The speed handicap tournament is a Crowthorne chess club Christmas tradition, with this year being its thirty first year. We had an amazing 29 players this year, which I believe is a new record. Because of the large number of entrants, the group stage was split into 4 groups of 7 or 8 players, the first time we’ve needed to have four groups.
The two top players from each group went up to play in the knock-out stage. These were: Richard Webb, James Love, Harvey Duckers, Andrew Kirby, Dave Hemmings, Scott Leadbetter, Robert Starley and Louise Head. After hard fought quarter- and semi-finals, we reached the final between eight times previous winner Richard, and Scott, entering the handicap for the very first time. The game was evenly balanced, before Scott allowed Richard to unleash a winning attack to win the game and the tournament.
Congratulations to Richard who adds his name to the Harvey-Ironside shield for a phenomenal ninth time, proving he still has the speed of mind and hand to win after an absence of nine years from the handicap. Commiserations to Scott, who nonetheless was the clear winner of the most Christmassy costume, with his eternally memorable snowman onesie.
At the opposite end of the results, the other knock-out was between Pradeep and Bob, in which Pradeep produced an opening novelty, an astounding king sacrifice, which secured him the wooden spoon and bottle of fine Harrods wine. Many thanks to Pradeep and the other parents who sportingly joined in.
Thanks to Christine for organising the lovely buffet, and thanks also to all those who helped set up the room and helped contain the evening’s chaos.
I will make a few amendments to the arrangements next year to make it easier to support the increasing number of players.