Thursday, 15 June 2017

European Schools Championships

Siblings Adam and Amy John from Bury St Edmunds are currently representing England in the European Schools Championships, taking place in Budva, Montenegro.

Today is a rest day, but after five rounds (out of nine), Adam is well-placed (and unbeaten) on 3½ points.   Tomorrow he faces the second seed which will be a tough test.   Sister Amy (pictured below) is on 2 points.

The results of all twelve England juniors can be followed here.

The website for the event can be seen here.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Suffolk through to Minor Counties Final

On Saturday, Suffolk's First Team faced Leicestershire in the Semi-Final of the Minor Counties competition (where the average grade of the team must not exceed 180).   The result was 9 -7 in favour of Suffolk, who will now face Lincolnshire in the Final, due to be played on 1 July.   Lincolnshire beat Norfolk on board count after drawing 8 - 8, so the possible final between Suffolk and Norfolk has been avoided.

The Suffolk team included two juniors - Alex Sheerin and Jaden Jermy, who both won.   In fact, Suffolk were unbeaten on the bottom seven boards, despite being outgraded on every one of those boards.   Jaden's win on board 16 was crucial; had he lost, the team would have lost the match on board count.

Other Suffolk winners were Alan Merry (Board 1), Ian Wallis (4), Ted Matthewson (10), Steve Ruthen (12) and Phil Hutchings (13).

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

EACU Congress

The annual EACU Congress took place at the weekend at the Turner Hall in Newmarket.   Entries were up from last year - 83 compared to 72 in 2016.

The Open section was predictably won by top seed IM Alan Merry, who scored 4½/5.   He drew with FM Terry Chapman in Round 4 and needed to win his final game to ensure the title.   This he achieved, with a win against Ipswich's Graham Moore.

There were five players on 3½ points sharing first place in the u170 section.   These included Tim Lunn (Ipswich) and Phil Hutchings (Manningtree).   Also sharing first place was 11-year old Julia Volovich, from Cambridge.

The Under 130 section was won on 4½ points by 12-year old Jaden Jermy, of the Bury St Edmunds and Bury Knights clubs.   He quickly drew his final game against the section's top seed to guarantee the title.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Norfolk and Suffolk Cup Final

IAN WALLIS has kindly provided the following report on the Final of the Norfolk and Suffolk Cup, when Suffolk winners Ipswich faced Norfolk's Broadland Chess Club, on 28 May, in Ipswich.

"It was a very close match, despite Broadland turning up with a stronger than expected team.   Grading-wise the teams were evenly matched, however I thought with the given board orders Broadland were favourites.   Ipswich won the toss and had White on odds.

Mine was the first game to finish.   I played an inferior line in the opening and gave my opponent an advantage which he duly converted.   Nick was next, taking a draw in a balanced position but one that could have gone wrong if playing too hard to win.

Shaun obtained a winning position with a neat combination that forced a win of the queen for two minor pieces.   The result was never in doubt although his opponent stubbornly played on to the end, no doubt not wanting to resign for the sake of the team.   I'm sure he would have resigned earlier in an individual game.

This left the match evenly poised 1½ - 1½ with three games to go.

Silas on top board was being outplayed despite putting up valiant resistance.   Steve was gradually improving his position and had a slight edge but with plenty for both sides to play for.   Graham's game was still unclear.

Steve finally obtained a better position and went on to checkmate.   We were ahead for the first time.

Silas resistance ran out and he resigned.   So. with the match all square again the result hinged on the final game.   A win, or a draw, would give victory to Ipswich as the first tie-break rule for this competition is, rather unusually, board elimination rather than board count.   Had it been board count a draw would have favoured Broadland.

Both players were down to a couple of minutes.   Graham had sacrificed his last minor piece for some pawns and was playing R + 4/5 against R + N + P.   And then catastrophe; with at least a draw in sight he stumbled into a mate in the middle of the board.   Thus Broadland won the match 3½-2½."

Silas Peck1860 - 1Richard Polaczek216
Graham Moore1930 - 1Ken McEwan199
Shaun Munson1931 - 0Roy Hughes190
Nick Savage186½ - ½Gerald Moore185
Steve Gregory1861 - 0Daniel Frean175
Ian Wallis1880 - 1Ieysaa bin-Suhayl176

Friday, 19 May 2017

Summer programmes

Which Suffolk chess clubs will be open over the summer?   Please add a comment below if your club plans to open.

The Bury St Edmunds club will open on alternate Thursdays, with its AGM planned for 1 June.   Yesterday, the Club held a four-round 15-minute tournament, with three adults and nine juniors (!) present.

1st   Bob Jones   4/4
2nd=   Steve Lovell, Adam John, Tom Roy   3/4

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Born on this day...

... 181 years ago.   (Sorry, nothing to do with Suffolk Chess.   Just thought it may be of interest!)

For the remainder of the summer, postings here will be less frequent.   Important events, such as the progress of the County First Team in the Minor Counties Championship, and the Suffolk County Chess Association AGM, will of course be reported on.

If anyone has had any interesting games, or positions, during the season, please send them to me.

To save checking if there has been a new article, why not 'Follow by EMail'?   All you need to do is enter your email address in the box at bottom right and you will receive notification whenever a new article is posted.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A nice finish from Jaden

Four Suffolk players featured in both County matches (First Team and Under 160s) at the weekend: Phil Hutchings, Alex Sheerin, Andrew Shephard and Jaden Jermy.   It will not have escaped most people's notice that 12-year old Jaden (graded 123) won both his games, against opponents graded 148 and 144.

In the Under 160s he faced Lancashire captain Bill O'Rourke.   After a see-saw game, the following position was reached, with Jaden (White) to play.   Although a pawn down, Jaden is clearly winning.   But what move did he play (probably the best move in this position)?   Answer below.

43.   Bb7!   If ... Rxb7, the pawn promotes.

The game continued 43... Nxb4   44.   cxb4   Kf8   45.   d7   Rd8   46.   Bc6   Ke7   47.   Bxb5   c3, to reach the position below.   Now can you reason Jaden's next move, again an excellent one?

48.   Re1+

This moves forces the Black king to move and therefore no longer protecting the promotion square.   The game concluded:   48... Kd6   49.   Rc1   Rb8   50.   Rxc3!   Ra8   51.   Rc8   1 - 0

Monday, 15 May 2017


The Annual Meeting of the Suffolk County Chess Association will be held at the Ipswich Chess Club on Tuesday 30 May.   This meeting is open to all chess-players, not just club secretaries and committee members.   And if you turn up, you get a vote!

The Agenda contains a number of proposals for amending the competition rules.   Amongst these are a couple which may require some discussion:

*   Nominations.   It is proposed that following publication of the mid-season grading list, re-nominations will only be permitted for a three-week period.   Thereafter no further re-nominations will be allowed.

