Friday, 28 December 2012

Some light relief

A bit of light relief (you'll get that double-entendre by the end of the clip).   Well, it is Christmas and we'll all have had too much to drink.   Click on the link below:

You Tube chess game

As I'm off on holiday today, this will be the last posting for a week or so.   I'll be back on Sunday 6 January, when the Under 160s play their second round of matches (against Cambridgeshire and Norfolk).  I'll be posting the results that evening, so tune in again then!

In the meantime, I hope you all have a successful 2013.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Changing places

In the following position on a 3 x 3 chessboard, what is the minimum number of plays needed to exchange the positions of the knights (placing White knights where the Black knights currently are, and vice versa)?   NB: A 'play' is not necessarily a single move; it can be successive moves by a piece, where possible.

For your answer, state the number of plays as well as the actual moves.   To do this, number the squares from left to right, top to bottom.   So the Black knights are currently on squares 1 and 3, and the White knights are on 7 and 9. Show your plays thus (for example): 3 - 8;  9 - 4 - 3 etc.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Find the missing King

In the following diagram, the White king has been accidentally knocked off the board.  Where was it?

And yes, the diagram is correct; Black is in check.

Answer in a couple of days' time (if no one solves it in the comments below).

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas tree problems

A Merry Christmas to all our readers!   What better day than to pose a couple of traditional Christmas tree problems?   Because of obvious design limitations such problems are never too difficult, but these may test you for a few minutes:

It's White to play and mate in two (in both problems)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mate in 3

It's Christmas Eve and you probably have plenty of time on your hands (assuming you're not working).   You might need it as this apparently simple mate in three is in fact quite tricky.   It's White to play, of course.  Again, don't use your computer!

These puzzles seem to be grabbing everyone's attention.   Yesterday we had a record number of page views to the website (175); the previous record was exactly 100.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Missing pieces

Continuing with our Christmas puzzles, in this one all you have to do is place White's king and one pawn in the correct positions on the board so that with White to play it's mate in 2.  Nice easy one!

Write your answer in the 'Comments' below.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Apocalypse never

As we seem to have survived yesterday's 'scare', perhaps it's time to settle down with a glass of red wine and a chess problem or two.   Over each of the next few days there will be a problem for you to solve.  Don't give in and use your computer; try and solve them yourself (not that your computer will help you with this one...).

Here's the first.   Solutions will be provided later.

White to play in mate in 2.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Division 2 latest

As explained earlier, one match had to be postponed until January due to freezing fog conditions on 11 December. The winding road between Stowmarket and Saxmundham can be unpleasant at the best of times.

So the table below needs to be interpreted with a mind to that outstanding match:


Bury St Edmunds B541013½
Saxmundham A421110
Bury St Edmunds C52038
Clacton A5014
Stowmarket A41036

Saxmundham A would need to win their outstanding match 4 - 0 to overtake Bury St Edmunds B at the head of the table.   Promotion to Division 1 is the prize for the leading team at the end of the season.

Stowmarket need just half a point from their postponed match to consign Clacton A to the foot of the table.

The Player of the Season competition is led by Mark Le-Vine (Bury St Edmunds C) with four straight wins, followed by Bob Jones (Bury St Edmunds B) with 5/6 (played once for the C team).  In equal third place are Simon Riley (Adastral) and Malcolm Lightfoot (Saxmundham A), both on 75% (3/4).

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Tomorrow's forecast

Have you heard or seen the forecast for tomorrow?   If the Mayan calendar is to be believed, then here it is:

On the chess front, things are quiet but much less dire.  Whilst chess boards are being tucked away to prepare the table for Christmas fare, many Suffolk players are secretly hoping that their spouses/partners will buy them the latest sensational openings book (some hope).   There's a degree of sadness that no more competitive chess will be played until early January 2013.

The Under 160 squad is looking forward to the next round of matches on Sunday 6 January, when Suffolk should be fielding a stronger team than last time.  The first league matches take place that week, starting on 8 January.

I'm looking for some more material to fill these lonely chess-free days over Christmas, so please send me any games or interesting positions from the first half of the season.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Division 3 latest

Each team has now played six matches to reach the halfway point in Division 3.   The table stands thus:


Ipswich D640215
Ipswich E632114
Saxmundham B632113
Woodbridge School623113
Clacton B6123
Stowmarket Rooks6015

So there's only two points separating the top four teams; there's no runaway leader, that's for sure.  Even the top team, Ipswich D, have lost two matches.

In the Player of the Season competition, it's good to see two juniors heading the field.  Daniel Such (ECF 92) (Woodbridge School) has won all four games against an average opponents' grade of 119, whilst Silas Peck (Ipswich E) has won three and drawn one (87.5%).   In third place currently is Peter Chadwick (Saxmundham B) with 5/6 (83.3%).

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Half-time in Division 1

Division 1 of the Suffolk League has now reached the halfway point, with each team having played five matches against the other teams in the division.  This gives a pretty good idea of the likely candidates for the title and relegation, come the end of the season.  But there's still all to play for!


Ipswich A532013
Bury St Edmunds A523013
Ipswich B530210½
Ipswich C5122

At the foot of the table Sudbury appear to have a mountain to climb if they want to survive in Division 1 for another season.   At the opposite end, the two unbeaten teams face each other on 15 January, so we may see a clear leader emerging then.

The Player of the Season statistics show Shaun Munson (Ipswich A) in the lead on 90% (4½/5), closely followed by Kevin Greenacre (Ipswich B) and Steve Ruthen (Bury St Edmunds A), both on 87.5% (3½/4).

The Division 3 table will appear soon, whilst in Division 2 one match had to be postponed due to freezing fog.   There won't be a clear picture as one of the teams affected, Saxmundham A, is striving for promotion.

Monday, 17 December 2012

When we had four divisions

For a short period, about five years in the late '80s, the Suffolk League boasted four divisions.   In the 1989/90 season (the last season when there were four divisions), there were 43 teams, from 19 different clubs.

The clubs that participated then which are no longer involved in SCCA competitions, were:

Capel St Mary
Ipswich High School
Ipswich Juniors
Ipswich School
Northgate School
Royal Hospital School
St Joseph's School
Suffolk Punch

It's particularly interesting to see five schools listed, as well as the Ipswich Junior Club.  Nowadays Woodbridge is the only school playing in the Suffolk League.  Chess is probably being played elsewhere, but they're not involved in SCCA competitions.

*    The number of clubs is down from 19 to 10 (-47%)
*    The number of teams is down from 43 to 19 (-56%)
*    The number of divisions is down from 4 to 3 (-25%)

Is this a matter of concern?   Are the remaining clubs larger, and stronger, than they were 23 years ago?   Should we be taking any remedial action?   Let's have your thoughts!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Donner and Blitzen arrive in Bury St Edmunds

No, not Santa's reindeer, but thunder and lightning in the form of a Christmas Tournament on Thursday 20 December at the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club.  All players in Suffolk are invited to turn up at 7.30 pm for a five-round 15-minute (Blitz) tournament (that's 15 minutes each, per round).

There will be coffee and/or tea on tap (and the Bar will be open) and entry for non-Bury members is just £2.00 each.

At the same time, Chas Szentmihaly will have on display a computer (and several monitors) which will have games and positions from five World Champions.   Test your skill between games and see if you can find their best moves!

