Saturday, 30 November 2013

Chess and Education Conference

As part of the London Chess Classic at Olympia, a two-day conference is taking place next weekend, with a range of speakers (mainly from foreign countries) with the snappy title 'Successes and Challenges - Improving School Chess Practice, Research and Strategy'.   The conference is organised by CSC (Chess in Schools and Communities).

According to the published blurb, the first day, 7 December, will be of special interest to teachers and researchers, while the second day, 8 December, with its focus on organisational and strategic questions, is tailor-made for project leaders and chess federations.   Included amongst the speakers are representatives from the Swedish Chess Federation, the Judit Polgár Foundation and the University of Cambridge

The cost is £125 for the whole conference, or £75 if you wish to attend on one day only.

For more information and booking form, click here.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Bury Knights Champions

Following yesterday's report on the Woodbridge Junior, the four Bury Knights members who won the team prize are pictured above.   Between them, they played 24 games, winning 20, drawing three and losing only one.   Left to right: Anita Somton (u10 winner), William Sait (u14 runner-up), Mario Saenz de Villaverde (u12 winner), Aaron Saenz de Villaverde (u10 runner-up).   The only loss incurred was when Aaron lost to Anita in the Under 10s!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Woodbridge Junior results

The 13th Woodbridge Junior Open took place last Sunday; a total of 88 players entered.

The results were as follows:

Under 8: (8 participants)

1st   Michael Stone (Norwich Junior)   6/6
2nd (& Woodbridge champion)   George Na Nakhorn   4½/6

Under 10: (20)

1st   Anita Somton   (Bury Knights)   6/6
2nd   Aaron Saenz de Villaverde   (Bury Knights)   5/6
Woodbridge Champion:   Tobias Juszt   4/6

Under 12: (25)

1st   Mario Saenz de Villaverde   (Bury Knights)   5½/6
2nd   Jenny Kilcline   (Colchester)   5/6
Woodbridge Champions:   Harry Rennell and Oliver Pheland  3½/6

Under 14: (11)

1st   Moby Wells   (Norwich)   5½/6
2nd   William Sait   (Bury Knights)   5/6
Woodbridge Champion:   Hugo Kelleway   4½/6

Under 16/18: (10)

1st   Daniel Such (Woodbridge School and Under 18 champion) 5½/6
2nd   Taisei Tsuruoka (Woodbridge School)   5/6
Woodbridge Under 16 champion:   Alex Bogdanov   3/6

Open: (14)

1st=   IM Bernd Rechel (Norwich); FM Justin Tan (Woodbridge School)   5/6
3rd   IM Dagne Ciuksyte (Martlesham)   4½/6
Under 140 Grading Prize:   Mark Weidman (Martlesham)   3/6

Team Prize:   Bury Knights (Anita Somton, William Sait, Aaron Saenz de Villaverde, Mario Saenz de Villaverde)

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

London Chess Classic

The London Chess Classic takes place at Olympia between 7 and 15 December.   A range of tournaments are on offer:

FIDE Open - This is a nine-round event, with one round each day between 7 and 15 December inclusive.   Open to anyone, the entry fee ranges from £100 to £150, depending on FIDE rating.   A £25 late entry fee applies after Friday this week.

FIDE u2000 - a five round event for anyone rated under FIDE 2000.   Those with no Elo rating must have an ECF grade under 175.   One round each day between 9 and 13 December, the entry fee is £30 (or £40 after Friday).

ECF u135 - Open to anyone graded under 135, or 1730 Elo.   Entry fees as for the u2000 event.

Weekend Classic A - Five rounds in four graded sections (Open, u170, u145, u120) over the 7/8 December weekend.   Entry fee as for u2000 event.

Weekend Classic B - Five rounds in four sections (Open, u2000, u1800, u120 ECF) over the 13/15 December weekend (includes one game on Friday evening).   Entry fee as above.

English Junior Rapidplay - Six rounds on 7 December.   Open to all juniors.   Entry fee £15 (£25 after Friday)

Classic Rapidplay A - Six rounds in four graded sections (Open, u170, u145, u120) on 8 December.   Entry fee £20 (£30 after Friday)

Classic Rapidplay B - As above on 14 December

Classic Rapidplay C - Six rounds in four graded sections (Open, u165, u140, u115) on 15 December.   Entry fee as above.

For more information on any of the above events, or if you'd like an entry form posted to you, contact me (Bob Jones).

