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2004 Leek Congress 10-12 September

The Leek congress again attracted an entry of approximately 130 players. There were five five-round sections in all, an open and 4 sections determined after entry to create small groups of roughly equal playing strength.

The Open resulted in a tie between Alan Smith and Alex Richardson on four points, with Alan winning the tie break on sum of progressive scores. To him the glory of the The Landon Trophy, the Midlands Individual title and entry to next years British. Alex will have to settle for the joy of having beaten GM Mark Hebden (247).

The Leek United Section featured players graded 137 to 176 and was won jointly with 4 points by Suzy Blackburn, Andrew Jaques and Paul Stephenson of Holmes Chapel, Blackpool and Liverpool respectively. Your webmaster picked up the slow starter prize, a sort of "not bad for someone under 50% after 3 rounds" consolation prize. Even so my 2½ point total haul still left me ½ point behind clubmate Daniel Sullivan. Stephane Peddar (Stafford) proved just unable to catch the leaders, ending on 3½.
Top seed Dave Buxton finding himself cast in the Man Utd role, with every opponent particularly up for the game against him, had to settle for five draws. Meanwhile Geoff Laurence of Macclesfield seemed determined to set a record for the time spent at the board over the weekend, being amongst the last to finish in every round.

The Cottage Delight section was for players with grades from 109 to 136. Again 4 points were sufficient to be a joint winner. Jeremy Fallowfield (Stourbridge), Stephen Edwards and Andrew Lake (both Handsworth Wood) reached this magic score. Graham Booley from Birstall won the slow starters prize. Molly Moruzzi and John Yee (both Cheddleton) scored 3½ to just miss the prize list, while Pete Sargeant became the first player to compete in a congress under the Fenton banner.

Players with grades from 80 to 108 competed in the Alton Towers section. Again 4 points was the magic number, with Kristian Chesters and Alan Millward (both Macclesfield), Nicola Thomas (Thamesdown Juniors) and Kenneth Aldersley (Nelson) sharing the spoils. Slow Starter: Stephen Lloyd (Chester).

Newcastle's Paul Clapham was sole winner of the Limehouse section (under80), being the only player in any section to reach 4½. Runners up were Nicholas Field (Northwich), Neil Jones (Cockermouth) and John Hughes (Chorley). Slow Starter Nicholas Salt of Cheddleton. Paul won the corresponding section last year, so the organisers are threatening to make sure that he is the bottom seed in a section next year.
Three other Newcastle players made their congress debuts. Mike and Carl Gawley both scored respectable 2s, while James Rothwell reached 50%. Also on 50% was John Newton from Creda, who is also a frquent visitor to both Newcastle and Cheddleton.

Cheddleton won the team prize (a clock).
The 15 female players were eligible for the Charlotte Atkins Prize, with the leading scores being Suzy Blackburn and Nicola Thomas with 4 points.


Approximately 50 players came from local clubs, the rest from further afield, many of whom definitely do not live within commuting distance. The biggest contingent of course came from Cheddleton. Six players attended from each of Newcastle and Macclesfield, 5 from Holmes Chapel.

The whole event was overseen with minimal fuss by Roger Edwards, Robert Milner and their team. For once the weather was not especially kind, but this did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the event. Many people use the congress to get their minds back into chess mode after the summer recess, and it fulfils this role admirably by guaranteeing players matches against similarly graded opponents. Roll on the league season.

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