Friday, 28 February 2014

Adam plays in Austria

Manningtree's Adam Taylor travelled to Graz in Austria during half-term to play in an international tournament, the 'Casino Open'.

16-year old Adam (2045) was ranked 65th out of 88 competitors, who included 11 GMs and a similar number of IMs.   He performed extremely well to score five points out of nine, with a rating performance of 2231.   His 33-point rating improvement was the best of all competitors.

As the name of the tournament implies, it was played in a casino where U18s were banned.   So Adam (the only UK representative) and other juniors had to play in a small side room.   As it happens a fair number of top board games were also played in the side room!   As Manningtree captain Jim Buis points out, "Adam is in cracking form for us at the moment and his ECF performances for 2014 are running at c215".

Adam's results at Graz can be seen here.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Old photo

Dave Clark (Bury St Edmunds) has unearthed the photo above.   It shows four members of the Bury B.R.S team.   The initials are believed to represent 'British Road Services'; such a team played in the very early days of the Bury Area Chess League, which was founded in about 1979/80.

On the reverse of the photo (see below) are the names, together with some historical information dated 1930.   If these gentlemen were playing chess in both 1930 and 1980, they must all have been in their 70s or 80s by the time the photo was taken.   So all will have passed away now.   Does anyone have more information about any of these?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

An IM norm for Justin

Woodbridge School's Justin Tan played in Hungary over half-term in the Caissa GM tournament in Kecskemet and achieved his first IM norm.   He scored 4½/9 (+1, -1, =7) against a strong field averaging 2453; Justin was the lowest-rated player!   His win was against a 2462-rated GM.

Still only 16, Justin has a FIDE rating of 2328.   Unfortunately, he has not been able to play for the Suffolk First Team this season, but it is hoped that if Suffolk qualify for the national rounds, that he will be available.

Suffolk is very fortunate to have two of the highest-rated juniors in the UK; Alan Merry's rating is currently 2315.

Two weeks ago, the East Anglian Daily Times carried an article about Justin and this is reproduced below (click on the image to enlarge it).

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A game by David Green

Stowmarket's David Green has sent in a recent game he played in Suffolk League Division 3 against Dominic Carter from Saxmundham.   This happens to be the third game featuring Dominic in as many weeks!

Here's the game, with David's own annotations below:

English Opening:   Franceys Allen plays this against me quite a lot so I have checked out some lines to get at least equality for White.   According to Rybka the game somewhere became a line from the King’s Indian.
12   R(a)b1.. Just getting off the long diagonal and looking to support activities on the queen’s side.
13   d5.. aimed at kicking the knight to an unsuitable square and strengthening my centre.
13… Ne5   A poor move as it results in the doubling of the Black e-pawns and their eventual isolation and loss.
15…Nh4   The knight is aiming for f4 where it would be well placed but 16 g3 leaves it stuck on the side of the board and now prevents Black from playing f5 safely.   The slight weakening of the white squares around White’s king cannot be exploited as there is no black bishop on the white squares.
16… f5   Black plays this assuming he can take back with the g pawn which would give him a strong centre but there is a tactical refutation and so the doubled e-pawns become isolated and weak on a half open file.
17   exf5…   and only here did Dominic realise that he could not take with the g3 pawn.
17…gxf4?   18   Qf3! Attacking the loose knight which cannot be defended so has to move, but its only safe square f6 leaves the f5 pawn hanging.   Looking a bit further because of the possible discovered attack on the queen when the f-pawn is taken reveals no desperado discovery moves for the knight.   The only capture on d5 loses to Qe6 check and the knight is done for.   Dominic has to take with the rook and the black e-pawns now look awful.
18   Ne4   heading for the juicy e6 outpost via g5 while also blockading the e-pawn, thus keeping the Bishop blocked from the use of the long diagonal.
18….. Rdf8 pressures the pawn on f2.   There is a potential e6 fork of queen and rook but I could not work out the complex consequences of 19   Ng5   e4 which threatens the White queen and makes the c-pawn feel a bit unsafe.   It also liberates the fianchettoed bishop and is generally unpleasant for White, not bad for a doomed pawn!   I have a deal of respect for Dominic as a player and he had thought long and hard over this move.   Could he have seen something that I had not?   I chickened out and played safe.
19   Be2.. Attack and defence supports f2 attacks c5 for the second time and seals off the third rank from an invading rook on f3.   This was the right decision as Rybka gives me +1.22 for this move and does not mention Ng5.
20   Ng5 here comes the knight looking at e6.   Compare the active White knight with the poor horse out to pasture on h5.   Here Dominic sank into a very long think of about 20 minutes duration and came up with the pawn sacrifice 20… e4.
Here it was my turn to burn some time.   Options?   Take or not?   If take, what with?   Move the queen?
Maybe I was seeing phantoms in the mists but there is a possibility of a knight fork on g3 if I take with the queen.   What happens after the bishop comes to d5 and black sacs the exchange on f8 after the fork on e6?   Is the concentration of a queen & bishop battery, a rook and a knight on my king’s defences going to be survivable??   I could not tell so I played safe and just took the pawn with the knight, further protecting my f- and g-pawns. After all a pawn is a pawn.   This was the start of a steady loss of the black pawns.

