Manor Tyres Chess Congress

by Alex Easton

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

The idea of a major chess congress in Bristol was conceived by Chris New of Downend and Fishponds Chess Club and Manor Tyres Ltd. The firm would guarantee to cover any losses involved in running the tournament, and any profit and donations would go to the Bristol Chess Educational Trust.

The form of the tournament was set to be a five round swiss with adjournments. A large prize fund was guaranteed in order to attract strong players to the area, and this last intention was fully realised in the three congresses so far.

The first, in 1980, attracted a Grandmaster, J.D.M.Nunn of Oxford, and 4 Masters, C.W.Pritchett, G.Botterill, M.Chandler and M.J.Basman. Some upsets occurred - Bernard Cafferty of Birmingham had a beautiful win against Chandler, Nunn dropped half a point against an untitled opponent, and Botterill's first round opponent missed a mate in one and went on to lose.

The tournament was won by M.J.Basman with a clean score of 5/5; second prize was shared between Cafferty - who took a quick draw in the last round against a lowly graded opponent to assure himself of a share in second - Nunn, Botterill, Parr, and Surtees. Besides Terry Fox's draw with Pritchett in the last round, the only Bristol success in the Open was Simon McGuinness who won a grading prize ahead of much stronger opposition. This lack of success of Bristol players was to be repeated in later years.

Bristol based players did rather better in the Major, however, although the tournament was won by two outsiders - C.Bowley of Cheltenham and G.L.Pritchard of Southampton. Second prize was shared between four locals, namely Phil Telfer (Keynsham), Mark Mouse (Sea Mills), Jerry Humphreys (Downend and Fishponds) and Pete Johnson (Keynsham). In the Minor Tournament, three players shared first including C.Parker of Little Thatch.

The trend of outsiders dancing off with the loot was firmly established in the Open the following year, although this time two locals did well. The first prize was shared by Grandmaster Tony Miles and Murray Chandler, the New Zealand International Master based in London. A quick draw was agreed between the two in the last round, but Chandler's performance in the previous round, when he beat the other titled player in the tournament, John Nunn, was above criticism. Two Bristolians put up excellent performances to take a share in the six-way split of the second prize - Alan Ashby of Sea Mills and Terry Fox of Bristol and Clifton - but these were the only real successes by locals in the top tournament in the three years.

C.Bowley won the Major, this time by himself, and a massive tie occurred for second involving ten players, among whom were Andrew Borkowski (Yatton and Clevedon), Alan Williams (Horfield and Montpelier), Steve Rawlins (University), Dave Jones, and Dave Woodruff (Keynsham). The Minor had a four-way tie for first between R.Bacon, R.Palmer, D.Smith (all of Bristol) and M.Kennedy of Weston-super-Mare.

In the third year, Tony Miles swept efficiently through the field with a typical Grandmaster performance to take first prize. Murray Chandler was again successful in taking second prize with 4½/5 and five players shared third.

Three local players shared second {in the Major} with five others behind G.W.Sage of Weston-super-Mare :- Jerry Humphreys, D.V.Jones, and the junior Sean Elliott (Hanham and Kingswood).

The lack of success by Bristol players in the Open is a good indication of the success of the Congress in attracting some of Britain's top players to the area. The opportunity for Bristol players to meet the strongest opposition is rare and the competition in the Manor Tyres is very important in improving the standard of chess in the area.

The tournament was less well attended in its third year, reflecting the general slump in the fortune of weekend congresses throughout the country. It is to be hoped that this is a passing trend and that chess congresses in general, and the Manor Tyres in particular, will soon flourish, and the only major tournament in Avon will go from strength to strength.

1997 postscript: After a final paragraph like that there was only one possible outcome; the Manor Tyres Congress did not take place again! Selections of games from the three congresses are available in the Games Archive. - JR