Wednesday, 30 September 2015

FIDE World Cup Final

The FIDE World Chess Cup started on 11 September in Baku, Azerbaijan, with 64 competitors.   After six rounds of knockout chess, this number has been whittled down to just two Russians, Peter Svidler and Sergei Karjakin, who will compete tomorrow in the first game (of four) in the Final of the tournament.

England's sole competitor, Michael Adams, managed to reach the last 16, but he was eliminated by pre-event favourite Hikaru Namamura (who in turn lost in the quarter-finals).

A complex system of tie-breaks will follow if the scores are level after the first four games (Thursday to Sunday).   If tie-breaks are needed, these will take place next Monday, 5 October, after which the Closing Ceremony will be held.

The games in the Final can be watched online from 11am tomorrow (Thursday).   There are a number of sites, including the official one.   The ChessBomb site is another useful resource, where you can see the Stockfish evaluation of the main variations.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

EACU County Championships

Last season Suffolk emerged as EACU Champions in all four sections: Open, Under 160, Under 120 and Under 100.

It is hoped to enter the same sections this season in an attempt to retain the respective trophies.   However, with Under 100 captain Daniel Yarnton now graded 104, we are looking for a new Under 100 captain.   A list of players graded under 100 can be viewed here.   It is likely that there will only be one fixture, against Cambridgeshire, where the team will play two matches on a Sunday in either December, January or February (date to be decided).   Please contact me if you would like to take on this role.

The dates for the Open (First Team) and the Under 160s have already been fixed, as follows:

First Team   -   18 October; 29 November; 7 February; 13 March

Under 160s   -   6 December; 31 January; 21 February

Ian Wallis (First Team captain) will be in contact with his squad soon, as the first match is only a couple of weeks away.   Suffolk will be facing Norfolk and Bedfordshire.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Justin's travels

Justin Tan, now aged 18, has completed his studies at Woodbridge School and is taking a 'gap' year to try and achieve some GM norms.   Recently, he played in the US Masters and the Illinois Open.   They were some of his best performances to date. In the Masters he scored 6/9 with a 2573 performance and at Illinois he finished with 5/6 for 2486 (winning $649).

At the end of July he played in the Politiken Cup in Denmark which was "very average" and in August the Vienna Open which was "horrendous" (his words).   But in the Blitz tournament in Vienna he finished second to Matthew Sadler, ahead of Simon Agdestein and seven other GMs, scoring 9/11.   Before that he played in Spain, where he beat a 2571 GM.

Next up (3 - 11 October), Justin is playing in the Isle of Man (alongside Alan Merry, Dagne Ciuksyte and Ed Player), and then from 24 October the prestigious World Youth Championships in Halkidiki, Greece, where he expects to be seeded about sixth or seventh.   Manningtree's Adam Taylor is also playing in the same Under 18 Open section.

To date, Justin has achieved no GM norms but has been very close on three or four occasions.   He is targetting a rating of 2500 by the end of his gap year (his 'live' rating is 2445).

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Games please!

With most teams having played one match, there have been some 36 games played in the Suffolk League so far this season.   If you have enjoyed a good game, or had an interesting position during a game, please send them in to me, ideally with some annotations.

The only teams not to have played yet are Ipswich C (Div 1), Bury St Edmunds A (Div 2) and Bury St Edmunds D (Div 3).   This is because there is an odd number of teams in each division, so one team has a 'bye' week.   Ipswich C and Bury D will play their first match this coming week, but Bury A will need to wait until 8 October before they play for the first time.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Flashback to 1996

As of today, there are exactly four weeks to go before the start of the 33rd Bury St Edmunds Congress.   19 years ago, some people looked a lot younger.   Do you recognise anyone in the photo (you can click on the photo to enlarge it)?

So far, 63 people have entered this year's Congress.   Of these, only 17 are from Suffolk-based clubs.   Clearly, Suffolk's top players prefer to wait to the last minute before entering, because both the Open and Major sections have just one Suffolk entrant.