*   Fischer timing.   It is proposed that the use of incremental timings should become the default in Division 1.   If both players are in agreement, the standard time control can be used.

Other proposals should be non-contentious.   The Agenda has been circulated to all club secretaries.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Suffolk Under 160s fall at the quarter-final hurdle

Suffolk's Under 160 team travelled to the outskirts of Nottingham today to play Lancashire in the National Quarter-Finals, but failed to repeat the First Team's victory yesterday, losing narrowly by nine points to seven.

The result was close throughout; at one stage it stood at 5½ points each.   With just two boards remaining and the score 7½-6½ to Lancashire, Suffolk needed to win both to go through to the semis.   This was because an 8 - 8 tie would have been insufficient, with Suffolk losing on board count.   However we only achieved half a point from these two games.

The Suffolk team was outgraded by an average of seven points per board, but surprisingly it was on the lower boards, where the grading differences were greater, that Suffolk fared well.   Bury juniors Adam John (Board 13) and Jaden Jermy (14) both won, as did Keith Woodcock on 12 (this was Keith's fifth successive win this season for the u160s).   Other Suffolk winners were Ed Kirkham (6) and Bob Stephens (7).

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Suffolk First Team through to the semis

Suffolk's First Team travelled to Milton Keynes today to play Worcestershire in the National Quarter-Final of the Minor Counties competition.

Suffolk were weakened by a late withdrawal, with Phil Hutchings standing in.   In this competition, each team's average grade must not exceed 180.   Suffolk were outgraded by Worcestershire by an average of four points per board.   Nevertheless, Suffolk won through by the clear margin of 10½ - 5½, with wins for David Spence, John Peters (capt), Tim Lunn, John Feavyour, Andrew Shephard and Jaden Jermy.   Grandmaster Keith Arkell was on top board for Worcestershire, but Alan Merry was able to draw with him.   Others to draw were Ian Wallis, Steve Gregory, Nick Savage, Mark Le-Vine, Leon Burnett, Jon Collins, Phil Hutchings and Alex Sheerin.   The only player to lose was Silas Peck on Board 5.

Suffolk will now play either Cornwall or Leicestershire in the Semi-Final on 10 June.

Tomorrow (Sunday) sees the Under 160s playing their Quarter-Final against Lancashire.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Manningtree scoop the lot (well, nearly!)

Manningtree Chess Club have enjoyed a fantastic season, winning almost every competition they have entered.   Here is their haul of trophies:

Suffolk League Division 1   -   Champions (Manningtree A)
Suffolk League Division 3   -   Champions (Manningtree B)
Suffolk Cup   -   Winners (beating Saxmundham A 3 - 1 in the Final on 10 May)
Suffolk Plate   -   Winners (beating Felixstowe A 3 - 1 in the Final on 2 May)
Suffolk u145 Cup   -   Winners

The only event that Manningtree did not win was the u125 Cup, where they finished in third place of seven teams.   Also, Manningtree C team finished fourth in Division 3.

Next season Manningtree will have a team in each division, so watch out for a clean sweep!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Roger Goldsmith Trophy

The Roger Goldsmith Memorial Trophy is an annual competition in the Bury Area Chess League for club teams of four players.   Each team's total grade must not exceed 580 in Division 1, or 450 in Division 2.   Roger Goldsmith was a former secretary of the league, who died in 1990 aged only 42.

Teams play each other during the season in a 'round-robin', after which the two top teams play each other again in a Final.

Both Finals took place this week and featured three teams from Bury St Edmunds.   In the Division 2 Final on Tuesday, Bury Cathedral lost ½ - 3½ to Linton Tigers, with only Bury's Rene Martinez gaining a draw.

This evening, the Division 1 Final was held, with two Bury teams playing each other, having both scored 12 points to head the league table.

The current trophy holders, Bury Abbey, were up against Bury Beehive.   The result was a convincing 3½ - ½ win for Bury Abbey, with wins for Mike Harris (Board 1), Bob Jones (Board 2) and Tom Roy (Board 4).   Jaden Jermy on Board 3 was held to a draw by Adam Harvey.

The photo above shows the Beehive captain, Hugo Smith, presenting the trophy to Bob Jones, captain of the Abbey team.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Suffolk League promotion and relegations

The last matches in the Suffolk League were played on 25 April.

Having led Division 2 for most of the season, Bury St Edmunds A were pipped at the post by Saxmundham A.   The two teams ended the season level on points (29½), but Saxmundham have won one more match and will therefore be promoted to Division 1 next year.

Division 1

Champions - Manningtree A
Relegated - Ipswich B

Division 2

Promoted - Saxmundham A
Relegated - Stowmarket A

Division 3

Promoted - Manningtree B

Division 3 Champions Manningtree B managed to finish the season unbeaten (W11, D3)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Bury Area League promotions and relegations

All matches in the Bury Area Chess League have been completed.   Here are the results:

Division 1:

Champions - Cambridge Examiners
Runners-up - Bury St Edmunds Scorpions (mainly Graham Moore, Ian Wallis, Steve Gregory, Tim Lunn)
No relegation as there are only five teams in Division 1
Player of the Year - Akito Oyama (Cambridge) 8½/11
Runner-up - Steve Gregory (Bury St Edmunds) 7/10

Division 2

Promoted - Cambridge Oddfellows
Relegated - Bury St Edmunds Vipers
Player of the Year - Martyn Goodger (Ely) 6½/8
Runner-up - Adam Harvey (Bury St Edmunds)

Division 3

Promoted - Cambridge Gowns
Player of the Year - Jim Clarke (Cambridge) 6/8
Runner-up - Vicky Allen (Stowmarket) 6½/9

Those in bold are Suffolk players.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Dagne's coaching group

WGM/IM Dagne Ciuksyte's coaching group, also known as the Martlesham Junior Chess Club, meets every week at her house on Martlesham Heath.   At present there are only three 'regulars', as shown above, but Dagne's two daughters, Charlotte and Sofia, also attend occasionally.   In the background of the photo is Dagne's youngest, Daniel, who has yet to show an interest in the game!

Any parent living in the Ipswich - Woodbridge area who would like their son or daughter to receive top-level coaching, should contact Dagne directly.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

UK Chess Challenge Megafinal

75 children from schools and clubs around the county played today at Woodbridge School in the Delancey UK Chess Challenge Megafinal.

Today's event was divided into six sections: Under 7/8 combined, Under 9, Under 10, Under 11, Under 12, Under 13/18 combined.

The photo below shows all the trophy and medal winners.   Those scoring four points or more in the Under 7 to Under 11 sections qualify for the Gigafinal, which is held in Manchester in July.   Older children qualify by scoring 3½ points or more.

