59th Southend Congress – 2015

3 – 6 April 2015
Southend Adult Community College,
Ambleside Drive, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2UN

Generously sponsored by Insight Strategic Associates

Chief Organiser: Gavin Strachan

Arbiters: Adam Raoof, Norman Went


  • Southend Premier Open, 7-Rounds;
  • Weekenders, 5-Rounds:
    • Major, ECF U180;
    • Intermediate, U150;
    • Minor, U120;

Time controls

  • Premier Open: 40 moves in 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes, PLUS 30 seconds per move from the start.
  • Weekenders: All moves in 60 minutes PLUS 30 seconds per move.

All events are ECF graded and the Open is also FIDE rated.


Friday 3rd April – Rounds 1 and 2 at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
Saturday 4th April  – Rounds 3 and 4 at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
Sunday 5th April – Rounds 5 and 6 at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
Monday 6th April  – Final Round 7 at 10:00 am 


Saturday 4th April – Rounds 1, 2 and 3 at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm
Sunday 5th April
– Rounds 4 and 5 at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm


The Essex Championship was awarded to the highest placed player in the Premier and was won by IM Richard Pert.

Congress Report

After Southend CC pulled out of organising this year’s Southend Easter Chess Congress, the event that Gavin Strachan put together at short notice, with the Arbiter team Adam Raoof and Norman Went, proved a great success. It was an undoubted benefit that the generous sponsorship from Insight Strategic Associates remained in place, without which, the Congress this year simply would not have happened. With this being the last congress extant in Essex, the Essex Chess Association has a strong interest in seeing the event continue, not the least reason being that this is the last, but worthy, refuge of awarding the title of Essex Champion. The ECA was not invovled in organising this year’s event, save for making a monetary contribution and providing the website.

138 entries were assembled, 70 of them in an incredibly strong Open, with seven GMs and 14 other titled players (15 if you count Dagne’s two titles). The 7-round Open was supported by three “Weekenders” sections (5 rounds – Saturday and Sunday) Major U180, Intermediate U150 and Minor U120, drawing, respectively, 17, 20 and 31 entries. (One player in the Minor played one round in the Intermediate as a “filler” and another in the Intermediate, who would have had a R1 bye, did not show.)

In the Open, Hungarian GM, Ferenc Berkes 2661, led from start to finish. However, he had to beat off a determined effort from IM Ameet Ghasi in R3, Berkes eventually winning a fiendishly difficult minor piece ending in 79 moves (see Games), in which each player declined a draw offer (Ghasi offer move 34, Berkes offer move 61). In the last round, having concluded with a draw to reach 6 points, Berkes must have felt confident that the same Ameet Ghasi would not defeat Uzbekistan GM Jack Vakhidov, as Ghasi could still equal Berkes’ score with a win. Ghasi lost, Berkes won the event and Vakhidov was outright second.

Such was the strength of the event that of the seven GMs, only three had a perfomance rating higher than their rating at the start. There was a logjam for third place, with no fewer than 12 players on 4 points after R6, and six placed =3rd on 5 after 7.

Essex Champion: Richard Pert, 4½, (on SoPs tie-break from Andrew Lewis, who also scored 4½);
Essex U160 Champions: Keith Wilcox, 2½, (on SoPs tie-break from Peter Nickals, who also scored 2½);
Best female performance: WGM/IM Dagne Ciuksyte, 4½/7.

The Major was the smallest section, possibly a number of players of Major strength preferring a 7 round weekend, but was well-contested. The section was won by Toby Stock, the highest-graded (last published grade Jan 2012 179) who scored 4½/5, ahead of Alan Barton, 4, and =3rd Peter Laundy (Basildon) and Taran Jina.

The 20-player Intermediate was a success for Nasarullah Sheikh on 4½/5, although this was marred in the last when Ken Groce, Nasarullah’s last round opponent, suddenly felt unwell with a stomach upset during the game and had to resign. At the time, Nasarullah had 3½ and Ken had 3, so Nasarullah only needed to draw. We wish Ken a swift recovery. Elliot Cocks, Egor Latypov and Alex Sheerin were =2nd with 3½, Elliot Cocks also receiving a division of the Junior Prize offered by the David Wood Memorial Trust.

The Minor drew 31 entries and was won by 10-year-old Kent Junior, Kiran Shiatis, with 4½/5. James Wadsworth and Simon Denney were =2nd with 4. Here, there were good performances from Essex Juniors Aadarsh Saravanan and Lavanan Ainkaran who each received a share of the David Wood prize.

The Southend Adult Community College provided a comfortable venue and good playing conditions. The communal cafe area doubled as the analysis room, with a very good atmosphere. Catering was an excellent feature, provided by yElena Went.

We cannot leave this synopsis of the Congress without acknowledging the work of the Southend-on-Sea Chess Club in founding and establishing the tradition of the Southend Easter Congress during an unbroken sequence of 58 years, initially under the guiding hand of the inimitable Jack Speigel. That Gavin Strachan was able to put together such a successful event was due, in no small measure – in addition to the continued availability of the sponsoship arrangement already mentioned – to being able to adopt the work which had already been done by the Southend CC Congress Committee in securing the venue, and the assistance of John Chapman, together with a small team of helpers when setting up the venue.

There is already a good collection of games on the Pairings & Results page. Initially, we have aimed for the top 10 boards of the Open, plus a selection of games involving Essex players from elsewhere. At the time of writing, we have R6 to complete and R7 to process, plus a trawl of Essex games. We have a plan eventually to have all the Open games included, but this takes time, so readers will have to be patient. Shortly, we shall make available a downloadable zip file of all the games so far included. In the meantime, we have included a note of how the games can be “donwloaded” manually (‘copied and pasted’ is a more apt description).


Chief Organiser: Gavin Strachan;
: Adam Raoof, Norman Went;
Sponsors: Insight Strategic Associates;
Provision of Essex Junior Prize: David Wood Memorial Trust;
: Ian Hunnable (Essex Chess Association);
Catering: yElena Went;
Coordination, equipment, etc.: John Chapman;
Those making donations towards expenses: You know who you are – thank you;
The previous 58 years of Southend Congresses: Southend-on-Sea Chess Club;
Anyone not mentioned who contributed to the Congress: You know who you are – thank you;
The players: for a long weekend’s fighting chess.

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