Photo by Florian Pépellin CC BY-SA 4.0
Although many Dorset chess players have played in Jersey before, this was the first Jersey chess tournament to be held for over 10 years and its return in March 2013 was well received. To add to the attraction there were 4 GMs and an IM all lined up to play, as well as an excellent controller in Adam Raoof but perhaps the tournament’s main attraction was that it was being held in a friendly comfortable hotel (Hotel Ambassadeur) on the seafront with excellent food.
Did you know that:
- Jersey is far closer to France than England? Indeed, it is only 15 miles from its shores yet almost 100 miles from Weymouth, hence the use of Team Dorset on Tour!
- The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by German forces during the Second World War. The British government considered the islands to be of little strategic importance and were reluctant to spend money on their defence.’
Map by Chipmunkdavis (Wikimedia) CC BY-SA 3.0
For the four Team Dorset players, Ian Clark, Allan Pleasants, Martin Simons and Bruce Jenks, who travelled together, this adventure will be as much remembered for the events away from the chess board as for the chess itself.
Pre-Tournament – An inauspicious start!
The omens were not good when Ian agreed to organise the flights for all of us. He thought he had done really well, after all he had booked them at a good price with a reputable airline. It was soon after the booking when it dawned on one member of the touring party that there may be a problem ahead as the flights had been booked for May instead of March! Fortunately, our first disaster was averted when Ian was able to immediately change the tickets without too much trouble. Luckily we did not travel with another airline!
Round 1 – And the Chess Starts … well almost!
As our flight was arriving a bit late on the Wednesday, and we did not want to be rushed, we all took byes … so a solid start for the four of us!
Round 2 – Now where are my tablets?
We all drew except Bruce who unfortunately lost, partly because he was worried that he had inadvertently forgot to pack his medication.
Round 3 – Replacement Supplies / Team Dorset Undefeated / Allan wins!
Bruce had indeed forgotten to pack his medication so he decided he had better go to the hospital to obtain some replacement supplies which meant he took a half point bye. This proved to be the first of two visits to the Jersey hospital (pictured below) by Team Dorset.
In the tournament, Allan was our only winner. Martin and Ian drew.
Round 4 – A tough day at the office for Allan but Ian wins!
Allan was rewarded for his previous round win with a game against IM Lawrence Trent and was doing well for most of it but he made a crucial error near the time control. Ian managed to get his first win, Martin drew for the 3rd consecutive time and Bruce, still not quite feeling at 100%, unfortunately lost.
Round 5 – Another good day for Team Dorset! Ian wins, others draw
Ian enjoyed a Benko Gambit against Yaraslav Orishko from Ukranian (2145) and after playing a patient game, pounced on his opponent’s error to force a nice winning line. On top board there was probably the crucial match of the tournament where GM Eduardas Rozentalis from Lithuania beat the top seed Michal Krasenkow from Poland. Allan, Martin and Bruce draw.
Round 6 – Ian plays a World top 100 player, Bruce has an easier time!
Ian was rewarded for reaching 3.5/5 by being paired with the white pieces against Michal Krasenkow (2643) who was by far the highest graded player Ian has ever played. Ian played well in the early stages but then, Krasenkow, who had opted for the Modern defence, just waited for Ian to make a small error. This happened on move 15 and from then on he just ground Ian down. He was a nice guy and went through the game with Ian afterwards explaining where Ian had gone wrong.
Bruce, feeling much better, was up for a decent game but the opening moves by his opponent were a little ridiculous! The game started 1.d4 f6 2.e4 Kf7. This is known as the Fried Fox Defence. Well, there was only one person being fried as Bruce won in 15 moves! We hasten to add that this opening did not make our list of Animal Openings last summer!
Being interested in Ian’s game and Bruce’s silly game too, Martin and Allan agreed a draw in 10 moves.
Round 7 – Another difficult pairing for Ian
On Saturday afternoon, Ian had another difficult game with Black against IM Lawrence Trent and after an awful opening, Ian seemed to be lost but Trent allowed Ian back into game to reach a drawn position. Unfortunately, Ian seemed to relax, then overlooked a subtle sacrifice and resigned soon after. Allan, Martin & Bruce drew.
Round 8 – Bruce’s 2nd win, Martin’s hardest draw!
