Monday, 22 July 2013

Using Fischer timing

At the SCCA AGM on 3 September, the Committee will propose the optional use of Fischer timing in all standard-play games.   Why, and what are the advantages?

There are a number of good reasons for using Fischer timing, but first, what is it and how would it be used?

At present we require 30 moves to be played in 75 minutes, followed by a 15-minutes quick-play finish.   Fischer timing would remove the quick-play finish element.   Games would start with the same stock of 75 minutes but instead of the extra 15 minutes, clocks would be pre-set so that 10 seconds is added to your time whenever you press your clock.

This means that almost all games will finish within three hours, because you will need to make 90 moves before you have used up an hour and a half of your own time.   Very few games exceed 90 moves; even a 120-move game would only take an extra 10 minutes (5 minutes each).

There are a number of benefits of using Fischer timing:

*   At present, when analogue clocks are used, the clocks have to be stopped and manually corrected to add 15 minutes to each player's time.   This can be disruptive to the thought process.

*   When digital clocks are used, inexperienced players can become confused as to whether or not the extra 15 minutes have been added.   Fischer timing will avoid this confusion, as what you see on your clock is the amount of time you have remaining for the game (subject to an extra 10 seconds being added for each move).

*   Perhaps most importantly, FIDE Rule 10.2 (the 'two-minute rule') is no longer applicable.   In League play, claiming a draw in the last two minutes of the game can be problematic.   The League's rules allow for captains to act as 'joint arbiters', but in many cases the captains are either still playing, or are not fully aware of the rule.

So, provided you can make a move within 10 seconds, you should never lose on time.

Using Fischer timing will be optional, and only at those clubs where the appropriate digital timers are available.   Some clubs, such as Bury St Edmunds (who have 16 digitals) could bring some to an away match if requested.

The Committee would like to see Fischer timing used, and hope that the AGM will support the proposal.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

A new website for Suffolk Juniors

A new blog site has been set up for Suffolk Juniors.   It will contain information about tournaments, coaching and clubs.   It is hoped that the site will be updated the frequently, at least once a week.

Comments and suggestions will be welcome.   Please have a look - here.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

200 up!

This is the 200th posting since the site commenced last September.   To date there have been more than 31,000 page views.   Most days there are over 150 visits to the site.

A few things to mention:

Digital clocks

At the recent SCCA Committee Meeting, it was agreed that clubs will be given the alternative of using Fischer Timing for graded games next season.   This of course needs digital clocks, as players will have a stock of 75 minutes at the start of a game, with 10 seconds being added for every move.   This method has the advantage that there can be no claims under FIDE Rule 10.2 (the 'two-minute rule').   If your Club, or you as an individual, would like to purchase clocks, a bulk order is being submitted soon to Tournament Chess Supplies.   DGT 2010 clocks will cost £46.00 each.   Please send me your order(s) by 24 July.

In the Bury Area League, players will be actively encouraged to use Fischer Timing this coming season.   Of course, it needs both players to agree to its use.

Some dates to note:

Tuesday 3 September   -   Suffolk County Chess Association AGM (at Ipswich CC)
Thursday 19 September   -   Bury Area Chess League Jamboree (at Bury St Edmunds CC)
Sat/Sun 5/6 October   -   31st Bury St Edmunds Congress (at the Apex)
Sunday 20 October   -   Cambridgeshire Rapidplay (at Whittlesford Village Hall)
Sat/Sun 9/10 November   -   Lowestoft Open (at Oulton Broad)
Sat/Sun 9/10 November   -   Hertfordshire Congress (at Hertford)
Sunday 17 November   -   Basildon Rapidplay Congress
Sunday 17 November   -   Basildon Junior Congress
Sunday 2 March 2014   -   Bury St Edmunds Junior Congress

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Two for England

Two young players from Suffolk have been selected to represent England in forthcoming international events.

11-year old Alex Sheerin from Ipswich has been selected to play for the England team in the Stokes Cup (part of the annual Glorney Cup), which takes place in Cardiff between 21 and 23 July.   The six-board team play three games against other 11-year olds from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Alex attends the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club.   This is now the only non-school junior club in Suffolk, following the demise last year of the Ipswich Junior Chess Club.

9-year old Anita Somton from Bury St Edmunds will be travelling to Montenegro at the end of September to take part in the Under 10 section of the European Youth Championships.   She will play nine games over ten days (there's a rest day after Round 5), at 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.   See website here.   You can also see information about the 21 other team members here.

