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4th IBCA European Individual Championship

Six international masters, four FIDE masters and one woman FIDE master were among the 76 players from 25 countries who competed for the title of European champion.  The venue for what many believe to have been the strongest field ever for an individual championship for the blind and partially sighted was St. Aidan’s College, Durham University.

Top seed, Yuri Meshkov (Russia) got off to a flying start with five consecutive wins, but Jaroslav Olsar (Czech Republic) was also in great form just half a point behind.  Already the reigning world champion Berlinsky and the former world champion Krylov(both Russia) were feeling the pace and had dropped a game each.

Round six saw the crunch pairing of Meshkov against Olsar.  Perhaps to some people’s surprise, Olsar won a hard-fought game to go into the lead which he maintained to the end finishing with the magnificent total of eight points from nine games.  Second was Meshkov with 7.5. 13th seed, Sergey Grigorchuk (Ukraine) also had a fine tournament finishing in third place on seven points.  Ukraine had a fine tournament all round with all of their four players figuring in the prizes:  Wassin 4th on 6.5, Lubov Zsiltzova taking the prize for the leading woman player and Mikhailo Baloha the junior prize.  The grading prize was taken by Selim Altinok (Turkey) and the senior prize (over 60) went to Kresimir Kacic-Karlin (Croatia).

Of the UK players, the performance of Chris Ross was outstanding.  His score of 6 from 9 put him an eleven player tie for 5th place.  His placing according to the SPS tie-break was 12th, 14 places above his seeding position of 26.  Colin Crouch, who was not enjoying the best of health during the event, also finished on 6 with Graham Lilley, Steve Hilton and Les Whittle on 4 and Colin Chambers and Bill Armstrong on 3.5.

This was the biggest event we have put on for many years. Its success depended on the work of many people. Jan and I want to offer our sincere thanks to a marvellous team of people.  Let us try to name them. Arbiters: Gerry Walsh, Julie Leonard Peter Gibbs and Hugo Roman from Belgium.  Stewards and helpers: Norman Andrews, Roger Waters David Mills, Richard Murphy, Celia Gibbs, Sheila Milsom and Christine Andrews.  Fellow organisers, Norman and Pauline Wragg and the organising committee: Bill Armstrong, Alec Crombie and Richard Kidals.  A very special mention to Gill Smith who collated all replies and bookings and who was an immense help throughout the organising of the event.  The bulletin team: Tyson Mordue, Hans Cohn and Norman Stevenson. Thanks also to: David Clayton and Steve Hughes who operated the electronic digital boards which transmitted the top four games to the internet.  In addition, David set up links to many websites and also found time to give valuable assistance on bulletin production.  Thanks to Chris Ross and David Ross who set up the computers, printer, Braille embosser and photocopier for bulletin production; to Mike Murphy who escorted some overseas players from Gatwick airport to Kings Cross station for their train to Durham; to Julie Leonard, who, in addition to her responsibilities as an arbiter, produced result slips, score sheets, table name cards, flags and much else.  All gave generously of their time and many went beyond the call of duty.  We also thank the friendly college staff, the well-organised guides at the cathedral and Jamie Robinson and his crew who made the river cruise and barbecue on the Prince Bishop cruiser so enjoyable.

Such an event depends on having the money to pay, and for this we have to thank our fund-raiser Julia Scott who managed to persuade sufficient potential sponsors that this was a worthwhile project. We thank them all.

Our abiding memory will be of the quartet Kerim and Selim Altinok (Turkey) Bogdan Bozinovic (Croatia) and Andreas Ilic (Germany) accompanying community singing and dancing around the tables by friends from many countries around midnight on the final evening.

Stan and Jan Lovell.

Note: If you would like a full bulletin of all the games played contact Norman Wragg for Braille or Chris Ross for print or electronic copies.

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