Friday, 24 April 2015

Gt Yarmouth Congress this weekend

Tomorrow sees the start of the five-round Gt Yarmouth Congress, taking place at the Town Hall.   To date, 95 people have entered, a 10% increase on last year.   Of these entrants, a quarter are from Suffolk clubs.

You can see who's playing and follow their progress on the grading website here.


There will be no more articles until next Friday as I'm on holiday in Scotland.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Cobras relegated

The final match in both leagues took place this evening, with Bury St Edmunds Cobras losing to Ely Beet Bishops.   This result condemns Cobras to Division 2 of the Bury Area Chess League next season.

It hasn't been the best of seasons for the Bury club, with their 'A' team being relegated from Suffolk League Division 1, and their 'D' team relegated from Division 2.

The photo above shows this evening's match, with Cobras playing on the right (Mike Harris, John Peters, Jon Collins and Somton Ukken).

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Summer chess

With only the Cup and Plate Finals, the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup Finals, and one Under 125 match remaining to be played, many Suffolk players will be switching off their chess brains for the summer.   But does this have to be the case?   Some clubs do continue to meet over the summer months, some formally, with a published programme; others informally, perhaps in a local bar.

To give players an idea of what is available, will all clubs please let me know (by email) if they are (or are not) meeting during the May to August period?

For starters, the Bury St Edmunds club will be continuing its tradition of meeting every fortnight, with the first meeting on 14 May.   There will be a programme of events to which non-members are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Cup and Plate Finals

The Finals of the new Suffolk Cup and Plate competition are due to be played next Tuesday (28 April).

The Cup Final will be between Ipswich A and Ipswich B, whilst the Plate Final will be between Saxmundham A and Ipswich F.

The last semi-final was played this evening, when Ipswich F beat Bury St Edmunds D 3 - 1 in the Plate.

The home teams have yet to be decided by the organiser, Rob Sanders.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Nigel Short stirs it up

In an article in today's Daily Telegraph, Nigel Short has declared that "Girls just don't have the brains to play chess", claiming they are not 'hard-wired' to play the game well.

This is rather ironic, as he has a +3, =5, -8 record against Judit Polgar!

Short has attempted to defend himself, by asserting, "Men and women do have different brains.   This is a biological fact."

In Suffolk we only have a few girls and women playing chess, so it's difficult to compare.   But Anita Somton (who had her 11th birthday earlier this month) and is on the verge of becoming Suffolk Ladies' Champion, may have something to say about this.   She is the highest-graded Under 11 girl in the country and #13 amongst all Under 11s.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Millionaire Chess

Last year, Bury's Jon Collins was one of only two English players to travel to Las Vegas to take part in this extraordinary event.   With almost six months to go before the tournament starts on 8 October, a total of 437 players have already entered, including 119 in the Open section (43 GMs!).   Apparently, Jon is considering playing again this year.

The first deadline for entries has already passed, so the entry fee has now increased (from $1000) to $1250.   That's a huge sum, to which must be added the cost of travel and accommodation, but the prizes are good!   The Prize Fund is a million dollars.

Read more about it here.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Great Yarmouth Congress next weekend

It's not too late to enter the Great Yarmouth Chess Congress, which is taking place next weekend at the Town Hall.   You can download an entry form here.

The Prize Fund is £1,700, with a £400 first prize in the Open.   There are four sections: Open, u170, u145 and u120.   The Congress is part of the EACU Grand Prix and is also a qualifier for the British Championships in July.

To avoid disappointment, it is recommended that you contact the organiser- John Charman (click on his name for email or ring 01603 460513).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Top of the Bury League

Cambridge Examiners, last year's champions, have retained their title in Division 1 of the Bury Area Chess League.   Their winning margin over runners-up Linton A was six points.   A further point behind were Bury St Edmunds Scorpions, a team consisting entirely of Ipswich players (Moore, Gregory, Wallis, Lunn, Peck).

Player of the Year was Examiners' captain, 16-year old David Redman, who was unbeaten over 12 games (won 6, drew 6).   In the BACL, the award goes to the player with the best percentage.   Steve Gregory won eight and drew one.

The photo above shows the Examiners' main team: left to right, Akito Oyama, David Redman, Rob McCorry, IM Richard Tozer.   Examiners managed to field this same team for ten of their twelve matches.