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Media coverage

There can be little doubt that the recent World Championship contest between Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen has generated plenty of welcome attention from the World's media.   Whether this translates into membership enquiries amongst local clubs remains to be seen.   Let's hope so!

Here are a few items of press coverage:

BBC News Magazine

BBC News India


RFI (France)

USA (New York Times)



Spain (El Pais)


Time Magazine (by Garry Kasparov)

If you know of any others, please let me know.   Also, please let me know if you sense any increase in interest in chess, either in clubs or in schools.

Monday, 25 November 2013

David's back from Malta

David Spence recently returned from Malta where he played in a strong Open tournament which featured 4 GMs, 5 IMs and 8 FMs.   David (2221) scored 6½/9, losing only to an IM.   He finished in joint 8th place, just one point behind the winner, GM Bart Heberta (2556).

Several other English players competed but David finished above all of them.   A total of 161 players entered.

The main playing area

For full details, click here.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

County First Team in action

Suffolk's first team was in action yesterday in the EACU County Championship, where they faced Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

Against all expectations, Suffolk lost 6½ - 9½ to Cambridgeshire, but beat Bedfordshire by the convincing margin of 10½ - 5½.

The league table can be seen here and the full results for Suffolk are here.

In brief, only Martin Fogg was able to record two victories.   Those on 1½ points included Graham Moore, Steve Ruthen, Nick Savage and Leon Burnett.

The next round of matches takes place on 2 February, when Suffolk face Bedfordshire and Norfolk.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A new World Champion

As the whole of the chess world must know by now, we have a new World Champion in the shape of 22-year old Magnus Carlsen (his 23rd birthday is next Saturday).   He beat the previous champion Vishwanathan Anand by 6½ points to 3½, an unassailable lead in their 12-match championship in Chennai.   Nicknamed the 'Justin Bieber' of chess, he will certainly bring a new impetus to chess around the world and we may find his success encourages more people to take up the game.

Even the BBC has woken up to the fact that there's a new chess champion.

Magnus' own website gives a lot more information about him.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Peter the nonagenarian

Happy 90th birthday today to Peter Keffler!

Members of Clacton Chess Club celebrated Peter's birthday at their Club Night on Tuesday.   A cake was presented to Peter which featured his queen sacrifice from a 1970 game where he played Black in a Two Knights Defence against Gerhard Niemand which lasted only 15 moves.

During the evening everyone present had a piece of Peter’s cake with their coffee/tea.

Here's the game:

The photo (right), shows Peter playing a game against John Perfect from Maldon.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Suffolk chess book authors (Part 3)

This is the final article in Michael Clapham's series.   Click here and here for the earlier articles.

Of course no record of Suffolk chess authors/editors is complete without mentioning Bob Jones who has done more to promote Suffolk Chess than anyone else with the help of his many self-published chess periodicals, booklets, newsletters and ratings lists.

Bob took over the production of the Suffolk Rating List at an early stage and, while this was primarily aimed at juniors, it provided all chess-players in Suffolk with a monthly update on local chess events.   The publication was packed full of ratings, statistics, results and news etc. and was eagerly anticipated by all players to check their progress (or otherwise).

The Suffolk Rating List ran for 8 years up to May 1996 when it was incorporated into the newly launched Suffolk Chess Journal edited by, guess who, Bob Jones, with the assistance of Colin Roberts and Steve Lawer.   The old Suffolk Chess Bulletin had run for many years but fizzled out in 1995.   The photo (right) shows the 50th anniversary issue of the rating list.

The Suffolk Chess Journal was issued six times a year and included many articles, games and items of local interest as well as the regularly updated rating list and statistics.   This continued under Bob’s co-editorship until February 1998.   Bob again took over the editorship of the SCJ in 2010 and continued until this was superseded by the excellent Suffolk Chess website.

Bob also produces the annual, indispensable, Bury Area Chess League booklet which includes all of the information necessary for BACL members including fixtures, rules, grades, maps of venues and much more.

Bob has produced several other publications over the years including:

*    Suffolk Junior Chess: List of Players (1990)
*    Around the County Newsletter for the county chess teams (1991-92)
*    Numerous Results and Cross-Tables from the many congresses that he has organised.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

4NCL position

I'm hoping to be able to reproduce a number of positions and games from the 40 or so games played by Suffolk players at the 4NCL last weekend.   The major difference between 4NCL games and the average league game is the time control.   In the 4NCL you get 100 mins for the first 40 moves, followed by a further 50 minutes for the next 20 moves.   In addition, you receive 30 seconds increment from the first move.   That makes the time control equivalent to last year's, when it was 40 in 2 hours plus 20 in 1 hour.   The great advantage of this 'Fischer' style time control is that there can never be a draw claim under the infamous '10.2' rule.   On the other hand, games can in theory go on for ever...

