Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Happy Birthday Magnus?

Will today be a happy day for Magnus Carlsen, who is celebrating his 26th birthday?   This evening (starting at 7 pm UK time) he will take on Sergey Karjakin in a series of rapidplay games, followed if necessary by Blitz games and a final 'Armageddon' game, to determine who shall be the next World Chess Champion.

This would appear to be compulsive viewing for chess players across the World.   But there will be at least 12 local players who will miss out on the action.   Teams from Manningtree and Bury St Edmunds will be fighting it out in the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup.   This is the first time that Manningtree have entered this competition.   There will be a full report tomorrow on this match, as well of course on the result of the World Championship.

For those watching the World Championship games this evening, here are the rules:
*   They start with a four-game rapidplay match, at 25 minutes each plus 10 seconds increment per move.   There will be a ten minute break between each game.   The players don't need to record the moves.
*   If the score is tied after these four games, they will play a two-game Blitz match, with five minutes on the clock and a three second increment per move.   If necessary, there will be up to four more two-game Blitz matches.
*   If the scores are still tied after these 14 games, they will play one 'Armageddon' game.   The players draw lots and the winner chooses White or Black.   The player with the White pieces has five minutes whilst the player with the Black pieces has four minutes.   But if it's a draw the player with Black wins the match.

Exciting stuff.   I bet you'll all be watching....

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Ipswich Club Championship

A total of 19 players are competing in this season's Ipswich Club Championship, where members utilise their 'off' weeks to organise matches against their chosen opponents.   Already, two rounds (out of six) have been completed.

Five players lead on maximum points: Ted Matthewson, Steve Gregory, Silas Peck, John Wright and Roger Holt.

The biggest surprise of Round 2 was Ted's win against Ian Wallis, who is graded 18 points higher.   Ted is pictured right.

You can see the latest results and cross-table here.

Monday, 28 November 2016

World Championship goes to tie-breaks

This evening's final round (of 12) ended in a draw after just 30 moves.   It was perhaps surprising that Carlsen, who had the White pieces, seemed content to swap off and head for a rather tame draw.

Carlsen may be confident of his abilities at Rapidplay and Blitz, to which they are heading on Wednesday after another rest day on Tuesday.

Today's game can be viewed here.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

4NCL report

4NCL's Division 3 (South) and Division 4 played this weekend at Wokefield Park, near Reading.   Four Suffolk-based teams were competing, with two in each division.   These teams included 16 Suffolk players.

The best results were by Anglian Avengers 2, who won both their matches (4½-1½ and 3½-2½) and now head Pool B in Division 3 (S) with four match points and eight game points.   Individually, Steve Gregory won both games, Ian Wallis scored 1½, whilst both Graham Moore and Shaun Munson scored 1 point.

The other local team in Div 3, Iceni 1, suffered two defeats (2½-3½ and 2 - 4), with Paul Botham the best scorer on 1½ points.   John Feavyour won one game, but both John Peters and Steve Ruthen failed to register a point.

In Division 4, Anglian Avengers 3 won one match (4½-1½) and narrowly lost one (2½-3½).   Keith Woodcock scored 1½, whilst Silas Peck, Alex Sheerin and Alan John each won one game.   Adam John had one draw.

Iceni 2 had an easy win on Saturday against Barnet Knights 3, but crashed 1 - 5 to top-rated team Oxford 2 today.   Saxmundham's Rory Goldsmith scored 1½ points, which included an excellent draw against a 166 graded opponent.   Mike Usher scored 1 and Bob Jones had one draw.

Division 4 featured teams with substantial rating differences.   Oxford 2 were relegated from Division 3 last season but have reinforced their squad for a team average rating of 2080.   Only five of the 16 teams in Division 3 have higher team averages.   At the other end of the scale Barnet Knights 3 and 4 averaged 1311 and 1263 respectively.   Perhaps there should be a ceiling of, say, 1900 as the maximum average grade per team?   There were four players in Division 4 with grades in excess of 200.   Oxford 2's top boards were graded 213 and 211.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

4NCL Divisions 3 and 4

This weekend sees four Suffolk-based teams playing in Divisions 3 and 4 of the 4NCL, at Wokefield Park, near Reading.

Anglian Avengers have two teams ('2' and '3'), one in each division, whilst Iceni 1 and Iceni 2 also play with one team in each division.

Fortunately, there are no matches scheduled between these teams this weekend, although the new pool system in Division 3 will mean that AA2 and Iceni 1 will have to play each other later in the season, as they are both in Pool B.

A full report on these matches will feature here tomorrow evening.

Friday, 25 November 2016

World Championship latest

As most readers will know, current champion Magnus Carlsen won the 10th game yesterday to level the score (5 - 5) against his challenger, Sergey Karjakin.

