Individual Knockout Competition

by Alex Easton

A history published in the 75th League anniversary issue of the Bristol Chesstimes in 1982.

An individual knock-out tournament open to all League players was started in 1980, partly with the idea of providing the opportunity for players from lower divisions to play against stronger opposition that they were used to in their own League programmes, and partly to provide more competitive chess for the stronger players.

Although some people were deterred from entering the tournament in the early stages (some still are) because of the number of League games they already had to play and because of the expense and trouble of travelling by themselves, the first three years of the tournament proved very successful, and this year there is a record breaking entry.

In the first three years, there were a number of upsets as favourites experienced difficulty in getting past less fancied opponents, and in some cases were even knocked out. Of the three winners, Mick Cook, who won in 1980, met the strongest opposition of all and was a most deserving winner. The final was between he and Peter Sullivan of the University, with R.J.Webb (Keynsham) and Tyson Mordue (Downend & Fishponds) the losing semi-finalists.

By comparison, the second winner, Alex Easton, 'only' had to put an end to some giant-killing runs in the last three rounds to win the tournament, since most of the favourites had been turfed out by outsiders in the early rounds. Three results bear mention - in the first round, three very strong and experienced Division 1 players (who will remain nameless) lost to opponents graded 70, 50 and 30 points below themselves. The losing finalist was Jan Gorgol (University) and the losing semi-finalists were Howard Millbank (Horfield & Montpelier) and Andrew Borkowski (Yatton & Clevedon).

More giant-killing took place in 1982, though not on such a scale. A good run by Ian George (Bristol & Clifton) was brought to an end in the final by Jim Will (Grendel) after a replay. The losing semi-finalists were Alan Williams (Horfield & Montpelier) and Tyson Mordue.

A shield was donated by Alistair Brown, and the entry fees, minus the costs of running the tournament, were returned to the prize winners. In the last two years, the League has made a donation to the prize fund to make the prizes more realistic.

1980Mick Cook (Sea Mills)
1981Alex Easton (University)
1982Jim Will (Grendel)

1998 postscript: the popularity of the Individual KO seemed to die away in the nineties. An attempt was made in 1994 to liven things up by having each round consist of two 30 minute rapidplay games followed by blitz tie-breaks, but there was no real upsurge in interest. The competition has not been held since the 1995-96 season. - JR