The following moves were played when Dominic was in time trouble; he was down to some 3 minutes for five moves in a quite complex position.   He loses the game here.
26… Rf3xf6 puts the rook on an awkward rank as White begins a queenside attack.
27   b4   Rc6 and the Black rook is not happy here.   Now Black’s bishop controls the entire long diagonal but there is nothing to attack.   White’s centralised bishop defends f2 and attacks on the queenside.
28   Rfd1 grabs the open file and looks to seize the seventh rank.   It also keeps Black’s c6 rook on the sixth rank or the white rook will grab it and attack the roots of black’s pawn position.
28… g5 recognising the sixth rank problem and getting the g6 pawn to a defended square but at the cost of allowing a pig to appear on the seventh rank.
29   Rd7 a nightmare piece for Black that holds his king on the eighth rank for a while and is to be joined by its partner on move 31.   Doubled rooks on the seventh, a good centralised bishop, a king that is safe and a pawn up.   White is simply winning.   Rybka agrees and scores white +1.44.
32   a4 putting the White pawn on the opposite colour to black’s bishop.
32…. Rd6   Dominic understandably wants to get some play of his own and this move seems to do it by making White either get rid of one rook on the seventh or give up the d file.   Unfortunately it is just a mistake that loses another pawn due to a rook fork along the sixth rank.   It also allows white to swap off the bishops and get into a winning rook and pawn endgame.   White gladly reduces forces as he gets a 3 to 2 majority on the kingside and an outside passed pawn way over on the a-file.
37   Bxc5   there goes another pawn.
Now the winning method was fairly simple; to push the a-pawn, draw the king far away from the kingside to stop it and win by taking all Black’s poor kingside pawns.   If I can swap the rooks at the same time then the king and pawn game is winning.
46   Rg8 abandoning the a-pawn, forcing the Black king to take it and attacking g4 mistakenly weakened by 39….g4 some seven moves earlier.
So another pawn falls and black has a solitary rook pawn against White’s healthy three kingside pawns.
The next few moves see Black’s king rushing back to defend his pawns while White plods slowly forwards and eventually kills pawn number 8.   Now Black is facing three connected passed pawns supported by king and rook.   No contest.

While my play from here on was not the most efficient it gave Black no opportunity for perpetual check or stalemate.   When king and pawns appeared on the sixth rank with a rook that had free roam of the board then mate threats were everywhere.   One of them ended the game.

So two games played one after the other saw Dominic Carter first keeping all his pawns for a very long time and then losing every single one!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Alex goes to Swindon

For the past year or so 12-year old Alex Sheerin of the Ipswich Chess Club and the Bury Knights Junior Club has been seeking the required 'norms' to qualify for the England Junior Squad.   He and his so-supportive Mum Jane have travelled up and down the country, seeking an elusive 'half-norm' that he still needed.   At least two trips to Liverpool were involved, but last weekend it was off to Swindon to play in the West of England Junior Championships, one of the toughest events on the circuit.

Alex played very well, scoring 4 out of 6 with three wins and two draws.   This means he has got the required half-norm and has been invited into the National Junior Squad.   He will not be able to go on any of this year's trips as they have all been selected but will be invited later in the year to trips for 2015.

Well done Alex!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bury Junior Congress results

The Bury St Edmunds Junior Chess Congress took place today at Moreton Hall Community Centre.

