Monday June 25th - Friday June 29th
With his GCSEs finally over it was time to get away from Bristol and we headed off to the Purbeck hills for a 5 day break. With The Midland Gigafinal coming up in a couple of weeks, part of the plan was to try and find somewhere for Oli to get a bit of chess practice.
When we arrived at 'The Grand Hotel' Swanage on Monday afternoon we looked up the Dorset chess website to see if there were any local club nights coming up. Here are the details of what we found:
Wednesday 27th, 7:00pm
We headed off to Ringwood chess club via the Studland bay car ferry. After nearly an hour's travel we arrived at the lovely village of Ringwood and found the club venue, The Original White Heart.
Inside we found a nice quiet pub with two people playing chess - Peter Donaldson vs another Ringwood player (we didn't get his name).
We introduced ourselves and after their game finished, Peter gave Oli a couple of rapidplay games. Peter then had to make a quick exit to pick up his Chinese takeaway! We were just about to leave when in walked well-known Ringwood chess player Martin Clancy! Oli and Martin played for another hour, with lots of analysis afterwards. It seemed Oli's extra pawn and active knight were always going to prevail. Chess was firmly back on the menu!
Thursday 28th, 10:30am
After breakfast and some early table tennis, we walked into town and found the lovely La Trattoria restaurant for some social chess. This is a recent initiative by Derek Mount (B team captain) from Purbeck Chess Club and brings social chess to the La Trattoria restaurant every Thursday 10:30am-12:30am. Mainly Purbeck chess club players, but also anyone else who wants to come along and fancies some chess.
Inside things were silent, 8 people with their heads down, playing chess. We introduced ourselves to Derek and after a coffee and chat he kindly gave Oli a couple of 30 minute games. This got the attention of the others, and as a small, but extremely friendly club, we had a lovely and relaxing two hours at the Lattoria. Definitely one to visit if you ever find yourself in Swanage on a Thursday morning.
Thursday 28th, 7:00pm
Rather than watch England vs Belgium (good decision), we decided to head off to Poole chess club at the British legion club. Tonight they had a fundraising event for club member Steve Bailey, who is taking a visually impaired cricket team on a tour to the West Indies.
The event was organised with aplomb by Eric Sachs (Dorset junior officer, check out the Dorset chess website) The format was a Chess960 pairs competition with 16 players (including me and Oli). Oli walked away with a nice rook ending book prize for ending up on 2½/3, joint 1st, with his junior partner Ted. I, with my illustrious partner John Weatherlake (Poole chess club) managed to score 2/3. Sorry John, for blundering our queen in game two!
Poole chess club, in many ways reminded me of Downend & Fishponds. Plenty of strong players, encouraging to juniors, several teams in several divisions, and many honours in a very successful 2017/18 (in both the Dorset and Bournemouth league). Also, as at D&F, several of us retired to the bar after the main chess event (what a great range of guest beers) for endless blitz and bullet games. Also lots of chess chat about recent games, new opening theory and favourite pet lines
Before we knew it was 12:30am and time to get back to Swanage. We made many friends at Chess Poole club, in particular, John Weatherlake, Eric Sachs, Steve Bailey, Dragi Popovic, Richie Smith and (mean blitz player) Ciprian Stanciu. Our verdict, a very sociable and friendly chess club!
To sum up, we soon realised how thriving Dorset chess is, with both the Dorset league and Bournemouth league to play in. The best memory, was how every club gave us a really warm welcome. They were interested to hear about D&F chess club, and keen to have a good look at our website. I know several of them will read this report, and I am sure if any of them are in Bristol in the future, they will certainly come along and pay us a visit. I assured them they would all be very welcome!