There is a ceiling of 172 entrants in the Apex (the number of entrants in 2010).   Last year there were 162 entrants, the second-highest in recent years.

Members of the Bury St Edmunds club have been asked to assist with setting up, from 07.30 on Saturday morning (24 October).

To view the list of current entrants, click here.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Helping in schools

We all know that chess clubs need juniors if they are to flourish in the longer term.   A club consisting entirely of elderly gentlemen will invariably fold.   So it's good to know that several Suffolk players are visiting schools in their locality, helping to run their chess clubs.

The following list may not exhaustive, or even wholly accurate.   Please let me know if there are any errors, or omissions.

David Green (Stowmarket) - Chilton Primary (Stowmarket) and Creeting St Mary Primary
Mike Usher (Saxmundham) - Ranelagh Road Primary and The Oaks Community Primary (both Ipswich)
Vicky Allen (Stowmarket) and Alex Sheerin (Ipswich) - Meadows Montessori (Ipswich)
Steve Gregory (Ipswich) - Whitton Primary (Ipswich)
Andrew Shephard (Ipswich) - Ipswich Prep.
Kevin Marrable - Handford Hall Primary (Ipswich)
and down in deepest Essex, John Lambert and Melvin Steele (Clacton) - Engaines Primary

There are several other chess clubs operating in Suffolk schools, most of which would be delighted to receive help from an adult player.   So if you have the time and energy (schools usually hold their clubs at lunchtime or after school), please contact me.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

SCCA Competition Rules

Following a number of amendments to the Rules which were agreed at the Suffolk AGM back in June, this website has now been updated to reflect these changes.

The 'Rules' tab at the top of the page will take you to this page.

The following rules have either been changed, or are new:

3.2 is new (with subsequent rules re-numbered)
5.2 has been amended
Appendix 1   -   1.5 has been amended.   1.8 is new.

Any errors (or typos) should be notified to me and David Green.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Bury League gets under way

The other league that features Suffolk-based clubs, the Bury Area Chess League, got under way yesterday, one week after the start of the Suffolk League.

Two matches in Division 3 took place, one of which was between teams from the two participating Suffolk clubs - Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds.   This match was unusual in that the teams included only one adult male between them!

Most matches played in Suffolk are between teams of four men, but in this match there were five juniors and two women.   Stowmarket is the only local club to count three females amongst its members, whilst Bury St Edmunds has a dozen or more juniors to call on.

The Board 1 match was between two old Bury Knights adversaries, Alex Sheerin and Alan John who, incidentally, played out a draw last week at Ipswich when they played each other in a Suffolk League match.   The game was again drawn, with Alex turning out for his 'second' club Stowmarket.

The two women in Stowmarket's team, Vicky Allen and Chris Hargan, on Boards 2 and 3, lost respectively to youngsters Adam John (aged 9) and Tom Roy (11).   It was left to Stowmarket's Ray Firmin to salvage some pride for the men by beating Bury's Board 4, 12-year old Alwin Jose.

So the result of the match (the winning team gaining a bonus point in this league) was 3½ - 1½ to Bury St Edmunds.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

SCCA Committee vacancies

There are four vacancies currently on the SCCA Committee.  In order to ensure the smooth running of the League and other events, it is essential that these posts are filled.   Please give them your full consideration, as well as asking colleagues if they are prepared to volunteer.

With the previous Admin Secretary being 'promoted' to President, we need a replacement.   This is a relatively straightforward role, involving preparation of agendas for Committee and Annual meetings, as well as taking minutes at both.   The Secretary works closely with the President and such matters as producing an agenda are usually undertaken together.

The Correspondence Captain maintains communication with an 8-board team, which plays by email against other counties.   This season Suffolk has been promoted to Division 1.   Ideally, this role should be taken on by one of the existing team.   Provided all team members are willing to represent their county again, there should be little for the incumbent to do.

The Junior Organiser has no defined role; no one has occupied this position for several years.   It needs someone with an interest in junior chess, either as a parent or as a player who is involved with schools' chess in some way.   The level of input depends entirely on the time and energy available.   This can be an extremely rewarding role, especially when teams are selected to represent the county.