There will be plenty of prizes in the form of bottles of wine, chocolates and biscuits, so please turn up in good time if you would like to play.   It would help if you could drop me an email to say you're intending to come.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Missing trophies

On 24 November I asked clubs and individuals to let me know if they were in possession of any Suffolk trophies. The response so far has been minimal.

Vicky Allen has the Ladies' Championship trophy and I have one that was awarded last season, for the winner of Division 3 (Bury St Edmunds).  But that leaves the winners' trophies for Divisions 1 and 2, as well as the Player of the Year trophies for all three divisions.  For half a dozen seasons back in the late 80s, there was a Division 4...

The list of trophies owned by the SCCA includes many other trophies, which were valued for insurance purposes in 1993.   These include:

*    The Whiteley Challenge Cup (Suffolk Clubs' Championship)
*    Sir Henry Warner Shield (Suffolk Schools Championship u19)
*    Suffolk Girls Champion
*    u125 winners
*    (Individual) County Championship
*    Under 21 Champion
*    Swiss Tournament winners
*    League Cup winners

There is also the Reverend Weir trophy, which was awarded to the u14 Schools Champions.

If anyone knows where ANY of these trophies may reside, wheether at a Club, or with an individual, please let me know.   If you prefer, contact me by email, rather than leaving a comment below.

Friday, 14 December 2012

It's half-time in the Bury Area League

All matches have now been completed up to the halfway point in the League.  For Divisions 1 and 3 this means six matches per team, and for Division 2, only five.

Suffolk teams are experiencing mixed fortunes.   In Division 1, the two Bury St Edmunds teams lie in 3rd place (Scorpions) and 5th place (Scarabs).   Scorpions are four points behing current leaders Cambridge Choristers.

In Division 2, Bury Cobras are just one point behind leaders Cambridge Bollards.  Bury Vipers are only half a point off the bottom.  But with only 4½ points between top and bottom places, there's all to play for.

In Division 3, all but two of the teams are from Suffolk.   Newmarket have a clear lead of 5½ points, whilst Stowmarket and the three Bury St Edmunds teams (E, F and G) are struggling to keep up with the pace.

Currently, four Ipswich members (Shuan Munson, Ian Wallis, Sam Brennan and Andrew Shephard) play for Bury St Edmunds in Division 1, giving them the opportunity to play against different opponents.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Suffolk Ladies' Championship

One may well ask, "Why is there a separate Ladies' Championship; there's not one for men?"   The answer lies in the old Minute Book where, at the AGM in September 1933, it was reported:

"Mr S D Ward introduced the question of ladies playing in the Championship, and on his suggestion it was decided to have a separate championship confined to ladies."

So there you are ladies.  The implication from 80 years ago is that chess-playing females were not welcome in the main Championship.   Thank goodness that times have changed.  Judith Polgar is up there amongst the world's strongest and within Suffolk we have seen the likes of Louisa Orton, Anna York-Andersen and of course, Vicky Allen, representing their county and competing on an equal basis in 'mixed' events.

But the Suffolk Ladies' Championship continues and a very fine trophy awaits the winner each year.

For 2012-13, seven entries were received, five of whom were juniors.   The youngest, Anita Somton, is still only 8.

The photo above from Round 1 shows Anita Somton about to play Vicky Allen (the current title holder), with Emilia Jewell facing Liya Baby.   Results for Round 1 were:

Vicky Allen 1-0 Anita Somton
Emilia Jewell 1-0 Liya Baby
Adele Lunn 1-0 Alba Saenz de Villaverde
Bethany Young (bye)

The answer to the puzzle in Tuesday's posting was 50... Qe5+!    Well done to Chris Davison who was the only person to reply.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Wartime Suffolk

The Minute Book referred to a few days ago shows that meetings of the Association were suspended during the war years.  An Executive Committee meeting had been held in July 1939, shortly before the War commenced.  This was followed in the book by an entry by the then Hon. Secretary, S Donald Ward, on 1 January 1940:

"Owing to the outbreak of hostilities, it has not been possible to arrange the Annual General Meeting, but this will be done as soon as it is found possible to do so."

Inter-County Correspondence Chess continued during the War, organised by the BCF, with 20-board teams competing each year between 1941 and 1945.

The first post-War meeting, an AGM, took place on 29 September 1945.   This is a significant date for two Suffolk players.   Melvin Steele was born that day and I was born the day after!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Find the move!

In the 4NCL back in February this year, Alan Merry (Black) faced 200-graded James Jackson, from Bath University.   Here's the position after Black's 49th move (Qg6-g5):

White now played the natural 50. Qxd3.   Find Black's winning move!

The answer (not that difficult!) will be given on Thursday.

Monday, 10 December 2012

London Chess Classic

Running alongside the London Chess Classic, where nine of the World's top players are competing (final round today), the FIDE Open has attracted an amazing 235 entrants, including 11 GMs and 25 IMs.  There are three entrants from Suffolk (well, two from the county and one formerly from Suffolk).  Ed Player (Bury St Edmunds) scored an excellent 5½/9 for a 2240 performance, losing only to three IMs.   Former Suffolk player David Whitehead, now London-based, scored 5 points, whilst newcomer Silas Peck (Ipswich), only 16 years old, recovered from a poor start (0/4) to finish with 2½ points.

The event was won by two GMs from Armenia and the Netherlands, who both scored 7½/9 and drew with each other in Round 7.

Click here for full results of the FIDE Open.   To see the Classic games (Carlsen plays Anand today in the final round), click here.   Games start today at 12.00.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A game from the Bury Congress

Stowmarket's Dave Green (116) made a welcome return to chess a year ago, after ten years away from the board. He played in the Intermediate section of the Bury St Edmunds Congress in October and having won his first game with White, faced Robert Killeen (143) with Black in Round 2.

Here are the moves with Dave's own notes. You can play through the game using the board at the bottom of the page.

White:  Robert Killeen (Brentwood)
Black:   Dave Green (Stowmarket)

