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Archive for May, 2010

Devon Beat Surrey (29.05.2010.)

On Saturday, Devon squeezed past Surrey in the national stages of the inter-county championship, on tie break after an 8-all draw. The two teams were very closely matched for playing strength, and no less than 10 games were drawn. Devon’s 3 wins, by Messrs Homer, Thompson and Ingham, were in the top half of the order, while Surrey’s were in the lower half, greater weighting being placed on the former. Devon now go on to the Semi-Final in June.

John Allen was drafted in as a last minute reserve and was Devon’s most out-graded player but had no trouble securing an early draw.

White: J. E. Allen (143). Black: S. Wrigley (158).

French Defence [C12]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 The opening has transposed into a classical French Defence. 5…h6 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne4 8.Qg4 Kf8 (Black would have preferred to castle, but after 8…0–0 9.Bxh6) 9.Bd3 Nxd2 10.Kxd2 Qg5+ 11.Qxg5 hxg5 12.g4 b6 13.h3 c5 14.Nf3 c4 15.Be2 f6 16.h4 gxh4 17.Nxh4 Kf7 18.Nf3 Rxh1 19.Rxh1 Nd7 20.Rh8 Bb7 21.Rxa8 Bxa8 22.exf6 gxf6 and the position is very cramped with neither bishop being able to manoeuvre. 23.Nh4 Nf8 24.f4 Ng6 25.Ng2 Nf8 26.Ne3 Bc6 27.Bf3 b5 28.f5 Nh7 29.fxe6+ Kxe6 ½–½

In last week’s position, Michael Adams had to be content with a draw after Black spotted that if he played 1…Rg1 the rook could not be taken as it would leave him in stalemate, and after 2.Rf3 Rf1 the white rook can neither move away nor take its counterpart without leaving a stalemate.

This week’s 2-mover is the starter problem for the 2011 British Solving Championship. Work out White’s only move (the key) that leaves Black unable to avoid mate next move. Send the solution to Paul Valois, 14, Newton Park Drive, Leeds, LS7 4HH, together with a cheque or postal order for £3.00, made payable to British Chess Problem Society. Please provide an e-mail address if you have one. All entries should be postmarked no later than 31st July 2010. Don’t forget to mention that you saw the position in the WMN. After the closing date, all competitors will receive the solution and a free copy of The Problemist. Those who got the correct solution will also receive the Postal Round, comprising 8 positions of slightly greater solutions and variety. In due course, the best competitors from the postal round will be invited to the Final at Oakham School in February at which the prize fund will be about £1,000. Find out more about the competition at

White to mate in 2

Devon Beat Surrey! (22.05.2010)

The day of the Surrey vs Devon match dawned warm and cloudless. Having e-mailed all on-line team members the day before to set off in good time, and allow for all contingencies, from heavy traffic, over-heating engines and getting lost, I thought I’d better do likewise and was on the road shortly after 10 a.m. and after a good trip got to Stratford-sub-Castle just after midday, an hour before I could get the key to open up the Reading Room (village hall) and start laying the stuff out. At least this gave me a chance to soak up some of the ambience of the place.

The Wiltshire Avon looking downstream with the venue hidden behind trees on the left.


The Wiltshire Avon, one of the best trout streams in England, flows along one side of the hall, while on the other is Old Sarum, an Iron Age hill fort, which survived through Roman times until the early Middle Ages, when a conscious decision was made; feeling the town had outgrown the restrictions of its hilly site and there was no mortal danger of imminent attack from invaders, the authorities moved onto the flat land of the Avon valley and built a marvellous cathedral. 

View of Old Sarum from the venue; the defensive banks can be seen on the left.

Old Sarum, as seen from the venue. The Iron Age defensive banks can clearly be seen on the left, though it hardly does the site justice when seen from the air (below). Lower left is the site of the Saxon cathedral and on the central mound stood a Norman castle.

Old Sarum - from the air.

Old Sarum become completely de-populated after the removal of its inhabitants, yet it continued to send two members to Parliament for hundreds of years until the 1832 Reform Act, making it synonymous of all Rotten Boroughs, an unfortunate reputation with which to end a wonderful 5,000 year history of habitation. However, one of the Borough’s MPs in the 18th Century was Pitt the Elder, Britiain’s first PM, who lived in a large house next to the venue.