Finally, every President needs a Vice-President.   Perhaps not immediately, but certainly well before the current three-year term expires in June 2018.   The VP is expected to take over from the President.

Please contact me if you, or anyone else you know, is interested in any of these positions.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Sudbury's new match venue

For some time, Sudbury Chess Club has met at the Quay Theatre for club nights, but until now has used the local church hall for matches.   The problem with the theatre was that it was very noisy, situated adjacent to the bar, and therefore unsuitable for match play.

By moving to Mondays for matches, an upstairs room at the theatre has become available.   The Geoff Kisby Room (named after the person who opened the Quay Theatre in 1981) is much quieter and is ideal for a four-board match.

The venue was in use this evening, when Sudbury entertained Stowmarket in Division 2.   The result was a 2 - 2 draw.

In the photo are (left to right) Stephen Lewis, Richard Lamont, Harold Thomas, Rob Sanders, Alex Sheerin, John Kent, Jakob Tulic.   Hiding in the background is Alex's Mum Jane.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Bury's Juniors lead the way

The Bury St Edmunds Chess Club can count more than a dozen juniors amongst its current membership.   They rank from 15-year old William Sait (129) and 17-year old former Suffolk Ladies' Champion Emilia Jewell (121), to Ralph Martin and Alwin Jose, both graded 50.

Other junior members include Alan John (111), Patrick Gembis (102), William Moody (96), Adam John (93), Mario Saenz (81), Daniel Garcia-Leon (76), Aaron Saenz (72), Tom Roy (67), as well as ungraded Jaden Jermy (e100).

This wealth of young players has enabled the club, for the first time in its history, to field teams consisting entirely of juniors in both the Suffolk League and the Bury Area League.

In the Suffolk League, the Bury St Edmunds 'Juniors' compete in the Under 125 Cup, where all but William Sait are eligible to play.   In the BACL Division 3, the Bury St Edmunds 'G' team is selected from a squad of eight juniors.   Dedicated parents are willing to transport some of the children to away matches.

This season will be something of an experiment.   Ensuring that youngsters keep playing chess as they reach their teenage years is a known problem, but it is reckoned that playing adult-level chess will maintain their interest in the game.

Several members are still very young: Adam John is only 9 and Jaden Jermy is 10.   Both these players have enormous potential, and could easily follow the likes of Alan Merry to international titles as well as the opportunity of representing their country.

Bury's policy of developing young players is clearly working and other clubs in Suffolk may wish to consider a similar route in order to ensure their clubs' future.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

4NCL season is underway

The 4NCL season got underway last weekend with the 4th FIDE Congress in Bolton, Lancashire.   Adam Taylor (Manningtree) played in the Open section, whilst John Peters (Bury St Edmunds) entered in the Major (u2000) section.

Adam was on 3 points after four rounds, but for some reason didn't play in the final round.   He gained 16 rating points from the tournament, taking his live rating to 2294.   He needs a further six points to claim the FIDE Master title.   John scored an unbeaten 3½ points from his five rounds to finish equal 2nd, winning £60.   The 26 points gained takes his rating to 1978.

The main 4NCL season starts in November, with the first weekend being held on 14th and 15th.   Divisions 1 and 2 will be held at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham Airport, whilst Divisions 3 and 4 (South) take place at the Park Inn, Telford.

Five Suffolk-based teams are planning to enter: Anglian Avengers 1 are in Division 2; Anglian Avengers 2 in Division 3; Anglian Avengers 3 and the two Iceni teams will be in the new Division 4.   The former Division 3 South had become too unwieldy, with over 45 teams.   The new Division 4 will have about 25 teams.

Respective captains are Ian Wallis (Anglian Avengers) and John Feavyour (Iceni).   Any local player wishing to be included in the squads for either team should contact the captains (email me for details).

