First chess congress proves great success

OVER the weekend of March 8-10 Wells Chess Club held its inaugural Weekend Congress sponsored by Rugantino Restaurant. It was held at Wells Town Hall and attracted more than 100 players from around the country. This included friend of the club Grandmaster Kieth Arkell, International Master Chris Beaumont and several other titled players including Supratit Banerjee, the one of the strongest ten-year-olds in the world. It was played over five rounds and in three sections, an Open, Major (under 1900) and Minor (under 1600).

Wells Chess Club itself had 17 players in the tournament while President Chris Strong was the Chief Arbiter alongside Chris Lamming from Frome Congress, who provided a lot of support for the event. Each section proved to be very competitive with around 18 juniors involved. The Minor section had seven players from Wells including Ethan Mount-Jones, Paul Groves and junior Gigi Ionescu all playing their first Congress. The section was won by the very strong Dmytro Romaniuk from Frome with 4.5 points. For Wells Greg Roome came in 4th with 3.5 and Tony Austin and Ed Farms in joint 7th with 3 points.,

The Major section was for under 1900 grading and had a very strong field including six players from Wells. It was clear there were going to be no easy matches. As the event moved into the final round Jamie Eales was half a point behind the leader and the two of them were paired up on the top board. In his final game Jamie was clinical and aggressive and secured the win with his usual style. This put him clear in first place half a point ahead of the rest. Meanwhile Matt Goatcher picked up a win in a very close final match. This put him in an impressive joint 3rd place. Jeremy Lynn who has recently joined Wells had a successful event with 2.5 points.

John Waterfield ponders his next move

The Open Section had a lot of strength in depth with 18 of the 38 players graded over 2000. However, Keith Arkell swept all before him in the early rounds and it was the final round that everyone had hoped for. Keith was paired against the young protégé Supratit Banerjee. It proved to be a tightly fought draw which left Keith as the outright winner on 4.5 points. In joint 2nd was Sasha Matlak from Wells with 4 points, equal with Pengxiao Zhu, an upcoming junior who had a fantastic tournament. Alice Lampard and Malcom Pridmore both finished with a fantastic 2.5 with John Waterfield on an impressive 2 points.

There was also a team event which Wells secured with the combined scores of their team of Jamie Eales, Matt Goatcher, Greg Roome and Ed Farms who narrowly edged out a strong contingent from Salisbury Chess Club. On Saturday evening the club held a social at the White Hart which gave everyone the chance to relax and catch up.

Keith Arkell taking on Supratit Banerjee

The event was very well received by all those that came and the Town Hall proved to be a fabulous venue for this auspicious event. There is little doubt that there is a desire to hold this event each year and make it a regular slot in the chess and Wells calendar. Wells Chess Club thanked Rugantino and Frome Congress for their support as well as all those who donated both time and money to make the weekend such a success. Anyone interested in playing at the club can find details at along with other information about the club. They can also be contacted at  The photographs are courtesy of Chris Lamming and Fiona Humphreys.

Main picture: Greg Roome in action