Two players scored maximum points: Adam John - Bury Knights (u11) and Rowan Kent - Woodbridge School and Bury Knights (u8).

Saturday, 6 May 2017

4NCL relegations

Last weekend saw the final three rounds of this season's 4NCL.   Sadly, two of the Suffolk-based teams have been relegated.

Anglian Avengers 1, promoted last season to Division 1, will be back in Division 2 next season.   And Iceni 1, who were promoted last season to Division 3, will be back in Division 4 next season.

Both teams will have every chance of bouncing back in 2017/18.

Below is a game from Division 4, where Iceni 2's Dominic Carter (Black) faced a 150-graded opponent on Saturday.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Adam survives the trial / Under 160s opponents / Great Yarmouth

This will be the last article/blog until 3 or 4 May.

Bury's Adam John travelled to Liverpool this weekend for the England Under 11 Trial.   The top Under 11s in the country were present and Adam scored 4/6 (three wins and two draws), losing only to the eventual winner.   It is expected that he will now be selected for the England squad.

Lancashire today won the preliminary round of the Under 160s National County Championships, beating Sussex 10½-5½ and will play Suffolk on Sunday 14 May.   We should hear soon where the match will take place, but it will probably be close to the M1 at Junction 25.

14 Suffolk players entered the Great Yarmouth Congress this weekend, out of a total of 94 entrants.   The results have not yet been published, but should be available soon on the grading website here.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Bury Knights go to Ipswich

The recently re-formed Ipswich Junior Chess Club invited a team of three Bury Knights members to play some games today at their weekly club meeting.   The three Bury Knights were Amy John, Toby and Tia Martin.   They played a number of Ipswich members, winning 14 out of the 16 games played.

This was intended to give the Ipswich members the experience of playing some stronger opponents.   The two wins were earned by Ipswich's best players, Jenni Rochford and Cayden Judge.

The photo above shows the venue - the Lecture Room at Ipswich Library, with 15 Ipswich members present (a record!), as well as the three Bury Knights' members.   The adult in the centre is Martin Tomes, the club organiser and member of the Ipswich Chess Club.

Martin welcomes assistance from other Ipswich Chess Club members, who occasionally come along to help.   Watching these youngsters improve, and eventually mature into proficient players, can be extremely motivating.

The photo above shows the three Bury Knights members (all playing White), in their first matches against Jenni Rochford, Hamilton Lowdell and John-Paul Noble.

Friday, 21 April 2017

David's in Iceland

The annual Reyjavik Open regularly attracts a large and strong field.   There are 264 entrants at this year's 10-round event, which started on Wednesday.   32 GMs have entered, including top seed Anish Giri (2771).

Suffolk's David Spence is one of eleven English entrants, who include GM Gawain Jones, seeded seventh.

After four rounds, David is on 2½ points.   His only loss was to an Icelandic GM in Round 3.   In Round 5, David faces another GM, from India.   Five players, all GMs (including Gawain), are on maximum points.

You can follow David's progress here.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Division 2 hangs in the balance

Suffolk League Division 2 is the only division where promotion (or champions) is still to be decided.   A mouth-watering final match awaits between the top two teams - Bury St Edmunds A and Saxmundham A - due to be played next Tuesday.

Bury will go into the match two points clear of their opponents and will have home advantage.   Both teams have an identical record (W7, D2, L2), so Saxmundham need to win 3 - 1 or better to claim top spot and promotion to Division 1.   From Bury's point of view, 1½ points will secure the title for them.   If points are equal, Saxmundham will be promoted as they will have won one more match than Bury.

No doubt both teams will be fielding a strong side.   Follow the grading website to see the result of this important match, as I will be away on holiday and unable to make a report.

At the other end of the table, only 2½ points separate the bottom four teams.   Despite a valiant effort, drawing 2 - 2 against Saxmundham A in their final match, Stowmarket will be relegated to Division 3.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Junior Chess meeting

Five people attended a meeting at Junior Organiser Tim Kent's house this evening, to discuss his plans for the future of Junior Chess in Suffolk.   Pictured above are (left to right): Tim Kent, Bob Jones (Bury Knights JCC), Dagne Ciuksyte (Martlesham JCC), Jane Drummond (Ipswich JCC) and Bill Mackintosh (Creeting St Mary and Bosmere Primary schools).   Four others were unable to attend:   Adam Hunt (Woodbridge School), Martin Tomes (Ipswich JCC), Boby Sebastian (Bury Knights JCC) and Blake Gifford (Whitehouse Primary and Woodbridge Chess Club).

Discussion included setting up a new website, developing chess in schools, extra junior tournaments, Suffolk teams at various age-groups, publicity and fund-raising.

Tim set out his broad aims:

*   to encourage more children to play chess through better marketing of the existing chess clubs and the promotion of chess in Suffolk schools;
*   to hold and promote more junior tournaments;
*   to organise teams to participate in inter-county matches;
*   to create a system where children can develop their skills at a pace which is appropriate to their ability.

Tim is to be congratulated on his enthusiastic and structured approach, which should result in increased numbers of children playing chess in the county.   It is hoped that he will receive every support from clubs and individuals over the coming months.

A further meeting of 'interested parties' will be held on Wednesday 5 July.   Anyone else wishing to attend should contact Tim on 07743 457251.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Ipswich Club Championship

The following report has been provided by Ian Wallis, winner of this season's Club Championship:

After six rounds Steve Gregory and I were tied for first place, so a play-off was needed to decide the championship.   Historically this used to be a six game match played over the summer, however as the Ipswich club no longer meets during this time, it was reduced to a single game.   In the event of a draw it was agreed that there would be another night set aside for rapid games with reducing time controls until a winner emerged.   Fortunately that was not necessary as I won a very fluctuating final game against Steve.

None of my games are worthy of publication in full so here is a selection of some critical positions from some of them:

Round 1 - White v Les Jones

White is better here but Black could prolong the game with Kg8 for example.   However he played to reduce the material deficit and walked into mate with 42... Rxf3?   43. Qc8+   Kf7 44. Qe8#

Round 3 - White v Martin Fogg

Martin had encouraged me to sacrifice in order to reach this winning position which I tried to mess up by playing inaccurately.

26. Re3 (now Black can escape with 26... Rb6   27. Rxe6   Bxe6 with three pieces for the Queen).   Fortunately 26... Kf7 was played and after 27. Rxe6   Bxe6   28. Qe5   1 - 0 three moves later.   Back to the diagram:   26. Rxd7! was the correct continuation (26... Qxe2   27. f7#).

Round 5 - White v Alex Sheerin

17... Bc8 is forced to meet 18. Nf5 with Bxf5.   Alex didn't notice the threat and after 17... Rac8   18. Nf5   Qe6   19. Qg4 had to give up his Queen to prevent immediate mate.