With today as a rest day, play resumes tomorrow Saturday in the crucial Round 11, when Karjakin will have the White pieces.   There then follows another rest day on Sunday, with the final round being played on Monday.

If the score is tied after 12 rounds, there will be a series of tie-break games on Wednesday.   Four games will be played with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds per move.   If the score is still tied, there will then be a series of two-game blitz matches played at the rate of five minutes plus five seconds increment.   These will continue for up to five 'matches', eg ten games, until there is a winner.

In the unlikely event of the scores still being tied, a final sudden-death 'Armageddon' game will be played.   The player who wins the drawing of lots chooses the colour.   The player with the White pieces receives five minutes, whilst the player with the Black pieces has four minutes.   A three-second increment per move is applied if the game continues beyond 60 moves.   In the event of the game being drawn, the player with the Black pieces is declared the winner.

Wednesday could be a fun day.   So cancel all other arrangements!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

First 4NCL weekend

Last weekend saw the first matches for the 4NCL teams in Divisions 1 and 2, at Wokefield Park near Reading.

Anglian Avengers 1 achieved promotion at the end of last season to Division 1 and faced tough opponents in Grantham Sharks and Guildford 1.   Predictably they lost both matches, by 3 - 5 and 2 - 6.   Guildford 1 are probably favourites to win the title and won their first match 7½-½, with only their Board 8 Suffolk's Dagne Ciuksyte gaining the draw.   In the Avengers' match against Guildford 1, top boards Andy Lewis and Adam Taylor lost respectively to GM powerhouses Matthew Sadler and Gawain Jones.   But Ed Player managed a draw against former Suffolk player GM Nick Pert.

There are no Suffolk-based teams in Division 2, but next weekend Iceni 1 and 2, as well as Anglian Avengers 2 and 3, play in Divisions 3 and 4 at the same venue.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Date set for Bury St Edmunds Junior Congress

The annual Bury St Edmunds Junior Chess Congress will take place this season on Sunday 5 March 2017.   It will be held at the usual venue, Moreton Hall Community Centre, where there will be a maximum capacity of 100 entrants.

There will be four sections, but not the same as in previous years.   For 2017 the sections will be as follows:

Under 11
Under 9

The Open section will be for anyone aged 11 and over as at the start of the current school year.   The Novices section is for anyone who has never played in a chess tournament before.   They must be aged 10 or younger.

Entry forms will be available soon and will be sent to local schools and clubs.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

World Championship update

After six rounds of the World Chess Championship, being held in New York between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, the score is tied at three points each.   All games have been drawn so far.   The winner is the first to reach 6½ points.

Carlsen would appear to have let slip some winning chances in some of the games.

You can follow the games live on and on other sites, including ChessBomb.   Game seven is on Sunday evening as today is a 'rest' day.

Friday, 18 November 2016

New ECF website

The English Chess Federation's website has undergone a major facelift.   You can view it here.

What do you think?   Is it a substantial improvement?   Let's hear your views in the comments below.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Chess map of New York

If you're ever in New York, this map should prove useful.   You can view it in more detail here.

The World Chess Championship is underway in New York, with current Champion Carlsen drawing 2 - 2 with Challenger Karjakin.   The fifth game starts this evening.

So far, all four games have been drawn, although the commentators feel that Carlsen missed possible wins in games 3 and 4.

All can watch progress on the website.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Herts Congress report

John Peters has provided the following report, which includes his Round 1 game against Graham Moore.

The Hertfordshire Chess Congress took place last weekend at the County Hall, Hertford, with a total of 108 entrants across the Open, Challengers, Major and Minor sections.   The venue was spacious enough and provided an excellent book stall as well as a very reasonably priced canteen.

Jon Collins (VBury St Edmunds) put in a very creditable performance to take outright second place in the Challengers section, losing only to the eventual winner, Yousuf Bin-Suhayl (Wisbech), who finished with a perfect 5/5 to collect both first place and the Glynne Jones Trophy for the best performance by a junior.

Graham Moore (Ipswich) put together a very solid performance in the Open to grab a share of third place with 3½/5 after beating me in the first round in an extremely sharp encounter.   Graham had the Black pieces:

John's notes:   12...a6.   We have arrived at a pretty standard position in this line of the French Tarrasch.   The most popular moves for White here are 13. Bg5, Re1 and h3, however I've researched this line before and my computer prefers the move played, 13. Be3.

16. Ng5.   Seemingly White has pressure however Graham decided to go with an enterprising exchange sacrifice that gives him a long-term initiative.

20. Qb3.   The only move that retains any sort of advantage for White, albeit a small one.

22...Nf3!   Just when it looked as though I was going to get a rook to the e-file and coordinate my forces Graham unleashes a very pretty move.   If 23. gxf3   Bxf3+, 24. Kg1   Qe5 wins the White queen with the threat of mate on h2.

