Sunday, 28 December 2014

Alan beats an FM in 20 moves

18-year old Alan Merry (2347), who has already achieved the required number of norms to become an IM (he just needs to get his rating to 2400), beat the experienced FIDE Master Peter Sowray in the final round of the Brambles Masters last weekend.   Here is the game (Alan is White), with a few annotations:

(Edited to amend IM to FM)

This will be the last article for a week or so.   The next will be on Monday 5 January.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Xmas puzzles #4

Today sees the last of the Christmas puzzles - four puzzles to bring the total up to ten.

Please send your answers to all the puzzles to me, Bob Jones.   The best set of answers will win a book prize!

Puzzle #7

White to play and draw.

Puzzle #8

White to play and mate in 4.

Puzzle #9

White to play and mate in 3.

Puzzle #10

White to play and mate in 3.

Remember, no computers.   Good luck!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Xmas puzzles #3

If you are suffering from the excesses of Christmas Day (and Boxing Day), then here is the perfect cure - a couple of (fairly) tough puzzles for you to solve.

Don't forget, wait until tomorrow before sending in your answers to all four days' puzzles!

Puzzle #5

White to play and mate in 3.
(After White's first move, Black has six possible moves.   You will need to find the answers to all six.)

Puzzle #6

White to play and win.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Xmas puzzles #2

A very Happy Christmas to all our readers!

It being Christmas Day, here are a couple of 'Christmas tree' puzzles.   The numbering follows on from yesterday:

Puzzle 3

It's White to play and mate in 2 (easy).

Puzzle 4

White to play and mate in 5 (difficult).

Good luck - and remember, wait until Saturday before sending in your answers.   And, try and solve them without using your computer!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Xmas puzzles #1

Here are the first of the puzzles which will feature over the next four days.   Please don't post your answers in the comments section, but wait until you've seen all four days' puzzles.   Then you can submit your answers to me and perhaps win a prize!

Puzzle 1

Black to play and win:

Puzzle 2

Black to play and force checkmate:

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Alan finds it tough at Hampstead

Over the past week or so, Alan Merry (Elo 2347) has been playing in the 14-player Brambles Masters, in Hampstead.   With half the field rated over 2400, Alan was hoping to gain some points that would bring him closer to the 2400 rating he needs for his IM title.

Starting with an excellent draw against the eventual joint winner, top seed GM Fier from Brazil, Alan stood proudly on three points after the first five rounds with a likely improvement of 30 rating points.   But things then went badly wrong, and he lost in rounds 6, 7 and 8.   He recovered with a good win in the final round today against IM Peter Sowray (2385).   So instead of gaining the 53 points he needed, Alan will probably just manage to ease his rating over 2350.

The final cross-table can be viewed here.

As can be seen left, Alan featured on the cover of the British Chess Magazine for November 2014.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas puzzles

Starting on Wednesday (Christmas Eve) and continuing until Saturday, there will be a series of puzzles for you to solve.   Please don't show the answers in the comments sections; instead, wait until you've solved all four days' puzzles, then send your solutions to me, Bob Jones.

There will be a book prize for the best set of answers!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Competitions Secretary's report

David Green, the Suffolk League's Competitions Secretary, has provided the following 'half-time' report:

"At the halfway point of the season I offer a few thoughts and observations on how the rule changes and new competitions have worked so far.

Overall I feel that the competitions are running well.   The Suffolk League fixtures have all been played on time.   The Under 125 fixtures have just been published.   The initial round of the Cup and Plate has been completed and the fixtures for the first knock-out matches for both the Cup and Plate have been scheduled and the first of these has been played.

Fixture postponements

We did not change the rule regarding the acceptable reasons for postponing a fixture but we did change the Competitions Secretary who oversees these postponements!   Clearly I see things a little differently from our previous Competitions Secretary and there were some minor complaints when I insisted on the application of our newly revised rules as they stand.   Certain 'gentlemen's agreements' that allowed postponements because of player non-availability were seen to be in contravention of our brand new rule book.   These agreements were cancelled despite pleas that they were established custom and practice.


We changed the default rule from always on the lowest board to the board on which the player was absent.   Some concern was expressed within the rules revision sub-committee about the possibility of tactical defaulting.   So far such fears appear to be baseless as there has been a similar level of defaults to the previous seasons that were run under the old rules.   There may be more defaults ahead as substitutes reach the limits on the number of times they are allowed to play but that is a separate issue.   Let us hope this will be a very small number.