1. e4 c5 2. b4  Oh well, that is my Sicilian opening book in the bin, so now I have to play on my wits.   My first long think, well about six minutes actually.   2… e5 3. bxc5 Bxc5  Looks like I have gained a tempo already.   4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O  Here again I had a long think (by my standards).   Just what is wrong with the ultimate Sicilian freeing move d5?   I could find no good reason not to play it, so … d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Ne4  I thought the pin on the long diagonal would save the e4 pawn, so … Be7 10. Bb2  This looks a bit passive so do I defend e4 again or go for some space and activity in the centre?  … f5!?  Chucking the knight out.   11. Ng3   The knight runs to the only available safe square.  … e4  and kick the other knight whilst saving the e-pawn.   12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. Bxe5   I now have the chance to swap off this irritating bishop, develop my queen and occupy the long diagonal all together.   Doing three things in one move has to be good.   13… Bf6 14. Bxf6 Nxf6  and now a surprise.   15. f4   Whoa David.   What is this?   Thinking cap firmly on.   exf3 e.p. is nuts as it gives away all my advantage in the centre by freeing his knight and bishop.  No, it is time to develop and be awkward whilst doing so.   15… Be6 attacking the a-pawn, freezing his rook for a bit and stopping any checks on the a2-g8 diagonal.   Another case of doing three things in one move.   16. Kh1?   This looks so passive; it must be time to attack.   Now in the Sicilian the queen is usually good on c7.   Ok 16… Qc7 17. c4   Hmmm, can I artificially isolate this pawn and attack it?   Rd8 and the pin on the queen is a nuisance so now I have to choose a rook.   No problem, the f-rook will do well and the a-rook can then go to c8.   17… Rfd8   While he is thinking I took a long look around the board.   Black has more space, more active queen and rook.   My knight has useful squares whilst his knight has only one useless square.   My bishop is active on two diagonals.  His bishop runs into his own pieces or is harassed by my advancing pawns.  Two pawn islands for me and three for him, including the horrible isolated a- and c-pawns and the backward d-pawn.   Kings are equally safe.   I considered I was better in this position.   18. Qc2 Rd4   A rook lift.   GM Larry Christiansen is always in favour of rook lifts in his attacking chess videos on ICC, so here goes.   Yet more pressure on the c4 pawn.   19. d3   So where now?   Rc8 is solid and keeps up the pressure but his queen on c2 and his rook on f1 are ripe for a knight fork from e3.   How do I get my knight there?   Well, the c4 pawn is pinned to the queen, so … Nd5 20. Qb2  This move was a long time coming.  Now his clock is really helping me.   20… Qb6 defending the rook, attacking the queen and saving the cheeky knight.   21. Qxb6 Nxb6 22. dxe4 fxe4 and a powerful and well-supported passed pawn appears on e4.   23. c5 Nc4 24. Bxc4 Bxc4   The exchanges left me winning; bishop for knight with pawns on both sides of the board.   A centralised rook, better pawn structures and a monster passed pawn.   25. Rfe1 Bd3 26. Nf5 Rc4   Not Rd5 because of the fork on e7.   27. Rac1 Rxc1 Exchanging rooks increases my advantage.   28. Rxc1   Here I want to play Rc8 but the knight fork at e7 prevents this, so … g6 shifts the steed but it goes to a better square!   29. Nd6   I still cannot play Rxc1 so I push the e-pawn  … e3 30. Re1 e2 31. Kg1 Rd8   Letting the b-pawn go.   32. Nxb7 Rd7 33. Na5 Bb5 34. Kf2 Rd1   This was rushed; Rd2 was much better.   35. c6 Rd2   Correcting the last move.  36. Nb3 Rxa2   Now the Black a-pawn needs constant attention from White.   37. c7   Scary!   But … Ba6 holds all.   38. Nd4   Ponderously returning to the defence.  … Rd2 39. Ke3 Rd3+ 40. Ke4 Rc3 41. Ne6 Kf7 42. Ng5+ Kg7 43. g3   White was very short of time, while I still had 45 minutes on the clock.  … h6 44. Ne6+ Kf6 45. Ra1 Bb7+ 46. Kd4 Rc6 47. Nd8 Rxc7   Killing the dreaded c-pawn.   48. Nxb7 Rxb7 49. Re1 Re7   Rook and pawn endgame, but I have two passed pawns and one is on the seventh rank.  50. g4 a5 51. Kc4 Re4+ 52. Kd5 Re8 53. Kc4 a4 54. Kb4 Re4+ 55. Ka3 Ke6 and White resigned with next to no time on his clock and in a lost position.   The Black king can penetrate via d5, d4, e3 and f2.   Houdini says I am +7.22 ahead.  

Whoopee two out of two at the Congress!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Formation of the Suffolk County Chess Association

Vicky Allen, a former Secretary of the SCCA, recently handed over to me a box of old papers and files that she has kept hidden away in an attic for some time.

Deep within the box was a dusty, dog-eared volume (see photo opposite) of the minutes of the Suffolk County Chess Association, from 1930 to 1974.  Mostly handwritten, the minutes of AGMs and committee meetings contain gems of information, some of which will appear on this website from time to time.

For starters, here is the very first entry:

“At a meeting of chess players held at the Institute, Tavern Street, Ipswich on Oct 11 1930, Mr A. H. Welburn presiding, it was decided to form a Suffolk County Chess Association which will take part in competitions under the auspices of the Southern Counties Chess Union in the East Anglian area, the other counties being Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

Mr J. W. Wilson, Secretary of the Ipswich Chess Club read letters from Mr R. M. Fleming, the assistant secretary of the S.C.C.U. , Mr A. M. Diaper, Hon. Sec. of the Bury Chess Club, and the secretaries of the Norwich & District Chess Club and the Cambridge Town Club in favour of the project.  Help was also promised from Mr Whitworth, Framlingham School, and several prominent chess players promised to become Vice-Presidents.

The following officers were provisionally elected: Vice-Presidents – Messrs Bunnell, H. Burton, W.H. Allen Whitworth, Bernard Pretty, C.F. Lines and Commander Porsnand (Walsham-le-Willows), with Mr J.W. Wilson Hon. Secy. pro tem.

Subsequently Col. W. Guinness, M.P., D.S.O. agreed to become President, and Mr P. Cowell and the Rev. Dudley Symon became Vice-Presidents.

Matches were played with Norfolk and Cambridge at Diss and Bury respectively.  Messrs Hooper and Wilson attended as delegates at meetings of the Committee of the S.C.C.U.  A committee meeting of the Association drew up a set of provisional rules.”

That makes us 82 years old!

Friday, 7 December 2012

How not to win a won game

Last Tuesday, Ian Wallis (White) faced Mike Cook in an all-Ipswich fixture in Division 1 of the Suffolk League.

