A 19-year old mathematician has clinched the world circular chess title for 2005, in the midst of the Da Vinci Code movie set.
Michael Jones, from Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, won the £200 first prize in an exciting tournament held inside the Chapter House of Lincoln Cathedral.
Michael, who is due to start a mathematics degree at Warwick University, beat four experiened players on his first visit to the annual event.
He won all four of his games, defeating Dutch player and 2000 champion Herman Kok in the last round, and received the victors’ trophy and cheque from VIP guest, Lincoln MP Gillian Merron (pictured right).
The teenager, who played chess from the age of seven, is a regular competitor in traditional square chess in leagues in Lincolnshire, Peterborough and Huntingdonshire. He also played at Spalding Grammar School, Lincolnshire.
In the first round random round, which was drawn by VIP guests the Deputy Mayor of Lincoln, Councllor Steven Allnutt and City Sheriff Mrs Chris Noble, Michael faced off a strong challenge from Eamonn Hunt, who represented Ireland.
He was then paired with Nottinghamshire player Mike Clark, and Lincoln player John Holland, before meeting Mr Kok (a former Amsterdam square chess junior champion) in the final.
A special £50 prize for the best new entrant went to David Stamp, also from south Lincolnshire, who was also the runner-up.
After his victory, Michael said: “I did have a fair amount of luck, because there were a couple of times when I managed to win when I thought things were not going my way.
“The Cathedral and the Chapter House is a very interesting venue to hold a chess tournament, and it makes a difference from the sorts of places that competitions are usually held.
“It was good that visitors to the Cathedral were able to come in and look around while the games were being played.”
Just a few hours earlier, the Chapter House had been used as the film set for the new Hollywood movie The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Sir Ian McKellen and Audrey Tautou.
Competitors and visitors to the Chapter House had a privileged view of part of the film set (temporary murals depicting saints) which remained in place, while the production crew
cleared scaffolding and equipment from other parts of the Minster. It is understood that the artwork has been presented to the Cathedral as a gift from the film-makers.
Circular Chess Society president David Reynolds said: “We could not have wished for a better place to hold the championship in its 10th year. There was a lot of interest from people who were looking around the Cathedral, which of course was shut while filming was taking place.
“We are very pleased to welcome new competitors and Michael Jones thoroughly deserves his victory.
“We are also very grateful to the Cathedral authorities and to the production crew of the Da Vinci Code for working so hard to make the Chapter House available for our competition.”
The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Dr John Saxbee, sent a message of congratulations to the winner and competitors.