Friday, 18 September 2015

Cambridgeshire Girls Challenge

It is rare that a tournament is organised in East Anglia that is aimed specifically at girls.   But that is what is happening on Sunday 8 November, when the Cambridgeshire Girls Challenge will be held at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge city centre.

One of the organisers is former Suffolk junior Anna York-Anderson, who is currently studying at university in Cambridge.

The entry form states:
"...local tournaments often feature a predominance of male contestants.   We want to encourage the girls to turn out and to keep playing, so this chess challenge is exclusively for girls (sorry boys!)"

There will be five rounds with 25 minutes each per game.   Entrants will be divided into sections by age, with cut-offs determined by the number of entries in each age-group.   It only costs £6.00 to enter.

Entry forms are available by emailing me.   They will be also sent by email to all girls known to be currently playing chess in Suffolk.

If you have any queries, you can contact Anna directly.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Five weeks to the Bury Congress

There are just over five weeks to go before the start of the Bury St Edmunds Congress (on 24 October).   As of today, entries total 50.   This is almost exactly the same as this time last year, when we had 47 entries.

If you are planning to play, please go to the Congress website and enter online.

Top seed in the Open will be GM Matthew Sadler (279 ECF).

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

First matches in the Suffolk League

There were five matches played last evening in the Suffolk League, two in Division 1 and three in Division 3.

In Division 1 Ipswich A drew against newly promoted Saxmundham A, whilst Bury St Edmunds B also held Ipswich B to a draw.

In Division 3 there were wins for Stowmarket Rooks (v Felixstowe B), Ipswich F (v Bury St Edmunds E) and Ipswich E (v Saxmundham B).

Individual winners across these five matches were: John Feavyour (Saxmundham A), Shaun Munson (Ipswich A), Mark Le-Vine (Bury St Edmunds B), Keith Woodcock (Ipswich B), John Barratt (Stowmarket Rooks), Andy Molloy, Adam Wilson and Mike Spalding (all Ipswich F), Martin Tomes and Phil Mortonson (Ipswich E).   All other players (20 in number) drew their games.

The Bury St Edmunds E team is comprised entirely of juniors.   Their team will be selected from a squad of seven juniors, graded between 50 and 111.

The season starts tonight!

This is Tuesday's article:

The first matches in the Suffolk League will take place this evening.   Five matches are scheduled, four of which involve teams from the Ipswich club.

The fixtures are:

Ipswich A v Saxmundham A (Div 1)
Ipswich B v Bury St Edmunds B (Div 1)
Felixstowe B v Stowmarket Rooks (Div 3)
Ipswich F v Bury St Edmunds E (Div 3)
Saxmundham B v Ipswich E (Div 3)

Team captains can check the nominated boards for their opponents on the grading website here.   There is, of course, no guarantee that the nominated players will be in the team!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Three off to the Isle of Man

Three Suffolk players will be heading to Douglas in early October for the annual Isle of Man International Tournament, sponsored by PokerStars and the Scheinberg family, with assistance from the Isle of Man Department of Economic Development.   The three are IM Dagne Ciuksyte (2354), Alan Merry (2369) and Ed Player (2200).   Also in the Masters section are former Suffolk players IM Richard Pert (2450) and David Whitehead (2013).   The nine-round event runs from 3 to 11 October.

Last year, Alan Merry had an amazing tournament, gaining a Grandmaster norm with his score of 6/9 and a rating performance of 2620.   He beat three GMs and scored an unbeaten 3/4 against IMs.   He now stands just 31 rating points shy of 2400 and the IM title.   Still only 18 years old, another strong performance should see Alan past the post.

As of today's date, 106 players have entered, including 37 GMs (four rated over 2700) and 26 IMs.

For more information on the tournament, see their website here.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Forthcoming local tournaments

There are two events in October within easy reach of most Suffolk players.

On Sunday 11 October, the popular Cambridgeshire Rapidplay takes place at Whittlesford Memorial Hall, near Duxford.   This is only half an hour from Bury St Edmunds or an hour from Ipswich.   There are four sections: Open, Major, Challengers and Junior (u12).   Of course, stronger (or older) juniors can play in a higher section if they wish.   The five-round event is Rapidplay graded, so Silver (or above) ECF membership is required, or else a surcharge applies.   The entry fee for ECF members is £14, and for juniors £10.