60 children (including 11 girls) took part, in four age-groups: Under 9, Under 11, Under 14 and Under 18.

The event was supported by the Moreton Hall Community Club, who provided the excellent accommodation free of charge.

The section winners were:

Under 9 - Alexander Hsieh (Cambridge) (the only player to score 6/6)
Under 11 - Alan John (Bury St Edmunds) (also winner of the BACL shield)
Under 14 - Karthik Saravanan (Lowestoft)
Under 18 - Seb Taylor (King's Lynn) and Patrick Gembis (Bury St Edmunds)

The Girls' prize was shared between four players scoring four points.   These included 16-year old Tasha Parrott (Bury St Edmunds) who was playing in her first tournament.

A total of £350 prize money was paid out, including first place prizes in each section of £50.00.

The tournament was an excellent opportunity for Suffolk Under 11 Team Manager Boby Sebastian to view prospective members of his squad to play in the Under 11 Inter-County Zonals on 15 March. The full results will appear soon on the Suffolk Grading website.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Correspondence team update

The 8-board Suffolk Correspondence team, captained by Jim Buis, is currently leading the Sinclair tournament.   They have scored 8 points out of 11, with five games still to finish.

Their lead will probably be short-lived, however, because other placings include:

Warwickshire B     8/13
Yorkshire C     7½/8 (!)
Essex D     7/7 (!!)
Northumberland A     6/8
Lincolnshire     6/10

At the other end of the 20-team table are:

Warwickshire C     ½/9
Worcestershire B     1/12

So far, Jim Buis, Bob Stephens and Bob Jones have won both their games, whilst top board Ian Wallis has drawn both of his.   Phil Revell and Jakob Tulic each have one draw and the only loss incurred so far is on bottom board, with Jakob.   The unfinished games are by Silas Peck (2), Kevin Greenacre (2) and Phil Revell (1).   We should get at least three draws, possibly more, from those games.

Last season, Suffolk finished with a total of 8 points (50%), so there's a very good chance that we will improve on that this season.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Suffolk's top girls

This season's Suffolk Ladies Championship is being competed by one adult (Vicky Allen) and three girls (Emilia Jewell, Bethany Young and Anita Somton).

Pictured below are Emilia and Anita, who played their match yesterday.   Although there are six years between them, there are only two grading points difference.   (Emilia - 125; Anita - 123).   Although Emilia won their match, Anita has the potential, given time and effort, to become Suffolk's top female player.

Current Ladies' Champion Emilia is leading currently, having won both her games.   Her final 'crunch' match will be when she plays former Ladies' Champion Vicky Allen, who stands on 1½/2.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A recent 4NCL game

Here's a game from last Sunday's 4NCL game between Graham Shepherd (Shropshire) and Dominic Carter (Iceni 2) in which Dominic somehow manages to retain all his pawns until the 38th move!.

This is the position after Black's 37th move:

White resigned after Black's 41st move.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chess is booming in Bury!

The third 'Chess at the Apex' session saw numbers increase to 14, thanks mainly to a half-term influx of juniors.

It's free to play and everyone is welcome, regardless of age or ability.   Every Tuesday from 3.30 to 5.30 pm.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Stowmarket Club Championship

Stephen Lewis reports:

The Stowmarket Club Championship is well under way with three rounds of a planned six completed.   If time allows the competition will be a five-round Swiss followed by a 6th round 'positional playoff' between consecutive finishers in the standings.

As our membership numbers have increased slightly over the past couple of years (in the main due to returning ex-players and a couple of new juniors) the tournament was introduced to flexibly provide additional competitive matches during the season, and to give our junior members experience in league conditions.

After three rounds it is two of our returning members at the top of the table.   Rob Hayhurst has a clear lead as the only player sporting a 100% record, trailed by half a point by his opponent in round 4, Dave Green.   Stephen Lewis is also half a point behind after sharing a draw with Dave Green in round 3.

At the other end of the table junior members Sohan Gowda and Bethany Young have both picked up some valuable experience, but are still searching for their first points.   They face off in round 4.

