Sunday, 21 October 2018

Chess in Crewe

Over the week end 11 to 15 October I travelled to Crewe to take part in the chess congress organised there by Crewe Chess Club. Playing in the Minor section I managed to score 2.5 out of 5, by two wins and a draw against weaker players. In the other two games I played quite well but made mistakes. The first was against the eventual winner who won all his games.

The tournament was played at the Ibis hotel which is somewhat isolated on an industrial estate a longish walk from the station. Breakfast was included in the price, but on the final morning the fried potato pieces were apparently reheated from the previous day and inedible, but otherwise the food was OK. The coffee or tea provided in the room was very meagre, and no biscuits, but a complimentary bottle of water. The lighting in the room was also poor. There was a pleasant Nature walk around the hotel through woods beside a stream.

I also used the time to look around the Crewe town centre which is a mixture of boarded up shops, like the former BHS store, and new developments like the Lifestyle Centre, though the former Library building seems to have been abandoned. The Asda supermarket is enormous but very dreary from the exterior. A busker playing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was helpful in adding cheer to the place. Neither W H Smith's nor Waterstone's stocked a Crewe A to Z. Presumably people now rely on accessing maps on the internet via their smart phones.

On the Friday I also took time to take the number 3 bus down to Tunstall in Stoke on Trent to take a further look at possible properties to rent if I move that way. Travelling on the trains to Crewe and back worked OK as regards the times. This was the first time for several years I had been on the London Underground. I had forgotten how deep the Northern line goes, with so many escalators, The main problems were on the final leg home from London Bridge when they kept announcing platform changes. I also had to stand from there to High Brooms. Probably I should have travelled earlier to avoid the rush hour.

Monday, 8 October 2018

A London Walk

On Thursday I bought a day return to London, for use on the Friday, with the aim of attending the British Chess Problem Society meeting. I didn't get round to travelling until the afternoon, but still arrived with plenty of time to spare. Looked around London Bridge Station to check the way to the Underground for future reference - it's quite a maze.

Eventually found my way out to Tooley Street which was jam-packed all down its length with buses bumper to bumper. Walked through Hays Galleria and along the Embankment.

The red-brick building that was my old school, St Olaves Grammar, is now subsumed into a monstrous concrete hotel, that still looks as if it requires a few more floors to be added. The whole area behind the school, where the London Mayor's offices now are used to be an industrial area full of tall cranes, long since gone. It is now a tourist hot spot for viewing Tower Bridge.

I took a walk over Tower Bridge, through the crowds of tourists, and along the cobbled walk on the north side of the river below the Tower of London. This comes out at the Monument built by Hooke and Wren to commemorate the 1666 Fire of London.

Walking up Pudding Lane I took a wrong turning along Eastcheap and Great Tower Street, heading back towards the Tower instead of up Gracechurch Street. Realising I'd gone wrong I took a left turn somewhere and headed towards the "Gherkin" building that I could glimpse between the other high-rise buildings. Found it quite easily and was back to Bishopsgate.

There was stilll time to spare before the meeting at 6pm so I walked up past Bishopsgate Institute and took a stroll round Spitalsfield, which is now a covered market with numerous restaurants.

Finally to the meeting in the small Hall at the back of St Bottolph's Church. It was pleasant to see some old faces of Problemists not seen for some time. I'm hoping to be able to get back into some composing ad solving, bit need to get up to date on the latest stipulations.

More later perhaps.