For all their complexity the new substitution rules only apply to clubs with more than one team in the league and all seems to be working as intended.

The database produced by Dave Wild to track the main teams, substitutions for higher teams, lower teams and teams in the same division is working well; without it I am certain I would not have been able to cope with the detailed record-keeping that rule 5.4 requires.   Thanks again go to Dave Wild for his excellent coding skills.


As I hope you are all aware I do not want to use penalties to ensure rule compliance.   However I feel I need to be fairly rigorous when captains fail to meet the requirement to be accurate and punctual when entering the match results.   The whole database is only as good as these match result entries and until they are entered, confirmed and approved, the rest of the functions, in particular the substitutions monitoring system, are out of date.

In this area I have applied a penalty and have had to be proactive and warn captains of the consequences of their late entry of results.   Perhaps we need to be more careful in teaching any new captain how to enter results and ensuring that every new captain has the correct access to the database.   Once asked, Dave Wild is always very quick to set up a new captain and to ensure correct access but if he is not asked then how can he or I know that such action is needed?

There have been no ineligible players fielded although Ipswich did default a game for match purposes and then agreed and played a friendly game on that board with an ineligible player filling the slot.   That gave the player who had travelled to Ipswich a graded game, avoided a penalty and was, I believe, the correct and proper action.

Cup and Plate

There have been some minor misunderstandings of the new Cup and Plate rules in particular Rule 1 which allows teams to opt out if they wish and Rule 2 where a player may play for only one team.


So far the new rules and the new Comps Sec seem to be doing what is expected.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year and if the second half of the season is as good as the first half I will be very satisfied with my efforts."

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Looking forward to Gibraltar

Now in its 13th year, the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival goes from strength to strength.   The 2015 event starts on 26 January.   To date the Masters section has an amazing 248 entrants, including some 70 Grandmasters!   David Spence is the only Suffolk player entered.

The Festival has a total prize fund of £175,000, with a first prize in the Masters of £20,000.

Subsidiary events include the Challengers and Amateurs, with both week 1 and week 2 sections.   The total entry in the Festival currently exceeds 450.

Whilst no other Suffolk players have entered so far, it is understood that David Brown intends to play.   He, and others, have until 16 January to enter if they wish to avoid paying a late entry fee.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Anita goes to London

Immediately after Christmas (28 December), Bury's Anita Somton (128 ECF) will travel to London to take part in the Under 12 section of the London Junior Chess Championships.   The results will be published here after the event.

Entrants must have achieved a good score from one of a number of qualifying tournaments.   Anita scored 5/6 in the Under 14 section of the Woodbridge Junior on 23 November.

Anita will play nine games over the three-day event.   She will be able to play in the same section next year, as she is currently an Under 11.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Half-time update

All three divisions of the Suffolk League have completed their scheduled fixtures for the first half of the season.   If nothing else that's a tribute to the team captains as well as to the Competitions Secretary, David Green, who has kept his finger firmly on the pulse.

Each division has seven teams, so each team has so far played six matches.   Here are the current league tables:

Division 1

Ipswich A641116½
Ipswich C650116
Manningtree A632115
Ipswich B622212
Bury St Edmunds C620410
Bury St Edmunds B6123
Bury St Edmunds A60155

So, the three Bury St Edmunds' teams are propping up the table.   It seems almost certain that one of these will be relegated at the end of the season.   Last year's Champions, Manningtree A, are hot on the heels of two Ipswich teams, with only 1½ points separating the top three places.

Division 2

Saxmundham A650117
Ipswich D631213½
Adastral Park623112
Stowmarket A6204
Bury St Edmunds D60156

Saxmundham A have a clear lead at the top, whilst at the other end of the table, Stowmarket A and Bury St Edmunds D appear to be fighting to avoid relegation.

Division 3

Manningtree B650117
Ipswich F631213½
Stowmarket Rooks 621312
Ipswich E631211½
Saxmundham B613211
Bury St Edmunds E6024

Manningtree B are emulating their A team and head the division by 3½ points.   At least Bury St Edmunds E can't be relegated!

Players of the Season

The leaders in each division are:

Division 1:   Steve Gregory (5½/6)
Division 2:   Malcolm Lightfoot (5½/6)
Division 3:   Phil Hopkins (6/6); Carl Phillips (5½/6); Andrew Molloy (5½/6)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

FIDE ratings

The December FIDE rating list contains 33 Suffolk-based players (who qualify to play for Suffolk) with current standard-play ratings.

