The Congress had its largest entry in years, despite having to be brought forward a week, which puts it a little too close to the start of the school term. It may be, of course, that the earlier date suits some people. We'll see if the upward trend continues next year, when we revert to our usual weekend - next year's dates are 7-9 September.
The Premier event had its largest field ever, though one of the weakest at the top end (yet still half the players were graded over 2000). Alan Grant, Duncan Grassie and Chris MacDonald shared first place on 4/5. Notable results included Duncan's win over Steve Mannion, and Chris's over Joe Redpath. The Grading Prize was shared by Richard Birkett and Ian Marks.
Premier winners: Duncan Grassie, Chris MacDonald and Alan Grant (photos JBH)
The Challengers was as competitive as ever - in most rounds, the last game to finish was in that tournament; and after two rounds only one player (Collins Young) had a perfect score. In the end, Mike Chisholm won with 4½/5, ahead of Jannic Konarski and Findlay Murray on 4. The Grading Prize was split seven ways among Steve Smith, Neil Irving, Hugh Flockhart, Robert Rough, Rudolf Austin, Alan Cundill and Douglas Heatlie.
The traditional timing for the congress is the Falkirk autumn holiday weekend (the weekend after the first Tuesday in September), and the fact that we now have to book the venue well over a year in advance does make it difficult to respond to changes in customer preference. As it happens, following tradition will make the congress get earlier in September for two years after next year (7-9 in 2007, 5-7 in 2008 and 4-6 in 2009) but in 2010 it would jump to 10-12 September. Maybe at that point we should consider a switch to the first full weekend of the month. But that's a long way away.
Anyways, back to my remarks on this year's congress.
The Major was the largest tournament, with 48 players, and was hard-fought. Most of the prize money was kept local, with Mark Monaghan (formerly of Grangemouth, now of Stirling) winning on 4½/5, and John Smith (Grangemouth) second on 4. Eight players tied for third place on 3½ points; that prize was split six ways among Sam Phillips, Alan Birnie, Andrew MacQueen, Siegrun MacGilchrist, Keith Aitchison and Phil Tait, while Robert Loughran and Andrew McClement received the under-1525 and under-1425 Grading Prizes respectively as these were more beneficial.
The Minor was (not for the first time) dominated by Juniors, with Calum Vipond putting in what I think is his best ever performance (four wins after a first-round bye) to finish as outright winner on 4½/5, and Alastair Grant and Liam Ingram sharing second equal on 4 along with Glynis Grant. Jason Bradshaw, an adult playing his first congress, won the Grading Prize with 3½.
As well as the trophy for First, Calum also won the trophy for best Junior in the Minor.
The final trophy in the "adult" tournaments, the Brian Currie Memorial Shield for the Junior with the best grading performance across the four tournaments, was won by Andrew McClement. He was eligible to play in the Minor, but chose to play in the Major, and gained two wins and two draws against players 300 or so points above him (and a grading prize as well as the Shield).
The Saturday Junior was won by Jamie Scott with 6/6 ahead of Scott Jordan, Nicholas Blake, Shivan Murdochy, Jonathan Blake and Michelle Latter on 4. The Sunday Junior was won by Kieran O'Donnell with 5½/6, ahead of Sarah Spier and Calum Dickson on 5.
Additional prize winners Gragemouth Junior, Saturday Best P5/Under Morven Petrie 3.5/6
Sunday Best S1/2 Scott Jordan,
Best P6/7 Adam Shannon,
Best P4/5 Morven Petrie
Best P3 Jeremy Scott
Best P2 Fergus Skillen,
Joe Turner Blythe
Grangemouth Junior Trophy was jointly won by Kiernan O'Donnell (Hamilton)
and Jamie Scott (Edinburgh)
Donald Wilson (junior info Norman Mathie)