Monday, 31 October 2016

The Mating Game

'The Mating Game' by Jovanka Houska & James Essinger - A new romance novel from the British Women's Chess Champion.

Meet Ivana (‘call me Vanny’) Jones, a sexy, beautiful, warm-hearted professional chess-player.   She has a problem: she’s only attracted to guys who can beat her… so what’s she to do when a chess amateur, the Russian billionaire Boris Bogolyubov, proposes marriage?

Not only that, but as Vanny tries to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a chess grandmaster, she develops a crush on Norwegian sex-god Sven while also falling for a stunning and adoring Frenchwoman.   Meanwhile, Vanny’s hoping a revolutionary new drug treatment will save her best friend Charlotte’s life.

Set in London, Monaco, Budapest, Helsinki, Odessa, New York… and Leicester, this sparkily written, passionate, emotional and entertaining novel will rock your boat, even if you’ve never shouted ‘Checkmate!’

About the Authors

Jovanka Houska is the current British Women’s Chess Champion, an international chess master and one of the world’s leading women chess-players.   She has won many international tournaments and is a prolific author of books about chess.   She also loves travelling to remote islands, yoga, gardening, and enjoys many of the things Vanny likes.

James Essinger is a club-strength chess-player and a writer.   Ada’s Algorithm, his biography of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, has been published in the UK and the US and in a Spanish edition, and is to be filmed.   He’s never lost at chess to Jovanka, but only because he’s too scared to play her.

The book can be pre-ordered here, at a cost of £14.99.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Suffolk players in action at Gatwick

Three Suffolk-based players travelled to Surrey this weekend for the e2e4 Gatwick International.   Unfortunately, none of them fared particularly well!

Alan Merry and Adam Taylor played in the top section, where entrants were competing for GM and IM norms.   Alan scored 4 and Adam 2 in this nine-round event.   The 20-strong field included six GMs and four IMs.

Meanwhile in one of the Challengers sections, David Spence finished third on 5½ points.   He was unbeaten over the eight games that he played, although all his opponents were lower-rated than him.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Mark's off to Germany

Bury St Edmunds' Mark Le-Vine (right) is travelling to Germany today to play in the Bad Wiessee tournament.   He is one of only two entrants from England.

There are 476 entrants in this single section, nine round tournament, which begins tomorrow, Saturday.   Mark doesn't have an Elo rating yet, so he will probably be placed near the bottom of the list when the pairings are announced.

You can follow his progress on the tournament website.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Suffolk League round-up

After a month or so since the season started, there's no clear leader in any of the three divisions of the Suffolk League.

In Division 1, all seven teams are within two points of each other - see here for the latest table.   Two teams, Manningtree A and Ipswich A, have 100% records, but their wins have all been by narrow margins.

In Division 2, Felixstowe A have won all their three matches, but have played one more match than their nearest rivals, Bury St Edmunds A.   The latest league table is here.

There are eight teams in Division 3, and they have all played three matches, so it's easier to see who's doing well.   As can be seen here, there is just half a point between the top two teams, Manningtree B and Saxmundham B.

Individually, the leading players in each division are:
Division 1   -   Kevin Greenacre (Ipswich B)   -   2/3
Division 2   -   Phil Hopkins and John McAllister (both Felixstowe A   -   3/3
Division 3   -   Mike Usher (Saxmundham B)   -   3/3

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

UK Chess Challenge

You may recall reading here about Mike Basman's bankrupty woes and the possible demise of the UK Chess Challenge.   Well, today, Sarah Longson (née Hegarty) - see photo right - has announced the following:

"Over the summer I was saddened to hear that the future of the UK Schools Chess Challenge, the world's largest chess competition, was in doubt.   The UK Schools Chess Challenge is very close to my heart.   Indeed, way back in 1996 it was the first major tournament that I won.   This opened some incredible doors, playing chess on Blue Peter and meeting the world champion, Garry Kasparov.   I subsequently went on to win the UK Schools chess challenge eight times.   My early involvement in schools chess was certainly the catalyst to going on and winning the British Ladies title 2013 and representing the English ladies team at the world chess Olympiads.   Today I am a lawyer.   However, since last year I have been 'full time' on chess teaching and playing in various competitions home and abroad.