A number of other players have not played enough games to qualify for a rating (nine games against rated players are needed).

1Adam Hunt2437
2Justin Tan2366
3Alan Merry2347
4Dagne Ciuksyte2340
5Andrew Lewis2226
6Ed Player2240
7Mike Harris2234
8David Spence2231
9Shaun Munson2167
10Mark Gray2091
11Tim Lunn2057
=12Steve Gregory2056
=12Adam Taylor2056
14Steve Ruthen2053
15John Feavyour2029
16Paul Botham2016
17Ian Wallis2009
18Nick Savage2007
19John Peters2000
20Mike Cook1997
21Phil Hopkins1988
22Michael Clapham1923
23Luke Hill1921
24Somton Ukken1915
25Martin Fogg1906
26Richard Lamont1893
27Malcolm Lightfoot1867
28Silas Peck1862
29Bob Jones1844
30Vivian Woodward1703
31Keith Woodcock1668
32Alex Sheerin1622
33Anita Somton1464

For some reason, David Brown doesn't appear on the latest FIDE list, but it's believed that his rating is 1961, which would put him in 22nd place.

Other Suffolk players who have not yet played enough games for a rating are (number of games played in brackets):

Andrew Shephard (7)
Jon Collins (5)
Laurie Pott (5)
Simon Riley (5)
Ted Matthewson (4)
Graham Moore (4)
Colin Roberts (4)
Steve Lovell (3)
Dominic Carter (2)
Peter Collicott (2)
Mark Weidman (2)
Sam Brennan (1)
Leon Burnett (1)

Please let me know if there are any omissions or errors!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Chess at the Apex

The Tuesday chess club at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds is still going strong.   Today ten members attended, and weekly numbers have been as high as 14.

The Club is free of charge and you can park your car in the adjacent car park after 3 pm without having to pay.   The Club meets from 3.30 to 5.30.

New members are always welcome.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas puzzles

Over the Christmas period, it's planned to have a number of problems.   If anyone knows of any difficult, but interesting, problems, please let me know.   You can email me at bobjoneschess (at)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Silas gains rating points

Silas Peck completed an excellent performance in the London Chess Classic FIDE Open, which concluded this evening. He finished on 50% (4½/9) with a tournament performance of 1990.   He will gain 57 much-deserved rating points, which will improve his live rating to 1919.   Having beaten two players rated over 2000 and drawn with another, it surely won't be long before Silas himself reaches the 'magic' 2000.


Bury's Anita Somton played in the Northwick Park Major (u155) tournament in Harrow over the weekend.   She scored 50% with a grading performance of 144.   Still only ten years old, she is certainly a great prospect for Suffolk chess.


Mark Gray scored 3/5 to finish in joint 11th place in the Weekend Classic Open.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

London Classic - FIDE Open

Ipswich's Silas Peck is on two points after the first five rounds of the FIDE Open.   His performance rating is 1932, 70 points higher than his current Elo rating of 1862.   His best win was in Round 4, when he beat a 2031 from India.   Tomorrow and Sunday see two games each day, with barely an hour's gap between rounds.

The five-round Weekend Classic tournament started yesterday.   The only Suffolk player entered in Mark Gray, who is seeded 12th in the Open section.   He drew his first round match.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Bury Knights Christmas Tournament

32 children attended the last meeting of the Autumn Term this evening at the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club.

A 'piece handicap' tournament was held, where the higher-rated opponent had to remove a certain number of points from his side of the board before the game started.   The highest-rated player had a handicap of 8, whilst the lowest-rated was on zero.   So if top played bottom, then the top player would have removed, say, a knight, bishop and two pawns.

The eventual winner was 9-year old Aaron Saenz de Villaverde.   This was an excellent performance by Aaron, who won all five games.   Three players were runners-up on four points: Ryan Swann, Bass Sloane-Hunter and Sammy Roberts.   Everyone received prizes of different sizes, with Aaron getting the biggest - a large bar of Toblerone!
The winner of the fancy dress competition (chess-themed Xmas outfit) was Edison Lorejo, with William Hurry as runner-up.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Bury Area League latest

With mid-season fast approaching, it's time for an update on the Bury Area League, which involves seven teams from the Bury St Edmunds club, and one each from Newmarket and Stowmarket.

In Division 1, Bury Scorpions (which consists of four Ipswich members - Messrs Moore, Gregory, Wallis and Lunn) lie in second place, 3½ points behind the leaders, Cambridge Examiners.   The other two Bury teams, Scarabs and Cobras, are poorly placed at the foot of the division.