A cross-table of the standings is shown here:

Note:   in case of confusion - the tournament was started before the season gradings were published, so the grades shown and used were the best to hand at the time and will continue to be used for the duration of the competition.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Under 11 Training Day

Yesterday a Training Day held for Suffolk Under 11s in Bury St Edmunds was attended by 18 children.   Five adults provided a wide range of coaching in the morning, and after lunch a six-round tournament took place.   This was won by William Bradley, who lives in Wymondham, Norfolk.   A number of Norfolk Under 11s will be included in our team, because Norfolk have not entered the Under 11 competition this year (or last year).

A number of children will now be pre-selected, leaving a number of places to be filled following the two junior tournaments which take place next Sunday and the following Sunday (Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge).

Team Manager Boby Sebastian will contact all the children who have been selected to play in the Zonals, to be held in Chingford, Essex, on Saturday 15 March.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

4NCL report

This weekend some 21 players from Suffolk took part in the third 4NCL weekend, at the Puma hotels in Hinckley and Daventry.

High-flying Anglian Avengers 1 are hoping to be promoted from Division 2 this season and their strong squad is certainly doing well.   Facing two of their strongest opponents they won 6 - 2 on Saturday and drew with the leaders 4 - 4 today.   The team's star performer was their captain, Mark Gray, who won both his games.   Ed Player scored 1½, Shaun Munson 1, David Spence and Silas Peck ½ point each.   AA1 now lie in second place in Pool A of Division 2 with nine match points.   Leaders Warwickshire Select have 11 points.   After Round 7 on 22 March, Pool A and Pool B will be merged, with the top four in each pool forming a new 'promotion pool'.   It's vital that Anglian Avengers 1 retain their current position, so a win (or a draw) in Round 7 is essential.

In Division 3 there are four Suffolk-based teams.   Anglian Avengers 2 are now in third place after a win and a loss this weekend.   Their loss (the first of the season) was to the runaway leaders, Guildford 3, who have now won all their six matches.   AA2 have nine points, a point behind second-placed Kings Head 2.   Mike Cook was their best scorer with 1½ points, whilst Steve Gregory and Ian Wallis managed ½ point each.

Iceni 1 had a disastrous match on Saturday, losing 5 - 1 and no one winning (just two draws).   But on Sunday managed a closely-fought 3½-2½ win.   Both Paul Botham and John Feavyour drew their games, whilst John Peters had one draw.

The third Anglian Avengers team could only manage two points (out of a possible 12) from the weekend, with a whitewash on Saturday and a 2 - 4 loss on Sunday.   The only Suffolk scorers were Martin Fogg and Keith Woodcock, who each drew one game.   Richard Lamont, Simon Riley and Alex Sheerin came away empty-handed.

Iceni 2 on the other hand had a good weekend.   Following a 4½-½ scoreline on Saturday (assisted by two defaults from their opponents), they drew 3 - 3 on Sunday.   Laurie Pott scored 1½ points, Dominic Carter won his only game, Jon Collins recorded one draw and Vivian Woodward lost his only game.

So after six matches, Division 3 standings are as follows:

Guildford 3    - 12
Kings Head 2    - 10
Anglian Avengers 2    - 9 (3rd place)
Iceni 1    - 8 (11th)
Iceni 2    - 6 (26th)
Anglian Avengers 3    - 5 (28th)
There are 49 teams in Division 3.

Finally, in the rarified atmosphere of Division 1, where most players are titled, Dagne Ciuksyte won one and lost one (to a GM).

The amazing admin team behind the 4NCL manage not only to update the results as they come in, but also have the games available for replay online.   All of Saturday's games can be seen here and no doubt today's games will be available soon, certainly by tomorrow evening.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Bury St Edmunds Junior Congress

The annual Bury St Edmunds Junior Chess Congress takes place at Moreton Hall Community Centre next Sunday, 23 February.

There is still plenty of time to enter, as the posting deadline is Wednesday.   Entries after that date will be surcharged £3.00.

To date, only 32 entries have been received, a long way from last year, when 84 juniors played.

Contact Bob Jones for further details, or download an entry form here.


This weekend (15/16 February) sees the third 4NCL weekend, with many Suffolk players in the Anglian Avengers and Iceni teams.

The results will be published here late tomorrow evening.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Yes2Chess - part 2

The Yes2Chess initiative was outlined here a few weeks ago.   Now, an excellent short video has been developed, which is well worth watching.

To date, over 100 schools have signed up to Yes2Chess.

Here's a link to the video.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Campaign for FIDE Presidency

We're well outside Suffolk today...