Bruce was finishing the tournament well as he won his second game. Martin played Mark Lyell (2227) and had to work very hard in an opposite coloured bishop and pawn ending to draw again and he was the last player to finish. Ian also drew. Unfortunately Allan lost.
Round 9 – Ian & Bruce agree a 4 move draw, Martin secures 100% (of draws!)
The last round saw Ian paired against Bruce, and partly being exhausted from previous round encounters, but more likely with the Six Nations rugby to watch, Ian offered a draw after only four moves which, following a bit of laughter, was accepted by Bruce. Allan drew and Martin made sure of his perfect record by also drawing (8 draws and a bye!).
The tournament was won by Rozentalis with 8 out of 9, Mark Hebden came 2nd with 7.5 and Krasenkow 3rd with 7.0.
Ian, Bruce & Martin finished with 4.5 out of 9, and Allan scored 4.
Closing Dinner and Presentations
We had all agreed in advance to stay for the presentation dinner on the Sunday evening and to then travel back home at a more leisurely time on the Monday morning. We did not win any prizes but Martin had a brief mention for his consistent record in achieving a draw in every game. Maybe he had been preparing for the Valentine’s draw bulletin 8 years in advance! All those players who did not stay for the presentational dinner managed to get off the island that evening. This included Peter Wilcock (Wimborne) who was playing in the Challengers section. Did they all know something we didn’t?
There may be trouble ahead!
The weather forecast was poor for the Monday with a possibility of snow. This proved to be an understatement as we were just ready to leave the hotel for our 10am flight when we were informed that the Jersey airport had been closed due to the heavy snow. We therefore had to rebook our flight for Tuesday and hope!
The link to local Jersey press concerning the snow is given below.
To pass the time and because the weather did not seem too bad (famous last words!), we caught a taxi into town (as the hotel was 2 miles from the town centre) to have a look around the shops and go for a meal followed by a few drinks in town.
Martin’s dodgy left foot!
Martin had been having some trouble with his left foot throughout the tournament which may have contributed towards his drawing record (so he tells us – we had told him to use his other foot to play his moves!). Seriously, he had been in some discomfort during the latter part of the tournament and had seen the pharmacist earlier who suggested, because the infection was spreading up his leg, that he should go to hospital. We therefore took a detour to the Jersey A&E hospital which was on the far side of St Helier. The doctor was sufficiently concerned by the infected foot and she drained the source of the infection from it. She then gave him antibiotics to hopefully heal the infection. There was also an unusual request for any of us who had a camera phone to take a picture of Martin’s foot (just in case it got worse so that he could then show his own doctor). Enter Allan and then Bruce stage left to take a picture. Allan had the camera, Bruce just walked in!
Pictured below is Martin’s left foot prior to treatment (and it was not due to sunburn!).
Martin was advised to keep the foot dry for the next few days but this request lasted less than two hours! This was because since waiting in A&E, the snow had begun to be fall very heavily and the wind was blowing about force 9 and we were unsure how to get back to the hotel.
We chose to make this decision in the nearest pub (!) where we ordered food accompanied by some further drinks. We could see that the snow was getting worse and when we decided to leave we were told no taxis or buses were running so we had no choice but to walk through the blizzard for about three miles back to the hotel. This took about an hour. The clip below shows the treacherous conditions we had to walk through.
We were pretty exhausted and frozen by the time we got back to hotel. Martin’s foot was extremely wet, so much for the doctor’s request to keep it dry! Luckily it still healed up and his chess has improved too … apparently!
Home at Last – Better Late than never!
The next morning came and it was clear that we were going nowhere so we chose to play some blitz chess and rebook again for the Wednesday 6.45pm flight. The snow in Jersey was the worst it has been for 34 years and in some places was over one foot high. We eventually got away on Wednesday evening and we were back home some 2½ days late! We have not been back to the sunshine Island of Jersey since!
Every Cloud has Snow in it a Silver Lining!
The good news was that we put in a compensation claim with the airline, EasyJet, for the delays and we were all reimbursed for the cost of our extra two nights accommodation!
In all seriousness, we all had an enjoyable time and hope to return to the tournament again one day, hopefully when it is not snowing!
Team Dorset (Ian Clark, Martin Simons, Allan Pleasants & Bruce Jenks)
10th April 2021