Sunday, 3 June 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament - Report and Results

The 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament took place yesterday at Marsh Towers.

The games were wild and very tactical, thanks to the themed openings we used in each round.

The tournament preparation is complete
The players had to turn over a card to reveal their tournament number (which determined the order of play) but before doing so they had to name the people in the photographs and say what their respective connections to chess actually were.

Who are they - and what is their connection to chess?
We made a random draw before each round to determine which of the 12 nominated openings we would have to use. All were used by Mike many times.

The openings we used were...

Round 1

The Modern Benoni
Round 2

The Nimzo-Indian

Round 3

The French Wing Gambit
Round 4

The Milner-Barry Gambit

Round 5

The Sicilian Wing Gambit
The games were great!
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Uniquely for this annual event, the players were all from the same club and essentially made up the double-winning Redcar A team (only Julian Allinson was unavailable).

Matthew Jackman

Andrew Smith

Dave Edmunds

David Baillie

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Matthew and Andrew were making their Mike Closs Memorial debuts and former champion David Baillie maintained his 100% attendance record for this event.

The games were great fun and given the unfamiliar territory (none of the five players have had much experience using Mike's favourite openings) there were plenty of blunders but lots of brilliant moves and fabulous games too, as everyone fully entered into the spirit of the occasion.

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After a full afternoon of dangerous play, the final scores were:

9.5/10: Sean Marsh

6/10: Dave Edmunds

5.5/10: Matthew Jackman, Andrew Smith

3.5/10: David Baillie

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Once the intense chess had ceased, we visited Cena in Yarm for our traditional post-tournament meal - and very enjoyable it was too.

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Thank you Andrew, Dave, David and Matthew for supporting the event. I am sure Mike would have approved of the sharp openings and fighting chess.

The 10th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament will take place in 2019.

Reports on previous editions of this event can be found here:

1st Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2010

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

Friday, 1 June 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament - Final Preview

Today we bring our week of tournament previews to a close as we look forward to tomorrow's memorial event.

Photo © Stuart Morgan/Steve Henderson
This classic photograph depicts Mike teaching three members of Guisborough Chess Club back in 1995. From left to right we see Mike, Gawain Jones (now a brilliant Grandmaster, of course), Chris Bond and the late Mike Welch.


Earlier this season I was delighted to be able to play, for the first time, on the Mike Closs Memorial Board, which is the property of Thornaby Chess Club.

Now, onwards, to the tournament...

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament - Photographic Memories

We are now just two days away from the 9th Mike Closs Memorial tournament.

It has been quite a week of reflection, thinking back over our times, tournaments and triumphs together, all the way from our first meetings (on board one for our respective school teams, Warsett and Westfields) up to to our final mutual team successes for Elwmood (finishing with another league and cup double, over a decade ago).

Here are  a few images from over the years.
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A simultaneous display at Billingham Synthonia chess club, back in 2006. We played four boards each.

Photo © Steve Henderson
Mike taking a keen interest in my game against David Spence. This was the crunch league game for Elmwood against Middlesbrough Rooks. We won a very tough match to take the title.

Photo © Steve Henderson
Side by side at the 2003 Tom Wise KO Cup final against Athenaeum. We both won to secure another double for Elmwood.

Photo © Steve Henderson
 Lots of trophies for Elmwood during the golden years.
Photo © Steve Henderson
Another cup final. Such intensity as we defended our title against Peterlee.

Well, we cannot bring back those days but we certainly made the most of our time together. I think he would have approved of the tournament we have lined up for him this weekend.