Sunday, 16 September 2018

Norfolk & Suffolk Cup Final

Last weekend Bury St Edmunds Chess Club travelled to Norwich to play against Broadland Chess Club (recently voted ECF club of the year) for the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup; an annual event that sees the best team from Suffolk play a six board match against the best team in Norfolk. This year, to make the journey easier for the away team, the final was held in the Virgin Money Lounge in Norwich city centre; a very nice venue indeed. The playing room was pretty fancy, but also quiet, and conveniently adjacent to an airport-style lounge area that provided unlimited tea, coffee (from a decent machine) and a selection of biscuits and fruit.

The home team won the toss for colours and decided to have White on the odd numbered boards. After about twenty minutes into the match, Broadland defaulted on board 2, so Bury went one-nil up with only around a dozen moves played on each of the five remaining games. Despite Bury being handed a big advantage, Broadland eventually went onto win the trophy by half a point:

Broadland 3½-2½ Bury St Edmunds
1) Richard Polazek, IM (216) 1-0 Edmund Player (206)
2) Default 0-1 John Peters (195)
3) Ken McEwan (185) ½-½ Mark Le Vine (187)
4) Roy Hughes (190) 1-0 Stephen Ruthen (173)
5) Gerald Moore (190) 1-0 Jonathan Collins (165)
6) Steve Pullinger (169) 0-1 Jaden Jermy (165)

Bury's only winner was Jaden Jermy, one of Suffolk's promising juniors, who has annotated his game (below). Both players managed to get through the opening unscathed after which the game became fairly tactical. Eventually the players reached a knight v bishop endgame. Jaden managed to control the endgame very well by placing his remaining pawns on opposite-coloured squares to his opponent's bishop, which allowed his knight to jump around the board with joy, pestering his opponent's remaining King, bishop and pawns.

The Bury St Edmunds team (from left to right):
Stephen Ruthen, John Peters, Mark Le Vine, Jon Collins, Edmund Player and Jaden Jermy.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Results from Riga

This year's Riga Technical University Chess Festival recently took place from the 6th - 12th August. A total of 588 competitors from over 40 different countries travelled to the Kipsala exhibition centre (pictured below) in Latvia's capital to take part in one of five tournaments (A, B, C, D and E).

Kipsala Exhibition Centre - Riga Open

Latvia has produced some of the world's finest players, including former world chess champion, Mikhail Tal, and more recently former world number 2, Alexei Shirov - both players renowned for their attacking flair. Latvia's current number 1, Igor Kovalenko (GM) - FIDE 2644, was top seed in Tournament A, which consisted of 260 players including 13 year old Indian prodigy, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (GM), who is breaking all sorts of records:
  • Youngest International Master of all time (breaking Judit Polgár's 25 year old record).
  • Second youngest Grandmaster of all time (behind Sergey Karjakin).
This year two Suffolk players took part in the open Tournament A:
  • Alan Merry (IM)
  • Edmund Player (myself!)
By his own standards these days, Alan didn't have one of his best tournaments, but he still managed to put in a very solid performance scoring 6 points from 9 rounds, which earned him a share of 21st place and a grand total of 16 euros! Alan played a nice game in round 7, where he ended up in the position below. Can you spot how he finished the game?

From a personal point of view my own tournament went pretty well, especially at the beginning where in the first two rounds I managed back-to-back draws against Kaido Külaots (GM and Estonian number 1) and Iila Smirin (GM) - see game below. During the latter part of the tournament things faded away a little for me - my 7th round opponent unfortunately couldn't play  and I only managed to score ½/2 in my final two games - however, overall I was pleased with my play and final result.
For those considering a summer tournament next year, Riga is an excellent option for players of all ages and standards. This year the organisers also held two FIDE rated blitz tournaments as well as a cultural programme, offering chess players a visit to the local chocolate factory and a chance to play in a table tennis tournament.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Andrew Lewis is British Senior Champion!

This year's British Chess Championships was held in Kingston upon Hull from 27th July to 5th August.

Andy Lewis (FM), who plays for the Manningtree Chess Club in the Suffolk League, managed to win the British Senior (50+) Championships by a clear point and unbeaten, scoring 6/7. Congratulations Andy!

Other Suffolk players competed in various events:

Graham Moore, who plays for Ipswich Chess Club, performed very well throughout the majority of the main tournament, which was much stronger than in previous years due to stricter qualification regulations. Graham picked up some excellent results including a win against Scottish IM, Andrew Muir, and a draw against John Emms (GM), and although things slipped away a little in the final two rounds, he still managed to gain 5.8 rating points. However, the pick of the bunch was Jon Collins, who performed 160 points above is current international rating, gaining him 29.2 rating points!

