The 14th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament took place today.
Four strong players - David Baillie, Matt Jackman, Kevin Winter and Peter Harker - battled away over the course of the day in honour of our late friend and colleague.
David is the only player to have played in every event so far and the only one playing today to have won the title in former times (2011, to be exact).
The set openings this time (as voted for by the players themselves) were the French Winawer, King's Indian Defence and French Tarrasch.
David, a former county champion and renowned expert in the Winawer, beat Peter 2-0 in the first round and Matt defeated Kevin by the same score.
Round Two's King's Indian led to more mayhem on the board. Matt - the reigning county co-champion - seemed to be cruising to a 2-0 score against Peter (Hartlepool club and Cleveland County captain), but the latter pulled off a snap checkmate just when he appeared to be without hope. Kevin, looking on, could not resist shouting, 'He's done him! He's done him like a kipper!'
Globetrotting Kevin, who has just returned from a successful event in Crete with two trophies, will next be playing in Barcelona. Crete-Marsh Towers-Barcelona is not a bad run of consecutive venues at all.
It was then Kevin's turn to pull a checkmate out of the hat, with an unexpected end to his second game with David.
This set up the final round nicely, with Matt and David both on 3/4 and due to play against each other, while on the other board Kevin and Peter went into battle with 1/4.
The final battleground took the form of the French Tarrasch. Kevin and Peter drew 1-1 and David won the first game against Matt. The latter, needing to win the final game of the day to tie for first place, let rip with a Greek Gift sacrifice which set the board ablaze and went on to win after enormous complications.
Thus, the final standings were:
David and Matt: 4/6
Peter and Kevin: 2/6
We now have co-champions for the first in the 14 years we have running the memorial tournament.
A celebratory meal in The Keys of Yarm followed and Peter was exposed as a lightweight for leaving half of his sticky toffee pudding.
Index of Tournament Reports
2nd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2011
3rd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2012
4th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2013
5th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2014
6th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2015
7th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2016
8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2017
9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2018
10th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2019
11th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2020