Saturday, 30 April 2016

Coaching at the Bury Knights

Although the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club doesn't normally meet during the Summer Term, a number of special coaching sessions have been arranged so as to keep the members involved before the club starts up again in September.

Yesterday, the first coaching evening was held with 21 members attending.   The top group benefited from the experience and knowledge of 19-year old IM Justin Tan (pictured right), who was staying with Ed Player prior to travelling to the 4NCL.   Other coaches included Laurie Pott and Adam Leigh.

The Bury Knights' top four members are Alan John (117), Adam John (116), Jaden Jermy (94) and Tom Roy (87).   These players are under-graded and should all see an improvement when the new grades are published in July.

The next coaching evening will be on 10 June.


Friday, 29 April 2016

Bury win the Suffolk Final

Last evening. Bury St Edmunds Chess Club beat Ipswich Chess Club by four points to two in the Suffolk Final of the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup.   The team is pictured below:

(Left to right: Chris Davison (1), John Peters (1), Mike Harris (1), Ed Player (1), Mark Le-Vine (0), Alan Watkins (0))

After 2½ hours play the match was level at 2 - 2, with just the two top boards remaining.   On Board 2 Ed Player was a couple of pawns down to Ian Wallis and was hanging on for dear life.   Earlier he had performed one of his many time-trouble miracles, making moves 25 to 30 inside the last 16 seconds of the first time control.   Move 30 was completed with one second remaining.   Meanwhile, on top board, Mike Harris sacrificed his knight on f7 to open up Shaun Munson's black king.   Shaun's major pieces were over on the queenside and struggled to get back to defend.   After an almost forced sequence of moves, Mike eventually prevailed.   This gave Bury the match win, since the tie-break rules would mean that the bottom board, won by Silas Peck of Ipswich, would be discounted in the event of a 3 - 3 draw.

Almost at the same moment, Ian Wallis blundered in a completely winning position, allowing Ed a snap mate.

Here is Bury's Board 4 John Peters' 23-move win, with Black, against Ipswich Club Champion Mike Cook:

This was the position after White's 21st move (Qg2-f2).   See if you can work out what John played.


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It will not have escaped your notice that this website has enjoyed a week's holiday whilst the author has been a) busy re-tiling his bathroom, and b) cataloguing thousands of books from Peter Keffler's vast stock.   Over 400 new titles have been added on Amazon, which can be viewed (and purchased) here.

This website will now resume on its usual daily basis, as there will be plenty of topics to cover, including the 4NCL, county match against Somerset, the Roger Goldsmith Cup in the Bury Area League and various other junior matters.


Friday, 22 April 2016

Players of the Season

All matches have now been completed in the three divisions of the Suffolk League.

The following are 'Players of the Season' and will each be awarded a trophy at the forthcoming AGM:

Division 1   -   Andrew Lewis (Manningtree A)   -   9½/10
Division 2   -   Phil Hopkins (Felixstowe A)   -   9½/12
Division 3   -   Phil Mortonson (Ipswich E)   -   9/9 (including one default) and Michael Spalding (Ipswich F)   -   9/10.

The trophies are awarded for the highest score, not the best percentage.   If the latter method applied, Rob Sanders would have won Division 2 with a 100% score, having won all eight games played.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Division 3 promotion decided

This evening Bury St Edmunds 'D' beat their 'E' team 3 - 1.   This result was the minimum needed to win Division 3, just half a point ahead of Ipswich F, who missed their opportunity for promotion on Tuesday when they only gained 2½ points from their final match.

The result between the two Bury teams was much closer than it seems.   On Board 2, Bury E's 11-year old Tom Roy (87) beat seasoned campaigner Dick Myhill (116), but the other three juniors, Jaden Jermy, Ralph Martin and Alwin Jose, eventually succumbed to Adam Leigh, Zac Vane and Richard Dickinson respectively.

Only 1½ points separates the top three teams - see final table here.



Wednesday, 20 April 2016

SCCA Committee

The SCCA Committee met this evening.   The Committee welcomed two new members - Leon Burnett and Kevin Greenacre - who will be formally recognised as Vice-President and County Secretary respectively at the forthcoming AGM on 7 June.

As well as agreeing the format for the AGM (to be held at Ipswich Chess Club), the Committee agreed a final format for the revised SCCA Constitution, which will be put to the AGM for ratification.   A couple of changes were also proposed, concerning substitution rules.

Any proposals from clubs must be received by the Secretary, Kevin Greenacre, by Monday 2 May.   The AGM Agenda will then be distributed to clubs on 4 May and will include any proposals from clubs and the Committee.


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Ipswich D gain promotion to Division 1

This evening saw Ipswich D beat Stowmarket 2½-1½ to be certain of being Division 2 Champions.   Two members of their regular team (Andrew Shephard and Les Jones) were unavailable, but replacements Kevin Greenacre and Roger Holt both drew their games, as did Martin Tomes.   Captain Alonso Paez was the only winner on Board 4.

This means that next season there will be four Ipswich teams in Division 1, alongside two from Bury St Edmunds and one from Manningtree.   Relegated Saxmundham A will play in Division 2.

Division 3 is still not decided, as Ipswich F failed to gain the four points they needed this evening.   Bury St Edmunds D now need three points from their final match on Thursday to win the division.


Players of the Season

(This is Monday's article - it was written but didn't get published!)

The 'Player of the Season' is awarded in each division to the person who has scored the greatest number of game points for one team in that division.   It is not awarded on percentage score (as shown on Dave Wild's website).

The POTS for Divisions 1 and 2 have been decided.   In Division 1, Andrew Lewis (Manningtree A) scored an amazing 9½/10, drawing only with Bury's Mike Harris.   In Division 2, Phil Hopkins (Felixstowe A) scored 9½/12 to finish well ahead of the field.

Division 3's POTS will be decided this week, when the final matches are being played.   Ipswich E's Phil Mortonson has won all eight games played, plus won one more by default.   But he can be caught by Mike Spalding and Andrew Molloy (both Ipswich F), currently on 8/9 and 8/11 respectively but with one game still to play (tomorrow).


Saturday, 16 April 2016

Last Chance Saloon

16 players entered the 'Last Chance Saloon' today, a tournament organised to allow those who have not previously qualified, to have an opportunity to reach the Megafinal stage of the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge.

The event was held at the Meadows Montessori School in Ipswich.

Eight entrants were from Suffolk, whilst the remainder came from further afield - Cambridgeshire, Essex and Northamptonshire.

Due mainly to the wide range of ages represented, 14 of the 16 entrants managed to qualify for their county's Megafinal.   Of the Suffolk players, seven will be heading to Woodbridge for the Suffolk Megafinal on Sunday 8 May.

The age range threw up some odd pairings, including (right) the oldest, 17-year old Yousuf Rahman (Wisbech) against 8-year old Tia Martin (Bury St Edmunds).   The top Suffolk scorers were Jenni Rochford (Debenham) and Tia Martin, both on 14 points (out of a possible 21).

In the UK Schools Chess Challenge it is possible to qualify for the Megafinal even if you lose every game (as one girl did).   This can happen provided you are the only entrant in your age-group.


Friday, 15 April 2016

The treble for Linton

Linton Chess Club, who play in the Bury Area Chess League, have triumphed in all three divisions.   Their first team, Linton A, won Division 1 with nine wins and a draw from their ten matches.   Only five players were needed, with Kevin Clark leading scorer on 8½/10.   Other scores were: David Coleman 6½/9; Ashley Stewart 6½/10; Paul Kemp 4½/5; and Liam Varnam 4½/6.

In Division 2, Linton Blacks won all ten matches, although half of them were by the narrowest of margins.   Top scorer was Martin Pinner, on 6½/8.

Linton Whites won Division 3, although they drew three matches and lost one.   That was the only loss by any Linton team this season (in 30 matches!)


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Adam is English Youth Grand Prix Champion - again

Manningtree's Adam Taylor has won the English Youth Grand Prix for the second successive year.   Last year he was Under 17 Champion; this year he has won the Under 18 title.

The rules for the Youth Grand Prix are somewhat complicated, and are different for the various age-groups.   For 17 and 18-year olds, it is based on the three best tournament performance grades from any ECF graded standard-play tournament which starts between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016.

Click here to read the rules in full.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Division 2 latest

Last evening Ipswich D had a chance to seal promotion when they faced Bury St Edmunds A, who were only able to field three boards (their Board 1 was ill).   The result, a 2 - 2 draw, leaves things wide open, with no fewer than five teams still in with a chance of promotion!   If Ipswich had won 3½-½, their lead would have been unassailable.

Here's the current league table:

The permutations are these:

a)   On Monday 18 April, Sudbury are at home to Clacton.   A 3 - 1 win or better will put them on top of the division (at least for the time being).

b)   On Tuesday 19 April, Ipswich D are at home to Stowmarket A.   A 2 - 2 draw or better will ensure that Ipswich D are Division 2 Champions.   But Stowmarket could upset the apple cart if they win 3½-½ or better.

c)   On Thursday 21 April, Bury St Edmunds A are at home to Manningtree B and will know exactly what they need to do.   Depending on the other results, a 4 - 0 win could give them the title.

This must be the closest-run title race in any division for many years.   Five teams and just three points between them.   Sudbury have one key advantage - if points are level at the end of the season, they will have won more matches than any other team; they would win on tie-break.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

St Albans Congress

Amongst the 225 players entered for the St Albans Chess Congress last weekend were seven from Suffolk - all juniors and all from the Bury Knights.

Alan and Adam John played in the Intermediate (u141) section, whilst their 7-year old sister Amy played in the Minor (u121) section.   She beat a 98-graded player in the first round!

The other Bury Knights were the Martin family - Ralph, Toby and 8-year old Tia, as well as Tom Roy.

None of the results were spectacular (Ralph and Tom scored 50%), but it was excellent experience for these enthusiastic youngsters, ably supported by their parents who drove them from Bury to St Albans - twice.


Monday, 11 April 2016

Justin gains first GM norm

Former Woodbridge School pupil Justin Tan (right) finished as runner-up on 7/9 in the recent Colin Crouch Celebration Chess Congress, gaining his first GM norm in the process.

Justin played four of the six Grandmasters in the 44-player tournament, drawing with all four.

His 'live' rating is now 2469.   He will of course need to attain a 2500 rating, as well as gaining two further norms, before he can be awarded the coveted GM title.

The event was staged in memory of IM Colin Crouch, who died a year ago, aged only 58.


Saturday, 9 April 2016

Division 3 goes to the wire

Three teams are in with a chance of winning Division 3.   in fact, there's a possibility that there could be a three-way tie!   This is the current situation at the top of the table:

Ipswich E have played all their matches, and are just 1½ points clear of the next two teams.   Ipswich F play their remaining match, against bottom-of-the-table Felixstowe B, on 19 April.   A 4 - 0 win will secure the title for Ipswich F (on tie-break if needed - rule 7.1).   Bury St Edmunds D play their E team two days later, on 21 April.


Friday, 8 April 2016

Find the best move

Andrew Donnelly, who plays for Sudbury in Suffolk League Division 2 and for Bury St Edmunds in the Bury Area League, reached the position below on Wednesday in a match against Cambridge City's Ben Tarlow (155).   Andrew (Black, to play) was two pieces ahead but his king is misplaced, his bishop is pinned and the rook on h8 is useless, at least for the time being.   There is also potential for a White mate on d8 or e8.

Study the position for a few minutes and decide what move you, as Black, would make.   Andrew chose a move which won very quickly, but not because it was the best move; Ben followed up by a move that lost immediately.

Andrew played ... Bg4, attacking the White queen.   According to the computer, this is about the 10th best move!   Ben then played Qd8+??, and after ... Rxd8, Rxd8+   Ke7, White resigned as the rook on d8 is en prise after White takes the Black queen.

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The computer gives ... Qf6 as the best move.   Did you find it?

Andrew's own comments on this position are as follows:

"I've looked at this long and hard as I did whilst playing.   The position is complex with multiple threats from both sides.   From my perspective all I could see was queen takes on c6 threatening the rook on a8 and also threatening the knight on c3 which is already being attacked by the rook on d3.   It also attacks the e8 square potentially leading to a mate.   My rook on h8 is out of the game and looks like easy pickings if there is a check on the back rank.   Couple this with the threat of the rook coming to e3, threatening both the queen and e8 and the bishop on e2 and still attacking the knight on d3, I am in meltdown mode.   I looked at bringing the knight back to d5 to stop the rook coming to e3 but that surely loses to queen takes c6, rook d8, queen c5 check, king g8, and then pawn c4!   All I could think of at the time was bishop to g4 and exchange to a rook and knight with pawns v a rook and pawns.   A relatively simple win.

Now with a computer on board and no human pressure, queen to f6 tells us that I keep the two piece advantage and have a +7.1 advantage.   I never even looked at this but human pressure works both ways.   With my attempt to simplify down to a +2.8 advantage, I threaten the back rank mate if the queen takes the bishop.   An obvious bluff but my opponent being human sees the vulnerable rook on h8 and checks on d8, thinking that after Queen checks on d8, rook takes back, rook takes check, king moves to e7, and rook takes queen check on e5, he can pick up the h8 rook but of course I can take the rook on e8, game over.

Again I would emphasise that I looked at this long and hard and my opponent was not some patzer; he is a good player who despite being a couple of pieces down had a real chance of winning the game, (see my other preferred move of knight d5??).   I suppose my point is that had I made the best computer move, the game could have continued for many more moves; playing a more human move finished it two moves later!"


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Peter Keffler's books

Peter Keffler, who died aged 92 last December, left a huge quantity of chess books, mostly brand new.   Many chessplayers will remember his well-stocked bookstall that featured for many years at local congresses (including the British Championships when they were held at Great Yarmouth in 2007).   In due course I will be selling these on his family's behalf, using my Amazon website.   I will also be willing to sell books privately to local players (thus avoiding commission and possibly postage), so let me know if there is any book that you would like, at a considerably reduced price.   I can provide a stocklist on demand.

He also had a substantial private collection of at least 500 books - see photo above.   The family is prepared to consider offers for the whole collection.   Unfortunately these books have not been catalogued yet.   Please contact me if you are interested.


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Full house at Felixstowe

For only the second time this season both Felixstowe teams were in action yesterday evening at the British Legion.   The 'A' team faced Bury St Edmunds A in Division 2, drawing 2 - 2, whilst the 'B' team (Division 3) went down ½-3½ to Bury St Edmunds D.

Felixstowe A's two points takes them to the top of Division 2, albeit temporarily, probably.   They are one point clear of Ipswich D, but Felixstowe have finished all their matches for the season, whilst Ipswich still have two matches to play.


Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Dealing with opponents' weak moves

The ability to spot an opponent's weak move is one of the most important facets of the game.   The game may be level, but when your opponent slips up, it's essential that you capitalise on his mistake immediately.

Chris Davison, who plays for Bury St Edmunds B in the Suffolk League Division 1, travelled to Golders Green for one of their Rapidplay tournaments at the weekend.   Seeded ninth of the 22 entrants, Chris scored 4½/6 to finish in second place.   Two of his wins, both against higher-rated players, demonstrated his ability to make the most of his opponents' poor moves.

Playing White against 2136-rated Subramanian Aravind, this was the position after Black's 29... Bg7:

The game continued 30. Nb5   Rd7??, 31. Rxe6!   fxe6, 32. Bxe6+   Rf7, 33. Nd6   Kf8, 34. Nxf7 and White won quickly.

In the second game Chris was Black against the experienced Michael Healey (2213).   This was the position after Chris had played 28... Qd2 (note the board is reversed):

The game continued 29. Qf3   f5, 30. h4?   Rxb3!, 31. Rg1   Rxf3, 32. Nxf3   Qf4, 33. exf5  Qxc7   and White resigned.


EACU Team Championships

This is Monday's blog....

Eleven teams from clubs around East Anglia participated in the annual EACU Team Championships, held yesterday at the Turner Hall, Newmarket, and organised by Patrick Ribbands.

Teams were entered from Norwich Dons, Broadland, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Linton, Royston and New England (Peterborough) in three sections: Open, 600 and 500.

The Open section (five teams) was won by Broadland on 5 points, followed by Linton on 4½.

The 600 section (three teams) was won by Royston on 5½ points, with Cambridge runners-up on 4.

The 500 section (three teams) was won by Bury St Edmunds on 5½ points, with Broadland second on 3½.

It was disappointing that so few teams had entered, and especially so that only one Suffolk club was represented.   For the winning Bury St Edmunds team, Colin Roberts won both games, with Chas Szentmihaly and 11-year old Jaden Jermy each scoring 1½.


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Adam John is National Junior Squad Champion

Over this weekend, four Bury Knights members competed in the National Junior Squad Championships, held at Wokefield Park, near Reading.

The outstanding performance was by Adam John (ECF 116) left, who won the Under 10 section outright, scoring 4½/5.   On 3/3 after Saturday's games, he faced top seed Ezra Brass (139) in Round 4 today, and managed a draw.   In the final round he beat third seed Jeff Tomy (131).   Four players shared second place on 4/5.   Many congratulations Adam!

Other scores were Ralph Martin 2/5 and Alan John 1½/5 in the strong Under 14 section, whilst Tom Roy scored one point in the Under 12s.

Adam John is currently #26 on the ECF grading database for Under 10s, as can be viewed here.   After this performance, as well as some excellent league results, his grade should improve considerably in July.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Could you win from here?

The position below is a variation of last Wednesday's Suffolk League Division 1 game between Mark Le-Vine (White) and Adam Taylor (Black, to play).   In fact, Mark had just played Kg2-g1, but could have played Kg2-h3, creating this position:

Could you win, as Black, from here?   Without using an endgame tablebase, see if you can.

Analysing the game the following evening at the Bury St Edmunds club, Mark thought that ...Rf1 should win.   But the tablebase disagrees; it's a draw.

In fact there are two moves that will win, with best play, in 38 moves!.   If you're stuck, go to the Nalimov Tablebase and enter the position.


Friday, 1 April 2016

Two sparkling finishes

Bury St Edmunds' Chas Szentmihaly (pictured left), who is well into his 80s, is still capable of some fine chess.   Playing in a recent Suffolk League Under 125 Cup match against Saxmundham's Andrew Paige, the position below was reached with Chas (Black, to move).   A pawn ahead, with major pieces threatening, Chas is already winning.   He now produces an attractive finish:

The game continued:   42...Rg2+,   43. Qxg2   Bxg2,   44. Kxg2   Rg7+,   45. Kh2   Qg3+,   46. Kh1   Qxh3+,   47. Rh2   Qxf1#

A couple of weeks earlier, playing in the Bury Area League, Chas (White, to play) reached the following position against Cambridge City's John Cooper:

Already a piece down, but with a promising attack, Chas unleashed 29.   Bxg6+!!   The game continued 29... Kxg6 (not the best move, but all three replies are losing)   30.   Qe4+   Kf7,   31. Qh7+   Kf8,   32. Qe7#