Saturday was a case in point in my own game, as White against Leo Tsoi (Warwickshire Select).   After my 76th move (h7) and nearly six and a half hours play, the following position was reached:

Black now played 76... Rc8??, followed by 77. Rh3 Rh8.   Leo had a clear win, which I'm sure most people will see.   Not 76... Rc2+   77. Kd1   Kxe3??, as the h-pawn will promote.   Instead, of course, 77... Rh2!, which wins quickly.

The game continued for a few more minutes, by which time it was the last to finish.   And it ended in a draw!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

International update

As most people will be aware, the World Championship has reached a crucial stage, with Magnus Carlsen leading Vishy Anand 5 - 3.   With only four games remaining, Anand needs to score three points to take the match to a tie-break.   You will find good odds on Anand retaining his title.   Tomorrow (Wednesday) is a rest day.

The European Team Championships ended on Sunday, with England finishing a little below their 5th place seeding. They ended up in =7th place (10th on tie-break).   Two players disappointed: Luke McShane managed only 3/7 on Board 2, whilst David Howell scored 2½/6 on Board 4.   Micky Adams on top board had an excellent 5/8, whilst Nigel Short scored 4½/7.   Neither Adams nor Short lost a game.   The fifth player, Gawain Jones, had 5/7 after the first seven rounds, but surprisingly lost in Round 8, whereupon he was dropped for the final round!   The Championship was won by Azerbaijan on 14 points, with France, Russia and Armenia close behind on 13 points.   England scored 11 points (3 wins, 5 draws and one loss).

In the Women's tournament, England finished 23rd, on par with their seeding.   Dagne Ciuksyte only played three games, winning just one.

Suffolk chess book authors Part II

This is Monday's posting (18 November) - a little late!

A few weeks ago, Michael Clapham published an article about Suffolk chess authors.   Here is his Part II:

I omitted to include Suffolk’s most prolific author of chess books, GM Jonathan Levitt.   Apologies to Jonathan and thanks to Kevin O’Connell for pointing this out.

Kevin (who now lives in France) has also authored or co-authored at least 30 chess books, most notably The Games of Robert J Fischer, 1972 and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games, 1981, but also games collections of Karpov and Korchnoi and many openings books. &mnsp; Kevin played a major role in Suffolk chess for many years in the 1980s and 1990s.

Kevin launched The Suffolk Rating List in 1988 and this was a very popular and highly motivational monthly publication which ran for 73 issues up to 1996.   Kevin now edits the Saturday chess column in the East Anglian Daily Times.

Back to Jonathan Levitt whose three chess books are as follows:

Bobby Fischer; The $5,000,000 Comeback.   Published by Cadogan Chess in 1992.

This book was co-authored with Nigel Davies and Malcolm Pein and covered the memorable rematch between Fischer and Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992.

Jonathan provided the introduction to the book and analysed many of the games from this extraordinary comeback by Fischer after 20 years away from competitive chess.

Secrets of Spectacular Chess, first published by Batsford in 1995 with a new enlarged edition published by Everyman in 2008.

Co-authored with David Friedgood, this book is full of amazing chess games and positions highlighting the subtleties, surprises and beauty of chess.   The aim is to develop the reader's understanding and appreciation of spectacular chess ideas.

Genius in Chess, published by International Chess Enterprises in 1997.

This book discusses the need for raw talent (genius) to reach the top in chess and, with the use of numerous tests and multiple choice questions, aims to determine the reader’s chess potential.   Much advice is given on how to develop one’s talent for the game.

Jonathan has also contributed to other chess books and has produced a DVD on the super sharp Clarendon Court opening.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Saturday good; Sunday ... not so good

23 Suffolk players were at the 4NCL this weekend.   For the Suffolk-based teams playing in Divisions 2 and 3, results were good on Saturday, with all five teams winning.   But on Sunday things didn't go so well, with only Anglian Avengers 2 gaining a win.

Two Suffolk players were in Division 1.   Adam Hunt had a draw and a win, whilst Woodbridge School student Justin Tan enjoyed two draws, one of which was against Harriet Hunt.

In Division 2 Anglian Avengers 1 (average rating 2272) beat Poisoned Pawns (2097) by 6½ - 1½ on Saturday.   Then today they faced Bristol (2168) and surprisingly lost 3½ - 4½.