Some local chess players will be aware that Garry Kasparov (above) is standing for election as FIDE President, against the long-time incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (below).   Around the world views are polarised, with radically different manifestos from the two candidates.

The English Chess Federation is not committed yet to either, but has recently sent a letter to the current president, complaining that he has publicly stated that the ECF supports his bid.   As the letter points out, he has been invited to make a presentation to the ECF, but no support has (yet) been issued.

Whilst we, the uncomplaining majority of chess players in England, have no or little say in the matter, it's worth considering what each candidate is proposing.

The Kasparov campaign, headed '"Six Winning Moves", can be seen here.

The Ilyumzhinov campaign can be seen here.

Both candidates have their own 'team' to support them, and in both cases these include some controversial people.

Over the next few days I will try and pull out some of the issues and point out the main differences.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Norfolk Rapidplay results

A disappointing entry of only 30 played in the Norfolk Annual Rapidplay at Oulton on Sunday.   Even more disappointing was that only two of these were from Suffolk.

Malcolm Lightfoot (Saxmundham) scored 3/6 and Roger Smith (Ipswich) 2/6.

The tournament was won by Robin Slade (Chelmsford) on 5½, with Mervyn Hughes (Norwich Dons) on 5 and Steve Moore (also Norwich Dons) 4½.

The next local Rapidplay tournament is the Suffolk Junior on Sunday 2 March where there is an Open section for Adults and stronger children.   Contact Adam Hunt or download an entry form here.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Under 11s Training Day

Last year's Suffolk Under 11 Team

In early January you may have seen an article about a Training Day taking place on Sunday 16th February.

It looks as if there will be some 24 children attending.   But so far we have only six coaches.   I would prefer each coach to have no more than three children to teach, rather than four, so I'm looking for two more coaches.   You don't have to be an experienced coach, just someone who likes to help children to improve their chess.

Please let me know if you can attend.   It's at Moreton Hall Community Centre (where the Bury St Edmunds club meets), from 10.30 to 12.30.   After lunch there will be a five-round tournament, but the coaches will not be required to stay.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Player of the Year update

With only three or four matches remaining, the subsidiary competition for the Player of the Year in each division is hotting up.

The rules state that if a person plays for more than one team in the same division, only the points scored for the team for which he has scored most points, will count.   This applies only in Division 1, as in Divisions 2 and 3 each club has only one team.   The percentage tables on Dave Wild's website do not allow for this.

This is believed to be the current situation:

Division 1

Nick Savage (Ipswich A)     4½ pts
Leon Burnett (Manningtree A)     4
Adam Taylor (Manningtree A)     4

Division 2

John Peters (Bury St Edmunds C)     6 pts
John Feavyour (Saxmundham A)     5
Ed Kirkham (Adastral Park)     5
Alonso Paez (Ipswich D)     4½

Division 3

Phil Hopkins (Felixstowe)     8 pts
Bob Jones (Bury St Edmunds D)     6½
Roger Smith (Ipswich E)     6

There will be a further update nearer to the end of the season, when there are only one or two games remaining.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Suffolk League round-up

The positions in all three divisions of the Suffolk League are extremely close.   This is reflected in the number of match draws recorded to date, with over 35% of all results ending 2 - 2.

In Division 1 only three points separate top and bottom, with Ipswich C, currently at the foot of the table, having the ability to leap to the top with two matches in the next nine days.

In Division 2, just 1½ points separate the top four teams.   The other two teams, Stowmarket A and Saxmundham A, play their outstanding match on Tuesday and can catch up and overtake some of those above them.

Five points separate top and bottom in Division 3 with only 1½ points between the top four teams.

The matches this week and next may be crucial to this season's promotion and relegation.

Here are the current league tables:

Division 1

Manningtree A613½
Bury St Edmunds A612½
Ipswich A712½
Bury St Edmunds B612
Ipswich B611
Ipswich C510½

Division 2

Bury St Edmunds C715
Ipswich D714
Adastral Park713½
Stowmarket A611
Saxmundham A610½

Division 3

Bury St Edmunds D919½
Stowmarket Rooks919
Ipswich E918½
Manningtree B815
Saxmundham B814½

Saturday, 8 February 2014


Increments - or 'Fischer timing' - whichever you prefer, although the former seems to be gaining precedence.