Ian's detailed analysis is shown below, and you can play through the game using the diagram.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.Qe2 or 4.d3 are designed to prevent the Berlin Wall, on reflection an odd choice against Michael as he always follows up with 4...Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.d3 h6 7.Nbd2 0–0 8.h3 Bb6  A surprise, I was expecting ...a6 gaining a tempo to give the bishop a retreat square on a7.  On seeing Black's last move I decided on a slow manoeuvring plan 9.Nf1?!  Better was 9. O-O to keep pace with Black's development 9...Ne7!  Now Black's plan is perfectly clear.  He intends Ng6 (eyeing up Nf4), c6 and Bc7 preserving the bishop on a different diagonal. Realising the strength of this plan I decided to abort the intended knight manoeuvre in a belated attempt to develop quickly 10.Be3 Ng6 11.g3?!  A horrible move to have to play – what does his neighbour on h3 think? ...c6 12.Ba4 d5 13.Bxb6 Qxb6 14.exd5 cxd5 15. O-O-O.  Castling at last and getting time to reflect on my wretched position.  It is safe to say that picking a dubious (some would say ambitious) plan and then changing it has resulted in a difficult position.  Black has a clear advantage here.  It is at times like this in a game that strange forces come into play.  Rather than worrying about my position, I felt a calmness about it, knowing that if Black executed his game plan accurately there would be precious little I could do about it.  And yet here sprang eternal hope!  How many of us mere mortals have failed to convert advantages they thought they had during a game?  The pressure is all on Black to prove the evidence of the position. 15...Qc7?!  At the time I thought this to be inaccurate, fearing more Be6 followed by d4.  However on checking with the electronic monster back home it found nothing wrong with the idea which is obviously to make way for the pawn storm on the newly castled king. 16.Kb1 Be6 17.d4  I thought this was forced as I couldn't contemplate allowing Black to advance himself.  The machine was unimpressed with my move and assessed the position after Black's next as circa -0.90, i.e. significantly inferior! 17...e4  Good enough for Hr Fritz but Mike said after the game this is where he thought he took a wrong turn and preferred to keep the position open with Bf5+ which is fine if White co-operates with Bc2 swapping bishops, but is less significant after Ka1. 18.N3d2 a6 19.Ne3 b5 20.Bc2 Rfc8  Over the last few moves Fritz has assessed the position as between -0.50 to -1.00 depending on whose turn it is to move.  I now took the opportunity to create my first threat in the game: 21.f4!? Ne7 which Black easily parried. 22.Nb3 Bd7 23.Nc5 a5  Now the assessment of the position is only marginally better for Black, although I can't see that Black has been making any inferior moves which brings me to ask the question as to why Hr Fritz thought so highly of Black's position only three moves ago?  He has gone strangely quiet on this question and I am still waiting for his answer...  Anyway back to the game 24.Ng4!  The exclamation is not because the move is surprising or particularly brilliant, more so that it is a shot that dramatically changes the assessment of the position and having found it I felt comfortable for the first time in the game. 24...Nf5?  Black does not react well to the change of events.  After the game he said that he couldn't allow the knight to land on e5 as he didn't like his position after that.  However the cure is worse than the complaint.  I was expecting a capture on g4 and then a classical pawn storm on each side of the board.  I was quietly confident at this point.  Fritz now recommends Ne8, eventually redeploying the knight to d6 which it assesses as favourable (about -0.50) to Black.  Appearances can be deceptive some times! 25.Nxf6+ gxf6 26.Rhg1  It is now White who has a significant advantage (around +1.00). ...Kf8  Another step in the wrong direction according to Fritz (now around +1.50) although its suggestions do not inspire confidence in Black's position. 27.Qh5! (+1.82) ...Ke7?!  What is Black thinking? (now over 3.00)  Or was it a psychological move knowing that I would not be able to resist such provocation? 28.Nxe4?!  Fritz preferred Rde1 preparing the sac after Be6 then gives Bxe4 to preserve the knight to attack f6.  I was looking at the bishop hitting the rook on a8. 28...dxe4 29.Bxe4 Ne3?  Missing Ng7= (understandably so in my opinion!) 30.Rde1  Now all is well with the world (+5.50)  Happy days!! ...Be6 31.Bxa8  Rxe3 was simpler, however I didn't think that the counter-play was going to be a serious problem. ...Qc4 32.Rxe3 Qxa2+ 33.Kc2 b4  All according to plan, now how to nullify Black's activity and wait for him to run out of pieces? f5, d5, Bd5, Rxe6+ and the move played were all candidate moves and thereby lay the problem, choice means indecision.  Just when hand and brain co-ordination is required to bring the game to its ultimate conclusion, after a long day and energy-sapping game, brain goes AWOL thinking it has done its job and all that is needed is to mop up, over to you hand... 34.Rge1  OK not bad (approx +6.70) just behind d5 at around (+7.40) 34...bxc3 35.Rxc3 Qb3+  Now one last precise move and it's all over... 36.Kc1??  Unfortunately this is not it!  Suddenly =(0.00).  Even now I cannot comprehend why I made this move 36...Rxc3+ 37.bxc3 Qxc3+ 38.Kd1 Qd3+ ½–½.  If 36. Kd3 (+11.29) and Black can start putting the pieces back in the box.

If any other reader has played an interesting game recently, please send it to me!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Under 18 Team Manager needed!

In 1997 Suffolk won the u18 National Inter-Counties Championship.    Admittedly, we had a cracking team in those days:   Pert, Pert, Player, Whitehead to name but a few.

Now, 16 years later, it would be good to see a 12-board team entered again in this event, which takes place in June 2013, probably at Eton College. It's a two-round event, with a total of 2½ hours for each game.

If we can persuade everyone to play, we would have the nucleus of a good team.   On top board would be Alan Merry (225), with Adam Taylor (181), Sam Brennan (157), Silas Peck (150), Nikolai Lastochkin (136) and Emilia Jewell (133) potentially on the next few boards.

But what we really need is a TEAM MANAGER!   The job isn't particularly demanding.  It will require some degree of organisational ability, contacting and maintaining contact with prospective team members, arranging transport to the venue and informing the national organiser of the team details.

It's a one-off event, so the commitment is not ongoing.

If anyone (perhaps a parent?) is interested in taking on this role, would they please contact me soon.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

When the Women's World Champion came to town

In the absence of topical news, here's another look back at a bygone age.

Vera Menchik, born in Moscow in 1906, was the first Women's World Champion, obtaining that title in 1927 in London.  At a time when strong women chess players were rather thin on the ground, she held that title throughout the rest of her lifetime.

She moved to England in 1921 with her Czech father and English mother, and in 1936 was invited by the Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club to give a simultaneous display.  The photo below shows her surrounded by her opponents. Somewhere in that photo is a young Don Ward, doyen of Suffolk Chess and Suffolk Champion on 12 occasions.

(Click on photo for larger image)

Vera played 23 simultaneous games against Club members, winning 18, losing one and drawing four.

Sadly, she died on 27 June 1944, when a V1 bomb destroyed her home in Clapham, London, killing Vera along with her two sisters and mother.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Feedback please!

From speaking to a number of Suffolk chessplayers I know that many of you are following these daily news updates.  The verbal feedback I've received has been most positive.  But only two people, so far, have ventured to write a comment on the website.

At the bottom of each posting there's a hyperlink (in blue) to 'No comments'.  If there has already been a comment, this will have changed to '1 comment'.  Click on this and a comment box will open.  Type in your comment.  Then below, where it says 'Comment as:', scroll down to 'Name/URL'.  Type in your name but leave the URL empty.  Click 'Publish'.  You'll be asked to 'prove you're not a robot' by typing a word or words that appear.  That's it.

Some people may already have a Google account, which is the simplest way of making a comment.  If you don't have a Google account, you can sign up for one. You'll be directed to the Blogger page where you should click on the 'Sign up' box in the top right corner and follow the instructions.

One minor criticism I've received is that there's been a lot of historical stuff.  That's only because there's been little of topical interest to report!  In the Suffolk League alone, some 160 games have been played already this season.   There must be something worthwhile to report.  Please send me some interesting games, or positions, and I can publish them on this website.   Or perhaps there was an unusual incident (my opponent's phone rang last Thursday - the first time I've won a game in this manner).

Comments from readers provide a real incentive for me to continue with these regular daily postings.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Suffolk Under 11s

A Team Manager has been found for the Suffolk Under 11 team.   The County has entered the English Primary Schools Chess Association (EPSCA) inter-Association tournament (East Region), which will take place in Northampton on Saturday 16 March.

Laura Cortabarria, mother of Alba, Mario and Aaron Saenz de Villaverde, will now attempt to find a 20-board team to play against other counties and affiliated areas, which include Norfolk, Kent, Barnet, Richmond, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Those already being considered for the team include:

Alex Sheerin
Mario Saenz de Villaverde
Anita Somton
Daniel Garcia-Leon
Alan John
Aaron Saenz de Villaverde
William Moody
William Starling
Bethany Young
Abel Vadakelan
Liya Baby

The above are all members of the Bury Knights JCC.  Others will be added from Woodbridge School (Abbey) and Ipswich JCC.  If anyone knows of other children (born after 31 August 2001), please let Laura know.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Suffolk Under 160 results

The Suffolk under 160 team, weakened by a number of forced absences, played Norfolk this morning and newcomers Hertfordshire this afternoon, at Turner Hall in Newmarket.

The full results can be viewed on the Results website.

The average grade of the Suffolk team was just over 138.  This compares to recent years when we have achieved an average of over 145. Many thanks to those on Boards 12 to 16, who filled in so admirably.   Between them they scored a highly creditable 50%.