For enquiries or an entry form, contact the organiser Paul Kemp or ring him on 01223 872081.

Over the weekend of 24/25 October, the 33rd Bury St Edmunds Congress is held at The Apex (see photo above).   48 entries have already been received for this prestigious tournament, with top seed GM Matthew Sadler entering again (he won last year).   There are sections for Under 120s, Under 145s, Under 170s, as well as an Open section.   Go to the Congress website for further information.   You can enter (and pay) online if you wish.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Training Day for Bury Knights

Back in August, in the middle of the summer holidays, 20 members of the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club spent a Friday at Moreton Hall Community Centre at their annual Training Day.   The day was designed to maintain the interest of the children in chess, after the long break since Easter (the club doesn't meet at all in the Summer Term).

Five adult coaches (Ed Player, Steve Ruthen, Somton Ukken, Vicky Allen and myself) spent a couple of hours in the morning, coaching the children in small groups.   The photo above shows Vicky's group, of three girls.

After lunch, the children played a five-round 15-minute tournament, won by Anita Somton who won all five games.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Bury League Jamboree

Last evening saw the start of the season for the Bury Area Chess League.   The annual 'Jamboree' took place at Moreton Hall Community Centre, the home of the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club.

All clubs in the League send teams to play in this event, where entrants play three Rapidplay games against members of other clubs.   Unfortunately, the five clubs other than Bury were only able to form six teams between them.   So the six Bury St Edmunds teams played against the remaining six teams.

One problem with this arrangement is that whilst Bury distribute their stronger players amongst all six teams, Cambridge and Linton (for example), are able to bring one strong team.   The winners were Linton Chess Club, whose Board 3, Paul Kemp (graded 192), was at least 89 points higher than his three Bury opponents!

Scores (out of 12) were:

1     Linton     11½
2=   Cambridge     10
       Ely     10
4    Stowmarket     8
5    'Odds & Sods'     6½
6=   Bury St Edmunds B     4½
      Bury St Edmunds D     4½
8    Bury St Edmunds A       4
9=   Bury St Edmunds C     3½
      'NewStow'     3½
11=  Bury St Edmunds E     3
       Bury St Edmunds F     3

10 players won all three games: Ashley Stewart, Paul Kemp, Patrick Ribbands (Linton); David Redman, David Cattermole, Ole Bay-Petersen (Cambridge); Marcus Misson, Steve Ashworth (Ely); Richard Lamont, Mark Bettley (Stowmarket).   Bury's highest scorer was new member (formerly of Ipswich) Terry Beard, on 2½ points.

Photo shows Linton's winning team.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Clacton on show

Clacton Chess Club competes in both the Suffolk League and the North Essex League, a total of three teams.   Their Secretary John Lambert is unclear as to why Clacton play in Suffolk, especially as some long distances are involved when travelling to matches.   When the opponents are Bury St Edmunds or Saxmundhgam, Ipswich is used as a halfway venue.   Probably the longest journey is to Stowmarket, some 40 miles each way.

Last Tuesday I continued my visits to the clubs in the SCCA by visiting Clacton Chess Club at the Holland Public Hall, where a warm and friendly welcome was received.   In the photo above, those playing include Martin Alvin, Mike Coughtrey (nearest), John Lambert, Melvin Steele (next board), Andrew Salmon.   In the left background is Dennis Brown who is playing junior Alex O'Brien.   Others not easily discerned included Richard O'Brien and Nigel Lake.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Suffolk's Correspondence team gain promotion

Suffolk's eight-board Correspondence team, playing in the Sinclair (Division 2) section of the County Correspondence Championships, have won promotion to Division 1.   Scoring 9½ points out of a possible 16, they finished in third place out of the ten teams entered.   Both the teams finishing first and second (Essex C and Yorkshire C) are unable to be promoted, as the rules do not permit more than two teams per county in Division 1.

