The grand finale event to celebrate our centenary was a Grandmaster round-robin tournament in early November. A range of invited English and overseas young stars competed against each other and against the established GMs in the hope of gaining title norms as well as valuable experience in a hard-fought event. The venue was the Nottingham Mechanics Institute which proved to be a congenial and welcoming place for such an event.
We also ran a junior invitational round robin in the same playing hall. 10 young players local to Nottinghamshire ranging in age from 8 to 15, competed for a trophy and prize money, generously donated by a local Nottingham chess-playing benefactor.
The games were played in a combative spirit – little sign of any ‘grandmaster draws’ – and most rounds saw a batch of decisive games. We recruited IM Andrew Martin to provide a ‘game of the day’ YouTube video working with Tim Wall, and these are now available on the newly established UK Chess Events page. Live streaming was also available for those with enough time to watch the action as it happened. More unexpected was the television coverage which included a preview item on the local Notts TV and an excellent midweek report on ITV Central news.
The GM event was won by GM Eldar Gasanov, currently resident in the UK, with an unbeaten 6.5/9, with the young Dutch GM Thomas Beerdsen and IM Willow in joint second place. FM Ankush Khandelwal missed his IM norm target by only half a point. Special mention should be made of the bottom-marker, the Polish CM Andrzej Krzywda, who agreed to fly over and take part at the last minute after a late withdrawal. Despite being heavily outrated he contributed fighting performances and a cheerful demeanour and deserves our thanks for completing the tournament line-up.
Meanwhile, the junior competitors behaved impeccably and competed fiercely. The race for the winner’s trophy was close-run at times, but the clear winner was Furkan Bahtiyar (West Bridgford CC) with an impressive 8/9, losing only to Senith Gunarathne (West Nottm CC) who was joint 2nd with Dinuga Basnayake (West Nottm CC). Best game prizes were also awarded to four of the participants.
The organisers are very grateful not only to our excellent venue hosts at Nottingham Mechanics Institute and to the arbiting team, but also for the major financial support from the Chess Trust, John Robinson Youth Chess Trust and Friends of Chess, as well as to Nottinghamshire Chess Foundation. Without such charitable support events like this could not take place and opportunities for young people would not occur.
Nick London (on behalf of Centenary Committee)