Chess tournament is well worth checking out

CHECKMATE: Action from the 31st Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress at the Apex
CHECKMATE: Action from the 31st Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress at the Apex
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A hushed silence filled the Apex this weekend as the venue once again hosted the ever popular Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress.

The competition, celebrating its 31st year and recognised as one of the UK’s leading congresses, hosted 143 entrants, each playing five games in four separate graded sections.

A unique feature of both the sport and its competitions is the difference in ages between competitors, this time including two players as young as seven, in the form of Tristan See and Sophie Tjurina in the Minor section, through to the other end of the scale with 89-year-old John Dawson, also competing in the Minor section.

With almost £2,000 of prize money up for grabs, competition proved fierce with Russia’s Alex Cherniaev finally coming out on top in the main open event with a score of four-and-a-half out of five to scoop the top individual prize of £500.

It was a somewhat disappointing display from the county’s players with Bury St Edmunds’ William Sait faring best to take joint third place in the Minor category.

Ely’s Mark Szymanski took the honours in the Major competition ahead of Coulsdon’s Francis Sagyaman, while the Minor title was clinched by Colchester’s Martin Harris.

Speaking of the competition’s continued success, Bob Hope, who is planning on stepping down from his role as event controller after next year’s event, which will be his 16th, believes the event holds a particularly unique character when compared to others.

“The event went exceptionally well and that is why I believe we are recognised as one of the leading competitions in the country,” he said.

“To have competitors in any competition ranging from seven to 89 is an extremely rare thing but it is a tremendous leveller because despite the difference in age at that point they are the same standard.

“I can’t think of any other sport where you have that equality, it is fantastic to see.”