The Division 3 results were:
Anglian Avengers 2 (2158):   6 - 0 v KCJA Knights (1578); 5 - 1 v The Full Ponty (1947)
Anglian Avengers 3 (1975):   5½ - ½ v Sussex Smart Survivors 2 (1742); 1 - 5 v Kings Head 2 (2105)
Iceni 1 (1995 / 2000):   4 - 2 v Midland Monarchs (1770); 1½ - 4½ v The Rookies (2004)
Iceni 2 (1847 / 1807):   3½ - 2½ v Warwickshire Select 2 (1966); 1½ - 4½ v Surbiton (2050)

As can be seen from the substantial rating difference in some of these matches, the first weekend of the 4NCL is a random pairing.   Some teams 'got lucky' (eg Anglian Avengers 2), whilst others faced tough opposition (eg Iceni 2). In subsequent rounds, teams play others on similar match points.

These were the individual results over the weekend:

Division 2

Alan Merry    0; 1
David Spence    ½; 1
Ed Player    1; 0
Shaun Munson    1; 0
Adam Taylor    1; 1

Division 3
Steve Gregory    1; 1
Tim Lunn    1; 1
Phil Hopkins    ½; 0
Martin Fogg    1; 0
Silas Peck    1; 0
Andrew Shephard    1; ½
John Feavyour    ½; 0
Nick Savage    ½; 0
John Peters    1; 0
Steve Ruthen    ½
Malcolm Lightfoot    ½; ½
Bob Jones    ½; ½
Peter Collicott    0; 0
Colin Roberts    0

In the Junior 4NCL, Anita Somton played in three rounds, winning two and drawing one.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

4NCL this weekend

This weekend sees the first two matches in the 4NCL.   Divisions 1 and 2 are playing at Hinckley, whilst Division 3 and the Junior 4NCL are playing at Daventry.

Some 20 Suffolk players will be making the journey to the Midlands.   There are two mainly Suffolk-based teams - Anglian Avengers and Iceni.   Anglian Avengers field three teams, one in Division 2 and two in Division 3, whilst Iceni have two teams in Division 3.   Other players from Cambridgeshire, Kent, London and even further afield complete these teams.   Those playing this weekend include:

Anglian Avengers
David Spence
Shaun Munson
Adam Taylor
Ed Player
Alan Merry
Steve Gregory
Tim Lunn
Phil Hopkins
Martin Fogg
Silas Peck
Andrew Shephard
Ian Wallis (reserve)

John Feavyour
Steve Ruthen
Nick Savage
John Peters
Malcolm Lightfoot
Bob Jones
Colin Roberts
Peter Collicott

(Junior 4NCL)
Anita Somton

The results from the weekend will be published here tomorrow evening.

If any other Suffolk players are interested in playing in the 4NCL, they should contact the captains of the two teams: Ian Wallis (Anglian Avengers) and John Feavyour (Iceni).

Friday, 15 November 2013

Girls rule at the Bury Knights

The Bury Knights Junior Chess Club currently has 50 members, 14 of whom are girls.   Pictured left, from this evening's club meeting, are several of them, together with 15-year old Emilia Jewell, who helps with the coaching.

28% is as high a ratio as the Club has seen for many years.   There have been times in the past when numbers fell to almost zero; girls seem to leave when there are few others to talk to!

Of course, the success of nine-year old Anita Somton has a positive effect, and many of her friends and school-mates have joined in recent months.

The Club welcomed 12 children from Needham Market Middle School and Creeting St Mary Primary School this evening.   A friendly match was won convincingly by the Bury Knights by the score of 19½ - 4½.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

International round-up

Today is a rest day in the World Championship between Anand and Carlsen.   The first four rounds have all ended in draws.   The last game was the most interesting and can be viewed on the official website.

In the European Team Championships, England are enjoying a good run.   After six rounds they have 8 match points and lie in equal fifth position (seventh on tie-break).   Gawain Jones has played in all six matches, and is unbeaten, as is Mickey Adams, who has played in five.

Today's match was against a strong Ukraine team, the result being 2 - 2.   Tomorrow England face Georgia, who are seeded 14th and are therefore lower-rated than England.

The women are having a torrid time.   They won today, but Dagne Ciuksyte lost again.   The games can be viewed here.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Spotlight on Bury St Edmunds

The Bury St Edmunds Chess Club has, for a number of years, been the largest club in Suffolk in terms of number of members; it also has a strong claim to be the strongest in the county.   It includes amongst its full members three graded over 200 (Mike Harris 209; David Spence 206; Ed Player 205).