Also, former Suffolk players, Justin Tan (GM elect) and Nicholas Pert (GM) competed in the main championship. Nick finished 5th= in the main event which was won by England's highest rated player of all time, Michael Adams (GM), who beat Luke McShane (GM) 3-1 in a rapidplay playoff, after both players ended up tied on 7/9.

McShane beat David Howell (GM) in the final round which gave him the opportunity to play Adams for the prestigious title. Can you spot McShane's nice finish?

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Norfolk & Suffolk Cup

The Suffolk Final of the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup took place on 28 June.   Bury St Edmunds had narrowly beaten Ipswich in one semi-final, whilst Manningtree had triumphed over Saxmundham in the other semi-final, despite having only five players in their team.

Neither team were at full strength, although Bury St Edmunds were missing only their Board 2, Ed Player.   Manningtree, on the other hand, did not have Adam Taylor, Leon Burnett or Jim Buis available.

Two of Manningtree's reserves, Carl Phillips on Board 5 and Dave Welsh on Board 6, both pulled off excellent draws against Jon Collins and Jaden Jermy respectively.   However, the top four boards all went Bury's way, with top board Mike Harris securing an excellent win against FM Andy Lewis.   Their game can be played through below.

[Event "Norfolk and Suffolk Cup – Suffolk Final"]
[White "Lewis, Andy"]
[Black "Harris, Mike"]
[Site "Bury St Edmunds"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Date "2018.06.28"]
[WhiteElo "215"]
[BlackElo "218"]

1. c4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 d5 5. 0-0 c6 6. d4 Bd6 7. Nc3 0-0 8. Rb1 Nbd7 9. b4 Ne4 10. Qc2 Ndf6 11. b5 Bd7 12. Ne5 Nxc3 13. Qxc3 cxb5 14. cxd5 Nxd5 15. Qb3 Bxe5 16. dxe5 Bc6 17. Ba3 Re8 18. Bd6 Qa5 19. e4 fxe4 20. Bxe4 Nc3 21. Bd3 Nxb1 22. Qxb1 h6 23. Bh7+ Kh8 24. Bg6 Qc3 25. f3 Qe3+ 26. Kg2 a6 27. Rf2 Bd5 28. h4 Rec8 29. Qb4 Rc4 30. Qa5 Rac8 31. Bb4 Bxf3+ 32. Rxf3 Rc2+ 33. Bxc2 Rxc2+ 34. Kh3 Qxf3
Broadland Chess Club have qualified as Norfolk winners, for the fifth successive year.   The Final will be played in Norwich on Sunday 9 September.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Suffolk Cup and Plate results

Starting the summary of the past season, the first item is the Cup & Plate competition.

14 of the possible 24 teams entered.   After the initial (seeded) round, the seven winning teams progressed to the Cup, with the losing teams playing in the Plate.

The Cup teams were:
Sudbury, Manningtree A, Bury St Edmunds C, Saxmundham A, Bury St Edmunds A, Ipswich F and Ipswich D.

Ipswich D were given a bye and, unfortunately, all the other three matches were won by default.   In the semi-finals, Bury St Edmunds C beat Sudbury, whilst Manningtree A beat Ipswich D.

The Final was held in Bury on 20 June.   The only decisive game was on top board, when Bury St Edmunds' Ed Player beat Manningtree's Adam Taylor to give Bury C the Cup.

Meanwhile, in the Plate competition, Woodbridge received the bye.   Felixstowe, Bury St Edmunds B and D all progressed to the semi-finals.   Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds B won their respective semis.

The Final was held in Felixstowe on 15 May, with Felixstowe convincingly beating Bury St Edmunds B 3½ - ½.

All Clubs are asked to submit their entries for the new season's competition.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

First glance at the new grades

The new ECF grades were published this afternoon.   Here is a quick look at some of the 'movers'.

Alex Sheerin retains his place as Suffolk's top junior, with a 13-point improvement to 177.   Second-placed junior is Jaden Jermy, who moves from 158 to 164.   Another substantial improvement was recorded by Amy John, with a 16-point increase to 98.

Among the adults, Manningtree's Adam Taylor improves dramatically from 209 to 225, whilst Bury's John Peters moves from 187 to 194.

Whilst Jon Collins (165) and Jaden Jermy will be lost to the Under 160s next season, Phil Hutchings (158) and Andrew Shephard (155) drop back in.

Amongst the top English players, Alan Merry (242) is in 20th place, with Adam Hunt (226) in 54th, Adam Taylor 56th, Mike Harris (220) 73rd, and Dagne Ciuksyte (216) 88th.

