Players from all quarters of the UK plus a few from Gibraltar, Russia, Australia et. al. have come to Torquay to play in one or other of the 22 sections of the British Chess Championships. Yet few can have had a shorter journey than 9 year old Nandaja Narayanan who lives just round the corner from the Riviera Centre. This was her first serious tournament, and she was not disappointed as she won the Girls' U-9 title.
She attends Sherwell Valley Primary School in Torquay and attends the local junior chess club at Churston Ferrers, run by retired teacher Vic Cross, the same Vic Cross who has run the back office at the British for many years.
Nandaja first learnt the moves from her father , a consultant gynaecologist at Torbay Hospital. When asked how good a player he was he said "I can push the boat out but can't navigate". She then started to take the game more seriously, eventually getting private coaching from Victor.
All her opponents were boys on the way to the title, and beating them gave her greater confidence. She now feels encouraged to go on to further successes in the future. At the moment, her 3 year old sister, Niranjana, takes an interest and may well take up the game herself, so Nandaja may have an added incentive to keep ahead of her, or she might get overtaken.
Above: Nandaja with her trophy and coach Victor Cross outside my office.
Rd. 9: We are really approaching the sharp end of things now. In the short term, 9 round norms are obtainable. David Eggleston only had to turn up and play a solitary move in order to qualify for his 2nd IM norm, as he already had the points in the bag after 8 games, but a 9th game, however short, does have to be played. Not content with this, however, his game against Wells went on much longer than the others on the top tables. Meanwhile, Williams' good run continued with a win against Gawain Jones, to put him in clear 2nd behind David Howell who overcame Palliser on Bd. 1. Stuart Conquest too kept in the mix with a win over former British Champion, Paul Littlewood. Hebden beat Gormally to join Conquest on 6.5, but other key games are going on into the gathering gloom.
Lower down the order, Arkell's indifferent form meant another loss today and at this rate he will struggle to be in the prize list at all. On the other hand, Jack Rudd, who had a desperately bad first week, has hit the winning trail; another win today put him on 5.5. So from the murky depths of Bd. 34 out of 36 in Round 4, he has now scored 4.5 pts from the next 5 rounds. This is looking dangerously like consistency, which is not like Jack at all. What's happening to him?
Old Fashioned Generosity: The draw in the Seniors paired club-mates Brian Gosling and David Toms (see earlier picture), who both play for Sidmouth in local leagues and Exmouth in the county leagues. It also happened to be David's birthday, so Brian gave him the best present of all - the gift of a piece during the game and the full point. Isn't that what friends are for?
Herald Express: The local daily paper here in Torbay is the Herald Express, which covers event from Dawlish down to Dartmouth. Through the efforts of the Torbay League Secretary, John Doidge, who ordinarily writes a monthly chess column for them, they have agreed to almost daily coverage which he provides. Today, however, they have excelled themselves with the promised full page article by former Guardian columnist, Mike Baker, who was here last week. Access the article on their website, http://www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk/ and find about the activities of Cable Guy (and others).