 Old Sarum’s invaders this day came from east and west, but their battle was to be of a cerebral nature; scars inflicted would be mental, not physical. My previous day’s e-mail listed specific travelling hazards, but didn’t mention the fact that it was the final day of the Devon County Show in Exeter, and, with the weather so predictably fine, the traffic bottleneck there was of monumental proportions. In contrast to my 2 hour run, cars having to pass through Exeter took up to 4 hours, one arriving 30 minutes late.

 Looking at the team lists it was noticeable how closely matched the teams were – no more than an handful of grading points between opponents, except for the two last minute substitutes on bottom boards, Allen and Jones, outgraded by 15 and 10 points respectively. 

Bill Ingham's quick win put Devon 1-0 up and were never headed thereafter.

Bill Ingham (above in yellow) got things off to the perfect start with a quick win after his opponent blundered a piece away in the opening. Devon stayed a point ahead as the next results were all draws, especially Allen and Jones who thereby proved not to be the weak links; Thynne, Cowley and Regis were the others. Brusey, Jamieson, Underwood and Brooks had longer games, some of them coming under some pressure but all still ended in draws, Ingham’s original win being the difference between the teams. With one win and 9 draws from the first 10 games to finish, it was left to the final six to decide the result. 

Dave Regis rolls up his sleeves against David Sedgwick. Next to him are (in order) Robert Thompson, Trefor Thynne, Ian Jamieson, (Brusey had not yet arrived), Dennis Cowley and Steve Homer.

Robert Thompson’s game featured the unusual balance of a Surrey rook pair v 3 minor pieces. In the end French had a sole rook vs bishop, knight and pawn. The rook wished only to sacrifice itself for the pawn, so Thompson had always to be able to screen it as it crept forward, successfully as it proved. His win was immediately offset by Kinder’s loss. Next Gosling drew and Schofield lost, to level the scores at 7-all. With the last two games in progress, Gorodi looked to be losing, so it was left to Steve Homer on top board to resolve the match. His ending had similarities to Thompson’s in that it depended on whether Homer, with knight and pawn v bishop, could shepherd his single pawn through to queening without it being taken. With both flags hovering  and scoresheets abandoned he found the right plan and mated. It now mattered not that Gorodi was still struggling, as even if he lost to even the scores to 8-all, the fact that Devon’s 3 wins were all in the top half, while Surrey’s were all in the botton half, meant that the tie-break rule gave it to Devon on “Board Count” who now go on to meet the winners of Warwickshire v Lancs.

Details and more battle scenes below:

DEvon players on left: Underwood; Schofield; Brooks; Gosling; Kinder; Allen.

The Bd. 1 game (Homer in red) that clinched the match for Devon in a breathless finish

    National U-180       Date:   25.05.2010.  
Bd.   Surrey  Grd     Devon  Grd
1 B Simon McCullough 177 0 1 Stephen J. Homer 178
2 W Neil Cooper 178 ½ ½ Dennis R. Cowley 176
3 B Phil Stimpson 179 ½ ½ Alan W. Brusey 175
4 W Julien Shepley 178 ½ ½ Ian M. Jamieson 175
5 B Alan Punnett 173 ½ ½ Trefor F. Thynne 173
6 W Angus French 173 0 1 Robert Thompson 170
7 B David Sedgwick 174 ½ ½ Dave Regis 165
8 W Paul Archer 169 0 1 William H. Ingham 166
9 B Nick Grey 157 ½ ½ Jon Underwood 165
10 W Paul Barasi 162 1 0 Stephen Schofield 162
11 B Geoff Marchant 164 ½ ½ Paul Brooks 162
12 W Trevor Jones 156 ½ ½ Brian G. E. Gosling 159
13 B Ian Deswarte 161 1 0 Andrew S. Kinder 158
14 W Alasdair MacLeod 156 1 0 John G. Gorodi 155
15 B Simon Wrigley 158 ½ ½ John E. Allen 143
16 W Adrian Waldock 150 ½ ½ Robert H. Jones 140
    Totals   8 8    

Greet vs Adams (22.05.2010.)

As reported earlier, Andrew Greet obtained his final GM norm in the 4 Nations Chess League. It was perhaps fitting that one of his opponents should be his fellow Cornishman, Michael Adams, much the stronger player, of course, but the game itself shows there was no collusion between the two to help Andrew on his way. This was no quick grandmaster draw – it was a hard fought marathon played to the bitter end.

White: A. N. Greet (2429). Black: M. Adams (2704).

