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90-year-old is still at the top of his game!

CHAIRMAN of Frome chess club for the past 29 years, Geoffrey Berryman, recently celebrated his 90th birthday in lockdown. 

Unable to have the (now postponed) family party planned for him, the club report, “He spent the day in his garden with socially distanced visitors dropping by to congratulate him. The youngest member of the chess club – Gabriel Keech, aged 11 – brought round his own chess board and sat across the garden from Geoff to play a game against him.

“They each called out their moves and made them on their own board, to avoid any physical contact. It turned into a 2-hour battle under the increasingly hot sun, but in the end Geoff found a brilliant series of moves and won the game in great style.

“Geoff is well a well-known and highly respected player in the Somerset Chess League and for the past decade has also helped out at St John’s School chess club, helping the juniors improve their game and sharing his encylopaedic knowledge, both his own and from Grandmasters through history.

 “Chess under lockdown has generally moved online, but as he is not connected to the internet, Geoff will have to make do with distanced outdoor games until Frome Chess Club can start up again on its usual Monday evenings, 7.30pm at the Cheese & Grain (juniors 6.30–7.30).”

Frome Chess Club Vs Murrhardt and Chateau-Gontier online

With chess moving online, Frome chess club were invited to play in a 3-way chess match against the clubs in two of the twin towns; Murrhardt in Germany and Château-Gontier in France. 

The club said “It took the form of a 1½ hour ‘arena’on lichess.com, where the computer pairs players in as many ‘blitz’ (5 minutes each to make the moves) games as they can fit into the time allowed, with points earned for every win and draw.

“This was the first time Frome has joined the tournament, and mistaking the European start time for BST, with most players having to scramble to get to their computers (and one only managing to arrive just before the end), Frome came second, with Germany winning. 

“The scores were: Murrhardt 110, Frome 96, Château-Gontier 95. Our slim lead over France was largely due to the lightning and flawless play of Graham Steer, who won all of his games, with an excellent contribution too from three junior players: Gabriel Keech, Kirin Ranpura and William Veitch.”

“Another tournament is planned, and the clubs’ appetite has been whetted for an in-person version once it is safe to travel again, We all very much hope to include chess in the next twin-town visit.”

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