The 62nd Hertfordshire Chess Association Congress took place over the weekend of 9-10th November 2013. The Congress returned to its normal November slot, and in future the organisers intend to run the Congress annually in November.
We had 120 players - up from 107 in February - of whom 40 were Hertfordshire players. All but 11 of the players entered online using this website. The online entry proved popular and easy to use, with only two players reporting any difficulties with it (difficulties that the Congress Team were easily able to help sort out).
The venue at County Hall again proved popular, with spacious playing areas, generous rest and analysis areas, a Costa Coffee and a cafeteria. The caterers offered cooked breakfasts, sandwiches, baked potatoes with various filings, hot and cold lunches (the curry on Sunday lunchtime was popular) - all at very reasonable prices.
The Open tournament was accommodated in a separate space adjoining the main playing area - the Mimram Room - which provided the top players with a quiet and comfortable space to concentrate.
Once again the Swiss Perfect software package was used for pairings and results. The Congress Team managed to get the final standings published on the website half an hour before the prize giving, and the full results and cross tables two hours later.
Players were invited to participate in a feedback survey, and to-date we have received more than 50 responses. We are extremely grateful for this important feedback - thank you. Your responses clearly indicate that most people found it a thoroughly enjoyable congress, but nevertheless provide important pointers for how next year's congress can be made even better. We plan to provide a summary this feedback on the website when we have had time to digest it all.
The organisers would like to thank all the those who participated, and the many volunteers who helped make it a success.
The key game in the Open was the Round 4 encounter between Venkat Tiruchirapalli (Watford) - at 221 the highest-graded player in the Congress - and Grandmaster Chris Ward (Wood Green). Chris won as Black, and so they started Round 5 with Chris on 3.5 points and Venkat on 3. They both won their Round 5 games, leaving Chris as our Open Winner and Southern Counties Chess Union Champion, and Venkat as second prize winner and winner of the Hakansson Trophy for the highest-placed Herts player.
Third place was tied on 3.5 points by John Anderson (Essex) and Jonathan Friedland (Wood Green), with Jonathan the highest-placed player in the 180-195 grading band. As no player can win more than one cash prize, the prize for third place was awarded to John Anderson, and the 180-195 grading prize was awarded to Jonathan Friedland.
This Congress entitles one player to enter the 2014 British Championships. As Chris Ward had already qualified as a GM, and Venkat had already qualified by virtue of his grade, the place in the British Championships went to John Anderson who pipped Jonathan Frieldand under the Congress tie break rules - he was actually a point ahead on both Sum of Progressive Scores and Bucholz.
In the Challengers, Finlo Roher (BBC and Mushrooms) went into Round 5 with the luxury of knowing that he was already assured of 1st= at worst, and that at draw would guarantee outright first place. Perhaps it's not surprising that he drew his Round 5 game, finishing first on 4.5 points.
Brian Valentine (Leighton Buzzard) finished second on 3.5 points.
Third place was a 6-way tie on 3 points between Stephen Pride, Anthony Ball, Steve Moore, Hugh Fenwick, Marcus Conolly and John Daugman. Five of these six players were also entitled to a share of the two Challengers Garading Prizes. Bearing in mind the rule than no player may win more than one cash prize, the organisers decided to divide the £150 prize money from 3rd place and the two grading prizes equally between all six players.
The Berry Cup for the highest placed Herts player in the Challengers was awarded to Stephen Pride, who plays for the Royston Club.
For some reason, this year the Major attracted the extraordinarily large number of 48 entrants (by comparison, there were 30 entrants in the Major at the 61st Herts Congress).
Marinel Miu (Watford) and Peter Lim tied their Round 5 against one another, and won all their other games - so they tied for first place on 4.5 points.
Simon Morris (Hertford) finished 3rd with 4 points.
The 125-135 Grading Prize was won by Robert Thompson (Snodland) with 3.5 points.
The Under 125 grading Prize was won by Keith Woodhouse (Royston) - also with 3.5 points.
The Davis Cup for highest placed Herts player in the Major was won by Marinel Miu.
The winner of the Minor Tournament was Surjit Dhemrait (Harrow) with 5 points - the only player in any of the tournaments to achieve the "maximum".
Second place was shared on 4 points between Philip Humphry (also Harrow) and Julie Denning (Horsham).
The 95-110 Grading Prize was shared on 3.5 points between Francois Swiegers (Welwyn Hatfield Chess Forum) and Jennifer Goldsmith (Harrow).
The 80-94 Grading Prize was shared on 3 points between two Juniors: Tristian See (Cambridge City) and Jake Bains-Gillespie (Berkshire Juniors).
The Under 80 Grading Prize also went to a junior: Elizabeth Johnson, who finished with three successive wins to achieve an impressive 3 points.
The Lee-Johnson Cup for the highest placed Herts player in the Minor was won by Francois Swiegers.
We look forward to welcoming back both old friends and new participants at next HCA Congress, in November 2014.