The 1998 Sutton Experience
A Barnet chess club perspective
Report by Tryfon Gavriel.
BCC member scores
Annotated games by 4th-8th placed T.Gavriel
Sutton has always been a very pleasurable event to play in. The Barnet chess club presence this year was particularly evident in the Open section. Nearly the whole of the formidable Barnet 1st team were present which included myself, Alecos Ethelontis, Costas Karayannis, Natasha Regan, and Paul Georghiou.
Three of the Barnet chess club squad traveled courtesy of Alecos Ethelontis who is the only person confident of the route to Sutton, and whos driving skills can guarantee the team definitely turns up on time!
In order to meet Alecos on the Friday morning of the event, I had to get up an unearthly hour of about 6.30 in the morning, pick Paul Georghiou up, and drive to Arnos Grove station, in order to get to Finsbury park by train where we would meet with Alecos. Relaxing CDs were played in the car, and there was the usual Barnetonian team encouragement and spirit, with phrases like "Let's crush these bunnies!" being muttered.
One of the most striking things about playing in the Open section, is being in the Sutton library itself. There is an intellectual atmosphere playing within bookshelves full of books. It provides a unique experience playing in the Open section quite unlike any other tournament.
There is also nothing quite like the spirit of mad chess players willing to take 4 days off at the Easter break to immerse themselves in the world of weak squares, knight maneuvers, and chess generally. Old faces re-appear, and it is reminiscent of meeting with relatives at Christmas time!
There is also a real community spirit and buzz created by the fact there is very little distance between your game, and your neighbors games. It is very easy to be a game viewer as well as a player in this tournament!
A nearby pub which serves excellent food is also a great feature of this tournament which makes it a kind of working "holiday". Many people take the chess into the pub with portable sets, and analytical discussions. The local people must be getting accustomed to this Easter invasion by chess nuts!
One striking aspect of the Open event, is playing in the "enclosure". If one reaches a high enough board, one attains this interesting experience. The enclosure is a special section of the library, which has ropes around it, and which is very easy for spectators to look at the games from all angles. One feels a sense of ego-satisfaction of playing in the enclosure. It is similar I would imagine to that gained from playing on the stage in George Goodwin quickplay events, looking down onto the "bunnies" on lower boards.
Games played in the "enclosure" are changed into a kind of spectator sport. They are also usually full of suspense because they either feature "bunnie vs Heffalump" where a scandal is possible if the bunnie takes any points, or "Heffalumps" fighting for the top prizes. Last years Round 1 "scandal" was GM Plaskett held to a draw by Marcus Osborne. It was best not to be in close proximity of the former after the game!
(Refer to the excellent "Chess for Tigers" by Simon Woods for terms "bunny" and "heffalump" explained!).
Barnet chess club member scores
Tryfon Gavriel 5/7
Natasha Regan 4.5/7
Paul Georghiou 4/7
Alecos Ethelontis 3/7
Costas Karayannis 2.5/7