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QinetiQ Benbecula Invitational Chess Tournament 2007

By Kevin Thurlow

To answer the unspoken first question, Benbecula is an island in the Hebrides, not far from Lewis, which staged a tournament in the 90s. I was acting as arbiter at this year's Combined Services Chess Championship, when I was approached by Munroe Morrison, who now found himself stationed on Benbecula, and was struggling to find chess opponents. So his plan was to invite three other players to spend a week on the island and play an all-play-all double round event. We all agreed, and Qinetiq not only agreed to stage the tournament, but they also generously provided sponsorship money for some rather nice trophies. Munroe supplied book prizes as well. Munroe did a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes, but was rewarded when he met the flight from Glasgow and his three opponents were actually on it. A few minutes later we were in the Sergeants' Mess in better than usual military style accommodation.

Wikipedia - Benbecula

Benbecula nestles between the Uists, North and South, and means “Mountain of the Fords”. As the highest point on Benbecula is 407 feet (124 m), the first part is perhaps optimistic, but the Fords referred to the treacherous crossings to the two Uists. In due course, the crossings were replaced by causeways, and indeed Eriskay (of Whisky Galore fame) and Berneray are also linked by causeways.

This allowed us to visit half a dozen islands, without resorting to a boat or getting or feet wet. Munroe did a great job, working out a schedule whereby we could play the tournament at sensible time limits ( 40 moves in 2 hours, plus half an hour for remaining moves), and yet fit in as much sightseeing as possible. He drove us round the islands, allowing us to see great scenery, otters, various birds and places of interest. The “House of Shadows” will live long in our memories. One museum featured an exhibition dedicated to the legendary Runrig, as founder member Calum MacDonald comes from Lochmaddy in North Uist. They are a somewhat unusual band, as they perform songs in Gaelic and English. We also visited Flora MacDonald's cottage (or the remains of it). She accompanied Bonnie Price Charlie over the sea to Skye.

The tournament

PGN Download

 

 

G

Perf

1

1

2

2

3

3

4

4

Tot

1

Andy Hammond

200

-4

X

X

1

0

1

1

1

1

5

2

Kevin Thurlow

164

+7

0

1

X

X

½

1

1

0

3

Alec Toll

164

-9

0

0

½

0

X

X

1

1

4

Munroe Morrison

125

+6

0

0

0

1

0

0

X

X

1

Andy Hammond suffered an early setback when he damaged a muscle playing football, and spent the next few days on crutches. Luckily, Benbecula sports a well-equipped hospital. It did not seem to affect his chess as he won his first three games without a fight. He really should have lost to Alec Toll in the return game, but fought back in a difficult ending. He lost his 100 % record in the last round. Your reporter started off solidly, but made an extraordinary error in the second game against our host, blundering a piece instead of winning a rook. Two good wins at the end made it a satisfactory result. Alec was clearly better against Andy in the second game as mentioned above, but got himself very short of time in the resulting queen and pawn ending. Munroe was outgunned for most of the tournament, but did have the consolation victory to cheer him up. Even this gave him nervous moments, but he managed to steady his nerves and gain the full point.

The prizes were presented by a member of the leadership team at QinetiQ Hebrides, Ken MacDonald, and everybody pronounced themselves delighted with the week's work and entertainment. The players were all grateful to Ken MacDonald, Munroe Morrison, QinetiQ and the staff at the Sergeants' Mess.

The Combined Services Chess Association is always delighted to hear from potential members. See http://www.serviceschess.co.uk/



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