Congratulations to Alan Merry who successfully defended his Open title won at last year’s congress. It promised to be a tricky ride with Martin Taylor (230), a previous winner on more than one occasion, and Richard Bates (232), keen to defend his SCCU Champion title retained only a few weeks ago at the Weald Congress. Alan conceded two draws in his first four games – I resisted the temptation to show you his 117-move draw with Martin Taylor – so everything depended on the final game and here it is.

White: Alan Merry  (240)     Black: Paul Kemp (185)

Thanet Congress (Open) 2017

After a surprise defeat in the first round to his clubmate Kevin Bowmer and a draw in Round 2, Richard Bates probably thought his chance of retaining the SCCU Champion title had gone. Only three wins would surely do. With 2½ points out of 4, Bates was drawn against Taylor (3/4) in the final round. Taylor was not only playing for the SCCU title but that of Kent Open Champion as well.

White: Richard Bates  (232)     Black: Martin Taylor (230)

Thanet Congress (Open) 2017

Richard Bates therefore retains his title of SCCU Champion, a position he has held since November 2015. Martin Taylor, meanwhile, has to settle for the title of Kent Open Champion, a position he has held on at least five previous occasions so everyone’s a winner.


One of the many pleasing things about this year’s congress from a parochial point of view was the performance of some of the local players. We have already highlighted Reg Pidduck (Broadstairs) winning the Oyster Shield in the Minor and Paul Arnold (Herne Bay), joint winner of the Intermediate. First place in the the Major section was also shared and once again one of the two was a Thanet player. Peter McGill of Margate was the joint winner with David Heath from Maidstone. Here is Peter’s win in Round 4.

White: Peter McGill  (144)     Black: William Grummitt (e134)

Thanet Congress (Major) 2017


David originally entered the Challengers when his grade was over 150 but I’m sure he is now glad that he changed to the Major when the new grades came out. Chess players seem to have a good line in self-deprecation: just as Paul Arnold was remarkably modest about his games despite finishing first in the Intermediate, when David submitted his games for inclusion on this site he claimed that they were all ‘riddled with errors’. Whether that is true or not, the point is that none of his opponents spotted them. You usually need a little luck to win a tournament and when David won this game in Round 1, he must have felt that this was going to be his weekend,  a feeling confirmed in the final game which David won in 13 moves.

White:   David Heath (143)   Black: Stephen Pike (134)

Thanet Congress (Major) 2017


Harry Sharples began the tournament as the number one seed in the Major with a grade of 150. However, it was not to be his weekend which he must have realised after this ambush in Round 1.

White:  Harry Sharples (150)   Black: Gavin Josephs (138)

Thanet Congress (Major) 2017

White to move.

  1. Bc2 : Qd5
  2. Re2 :


  1. ——– : Qh1ch
  2. Qf1 : Rd1 ch !!
  3. BxR : Nd3ch
  4. Resigns




The Oyster Shield is a special prize awarded at the Thanet Congress to the highest-scoring senior (over 60) Thanet player in the Minor or Intermediate sections. It was presented by Whitstable Chess Club in 2011 and in five of the seven years for which it has been competed, it has been won by our own Reg Pidduck. (Perhaps a word of congratulation is merited by the only two players to prevent Reg from achieving a 100% success rate – Tony Hargreaves and Michael Doyle.) With typical modesty, Reg does not feel the entire game is worth replaying as it was effectively won by move 16. Let Reg explain.

“This game won me the Oyster Shield for the fifth time with 3.5 points. It all centres on White’s 15th move. Neil Lang took 8 to 10 minutes looking at taking my b7 pawn. After taking so long I thought he must have seen the trap but no. He took it and I was a happy man. I won’t bore you, dear reader, with the next 30 moves, as I just kept it safe to ensure a win. White resigned after 45 moves.”

White: Neil Lang  (101)     Black: Reg Pidduck (107)

Thanet Congress (Minor) 2017

Paul Arnold is a past winner of the Minor section at the Thanet Congress and last weekend finished joint first in the Intermediate. When asked if he could submit one of his games for inclusion on this site, he whimsically replied that his computer ‘isn’t particularly impressed with any of them’! Nevertheless, he submitted all five of his games, sportingly including his last-round defeat to Peter Dirmauskas, fellow joint winner. It would be rather mean to feature that one now – although it will appear later! – so here is Paul’s third- round victory, a brief but entertaining encounter.

White: Paul Arnold  (121)     Black: William Stock (119)

Thanet Congress (Intermediate) 2017

The Thanet Chess Congress has been and gone for another year and we shall be devoting a few pages to it over the next couple of weeks while Broadstairs enjoys its brief summer break. We hope to feature some of the winners’ games and perhaps one or two disasters if players are brave enough to send them in. Let’s begin with one of our own. Nick McBride and David Faldon were always going to find it tough in the Open with five of the thirteen players graded 200 or above and three over 230. However, there were also five players including Nick and David in the 170s so there was healthy competition for the U180 grading prize. In the end, both players scored 2/5, only half a point behind Kevin Bowmer, the eventual grading prize winner. In the first round Nick found himself paired against Freddie Hand who may only be 14 but already has a grade of 205.   This is the position after White’s 28th move.

White: Nick McBride  (173)     Black: Freddie Hand (205)

Thanet Chess Congress 2017

Nick takes up the story:
I’m white against Freddie Hand (205J). For a while now I had been working towards: Rbg1, Rxh6+, gxh6, g7+!, Bxg7 and mate next move. But Freddie ignored this. He now played 28… Nd2! I continued with what I thought was nearly a forced mate 29 Rbg1. Then Freddie played 29… Be6!! and I’m dead. The rook on c7 now stops my g7+! He’s pretty good.”