Queen’s Indian Defence [A46]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 b6 4.Bg5 Bb7 5.Nbd2 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.e4 g6 8.Bd3 Bg7 9.Nf1 c5 10.Ne3 cxd4 11.cxd4 0–0 12.0–0 d6 13.Rc1 grabbing the open file, as all good rooks should. 13…Qd8 Preventing the rook getting established on the 7th rank. 14.Qd2 Nd7 15.d5 Nc5 16.b4 Nxd3 17.Qxd3 Re8 18.Rfd1 exd5 19.exd5 a6 20.Nd4 b5 21.Nc6 Black can eliminate the strong knight but at a cost…. e.g.  21…Qg5

(21…Bxc6 22.Rxc6 followed by a doubling of the rooks). 22.g3 Bc8 23.Kg2 Qh5 24.h4 Bd7 25.Rd2 f5 Both queens are limited for scope so… 26.Qe2 Qxe2 27.Rxe2 g5 28.hxg5 hxg5 29.Rce1 Bc3 30.Rc1 Bf6 31.Rce1 Rac8 32.f4 Bc3 33.Rd1 g4 34.Kf2 Kf7 35.Rd3 Bf6 36.Ra3 Ra8 37.Nc2 Bxc6 38.dxc6 Rec8 39.Ne3 Rxc6 40.Nxf5 Rh8 41.Kg2 d5 42.Rd3 progress of Black’s extra pawn must be blocked 42…d4 43.Red2 Rc3 44.Nd6+ Ke6 45.Ne4 Rxd3 46.Rxd3 Rd8 The game is only half over and there now follows much cat and mouse manoeuvring, both sides probing for a mistake. 47.Kf1 Be7 48.a3 Kf5 49.Nf2 Bf6 50.Ke2 Rc8 51.Kd2 Rc4 52.Rb3 Bd8 53.Nd3 Be7 54.Nf2 Bf6 55.Nd1 Rc8 56.Nf2 Rc7 57.Rd3 Rc8 58.Rb3 Bd8 59.Nd3 Rc7 60.Nf2 Rc6 61.Rd3 Bb6 62.Nd1 a5 63.Nf2 Rc4 64.Ke2 axb4 65.axb4 Rxb4 66.Rd2 Rb3 67.Nd3 b4 68.Ra2 Ke4 69.Ra8 Rc3 (Black is invited to take the knight, after which… 69…Rxd3 70.Re8+ Kd5 71.Kxd3) 70.Re8+ Kd5 71.Rb8 Kc4 72.Nxb4 Kxb4 73.Rxb6+ Kc5 74.Rb8 Rxg3 75.f5 d3+ 76.Kd2 Kd4 77.f6 Rg2+ 78.Kd1 Rf2 79.Rd8+ Ke5 80.Re8+ Kd5 (Another “gift” is offered, but if 80…Kxf6 81.Rf8+ wins the rook.) 81.Rg8 Rf4 82.f7 Rxf7 83.Rxg4 Rf2 84.Rh4 Kc5 85.Rg4 Rc2 86.Rh4 Rc4 87.Rxc4+ Kxc4 It’s a book draw, of course, but the last rites are administered. 88.Kd2 Kd4 89.Kd1 Ke3 90.Ke1 d2+ 91.Kd1 Kd3 stalemate. ½–½

The solution to last week’s 3-mover was 1.Nbd3!

Michael Adams won the Gibraltar tournament earlier this year. This was the end of one of his games from Gibraltar 2007. He is a piece up, but Black managed to secure a draw after 3 moves. How so?

d2+ 91.Kd1 Kd3 stalemate. ½–½

The solution to last week’s 3-mover was 1.Nbd3!

Michael Adams won the Gibraltar tournament earlier this year. This was the end of one of his games from Gibraltar 2007. He is a piece up, but Black managed to secure a draw after 3 moves. How so?

Black to play and draw.

New Face at Frome Congress. (15.05.2010.)

The Open Section of the 21st Frome Congress last weekend was won jointly by two players from the Americas. One being Jim Sherwin, originally from New York, who has become a familiar figure on the chess scene here since his move from Switzerland to Bath a decade ago, while the other was Arturo Wong Castaneda, who moved to Chard from Venezuela a few months ago. Arturo was also awarded the Qualifying Place for the British Championship at Canterbury in July/August. Allan Pleasants of Weymouth was in 3rd place on 3½/5. 19 competed.