The team has an average current grade of 198, higher than any other team in either the Bury Area League or the Suffolk League.   Richard Tozer is the only International Master in either league who plays regular league chess.   Akito (204) is still only 15 years old, whilst David, a year older, is graded 196.   The strength of their team is underlined by the fact that they only lost five individual games during the whole season - and one of those was a default loss!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Making notes

A recent incident at the US Championships, when GM Wesley So was defaulted by the arbiter for 'making notes', has highlighted the relevant FIDE rules and caused many people to ask what actually is allowed.

Let's look at the wording of the relevant rules:

8.1b   "The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data."

11.3a   "During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard."

Wesley So had been previously warned by the arbiter about making notes on his scoresheet, so on this occasion he had a duplicate scoresheet underneath the official one on which he was seen writing some notes.   It appears that these 'notes' were reminders to himself.   In his Round 1 game, he had written, "Use your time you have a lot of it" at the bottom of his scoresheet.   The note on his second round scoresheet read, "Sit down for the entire game.   Never get up."   These are the sort of messages that coaches would give to up-and-coming kids, not something that a Grandmaster would be expected to have to remind himself of!   So was warned twice by the arbiter and told that a third instance would result in a default.   It was in Round 9 that So used a duplicate scoresheet, under the official one, on which he wrote, "Double check and triple check" and "use your time."   This resulted in So being defaulted for this game.

As has been pointed out on the unofficial ECForum, it does show up an unexpected hole in the drafting of the FIDE Laws, in that whilst "taking notes" on the scoresheet is outlawed, there appears no direct prohibition about making notes on a separate sheet.

Then there's the question of what is allowed.   For example, can you circle or underline a move number (e.g. move 30 in the Suffolk League)?   Can you put a dot after a move because you would like to check out this move on your computer when you get home?   Certain things must (or must not) be done, for instance, recording offers of a draw with a (=) sign; recording the moves in algebraic format; not writing down your moves before you make them.   The scoresheets supplied to players at the 4NCL show move 40 in bold type, which saves you the embarrassment of having to circle it and being defaulted for so doing!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Relegation battle in the Bury League

Two Bury St Edmunds teams are fighting to stay in Division 1 of the Bury Area Chess League.

With just one match each to play, there's one point between the bottom three teams: Bury Scarabs (18½ points), Ely Beet Bishops (18) and Bury Cobras (17½).

Scarabs play their final match tomorrow, when they have to play the League Champions, Cambridge Examiners.   If they can score 1½ points, they will survive relegation.

Then the following Thursday, Cobras entertain Ely in what is likely to be the 'crunch' match.   Cobras need to win to guarantee their survival, whilst a poor Scarabs result tomorrow and, say, a draw between Cobras and Ely, could mean that Scarabs would be relegated.   It's all too close for comfort!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Saxmundham win Division 2

Saxmundham A needed one point from their match against Bury St Edmunds D this evening.   In the event, they won convincingly by 3½ - ½.

Pictured below is their team (left to right: Andrew Paige (captain), Dominic Carter, Malcolm Lightfoot, John Feavyour, David Brown).

Saxmundham won eight of their 12 matches, drawing two and losing only two (to Sudbury and Clacton).

John Feavyour and Malcolm Lightfoot played in all 12 matches, whilst Dominic Carter played 10 and David Brown 9.   Arthur McCormick (3) and Andrew Paige (2) completed their team.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The cheating grandmaster

By now, many chess players will be aware of the scandal that has rocked chess in the past few days.   At the Dubai Open, Grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze from Georgia was caught using his phone in the toilet to access a chess program.

You can read all about it in Stephen Moss' excellent column in today's Guardian.   Nigalidze is the highest-rated player (2566) to be caught cheating at chess.   You can also read about the incident at the official Dubai Open website.

As Stephen Moss points out, similar attempts at cheating have been made by amateurs, where the prize money is usually much lower.   So what incentive is there for amateurs to cheat?   Has anyone experienced similar incidents (or noticed their opponent making frequent visits to the loo?

PS. On BBC Radio Five they will be discussing the incident later this evening.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

National Junior Squad Championships

These Championships were held at Daventry Court Hotel over this weekend.   Entrants included many of the top juniors in the country.

