28th Dorset Rapidplay Championships 2024 – Full Report, Results & Photos

A great attendance!

The 28th Dorset Rapidplay Championships were held last Sunday 24th March. We took a slight risk this year to move the venue from the popular Merley Community Centre to the spacious Furzebrook Village Hall, a lovely setting which is more in the heart of Dorset. Our only concern was that we might lose more players from Bournemouth and further afield than we would gain from West Dorset. We needn’t have worried as there was an excellent attendance of 48 players.

This is now the 4th venue we have used in the Rapidplay’s history having previously been held at the Tuckton Social Club, Southbourne (1995 – 2012), the Greyfriars Community Centre, Ringwood (2014 – 2020) and the Merley Community Centre, Wimborne (2022 – 2023). It is no bad thing to move the tournament around but both Steve and I feel that the Furzebrook Village Hall is an excellent venue as it seems to have everything. Judging from the initial feedback, the players agreed.

The traditional winning ingredients

There were the normal free refreshments and lunch on offer together with a vast array of cash prizes, all designed to offer a friendly welcoming atmosphere and excellent value for money for all players.

A welcome delicious bonus!

Thanks to an anonymous donation, we were given a pleasant surprise at the start of the day in the form of a fantastic home made chocolate chess cake with 64 chocolate chess pieces – Such a shame that it had to be eaten but it was delicious and it all went once someone took the initial plunge mid morning. We are not sure which piece was gambited first!

Playing venue

The Furzebrook Village Hall proved to be an ideal location with a large free car park, and, with 2 spacious rooms inside, there was plenty of room to walk around and to relax between rounds. Due to the fantastic weather and countryside setting, there was also plenty of opportunity to roam around outside. Thankfully, none of the players were distracted by this glorious backdrop and all returned to play chess in time for the next round!

Free refreshments all day and a great service!

Thanks to John Stapleton’s early hard work, we had a delicious breakfast offering of free bacon and sausage rolls for everyone which were much in demand and very much appreciated by the competitors, parents and helpers. Thankfully, we had enough supplies!

The fantastic support from the kitchen helpers, Emmeline, Lindsey Peirson, Wendy Cuthbert and Lucy, meant everyone was well fed and watered during the day between rounds. Even dirty plates, cups and cutlery were miraculously cleaned and available for use at all times of the day.

Cash prizes

The prize fund was increased on the day to £530, consisting of £200 for the top 3 prizes, 5 rating prizes of £40 each together with a Veteran’s prize of £20, 2 junior prizes totalling £40, a Lady’s prize of £10, the exciting Team prize of £40, an Organisers’ special prize of £20 plus the traditional booby prize!

Manual pairings

As is traditional, we used manual pairings and a wallchart as we find this adds to the friendly ambience and extra interest in the event as players crowded around the pairing boards at the start of each round. A whistle was used to round up all players, including some hiding in the car park, to ensure each round started promptly!

Very few early shocks but lots of competitive games

The 1st round paired the top half versus the bottom half of players and out of the 24 matches, there were very few surprises with 21 of the higher rated players winning. However, there was one draw and two losses – Well played Paul Humphreys, Daniel Aron & Jaden Gerety!

After 3 rounds when lunch was taken, there were only 4 players on the maximum of 3 points.

Many of the games were fought out to the bitter end with only a few games where the arbiters had to get involved.  You can see more pictures of the players in action in the photo gallery.


Individual Prizewinners

There were 19 prizewinners which meant over 40% of players won prizes.

Due to the intense competition no player finished on maximum points and after a full day of some exciting chess battles the prizewinners were:

The overall winner, winning £100, with 5½ points out of 6 was Paul Northcott (Emsworth).

In joint 2nd with 5 points winning £50 each were Mike Duggan (Poole) & Mike Waddington (Dorchester & Poole) who became the Dorset Rapidplay champions and the trophy winners!

The 1801 to 1900 Rating prize of £40 was shared by Reenen Du Toit (New Milton), Martin O’Neill (Poole) & Zander Booth (Poole) with 4 points. Zander also won the junior 2nd prize of £15.

The 1701 to 1800 Rating prize of £40 was shared by Stephen Pollyn (Wimborne) & Lindsay Aris (Bournemouth) with 3½ points. Lindsay was unfortunately absent at the Prizegiving.

he 1501 to 1700 Rating Prize of £40 was shared by Nick Stout (Purbeck) & Florence Spirling (Southbourne & Purbeck) with 3 points. Florence was also placed first in the Best Lady category.


The 1301 to 1500 Rating Prize of £40 was won by Michal Orszulak (Southbourne & Purbeck) with 3 points.

The Under 1300 Rating Prize of £40 was won by Jaden Gerety (Dorchester) with 3 points.

The Organisers’ Prize (for the best performance by a player not winning a main prize) of £20 was won by Daniel Aron (Salisbury) who scored 2½ points.

The Veterans Trophy & Prize of £20 was won by Ian Clark (Wimborne) who scored 4 points.

The Junior 1st Prize of £25 was won by Finn Schell  (Southbourne) who scored 4½ points.

As previously noted, the 2nd Junior Prize was won by Zander Booth and…

… Florence Spirling was first in the Best Lady category but as she had won a different prize

the Best Lady Prize of £10 was won by Larissa Cuthbert (Southbourne), pictured below, with 2 points.

The Booby Prize (a chess puzzle book) was won by Andre Hopkins (Salisbury) for not troubling the scorers! We think he remembered to duck when the photo was taken!

Team Competition

The handicap team competition was extremely competitive and went down to the wire, with the lead changing in both the penultimate and final rounds.  In the end…

the Best Team of 4 prize of £40 was narrowly won by the Poole ‘The Butt Kickers‘ team comprising of Zander Booth, Paul Sanderson, Mike Duggan & Martin O’Neill (pictured below) who scored a combined 14½ points after the initial rating handicap…

and in 2nd place only a ½ point behind was the team comprising of Florence Spirling, Finn Schell, Nick Stout & Reenen Du Toit.

The Team of Organisers

I would like to personally thank:

  • Steve Peirson, Joint Organiser / Controller, who worked meticulously and hard throughout the whole day including the setting up of the tables, dealing of any disputes, updating the wallcharts and organising the pairings.
  • Lindsey Peirson, who provided the scrumptious 7 puddings.
  • Emmeline, Lucy, John and Wendy who all worked tremendously hard in the kitchen ensuring all competitors were well fed and watered.

Steve, Lindsey, Lucy, Emmeline, John & Wendy were presented with their own gifts as a small token of our much appreciated thanks for all their help and support in making the whole day very successful.

Finally, I would like to thank Peter Anderson who quietly yet efficiently behind the scenes updated the excellent webpages on the Dorset Chess Website relating to the Rapidplay.

We plan to hold the these championships again next year and we hope to see you then!

Martin Simons – March 2024

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