More stats later!

Monday, 23 July 2018

Not long now!

It's nearly time for the British Championships (they start on Friday), which means that the new grades will be published soon.   In fact, the Director of Grading is predicting they will be ready tomorrow (Tuesday).

Over the next few days there will be a number of posts that will enable readers to catch up on events over the summer.   These include an end-of-season round-up, decisions from the AGM, the Norfolk & Suffolk Cup result (Suffolk section), and Cup & Plate winners.

We are also trying to encourage more players to act as coaches for the promising juniors.

So, first, it should be the new grades.   These will assist club secretaries, who need to let the Competitions Secretary know by the end of the month (preferably earlier) of their team entries for the coming season.

If you haven't done so already, make sure you see every new posting on this website by adding your email address and clicking 'submit' (at bottom right of the page).

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Megafinal results

The Suffolk Megafinal took place at Woodbridge School last Sunday.   This event is the second of four levels where children try to reach the final of the UK Chess Challenge - the Terafinal.

A total of 62 children entered, mainly from schools and clubs around the county (a few Essex and Cambridgeshire children entered too).   Only those who performed well at the first stage of the competition qualified for the Megafinal.

13 of these qualifiers were from the Bury Knights Junior Chess Club, whilst other qualifiers came from the Ipswich Junior Chess Club, Martlesham Heath Junior Chess Club, Woodbridge School, the Royal Hospital School (Holbrook), Orwell Park School, St Albans High (Ipswich) and several other chess-playing primary schools, at Bosmere (Needham Market), Handford Hall (Ipswich), East Bergholt, Bealings and Birchwood (Martlesham)..

Perhaps the outstanding individual result was the maximum six points out of six, scored by six-year old Indula Dedigama (Bury Knights).   Indula has only recently had his sixth birthday and was competing in a section for Under 7s and Under 8s, so some of his opponents were two years older than him.   Two other players scored maximum points - Rowan Kent (Woodbridge School and Bury Knights) in the Under 9s and Adam John (Bury Knights) in the Under 12s.

The full results will be posted soon on the UK Chess Challenge website (scroll down to 'Suffolk').

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Mixed results for County teams

Suffolk's County teams (First team and Under 160s) played their National quarter-final matches over the weekend.   The First team beat Warwickshire 8½ - 7½ (but see below), however the Under 160s crashed out to Essex by 6 points to 10.

The First team played their match at a 'halfway' venue, in Bedford.   In the Minor Counties section each team is required to have an average grade not exceeding 180 and Suffolk managed to compensate top board Alan Merry (240) by playing James Pack (132) on Board 16.   Ironically, Alan lost, whilst James won!   Warwickshire fielded an ungraded player for whom permission had not been given by the Controller.   This entailed a default grade of 180 to be allocated for that player, which pushed Warwickshire over the 180 average limit (181.25).   Two penalty points were therefore deducted from the Warwickshire total, making the final result 8½ - 5½.

Other Suffolk wins were recorded by Graham Moore, Ed Player. Ted Matthewson and John Feavyour.

The Under 160s played their match against Essex in Ipswich, at the Labour Club in Silent Street.   Although the room was a little cramped, it was free of charge, a gesture from the Club which was greatly appreciated.   With ten games completed the match was level at 5 - 5.   But the remaining six boards could only muster two draws between them.   Steve Lovell on Board 7 managed a great win in just 14 moves, but the only other Suffolk winner was Board 2 Jaden Jermy.

My (Bob Jones) own game finished in a draw, but I should have won.   What would you have played as White in the following position?

The correct move is axb5, but I played cxb5, wanting to get my pawns further away from my opponent's king.   Wrong idea!   After axb5, the c-pawn is a passed pawn and the Black king must remain in attendance.   White can then mop up Black's remaining king-side pawns.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Adam is now a coach

Manningtree's Adam Taylor has spent much of the past week in Durres, Albania, with the ECF Junior Squad.   They were competing in the World Schools Chess Championships and Adam is one of three ECF coaches, the others being GM Glenn Flear and GM Jonathan Hawkins.

Adam has now both played for England Juniors and acted as a coach to them!

The composite photo below shows (left) Adam as an England player and (right) as a coach, with one of the English players.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Suffolk Under 160s are EACU Champions

The final matches in this season's EACU Under 160 competition were held in Newmarket today.   Suffolk only needed to draw one match to be confirmed as Champions.

The morning match, against second-placed Cambridgeshire did not go to plan, with Suffolk losing 7 - 8 in a 15-board match.   But in the afternoon Suffolk ran out clear winners against Hertfordshire, by 10½ points to 4½.

