Wednesday 4 September 2019

2019 English Women’s Championship (1): The Brain Jar

Photograph © Roxolana

Last weekend brought the English Chess Federation's 2019 English Women’s Championship to Hull.

This excellent event meant my Summer was brilliantly bookended by time spent in Hull (an index to my five reports on the Hull Summer School of Chess can be found here.)

Chris Fegan, Stephen Greep and the team had worked very hard to ensure this new venture would be a terrific success and it is clear to see their efforts were rewarded.

My report on the tournament and other aspects of the weekend will be in the next issue of CHESS Magazine so for this blog I will present some captured moments from the memorable weekend.

I arrived in Hull around noon on the Friday and soon made my way to The Brain Jar for a very special event featuring WGM and IM Jovanka Houska, the UK's top female player.

It was not my first visit to The Brain Jar; I had been there once before, in the company of the former Mayoress of Bottesford.

Stephen keeps the venue stocked with chess literature and chess sets, which are there to be used by anybody who fancies a game while at this eccentric and very friendly cafe.

Stephen played host at the event and The Brain Jar served up copious amounts of food and drink, under the watchful gaze of some superstars from another genre.

Stephen welcomes everyone while Michael plays symmetry games with the masked man
Touch move!
The former Mayoress of Bottesford proclaims the food worthy
'Red or white?' No thank you; I prefer black - with milk in

It was fascinating to hear Jovanka talk about her life of chess and overcoming the obstacles typically placed in the way of women chess players. Chris Fegan, the ECF Director of Women's Chess, detailed some of his thoughts and ideas too.

It was a very enjoyable and instructive social occasion, which eventually saw chess games break out. 

We couldn't keep them away from the chess sets for very long

Roxolana, the youngest competitor in the tournament,
is definitely a star of the future.
Jo is trying to remove Jovanka's queen, but it looks like everyone has noticed

Grandmaster Toma, who eventually shared first place in the
tournament, will be representing England from now on. Excellent news!

Then, just as we were about to finish off and head back to the Royal Hotel, we remembered the excellent mint hot chocolate on offer at The Brain Jar, so we ordered accordingly and stayed a little longer.

The mint hot chocolates have arrived!
The extended afternoon was hugely enjoyable and I could have definitely stayed for a lot longer to enjoy the company, chess, tea and hot chocolate. However, Jovanka had a train to catch, Katarzyna and Jo had to get ready for the first round of the tournament and I had to prepare for my evening presentation.

More on those aspects will surely follow...

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