Wells contingent compete with distinction

THIS year’s Frome Chess Congress which includes the Somerset Championships was held in May and Wells Chess Club had players entered in all four divisions. It was a five-round Swiss Style tournament. The Wells contingent included Sasha Matlak, our new addition who has recently arrived from Ukraine to join his family in Wells. Other players included Solomon Hayes, Chris Strong, Jon Rossi, John Waterfield, Jamie Eales and Paul Wiltshire.

In the Minor Section, ungraded Paul Wiltshire played well after a faltering start to secure 1.5 points in his return to competitive play after a while away. In the Intermediate section Jon Rossi picked up two points where his opponent was graded at least 150 points higher than him in each match. Solomon Hayes has had a very good season already in his league matches and winning a grading prize in the East Devon Congress in April. It is little surprise that he scored 3.5 points and secured eighth place in the Intermediate section, picking up a grading prize in the process. His grade has now increased by more than 100 points since September last year and he is showing great improvement and confidence over the board.

In the Major Section Jamie Eales had mixed results securing two points in what was a very competitive section. He has also had a great season with Wells this year with some notable scalps and will feel he can do even better next year. In the Open Section which has no grading restrictions Chris Strong entered as one of the lowest graded players to take on high class opposition. He picked up 0.5 points, but at this level any mistake is punished and he should be praised for taking on the challenge. Wells A-Team Captain John Waterfield came away with two points and finished mid-table with his two losses coming against an International Master and a FIDE Master, the second and third strongest players in the field. John is going on to compete for Wales in the World Seniors Team Event in North Macedonia in September this year which will be a great experience.

Sasha Matlack arrived to the tournament ungraded and so may have slipped under the radar. He played a series of very impressive games including a tough draw in the final match against International Master Peter Large that took over 100 moves. He managed four points from five in the Open section and won the Denys Bonner Trophy as Somerset Champion 2023. The only player ahead of him was friend of Wells Chess Club Grandmaster Keith Arkel. As Keith is not a Somerset player he did not qualify to win the trophy.

As with any tournament it was great to have several players from Wells in attendance and able to support each other in the heat of competition over the weekend. It is a delight to have Sasha in the club as he brings not only his chess and teaching skills but a very sociable and engaging manner. We are all delighted with his success at Frome Congress and look forward to his participation at the club Wells Chess Club is a friendly and sociable chess club that meets on a Wednesday evening at the Globe Inn on Priest Row from 7.30pm. They can be contacted at wellschessclub@outlook.com. They can also occasionally be found at The Bishop’s Eye in the market square on a sunny Sunday afternoon.