In Division 2, Bury Vipers have lost all four matches, but are being propped up by Newmarket, who have also lost all four matches.

Stowmarket are faring well in Division 3 and currently head the table.   The other three Bury teams are clustered in mid-table.

You can view the full league tables on the Bury League website.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

London Chess Classic

The only Suffolk player in the nine-round FIDE Open is Silas Peck (pictured left).   He lost in the first two rounds on Monday and Tuesday, to a 2278 and a 2048.   But today he beat a lower-rated Italian to get his score off the ground.

The Classic 'Super Six' started today, with England's Mickey Adams winning an amazing Q & 3P v Q & 2P ending against one of the favourites, Fabiano Caruana.   The other two games were drawn, so Mickey heads the table.   Adams handled the endgame immaculately, not rushing his moves.   Just before Caruana resigned in a lost position, one of the commentators said, "Sit on your hands when a win is in sight."   How true, and how often have we all failed to heed that maxim?

You can view the Super Six games here.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Three Sundays in March

Get your diaries and calendars out.   Here are three dates in March 2015:

On 1 March, thge EACU Team Championships take place at Moreton Hall Community Centre, Bury St Edmunds.   This event is usually held at Whittlesford, but this year should attract more Suffolk teams.   More details later.

On 8 March, the Bury St Edmunds Junior Congress will be held at the same venue.   This year, the event incorporates the EACU Junior Championship.

Then on 15 March, the Suffolk Junior Open takes place at Woodbridge School.

More information about each of these events will be published later.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Success for the Under 100s

The eight-board Suffolk Under 100 team played a double-header against Cambridgeshire yesterday - and came out on top, winning overall by 9 points to 7.

In the morning, Suffolk won convincingly by 5½ points to 2½, with wins from captain Daniel Yarnton on Board 2, Trevor Webster (Board 3), Rob Scott (Board 4), Alan John (Board 5) and Tom Roy (Board 8).   In the afternoon, with colours reversed (and a different set of opponents as Cambridgeshire decided to change their board order), Suffolk went down 3½ - 4½.   There were wins from Dave Wild on top board, Trevor Webster (again) and Ralph Martin.

One pleasing aspect of this result was that four of the team were juniors from the Bury Knights.   All scored one win, except eight-year old Adam John, whose turn will surely come soon as he shows great potential.

The Under 100s next play on 22 February, when they will face Norfolk.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Two draws for the Under 160s

Suffolk Under 160s recorded two match draws today (8 - 8), against Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

In the morning match, against Cambridgeshire, ten of the sixteen boards were drawn, with wins for Kevin Greenacre, Bob Jones and Laureano Garcia.   In the afternoon, against Hertfordshire, Suffolk needed just half a point from the last two games to finish, but sadly lost both.   Kevin and Laureano both won again.   Other winners in the afternoon were Ed Kirkham, Mike Taylor and Anita Somton.

In the other morning match, Norfolk beat Herts 9½ - 6½ and in the afternoon, Cambridgeshire beat Norfolk 9 - 7.

So after the first rounds of matches, Cambridgeshire lead the league table with three points, closely followed by Suffolk and Norfolk on two points, with Hertfordshire on one point.

The next Under 160 matches take place on Sunday 1 February.

The top boards of the Suffolk team: Malcolm Lightfoot, Ed Kirkham and Martin Fogg - all unbeaten today (five draws!)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

London Chess Classic

The 6th London Chess Classic got underway today.   It started with a ten-round 'Super Rapidplay', with some 300 entrants.   After five rounds, six players share the lead with a maximum score.   It appears that no Suffolk players have entered.   You can follow the live games on the Congress website.   In the fifth round today, Nakamura won a 15-move miniature against Jonathan Hawkins, whose queen became trapped after taking the a1 rook.

The main 'Super Six' event starts on Wednesday, with Fabiano Caruana, Vishy Anand, Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladimir Kramnik and Mickey Adams competing in a round-robin.   A nine-round FIDE Open starts on Monday and various other events are scheduled during the week..

Friday, 5 December 2014

More games please!

It's ages since we managed to display a game on this website, mainly because no one has submitted one for publication.

With dozens of games being played in the Suffolk League this season, there must be some interesting enough to appear here.   Please send me any games that you would like to see published, preferably annotated.