Anita also attends the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club.

We wish both children every success in these events!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Ipswich regain the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup

Report by Ian Wallis

As temperatures soured to record highs for the year, Ipswich and Norfolk & Norwich met at the Ipswich club yesterday to contest this annual event.

In a very evenly matched contest, the match was drawn 3-3 but Ipswich won on board count:

1.   Shaun Munson (206)   1-0   Stephen Orton (199)
2.   Mike Cook (190)   0-1   Gordon Scott (197)
3.   Stephen Gregory (174)   1-0   William Boulton (182)
4.   Tim Lunn (176)   ½-½   Ben Collinson (174)
5.   Ian Wallis (173)   ½-½   Gabriel Barr (176)
6.   Silas Peck (154)   0-1   Philip Bartram (161)

An early start to the match of 12.30 at least meant that it finished in time for everyone to escape and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine and for those that were lucky enough, to get to watch the final stages of a memorable day at Wimbledon too!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Clacton Handicap winners

The annual Clacton Chess Club Handicap Tournament has been won jointly by Philip Hutchings and Andrew Salmon, who both scored 4½ points out of six.   14 members entered.

Andrew beat Philip in Round 4, but also had three draws, against Mike Coughtrey, John Lambert and Peter Keffler.   Philip also drew with Mike Coughtrey, who finished equal third on 4 points, together with John Lambert.

Other scores were:
3½ pts - Martin Alvin, Peter Keffler, Melvin Steele, David Welsh
3 pts - Dave Pearce (from four games)
2 pts - Alan Story, Nigel Lake, David Brown
1 pt - Andrew Todd
0 pts - John Rowe (from two games)

Following the Club's AGM, the two winners played a joint Simul against ten other members.   They scored 6½ points.

News from other Clubs will be welcomed.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Under 18s go to the Nationals

Last Sunday, the Suffolk Under 18 team travelled to Hertfordshire to play in the ECF County Championships, at the Haberdashers' Aske's School in Elstree.   Back in 1997 (the last time that Suffolk entered this event) the winners were - Suffolk!   But that was in the good old days when the likes of Nick and Richard Pert, and Ed Player were all juniors.   Things nowadays are a tad different.

Now if Alan Merry had been available (he was elsewhere earning his first IM norm), or Adam Taylor (otherwise engaged), things might have been different.   As it was, Sam Brennan (152) was on top board.   He faced two 200+ players and not unreasonably, lost both games.

The final result was disappointing, though not unexpected.   Suffolk finished in 12th place of the 13 counties entered, with just 5½ points from our 24 games.   We had 'borrowed' two players from neighbours Essex (allowed under the rules), but that was still not enough.   Most counties averaged over 140 for their 12-board teams, whilst Suffolk could only manage 117.

Wins were recorded by Harry Elman (Woodbridge School), Edward Harker (Copleston 6th Form), and William Sait (Bury St Edmunds).   Well done lads!

The event was won by Middlesex, who scored 19 points, followed by Berkshire (18) and Kent (17).   Gone are the days when other counties feared playing against Suffolk...

Many thanks to Team Manager Steve Peck, who co-ordinated the team and travel arrangements.   Next year we will have a 16-year old FM who is joining Woodbridge School in September, and perhaps Alan and Adam will be available too.   The other good news is that Steve's son Silas still has a couple more years in the Juniors.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Suffolk Closed Championships

Report by Tim Lunn

The Suffolk Closed Championships took place at the Ipswich Chess Club on 22nd & 23rd June.   The Championship section was to decide the Suffolk Champion for 2013.

The event was a six-player all-play-all, which seemed the fairest way to decide the title as every player has to face the same opposition (barring themselves of course).   With a late withdrawal two days earlier, a late-night call was made and Silas Peck agreed to step up to the Championship.

The invited players became: Dagne Ciuksyte 227, Shaun Munson 206, Ted Matthewson 182, Phil Hopkins 177, Stephen Gregory 174 and Silas Peck 154.