Suffolk will now be at home to Essex in the National Quarter-Finals, to be played in Ipswich on Saturday 12 May.

Seeing double - the Suffolk team included two Mike Ushers - see the photo below!   One (left), Michael E Usher, who most players will know, is from Saxmundham, whilst the other, Michael D Usher, hails from Brandon and does not currently play for any club.   He last played competitively at the 2016 Bury St Edmunds Congress.

Today's top scorers for Suffolk were Board 3 Jaden Jermy, who won both games against opponents graded 154 and 146, and Board 15 Cameron Little.   Several others scored 1½ points: Alex Sheerin (Board 1), Laurie Pott (4), Mike D Usher (7), Adam John (8), Mike E Usher (11) and Rene Martinez (13).

Friday, 20 April 2018

Sandy Peters R.I.P.

Some Suffolk chess players will remember, with fondness, Sandy Peters, father of John.   Sandy passed away on 5 April at his home in Bury St Edmunds, at the age of 80.

In his prime, Sandy was a highly competent chess player.   In 1991, then a member of the Stowmarket club, he was graded 140.   But earlier his highest recorded grade was 156 when he was a member of the Bury and West Suffolk Club, of which he was a two-time champion.   Sandy liked to play in the 'romantic' style and was a big King's Gambit proponent.   He was also a County captain.

He stopped playing competitively in the early 1990s, but maintained a keen interest in the game, watching games online and supporting John as he progressed through his teenage years.

The photo shows Sandy in about 1974. He is the second from the right, adjusting his clock.

Does anyone recognise the other people in the photo?

Sandy’s funeral will be held at the West Suffolk Crematorium in Risby, Bury St Edmunds, on Monday 30 April, at 3.30 pm.   If you would like to attend, as well as the wake afterwards, please contact John.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Suffolk League Champions decided

Although there are several matches still to be played, we now know the Champions in all three divisions of the Suffolk League.

Division 1 Champions - Manningtree A.   Bury St Edmunds C will be runners-up if they can score one point from their remaining match.

Division 2 Champions - Felixstowe A.   They are two points clear of runners-up Ipswich B and still have a match in hand.

Division 3 Champions - Woodbridge.   Felixstowe B are runners-up.

The team to be relegated from Division 1 will be Bury St Edmunds A.   In Division 2, there are two teams that could be relegated: Manningtree B and Bury St Edmunds D.   Manningtree have to play Bury on 25 April in the deciding match.

The latest league tables can be viewed here.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Alan Merry gains second GM norm

21-year old Alan Merry recently travelled to Jersey to play in the Polar Capital Open.   Seeded seventh in a field that contained eight GMs and seven IMs, Alan finished on 7 points out of 9, joint winner alongside GM Tiger Hillarp Persson. with whom he drew his individual game.

His performance rating, adjusted in accordance with FIDE rules (one opponent re-rated 2200 for the purpose of GM norm calculation) was just over the required 2600, to give Alan his second Grandmaster norm.   He also gained 20 rating points from the tournament, and now needs to gain a further 44 rating points, along with a third GM norm, to qualify as a Grandmaster.

Alan certainly seems to enjoy playing in Jersey.   In 2016 he scored an excellent 6/9, losing only his round 4 game.   In 2017 he was unbeaten on 7 points, and was joint winner with IM Jack Rudd.   This year his only loss was in Round 7 against GM Jon Speelman.   He therefore went 20 games unbeaten (five in 2016; nine in 2017; and six in 2018).   This year he played six GMs in succession (four with the Black pieces), scoring four points (+3, =2, -1).

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

UK chess needs more tournaments like the Northumbria Masters

This article has been provided by Ed Player:

The Northumbria Masters is a new five day, nine round chess event sponsored by Capital Bridging Finance Solutions Ltd, which was held in February this year in the upstairs function room of the Chillingham Arms Pub in Newcastle. The function room had excellent sound proofing and complimentary hot drinks and biscuits. After each round of chess players were able to use the large downstairs rooms of the pub to analyse their games with their opponents with some decent pub food and drinks.

The tournament consisted of around 50 competitors from 14 different countries. Many strong players entered the event which was eventually won by German International Grandmaster and top seed, Alexander Donchenko. Donchenko, pictured in the middle of the picture below wearing a blue top, scored 7.5 points from 9 rounds, beating Suffolk's Alan Merry in round 2.

Prizewinners: (left to right)
Ravi Haria (IM), Martin Percivaldi (IM), Jakhongir Vakhidov (GM), Alexander Donchenko (GM), Daniel Gormally (GM), Tim Wall (Organiser/FM) and Alexander Raetsky (GM).