I am delighted that my bid to take over the UK Schools Chess Challenge has been accepted.   I am supported by my husband Alex Longson, a strong chess player and also a chartered accountant.   We hope our professional backgrounds will add credence as the competition enters a new phase.   I hope the UK Schools Chess Challenge continues to inspire and opens up new horizons.   I also hope it continues to vaunt the belief that 'mental challenge and competition' is the 'equal of the sports field'.   We met with Mike Basman and Pat Armstrong last weekend to discuss plans and they are happy to work with us to make this tournament a success."

It's certainly good news that the event will be continuing, and it seems that Mike Basman will still be involved, although probably in the 'back room'.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Kids' chess film

I recently received a link to a short YouTube film about children playing chess.   Shots of the children are interspersed with other sports, presumably in an attempt to show that playing chess is a 'normal' activity.

Not sure if it really works, but I guess it's better than nothing.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Bury Congress results

The 34th Bury St Edmunds Congress ended this evening, with prizes to the value of £2,280 being paid out to 27 winners.  The entry of 151 players enjoyed some excellent chess in the splendid surroundings of the Apex.

Congress Secretary Steve Lovell is to be congratulated on the smooth running of the event; an enormous amount of preparation is needed to ensure that all goes well on the day.   Steve was ably assisted by John Wickham, Congress Director for the event, who made all the announcements and acted as chief arbiter.   Others involved included Paul Kemp, League Treasurer, as well as several members of the local chess club, who arrived early on Saturday morning to set up the auditorium.

The full results, as well as the prizes paid out, can be viewed on the Congress website.   The results were posted on the website at the end of each round, as well as the pairings for the following rounds.

The only person to score a maximum 5/5 was top seed in the Open, GM Matthew Sadler, pictured right receiving his winner's cheque for £350.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Bury Congress Day 1 report

After three rounds of the Bury St Edmunds Congress, there is just one person in each section on maximum three points.   They are:

In the Open, top seed GM Matthew Sadler
Major - Simon Morris (Hertford)
Intermediate - Gert de Block (Cambridge)
Minor - Scott Shelley (Chelmsford)

The photo above shows Adam Taylor (Manningtree) on top board against Matthew Sadler in Round 3.

The Open is extremely strong, with 12 players graded 200 or higher.   There are eight players on 2½ points, including Suffolk players Alan Merry, Dagne Ciuksyte, Graham Moore and Ed Player.

Sunday's Round 4 sees the two top seeds in the Open playing each other, with second seed and former Suffolk junior IM Richard Pert having the black pieces.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Junior chess in Bury is thriving!

In the five weeks since holding an Open Evening in mid-September, the weekly attendance at the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club has averaged 40.   A new Division 4 has been formed from the more promising youngsters who joined the Club recently, and after half-term, a new Division 5 will be created.

A lot of effort has been put in to helping the 'novices' to learn the basics, so that they are able to play a proper game of chess.   In addition to regular adult helpers Ed Player and Adam Leigh, former club members Daniel Garcia-Leon, Alba Saenz de Villaverde and her brother Mario, have all assisted.

With four classrooms in use, it's a busy (and at times noisy) environment.   But the children, who age from 4 to 13, all seem to be enjoying themselves.

All of the top group (Division 1) are playing regularly in the adult leagues, and scoring well.   10-year old Adam John managed a draw against Adam Harvey on Thursday, whilst 11-year old Jaden Jermy recently drew with Kevin Greenacre.

Any Suffolk chess player is welcome to come along on a Friday evening to join in with the fun, and perhaps share their expertise with the more promising juniors.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

ECF Congress of the Year

Congratulations to the St Albans Congress, which has been awarded ECF Congress of the Year.   This weekend congress attracts about 220 players each year.   The venue is pleasant and in a good location.   It is very friendly and has an excellent bookstall and analysis room.