Unusually, its 50 members include several from other clubs.   Its location in the west of the county means that the club plays in two leagues - the Suffolk League and the Bury Area League.   With some people wanting to play more chess against different opponents, four Cambridge City members have joined so that they can play in the Suffolk League, whilst five Ipswich members have done the same in order to play in the Bury Area League.   A special 50% membership rate applies for these players.

The Club currently runs seven teams in the Bury Area League, and four in the Suffolk League.   Other teams include three in the Roger Goldsmith Cup competition, the Suffolk League Under 125 tournament and the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup.

The former Bury & West Suffolk Chess Club folded several years ago and the then Bury Cannons Chess Club, formed in 1998, renamed itself as the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club.

One excellent feature of the club is its spacious, well-lit premises at Moreton Hall Community Club.   On some match nights, as many as four matches can take place, with additional space available for friendlies.

The club's members include 12 juniors.   The highest-graded juniors are both girls - Emilia Jewell (124) and Anita Somton (109).   The annual membership subscription is £30.00, but there is an additional £1.00 to pay each time a member attends a club night.   For more information about the club, contact Bob Jones.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Europeans update

In the European Team Chess Championships in Warsaw, England are faring reasonably well in the Open section after an unexpected loss in Round 2 to Greece.   In Round 3 they drew with the top-seeded Russian team and then beat Montenegro in Round 4.   They now lie in equal 10th position (14th on tie-break), with five match points (two wins, one draw and one loss).

Star of the show so far has been Gawain Jones, with three wins and a draw.   Today they face Germany in Round 5.   You can view live games here from 14.00.

The women have had a disastrous start, losing all four matches 4 - 0.   Suffolk's Dagne Ciuksyte didn't play in the first three matches (was she late arriving?), but in Round 4, playing on Board 1, she had a commanding position (+8.51 on Houdini), but threw it all away with a succession of weak moves.   This was the position, with Dagne (Black) to play:

A piece up, with mating threats on h2, Dagne needed to play either 28... Rf8 or the subtle ... Rc4.   Both moves threaten mate.   But Dagne was concerned for her e6 knight and played ...Nf8?!.   After her opponent played the natural 29. Rc8, Dagne replied ... Qb5? instead of ... Qb6 and suddenly the evaluation is level.   Further errors led to her eventual resignation at move 37.

Monday, 11 November 2013

When our girls reigned supreme

Back in the '90s, Suffolk Girls were amongst the best in the country.   This is the roll of honour:

1990   Louisa Orton - Joint British Under 13 Girls Champion (with Harriet Hunt)
1992   Suffolk - Girls u11 County Champions
1993   Suffolk - Girls u18 County Champions
1992   Siobhan O'Neill - British Under 8 Girls Champion and joint British Under 9 Girls Champion
1995   Christobel Harrington and Emily Player - joint British Under 9 Girls Champions
1996   Kathryn Barnes - British Under 8 Girls Champion
1997   Kathryn Barnes - Joint British Under 9 Girls Champion

Nowadays, Anita Somton is looking to add her name to this list, but she is currently the only girl in Suffolk to be a likely Champion.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Suffolk League latest

The situation in all three divisions of the Suffolk League is extremely tight, with no team emerging as clear front runners.

These are the latest league tables:


Bury St Edmunds B36
Ipswich A36
Manningtree A2
Bury St Edmunds A3
Ipswich B35
Ipswich C24

If Ipswich C were to win their outstanding match against Manningtree, they would leap from the foot of the table to the top!


Ipswich D36
Stowmarket A2
Bury St Edmunds C3
Adastral Park35
Saxmundham A23

Stowmarket A appear to be best placed, with a match in hand.


Stowmarket Rooks4
Bury St Edmunds D4
Ipswich E37
Manningtree B36
Saxmundham B21

Five of the eleven matches played so far have ended in a 2-2 draw.

The following players have 100% records:

Division 1:   Leon Burnett (Manningtree); Silas Peck (Ipswich); John Feavyour (Bury St Edmunds)

Division 2:   John Peters (Bury St Edmunds); John McAllister (Adastral Park); Rob Hayhurst (Stowmarket); Alonso Paez (Ipswich)

Division 3:   Roger Smith (Ipswich); John Price (Manningtree); Phil Hopkins (Felixstowe)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Flashback to 1964

This photo from 1964 appeared in yesterday's East Anglian Daily Times.

Does anyone have any idea who the players are?


