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The Independent Online
I'M LOOKING as I write at the October 1951 issue of Chess, B.H. Wood's famous magazine, first published in 1935, the precursor to Chess and Bridge; and the report there on the (first) Paignton Congress in Oldway Mansions, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Devon County Chess Association and their victory that year in the Southern Counties' Championship.

The Premier Tournament, an eight player all-play-all, was won by Harry Golombek on 6.5/7, ahead of the ex-world champion Max Euwe, no less, on 6; Jan-Heim Donner - the only player to draw with Golombek - 4.5; Leonard Barden and A.R.B. Thomas 3; and three somewhat lesser-known English players. An auspicious start to a splendid series of tournaments, one of the mainstays of the English chess calendar, still at Oldway Mansions and now in its 49th year .

However, I fear that, like other traditional events, Paignton has gradually been supplanted by weekend and latterly one-day tournaments; and indeed this year's event from 5 to 11 September was notable for the absence of big guns; a curse but also a blessing, for as a direct result no one even threatened to dominate.

In the end it was the top seed, Ian Thompson, who burst through, winning his last two games to take victory in the Ron Bruce Premier and qualify to play in next year's British Championship. He finished on 5.5/7, ahead of P. Hempson, 5; and B. Cafferty and S. Peters, 4.5. The Challengers was won by R.G. Elwell on 6/7, ahead of R.J. Eversham 5.5; the Minor was won by F.R. Eliot with 6.5/7.

Ian Thompson (to move)

vs David Littlejohns

This is how Mr Thompson ground out a win against his last-round opponent, David Littlejohns from Taunton, who is obviously grossly underrated at just 159 BCF (that's 1,872) and who did wonderfully well overall despite his defeat below.

White has a serious space advantage and both pieces, the king and especially the rook, are more active than their counterparts. Despite the draw-ish reputation of rook endings such factors are often decisive, and, in the end, the pressure was too much.