section to be determined was the Minor, where Pascoe Rapacchi was sole leader on 4/4 going into the final round but was successfully caught by the resurgent Anup Sinha (Imperial College Chess Club president all the way back in 2004-05!) who was on 3/4, and they therefore finished joint-first in the Minor.
Final round action from the ICCC
The battle for the Major was the last to be settled, going down to the wire between Bob Kane of West London and young Michele Donati of Italy well after the winter sun had set. In a very charged position Michele was down to using his increment for each move to Bob’s 20 minutes. Michele, however, held strong and after a very tense and drawn out while a draw was agreed, guaranteeing both of them a share of first place.
Games all over the room were finishing late on the final round though with potential prize money on the line – additional grading prizes were announced to a satisfied crowd at the start of the second round, with two (U2100 & U1950) in the Open, two (U1800 & U1700) in the Major and one in the Minor (U125). Despite having fewer players than the Open and Major, an additional U100/Ungraded grading prize was introduced for the Minor after Rafael Larios generously donated to make this possible (ungraded players were eligible for this grading prize).
The final list of our winners is below (links to full results underneath). Many thanks to all the players, Adam Raoof and those at Imperial College Chess Club who helped with the event!
1st= IM Thomas Rendle – 4.5/5
1st= FM Miguel Navarro-Cia – 4.5/5
3rd= IM Augustin Madan - 4.0/5
3rd= Patryk Stanisz - 4.0/5
U2100 – Sue Maroroa – 3.5/5
U1950 – Sam Porter – 3.0/5
1st= Bob Kane – 4.0/5
1st= Michele Donati – 4.0/5
3rd= Tristan Clayton – 3.5/5
3rd= David Buttell – 3.5/5
3rd= Shane McCabe – 3.5/5
3rd= Brendan O’Gorman – 3.5/5
U1800 – Geoffrey Bishop – 3.5/5
U1700 – Marco Falasca – 3/5
1st= Nikunj (Anup) Sinha - 4.0/5
1st= Pascoe Rapacchi - 4.0/5
3rd= Andrew Costeloe – 3.5/5
3rd= Michael Ngulube – 3.5/5
U125 – Gregory Barker – 3.5/5
U100/Ungraded – Leon Baroukh – 3.5/5
-John Sargent, ICCC Organiser