In the first round of the World Chess Championship, played this morning, Carlsen and Anand reached a draw (by repetition) after only 16 moves.   To view the game, click here.

Friday, 8 November 2013

European Team Championships start today

Staying on the International front, the European Team Chess Championships commenced today in Warsaw.   England are fielding two teams, in the Open and the Women's sections.   The men are seeded fifth of 38 teams entered, whilst the women are 23rd out of 32 teams.

As reported a couple of weeks ago, Women's Grandmaster and International Master Dagne Ciuksyte from Martlesham is top board for the England Women's team.   She did not play in Round 1 today, against a strong French team, seeded seventh, when England lost 4 - 0.

The men fared much better, although against the local Polish third team (!).   They won 3 - 1, with Luke McShane and Nigel Short drawing on the top boards, and Gawain Jones and David Howell winning on boards 3 & 4.   Top board Michael Adams was rested for Round 1.

You can watch live games here.   In Round 2 tomorrow, England face Greece in the Open, whilst the women play Poland II.

The event continues until 18 November, so there's going to be a feast of chess over the next few weeks, with the Anand-Carlsen match starting tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

World Chess Championship - opening ceremony today

The Opening Ceremony of the World Chess Championship took place this morning in Chennai, India.   As everyone knows, the challenger Magnus Carlsen (Norway) takes on the current champion Vishy Anand (India).

There are a number of websites available.

The Opening Ceremony and press conference can be viewed here.   The video broadcast is well worth watching, if only for the musical accompaniment and the Indian flavours.

The first match is on Saturday, when Carlsen will have the White pieces.   Live games can be viewed here on the official website.

There will be live streaming of the match on YouTube.

There will also be a live webcast on Russian TV.

If you can understand Norwegian, you could try this site too.

The playing schedule allows for two games on successive days, followed by a rest day.   This changes after Match 11, when there will be a further rest day before Match 12.   If tie-breaks are necessary, they will take place after a further rest day.

So these are the dates when matches are taking place:
Saturday 9
Sunday 10
Tuesday 12
Wednesday 13
Friday 15
Saturday 16
Monday 18
Tuesday 19
Thursday 21
Friday 22
Sunday 24
Tuesday 26

Tie-breaks and the closing ceremony will take place on Thursday 28 November.

Remember that the games start at 09.30 GMT, which is 15.00 in Chennai.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Online chess

The following article was written by Steve Lovell, Secretary of the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club, for the club's website (in March 2013):

Online chess has good points and bad points.   Let's start with the bad points.

*   It can be a terrible time sink.   Be careful of too many late (k)nights!
*   Playing on a screen rather than over the board takes some getting used to.   Have you ever played chess against your computer?   It feels much the same to begin with.
*   You can pick up bad habits.   Most online chess is blitz chess (or faster), making it difficult to play carefully.   If that makes its way to your over the board play, you won't be very popular with your team captain.
*   There are quite a few cheats around.   I'm not sure I've run into any, but there are some unscrupulous players out there who will put your moves into their chess computer and play their computer's moves against you.   You might be playing against Fritz (or another powerful chess engine) without realising!

In my view the good points outweigh the bad:
*   It can be tremendous fun.
*   Unlike playing against a computer, your opponents will make mistakes.
*   You can get lots of practice for a new opening in a short space of time.
*   If you find yourself running out of time in over the board play, online play may help you learn to play a little faster (when required).
*   Play on the right websites, and you could find yourself playing against a GM.
*   If you don't like the tight time controls, several sites allow 'non-live' play.   It works in a similar way to correspondence chess.

There are lots of places to play chess online.   One of my favourites is   You can join for free (or get paid membership for extra benefits and the removal of adverts).   The site allows both live and non-live play, and you can search for opponents based on their rating.   The site also has lots of extra learning resources including puzzles, tutorials, articles and videos.   At the time of writing has 6,819,325 members, ranging from complete beginners to Grand Masters.   They have team matches (I'm a member of two teams), tournaments, and an active online community.   They've also made most of this available via their (free) iPhone and Android apps.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Foreign words in chess

"I tried to fianchetto, but his zwischenzug put me in zugzwang until he made a fingerfehler leaving his Queen en prise."

OK, chess is an international game, played in every country.   The World Chess Federation is known by its French initials - FIDE - Fédération Internationale des Echecs.   But how many non-English terms associated with chess can you think of?   Here's a list for starters (do you know what they all mean?).   Let me know if you can think of any more.

