Imperial College has had a long tradition of hosting prestigious chess events in London, starting several decades ago with the Kensington Congress – this fell by the wayside somewhat in the early 2000’s but was revived by Imperial College alumni John Sargent in 2011 with the help of the IC Chess Club’s committee and the English Chess Federation.
ICCC Organiser John Sargent and Arbiter Adam Raoof. Photo: Brendan O’Gorman
Now in its third edition, on a cool October afternoon a group of enthusiastic normally-players set aside some hours to turn the Union Dining Hall into a serious tournament. Due to having twice done this before things went extremely smoothly for the start of the congress, which is just as well because entries were so successful that the congress was full to capacity well in advance of the event taking place. By five o’clock the room was ready and already the first few players were turning up in advance, arriving at the Union representing clubs from all over England and in a few cases from mainland Europe as well!
There was something else at stake for the top English (or resident) players in the Open section as well, as the highest ranked player at the end of the weekend not already qualified would be eligible for a place in the British Chess Championships in 2014!
The first round on Friday night proved to be particularly entertaining towards the end of the evening as the concert downstairs in Metric gave the remaining concentrating players a complimentary massage thanks to the bass causing more or less the entire building to vibrate! Players were forewarned and luckily the effects weren’t too detrimental – although we’re not sure how many finished their games to go dancing downstairs afterwards.
Top seed in the Open section Miguel Navarro-Cia, who is a Research Fellow at Imperial College in addition to a chess FIDE Master, was dramatically held to a draw by Denmark’s Helge Hjort, assuring that the pecking order in the top section would not necessarily dictate the weekend’s results. Another one of the top seeds Patryk Stanisz of Poland was defeated by England’s Stephen Prior to turn any semblance of expected top results on its head.
Imperial College’s FM Miguel Navarro-Cia (foreground) in action during Round 4
Saturday saw a quieter day with mixed fortunes for the higher rated opponents in the other Major and Minor sections – generally the higher rated players had a good day in the Major to finish Round 3 roughly in the top quarter of the draw, but the Minor saw a lot of exciting, fighting games allowing some of the lower rated players to prove themselves. By the end of Saturday evening, England’s David Gilbert was leading the standings here with two players under 120 ECF grade also in the top five – Cledwyn Davies of Wales and Southampton University’s Rob Hewitt.
After a brief emergency (well, running out of sugar for coffee/tea) on Sunday morning, the stage was set for an interesting finish. Top seed Navarro-Cia would have to find a way to battle back from a full point down while Stephen Prior (rated 300 FIDE points his junior) was leading the tournament with a perfect score but having to fend off some stiff challenges in the final rounds. Peru’s Frank Lozano in the mean time was half a point clear of the field in the Major, and David Gilbert found himself in the same position in the Minor.
Only half a point behind going into the final round, the top board Isaac Craft and Stephen Prior (both ENG) drew, guaranteeing them a share of first place but with the possibility of being caught for a share of the spoils. We thought we might have received an 80-move epic – turns out 75 of those were to be played over a blitz board outside the playing hall.
Despite his best efforts, however, Miguel was held to a draw by a resolute Steven Jones to finish half a point behind the leaders in an incredibly tense finish. The Minor was next for the top positions to be settled, with David Gilbert finishing on an imperious 4.5 with Phil Foley & a strong showing by Rob Hewitt half a point behind.
Finally, the Major section was won by Mateusz Dydak who won his last game to stay half a point clear of the field – all three of the 2nd= players won their last round as well, chasing him all the way.
Some of the winners and the congress organiser. Left to right – Cledwyn Davies, Miguel Navarro-Cia, Mateusz Dydak, John Sargent, Thomas Villiers, Wolfgang Jekel
Thank you very much to Adam Raoof (our esteemed FIDE arbiter), the Imperial College Chess Club, the Union (especially Anthony Crowther for help with room bookings!) and all the players for making the event incredibly enjoyable and memorable.
1st= Isaac Craft – 4.0/5
1st= Stephen Prior – 4.0/5
3rd= Miguel Navarro-Cia – 3.5/5
3rd= Steven Jones – 3.5/5
3rd= Thomas Villiers – 3.5/5
U2000 – Jake Liang, Koby Kalavannan, Christopher Skulte – 3.0/5
1st – Mateusz Dydak – 4.5/5
2nd= Wan Mohd Fazli Wan Nawawi – 4.0/5
2nd= Wolfgang Jekel – 4.0/5
2nd= Viktors Antonovs – 4.0/5
U1800 – Gautam Jain – 3.0/5
1st – David Gilbert – 4.5/5
2nd= Phil Foley – 4.0/5
2nd= Rob Hewitt – 4.0/5
U120 – Cledwyn Davies, Paul Ritchie – 3.5/5
Photos from Brendan O’Gorman
(Photos in above article by John Sargent unless otherwise marked)
-John Sargent, ICCC Organiser