In the morning match, against Norfolk, we were told that Board 16 would be defaulted, but in addition, their Board 5 failed to turn up.   So we were winning 2 - 0 before we started! Their remaining 14 boards averaged 141.4, three points per board more than us.  But Suffolk still managed to win 7½ - 6½ on these boards, giving an overall score of 9½ - 6½.

The afternoon match pitted Suffolk against Hertfordshire, playing in the EACU u160s for the first time.   They brought a strong team, which averaged 147.4, a full nine points per board better than Suffolk.  They should have won convincingly, but only managed to do so by 9½ - 6½.

If anyone who played had a game worthy of publication, please send it to me.   In the meantime, you can view my win in the afternoon on the Games page.

The next pair of matches, against Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, take place on Sunday 6 January.  If anyone is unable to play, please let me know.


Rob Harden has sent me his win in the morning against Jim McAvoy from Norfolk. Here's his fine finish. This is the position after Black's 20...Bd7:

21. Rac1+ Kb8 22. b5 (threatening Nc6) ...Ka8 23. Rc7 Rc8 24. Ne6 Rxc7 25. Nxc7+ Kb8 26. Rc1 Rc8?? (seems natural, but loses immediately) 27. Bxa7+! Kxa7 28. Qa4+ Kb6 29. Qd4+ Ka5 30. Qa7#

Saturday, 1 December 2012


The final episode of Mike McNaughton's epic tale

Black plays 2… g6

This move is, perhaps, not the most common you are likely to encounter if you play the Tromp as White.   It can easily transpose into the Byrne Variation against the Pirc, or something like it.

The move does not prevent 3. Bxf6 by White and then the position will not be unlike the more common 2… g6 3. Bxf6.

I’m going to give you a short game which was played in Cork, Ireland, in 2005.    The winner was called David Smith. I’ve known two players with that name; one used to play top board for Cleveland and the other played for Capenhurst in the Chester League.    Both were pretty decent players (certainly better than yours truly).   In this game Black played g6 but the same position could have been reached by a different move order.

White:  Oisin Benson;   Black:  David Smith.
Well, you don’t need to be a county player to work that one out.   But I’ll give the answer later down the page anyway.    One has to say that White did not play well, but I hope I have demonstrated, if nothing else, that Black does not need to fear the doubled pawns. To reinforce the point, I will give a game played by our own Adam Hunt as Black against Richard Palliser, who has written a book on the Trompovsky and should, therefore, know his onions.    But Richard did not get far in this game.

White:  Richard Palliser;    Black:  Adam Hunt.
Well, Black didn’t have too much trouble holding an expert.    In our next game, Adam produces an overwhelming attack on the Q-side, though one must admit White’s play could have been better.

White:   Eric Lawson;    Black:   Adam Hunt.
Well, your name doesn’t have to be Garry Kasparov to work out that White is in a mess; but would YOU have sacrificed your Queen here as White?   Whether you would have done or not, White did - and of course after that it was all over and I don’t think much purpose would be served by going through White’s death agonies.   But this game does, I think, illustrate one thing; namely the strength of Black’s KB.

I said I’d give you the killer move from the game Benson – Smith, which isn’t hard to work out; Black played Nh3+ and White has a choice of two grisly ways of being executed.   He chose 19. gxh3 Bxf3 and White had to sacrifice the Queen to avoid mate.

But, as I remarked in the introduction, the most popular reply to 2… g6 at master level isn’t 3. Bxf6; it’s 3. Nf3.

Typically, White will play moves like Nbd2, c3, e4, Bc4 and Qe2 and Re1.    White ought to get quite a reasonable position out of this, but Black’s game is quite playable.

I will give a rather drastic miniature which will show that Black needs to be careful.    The following game was played in the World u12 Championship in 2005.    White was Saeed Mohammad and his opponent was Mike Jiang.
To conclude I will give you a cute little game between two players I haven’t heard of called Olcayoz and Duman.    White was the higher-rated player but he got really turned over here.

So there you have it; I hope you have derived something from this survey of the Trompovsky.    I wonder whether anyone will play it against me next season??

Now there’s a challenge.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Forthcoming events

The list of forthcoming events has recently been updated.   There are plenty of tournaments taking place in East Anglia in the coming months, to suit all tastes and ages.

The Leys School Junior Chess Tournament - Cambridge, Sunday 20 January 2013.   Three age-group sections for Under 10s, Under 12s and Under 14s.   Organiser is Matt Taylor of the Leys School; Controller is Bob Jones.

Hertfordshire Chess Association Congress, Hertford, Sat/Sun 2/3 February 2013.   Four graded sections: Open, u175, u150 and u120.

Peterborough Rapidplay and Junior Rapidplay, Saturday 9 February 2013.   Four section Rapidplay - Open, u170, u130 and a Junior section for u16s graded under 85.

Norfolk Rapidplay, Thorpe School, Norwich, Sunday 10 February 2013.   More details later.

Bury St Edmunds Junior Congress - Moreton Hall Community Centre, Sunday 24 February 2013.   Five age-group sections: u8, u10, u12, u14 and u18.   Also a free-to-enter section for Parents!

Norfolk Open Championships - Hippodrome, Gt Yarmouth, Sat/Sun 27/28 April 2013.   Part of the EACU Grand Prix.   More details later.

EACU Championships - Newmarket, Sat/Sun 1/2 June 2013.   Also part of the EACU Grand Prix.

And finally, a reminder that the 31st Bury St Edmunds Congress will take place at the Apex on 5/6 October 2013.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Players of the Year

With about one-third of the season already gone, it's time to check out the leading candidates for 'Player of the Year'.   At the end of the season there's a trophy for each division winner.

DIVISION 1 (Minimum 3 games played)

Shaun Munson (Ipswich) 4/4 (100%)
Ed Player (Bury St Edmunds) 2½/3
Steve Ruthen (Bury St Edmunds) 2½/3
Kevin Greenacre (Ipswich) 2½/3

DIVISION 2 (Minimum 3 games played)

Malcolm Lightfoot (Saxmundham) 2½/3
Andrew Paige (Saxmundham) 2½/3
Pete Smyth (Adastral Park) 2½/3

DIVISION 3 (Minimum 4 games played)

Peter Chadwick (Saxmundham) 4/5
David Green (Stowmarket) 3/4
Phil Mortonson (Ipswich) 3/4
Gary Hemsworth (Felixstowe) 3½/5

Other players with a 100% score (2 wins) to date are:

(Div 2):
Mark Le-Vine (Bury St Edmunds)
Don Picton (Saxmundham)

(Div 3):
Rory Goldsmith (Woodbridge School)
Daniel Such (Woodbridge School)
Dave Welsh (Clacton)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Lest we forget ...

Browsing through some old grading lists from the early 1990s, it's sad to see that a number of Suffolk chess-players have since passed away.

I've tried to make a list of those that I know are no longer with us; the following is by no means complete, I'm sure, but at least is a start.  Would readers please let me know of any names that I have omitted?

Roy Adams (Bury St Edmunds)
Mike Ashman (Stowmarket)
Gordon Chapman (Bury St Edmunds) + photo
Les Collins (Felixstowe)
Bill Davies (Sudbury)
Alan Donkin (Bury St Edmunds)
Tony Fuller (Ipswich)
John Galloway (Ipswich) + photo
Sidney Gill (Bury St Edmunds)
Dennis Heron (Hadleigh)
Ken Horley (Hadleigh)
Dennis Horn (Felixstowe)
Peter Lamont (Bury St Edmunds)
Frank Lloyd (Bury Hospital)
Jim Page (Stowmarket) + photo
Julian Popescu (Eye)
Jack Revell (Saxmundham)
Cyril Smith (Bury Hospital)
Adrian Thorpe (Bury St Edmunds) + photo
Don Ward (Bury St Edmunds) + photo
John Watson (Saxmundham)
Eddie Webb (Newmarket)

I would like to write a short article on each, adding a photo where available.  The list shows where I already have a photo; if you have photos of any others, please let me know.  I'd also appreciate any memories you have.


