Clean sweep for Abigail at Bury Chess Congress

CONCENTRATION: Abigail takes on an opponent during her run to the title of the Minor section of the competition
CONCENTRATION: Abigail takes on an opponent during her run to the title of the Minor section of the competition

An 11-year-old chess player from Linton has walked away with the spoils after completing a clean sweep at the 35th Bury St Edmunds Congress.

Abigail Weersing was the only player among 169 to win all five of her rounds on her way to winning the minor section (fourth tier) of the competition at The Apex at the weekend.

DISARMING: Abigail's small stature belies her chess prowess, leaving many a defeated opponent in awe of the Linton Chess Club member

DISARMING: Abigail's small stature belies her chess prowess, leaving many a defeated opponent in awe of the Linton Chess Club member

The young chess prodigy, who is a member of the Linton Chess Club, was awarded £150 after outwitting adult player Richard Porter in the final to claim top honours in her category. And she did it without losing, or drawing, a round.

The Minor category is for players, both junior and adult, who have a ranking of 120 or below, with further categories of Inter (U145), Major (U170) and Open.

The Open competition attracted Grand Master Matthew Sadler, England’s top graded player on the English Chess Federation’s grading list, who took joint spot.

Abigail said: “It was really exciting. I really enjoy chess and it was good to play in a senior competition, I normally play in junior events.

“My dad played in the same competition but didn’t get as far, he won his first game though. I want to just keep playing, my grading will probably get higher too.”

Mum Anne Weersing explained that the chess gradings are only calculated once every six months and so vastly improving youngsters, like Abigail, often have to wait to climb the rankings.

“I would imagine her grade will change a lot after this,” she said. “She’s really quite excellent at chess, and she’s just getting better and better — and she’s only 11.

“Her older sister Sarah started playing and got Abbey involved, and it’s gone from there.

“Sarah took part in the Inter competition and did well, but it’s hard as the levels go up of course.

“And she’s delighted for Abbey, they do this lovely thing where they give each other £5 of their winnings when either wins a tournament.

“I think that helps with the sibling rivalry a little anyway.”

She added that it was rare for the family to play at such a local event.

“We normally have to travel all over,” she said. “It was great to be close to home. And it was really well organised too.”

Congress secretary Steve Lovell said it was great to see so many junior players enter the fully subscribed competition that had a total prize pot of £2,000.

“It was really notable,” he said. “In the Minor section more than half (of 59) were juniors. It shows the sport really is thriving.”