County Durham in the North of England is not too far from the Scottish border. Within the County there is the Norman town and cathedral, green hills, moors and the “Durham Chess Congress”
The 2022 edition of the “Durham Chess Congress” marks the renaissance of this tournament which had not taken place for some five years. This year, thanks to the work of the organising team and in particular Michael Riding, the tournament was held in Darlington.
For this new start, the tournament was organised in the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, one of the largest town in County Durham. A large and quiet room was provided by the leisure centre allowing up to 160 players.
The Durham Chess Congress is a weekend festival ranged to permit players who work during the week to participate without taking days off. The first round started on the Friday evening at 5 pm. The five rounds were played with a time control of 1h50m + 10s per move, thus allowing for the game to finish at a reasonable time.
There were 159 players participating in the Durham Chess Congress split into three tournaments:
- The Open, unrestricted entry and FIDE approved, 59 players including the GM Daniel Gormally and the IMs Brandon Clarke and Tim Wall.
- The Major, which was limited to players with an ECF rating below 1900 – 42 players
- The Minor which was limited to players with an ECF rating below 1675 – 58 players
The Open provides a qualifying place for the English Championship and is also part of the North County Chess Union championship
Open, 0/4 points, 58/59
Let just say that I learned a good deal in this tournament …. Now let’s put the lessons to good use !
Open, 4/5 points, 6/59 (2nd and 3rd prizes ex aequo)
This tournament was good in terms of results with one game drawn against a player with a slightly lower rating than mine another draw with a player with a slightly higher rating. Overall, my play is visibly open to improvement and I made a number of mistakes which were not picked up by my opponents.
This stay in Northern England was an excellent experience with fine weather for early May as though inviting us to return.
The tournament was very pleasant and the players welcoming. We would have liked to have more time to exchange with them.
The opening ceremony was of note : the entire assembly standing for the entrance of the Mayor of Darlington who was announced by a herald and arrived wearing red ceremonial costume and a gold chain of office.
What we liked
What we liked less
Darlington is a situated in the North of England in County Durham close to the better-known towns of Durham, York or Newcastle. During our English trip we concentrated particularly on the towns of Durham and York with their historic city centre. However, we particularly appreciated the Darlington South Park after our games. This park contains two giant sequoias with the extremely rare feature of having multiple “branch-roots”.
York gives its name to the County of Yorkshire and is known for its medieval centre and its city walls of roman origin then modified and improved by the Vikings and the English. York Minster, the immense cathedral is visible from the city walls and is also one of the most important features of the city. There are charming city centre streets which give an authentic medieval character. The “shambles” was apparently a source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling for the creation of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter Saga.
The various English towns which we visited contain beautiful parks or green spaces. Within the York city walls lies the Museum Garden, a much-visited park with well-preserved ruins of a church. At the beginning of our stay, we also spent some time in the Rowntree Park, quieter but not less charming with a particular area reserved for voluntary organisations or clubs wishing to carry out public activities.
Durham, is a city full of Norman history. William the Conqueror made it a fortified city near the Scottish border thus giving it a strategic importance. Built on a hill, the imposing cathedral and castle are fine examples of Norman architecture in England.
The town and the County of Durham were ruled by a Prince Bishop who had an important political power making him at a time one of the most important nobles after the king. At the beginning of the 19th century the last Prince Bishop of Durham William Van Mildert participated actively in the creation of Durham University which is today the 5th in England. He also gave Durham castle to the College.
Quite apart from its old stone buildings, Durham is also excellently placed for walks in the green surrounding countryside and valleys.
This ends our first journey consisting of tournaments in Menorca and Durham. We will meet again soon for the second journey by continuing to the North of Europe with the Kronborg Chess Open in Denmark.