THE 37th annual Blackpool Chess Conference starts tonight with players of all ages chasing a share of the £8,000 prize money.
The Imperial Hotel, North Promenade, will be packed with fans through until Sunday, although top game action will also be watched eagerly around the world thanks to a live webcast at www.blackpoolchess.org.uk.
Fiver sections cover a wide range of playing abilities. Congress treasurer Simon Woodcock says: “Fylde coast players include Martin Mitchell, of Blackpool, a strong challenger in the Open, and Oleg Cukovs and Michael Parker, from Poulton in the Major. Regulars George and Marjorie Ellison, also from Poulton, and Dennis Davies, of Lytham, will be showing that the veterans can still hold their own among the growing number of juniors.”
This is the last congress for director Geoff Jones who retires after more than 30 years service to the event and Lancashire Chess Association.
He has hosted the congress since in its early years at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, then the Winter Gardens, Blackpool Football Club and its present home.