You may (or may not!) ask yourself, "why was the tournament so strong"? One reason is obvious: money. The bigger the prize fund, the more likely it is that stronger players, including professional players, will turn up to play. The top prize of £1200 may at first sound like a good deal for a working week for a top player like Donchenko, but if you consider that each game can last up to 4 hours and players usually spend additional time preparing before the tournament and for opponents in advance of each game, then it doesn't sound quite as glamourous, especially since there's absolutely no guarantee at all that any of them will end up on a winning score; there are only very fine margins in terms of the difference in strength between the top players. Another reason why the tournament was so strong was because the tournament was advertised for players with a FIDE ELO rating of 2200 or higher. This is appealing because it offers better opportunites for players wishing to achieve a FIDE title.

There was a good representation of Suffolk players present including myself, and International Masters Alan Merry and Adam Hunt. Also, former Suffolk-based International Master, Justin Tan played. The organisers allowed some weaker players like myself to enter to make up the numbers, so they ended up using an accelerated pairing system for the first five rounds, giving the likes of Adam, Justin and Alan stronger pairings than they would get with a standard swiss pairing system, and therefore a stronger chance of achieving Grandmaster normsa, although sadly none of them quite managed it this time.

Scores on the doors:

  • Adam Hunt and Alan Merry scored 5 points, finishing in joint 14th place.
  • Justin Tan scored 4.5 points, finishing in joint 23rd place.
  • Edmund Player scored 4 points, finishing in joint 31st place.

The Chess Results website lists the final standings and most of the games are available on

The tournament organisers did a grand job and fingers-crossed the event will keep running and continue gaining support and sponsorship for many years to come. I hope the tournament will inspire similar international events to pop up in other areas of the country. There are now a number of good FIDE-rated weekend congresses in the UK, which is helping British chess a lot. Some of these tournaments disperse the prize fund evenly across the different sections, instead of awarding a higher prizes to the winner(s) of the top sections. I do hope such events will reassess their prize fund allocations as it would surely attract stronger players, which would end up sending a positive vibe through all of the sections - a bit like we see in Suffolk with the wonderfully organised Bury St Edmunds Congress.

Over recent years there have been some fantastic initiatives involving chess in UK schools and Suffolk junior chess is thriving. If the British chess nations wish to compete better against chess superpowers such as Russia, Ukraine and the US, as well as the rapidly emerging chess nations such as India and China, there needs to be more tournaments like the Northumbria Masters, giving UK players more local opportunities to play chess at a higher level. At the moment, promising youngsters often have to seek opportunites abroad in order to fulfil their potential, which can be inpractical and ends up costing a lot in terms of money and time.

The more chess events in the UK that can tempt larger numbers of professionals and top players to enter, the better the outcome should be for UK chess players of all strengths and ages. Chess orgnanisers should always allocate larger prizes to the top section of any chess event and should keep trying to find innovative ways to attract even greater levels of sponsorship for international, national and regional competitions.

From a personal perspective, I managed to gain 1.5 FIDE rating points - not bad for 36 hours of chess! Things would have been better if it wasn't for a horrific blunder in my last round game (see below). I also met up one evening for a few beers with Adam Leigh, a former Bury St Edmunds Chess Club member and Bury Knights Junior Chess Club coach. Adam is studying for a Masters degree in Archeology at Newcastle University, and hopes to return one day to the Suffolk chess scene.

Edmund Player


Monday, 2 April 2018

Alan Merry leads in Jersey

Homegrown International Master Alan Merry is joint leader on 3½ points after four rounds of the Polar Capital Open in Jersey.   He has played two GMs so far, scoring 1½ points against them.   Tomorrow (Tuesday) he faces the top seed, a GM from Uzbekistan.

His Round 4 win against a 2523-rated Dutch GM was faultless and can be viewed on Chess24 here.

The next five rounds will be played at the rate of one per day, finishing on Saturday.   A GM norm is a distinct possibility if Alan can maintain his form over the rest of the week.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

County First team suffers rare defeats

Last Sunday, Suffolk's First Team played Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, losing both matches.   The Norfolk match was closely fought, with Suffolk going down by 7 points to 9.   But the defeat by Cambridgeshire was worse, losing by 5½ - 10½.

No Suffolk player won both games; the best performances were by John Feavyour and Laurie Pott, who both scored 1½ points.

The final matches of the season will take place on 4 March, when Suffolk's opponents will be Bedfordshire and Norfolk.