This should have been posted last evening, but didn't manage it as too late back from a chess match!

Part 3 of Mike McNaughton's treatise on the Trompovsky

Black plays 2… d5

As a personal opinion, I did not particularly care for this move but am I being, perhaps, just a teeny weeny bit irrational?  Well, that wouldn’t be new for me!  The fact is, I would not care for the idea of Black playing the immediate 3. Bxf6.  I can’t think why, because results have tended to go in favour of Black. Anyway, I have given three games here.

The first involves a player some of you may know, David Ledger from Bedford (I like to draw local examples when I can!).  He started off badly, then clawed his way back into the game, and just as things started looking good, they went south and Nigel Povah, his opponent, finished off with some considerable panache.

Another game in this section will be from Anatoly Karpov, and this game is a gem, or at least I think so.  There are no pyrotechnics, just superb technique from a master of his craft.

And finally, Magnus Carlsen, no less, and we will be happy to let him be our guide.

White: Nigel Povah     Black: David Ledger
It says a lot for Dave that he managed to work up an attack from a very unpromising position.  I thought his mistake was trying to avoid a Q exchange; but heck, I’m a weaker player than Dave; I’ve no right to tell him what he should or shouldn’t do.

And now for Karpov.  I’m still kicking myself after 40 odd years for letting the opportunity pass me by for having him for a simul at what was then my club (Knotty Ash) and yes, there is indeed such a place, though you won’t find any gravy wells or jam butty mines there.  At the time Korchnoi looked the better bet.

Just enjoy this game.  His opponent, by the way, is no fool by any means, and a Trompovsky specialist.  Interestingly, he plays 3. e3 rather than Bxf6. Not that it did him any good!  And obviously we can assume that 3. Bxf6 held no fears for Karpov.

White: Sinisa Drazic     Black: Anatoly Karpov.
Our next game involves the prodigy Magnus Carlsen.  I don’t propose to give you the whole game; my general intention was to give you an idea of how he handles the opening.  And again, it’s a coherent plan which you can use in your own games.  Well, with Carlsen, it would be coherent, wouldn’t it?

White: Rune Djurhuus     Black: Magnus Carlsen

Black plays 2… c5

The Benoni type move … c5 is a challenging, combative reply to the Trompovsky and if White is not careful he can lose quickly.  White has, more or less, two main replies.  The first is what most players would play almost automatically after … c5; namely d5.

So let’s look at what happened in the game Rodriguez – Hort, Las Palmas, 1975. 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 c5 3. d5 Ne4 4. Bf4 Qb6 5. Qc1 g5 6. Bg3 Bg7 7. c3 Qh6 (threatening … Nxg3 when White is forced to re-take with the f pawn) 8. Bxb8 Rxb8 (what else for White? The rook recapture prepares the ground for a Q side attack). 9. Nxd2 Nxd2 10. Qd2 b5 11. Nf3 b4 12. Nxg5 bxc3 13. Qa6?? 14. Rc1 Qa3 15. e4 Rb1!! and Black won in another ten moves.

What would have been better for White? Oddly enough, retreating the Bishop to c1. Well, it does look ignominious but the loss of time is compensated by forcing the Black N to move again by f3.  Here is a short draw between two GMs; one is our old friend Julian Hodgson and the other Guyala Sax.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Ne4 3. Bf4 c5 4. d5 Qb6 5. Bc1 d6 6. f3 Nf6 7. e4 e6 8. c4 exd5 9. cxd5 g6 10. Ne2 Bg7 11. Na3 O-O 12. Nc4 Qc7 13. Nc3 a6 14. e4 Nbd7 15. Be2 Nb6 16. Na3 Bd7 17. O-O Nxa4 18. Nxa5 b5 19. Nc3 b4 20. Bd2 bxa3 21. Rxa3 Rab8. Draw agreed.

I chose the following little miniature involving a player I came across a few years ago in the National Club Championship in Aberystwyth.  Rudy van Kemenade plied most of his chess trade in Yorkshire but on this occasion I played his charming wife Julie, no mean player either.

White: Richard Freeman Black: Rudy van Kemenade.
1. d4 Nf5 2. Bg5 c5 3. Bxf6 gxf6 4. d5 Qb6 5. Qc1 f5 6. e3 Bg7 7. c3 Qg6 (e6 is the book move) 8. Nh3 e5 9. dxe6 fxe6 10. Nf4 Qf7 11. Be2 O-O 12. c4 Nc6 13. Nc3 Kh8 14. Qc2 a6 15. Na4 b5 16. cxb5 axb5 17. Nc5 Qe7 18. Nb3 Qb4 19. Qxb4 Nxb4 20. O-O Bxb2 21. Rab1 Rxa2 22. Bxb5. Draw agreed.

The final part of the ACE OF TROMPS will appear in a few days' time.

Monday, 26 November 2012

A new school chess club

Old Buckenham Hall School, in Brettenham (between Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds), has started up a chess club for its Year 7 pupils.  It's being held every Monday afternoon, in curriculum time!  The photo below shows some of the pupils at today's second meeting of the club.

It's particularly noteworthy that the whole of the year group attends (it's compulsory) and that it's being held during the school day.  Full marks to the school for making such a commitment.

Judging by the enthusiasm shown by the pupils, they certainly seem to enjoy playing chess (I guess it's better than another history lesson).  The best players have been put into 'Division 1', where they will play each other over the next few weeks.  The remainder have been spilt into two groups, one of about 16 pupils who can play chess (though not very well yet) and a 'Novices' group of 5 or 6 pupils, who receive instruction on some chess basics.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Woodbridge Junior results

The 12th Woodbridge Junior Chess Open Tournament took place today.

Sadly, entries were down on previous years.   A total of 63 people entered, which included nine adults in the Open section.   The Under 14 and Under 16 sections had to be combined.

The Playing Hall:

Of the 54 juniors who played, 21 were from Woodbridge School and the Abbey Prep, and 11 were from the Bury Knights JCC.

The section winners were:

Under 8 - Aaron Saenz de Villaverde (Bury Knights) - 6/6
Under 10 - William Bradley (Wymondham, Norfolk) - 6/6
Under 12 - Anita Somton (Bury Knights) - 5½/6
Under 14 - Wiliam Sait (Bury Knights) - 5/6
Under 16 - Silas Peck (Ipswich CC) - 5/6
Open (incl. adults) - Steve Gregory (Ipswich CC) - 6/6

All the Junior winners and runners-up:

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Trophies - where are they all?

In my rĂ´le as Secretary of the SCCA, I would like to attempt to locate as many of the county's trophies as possible.

If you (or your club) possess any Suffolk trophy, would you please let me know?

It may be a current trophy, such as a Division Champion or Player of the Year, but it could also be a trophy from long ago that is no longer awarded. If you happen to have one of these lying in your loft, don't be embarrassed, just let me know so that it can be brought back into the County's ownership and, possibly, re-awarded next year.

This includes junior trophies, such as the various age-group cups and shields, and inter-schools competitions.