23...Qd7.   Qf7! is best.   Then if 24. gxf3   Re8 when White is forced to give up his queen to survive the mating threats.

27...Qg5?   Played after a long think. When discussing the game afterwards we both agreed we had looked at this line and decided that this move couldn't be played, due to Qe6+, winning the bishop on d6 but, in a case of mutual blindness, I countered with the unfathomable:

28. Qf5??   Played far too quickly, I had thought we would repeat the position and then I'd have the option to decide if I wanted to force the draw.

32. Rc8?   A losing move, both 32. Nc8 and 32. Rc3 are fairly equal.   Having realised my mistake on move 28 I was quite frustrated and then failed to find the best defence.

38. Kf1.   And resigns in view of 38... Bxd7   39. Rd3,   Bb5.

A well fought game!

Thanks must go to the organisers for putting together a great tournament; hopefully Suffolk can send out even more support next year.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

International Games Day

This Saturday, 19 November, is International Games Day.   According to Martin Tomes, there will be "a big event at Ipswich Library, which will include the Junior Chess Club."

The Club will be operating from 10.00 to 12.00 that morning, free of charge.   In the afternoon Martin will be setting up the giant chess set in the main library to play games with passers-by and to publicise both the junior and senior clubs.

Local players are invited to come along and support the event.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Herts Congress results

At least six Suffolk players travelled to Hertford at the weekend for the 65th Herts Congress.

In the Open, Graham Moore scored 3½ points to share third place, whilst John Peters scored 2½, including a draw against IM Neil Bradbury.

Jon Collins took second place (and £100) with 4 points in the Challengers, with the lowest-graded player in that section, 10-year old Adam John on 1½ (two draws and a bye).

In the Minor section, Tom Roy scored 2½, whilst 8-year old Amy John managed one win from her four games.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

London Chess Classic

In just under four weeks' time the London Chess Classic takes place at the Olympia Conference Centre, from 9 to 18 December.   The nine-round FIDE Open promises to be extremely strong, with 34 Grandmasters amongst the 198 entrants (to date).

There are several other events, including a ten-round 'Super Rapidplay' over the second weekend, with 263 (!) entrants, and six graded sections over the three-day weekend, 9 - 11 December.

To view details of all the events, click here.

The London Chess Conference is also taking place, from 10 to 12 December.   This is being held at the nearby Hilton Kensington Olympia on the topic 'The Didactics of Chess'.   Registration for all three days costs £250, with cheaper one-day options.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Ed mixes with the big boys

At the 11th 4NCL Congress which took place last weekend at Newport Pagnell, Ed Player (left) beat IM Andrew Greet in Round 1 and then faced GM Keith Arkell in Round 2.

Playing with the White pieces, Ed ground out a long game which eventually petered out to a draw.

The game was level for most of the time, although Ed's moves 50 and 51 might have brought about his demise.   Ed actually felt that 47. b4 was weak too.   But Keith failed to capitalise and after 61... Qg2+ the game was clearly drawn.   61... a3 might have been a better prospect for Keith.

Here's the game:

Ed is targetting 2300 (FM level) and his estimated gain of 15 points from this event will take his current rating to 2237.   Ed's win against Andrew Greet will be featured later.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Smart is the new sexy

So says World Champion Magnus Carlsen, according to a recent Guardian article.

Carlsen starts his defence today of the World title, against Challenger Sergey Karjakin.

The 12-game match in New York City starts at 18.00 GMT this evening.   The official site is here.   It costs $15 to watch the games and listen to the commentary, but there will almost certainly be other portals where the live action can be followed, such as

If the score is even after 12 rounds, there will be four tie-break games, with a possible 'Armageddon' fifth game if the scores are still level.   The full rules and playing schedule can be viewed here.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Lowestoft Rapidplay

Five members of Saxmundham Chess Club were amongst 29 entrants to the third Lowestoft Rapidplay tournament which took place at the Parkhill Hotel, Oulton Broad, last Sunday.

David Mabbs (3½) and Malcolm Lightfoot (2) took part in the Open section (11 entrants), whilst Mark Pulman (4), Rory Goldsmith (3) and Lee Osman (1½) played in the Under 150 section (with 18 entrants).

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

If you're in Cambridge...

... look up this guy.   Challenge him and see if you can beat him (but don't forget to make a donation).

According to this website, Slide Martin was once a junior chess champion, and has only ever lost six games when playing on the street.

Surely there are some strong local players who could beat him?

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Herts reminder

The annual Herts Congress is taking place this coming weekend in Hertford.   There is still time to enter.