We've had the ability to use increments in the Suffolk League for the past season, but how many times has it been used?   Not many, I suspect.

Often, this is because of the hassle of re-setting the clocks.   But it can be made easy if you pre-set your clocks.

Several clubs now have some DGT 2010 digital clocks, including Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Manningtree, Stowmarket and Saxmundham.   This is how to pre-set them:

1.   Switch on the clock;
2.   Press the + button to 18;
3.   Set the time on both sides to 1:15;
4.   Set the bonus to 10 seconds on both sides.

That's it.   The clock remembers those settings, so the next time you switch on the clock, all you have to do is to go to '18', press enter and the middle button and it's ready to go.

For normal settings (1:15 + 15 minutes to finish), the magic number is '05'.   Use a similar procedure to set the clocks at 1:15 and 0:15 for the second period.

If you pre-set all your clocks on both the 05 and 18 settings, then all you have to do is ask your opponent what timings they want.   If 'standard', use '05'; if 'increments', use '18'.

The main benefit of using increments over a 15-minute finish is that no claim of a draw can be made under the 10.2 rule (opponent making no effort to win by normal means).   That rule really needs a qualified arbiter to sort out, which most captains are not.

Whilst on this subject, I wonder if it would be better to amend the timings from 1:15 + 10 seconds per move to 1:00 + 20 seconds per move?   The former gives you only 10 seconds to make each move when you run out of your original stock of time, which is rather too quick.   20 seconds is more reasonable, and closer to the 30-second increment used in FIDE rated events, such as the 4NCL and the e2e4 tournaments.

The downside is that games could, in theory, last longer than three hours.   With the current increment of 10 seconds, a game would need to continue for more than 120 moves to exceed the three-hour limit.   With a 20-second increment (and 1 hour), three hours are reached after 90 moves.   But very few games last that long; you would be well into your second scoresheet.

Your views will be welcome in the comments below.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Gibraltar results

The 12th annual Tradewise Gibraltar Masters finished yesterday, with three GMs on 8/10 taking part in a Blitz play-off, won eventually by Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov (pictured right).

Suffolk's David Spence had an excellent tournament, scoring 50% (2 wins, 2 losses, 5 draws and a half-point bye).   His rating performance was 2339, which meant that his 'live' rating will increase by some 20 points to 2236.   The full cross-table can be viewed here.   Seeded 150 out of 256 competitors, David finished in 115th place.

Two other East Anglian players took part.   Ashley Stewart (Cambridge City) scored 4½ points, for a rating increase of 28 points (to 2066), whilst Broadland's Roy Hughes scored 3½ points to lose just one rating point.

I hope to be able to show one or two of David's games when he returns to the UK.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Chess at the Apex

(Photo: Richard Hartley)

Chess at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds started on Tuesday.   The idea, being promoted jointly by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Bury St Edmunds Chess Club, is to provide a free facility for playing chess, every Tuesday afternoon from 3.30 to 5.30.   Car parking in Bury is free on Tuesdays after 3.00, so it's possible park adjacent to the venue and play several friendly games of chess, all at zero cost!   Refreshments are available (at reasonable cost) from the coffee shop downstairs (coffee is £1.70 and tea £1.30).

This new venture should particularly appeal to retired and unemployed people, as well as youngsters after the school day ends.   An article is anticipated in tomorrow's Bury Free Press, which hopefully will encourage a few more people to attend next week.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Saxmundham Rules!

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of giving a talk to ten members of the Saxmundham Chess Club on the Laws of Chess.

Topics covered included:   Actions that bring the game into disrepute; opponents trying to run you out of time; Interference by third parties; noisy venues; time scrambles; three-fold repetition; recording the moves.   Also covered were changes in the rules that will come into effect in July 2014, in time for the next season.

After the talk, members took part in a six-round Blitz tournament which was won by top seed Malcolm Lightfoot.

If any other Suffolk club would like a talk on the rules, let me know!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

First Team game

It's not easy being a team captain.   Not only do you need to find 16 players for a full team, but then you have to play your own games at the same time as keeping a watchful eye on the progress of the rest of your team.   Full credit, then, to Ian Wallis for winning both his games last Sunday!