Round 6 - Black v Michael Cook

I had obtained a comfortable position from the opening and if White had continued with something like 13. 0-0   Nc5   14. Bc4 the game would be balanced.

However knowing Michael's preference for knights I was expecting the game continuation 13. Ba6?   Bxa6   14. Qxa6   Nc5   15. Qe2   Nd3+   16. Kf1   Nxb2 and despite Mike putting up a valiant defence I won after 60 moves.

Playoff - White v Stephen Gregory

This game reminded me of games from the final rounds of the recent US championships where the pressures of winning a national title produced many errors.   I can't say we had the same excuse but there were plenty of errors in this game.   Having misplayed a favourable opening I reached this position just before the time control.

35. Rb1 was probably best taking the line of most resistance, however Steve had only seconds for his next move and feeling Black was better I decided to mix it with 36. d5?!   cxd5 was the automatic reply (36... Qb3! is probably winning)   37. c6 was the idea. ... Qb3 (keeping the advantage but no longer winning) 38. Qc3? (throwing the game away) 38... Ra2+   39. Kf1   Qa4? (returning the compliment - Rf2+   40. Ke1   Qa2 is simply winning)   40. Qc5 (now White is much better) ... Kf7 (... Rf2+ was an improvement, although 41. Ke1   Kf7 42. c7   Qa6 43. Qxf2! should decide)   41. Qb6?   (41. c7 wins as ... Rf2+ can be met by Qxf2!)   ... Qa8? (the final error ... Rf2+   42. Qxf2   Nxf2   43. c7   Nd3   44. c8=Q   Nxc1   45. Qxc1 was more challenging.)   42. Qb7+ the rest was straightforward ...Ke8   43. Qd7+   Kf8   44. Ng6   Kg8   45. Qxe6+   Kg7   46. Qf6+   Kh7   47. Qf7#.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Southend results

The seven-round FIDE-rated Southend Easter Congress finished today, with mixed results for the Suffolk contingent (see earlier report here).

Alan Merry finished joint second on 5½ points, losing only to the eventual winner, GM Timur Gareyev.   Hailing from the USA, Gareyev is the World Blindfold Champion, as reported here a few months ago.   He scored 6½ points, with his only draw being in the second round against David Spence.

Ed Player scored five points to finish joint fourth, but all his opponents were lower-rated, probably because he had lost his Round 2 match.   David Spence finished on 4½ points, whilst Alex Sheerin (who took a couple of ½-point byes on Sunday) scored 2½ points.

Alan Merry's last round win was strange.   The live feed shows Alan winning in a drawn position.   His opponent, Matthew Wadsworth (White) is to play in the following position.

With only one possible move, it would seem unlikely that Matthew lost on time, although both players were down to a minute or so.   Perhaps the game continued longer, but the live feed stopped for some reason?   The position is theoretically drawn, but of course Matthew may have blundered somewhere.   Perhaps Alan, or Ed or David will explain what happened...

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Brother and sister to play for England

Two siblings from Bury St Edmunds have been selected to represent England at the European Schools Championships, to be held in Budva, Montenegro, in June.

They are 11-year old Adam John and his 8-year old sister Amy.   To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that a brother and sister from Suffolk have both been selected to play for their country.

Adam, currently graded 131, is having a good season in the leagues and may hit 150 in the next grading list to be published in July.   Meanwhile, sister Amy (ECF 74) has started playing regular league chess.   She is showing tremendous concentration and most of her games are lasting over two hours.

Congratulations to both on being selected!   The website for the Championships can be seen here.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Manningtree secure Division 3 title

Manningtree Chess Club may need a larger trophy cupboard.   In addition to their A team winning Division 1, Manningtree B have now won the Division 3 title.

Last Wednesday Manningtree B beat bottom team Felixstowe B to create a six-point margin ahead of their nearest rivals Saxmundham B, whom they play on Tuesday after Easter.   So, regardless of the score in that match, Manningtree A, who are unbeaten all season, winning 11 of their 13 matches, will be Division 3 Champions.

Next season, assuming Manningtree fields three teams again, the club will have a team in each of the three divisions.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Southend underway

The first two rounds of the Southend Easter Congress were completed today.   The standout performance was David Spence's draw with top seed GM Timur Gareyev, rated 441 points higher!   In fact, David accepted a draw when he might have been able to win, as he was about to go a pawn up in the endgame.   This was the final position, with David (White) to play:

After 46. Rxa5   Rxb2   (if 46...Nxa5, 47. Ra2)   47. Rxa4.

In addition to David (1½/2), three other Suffolk players are amongst the 67 entrants in the Open: Alan Merry, who has won both games, Ed Player (1/2) and Alex Sheerin (also 1/2).   Alex had a good win this afternoon against an opponent rated 1927 (279 points higher than Alex).

More news on this four-day seven-round tournament when it has finished on Easter Monday.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Manningtree are Suffolk League Champions!

Last evening, Manningtree A swept aside a depleted Ipswich B, to become Champions of Division 1 of the Suffolk League.   They are now six points clear of Ipswich C, who still have one match to play.

This result denies Ipswich C a hat-trick of Championship titles, and restores Manningtree to the title they last won in the 2013-14 season.   Manningtree's only loss this season was ... to Ipswich C.

Key to Manningtree's success (as well as having two players graded over 200) is their ability to field the same team.   Apart from their first two matches, when Board 1 Adam Taylor was unavailable, their team (Adam, Andy Lewis, Leon Burnett, Phil Hutchings - see photo above) has been unchanged throughout the season.

In addition to the title, Manningtree's Phil Hutchings is Division 1 Player of the Year, having scored 10/12 (four draws and no losses).

Ipswich B's defeat consigns them to Division 2 next season.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A position from 1848

Bury St Edmunds Chess Club's most senior member, Chas Szentmihaly (left), hasn't played at all this season, following an illness in the summer.   But the good news is that he's getting better and hopes to be back at the club soon.

He has sent in the position below, which is purported to be from an 1848 game between Mezon (Black, to play) and an unnamed opponent.   Chas thought there was some similarity with the position published here last week.

Enjoy the series of stunning sacrifices!

1...   Bb5   2. axb5   Nhg3+   3. Nxg3   Nxg3+   4. hxg3   hxg3+   5. Kg1   Rh1+   6. Kxh1   Rh8+   7. Kg1   Bc5+   8. Nxc5   Rh1+   9. Kxh1   Qh8+   10. Kg1   Qh2#

What foresight to see that Black needed to empty his back row of pieces to get his queen to h8!   Having said that, I wonder if this is a real game, or a composed position?   Does anyone know?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

ECF Player of the Year

(From the ECF website):

"ECF Player of the Year Award

Any system giving all ECF members the opportunity to elect the player of the year must have both advantages and disadvantages.   After discussion with the Awards Committee and some members of the ECF, we have decided to adopt the two stage system outlined here for this award in 2017.