En passantFrench
En priseFrench
Tabia (or Tabiya)Arabic

Where the language is shown in brackets, the word is related to that language, but not directly.   'Isolani' in Italian is the plural of 'isolano', yet is used in chess to denote a single isolated d-pawn.   'Patzer' probably stems from the German 'patzen', which means 'to bungle'.

I was going to add 'Desperado', but that seems to be an English word, although it looks as if it could be Italian.

There are of course plenty of openings with foreign names 'Ruy Lopez', 'Giuoco Piano' etc., but I'm only talking about chess terms, not openings or positions.   'Maroczy Bind' would therefore be excluded from the list.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Adam and Justin return from Germany

Adam Hunt and Justin Tan returned yesterday from Germany where they have been playing in a huge tournament at Bad Wiessee, with over 450 entrants in a single section.   The first four rounds for Adam were almost meaningless, as they were against much lower-rated opposition.   Although he won all these games, it only served to lower his rating performance for the whole event.   He scored 7 points out of 9, losing only once to a GM, with a rating performance of 2526.   He finished in 11th place, a point behind the eventual winner, GM Aleksander Delchev and six others on 7½ points.   Adam played four GMs (in rounds 5 to 8), scoring 2/4 against them.   He will certainly gain a few rating points, but unfortunately no GM norm (he needed a 2600 performance for that).

Meanwhile Justin Tan (2333) missed a couple of opportunities, losing in Round 5 to a 2064 and drawing with a 2086 in Round 8.   He still finished on 6 out of 9, although his rating performance was only 2230.

The final crosstable can be viewed here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Fixing the Fixtures

This, from Competitions Secretary Mike McNaughton:

There was a young man from Japan
Whose poetry just wouldn’t scan.
When told this was so,
He replied, “Yes, I know,
But I always try my best to fit as many words into the last line as I possibly can“

This rather silly limerick illustrates something that has been concerning me for some time and especially recently; namely that we seem to be trying to compress too much chess into too narrow a time frame.

Someone has to arrange the fixtures; and in Suffolk that person happens to be the Competitions Secretary.

I can remember the time, on Merseyside, when we had something called a 'fixtures meeting' (otherwise known as Pandemonium) when representatives from all clubs were present and the name of the game was to sort out all the fixtures on the night.   These meetings resembled a game of musical chairs, and experience taught me one thing - come prepared.   You needed a game plan; decide your ideal fixtures in advance, bag your opposite numbers early, and you could usually get your matches in some sort of decent order.

Realisation slowly dawned that this kind of free for all might not have been the most sensible way of dealing with fixture management, and the way forward might be to appoint an all-wise, all-knowing official whose responsibility it would be to arrange the fixtures in some sort of coherent order, in a way which would be fair to all concerned.

Problem solved.   Or was it?

It ought to be so easy.   For those who aren't aware of it, there exists something called the Hutton Pairing System.   This is mainly useful for jamboree events of the kind I used to organise in the North of England, but it can also be useful when arranging individual or team events.

So if you have, say, six teams, you allocate letters to each team, A to F.   Round 1 is A v E, B v D, F v C; Round 2 C v B, D v A, E v F and so on.  Easy-ozy.   You can access these pearls of wisdom by clicking here.

And in fact, with the second and third divisions, this system worked very well this year.   The difficulty comes with Division One.   The problem that I have (and not just me, it would be anyone who happened to fill the post of Competitions Secretary) in arranging fixtures for the Suffolk Chess Association (SCCA) is something like this.

It has been the practice that BACL fixtures are arranged first.   There are two good reasons for this; firstly, the BACL First Division is larger (7 teams as opposed to 6) and secondly, BACL have the ‘Cambridge problem‘ – namely that a University does not really get going until October.

So, for better or worse, the BACL fixtures secretary, or whatever you call him, has a blank sheet of paper to work with, and the SCCA counterpart has to fit in the fixtures in what is left over after his BACL equivalent has finished eating.   I wish to make it clear that this is no criticism of the BACL officials.   I think the problem is structural – too many fixtures and not enough time.

So the ‘problem' for me was that I was faced with a situation where quite a number of weeks were already occupied by BACL fixtures and no club, not even Bury, likes too many matches in the same week.   In addition I was asked to avoid fixtures which clashed with the BACL Roger Goldsmith Competition.   This request was subsequently modified to refer only to the higher rated of the two competitions.   However, there is a way round this difficulty; there is no overlap between the Roger Goldsmith and the SCCA League Cup, and that would suggest SCCA League Cup fixtures could, and should, be fixed for the same week as BACL Roger Goldsmith 1 fixtures.