At least six Suffolk players, including five from the Bury St Edmunds club, will be playing - Graham Moore, John Peters, Jon Collins, Adam John, Tom Roy and Amy John.

If you are interested in playing, go to their website, or contact the organiser, Kidge Elder.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Wrong set up

How often do you see a chess board set up incorrectly?   Does anyone know of other examples?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Mark's result in Germany

Mark Le-Vine (right) finished the nine-round tournament in Bad Wiessee, Germany, earlier today, with a 50% score.

The event had over 470 entrants, all in one section, which included 28 Grandmmasters.   Seven players (all GMs) shared first prize, on 7½ points.

Mark was given an estimated Elo rating of 1500, which of course is far too low for his ability.   His tournament performance of 1940 was probably much closer to his true rating.   But because his rating was estimated, he didn't qualify for the u1600 rating prize, despite being equal first in that category.   Instead, he was awarded a year's subscription to Chess24.

The full crosstable for the event can be viewed here.   Mark's number is 244.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Woodbridge Junior

The 16th Woodbridge Junior Open will be taking place in three weeks' time on Sunday 27 November at its usual venue, Woodbridge School.

Organised by International Master Adam Hunt, this is the first of the three junior-only events that are held in Suffolk during the chess season (the others are the Bury St Edmunds Junior on 5 March and the Suffolk Junior Open).

There are trophies for section winners at Under 8, Under 10, Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18 levels, as well as cash prizes dependant on the size of entry.   There are also separate trophies for the best players in each section who either attend a school or live in Woodbridge.

The tournament is a qualifying event for the London Junior Championships.   Scores of 4/6 are required to qualify for the u8 Final, or 4½/6 for the u10 and u12 Finals.   No qualifying score is required to enter the older sections.

For more information, go to the Woodbridge School chess website.

Friday, 4 November 2016

The World's youngest IM

One of the stars at the Isle of Man International Tournament, which finished on 9 October, was 11-year old Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (pictured left).   He is the youngest International Master ever, having achieved the title at the tender age of 10 years, 10 months and 19 days.

The chess world reeled at Praggna's amazing 18-move win in the final round, against a 2645-rated GM from Paraguay.   You can view the game here.   After White's 14. Na3?, the youngster played all the best moves, according to Stockfish.

Suffolk's Ed Player found himself playing the young IM in Round 3.   Ed was White and played a fairly standard Ruy Lopez.   His opponent won a pawn on move 23 and Ed was forced to resign after 37 moves.   Follow Ed's game below.

At 2448, Praggnanandhaa needs another 52 rating points, as well as three GM norms, to become the world's youngest-ever Grandmaster.   His target is the 12 years and 7 months of World Champion Challenger Sergei Karjakin.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Hastings Congress

In past years a number of Suffolk players have entered the Hastings Congress, which takes place just after Christmas every year.   Last year, Adam Taylor (Manningtree) was the only local player to enter.

The TRADEWISE 92nd Hastings International Chess Congress will take place at Horntye Park Sports Complex from 28 December to 5 January and will be held in memory of Con Power, Director of the Congress for many years.   The event will be sponsored by Tradewise Insurance Services and co-sponsored by Hastings Borough Council.   Further support is given by the English Chess Federation, the White Rock Hotel, Lansdowne Hotel, KC Computers and the John Robinson Trust.

Tournaments will include Masters, Christmas, New Year Morning and Afternoon and the 34th Weekend Congress.   The nine-round Masters will provide opportunities to qualify for titles and for FIDE ratings.   The Weekend Major section will also be FIDE rated.

Any enquiries should be addressed to Congress Director Alan Hustwayte   Tel: 01424 443300 or to PR Officer Pam Thomas   Tel: 01424 445348.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

County Match Controller vacancy

The post of EACU County Match Controller has been held for several years by Linton's Patrick Ribbands (photo right).   A vacancy will exist for this important role at the end of the current season, when Patrick will be standing down.

The County Match Controller arranges the fixtures and venues for the various inter-County matches in the EACU.   At present this involves First Team matches, as well as the Under 160 and Under 120 matches.

This is an organisational task which can easily be managed from home; there is no requirement to attend matches.   It will be expected that the post-holder will attend one committee meeting during the year, as well as the EACU AGM.

If anyone from Suffolk would like to take on this role, they should initially contact John Wickham, EACU Chairman.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A late starter

13-year old Ralph Martin, from the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club, has a current grade of 84.   Last year his grade was only 50.

Ralph is a late starter, despite having joined the Bury Knights Junior Club four years ago, in November 2012.   It has taken a while for him to come to terms with the game.   But suddenly, he has emerged as one of the club's leading youngsters.   He has played eight graded games so far this seaaon, losing only one, for an average grade of 124.

Below, he plays a very accurate game in the Suffolk Cup & Plate against another junior who is a year older than him: