Resort prepares to host chess festival

STEPHEN PULLINGER Last-minute preparations are under way at Yarmouth College to welcome the British Chess Championships to the resort for the first time since 1935.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Last-minute preparations are under way at Yarmouth College to welcome the British Chess Championships to the resort for the first time since 1935.

As many as 800 players, ranging from under-eights to top professional grandmasters, will be in town for the start of the annual chess festival on Monday.

Borough mayor Paul Garrod will officially make the first move on the top board of the main event, the British Championship, at 2pm.

Players of all abilities, including many from Norfolk and Suffolk, will take part in more than 20 supporting tournaments during the fortnight.

College finance director Roy Hughes, yesterday supervising the arrange-ment of seating and staging for the event in the £2.5m library and learning centre, said: "Numbers are good and we have had some fantastic support from local firms such as the Digital Phone Company and Scroby Sands windfarm operator Eon Renewables - even the town's Time and Tide and Tolhouse museums have helped us by allowing promotional events to be staged there. We are sure the event will prove a major boost to the town's tourism industry."

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Eyes will be on former Yarmouth boy, now international master Robert Bellin, who will participate in the British Championship against a top field led by three-times winner and international grandmaster Jonathan Rowson, from Scotland.

The other Norfolk players in the top event are Paul Talsma, who plays for Norwich Dons club, and Ken McEwan, from the Broadland club.

The championships, the games of which will be followed on the internet by an estimated 30,000 enthusiasts across the world, are calculated to bring a £1m boost to the economy of the resort hosting them.

As a prelude to the festival, Eon Renewables has sponsored top international master Andrew Martin to host a junior training session at Yarmouth College tomorrow, and a simultaneous display against local players on the seafront in front of Scroby Sands visitor centre on Saturday afternoon.

Six leading Norfolk players geared up for the championships with a quickplay tournament at the town's Tolhouse Museum, with Norwich teacher Stephen Orton clinching the Digital Phone Company trophy.

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