Four juniors from the Bury St Edmunds club entered, one in the Under 10 section (Adam John) and three in the Under 12 section (Alan John, Anita Somton and Tom Roy).

Their results were a little disapointing, but it was an excellent experience for these up-and-coming youngsters.

Tom (pictured right, with organiser Peter Purland) won a grading prize on 2/5.   Adam also scored 2, whilst his brother Alan was on 1½.   The best score was by Anita, on 3 points.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Correspondence chess latest

The 8-board Suffolk team is competing in Division 2 (Sinclair) of the Counties Championship.   With half their games now completed, Suffolk are situated in mid-table with 4½ points out of 8.

Each member of the team plays two games against the same opponent, one with White and one with Black.

Three players have completed both games: Phil Revell (Board 4) has won both; Silas Peck (Board 3) scored 1½; and Jakob Tulic (Board 8) has lost both games.   The other two results are a win for me (2)) and a loss for captain Jim Buis (6).

Others yet to record a result are Ian Wallis (1), Kevin Greenacre (5) and Bob Stephens (7).

Friday, 10 April 2015

The health benefits of chess?

Thanks to Somton Ukken for this link.

Do you agree?   Let's hear your comments!

Last Friday, reporting on the Division 1 end-of-season table, Adam Taylor (Manningtree A) was shown as winning the Player of the Year award.   In fact, this was incorrect.   The winner was Stephen Gregory (Ipswich A).   The error occurred because the winner is the person who scores most points for a team, rather than the one who records the highest percentage.   Adam scored 7½/8, whilst Stephen scored 9½/12.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ipswich Club Championship

Many congratulations to Mike Cook on regaining the title of Champion of Ipswich Chess Club for 2015!

Mike reaches the age of eighty next year and once again proves the point that age is no barrier in chess.

He played very solidly throughout the Ipswich Club Championship which is played over six rounds during the course of the season.   He was unbeaten in the competition and along the way attained admirable victories against former Club Champions Steve Gregory and Ted Matthewson whilst dropping only one half-point against Tim Lunn (also a former Club Champion).

Well done Mike!

(Thanks to Les Jones for this report)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

US Chess Championships

The US Championships are well underway, with Round 7 (of 11) being played today.

The latest sensation, Sam Sevian, a Grandmaster at the tender age of 14, beat Wesley So (with Black) in Round 3 and is currently in =3rd place (out of 12).

In today's match, he faces tournament leader (and favourite) Hikaru Nakamura.   The game can be viewed live in a number of places, including Chessbomb.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Find the move

The position below is from Tom Villiers v Ian Wallis, Southend 2015, with White to play.

Black has sacrificed a pawn and has swapped off White's fianchetto (light-squared) bishop, so has hopes of a mating attack.

With accurate defence White can probably defend.   However he decided to make a few threats himself and opened the long diagonal, attacking g7 with 20. dxc5?

This was his last mistake, as Black forces resignation in two moves.

Can you find the moves that Ian played?   The answer is several lines down the page...

20... Ne5 blocks the mate and threatens mate himself (21. ... Nf3+ and 22. ... Qxh2#), which can only be prevented by serious material losses.   White thought 21. Ne1 defends but resigned after 21... Qh3 due to 22. Ng2,   Nf3+;   23. Qxf3 (the only move to stop mate on h2)   23... Bxf3 and whichever square the knight moves to the rook captures it.   21. h4 also fails to save the game as Black has 21... Rxh4!;   22. gxh4,   Nf3+ etc.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Southend results

Five Suffolk players finished unbeaten on 4½ points (out of 7), for equal 9th place.   Dagne Ciuksyte picked up the £500 prize for the best female performance.   Others on 4½ points included Alan Merry (who drew with IM Richard Pert today), Ian Wallis (who beat Ed Player today), Andrew Lewis and David Spence.   Ian continued his recent run of good form and will amass an extra 46 rating points from the tournament, taking him back over 2000.   Ian and David both won grading prizes.

Other Suffolk scores were: Graham Moore - 4; Silas Peck and Ed Player - 3; Steve Gregory - 2½; Keith Woodcock - 1½.