Stage 1 – all ECF members will be invited to nominate up to five different players whom they feel should be on the short list for the final selection.   Each nomination will receive one vote.   The votes will be totalled and, when this is done, a short list of about six names will be drawn up.   The Awards Committee reserves the right to add names to this list in the event of any obvious omissions.

This stage will run until the 14th May.   The full results of this stage will not be published as they may skew the results of Stage 2.

Stage 2 – the short list of nominations will be published in alphabetical order, giving a brief summary of each player’s main achievements during the season.

ECF members will then be invited to vote for three of these players in order of preference.   First preferences get 5 points, second preferences 3 points and third preferences 1 point.   The player with most points becomes our Player of the Year.

This short list is to be published before the end of May, and voting to be completed by June 21st.

Members are therefore now invited to submit five nominations each for Stage 1 of this process via the online form OR by post to the ECF office [Watch Oak, Chain Lane, Battle, East Sussex TN33 0YD] as soon as possible, to reach them by the deadline of 14th May 2017."

Suffolk players may have a good idea who to vote for...

Monday, 10 April 2017

Southend Easter Congress

The 61st Southend Easter Chess Congress starts on Friday, with seven rounds taking place over the four days of Easter (one round on Monday).

To date, there are 59 entrants in the FIDE-rated Open, including three Suffolk players: Alan Merry (seeded 3), Ed Player (7) and David Spence (13).

There's still time to enter, either in the Open, or in any of the graded sections: u170. u145, u120, u95.   See here for details and here for an online entry form.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Suffolk teams scoop the EACU

The EACU Team Championships took place today at Moreton Hall Community Centre, in Bury St Edmunds.   Teams from clubs in the EACU played in three sections: Open, T600 and T500.   The winning teams from all three sections were from Suffolk.

Results were as follows (all scores out of 8):


Ipswich   6½
Broadland   4
Cambridge/Norwich Dons   1½


Bury St Edmunds   6½
Linton   5½
Norwich Dons   3½
Lowestoft   ½


Bury A   6
Bury B   (final scores not recorded)

Photos below are of the winning Open team (Shaun Munson, Graham Moore, Silas Peck, Andrew Shepherd) and the T600 winners (Bob Jones, John Feavyour, Jaden Jermy, James Pack).

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Alan wins in Jersey

Suffolk's International Master Alan Merry, still aged only 20, was the joint winner of the Polar Capital International Tournament in Jersey, which finished today.   The other player to score 7/9 was Jack Rudd, the erratic but sometimes brilliant IM from Devon.   Jack has suffered from epilepsy and occasional bouts of depression over the years, which have contributed to his rating decline.   He obtained the IM title in 2009, but has since dropped to only 2177 in the current rating list.   At least this performance will elevate him some 73 points.

But back to Alan.   The tournament featured three Grandmasters and Alan scored 2½ points against them, beating Mark Hebden and Tiger Hillarp Persson, and drawing with Jon Speelman.   Surprisingly, the GMs finished outside the top three, with third place going to the promising FM, Daniel Abbas.

Alan and Jack each go home with £1,125 prize money in their pocket.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Illegal move rule

Richard Doyle reports on his game (as Black) on Board 3 in the Felixstowe B vs Saxmundham C match last week.   In the position below, Richard was on less than five minutes, whilst his opponent (Mark Nevison) was on 20 minutes.

Mark now attempted Kc6.   An illegal move.   What happens now?   Richard thought there was some sort of penalty, and sure enough, one of the Saxmundham players knew the rule (shown below).   So two minutes were added to Richard's clock and play resumed.   The game continued for a few more moves until Richard offered a draw as he was then down to three minutes.   He didn't fancy his chances of forcing the win before losing on time.

Richard says, "Maybe if the Suffolk League can go ahead with incremental timings (see here) we could avoid these uncomfortable compromises?

According to the FIDE Laws of Chess, the first completed illegal move is penalised by awarding the opponent two additional minutes on the clock.   The second completed illegal move by the same player results in the loss of the game, unless the position is such that it is impossible for the opponent to win by any series of legal moves (e.g. if the opponent has a bare king) in which case the game is drawn.   A move is completed when it has been made and the player has pressed the clock.   In rapid chess and blitz chess, the first completed illegal move results in a loss.

PS.   I was also unaware of the 10.2 rule whereby team captains have to rule on a potentially drawn position where one player has less than two minutes left on their clock and claims a draw because his opponent is not attempting to win by normal means.   Do all team captains in the Suffolk League know this rule?"

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Pipped at the post

The Bury St Edmunds 'E' team, long-time leaders of the Bury Area League Division 3, have lost out to Linton Lemurs in their final matches of the season.

Both teams were playing this evening at the Bury club and going into these matches the teams were level on 26 points.   Bury E won their match 4½-½,. but Lemurs squeezed out a 5 - 0- win, to head the division for the first time this season.

Now, Linton must wait for Cambridge Gowns to play their last two matches.   Gowns lie 6½ points behind Linton, but there are a possible ten points at stake.   The final outcome will not be known until 27 April, when Gowns play their final match.

Alan's in Jersey

International Master Alan Merry is currently playing in the Polar Capital Jersey Festival, where he is the fourth seed in the Open.   Alan currently shares the lead on 4½/6.   He has already played two of the three Grandmasters seeded higher than him, beating Mark Hebden and drawing with Jon Speelman.   Today, in Round 7 (of 9) he plays the third GM, Tiger Hillarp Persson.

The game against Mark Hebden is a wild game with a number of errors from both players.   It started mildly in a Four Knights, but soon exploded into a complex game with both players throwing pieces into the attack.   At the end, Mark has queen and two rooks (and no pawns), whilst Alan still has six pawns!   You can view the whole game on ChessBomb.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Great Yarmouth Chess Congress

The Great Yarmouth Congress takes place in just over two weeks' time - 22/23 April.

Organiser John Wickham reports that entries currently total 40, but he is expecting "a flood of entries" in the next week or so.

There are four sections: Open, u170, u145 and u120.   The tournament is a British Championships qualifier, as well as being an ECF and EACU Grand Prix event.

If you don't have an entry form but wish to enter, contact John here, or by phone at 07808 876785.

Monday, 3 April 2017

EACU Team Championships this Sunday

The EACU Team Championships will be taking place at the Bury St Edmunds Chess Club on Sunday.   Organiser Patrick Ribbands reports a disappointingly low entry of nine teams, which includes three from the host club.

Ipswich are hoping to enter a team (contact Ian Wallis if you're interested) and there's still time to enter teams from other clubs too.

