Chess congress gives Witney club chance to shine

Witney Chess Club’s Marcus Harvey is the top-rated under-18 in the country. Picture: John Upham Event Photography

Grandmaster Peter Wells. Picture: John Upham Event Photography

Witney Chess Club treasurer Mike Truran

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THE organisers of Witney’s first weekend chess congress in October hope it will further help to put the town on the chess map and boost local businesses.

The event will be staged at Cokethorpe School, near Ducklington, on Saturday, October 19, and Sunday, October 20. Entries are already starting to come in.

Witney Chess Club’s own young star Marcus Harvey, the top under-18 player in the UK, has confirmed his appearance, and the club’s top-rated player, Grandmaster Peter Wells, is also hoping to enter.

Both players competed in this month’s British Championships in Torquay, where Mr Wells finished in an impressive joint fifth place.

A chess congress is an open event that often attracts players from near and far. They compete in a range of levels, according to their ability.

The only other weekend congress currently running in Oxfordshire is the Kidlington Congress, the 37th edition of which takes place next February.

Oxford University also used to run a congress on a regular basis until its demise three years ago.

There is also an Oxfordshire Junior Chess Congress, which will is at Magdalen College School, Oxford, this year.

Witney Chess Club is also staging a one-day rapidplay tournament at The Batt Primary School on Sunday, September 29, which could attract 60 players.

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But staging a weekend congress puts the club in a new league, and treasurer Mike Truran said there should be spin-off benefits for the town.

“There will be players from outside the area coming to the congress who will stay in Witney, which will be good for hotels and Witney restaurant Hackett’s will provide the catering,” he said.

“We’re very grateful to Cokethorpe School for staging the event in their new refectory.”

Witney Chess Congress will comprise four main sections, catering for players of various strengths and will have a prize fund of more than £1,300.

The organisers are hoping for about 100 entries from Oxfordshire and beyond.

With its base at Ducklington Village Hall, after a move from Langdale Hall, the club has gone from strength to strength.

Last year it was named by the English Chess Federation as the top club in the country.

The club has a strong base of young players, who won the junior national chess league last year with Cumnor Chess Club.

For the past two years Witney’s first team has won Oxfordshire’s league and cup double, lifting the Oxfordshire Chess Association first division title and the Frank Wood Shield.

The club now has a pool of over 40 adult and junior players.

For more information about the Witney Chess Congress and the club, see witneychess.co.uk

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