Even after this tournament, where he improved his rating by 20 points, Alan Merry still needs another 60 rating points to get his rating up to 2400, which he needs for his IM title.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Southend Easter Congress

A large contingent of Suffolk players has travelled to Southend for the 59th Easter Congress.   No fewer than ten of the 70 entrants in the Premier Open are from Suffolk.

The final round will be played tomorrow (Monday) morning, but after six rounds, the Suffolk players are doing well.

Alan Merry has played three Grandmasters and has drawn against all of them.   He stands unbeaten on four points and plays IM Richard Pert in the last round.

Dagne Ciuksyte is guaranteed at least a share of the £500 prize for best female player; she has 3½ points and one other female has 2½ points.

Ian Wallis is also doing well on 3½ points, and faces Ed Player (3 points) in Round 7.

Running alongside the Open are three weekend tournaments, over five rounds.   13-year old Alex Sheerin came equal second, unbeaten on 3½ points, in the Under 150 Intermediate section, with a grading performance of 160.   In the Minor (Under 120) section, Roger Smith scored 3 points.

The full results will be published here tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Division 3 final table

Suffolk League Division 3 has now been completed.   Congratulations to Manningtree B who are promoted to Division 2.   They only used six players during the season, their main team being Carl Phillips (12 games unbeaten); Adrian Sanderson (11 games); John Price (9) and John McAllister (9).

Here is the final table:

Division 3

Manningtree B12100233
Ipswich F1272330
Ipswich E1271424½
Stowmarket Rooks 1242621
Saxmundham B1217420½
Bury St Edmunds E1203914½

Top player was Felixstowe's Phil Hopkins, who won all but one of his 12 games.   Congratulations to 13-year old Alex Sheerin who was the only player to beat Phil!

Other scorers with 70% of more were Carl Phillips (Manningtree) - 10/12; Andrew Molloy (Ipswich) - 10/12; John Price (Manningtree) - 7½/9; and Adam Wilson (Ipswich) - 7/10.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Divisions 1 and 3 completed

Last night's matches at Bury St Edmunds saw two of the three divisions complete their schedule.   Only Division 2 is still to finish, with more matches scheduled for 14 and 21 April.

After Ipswich A's 3 - 1 win yesterday, the final Division 1 table looks like this:

Division 1

Ipswich C1291231½
Ipswich A1281330½
Manningtree A1263327½
Ipswich B1243525
Bury St Edmunds B1244421½
Bury St Edmunds C1230916½
Bury St Edmunds A1212913½

So Ipswich A just failed to equal the total points achieved by Ipswich C, although having won fewer matches, they would still have been runners-up even if they had won 4 - 0.

The three Bury St Edmunds teams prop up the table, with the 'A' team surprisingly relegated.

The Player of the Year is Manningtree's Adam Taylor.   Although unavailable to play in the final four matches, he scored 7 out of 8 (six wins and two draws) for 87.5%.   Runner-up, with 9½/12 (79.2%) is Steve Gregory (Ipswich A).   Others over 70% include Ted Matthewson (Ipswich C) - 72.7%; Andrew Lewis (Manningtree A) - 72.2%; Mike Cook (Ipswich C) - 70.8%; and Michael Clapham (Ipswich A) - 70.8%.

Division 3 will feature tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ipswich C are League Champions

Last evening, Ipswich C beat Manningtree A 3 - 1 in their final match of the season.   Although their total of 31½ points can be equalled this evening, when Ipswich A play their last match, Ipswich C will have won more matches and are therefore League Champions.

Pictured above are their team (front to back): Ted Matthewson, Silas Peck, Ian Wallis, Mike Cook.   Thanks to Jim Buis for the photo, taken before last night's match.

As Jim points out, like the Dutch football teams of the 1970s, Ipswich C are the equivalent of ‘total’ chess.   With grades less than 10 points apart they have been playing random board order all season, making it impossible for teams to guess their opponents!

Of the 48 individual games, the four mentioned above played in 44.   Mike Cook played in all 12 matches; Ian Wallis and Ted Matthewson played in 11; and Silas Peck played in 10 matches.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A game from Richard Doyle

Many thanks to Adastral Park's Richard Doyle for sending in this annotated game from a recent Division 2 match: