League Congress

by Chris Carter

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

The League's individual championships were traditionally decided by all-play-all tournaments throughout the season. Originally, each division had its own championship but later the sections were arranged according to the players' merits rather than their team's divisional status. However, by the mid 70s the competitions were failing, and at the 1977 AGM Dr Norris proposed that we settle our individual championships by a weekend congress. This proposal was adopted and the League held its first Annual Congress at the Central Y.M.C.A.

The Congress was a great success and has been gradually expanding ever since. The financial problems of this event have been solved by the generous offer from the University Chess Club to use the Students' Union. Entry fees have been kept to £2 (Juniors £1) and we can still give prize money, as well as presenting the four silver trophies to the winners.

Entries are restricted to members of the League, and the entrants are divided (according to playing strength) into four sections. Each section is played as a 5 round Swiss Tournament. Section 1 is normally for those graded over 150-160, Section 2 for those between 160-150 and 130-120, Section 3 between 130-120 and 100, and Section 4 those below 100. The exact 'cut-off' varies according to entries and is decided by the organisers.

The chess is, of course, fiercely competitive but the friendly atmosphere makes the Congress into a social event. Every year Dave Jarrett gives up a weekend to act as controller; an arduous job in which he combines the authority of a B.C.F. Arbiter with the plain common sense required to help those just starting on the congress trail. The playing conditions are excellent, as is the view.

Here is a game from each of the last two winners of Section 1:
White: M.E.Binks (D&F); Black: J.Boyce (B&C). League Congress 1980-81.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 e5 8.dxe5 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 11.Bg5 Rf8 12.Nb5 c6 13.Nd6 h6 14.Be3 Be6 15.b3 Rfb8 16.Rad1 Ne8 17.Nxb7! Rxb7 18.Bxc6 Rbb8 19.Rd2 Kh7 20.Rfd1 Bf6 21.c5 Be7 22.b4 Nf6 23.f3 Rd8 24.Bxa8 Rxa8 25.b5 Rc8 26.c6 Rc7 27.Kg2 Bb4 28.Rb2 Ba5 29.Bc5 Nd5 30.e4 Nb6 31.Bb4 Bxb4 32.Rxb4 Kg7 33.a4 Kf6 34.a5 Nc4

35.b6 axb6 36.axb6 Ne3+ 37.Kg1 Nxd1 38.bxc7 Ke7 39.Rb8 Kd6 40.c8Q Bxc8 41.Rxc8 Ne3 42.Rf8 Kxc6 43.Rxf7 Kc5 44.Kf2 1-0
White: P.Sullivan (Univ); Black: C.P.Garwood (Univ). League Congress 1981-82.
1.g3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Nd5 Nxd5 6.cxd5 Ne7 7.Nf3 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.d4 e4 10.Ng5 f5 11.f3 exf3 12.Bxf3 Ng6 13.Qd3 Be7 14.h4 h6 15.Nh3 d6 16.h5 f4 17.Nxf4 Nxf4 18.Bxf4 Bg5 19.Bxg5 Qxg5 20.Kg2 Bg4 21.Qe4

21...Bf5 22.Qh4 Qd2 23.Rf2 Qe3 24.Raf1 Rae8 25.Kh2 Bb1 26.g4 Bxa2 27.Ra1 Bc4 28.Rxa7 Ba6 29.Rg2 Qxd4 30.Rxa6 bxa6 31.Qg3 Qe5 32.g5 hxg5 33.Kh1 Qxg3 34.Rxg3 Re5 35.e4 Rb8 36.Bg4 Rxb2 37.Be6+ Kh8 and White soon resigned. 0-1

This season's League Congress will be at the Students' Union on the weekend 25th-27th Feb 1983. Entry forms are enclosed with this magazine. It is an ideal first congress and I hope might prove addictive.

1997 postscript: the League Congress has continued in much the same format, and at the same venue, ever since and this season we are holding the 22nd Congress. - JR