Alastair Dawson’s Report on the  Benidorm Chess International U-2000 tournament

On November 27th, nine Scots chess players travelled to Spain to start Round 1 of the Benidorm Chess International U-2000 tournament. On the following day they were joined by myself and our top player representative, Philip Giulian, who was competing in the much tougher U-2300 event also held in the same 4* hotel. The venue was the Grand Bali Hotel, a huge complex, 43 floors high and proclaimed as the tallest hotel in Europe. December in Spain is wonderful with warm dry conditions and none of congestion of summer crowds – just a delightful and relaxing place. The Scots group of 11 was led by former President of CS, Hamish Glen, and Robin Moore, and accompanied by Joe Parks, Andrew MacQueen, Ian Muir, Richard Heathwood, Walter Pearson, Frank Park and John Shankland. Some of the group have been attending the event for several years now and it was a privilege to be part of a significant Scots contingent all intent on playing hard, enjoying the chess and the banter. Each evening we talked through the successes and catastrophes of the day and always with plenty of dry wit and good humour. The two tournaments were 10 round events with each round starting at 4.30 pm. Philip’s tournament was very tough with 154 competitors that included 30 FMs. The second tournament had no less than 340 players competing for the top prizes and was packed at the top with many players with FIDE ratings just below 2000 each of whom was hoping to scoop one of the quite substantial cash prizes.
As the Rounds progressed it was clear that Philip was doing well with 2 wins and three draws from his first five rounds. In the B-tournament, a number of us started very well, especially Ian Muir with 2.5/3. The middle parts of these tournaments are often exceptionally tough. As some of us shot up the rankings in the middle rounds, we were quickly shot down again by a range of opponents from experienced players from around the world, from gifted juniors to experienced old-timers who efficiently exploited any move inaccuracies – and there are always many of these!
By the end of the 9th round it was clear that the shining star performance was from Joe Parks who has racked up an impressive 7/9 and was well established in the upper echelons of the leaderboard. Unfortunately, Joe had to fly home at the end of Round 9 and so a 10th Round default did not accurately reflect his final score of 7/10. A half-point behind Joe came myself with both of us rewarded by modest Euro prizes at the end of the tournament. Philip Giulian also received a cash prize for his score of 5.5/10 in the A-tournament. The performance of the Scots players was also reflected through the award of Elo points. Ian Muir, for example, put in the best performance with an Elo increase of astonishing +54 point gain. Close behind was Dick Heathwood with an Elo increase of +35 points and Robin Moore with a gain of +20 Elo Points. Andrew MacQueen also scored well and just missed out on the prize awards.
At the close of the tournaments, Hamish Glen, ex-president of Chess Scotland was presented with a beautiful plaque in recognition of his role in promoting the participation of Chess Scotland members in the various Benidorm chess festival events over recent years. It was fitting finale to the Benidorm chess festival. My abiding memory of the event was as we waited to collect our awards near midnight on the final evening, Andrew and Hamish having the energy to take out a chessboard and playing out an ending of B + N + K versus K. To conclude, this particular event has to be one of the best international events on the chess calendar. It is relatively inexpensive, the venue is wonderful, the hotel food is superb, the tournament organisation is excellent, the atmosphere is friendly, the weather is great and the Scots banter is unsurpassed. What more can one ask for!