Back in 1993 we had a valuation done, which listed 16 trophies. Some of these have since 'gone missing'. Also, we know that there are more trophies than the 16 that were valued, as some have been re-discovered in the meantime. The value of the 16 trophies (in 1993) was over £2,000.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Where have all the Junior Clubs gone?

Fifteen years ago, there were junior clubs in many locations in the county.  The first to open, back in 1988, was Stowmarket, closely followed by Ipswich.  Others followed in subsequent years in Gt Cornard, Leiston, Debenham, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket.  By 1997 junior chess in the county was incredibly strong, with many schools supplementing the above clubs.

Now, in 2012, only the Bury Knights continues to thrive.  The average attendance this term has been 30, with more than 40 members on the books.  These include 17 girls.

The Ipswich Junior Club has not re-commenced this term, due mainly to the business commitments of the organiser, Paul Febvre.  He is hoping that the club will open again in the Spring Term, but emphasises that if he is unable to do so (he currently works in Oxford) he will need to hand over the club's assets to the adult club.

Perhaps some members of the Ipswich Chess Club will step forward now and help Paul to get the club back on its feet.  If Bury St Edmunds, with about one quarter of the population of Ipswich, can thrive, then surely it must be possible to maintain a junior club there.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Peter Keffler is 89 today!

Something of a chess legend in Suffolk and North Essex circles, Peter Keffler reaches the grand age of 89 today!

The photo below shows Peter's birthday celebration at the Clacton Chess Club last year, when he was presented with a cake that showed a position from his game against Tim Lunn, played in December 2003.  An amazing sequence of sacrifices culminated in a shock mate.  Well worth playing through!

Also in the photo are John Lambert, Dennis Brown and Dave Pearce.

Peter has suffered a number of ailments in recent years.  He has had to have operations on his knees and his eyesight is slowly failing him.  His famous bookstall is no longer, but he still owns a large number of books which he keeps at his house. Any offers?!

Here's the game:

White: Peter Keffler; Black: Tim Lunn; Suffolk League, 15.12.2003

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The other league

Three Suffolk clubs play in the Bury Area Chess League - Newmarket (Div 3), Stowmarket (Div 3) and Bury St Edmunds (all three divisions).

Newmarket have had a great start and look favourites to win Division 3.  Boosted by the arrival of two established players (Colin Gardiner ex Falmouth and Fraser Jones ex Ely) they have started the season with four straight wins and 17½ points.

Not such good news for Stowmarket, who have had difficulty fielding their strongest players.  They currently lie in joint last place on 6 points.

Bury St Edmunds field seven teams in the League - two in Division 1, two in Division 2, and three in Division 3.  Four Ipswich members form part of the squad for the Scorpions, one of the Division 1 teams (Shaun Munson, Ian Wallis, Sam Brennan and Andrew Shephard).  This gives these players an opportunity to play different opponents from usual, from Cambridge, Ely and Linton.

Most of the Bury teams are mid-table.  Cambridge and Linton tend to dominate Division 1, with some extremely strong members.  In one recent match between Bury Scarabs and Linton A, the top two boards all featured players graded over 200.   David Spence (207) beat David Coleman (215) and Ed Player (208) beat Kevin Clark (202).  There can't have been many occasions, in either league, when this has occurred before.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Mike McNaughton's magnum opus continues ...

Black replies 2… Ne4

I said I did not care much for this move, and the reason, shortly stated, is this.  In real warfare, a soldier who left his army’s lines and ventured close to the enemy ranks would get shot at.  Black is open, as we saw in the last issue, to f3, when the Knight has to move again.

What is more, White doesn’t have to answer 2… Ne4 with 3 Bh4.  Bf4 is a much stronger move in my humble opinion.  White has all sorts of dangerous attacking lines and to illustrate one of them, I have selected one from Julian Hodgson in the Bundesliga against an opponent with the quaint name of Arkadius Kalka.

White: Julian Hodgson; Black: Arkadius Kalka
I have selected below a game which is anything but perfect, but perhaps it only goes to confirm what I said in the introduction; namely that the Tromp can sometimes give rise to wild positions.  I put this game on Fritz’s Blundercheck mode and it started whirring away happily.  It’s not the Evergreen Game exactly, but in a way it’s a bit of fun.  Personally, I think White had a few rushes of blood to the head; with a little more preparation Black would have been squashed.  Even White’s resignation was premature.

White: Eduardo Rossel; Black: Tabare Bustelo
It is only fair to say that Black has a better move after 3. Bf4, that being the immediate c5.  If White now continues 4. f3 (which he normally does) then Black plays Qa5+ and the presence of the Knight, even though it must eventually retreat, restricts White’s options in blocking the check.  So 5. c3 and the Knight has to go back to f6. White’s next move is 6. Nd2, probably not where he wanted to put it, but it’s bound for b3 to chase away the Black Q.  So 6… cxd4 7. Nb3 Qb6 (not much choice) 8. Qxd4 Nc6 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. e4 (well, I don’t know about you, but this is a position for Black I would not like).  Black is under-developed and I don’t think the doubled pawn on the b-file is very clever either.

I guess that, before finally leaving the move 2 Ne4, I should mention the wacky 3 h4?! which certainly will make your opponent sit up, but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep about it.

Black plays 2. e6

This line can quite easily transpose into lines which are more reminiscent of the kind of position you get from more normal d-pawn openings.  One such system is a close relative of the Colle called the Torre Attack.   I’m going to give you a short game between its ‘inventor‘ Eugenio Torre, and the Russian GM Andrei Sokolov. It’s very short, but the similarities with the Colle are obvious.
It certainly can’t be said that the Torre Attack is a bad line for White and if you choose to answer 2. Bg5 with e6, you need to be prepared to defend against it.  I wouldn’t frankly expect a White player to try and steer the opening into conventional d-pawn lines, if only because if he wanted that kind of position, he wouldn’t play the Tromp. I will be suggesting a line which was played successfully by the Russian GM Vladimir Epishin, which seemed to me to give Black a very reasonable position with little risk, and is a good choice if all you want is a decent line against the Tromp that gives you a reasonable position without too much book study . White was a player I hadn’t heard of called Soel Katrsev.  Epishin – well you have probably heard of him.  He uses a move order not unlike a system I suggested against the Colle.

White can respond to 2… e6 with the immediate 3. e4, which of course forces 3… h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. e5 Qd8 and the resulting position will have a familiar ring about it to all players of the French Defence.

So there we have it; this concludes Part 2.  In the next, I will be looking at the reply d5 and giving you three high quality games.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Junior powerhouse

Back in 1990 we had some mighty strong juniors. Pictured below is Suffolk's Under 11 team that travelled all the way to Newton Abbot in Devon. They finished runners-up in the National Inter-County Finals, just half a point behind the eventual winners.

On top boards were the Pert twins, just nine years old at the time, but graded 160 (Richard) and 142 (Nick).

Can't recall all the names, but here goes:

(left to right:
Back row:   Alison Holt, Peter Templeton, ??, Mark O'Connell, David Surry, Andrew Longfield, ??, Leif Dixon

Middle row:   ??, Joshua Hewing, Nick Porter, Matthew Fletcher, Richard Pert, Nick Pert, Jay Achar, ??, Owen Barnett

Front row:   John Peters, Julie Nicholas, Joseph Orton, David Whitehead, James Ham

Both David Whitehead (BCF 141) and Owen Barnett (118) represented England Under 11s that year.