He reached the following position in his second game, against David Martinez Villena (173) of Bedfordshire (White to play):

11. Nxf7?!   Kxf7   12. f5.   Looks dangerous and the complications are immense.   However I have not done anything wrong in the preceding play so I tried to convince myself that everything would be OK.   The difficulty was finding the right path.

12. ... Rf8   13. Qg4   (13. fxe6,   13. Qh5 and 13. Rf1 were other possibilities).

13. ...Kg8   (13. ... Nxe5! was even better.   After 14. fxe6   dxe6   15. Qf4+   Kg8   16. Qxe5 was all I had seen, but now 16. ... Qh4+ wins).

14. Bh6 (one of the few moves that I did anticipate.   I also looked at 14. f6 and planned to answer this with the same game move but 14. ... d5 would have been even stronger, the point being 15. exd6   Qxf6 retains the piece).   Relatively best was 14. Bg5 when Nxe5 again saves the day. 15. fxe6   dxe6 (15. ... Nxg4   16.   e7+   d5   17.   exd8=Q   Rxd8   18.   Bxd8   dxc4 is still winning but why give up material when it is not necessary).   16.   Bxd8   Nxg4   17.   Bxc7 and the pawn deficit is a minor problem compared to the lack of development and exposed K.

14. ... Rf7.   Now the N is now longer pinned.   My opponent hadn't seen this defence.   14. ... Qe7 was also possible:   15. fxe6   dxe6   16. Bf4   h5! and e5 will fall again (17. Qg3   Nxe5   18. Bxe5   Bf2+   19. Qxf2   Rxf2   20. Kxf2   Qh4+ etc).

15. fxe6   dxe6   16. Bg5   Nxe5!   By now this should be no surprise.

17. Qg3   (17.   Bxd8   Nxg4 with two pawns to the good was my expected continuation but White didn't fancy this.   His continuation was less challenging).

17. ... Bf2+   18. Qxf2   Qxg5   19. Qd2   (19. Qe2   Nxc4 was no better).

19. ... Qh4+   20. Kd1   Nxc4.   Although White continued for another ten moves the result was no longer in doubt.     0 - 1.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Quiz contestants needed!

The producers of the BBC Two series 'Only Connect' are casting for their tenth series.

They are looking for teams of three players who share a common passion, ability or profession, who wish to pool their combined wits and knowledge to tackle fiendish conundrums and vexing puzzles.

'Only Connect' is the quiz show that combines general knowledge and lateral thinking.   The producers are looking for contestants who thrive in these skills and are looking for a new and exciting challenge.

Clearly, chess players are ideally suited to this quiz show!

Click on the image to view full size.

For further information, click here.

To apply, or to request further information, go here.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

County First Team in action

The Suffolk First Team played against Norfolk and Bedfordshire at Newmarket today.   In the morning session Suffolk drew 8 - 8 with Norfolk, but beat Bedfordshire 9 - 7 in the afternoon.

These results, together with Cambridgeshire beating Bedfordshire and losing to Norfolk, leaves the league table nicely balanced, as follows (win - two points; draw - one point):


Four players won both their games: Shaun Munson, Ian Wallis (capt), John Peters and Silas Peck.   Top board Alan Merry and Mike Cook scored 1½ points.   Individual results can be seen here (scroll down to today's matches).

The final matches, against Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, take place on Sunday 3 March.   Two wins will see Suffolk as EACU Champions.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Gibraltar Masters update

After five rounds of the Gibraltar Masters, Suffolk's David Spence is on three points, the same score as GMs Nigel Short and Stephen Gordon, and just 1½ points behind the joint leaders.

After an excellent draw in Round 1 against a 2614-rated GM, David lost to another GM in Round 2, followed by a surprising draw against a 1941.   But since then he has won his next two games, with today's in Round 5 being his best result to date, beating a 2419-rated FM.

To date David has gained 15 rating points, which would take his 'live' rating to 2231.

The other East Anglian Player, Ashley Stewart from Cambridge, is on 2½ points, with a similar rating improvement of 15 points.

One of the best moves seen so far occurred in the first round when GM Gata Kamsky was Black (to play):

Gata uncorked the brilliant 23... Nf2!

Black now threatens mate in one along the g-file, so White has to weaken his kingside further.   Either capture of the knight would end in instant disaster with the loss of White's queen.

The game continued 24. g4   Qh4   25. Nxc8   Qg3+ 26. Kf1   N2xh3 and White resigned.