The annual Broadstairs Blitz took place on Monday and this year’s theme was the Wild West. No cowboys and indians in this 21st century politically correct chess club – oh no, it was Cowpersons versus Native Americans. The format is tried and tested: the sixteen players were divided into two teams of eight of roughly equal grading strength. There are eight rounds and everyone plays the eight on the opposite team. In order to add a little spice – and not a little confusion at times – each player this year was given the name of a character. For example, the Cowpersons numbered amongst their team Arnie Oakley, Buffalo Bob and Jesse Hames while the Native Americans could call upon Crazy Horse, Clothes Horse and Passing Water. When reading out the names at the start of the evening, it did seem as someone noted that perhaps the organiser had a little too much time on his hands but it was all good fun.
What of the chess? It’s always hard to predict these tournaments. The teams may be equal in grades but few of our players have rapid play grades and two players with similar standard grades could be very different players at blitz. It is always hoped that the competition will be close, that one team does not win every round and fortunately it was the case this year. The Native Americans got off to a strong start, winning the first two rounds. However, a convincing 6-2 win for the Cowpersons in round 4 meant that the scores were level 16-16 at the half-way stage. A narrow win for the Native Americans in round 5 restored their lead but the Cowpersons came back to win round 6 and the scores were level again with two rounds to go. Marshall Gambit then rallied his troops and just like in all the old Hollywood films, the Native Americans were soon in retreat. The Cowpersons won the last two rounds to finish winners 35-29.
Congratulations to Arnaud Wisman (Arnie Oakley) who finished with the highest individual score of 7½/8. In the crucial last round he beat Shany Rezvany (Crazy Horse) and in a rematch of the Battle of Little Big Horn Paul Johnson (Sitting Paul) defeated Chris Stampe (General Custard) once again, providing another example of history repeating itself. In blitz games, of course, things don’t always go to plan and the player who lost with only five seconds gone on his clock had best remain anonymous!
Photos of the two teams reveal only fifteen players so apologies to Michael Doyle (Marshall Gambit) who had jumped on his horse and ridden off into the sunset when the Cowpersons photo was taken. He played his part in their victory, scoring 3/8 on board 7 with wins against Andy Flood (Running Water), Reg Pidduck (Passing Wind) and Fredy Reber (Geronimo). Yee ha!
Cowpersons: Arnaud Wisman, Ian Hames, Bob Page, Chris Stampe, Gary Hilleard, Bob Cronin, Michael Doyle, Michael Jenkinson.
Native Americans: Shany Rezvany, Richard Clement, Paul Carfrae, Paul Johnson, Andy Flood, John Couzens, Reg Pidduck, Fredy Reber.