Each team member played two games by email against the same opponent, with Black and White.   Individual scores show that most of Suffolk's points were gained on the top four boards:

Board 1   -   Ian Wallis   2
Board 2   -   Bob Jones   2
Board 3   -   Silas Peck   1½
Board 4   -   Phil Revell   2
Board 5   -   Kevin Greenacre   1   (two draws)
Board 6   -   Jim Buis   0
Board 7   -   Bob Stephens   1   (two draws)
Board 8   -   Jakob Tulic   0

Captain Jim Buis reports: "I mentioned at the County AGM that after well over 40 continuous years of playing for the county correspondence/email team I am going to take a break from this form of chess and am stepping down as captain.   Therefore Suffolk is looking for someone from within the current team to take over the role of captain.   It is not an onerous task and I will be more than happy to help during the transition.   It's nice to finish on a high, so thanks and well done everyone."

If anyone is prepared to take on this 'non-onerous' task, please contact me (Bob Jones).

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A bridge too far

From Ian Wallis, Suffolk First Team captain:

Every run has to come to an end and so it was for Suffolk at the National Counties Final day on 4 July this year.   As Bob has already mentioned in his first blog this month, Suffolk’s first team narrowly lost to Essex in the Minor Counties Final, thus losing its proud boast to have a 100% record for all teams that have reached the national final (Minor Counties and U125 [as was then] in 1995 and Minor Counties again in 1998 and 2014).

The final was always going to be a challenge when we learnt that Essex had overcome Somerset in the other semi-final and would be out for revenge from their comprehensive defeat we had inflicted on them the previous season.

We were also handicapped with the unavailability of some of our top boards.   I therefore had to restructure the team to be able to field as competitive one as possible.   Fortunately, Suffolk is blessed with strength in depth nowadays and I was still able to muster a team with an average grade of exactly 180.   On paper the strongest possible, however I was concerned that in doing so I had to push players up the board order and I felt that we could be potentially exposed on the top boards.

There was not much else that could be done, so we set off to Coventry with high hopes.

The pre-match events could not have gone much worse.   The Essex match captain hadn’t arrived when captains were called to confirm team lists and toss the coin for colours, so a stand-in was found and whether it was beginner's luck he won the toss and chose White on odd boards.   This was unfortunate as I would have preferred White on odds due to the board order of the team.   No matter it was a 50/50 call; we would just have to overcome this slight set-back.   The Essex team was a formidable one and matched our average grade of 180!   No margin for error here then.

Next thing, teams were being called to the board for a 13:30 start?!   Hang on, wasn’t the start supposed to be 14:00?   This is what I had thought and conveyed to the team.   Four players hadn’t arrived by the time the match started and a stressful (for your team captain) 20 minutes elapsed until we were at full strength.   Subsequent questions produced a confused picture in that some of the controllers were of the opinion that the match started at 14:00; however the official rules on the website had been changed to 13:30 and this is what the organisers adhered to.

As was usual in the final stages, my game was one of the first to finish.   Whereas in the previous rounds I was leading from the front to victory, this time the reverse was true; my loss seemingly leading to the defeat of the team. After the first four games we were trailing 3 - 1.   The match evened itself out after this with results trickling in over the course of the afternoon.   With two games remaining we had reduced the difference to one point, the score being 7½ – 6½ to Essex.   However we needed to win both games as board count was against us.   This looked increasingly unlikely and so it proved to be with the penultimate game going to Essex.   They had secured 8½ points and sealed victory.   The remaining game was academic as far as the result of the match was concerned which was just as well as a superior position petered out to a draw and the final result of 9 - 7.

The full results can be seen here (follow links to Minor Counties and click on 'Essex' in the final column)

Monday, 7 September 2015

Suffolk players in Riga

Three Suffolk players travelled to Riga in Latvia in August, to take part in the Riga Technical University Open, one of the biggest chess festivals in Northern Europe.   There was a strong field of more than 190 entrants in the 'A' section, which included 27 GMs and 28 IMs.   The nine-round tournament was won by Alexei Shirov (Latvia) and Robert Hovhannisyan (Armenia), both unbeaten on 7½ points.