Can anyone fill in any of the gaps?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Suffolk League update #2

With most teams having played three or four matches, the three divisions in the Suffolk League are starting to take shape.

Division 1
The three Ipswich teams hold a clear lead. Ipswich A are unbeaten with 11 points from their four matches. Ipswich C are second on 8 points from four matches, whilst Ipswich B, who have a match in hand over the other two Ipswich teams, are on 7½ points.

At the other end of the table, Sudbury A have lost all four matches to date. But with a total of ten matches during the season, it's still all to play for.

Division 2
Saxmundham A are the clear leaders on 7 points from two games. There are three teams in joint second place with 5½ points, but all have played an extra match: Bury St Edmunds C, Adastral Park, and Stowmarket A. Propping up the division are Clacton A, with four points from three losses.

Division 3
It's good to see Felixstowe at the top, with 9½ points from their four matches. They are closely followed by Ipswich E on 9 points, and Ipswich D and Saxmundham B on 8 points.

There are only 2½ points between top and bottom in this division.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


(with many thanks to Mike McNaughton for this, the first of four articles on the Trompowsky).

When I first started to play chess, if I had played a move like 2 Bg5 I would have had my bumps felt (“Move your knights first, boy, and then your Bishops“). For some time it would have been classified under ‘Irregular and Unusual Openings’. And then a certain Julian Hodgson came along and scored a series of decisive wins with it. And inevitably it became fashionable and everybody had to play it.

Nowadays I suspect the frenzy has subsided a little but the opening does still have its devotees, and it is something which you are likely to encounter every now and then.

From the point of view of the White player, the Trompovsky has its pros and cons.

Firstly, it does carry an element of surprise. On the face of it, White is ‘threatening‘ to play the immediate 3 Bxf6, doubling Black’s pawns. At some stage in our development, we were probably told that doubled pawns are a Very Bad Thing – as indeed they sometimes can be, but not always – otherwise White could never allow the Nimzo. And what research I have done has persuaded me, for one, that Black’s position after Bxf6 is not always all that bad.

Secondly, it neatly by-passes the Indian Defences.

Thirdly, Black has a number of perfectly decent replies. Leaving aside variations which are clearly inferior, I counted six: Ne4, e6, d5, d6, g6 and c5. And the White player needs to know how to meet all of them, or the surprise may be on the other foot.

Fourthly, the Tromp, like the Italian Opening, can produce positions which are comparatively dull and uninteresting; but it can also produce wild, unbalanced positions where normally the stronger player wins. If you don’t like playing that kind of position, and your opponent chooses to reply, say, c5, then you take the risk of getting into a position where you are going to feel uncomfortable. From the point of view of Black, you only need to know one of the six replies and know it reasonably well. You have the ability to steer the game into channels which suit you – and if you know your opponent is bookish and unadventurous, you can easily throw him off stroke immediately.

It became apparent to me that dealing with the Tromp was too big a subject to cover in one article. For the time being I am going to content myself with some general remarks. I will try and produce four articles in total, of which this is the first. The other three will take a more detailed look at the possible replies for Black. The choice of reply is, to some extent, a matter of style. For example, e6 might appeal to French players; d6 can transpose into the Pirc. But there is one fundamental question you need to consider. On the face of it White is ‘threatening‘ to play Bxf6, doubling Black’s pawns. The question is, are you going to let him do it?

I imagine most of you would say 'no', why accept a pawn weakness? But I’m not convinced that Black has too much to worry about. After 2 …g6, White could of course play 3 Bxf6, but in fact the most common move at master level is 3 Nf3. So why is that – unless the general opinion is that Bxf6 is not all that great?

The kind of pawn structure that typically results (after Black moves his doubled f pawn to f5) is shown in the following diagram:
Let’s have a look at it. We all know that in the Nimzo Black tends to exchange his KB on c3, saddling White with doubled pawns, but with the risk that the White Bishops can, if not dealt with, become a fearsome attacking weapon. But I defy you to say that the above pawn structure is weak – particularly as White’s Queen’s Bishop has gone, and the B on g7 has a free run on the dark squares. The pawn on f5 discourages e4 for White; Black can follow up by c5 followed by Qb6, move his Knight to f6 via d7, and suddenly Bxf6 doesn’t look quite so good after all.

I may add, by the way, that it’s probably just as reasonable for Black to deploy the bishop on d6, as one of our illustrative games will show.

So at this stage I want to make a few general remarks about each of the Black options, starting with Ne4 – according to Fritz, the most popular option.

I have to say, I did not like this move. Well, it’s a free country. I can dislike it if I wish! Later on, and to conclude this article, I will give you a game played by the man himself, Octavio Trompovsky, which shows that the opening, if not handled correctly, can become a formidable attacking weapon. I will also give you another dangerous line played by Julian Hodgson, and a more positional treatment by our own Richard Pert, against the more popular 3 …c5.

Well, it’s up to you, but all things considered, I don’t think much of the line, unless perhaps you want a bit of excitement. As some of you will have worked out by now, I prefer stodgy draws to exciting losses!

The 2 …e6 line I regard as one of the safest replies to the Trompovsky. The immediate 3 e4, though not bad, is perhaps too committal but there are a number of possibilities available for the player of the white pieces, which I will look at later. And Black avoids the doubled pawns.

I will be suggesting a line for Black which was played successfully by the Russian GM Vladimir Epishin, which seemed to me to give Black a very reasonable position with little risk, and is a good choice if all you want is a decent line against the Tromp that gives you a satisfactory position without too much book study.

The third alternative is the immediate 3 …d5. I have given three illustrative games; one of them involves a player some readers may know, David Ledger from Bedford. He started off badly, then clawed his way back into the game, and just as things started looking good, his position went south and Nigel Povah, his opponent, finished off with some considerable panache.

The second game I really liked, and I’m sure you will enjoy playing through it. It was played by the incomparable Anatoly Karpov and his opponent was one Sinisa Drazic, no fool by any means, and a Trompovsky specialist. There are no pyrotechnics, just a great player showing impeccable technique. And finally, we have a masterclass from Magnus Carlsen.

The next line for Black is the Benoni-like c5. The word ‘Ben-Oni‘ so I am told, means ‘Son of Sadness‘ and I once remarked in the Norfolk magazine En Passant that sadness is the emotion often experienced by those who play it. But against the Tromp, it has its points.

White can play the immediate Bxf6, and Black counters this by putting the KB on g7, advancing the K side pawns to free the Bishop, and then playing Qb6 to put the White Q side under pressure. The other possibility is 4 d5 and many players would play this automatically and then the fireworks commence.

Well, let’s have a look at the next position, which arises from the 4 d5 line. White is a pawn up, but in a serious mess. And the player of Black was Vlastimil Hort. Taken together, that means big trouble. If you can work the winning move out, you’re doing well. If not – you’ll just have to wait!

And finally, there is the move g6. I’ve already made some remarks about this and will give some games which I hope will demonstrate that Black has good chances after 3 Bxf6, and that the line is a reasonably safe response. And in accordance with the ‘policy‘ of using games by local players where possible, we will have as our tutor a player known to us all, Adam Hunt.

To show you that the Tromp is no pussycat, (tame it’s not!) and to satisfy your schadenfreude, here is a short game where Black got well and truly discomknockerated. Mind you, he had only himself to blame. Mr Cantero probably didn’t feel much like singing after this debacle.

White: O Trompovsky; Black: R Cantero, Montevideo, 1924
Part 2 will follow in a few days' time.