Arbiting at the British
I had offered to do a week’s arbiting with the British Championships being at home in Wales. After two days helping out with the Weekenders I had been assigned to spending the second week of the event helping our own chief arbiter Peter Purland run the junior events. What I hadn’t anticipated was that as an arbiter’s job is quiet for a lot of the time, I would also acquire a second job inputting games, and almost all the U10/12/14 games played from Monday to Friday will be available on the British Championships web-site courtesy of my first finger sitting actively on a mouse for a week. If I didn’t know before how juniors tried to play, I do now!!
While I was there, the juniors generally stuck to the laws of chess. I did have to adjust a digital clock once for an illegal move – even remembering how to do this!! - and had to field the occasional question. ‘Are we allowed to do en passant?! was one of the more unusual ones. With the odd exception, the parents also stuck to our rules of short visits to see what was going on, with only two people getting a yellow cards (Welsh parents can probably guess one of the two! and he kept trying our patience as to whether to award a red card!) It was very encouraging to see how many of the Welsh juniors were performing at the top end of the tournaments, which occasionally made me have to careful to be unbiased, particularly with two Welshmen as generally the only arbiters in the room.
An important feature of the job is to record results and use them to do the round by round pairings and get these available on the website. The latter point can be very useful as we found before the afternoon round on Tuesday in the U10s. Of the two score sheets handed in for one game from the morning round, one showed a result of 1-0 and the other one showed no result anywhere. We had done the pairing using 1-0, got the results and pairings on the web, and almost immediately had a message of a 'wrong result' on the website - with a claim it should have been 0-1. Sod''s law had meant I hadn't yet decyphered the game scoresheets which were both inaccurate, so whilst I suspected a wrong result, I wasn't sure. Everything was taken off the web, and search parties were sent for the players or someone else who could confirm the result. Eventually we were convinced the result was 0-1, and made all the relevant corrections to the results and the website, but had to give a stern warning at the start of the next game about the need to give in a scoresheet showing the correct result.
By Round 4 on Wednesday morning Chirag Guha and Venetia Sivarajasingam had sped to 3/3 in the U10s and were playing on top board, and I thought it was time to get my camera out and take a few photos of the Welsh players – (hopefully some of these can reach our website). Chirag ran himself very short of time, so he was playing largely on the 10 second additional time increments. Despite this, he played a very mature sacrificial attack, winning the game and keeping himself in the lead on 4/4. Watching through games involving time trouble was one of my important functions, and with the eventual winner on the neighbouring board also getting very short of time as well as a few other players not quite as badly short of time, I had a very busy half hour that morning. One problem I frequently encountered was that the player not short of time speeds up himself and keeps forgetting he has to keep score and needs friendly reminders to do so.
Chirag moved very smoothly onto 5/5 and then played two fairly comfortable games to take the U10’s title – the first Welsh British boys champion, I believe, since Josef Thomas was U16 champion in 2006. Several others were also doing very well into round 7 where I had another camera session, with Chirag and Stephanie du Toit both playing on top board in their events, and Imogen Camp and Venetia duly to win at least a share of their respective Girl’s titles.
Round 7 was finished and the titles had been decided, but my job was still not over, with games inputting to complete ( I’m told I input 271 games altogether!) – and then help needed to ‘dismantle’ the main playing hall and reassemble it for the final prize-giving ceremony. Kevin Staveley was master of ceremonies and can be congratulated for running a very successful event. For those with long memories it seemed very apt that in Aberystwyth for the first time for many years a British Championship was played virtually within sight of where our ex-President Roy Clues had lived, and whose trophy for the best Welsh player went fittingly to a British Boys Champion.