Frome Congress 2022 – When in Frome…

This was my first visit to a Frome Chess Congress. John and Mike advised that it is one of the best congresses in the South-West and its only and hour and a half drive. John organised a nice little AirBnB house with three bedrooms and off we went, with John’s family coming along as well. As an aside, I always advise to travel with a young family as they are always so organised and they don’t tend to drink until the early hours as preparation for the next day’s game. John and Maggie sorted everything out I helped out where I coould. Mike took a purely supervisory role.

First morning we had some issues with satnavs getting to the congress location. Its OK lads I said, all roads lead to Frome (yeah, whatever, its an eye-rhyme isn’t it).

Mike and John were playing in the Open section. I plumped for the Major U1950. The playing hall was large (Major, Intermediate and Minor), but a full allocation of players meant it was quite busy, not that I minded. The smaller number of Open players were upstairs in two classrooms and it didn;’t look quite as comfortable, not that I cared! Seriously I think that the chairs were a little small. There was a good bookstall and, new this year apparently, some mobile chef outfit providing hot lunches. Not too bad at all.

Day 1: (Kick Off Day)

I played a Dutch as Black against Danny O’Byrne. We both spluttered around a bit in a gummed up position, without White playing e4, until Danny fell for a bit of a cheapo. Oops said Danny with a wry grin.

DIAGRAM: Frome 2022 – Round 1 – O’Byrne vs Fuller – Position after 22.Qc2-b3. Ba4 is terminal.

Mike got a significant edge in his game after an unusual opening that I didn’t understand and some poor moves by his opponent, but conversion to a win was not possible.

John mixed some lines in a Grunfeld after White played 4.Nf3 5.Qb3 leading to an edge for his opponent.Complications, which amusingly at one point had both White Rooks attacked by both Black bishops, clarified and the endgame looked positive for John against his top half of the draw opponent. Both got down to less than 5 mins plus increment and White then found a good way to distill down to a B vs 2p drawn position.

So a win and two draws. Never mind lads I said, Frome wasn’t built in a day (ditto).

I can’t remember what we ate that evening, as it was quite late, but I vaguely recall a couple of beers.

Day 2: (Consolidation Day)

For me an exhauting affair. In both rounds my game was the last to finish in the hall. Unfortunately I continued my successful searce for ‘Won Endgames That I Drew Like a Patzer’ content, drawing the first from a dominant position and even losing the second pushing far tolo hard out of frustration of not converting what seemed to be a crushing position without an obvious closing tactic. Seems to be a theme of getting strong positions from the opening and not pressing on. Perhaps I need some Conversion Therapy, or maybe not. Anyway 1.5/3.0.

Didn’t see much of Mike and John. As I said I was playing all day and short on time mostly. The results table reminds me that John lost the first to one of the favorites but then duffed up another mid-table opponent. Mike made two more draws but didn’t seem in his usual good form.

The guys were politely waiting for me to finish my round 3 game down the road at a pub. We had to order another drink when I arrived as the FA Cup Penalty Shoot Out was just about to start. It would be rude.

At home, before dinner, John’s daughter, Tilly and I set a new world record for a shuttlecock rally of 5! Unfortunately, this record stood for less than 24 hours as Dad and daughter took the record to the heady heights of 7. I am not sure that will ever be beaten.

We then decided on Fish and Chips, which were enormous, a couple of beers and bed nice and early around 02.00.

Day 3: (Moving Day)

Well, we were all out of the running for any honours, but lets go for a good finish.

Mike had been looking a bit under the weather and felt awful on the Sunday morning and so decided to withdraw to get home to rest up. So just John and I for the last day.

The day started very well for me. I arrived at the board for Round 4 opposite a jovial Gary Walker, fashionably late by a couple of minutes, and pushed my e pawn. Boom 1… b5. Here we go, does he know I only had six hours sleep? Typical. That said, somehow I played what seems to me a good game with a visually pleasing position near the end. The previous day Mike had reached a position with his black pawns on a3 and b3 butting heads with white pawns on a2 and b2. I had an opportunity to not be outdone. Here is a link to the game.

Frome Congress Major Round 4: Fuller vs Walker

John lost his Round 4 game on a knife-edge decision in some heavy Open Sicilian theory. He was hoping to close out the weekend with a solid win.

In the final round, I was paired against Dave Agostinelli, a name which I remembered from a Dorset Open tournament perhaps a decade ago. We played in the last round and I won to score 5/5. Hold the applause as it was the U130 and I was yet to be graded so I could not take the prize money. Weirdly I remembered some of the game in that he played 1.c4 and we had a Reversed Grand Prix type set up where the attack broke through nicely. It was nice to meet Dave again and we discussed old times before… he played 1.c4 and we got a Reversed Grand Prix type set up. Us Davids are creatures of habit it seems. I won’t bore you with the details (or embarrass myself) except to say that I felt I had an edge 18 or so move in until I decided to put all of my pieces on the bad squares, and Dave decided the opposite. Was I Fiddling while Frome was Burning? Perhaps. Much of this was time trouble on my part, no excuse I know, just saying. I still, incorrectly, felt I was better when it was now clear that Dave played very well and gained a significant advantage. Here is the interesting critical position.

DIAGRAM: Frome 2022 – Round 5 – Agostinelli vs Fuller – Position before  37…Qh3-f5.

Every one of White’s pieces looks wonderful. Every one of Black pieces looks not. The Nh8 is a casualty of an interrupted Nimzowitschian Knight reroute. The bishop was trying to help mate White, but there isnt time. I played Qf5 trying to confuse matters and protect f6. Computer thinks g6 is least worst but this just allows 38.Bd1 and the f3 pawn falls just in time down to a won ending for White. If Black tries 37…Bh1 then mate follows starting with Nf6+, then Qh7+ and a Rook check or two on e7 and e8. A lovely finish. If there wasn’t a mate, then the funny repetition would follow: Bh1, Qf1, Bg2, Qd3, Bh1 etc. but I had enough time to see that Nf6 worked easily. With Qf5, there is no mate but White ends up pining the Black queen to the king to win.

With little time left, and probably tired, like me, after a full weekend of chess,  Dave played 38.Nd2, the Queens came off, the pawn on a4 was taken, and the computer sticks its tougue out with a 0.00 evaluation. We shook hands and considered how we could have agreed that draw three hours earlier.

John tidied up his score nicely with a win in Round 5 with the Black pieces. An interesting early queen sortie to g4 paid dividends whereby Black had all of the positional trumps and White had no activity or pawn breaks. It was a matter of time until the full point was recorded.

Final results: David Fuller 3.0/5.0, Mike Duggan 1.5/3.0, John Weatherlake 2.5/5.0. A reasonable return but no silverware.

Back home, a lovely Spag Bol made by Maggie and some more beers followed by some rather nice Irish Whisky from my growing collection (it won’t drink itself!). We had decided to stay until Monday morning which I will do again.

Some of our friends from Dorset and Bournemouth&District were also to be seen and it was nice catching up as always. I don’t think anyone did particularly well unfortunately. Good job it was a nice place to be.

Sorry there is little or no analysis for Mike or John’s games, but they might want to keep some of their secrets to themselves.

In summary: Lovely location, nice accomodation, excellent (family) community in our house, well managed congress with facilities and good food, generally average play with the odd highlight.

Definately will go again next year and will suggest a broader attendance from Poole Chess Club colleagues. I like the idea of a bigger house!


David Fuller
May 16, 2022