It costs £20 per team to enter, so for £5.00, each player gets two graded long-play games, using 'Fischer' timing.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Drawing in St Albans

12-year old Jaden Jermy (ECF 123) played this weekend in the Major section (u161) of the St Albans Chess Congress.   He was seeded 43rd out of 44 competitors, with only one lower-graded junior below him.

Jaden drew all five games, for a grading performance of 152.   His lowest-graded opponent was 143.   At the current rate of progress, his July 2017 grade should be as high as 150.

Results from the other Suffolk competitors (Graham Moore and Andrew Donnelly) will be published here when known.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A position from the Bury Area League

The position below was reached on Thursday in a match between Richard Donaghay (Ely) and Colin Roberts (Bury St Edmunds).   Colin (Black) has just played 16... hxg3 and White replied 17. f2-f3.

Colin now missed the best continuation and went on to lose the game.   Can you see it (answer below).

Answer:   17...Qb6+   18. c5   Bxc5   19. Kf1 (only move).   Colin now suggests 19... Bf2, although with best play (20 Nc4!), White can probably survive.   Perhaps the best move (after 19. Kf1) is ... Bd6, renewing the threat on f2 and preventing White's threat of Bf4+.

But it's a complicated position and further analysis may reveal a better solution.   Can you help?

Friday, 31 March 2017

Prizegiving at the Bury Knights

This evening was the last meeting of the term at the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club, attended by 29 members.   The photo above shows the playing room at 17.45, before anyone arrived!

The Club does not meet during the Summer Term, so as this was the final meeting of the season, the annual awards were presented to deserving members.

The photo below shows the prize winners:

A four-round Easter Tournament was also held, with top seeds Jaden Jermy and Adam John sharing the honours.   After scoring a maximum four points, they played a five-minute tie-break, which they drew!

Every member received a golden Easter egg, as well as other prizes, regardless of their score.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Division 3 latest

Last evening, Manningtree B missed an opportunity to secure the Division 3 title.   Playing their 'C' team, they could only manage a 2 - 2 draw.   A 4 - 0 victory would have meant that they could not be caught.

Manningtree B are now six points clear of second-placed Saxmundham B.   Both teams have two matches to play, the last of which (on 18 April) is against each other!

Manningtree B's next match, on 12 April, is at home against bottom team Felixstowe B.

You can view the current league table here.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

St Albans Chess Congress

The annual St Albans Chess Congress is taking place this coming weekend.   To date over 200 players have registered, including three from Suffolk: Graham Moore (Ipswich), Andrew Donnelly and Jaden Jermy (Bury St Edmunds).

Last year the total entry reached 227.

It's still possible to enter, although a late entry fee may apply.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

It's a family affair

Last Tuesday, the three John children from Bury St Edmunds (Alan 14, Adam 11 and Amy 8) all played in the same team for the club in a Bury Area League match at Linton.   Only Adam won on this occasion.   It is hoped that the three siblings will be able to play together as part of a team more often in future.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Visit to Woodbridge

This evening Tim Kent (the new Suffolk Junior Organiser) and I visited Woodbridge Chess Club.   The Club meets in the Methodist Church Hall in St John's Street on Mondays from 19.00 to 21.00.

Six 'regular' members were in attendance and were joined by one newcomer.   Tim and I brought the total up to nine.

The Club is organised by Blake Gifford (left in photo) who can be contacted here.

Due to members' holidays the Club will not be open over the Easter period.   It will be open for business again on Monday 24 April.   See the Club's website here.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Division 2 latest

Realistically, promotion from Division 2 is now down to two teams: Bury St Edmunds A and Saxmundham A.   Bury A are five points clear, but Sax A have a match in hand.

The 'crunch' match will be the postponed meeting between the two clubs, now scheduled for Tuesday 25 April, at Saxmundham.   This will be the final match of the season for both teams.

At the other end of the table, Stowmarket A are three points behind Sudbury; both teams have two matches to play.   On 3 April these two teams play each other.   Stowmarket probably need to win, because their final match, on 18 April, is against Saxmundham A!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Division 1 latest

With less than a month to go before the end of the season, the title race in Division 1 is between two teams: Manningtree A and Ipswich C.   Both have two matches remaining and both have to play bottom team Ipswich B, the team that appears most likely to be relegated.

The 2½ point lead that Manningtree A currently hold could be severely reduced in the next round of matches.   Manningtree A face Bury St Edmunds B, not an easy match to win, whilst Ipswich C play Ipswich B.   It's possible that by 4 April the two teams could be on level terms.   However, Manningtree A's final match is against wooden spooners Ipswich B, so they probably hold a narrow advantage.

All will be revealed by 18 April, when the final matcvh is due to be played.   But before then, Manningtree A, who play Ipswich B on 12 April, could have built up an unassailable lead.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Roger Goldsmith Trophy

The Bury Area League's Cup competition, the Roger Goldsmith Trophy, is nearing completion with the two Bury St Edmunds teams holding the top positions.

All six teams have one more match to play, scheduled for Easter week.   Leaders Bury Beehive, fresh from a 3½-½ drubbing of Cambridge Masters this evening, play away at Fen Thoroughbreds (Ely), whilst second-place Bury Abbey are at home to Cambridge Porters.

At the end of the round-robin matches, the top two teams then play each other again in the Final during the second week in May.   Current holders are Bury Abbey, who beat Cambridge Students at the end of last season, despite only managing a draw in the 2016 Final.   The tie-break rules award the trophy to the team with the higher points total in the league stage.

The current league table (soon to be updated with this evening's result) can be seen here.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Forthcoming events

Here's a list of tournaments etc that will be coming up over the next few months.   Get your diaries out!

Sunday 9 April

EACU Team Championships
Teams of four, ideally from the same club.   See previous article about this event here.

Sunday 7 May

Suffolk Megafinal
Qualifiers from schools and clubs will compete in all age-groups (boys and girls) in the UK Chess Challenge.

Saturday 13 May

National Quarter-Finals for Suffolk First Team and Under 160s
Note: this may be played on Sunday 14 May, or earlier by mutual agreement.   Opponents are not yet known.

Tuesday 30 May

Suffolk County Chess Association AGM
At Ipswich Chess Club, starting at 19.30.

Sat/Sun 3/4 June

EACU Congress - Turner Hall, Newmarket
Open, u170 and u130 sections

Sunday 11 June

Bury Knights JCC Coaching Day #1
Members (and others by invitation).   At Moreton Hall Community Centre.   10.00 to 17.00

Saturday 15 July

Bury Knights JCC Coaching Day #2
As above

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Club Championships

Four rounds of the Stowmarket Club Championship have now been completed, with all 12 entrants having played their full quota of games.   There is a winner already, with one round still to be played, as Stephen Lewis is on 4 points, whilst his nearest three rivals (James Irwin, Daniel Yarnton and Vicky Allen) are all trailing on 2½ points.