The next Congress is over the weekend of 1/2 April 2017.

See here for the other annual ECF awards.

The next 'local' tournament, after the Bury St Edmunds Congress this coming weekend, is the Herts Annual Congress, 12-13 November at the County Hall, Hertford.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Bury Congress latest

With just three days to go, entries for the 34th Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress have reached 140.   Another ten entries are required to ensure that the quoted prize fund will be paid in full.

If you are still thinking about entering, there's still time.   No late entry fee applies, unless you enter on the day, when it's an extra £5.00.

Go to entry form to enter online.

The list of entrants includes:

*   8 titled players
*   10 graded over 200
*   4 graded over 230

This tournament will be the strongest ever held in Suffolk, and the strongest in East Anglia since the British Championships took place in Great Yarmouth in 2007.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

County First Team in action

First Team Captain John Peters reports:

Suffolk made a strong start to the season last Sunday with a win and a draw.   At one point in the morning session we were up 8 - 5 against a strong Norfolk side, a fixture that I would like to be called 'Farmergeddon' in the future.   But they closed out the final three games to snatch an 8 - 8 draw.

In the afternoon we managed to beat Bedfordshire 9 - 7 in a closely fought match, mostly owing to a strong performance among the lower boards.

Suffolk's most recent IM, Alan Merry, anchored the side from Board 1 with wins against Mike Harris and Evgeny Tukpetov.   Another performance of note was Silas Peck's two wins, the latter of which came when he moved up to Board 7 from Board 9 and smoothly pressed his opening advantage into a fine attack and converted into a winning endgame.

Weighing in with 1½/2 were Graham Moore, Ted Mattewson, Mike Cook and Leon Burnett.

Thanks to everyone for turning out and getting us off to such a good start.   As a reminder, the remaining two match dates are Sunday January 8th and Sunday February 19th.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Cup and Plate Quarter-Finals

Cup and Plate Organiser Rob Sanders has made the draw for the Quarter-Finals:   The dates shown are his suggested match dates:

Cup – 22/11/16
Ipswich B v Ipswich C
Ipswich D v Sudbury
Saxmundham A v Bury A
Manningtree A – Bye

Plate – 29/11/16
Felixstowe B v Manningtree B
Ipswich F v Bury E
Bury D – Bye
Felixstowe A – Bye

If any club wishes to change these proposed dates, they should contact both Rob Sanders and David Green.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

One week to go

The Bury St Edmunds Congress is just one week away!   Current entries stand at 115 and Congress Secretary Steve Lovell is hoping that the final total will reach 150.

If you are planning to enter, please do it now.   Don't leave it to the last minute.

Click here to see the list of current entrants; or here to enter the event.

Friday, 14 October 2016

County First team in action on Sunday

Suffolk's First Team, captained this season by John Peters, will be in action on Sunday at the Turner Hall in Newmarket.   They will face Norfolk in the morning and Bedfordshire in the afternoon.

John has promised to provide a report, so keep an eye out on Monday or Tuesday.   There might even be a game or two to look at.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Cup & Plate initial round completed

The last two matches in the Initial Round of the Suffolk Cup & Plate competition took place this evening.   Six teams will now progress to the first round proper of the Cup, whilst the other six teams will compete in the Plate.

The match between the two Bury teams, A and E, was extremely close and was only decided on tie-break.   The E team is 'all-Juniors'.   There were wins on boards 2 and 4 for Alan John (126) against Laurie Pott (150) and for Ralph Martin (84) against William Moody (107).   However, the A team's wins on Boards 1 and 3 decided the match.

These will be the teams in each section:


Bury St Edmunds A
Ipswich B
Ipswich D
Manningtree A
Saxmundham A


Bury St Edmunds D
Bury St Edmunds E
Felixstowe A
Felixstowe B
Ipswich F
Manningtree B

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

News from the Clubs?

It would be good to hear some news from the Clubs in the Suffolk League.   Let's hear about your new members, your premises, or any newsworthy items that have occurred over the summer break.

This website needs your input, so please tell me what's happening in your part of the county.

Without the input of other clubs and members, it will be difficult to maintain the daily schedule.   Perhaps you or another member have had an interesting game, or reached an interesting position.

Don't be shy; let's hear from you please!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Book of the Year

The ECF Book of the Year award has gone to 'Chess for Life', by GM Matthew Sadler and IM Natasha Regan.   The book retails at £15.99 but can be obtained via Amazon for £11.62 including delivery.

In this thought-provoking, wide-ranging and often inspiring book, the authors examine how chess style and abilities vary with age.   The conventional wisdom is that greater experience should compensate for a loss of youthful energy, but with so many of the world elite currently in their twenties, chess is increasingly looking like a young man's game.   By making a number of case studies and interviewing players who have stayed strong into their forties, fifties and beyond, the authors show in detail how players can steer their games towards positions where their experience can shine through.

A full review of this book can be seen on the ECF website.

Matthew Sadler will be top seed in the Bury St Edmunds Congress, where entries have now reached 100.   We will be asking Matthew to bring some copies to the Congress, when I'm sure he will be happy to append his signature in the book for anyone buying a copy.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Isle of Man results

The three Suffolk players who travelled to the Isle of Man for the International tournament, which ended yesterday, all finished on 4 points (out of nine).

As previously reported, Alan Merry gained his IM title by beating a GM in Round 2.   He played six Grandmasters, scoring 2/6.   Overall, Alan gained 7 rating points.

Adam Taylor faced six titled players.   He beat an IM, as well as drawing with a GM and another IM.   He lost 3 rating points.

Ed Player's best win was against Scotland's Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, who is a GM although her rating is now only 2376.   Ed lost 5 rating points.

The full results can be seen here.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Suffolk Under 160s results

The Suffolk Under 160 team played two matches today at the Turner Hall in Newmarket, against Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.   The Suffolk team was not as strong as had been hoped, and this was further weakened by the absence of one team member.

In the morning Suffolk lost heavily 5 - 11 to Cambridgeshire, but in the afternoon beat Norfolk 10 - 5 (there was a 'mutual default' on one board, hence the score was only over 15 boards).

No Suffolk player won both games, but Ed Kirkham, John McAllister and David Green scored 1½/2.   Also unbeaten were Laurie Pott and Harold Thomas (two draws).

Top board Phil Hutchings (159) won an interesting game in the afternoon with Black against Andrew Donnelly (159) (who lives and plays in Suffolk but was born in Norfolk!):

The other results today saw two wins for Hertfordshire (11 - 5 against Norfolk and 8½-7½ against Cambridgeshire).

The next matches for the Under 160s will be on 5 February 2017, against Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Suffolk League round-up

After three weeks of League matches, only one team - Ipswich D (in Division 1) - is yet to play a match.

In Division 1, the three matches that have taken place to date have resulted in 2½-1½ scorelines.   With Ipswich sharing their strength across their four teams, the season promises to be a close one.

In Division 2, five teams have played twice, with the other two teams having one match each.   Both Bury St Edmunds A and Felixstowe A have won both matches.

In Division 3, all eight teams have played one match.   Both Manningtree teams (B & C) won 3½ - ½.   The only other winning team was Ipswich F.

To view the latest league tables, click on the division name.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Bury Knights

Following the success of the Open Evening, held on 16 September (as reported here), numbers at the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club have held steady, with almost all the newcomers choosing the join the club.   Both this week and last week, 43 members attended.

The photo above shows the new Division 4, with Adam Leigh in charge.   This evening the Club used four classrooms, with Laurie Pott coaching the top division, and Mario Saenz de Villaverde helping out with the Novices.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Under 145 Cup is underway

The Suffolk Under 145 Cup was last competed for in 2013/14, when it was won by Ipswich.   They beat both Manningtree and Felixstowe in that season.

