A grand total of five players scored international title norms at the Northumbria Masters Congress, held 26-30 August at the Marriott MetroCentre, Gateshead. The congress was sponsored by Chess in Schools and Communities and the English Chess Federation, plus other chess organisations.
The Northumbria Masters GM tournament was won jointly by two 22-year-olds – Ravi Haria of Wood Green and Conor Murphy of Charlton, with 6.5 points out of 9.
Both scored a Grandmaster norm – for Ravi, it was his third, and he now just has to reach a 2500 rating to become England’s next Grandmaster. Conor’s GM norm was his first, and comes just three weeks after he qualified as Ireland’s next IM.
Callum Kilpatrick, of Dulwich, scored 5/9, making his third IM norm and passing the 2400 rating marker required to become England’s newest International Master.
Marcus Harvey, of Witney, scored a 4th IM norm – just a week after qualifying as an IM with his 3rd norm at the Wood Green Invitational in Stafford.
In the IM all-play-all tournament, 18-year-old WIM Zala Urh of Slovenia won with 6.5/9, half a point ahead of Newcastle player James Moreby, 18, of Gosforth. Zala’s result gave her a first IM norm.
The Northumbria Masters Open, which attracted 80 players, was won by IM Brandon Clarke (Wood Green) with 7.5/9, ahead of GMs Danny Gormally, Marian Petrov, Keith Arkell and Peter Wells on 7.
With a total of 211 players taking part, including 61 junior players aged 18 or under and 15 female players, the Northumbria Masters Congress is the biggest international tournament held in the UK to date this year. It was also the first held after the full lifting of Covid restrictions in July, which meant that, while players were recommended to wear a face covering during play, it was a personal choice whether to do so. Happily, the congress reached its conclusion without any reported cases of Covid infections.
In the Congress as a whole, there were 20 different national chess federations represented – despite the fact that only a handful of players travelled from abroad to play in the congress due to Covid travel restrictions.
Tim Wall, director of the Northumbria Masters Congress, said, ‘We are delighted that the congress has been such a brilliant success, both in terms of helping English players achieve title norms and in safely bringing the chess community back together over the board after this forced hiatus. The generous sponsorship we have received from a range of different chess organisations, particularly from Chess in Schools and Communities and the ECF, has been crucial in enabling us to go ahead.’
Chess in Schools and Communities gave a grant of £4,000 to the Congress, and the ECF donated £650. Other sponsors included the Friends of Chess (£500), Northumberland Chess Association (£500) and the Northumbria Junior Chess Association (£250).
The John Robinson Youth Chess Trust also made a great contribution to the success of the congress, providing a total of £2,800 in free entries to players under 21.
The next Northumbria Masters Congress is planned for 25-29 August, 2022. More information will be available shortly at https://northumbriamasters.com/