British Rapidplay Chess 1986- 2014
The country’s premier weekend chess rapidplay event started back in 1986. It was mainly set up through the work of Nick Nixon from Leeds, who continues to coach youngsters at chess. Tetley's Brewery and the Yorkshire Post sponsored the first event, which took place at The Queen’s Hotel, Leeds, donating a generous several thousand pounds.
The winner of that first event with 11/11 was Nigel Short. The event continued, and saw many fine winners including John Nunn, Murray Chandler, Nigel Davies, Mark Hebden and William Watson. Further sponsorship came from the National Westminster Bank, thanks to Bill Hartston. However, the event disappeared in 1993 along with all its sponsors. In 1994 the event fell deeply in the red.
Elsewhere, a colleague and friend of Brent Kitson, Bernard Hare of Leeds Chess Club, had suggested doing a congress at Leeds University. This was a success. Then a group of us (Brent Kitson/Mike Dow /Steve Burton) took up the challenge of re-invigorating The British Rapidplay Chess Event.
Apart from a short period, when Sylvine privately sponsored the event in 1999 (due to the great support of Rupert Jones), the event has been self-financing, although the BCF and now ECF have endorsed the event since 1986. The tournament finances have been in good order for 18 years, and its reserves are poured back into the event wherever possible. Thousands of hours of unpaid work are required to make it happen each year. Database maintenance, mail shots, venue searching, negotiating, grading, wall charts, planning, lighting, internet, charts, planning, lighting, internet, equipment hire, accommodation for arbiters, bookings and much more all contribute to continue the event, year in year out!
From 1995, the British Rapidplay saw a run of fine events which saw it triumph several times at The Leeds Civic Hall and also witnessed the dominance of Michael Adams. Mark Hebden and Peter Wells came to the fore in the early 2000s, and David Howell holds the record of three wins in a row.
Several venues, such as Bradford City Football Club, the Leeds Civic Hall, The Brunswick Building in Leeds and The North Bridge Leisure Centre Halifax have hosted the event over time. Many people are responsible for making the event happen. Special thanks go to arbiters Dave Welch, Pete Purland, Geoff Jones(now retired), Neville Belinfante, Lara Barnes, Alex McFarlane and Rob Hart (to name just a few) in recent years. The organizers, such as Mike Dow, President of the BRC and Steve Burton, our long time financial advisor and Treasurer, have contributed massively for more than 18 years. Carlos Velosa and his team again helped set up this year's event. We now have a new grader and web controller in Stephen Forbes of Leeds.
Other folk from the past should be thanked, such as Stuart Johnson and Sam Nichols, who gave so much in previous years. Ihor Lewyk continues to give an enormous amount of support to the event, and Eric Davies helped set up the event in the early years, continuing to play in the event now and again.
The 25th Anniversary year in 2011 saw a great event won by GM Gawain Jones. The event was at L.M.U., and was a big success. Despite a promised £1000 support not appearing (from the President of the ECF), the event managed to dig £900 out of its reserves to honour the prizes. The ECF has a new membership scheme as of September 2012, which means that chess players will have to pay more for their chess, and we’ll have to charge accordingly.
The 2012 event saw the event at the Leeds Metropolitan University for the second time. The Open was won by Jonathan Hawkins IM, with Stephen Gordon GM as runner-up. Many top players attended, plus we had the French ladies champion, Sophie Milliet IM, playing in the event. Thanks to Bruce Holland from the ECF who kindly helped award prizes.
The 2013 event saw a fine weekend at L.M.U with Marc Hebden coming out on top with 9.5/11 .Marc now holds the record for the most outright wins of The Open event, and is also a twice joint winner . Thanks to Bruce Holland from the ECF who kindly helped award prizes. Thanks though to all the players who attended.
We would like to thank Rob Hart who is standing down from arbiting after many years of fantastic support to the event.
The modern day Rapidplay owes much to the internet (thanks to David Clayton and now Stephen Forbes). Live games, photographs, results, cross-tables and much more are available on the website. Our thanks also go to Mark Crowther and TWIC for its coverage of the event over the years on his website. Cross tables are set up thanks to Jon Griffiths of Chessnuts. We must also mention Andrew Butterworth’s Chess Direct, who has supported the event for most of the last 19 years. His bookstall is a fantastic opportunity to study and learn more about this great game.
The Junior England under 11 Trial continues to be held in the tournament on Saturdays, as well as the British Junior Rapidplay Sunday events -. Thanks especially now to John Hipshon and Cathy Bowler, who run all the junior events. My thanks to Winston Williams and Nigel Hepworth who gave great support in the 2013 event, and also to Carlos Velosa who manages the event setting up.
Mike Dow happily lives in the South West, but is still our Honorary President. Stephen Burton is our Treasurer and Brent Kitson the Secretary, whilst Stephen Forbes is overseeing grading and managing our website. The event takes a massive amount of work from these guys. Some photos of the event are on this website too, as well as previous years (check the links!).
In case I’ve forgotten anyone - sorry, but above all I’d like to thank you, the chess players, who continue to support the event. The LMU and Kelly Allen of Well Met Conferencing have made the event stronger .It is provisionally set for November 22nd and 23rd , 2014 in Leeds at Leeds Metropolitan University, Headingley.
See you next time!