Round 1 saw a minor upset with Steve Gregory beating second favourite Shaun Munson.   Then in Round 2 Dagne and Steve drew.   After further wins for both, Dagne and Steve were tied in the lead on 2½ points after the first day. The second day became a bit difficult as Phil Hopkins had withdrawn overnight.   This was a difficult situation and someone pulling out of an all-play-all messes up the balance.   I decided to ignore all results involving Phil but this was unfortunately in favour of those who had yet to play him, they being Shaun and Steve.   I decided to step in and play Shaun in a graded friendly so that his pattern remained the same, ahead of his game against Dagne in the last round.

Steve won his fourth round game against Silas Peck as did Dagne against Ted Matthewson.   With Steve having a bye in effect due to Phil dropping out, it was up to Dagne to defeat Shaun in order to take the competition to a tie-break with Steve.

Dagne seemed to have the game under control with Shaun having his queen misplaced in the corner and his king a bit open.   Just as it seemed that Dagne was going to execute a winning sequence she missed a counterattack, and suddenly Shaun had a forced mating sequence in three.

This meant that Stephen Gregory (left) was the new Suffolk Champion for 2013.   Congratulations to Steve!

The fact that someone withdrew from the Championship made me reconsider whether the all-play-all invitation system was in fact best as if we were in a Swiss we could more easily cope with someone dropping out.   I decided that a withdrawal was a rare occasion and that having everyone face each other was the fairest way to contest the trophy.   Also, all-play-alls are such rare events at County level and the atmosphere is I hope very enjoyable.

Each time I pushed for more contestants to join the Challengers and the Swiss I seemed to lose more players than I had gained.   Unfortunately with so many removing themselves from the list I was left with a dilemma of what to do with the eight remaining players.   The simplest solution was to combine the two sections into an eight-player Swiss competition.

The contestants were: Malcolm Lightfoot, Scott Taylor, Keith Woodcock, Andrew Shephard, Melvin Steele, Mark Weidman, Mike Coughtrey and Rory Goldsmith.

After the first day, two players were clear tied for first, with Malcolm Lightfoot and Scott Taylor having won their first two games, then drew against each other in a long tense struggle.

However, Round 4 saw four wins for Black, with one of the casualties being Scott against Melvin Steele (on time).   Malcolm returned to his winning ways with two wins on the second day.   The end of his final game was rounded off with a very nice tactical move which was a fitting way for Malcolm Lightfoot to become the winner of the Challengers section. (see diagram, right).

Play continued:   Rf6!   Bxf6,   Bd3   1-0

With this, Malcolm gets an automatic invite into the Championship section next year, should he wish to play.

As there had been eight players I decided that the highest player in the lower half of the competition would win the Intermediate trophy.   That meant that Melvin Steele retained the trophy having won it the previous season.

All in all I believe most people had an enjoyable time, though a few people were a bit upset on the Sunday morning by the withdrawal from the Championship.   However all the remaining competitors made it a nice competition to run.   Thanks to Ted for sorting out the venue, which as always was a really good price for us.   The rest of the monies went on supplying food for the players!

Hopefully, we'll see everyone back next year and a few more to boot!

I believe that it would be best to keep the Challengers and Intermediate as a combined Swiss in future.   Hopefully I can find someone else to run the event as I would like to have a go at the Championship (if I qualify).

Monday, 1 July 2013

Alan's first IM norm

16-year old Alan Merry, playing in the IM section of the Big Slick tournament that ended yesterday, has recorded his first IM norm!   In an outstanding performance, Alan won six games and drew three, to score 7½/9.   In fact Alan achieved his norm with a round to spare, as he reached the required target of seven points after only eight rounds.

Photo: © John Upham Photography

Alan's current Elo rating is 2237, but in this event, the average rating of his opponents was 2241; indeed he was fifth seed of the ten competitors.

Alan's best win was against Lithuanian IM Gediminas Sarakauskas (2404), but he also beat IM Jack Rudd and drew with IM Gyula Meszaros from Hungary.

All of Alan's games can be downloaded from the Big Slick website or by clicking here (scroll down to IM section).   Alan tends to grind down his opponents with precise play, waiting to pounce on the smallest error.   This was a good example from his seventh round game against Caspar Bates.   In the position below, with material level, Alan has just played the innocuous 45... N(h4) to f5.

Caspar replied 46. Kg1??, whereupon Alan swiftly despatched him with 46... Rc1+   47. Kf2   Ng3   0-1.   Mate on f1 cannot be prevented.

Let's hope Alan can gain two more IM norms in the coming months to add to his growing honours list (which includes becoming Suffolk Champion at age 14).