FM Alan Merry finished in 41st place on 5½ points.   He gained 29 rating points (to 2369), taking his rating tantalisingly close to the 2400 he needs for his IM title.   He played three GMs, scoring 1½ against them.   His best win was against 2540-rated Russian GM Kirill Alexseenko.

Adam Taylor scored 5 points to finish in 70th position, gaining 89 rating points to improve his rating to 2278.   He drew against the only GM he played.

After a poor start (0/2), Ed Player recovered to score 4½ points.   He achieved creditable draws against players rated 2408, 2397 and 2300.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Alex plays for England

13-year old Alex Sheerin, from Ipswich, was selected to play for England in the annual Glorney Gilbert International, which took place in Co. Meath, Ireland in July.   Teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Ireland competed in four sections:

The Glorney Cup is for teams of five Under 18s; the Jessica Gilbert Cup is for teams of three Under 18 girls; the John Robinson Cup is for teams of six Under 14s; and the Bernadette Stokes Cup is for teams of six Under 12s.

Alex played on Board 6 in England's John Robinson Cup team.   He scored 4/6, losing only one game and received the board prize for gaining the most points for England in his section.   England finished second to Ireland.   See the full results here.

The photo shows Alex when he won the Under 13 section of the UK Chess Challenge Megafinal in May.   He is being presented with his trophy by Neil Tetley, Headmaster of Woodbridge School.

Oh, by the way, Alex is now officially taller than his Mum, Jane!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

UK Schools Chess Challenge

The UK Schools Chess Challenge, sponsored by Delancey, the specialist real estate investment and advisory company, celebrated its 20th year in 2015.   From its start in 1996, when 23,000 children from 700 schools and clubs entered, Mike Basman's dream of organising the largest chess tournament in the world has come to fruition.   By 2006 numbers had increased to 74,000.   Since then, the total entering has declined a little, but still attracts more than 50,000 children from around the UK.

A dozen Suffolk schools entered, as well as the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club.   Local rounds are followed by a regional round (the 'Megafinal'), held at Woodbridge School for Suffolk entrants.   Top scorers are then invited to the 'Gigafinal', which for Suffolk players is held in Manchester (a second Gigafinal is held in Reading for southern counties).

Just 67 qualifiers from the two Gigafinals then qualified for the 'Terafinal'.   Whilst all the three previous rounds are based on age and sex, for example Under 8 Boys, Under 12 Girls, the Terafinal mixes all the Gigafinal winners in one section.   The only school or club to have two qualifiers in the Terafinal was the Bury Knights!   At the Northern Gigafinal, Adam John won all six games in the u9B and Anita Somton scored 5½ points in the u11G.   They are pictured below:

At the Terafinal, both Adam and Anita won their first games.   9-year old Adam, graded 93 ECF, faced 157-graded Peter Isaksen from Berkshire, who is three years older.   In trouble early on, Adam mixed things up and forced Peter into a number of long thinks.   In time trouble, Adam's opponent made a number of poor moves.  

In the following position, Adam (White) played 1. Nd2.   The game continued ... Kf6   2. Nb3   g5? (the king needs to defend c6)   3. Nd4   g4   4. Nxc6   gxf3+?   5. Kxf3   Kg5?   6. Nd4   Kf6   7. Ne2   Kg5?   8. Ng1   Kf6   9. Nh3   Ke5   10. Nxf4 winning easily.

Unfortunately, Adam's first round win meant that he lost his next three games against higher graded opponents (159, 136, 117), but he finished with a draw and a win to score 2½ points.   Anita continued L,W,L,W,L, losing to three high-graded opponents (181, 166, 176) to finish on 3/6.