See the current cross-table here.

Meanwhile, the six round Ipswich Club Championship has gone to a play-off.   19 members participated and most games were completed.   Steve Gregory and Ian Wallis both scored 5/6.   Steve and Ian did not play each other during the initial six rounds.   Steve lost a game to Mike Cook (4½ points) and Ian lost to Ted Matthewson (3½ points).

See the final cross-table here.   The play-off result will be published here later.

Monday, 20 March 2017

International Day of Happiness (or Merry-ness)

To celebrate the International Day of Happiness, here is a position from a recent tournament, featuring our own IM Alan Merry.

Last weekend (10-12 March), Alan travelled to Blackpool for their annual congress.   This year's entry totalled 350, with a sizeable number playing in the Lancashire Open.

Alan scored 4/5 to finish equal third (and winning £100).   In his last round game, against Philip Crocker (190 ECF), Alan (Black) had sacrificed a knight to reach the position below.

Without scrolling down the page to see the answer, see if you can work out how Alan forced checkmate.

(Photo copyright © 2013 John Upham Photography)

Also playing in the same tournament, former Suffolk junior Anita Somton finished second in the Major (u180) section, scoring 4½/5.   She won a total of £330, which included the best junior prize.

Black played 1... g4+!   2. Bxg4   Rh2+!   3. Kxh2   Qxh4+   4. Kg2   Qxg3+ and 5. Qh2 mate.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

4NCL Divisions 3 and 4

A total of 11 Suffolk players travelled to Wokefield Park, near Reading, this weekend for Rounds 7 and 8 of this season's 4NCL.   Both Anglian Avengers and Iceni fielded two teams.

Anglian Avengers 3 (Division 4) fared best, winning both their matches (4½-1½ and 3½-2½).   Anglian Avengers 2, who are playing in the 'Championship pool' in Division 3, drew one and lost one by the narrowest of margins.   They now stand fourth (out of eight) in their pool, three points behind the leaders.

Iceni 1 are suffering this season, with only one drawn match so far.   Playing in the 'Demotion pool' in Division 3, they lost both their matches this weekend (2½-3½ and 1 - 5).   They now need a minor miracle in the final weekend at the end of April, when they will be playing three of the teams immediately above them.   Iceni 2 (Division 4) enjoyed a mixed weekend.   On Saturday they played in a triangular match, losing one 0 - 3 and winning the other 2½-½.   Today they convincingly won 4½-1½, with no players losing.

Individual scores (out of two unless stated otherwise):

John Peters   -   0
Nick Savage   -   ½
John Feavyour   -   0   (1 game played)
Graham Moore   -   ½
Silas Peck   -   1
Steve Gregory   -   1
Tim Lunn   -   2
Alex Sheerin   -   1
Keith Woodcock   -   ½
Bob Jones   -   2
Mike Usher   -   ½

Alex Sheerin was a little fortunate on Saturday when his opponent played Be3?? in the position below, hoping Alex would take the proffered piece.   Instead he achieved a draw by repeated checking on h4 and e1.   If his opponent had played 39. Nh6+   Kh8   40. Ng4!   Be5+   41. Kh3, mate is inevitable within a few moves.

The final (three-day) weekend of the season is 29 April to 1 May.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Game from Jon Collins

Bury St Edmunds' Jon Collins (162) played Black against Chris Davison (190) in a Roger Goldsmith Trophy Division 1 match on Thursday.

Here's the game, won by Jon, who writes, "there were several inaccuracies (and I considered resigning a few times!) but it certainly was entertaining and I found a few nice moves :)".

(Notes by Jon):

Friday, 17 March 2017

Andy Lewis simul

FM Andy Lewis (Manningtree) visited the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club this evening and took on 14 members in a Simul.   After nearly two hours play, Andy won all 14 games, although he struggled against top seed 11-year old Adam John, who was the last to finish.   Adam was probably winning at the end, but sadly hung a bishop and was forced to resign.

The two girls in the photo (right), Amy John (8) and Tia Martin (9), were amongst the last to finish.   Both lasted for nearly 40 moves.

Andy said he was impressed with the standard of play and felt that everyone played well above their grade.   He hopes to return next season to play in another Simul.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

New Junior Organiser

At the SCCA Committee Meeting on Monday, it was agreed that Tim Kent (above), father of seven-year old Rowan, should be nominated for the important role of Suffolk Junior Organiser.   Until the AGM (scheduled for 30 May), Tim will be the Acting Junior Chess Organiser.

He has some great ideas for developing chess for children in the county and would like to hear from anyone who has connections with chess in schools, be they a teacher or a helper/coach.

For a long time, Suffolk has needed an enthusiastic parent to take on this role.   Tim now needs the support of all clubs and adult players.   He can be contacted by email here.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Players of the Season for County teams

At the SCCA Committee meeting held on Monday, it was agreed that trophies would be awarded for the players in both the Open and Under 160 sections who score the most points during the season.   For both teams, this will include the National stages, as both have qualified.

The current standings, after the six EACU rounds, are:


Graham Moore   5/6
Steve Gregory   4½/6
Alan Merry   4/4
Silas Peck   4/6

Under 160

Phil Hutchings   4½/6
Keith Woodcock   4/4
David Green   4/6
Laurie Pott   4/6
Andrew Shephard 3½/6
John McAllister   3½/6
Ed Kirkham   3½/6

Monday, 13 March 2017

Keith's Under 160 game

Suffolk's Keith Woodcock (ECF 132) has won all four games played in the Under 160s this season.   Here is the first game he played yesterday, with White against Norfolk's David Payne (127).   Both players made errors, but the game is nevertheless entertaining:

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Suffolk are EACU Under 160 Champions

The Suffolk Under 160 team played their final matches today at the Turner Hall in Newmarket, against Norfolk and Hertfordshire, winning both by large margins:

Suffolk   10½ - 5½   Norfolk
Suffolk   11½ - 4½   Hertfordshire

During the season Suffolk won five matches and lost only one, scoring 10 match points to finish ahead of Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, with Norfolk bringing up the rear.

In today's matches, out of 32 games played, there were only two individual losses by Suffolk players.   Indeed, Suffolk were unbeaten on the top 12 boards.

Three players won both their games: Colin Roberts, Keith Woodcock and James Pack.   James is a new member of the Bury St Edmunds club.   Keith Woodcock has won all four games played in the Under 160s this season and tomorrow this blog will feature one of his games from today.

The full Suffolk results can be seen here (you will need to scroll to the bottom of the page).