Four clubs have entered this year: the same three as in 2013/14, plus Bury St Edmunds.

It was originally planned for the Suffolk Cup & Plate tournament to replace the two graded cup competitions, but the clubs in Suffolk seem to enjoy the u125 and u145 events and they are both being played this season, alongside the Cup & Plate.

The first match took place this evening, with Manningtree scraping home against Bury St Edmunds by 2½-1½.   On paper the Manningtree team was very strong, averaging 136 grade, whilst Bury St Edmunds could only average 120.

The other two clubs, Ipswich and Felixstowe, play their first match on 8 November.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Wearing a hijab?

The Women's World Chess Championship will be held in Tehran, Iran, in February 2017.   The organisers are stating that all competitors must wear a hijab.   Some players are threatening a boycott.

As pointed out in this excellent BBC article, chess was banned in Iran for much of the 1980s, largely because of its pre-revolutionary association with gambling.   So hosting a women's chess championship is already a significant step forward.

What do Suffolk women players think about these dress regulations?

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Isle of Man update

After four rounds of the Isle of Man International Masters tournament, Alan Merry is on 2½ points, having scored 1½/3 against GMs.   Tomorrow he faces yet another GM, Mihail Marin, who beat Adam Taylor in Round 2.

Both Adam and Ed Player are on one point.

Although there are 130+ entrants, there is only one player, GM Alexei Shiorov, on maxcimum four points.   He will be taking a bye tomorrow, so there is likely to be a bunch of players on 4½/5.

Results can be seen here and live games here.

Monday, 3 October 2016

New members

Most clubs have new members who will be playing in League matches this season.   It would be good to see photographs of them so that everyone can get to know them, and to welcome them.

So for a start, here are a couple of new members of the Bury St Edmunds club:

Isuru (known as 'Sean') Wickrama (left) and Anthony Taylor.   Both have estimated grades of 140.

Please send photos to me, so that they can appear on this website.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Suffolk has a new IM

As reported yesterday, Alan Merry (right) needed a win today against Indian GM Avarindh (2564) in the second round of the Isle of Man International tournament to achieve his International Master title.   Despite his opponent's +176 rating, it was Alan who prevailed in 48 moves.

Alan's two wins in this tournament take his 'live' rating to 2404.   Even if his rating subsequently drops below 2400, Alan's achievement will still stand.

Alan (now aged 19) is the third 'home-grown' Suffolk player to achieve International Master status.   Nicholas and Richard Pert, now aged 35, became IMs at 19 and 21 respectively, with Nick gaining the GM title a year later.

The photograph was taken a year ago at the same event.

This was the position after Black's 45th move, with Alan (White) to play:

The game continued:   46.   b6!   Ka5   47.   Nd5   Ka6   48.   f4!   1 - 0

For his efforts, Alan gets to play Black against second seed Wesley So (2794) in Round 3!   There are 15 players on maximum points - 14 GMs and Alan Merry.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Isle of Man International underway

As reported last week, three local players are in the Masters section of the Isle of Man International, which began today.   Alan Merry, needing just 12 rating points for his long-awaited IM title, had hoped to face top seed Fabiano Caruana (2813) in the first round.   Seeded in the middle of the draw, Alan missed out by just one place.   Instead of playing Caruana, he was paired against the lowest-rated player!   At least he plays a GM in Round 2 tomorrow, Indian GM Avarindh (2564).   If he could win this game (a big ask) Alan will instantly achieve his title.

Manningtree's Adam Taylor enjoyed a splendid win.   He was re-paired against floater IM Jack Rudd, whose erratic play has caused his rating to plummet in recent years.   Adam plays Roumanian GM and chess author Marin (2569) tomorrow.

Ed Player had a tough match, losing to GM Brunello.   Tomorrow he faces the second-lowest player in the draw.