These were excellent results for both Adam and Anita, with a 103 performance for Adam and 141 for Anita.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Bury Knights are back

The Bury Knights Junior Chess Club, the only non-school chess club in the county, held their first meeting of the Autumn Term this evening.   A total of 36 children turned up to play, exceeding expectations.

The Club has experienced considerable success in recent years, with two of its members qualifying for the UK Chess Challenge Terafinal, held recently in Loughborough (more on this soon).   Some members travel considerable distances to attend, including one from Ipswich (whose father works in Felixstowe), two from Stowmarket and one from Thetford.

Next week, the top group of eight members will benefit from coaching by Ed Player.   It is hoped that other members of the adult club will also help out on occasions.

Former member 16-year old Alba Saenz de Villaverde (86 ECF), whose two younger brothers Mario and Aaron still attend the club, is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Gold award, and her voluntary work will include coaching the 'novices' at the club - see photo below.

Sadly, 11-year old Anita Somton (142 ECF) has moved away to live in Derbyshire, so the club's strongest player is now 12-year old Alan John (111 ECF).

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Adastral merge with Felixstowe

With the recent retirement from BT of Ed Kirkham, the last remaining link with Adastral Park was severed.   Sadly, therefore, their chess club has had to fold.

But rather than lose all their members from Suffolk Chess, the good news is that most of their members have transferred to the Felixstowe club, effectively merging the two clubs.   This has enabled Felixstowe to support two teams this coming season, one in Division 2 and one in Division 3.   Each team will have a mix of Felixstowe and ex-Adastral players.

At a recent visit to the Royal British Legion, home of the Felixstowe club, several ex-Adastral members were present, including Ed Kirkham, Mark Weidman and Richard Doyle.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Alan Merry is Suffolk Champion

Over the weekend of 11/12 July, five players competed for the title of Suffolk Champion.   With one player dropping out, the all-plays-all format meant that each entrant received a bye.   The Champion, who won all four games, was 18-year old Alan Merry, whose grading performance for the event was an amazing 250.

Other scores (out of 4) were:
Steve Gregory, Adam Taylor, Andrew Lewis - 2 points
Silas Peck - 0 points
Steve Gregory beat Andrew Lewis in their individual game and finished with a grading performance of 207.

In the first round, Alan (Black) faced second seed FM Andrew Lewis (White).   Here is the game (kindly supplied by Andrew), which lasted only 22 moves:

Andrew commented, "Alan was simply too good for the rest of us and this was accurately reflected in his crushing 100% score line.   Not a great game by yours truly, but the quality of Alan’s preparation and play is certainly evident.   Well done to Alan.   And thanks to Tim (Lunn) for organizing the event."

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

New season about to get underway

It's the 1st September, which to me signals the start of the chess season!   The kids are back to school tomorrow, which means that the junior club in Bury starts up again on Friday.   Competitions Secretary David Green has been extremely busy over the past few weeks, sorting out the fixtures for the leagues and cups.   They can now be seen in full on Dave Wild's Results Website.

These fixtures were published a couple of weeks ago, so if any club wishes to make any changes, they have until 15 September to request them.

Traditionally, most players leave chess alone over the summer, but several youngsters have been heavily involved in national competitions.   Also, the County team played (and lost) in the Final of the Minor Counties Championship.   Alan Merry had a stunning victory in the Suffolk Closed Championship and some adults have been playing in Europe.

More on each of these topics will be covered in further articles on this website.   There should be a new article every day, but if you wish to be reminded, simply enter your email address in the 'Follow by Email' box on the right of your screen, and you will receive an email to inform you every time a new article has been published.

In recent weeks I have been endeavouring to fulfil my presidential duties my visiting all the clubs that compete in the Suffolk League.   Visits to Ipswich, Felixstowe and Saxmundham have taken place already and will be followed this evening by Stowmarket.   Then over the next two weeks, it'll be the turns of Clacton and Sudbury.   Manningtree is still to be arranged.   Sadly, we have lost the Adastral Park club, but most of their members have moved to Felixstowe, enabling them to field two teams this season.

So, keep watching this website and please feel free to send in articles, news snippets and even games for publication.