THE first Witney Chess Congress has been hailed as a big success.

The two-day tournament, held at Cokethorpe School, near Ducklington, on Saturday and Sunday, attracted 90 entrants, and no fewer than 47 different chess clubs were represented.

Players were bidding for individual honours and a slice of the £1,400 prize fund.

The event’s main organiser, Witney Chess Club treasurer Mike Truran, said: “Virtually everyone I talked to was hugely positive about the event and the venue, which was very pleasing to hear.

“There were 55 players from outside Oxfordshire, so it had a wide appeal.

“We were very grateful to Cokethorpe School, who provided us with impressive facilities.”

The congress was held in the independent school’s Queen Anne Mansion House, built by the first Viscount Harcourt.

Twelve juniors competed, including Marcus Harvey, the joint highest-graded under-18 player in England.

One of the juniors, Witney Chess Club’s Jake Holton, 12, said: “Playing in the congress was a great experience. It was a really strong tournament in a fantastic setting. I’m looking forward to playing in it again next year.”

Witney’s Pavel Assenov, a pupil at Cokethorpe, won the grading prize in the under-180 section, which the club said was an outstanding achievement for a 12-year-old in a mainly adult event.