See here for the current league table.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

EACU Club Championships

This season's EACU Club Championships will take place at the Bury St Edmunds club venue on Sunday 25 February.   Each team plays two matches, starting at 10.00 and 14.30, using County match timings (Fischer).

It's not too late to enter a team (or teams).   The organiser is Patrick Ribbands.

There are four sections: Open, Team 600, Team 500 and Team 400.   For each of the graded sections, the total current grade of the team must not exceed the figure.

It costs £20 to enter a team, so that's a fiver each.

So far, Ipswich have said they intend to enter at least one team, and Bury St Edmunds are also expecting to enter a team or two.   Any Suffolk League or Bury Area League club can enter a team.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

4NCL results

A total of 17 Suffolk players travelled to Northampton and Reading for the third weekend of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

Five Suffolk-based teams are involved, with Anglian Avengers playing in Divisions 2 and 3, whilst Iceni have three teams in Division 4.

Anglian Avengers 1, in Division 2, lost their first match 3 - 5, but won today with a convincing 5½-2½ scoreline.   Ed Player was top Suffolk scorer on 1½ points, with Ian Wallis on 1/2 and Andy Lewis winning his only game today.   Other scores were Graham Moore ½/1, Silas Peck ½/2 and Steve Gregory 0/2.

Anglian Avengers 2, in Division 3, crashed 0 - 6 to league leaders Barnet Knights 1 on Saturday, but managed a respectable 3 - 3 draw today.   David Brown and Alex Sheerin both achieved one draw from their two games, but Keith Woodcock returned home empty-handed.

Iceni are desperate to achieve promotion for one of their teams and went into this weekend with Iceni 1 on maximum points.   Another win on Saturday saw them temporarily assume top spot, but they fell to a narrow defeat today to finish on 10 points out of a possible 12.   All three Suffolk players in their team were undefeated over the weekend, with John Feavyour and Paul Botham both on 1½ points, and Steve Ruthen on one point (two draws).

Iceni 2 had the best results for the weekend, winning both their matches.   They now have the same number of points as their first team, and are equal on game points.   A fixture clash between the two teams seems likely for Round 7.   For their team, Malcolm Lightfoot scored 1½ points and Jaden Jermy ½ point.

Iceni's third team had two convincing results, one in favout and one against.   Rory Goldsmith scored 1/2, and Dominic Carter lost both games.

Rounds 7 and 8 for Divsion 2 take place in Reading on 17/18 March for Division 2, and on 24/25 March, also in Reading for Divisions 3 and 4.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Under 160s close in on trophy retention

Suffolk, last year's winners of the EACU Under 160 Counties Championship, are within a whisker of retaining the trophy they won in 2017.   This would be the first time for several years that any county has retained the trophy.   Suffolk was the last county to achieve this, by winning in 2010 and 2011.

On Sunday, Suffolk won both their matches, beating Norfolk in the morning by a convincing 11½ points to 4½, whilst in the afternoon Hertfordshire were beaten 9½ - 6½.   Suffolk now heads the table on eight points, with Cambridgeshire the only challenger on four points.   Suffolk has a substantial margin of game points in hand, so to lose the title Suffolk would not only need to lose both matches on 18 March (and Cambridgeshire win both), but also lose badly!

Here is the current league table:
Suffolk - 8 points / 41½ game points
Cambridgeshire - 4 points / 33 game points
Hertfordshire - 3 points
Norfolk - 1 point

The final matches for Suffolk are against Cambridgeshire (AM) and Hertfordshire (PM).   So by lunchtime on 18 March, Suffolk should know for certain if they are EACU u160 Champions.

Four players won both their games on Sunday: Ed Kirkham (Board 6), Mike Usher (Board 11); John McAllister (Board 15) and Cameron Little (Board 16).   Scoring 1½ points were Martin Fogg (3), Jaden Jermy (4), Bob Stephens (8) and James Pack (14).

Full results for Suffolk can be viewed here.   A strong squad is anticipated for the final matches.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Gibraltar Masters results

The 10-round Gibraltar Masters tournament ended yesterday with seven (!) players sharing first place on 7½ points.   Unfortunately for England's Michael Adams, he was one of three players eliminated from the play-offs, due to lower tournament performance ratings.

The top four entered a play-off, which lasted well into the night.   Armenia's Lev Aronian eventually emerged as the winner, picking up a cheque for £25,000.

Suffolk's David Spence had a creditable tournament, gaining 24 rating points despite scoring only four points.   He had some tough opponents, with only one having a lower rating than him.   Hopefully David will let us have one of his games, perhaps one of his two wins against titled opponents.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Suffolk First team off to a good start

The Suffolk First Team, captained this season by Steve Ruthen, got off to a promising start on 21 January with two wins against Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.   Suffolk won both matches by the narrowest of margins - 8½-7½.