On Sunday, the county Under 160 and Under 100 teams will be in action at the Turner Hall in Newmarket.   The u160s play Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, whilst the u100s face Norfolk in a double-header.   Half the eight-board Under 100 team consists of juniors from the Bury Knights, with a fifth (Anita Somton), playing for the Under 160s.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Woodbridge Junior results

Last Sunday the Woodbridge Junior Open tournament welcomed 79 players of varying ages between 6 and 18.
The results were as follows (Suffolk players are in bold):

Under 8 Section:

1st: Bhramav Rajesh (Essex) 6/6
2nd: Yucheng Bian (Norwich) 5/6
3rd: Arthur Nath 4/6
Woodbridge Winner: Charlotte Ciuksyte 2½/6
(8 Players)

Under 10 Section:

1st: Panagiotis Klotsas (Cambridge) 5½/6
2nd: Zahra Jaufarally (Colchester) 4½/6
3rd=: Aaron Saenz de Villaverde (Bury Knights), Luca Sangiovanni-Vicintelli (Cambridge), Ciaran Brightley Davies (London), Eden Coles 4/6
Woodbridge Winner: George Na Nakhorn (The Abbey) 4/6
(22 Players)

Under 12 Section:

1st: Charlie Pickering (Norwich) 5½/6
2nd: William Bradley (Wymondham) 5/6
3rd: Sarah Weersing (Essex) 4½/6
Woodbridge Winner: Zoe Newman (Woodbridge School) 4/6
(28 Players)

Under 14 Section:

1st: Karthik Saravananan (Lowestoft) 6/6
2nd: Anita Somton (Bury Knights) 5/6
3rd: Campion Mitchell-Cotts (Saxmundham) 3½/6
Woodbridge Winner: Cavan Fawcett (Woodbridge School) 2½/6
(12 Players)

Under 16/18 Section:

1st: William Sait (Bury Knights) 5½/6
2nd and Woodbridge U18 Winner: Jacob Elman (Woodbridge School) 5/6
3rd: Ben Schreiber (Woodbridge School) 4/6
(9 Players)

The planned Open section, which includes adults, as well as the Parents' section, were cancelled due to lack of entrants.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

December ratings

The December 2014 rating list has been published by FIDE.   The 'England' list contains four Suffolk-based players in the top 60:

IM Adam Hunt     2437    #29
GM Jon Levitt     2415    #36
FM Alan Merry     2347    #54
IM Dagne Ciuksyte     2340    #57

FM Justin Tan is of course Australian, but at 2366 would feature at #49 in the ENG list.

Former Suffolk players Nick (2562) and Richard Pert (2443) are at #8 and #26 respectively.

Dagne is #3 ENG woman, with Anita Somton (1464) at #55.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cup and Plate dates (and a result)

The new Cup and Plate competition has reached the first round proper (the quarter-finals), with seven teams competing in the Cup and six teams in the Plate.

One match in the Cup was played last evening, with Sudbury going down ½ - 3½ to Ipswich C.   The other two matches, between Ipswich D and Manningtree, and Ipswich E and Ipswich A, will be played on Tuesday 6 January.   The seventh team, Ipswich B, has a bye to the semi-finals.

In the Plate, Saxmundham will play Stowmarket on 6 January, whilst the two Bury St Edmunds teams, E and D, face each other on Thursday 29 January.   Two teams have byes: Felixstowe and Ipswich F.

The success or otherwise of this event can be judged by its 13 entries, considerably more than the nine teams that played last season in the Under 125 and Under 145 Cups combined.   However, eight teams declined to participate in the Cup and Plate, mostly on account of fixture congestion and the consequent difficulty in finding sufficient players. These were three teams from Bury St Edmunds (A, B & C), Adastral Park, Clacton, as well as the 'B' teams from Stowmarket, Saxmundham and Manningtree.   Both Bury and Clacton have considerable commitments in other leagues (Bury Area and North Essex respectively).

Monday, 1 December 2014

Under 120s draw with Norfolk

Playing alongside the First Team on Sunday, the eight-board Suffolk Under 120 team managed to draw 8 - 8 with Norfolk in their double-header.

In the morning, the team went down 3 - 5 to Norfolk, with wins for Chas Szentmihaly and Andrew Paige.   But playing in the afternoon with colours reversed, Suffolk won 5 - 3.   This time there were wins from Dave Robertson, Roger Smith, Andrew Paige and Mark Nevison.   Congratulations to Andrew for winning both games, and to Chas and Roger for scoring 1½ points each.

The second set of matches, against Cambridgeshire, is scheduled for 8 February.