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Rowan plays for Essex

Ten years have passed since Suffolk was able to send a team to the Zone Finals of the EPSCA inter-Association Under 9s.   Way back (1990?) Suffolk actually won the National title, but we did have a pair of rather good twins as well as several other strong players.

This year it was no different, with only two or three players considered strong enough to represent their county.   So Essex requested to 'borrow' 7-year old Rowan Kent (Woodbridge School and Bury Knights), as they are allowed to do since Suffolk is a 'neighbouring county' (so say the rules).

Rowan (right) played on Board 2 and won all three games.   For the record, Essex scored 23 points out of a possible 36 and qualify for the National Finals, to be held on 22 April.

Friday, 10 March 2017

SCCA Committee meets on Monday

The Committee of the Suffolk County Chess Association will be meeting on Monday.   Agenda items include reviewing some of the competition rules as well as the nomination (and re-nomination) system.   Members will also discuss the possible introduction of incremental (Fischer) timing as the default option.

If any member of a club affiliated to the SCCA wishes to stand for office next season (2017/18), will they please contact the Secretary, Kevin Greenacre, to register their interest.

Officers of the SCCA include: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Competitions Secretary, Results Officer, County Team captains (First, u160, u120 and Correspondence), Junior Chess and Women's Chess representatives.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

u145 Cup is completed

Congratulations to Manningtree Chess Club, who have won the Under 145 Cup for this season!   They accumulated 8 points from their three matches, narrowly leading runners-up Bury St Edmunds, who scored 7½ points.

Manningtree's top scorer was Dave Welsh, on 2/3, with John McAllister on 1½ (three draws) and Jim Buis, 1½/2.   Manningtree used a total of six players across the three matches.

Other team scores were Ipswich - 5½ and Felixstowe - 3.

The 145 Cup was first competed for in 1999, when it was won by Ipswich.   The trophy has been won four times by Ipswich, three times by Bury Cannons, Hadleigh and Adastral Park (all three clubs no longer exist!); twice by Saxmundham and once by Woodbridge School.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Woodbridge (x 2)

First of all, Adam Hunt has today postponed the Suffolk Junior Open, due to be held this Sunday.   He has written to all entrants:   "Unfortunately I have had to postpone the Suffolk Junior Open, due to take place this Sunday until Sunday 25 June.   Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused by this and let me know what you would like me to do with your entry fee, whether you would like me to return/destroy the cheque or keep it as payment for the tournament next term.   If you could also let me know that you have received this e-mail that would be much appreciated."

Whilst no reason for this postponement has been given, it may be because the number of entrants is too low.   Its timing, just one week after the Bury St Edmunds Junior Congress, is perhaps a little unfortunate.

On a happier note, the new Woodbridge Chess Club continues to thrive.   Organiser Blake Gifford reports that "...things seem to be going fairly well over here at Woodbridge.   We are slowly but surely developing a regular crowd.   We have been getting promotional support from local schools and we have had interest from quite a few juniors.   Due to this we have decided to adjust the club times to 19:00 - 21:00 (instead of 19:30) with the idea that we might encourage a few more."

I will be visiting the Club on 27 March in my capacity as President of the SCCA.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Bury Junior Congress in detail

Amongst the 92 entrants to Sunday's tournament, there were 23 girls - exactly 25%.   And they did very well, with several finishing in the prize money.

Amy John (Bury Knights) won the Under 9 section, despite losing her final game.   She was awarded the Under 9 trophy, as well as the Bury Area Chess League Trophy (pictured right).

Other prize-winning girls included Lettie Ganyushin (London) - joint winner of the Under 9s, Hettie Symes (slow starter Under 18s), and Tania Roy (slow starter Under 9s).   The 'Top Girl' prize was shared by five girls, each of whom scored four points: Tia Martin (Bury Knights), Oren Pilowsky-Bankirer, Mabel Symes, Julia Volovich and Claudia Bazyk (all Cambridge).

The Team prize for the best school entry was won by King's College, Ely.   Their three players (William and Dylan Stoeber, Robert Reed) scored a total of 14 points, beating St Edmunds RC Primary, Bury St Edmunds (Adam John, Tia Martin, Kirsten Taylor - 12 points).   There were 11 teams entered.

The Under 18 section was won by top seed Karthik Saravanan (photo left) from Great Yarmouth, with Suffolk players Tom Roy, Jaden Jermy and Alan John all sharing third place on four points.

The only Suffolk player to win a prize in the Under 11 section was Adam John, who scored 4½ points to finish in fourth place.

The 'My First Tournament' section attracted only 10 entrants, but the winner, Ben Palmer from Ipswich, was the only player in the whole tournament to win all six games.

The youngest entrant was six-year old Mae Catabay, from Colchester (pictured right).   Not only did she play well, scoring 2½ points, but she recorded all her games in her own scorebook!

Overall, the entry from Suffolk was rather disappointing.   Players from Cambridgeshire outnumbered Suffolk entrants (by 48 to 34).

The total Prize Fund amounted to £680.   The tournament organisers, Bury Knights Junior Chess Club, greatly appreciated the support of the Moreton Hall Community Association, who for the third year running provided their excellent facilities free of charge.

Monday, 6 March 2017

4NCL results

At the weekend, Anglian Avengers 1 played at Telford in Rounds 7 and 8 of the 4NCL Division 1.

After six consecutive defeats, Saturday's Round 7 was Avengers' final opportunity to win a match in the round-robin part of the tournament.   They were drawn against the strong Wood Green team, whose average rating exceeded Avengers' by more than 160 points.   Predictably, Avengers lost heavily (1 - 7 ), but the best individual result was on top board, where Adam Taylor managed to draw against GM Jonathan Speelman in what appears to be a heavily prepared game (correct me if I'm wrong!)

Round 8 on Sunday was the first of four matches in the 'Demotion Pool', to decide which two teams are to be relegated at the end of the season.   Unfortunately Avengers lost narrowly by 3½-4½, with a win for Ed Player and a draw for Adam Taylor (against GM Gormally in just eight moves).   David Spence recorded his second draw of the weekend.

All is not lost for the Avengers, but they will probably need to win at least two of their remaining three matches over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Bury Junior Congress

A total of 92 children played in the Bury St Edmunds Junior Chess Congress today.

There were four sections: Under 18, Under 11, Under 9 and 'My First Tournament'.   The latter section was an innovation, designed to attract children who otherwise might be afraid to play in an age-group section, where there are usually some strong players.

The following won trophies and are pictured below:

Under 9   -   Amy John (Bury Knights)
Under 11   -   Arnav Srivastava (Cambridge)
Under 14   -   Gavith Dharmasena (Cambridge) - best u14 in the u18 section
Under 18   -   Karthik Saravanan (Gt Yarmouth)
My First Tournament -   - Ben Palmer (Ipswich Junior)

A more detailed report will follow in a couple of days' time.