The team was weakened by the absence of several strong players, including Alan Merry and Shaun Munson.   Nevertheless, their lower-graded replacements did not disappoint, with Alex Sheerin winning both games on Board 15 and Ed Kirkham drawing his only game on Board 16 (he benefited from a default win in the other match).

Suffolk's leading scorers were:

Graham Moore (Board 1) - 2/2
Silas Peck (Board 3) - 2/2
Alex Sheerin (Board 15) - 2/2
Andrew Shephard (Board 12) - 1½/2

The next First Team matches are on 18 February.   This coming Sunday (4 February) sees the Under 160s in action against Hertfordshire and Norfolk.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Gibraltar Masters latest

After four rounds of the Gibraltar Masters, Suffolk's David Spence is on 1½ points.   He had two tough pairings in Rounds 1 and 2, and has scored all his points in the last two rounds.   Tomorrow he faces an English IM, Gary Quillan.

The tournament is led by Hikaru Nakamura, the only player on 4 points.

You can follow the live games on, or on

Saxmundham's David Brown finished the five-round Challengers A section on 2 points, including a fine win in the final round against a higher-rated opponent.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

January grades

The January ECF grades have been published today.   At first glance there doesn't appear to be much change, with most people moving up or down by just a few points.

Unsurprisingly, the top three 'movers' are all Juniors:

Adam John (Bury St Edmunds) +14 to 152
Jaden Jermy (Bury St Edmunds) +12 to 158
Alex Sheerin (Ipswich) +11 to 164

Amongst the adults, the largest increase is by Ed Kirkham, Felixstowe (+8 to 154), followed by Tim Lunn, Ipswich (+7 to 178) and Rene Martinez, Bury St Edmunds (+7 to 136).

The top active Suffolk League player is Mike Harris (Bury St Edmunds) 218, who now ranks #87 in England.   Mike is followed by Andy Lewis (Manningtree) 215 and Graham Moore (Ipswich) 210.

A list of Suffolk players can be viewed here.   However, there are several omissions from this list.   To access your club's members, enter the club's name in the search box and click on 'Find Clubs'.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Gibraltar Festival starts tomorrow

The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival commences tomorrow, Tuesday 23 January.   Promoted as 'the best open chess tournament in the world', the Masters section has attracted 275 players.   These include an amazing 89 Grandmasters, led by Lev Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Hikaru Nakamura.   12 players are rated 2700 and above.

Suffolk's only entrant in the Masters is David Spence, seeded 217.   In Round 1 he faces a Georgian IM, rated 377 points higher.

Saxmundham's David Brown is playing in the Challengers A section.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

John Dawson RIP

It's sad to report that John Dawson, doyen of Linton Chess Club and a frequent participant in the Bury Congress, passed away on 5 January.

Born on 11 April 1924, John had been for many years the oldest player in the Bury Area Chess League.

John last played in the Bury Congress in 2014, when his failing eyesight required additional lighting to be provided.

There was always a twinkle in John's eye and he had a ready wit.   He would joke and tease at every opportunity.

He had hoped to play some league chess this season, but had not had an opportunity to do so.

Back in 2012, John (then aged 88) hit the headlines in the East Anglian Daily Times for his match at the Bury Congress against five-year old Jeff Tomy.   John won - just!

John died peacefully at home, aged 93.   He was a much loved father and grandfather who will be greatly missed by all.

John's funeral will be held at 2.00 pm on Wednesday 31 January at the Cam Valley Crematorium, Field Farm Drive, Great Chesterford, CB10 1SD.   Mourners are invited to the Red Lion at Whittlesford afterwards.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Suffolk Junior Chess

Most news about Juniors in the county is now included on the new Suffolk Junior Chess website.   In the past, there has been some criticism that juniors featured too often in the daily 'blogs' on this website.   So now, that won't happen.   But if you are interested in the progress of our talented juniors, please do follow the website, which is being run by Tim Kent, the Suffolk Junior Chess Organiser.

This coming weekend, a team will be playing in the Junior 4NCL and later, on 25 February, a 12-board team will be competing in the ECF Under 18 County Championships.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

4NCL results

A total of 16 Suffolk players travelled to Reading and Solihull today for Rounds 3 and 4 of this season's Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

Five Suffolk-based teams were involved - Anglian Avengers 1 and 2 (captain Ian Wallis), and Iceni 1, 2 and 3 (captain John Feavyour).

