South Hams Chess Club
South Hams Chess Club

Diary of a Totnes Pawn in the Battle of Frome

Day 1

Friday 15 May

After a good six hours hard graft at work, I downed tools, cleaned up, and readied myself for my very first Chess Congress adventure...

Armed with a fistful of beroccas, my lucky purple jumper and a headful of handy traps (ranging from 'fishing pole' to 'elephant') I set off north to Frome for their 26th annual Chess Congress. Arriving in good time I found myself listed on the schedule as playing white against a Mr Alsop (rated 108), uncomfortably close to the upper limit of 115 for the minor section I was enlisted in. Having more butterflies than a lepidopterology convention I was somewhat gladdened by the appearance of a friendly face in the form of Mark Cockerton (currently rated 111), who was also competing in the minor section. After a polite chat about our last meeting (in which I won in a rather undeserving way) and a short but very satisfying session of 'bigging-each-other-up' as the eventual winner it was time to sit down and commence battle.

My opponent was of a similar age and similar hairstyle but with rather less nerves as he'd been to a few of these before. I opened with e4 and he replied with b6, an opening of which I really don't have any knowledge at all. (See game for details!) All was pretty even though until move 17 ...Qd4 which opened a small chink in black's armor. (Although I'd spent only 30 minutes for the whole game against his 75 minutes so far!) Needless to say once I had him in my grasp I didn't let go and that was the end of that. With great relief I tidied up my paperwork and checked up on Mark, who with a whole piece up and a pawn heading for promotion looked set to win his first game too.

Well It was only 9.15 so with a feeling akin to rose-tinted bliss I bought a couple of heavy chess tomes in the shop (yes, you guessed it, one was a whole book dedicated to black's opening 1...b6!!!) and headed off to my accommodation.

It turned out to be rather an excellent (and modestly priced) establishment run by Giorgio from Italy who'd owned the Hotel for 37 years and ran it with his family. After a fantastic pizza (of course!) and a couple of well earned pints, it was time to cuddle up with The Alekhine Defence by Cyrus Lakdawala and dream of battles on the morrow... tbc...