The earliest realistic week for fixtures is the third week in September.   There are fourteen weeks between then and Christmas which are available for playing matches.   But the first of those weeks (third week in September) is the week of the Bury Jamboree.   In the period after Christmas the position is slightly better; there are 15.

To perform a draw with the Hutton system in a League with six teams you need five clear weeks, on the assumption that, say, A plays E, B plays D, F plays C in Round 1, and so on.   Where there are six or seven teams in a League, you need seven clear weeks.

So it’s a matter of simple arithmetic; if you have fourteen weeks, one of which has to be kept clear for the Bury Jamboree, two for Roger Goldsmith fixtures, and seven for BACL fixtures, there are only four for SCCA, and the figures do not stack up, although where the Cambridgeshire clubs are concerned there is no overlap.

This year we have a situation that Ipswich have three teams in Division 1, and Bury have three in Division 1 BACL.   The result of this is that, if you do a Hutton draw, it means that a Club which has three teams in the same division will have all its teams playing in the same week; and somehow, I think this is a situation which no club would welcome – not even Bury or Ipswich.


Ideally, I, as SCCA Competitions Secretary, would like to see a protocol that would require the BACL Match Secretary to leave a minimum of five weeks where there were no First Division BACL fixtures which involved Bury.

Games involving the four Cambridgeshire clubs do not interfere with SCCA, and BACL could arrange such fixtures in the five free weeks.   This would make it relatively easy for the SCCA Competitions Secretary to do a draw for SCCA Division One using the Hutton system.   The other two divisions in SCCA present little problem as there is much less scope for overlap.   It would also seem sensible that games reserved for the Roger Goldsmith Division 1 should also be allocated to the SCCA counterpart, the League Cup.

If anyone would like to comment on Mike's article, please do so by clicking on 'Post a Comment' below.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Under 160s

The first matches for the EACU Under 160 Championship take place at the Turner Hall, Newmarket, on Sunday 8 December.   Captain Bob Jones is hoping to be able to field a strong team.   These are the possible players, in grading order:

Michael Clapham (Ipswich)   159
Kevin Greenacre (Ipswich)   157
Andrew Shepherd (Ipswich)   157
Bob Jones (Bury St Edmunds)   157
Pete Smyth (Adastral Park)   156
Leon Burnett (Manningtree)   e154
Phil Hutchings (Manningtree/Clacton)   153
John Feavyour (Bury St Edmunds/Saxmundham)   151
Laurie Pott (Bury St Edmunds)   151
Les Jones (Ipswich)   150
Jim Buis (Manningtree)   150
Simon Riley (Adastral Park)   149
Andrew Donnelly (Bury St Edmunds)   148
Scott Taylor (Bury St Edmunds)   147
Vivien Woodward (Sudbury)   147
Colin Sneddon (Adastral Park)   147
John McAllister (Manningtree)   146
Bob Stephens (Clacton/Manningtree)   146
Harold Thomas (Sudbury)   146
Rob Harden (Unattached)   145
Rob Kelly (Manningtree) 145
Stephen Lewis (Stowmarket)   143
John Lambert (Clacton)   140

Others who have played frequently in recent seasons include:
Ed Kirkham   138
Carl Phillips   137
Colin Roberts   134
Keith Woodcock   134
Jakob Tulic   132
Mark Weidman   130
Mark Bettley   129

If any of the above are reading this, please let me know if you are available on 8 December.

Friday, 1 November 2013

A game by Alan Merry

At the recent IM tournament in Majorca, Alan Merry (2297) played 18-year old FM Marc Sanchez (2381) in Round 5.   Here's the game:

White: Alan Merry   Black: Marc Sanchez (Spain)

1.   c4   e5
2.   g3   Nf6
3.   Bg2   c6
4.   d4   exd4
5.   Qxd4   d5
6.   Nf3   dxc4
7.   Qxc4   Nbd7
8.   O-O   Be7
9.   Qc2   O-O
10.   Nc3   Qa5
11.   Bf4   Re8
12.   e4   Nf8
13.   e5   Nh5
14.   Bd2   Ng6
15.   Rfe1   Bd7
16.   Qd1   Nf8
17.   e6!   Nxe6
18.   Re5   Bc5
19.   Ne4   Qb6
20.   Rxh5   f5
21.   Nxc5   Nxc5
22.   Be3   Rxe3
23.   fxe3   Rd8
24.   Rh4   and Black resigned.