There were some excellent team and individual results, as follows:

Anglian Avengers 1

(Division 2) - Won 5 - 3 and lost 3½ - 4½.
Ed Player ½/2
Andy Lewis ½/2
Graham Moore ½/2
Steve Gregory 1/2
AA1 are 3rd in Division 2B, on 5 points out of 8.

Anglian Avengers 2

(Division 3) - Won both matches 3½ - 2½.
Silas Peck 1/2
Ian Wallis 1½/2
Alex Sheerin 1/2
Keith Woodcock 1/2
AA2 are 3rd in Division 3A, on 6 points out of 8.

Iceni 1

(Division 4) - Won 4 - 1 and 4½ - 1½.
John Feavyour 2/2
Iceni 1 are second (out of 30 teams) in Division 4 on 8 points out of 8.

Iceni 2

(Division 4) - Won 5 - 1 and 4 - 2.
Jon Collins 2/2
Steve Lovell 2/2
Bob Jones 1½/2
Iceni 2 are 8th in Division 4, on 6 points.

Iceni 3

(Division 4) - Lost ½ - 5½ and 1 - 5.
Laurie Pott 1/2
James Pack 0/2
Iceni 3 are 27th in Division 4.

Also playing, in Division 1, were Adam Hunt and Dagne Ciuksyte.   Both won two games, which included an excellent win for Adam against GM Simon Williams.

The next two rounds are being played at Northampton and Reading on 10 and 11 February.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Adam beats a GM

In the first round at Hastings (see earlier article from 7 January), Adam Taylor was paired with the White pieces against last year's winner, and top seed, GM Deep Sengupta (2586).   Adam played well out of the opening, winning a knight for two pawns.   The following position was reached after Black's 23rd move:

Black's last move was Rad8 (?)   Adam now missed the best reply, both on his next move and the move after that.   Although Adam went on to win after 57 moves, he could have probably forced his opponent to resign if he had found the best move.   Can you see it?

Incidentally, after that first round loss, GM Sengupta went on to score 7/9 and share first place with Chinese IM Yiping Lou.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Good start for the Under 160s

Yesterday, Suffolk's Under 160 team got off to an excellent start to the EACU County Championships season, with two convincing wins.

In the morning, Suffolk beat old rivals Norfolk by 10½ points to 5½, but our opponents did field a rather weak team, averaging only 137 compared to Suffolk's 144.   In the afternoon, a stronger Cambridgeshire team (averaging 140) were defeated 10 points to 6.

The intended venue for the matches, Turner Hall in Newmarket, had been double-booked.   To give the Hall's bookings organiser full credit, she managed to find us an alternative venue (Exning Working Mens' Club) within 15 minutes of an initial phone call to her.   We were only ten minutes late starting the first match!

The best individual performances (two wins) were from top board Jon Collins and Board 4 Alex Sheerin.   Five others scored 1½ points: Martin Fogg (Board 2), Jaden Jermy (5), Ed Kirkham (6), Bob Jones (7) and Dominic Carter (12).

In the afternoon match, Jaden celebrated his recent 13th birthday by beating the experienced Ole Bay-Petersen in just 11 moves, having spent only three minutes on his moves.   The game is shown below.   Ole made two horrendous miscalculations to gift Jaden two full pieces, leading to an immediate resignation:

White: Ole Bay-Petersen (150)
Black: Jaden Jermy (146)

1.   e4     c5
2.   Nc3    d6
3.   g3     Nc6
4.   Bg2     g6
5.   d3     Bg7
6.   Be3     e5
7.   Qd2     Nd4
8.   Nh3?? (see diagram)     Bxh3
9.   Bxd4??     Bxg2
10.   Rg1     cxd4
11.   Nd5     Bh3
0 - 1

After 8... Bxh3 White cannot retake the bishop since his K & Q will be forked on f3.

To compound the error, White took the knight on the following move, instead of castling, which would have only lost a single piece.

The next matches, against Hertfordshire and Norfolk, will take place at the Turner Hall on Sunday 4 February.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Adam gains his first IM norm

Manningtree's Adam Taylor scored 5½/9 at the Hastings Masters which finished on Friday.   His rating performance was 2485, which means he achieves his first International Master norm!   Adam's rating will increase by 52 points, to 2294.

Congratulations Adam!


The Suffolk website is now back in action.   There will be frequent (but not daily) reports between now and the end of February.   There will be a lull during much of March as I will be on holiday then, but back before Easter.

One more thing - I have obtained a large number of brand-new DGT 2010 digital clocks from the ECF.   They cost me just £21.00 each and I am able to sell them at that same price.   If any club or individual would like to purchase some, please let me know before they all go.