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?