Seven Penrith players headed for Shap Memorial Hall on Friday for three days of chess. There were two sections, the Minor, playing for the Keswick Knight Trophy and the Bob Greenhalgh Trophy, catered for players rated 1700 or less and the Major, playing for the Higgins Castle Trophy, for the higher rated players. Needless to say, the Major would have the tougher opponents. One of the Penrith players in the Major, was a chap that we hadn’t seen since before the first lockdown, Dave McMath.

Naturally, Dave was a bit rusty and lost the Friday evening game to old rival, George Glover. Holden fared better in his first round with a win over, former Penrith member, Dave Siddall. Eggert and Lewis played each other and both got half a point for their efforts.

Meanwhile, in the Minor, my opponent didn’t turn up, gifting me a full point. Andrei lost to the highest seed, Alan Hiatt and Olly, on his debut to competitive chess, lost to one of the top seeds, Tim Bowler.

On the Saturday morning, Dave McMath took a half-point bye in round 2 of the Major, while Holden drew his game against Neil Jones and Lewis won against Terry Tyson but Eggert lost to second seed, Barry Hymer.

In round 2 of the Minor, Andrei bounced back from his first round defeat, with a win against fellow junior, Beren Atkinson. I got into a favourable position against Alan Hiatt but felt that long, drawn out, endgames should be left to those in the Major and offered a hastily accepted draw. Olly was still finding it tough going and lost to another, more experienced, junior.

Round 3 saw Holden beat George Glover with white to stay up there with the leaders; Lewis suffered defeat at the hands of Neil Jones and Eggert lost to his nemisis, Dave Siddall. Dave held Terry Tyson to a draw.

Andrei was on a roll in the Minor and won again, this time against James Ovens. I managed a win after a long, tough game against Tim Bowler and Olly gained a point when he was given the afternoon off with a full-point bye.

Sunday morning saw Holden draw his fourth round game with black, to Barry Hymer. Lewis became another Penrith victim of Dave Siddall; Eggert lost to Terry Tyson and Dave took a second half-point bye.

In the Minor, Andrei kept up his campaign in the fourth, with another win, this time against second seed, Jonathan Rashleigh. Olly was starting to get a feel for tournament chess and won with black against James Ovens. I was hoping stop Trevor Blower from picking up the Keswick Knight but despite a material advantage, a loose move allowed Trevor to focus his remaining rook, knight and queen on my king.

Holden won again in the final round, this time against another player who has been dormant since Covid struck, Steven Barnes but would his 4 points be enough to win the Higgins Castle? Lewis was back to his winning ways with black against George Glover. Eggert was white against Dave McMath but his form had deserted him and alas, it was another loss.

Olly and I played each other, in the final round of the Minor, a game which eventually ended in a draw but the main attraction was between Andrei, now on 3/4 and Trevor Blower on 4/4. We didn’t have to wait too long for the result. When Andrei managed to get both rooks to Trevor’s second rank, quite early in the game, it was all over.

Greg Miller also won his game in the last round, after a nail-biting ending to his game against Dave Siddall, meaning that with 4½ points, he was Cumbria Champion and Holden had to settle for the runner-up prize.

In the Minor, there were now three players on 4 points and sadly, having lost in the first round, Andrei lost out on the Keswick Knight Trophy on “sum of progressive scores”. Trevor Blower picked up the trophy and Tim Lounds, also on 4 points, was runner-up. Andrei picked up the Best Placed Junior prize. Olly too, can be proud of his achievement, to score 2½ in his first competition is remarkable. Andrei played in the last tournament held at Shap and didn’t win a game but look at him now.

Thanks to Peter Hanks for all his hard work.