Winners in the lower sections were as follows:

Major (U-170): 1st John Footner (Telford) 4½. 2nd Roger Greatorex (Llangollen). Grading prize (U-146) Chris Leeson (Weymouth). 42 competed.

Intermediate (140): 1st Dave Woodruff (Keynsham). 2nd= Paul Errington (Bournemouth), Barry Sandercock (Chalfont), Stanislaw Guziewicz (Poland). Grading prize: P. Bending (Cheltenham). 46 competed.

Minor (U-115): 1st Alan Evans (Kent). 2nd Brian Aldwin (Exeter). 3rd= John Leon (Bath). Grading prize (U-91) T. Thorpe, A. Shute & C. Cheeseman. 48 competed.

Games from the event are not yet available, but here is one he played earlier. 

White: Arturo Wong Castaneda. Black: Miguel Serrano Pertinez.

1st Fincas Mediterranea, Castelldefels, Spain.  25.08.2004.

Closed Sicilian [B40]

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.Nc3 a6 4.g3 b5 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.d3 g6 7.0–0 Bg7 8.Bg5 Qc7 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rae1 Nd4 11.Nd1 f6 12.Be3 e5 13.c3 Ne6 14.Nh4 Ne7 15.Bh3 0–0 16.f4 exf4 17.gxf4 f5 18.Nf2 Rad8 19.exf5 Nxf5 20.Nxf5 gxf5 21.Nh1 Qc6 threatening the knight on h1. 22.Ng3 Qd5 23.Re2 Rb8 in readiness for Bg2. 24.a3 Rf7 25.Bg2 Qd6 26.Bxb7 Rxb7 27.Rg2 It’s White who asserts control of the open g-file  27…Kh8 28.Nh5 Rb8 29.Rf3 b4 30.axb4 cxb4 31.h3 bxc3 32.bxc3 Qc6 33.Nxg7 Rxg7 34.Rff2 Rxg2+ 35.Rxg2 Qf3 White’s pieces are all connected with each other while Black’s are all on their own. 36.c4 h6 giving his King a flight square. (If 36…Qxh3 37.Qc3+ Ng7 forced 38.Qxg7 mate) 37.Kh2 a5 38.Qc3+ Kh7 39.Qxa5 Rf8 40.Qe5 Rf7 41.d4 Nf8 42.Qe8 Qh5 43.d5 Black resigned as the twin threats of Bd4 or Bc5 next move will prove decisive. 1–0

The key move in last week’s problem by J.B. of Bridport was 1.Qh1. If 1…Ke5 2.Qh4 Ke5 (forced) 3.Qe7 mate. Or if 1…Kg5 2.Qh6+ Kg4 (forced) 3.Qh4 mate.

Here is another of J.B.’s 3-movers.

Andrew Greet GM? (08.05.2010.)

Cornish players will be pleased to learn that Andrew Greet of St, Austell achieved his 3rd and final GM norm last weekend. As soon as it is ascertained that he has reached a grade of 2500 the award of the Grandmaster title should be a formality.

This is one of his wins from the 4NCL that led to his norm, in which Black neglects castling and pays the price.

White: A. N. Greet (2433). Black: S. Swanson (2263).

Pirc Defence by transposition [B06]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.Be3 Bb7 8.Qe2 b4 9.Nd1 Ngf6 10.Nf2 e6 11.g4 c5 12.c3 h5 13.g5 Ng4 14.Nxg4 hxg4 15.Nd2 Qc7 White has no option but to castle short, in spite of the open h-file and awkward pawn on g4. 16.0–0 bxc3 17.bxc3 d5 18.e5 Rh3 19.Rfc1 (White cannot play 19.Qxg4 because of 19…Rxe3). 19…c4 20.Bc2 Qa5 21.Bd1 Bc6 22.Qf2 Rb8 23.Bxg4 greatly easing the kingside pressure  23…Rh8 24.h4 Nb6 25.Rab1 Bf8 26.h5 gxh5 27.Bh3 Ba3 White ignores the threat to his rook as he eyes up the Black King stuck in the centre. 28.f5 Rf8 (if 28…Bxc1 play might continue 29.fxe6 Rh7 30.Rxc1 Qa3 31.Rf1 Ke7 32.Qf6+ Ke8 33.exf7+) 29.g6 fxg6 30.f6 Kd7 and White has several attacking options 31.Nf3 (or 31.f7 Bxc1 32.Bxe6+ Kxe6  33.Qf6+ Kd7 34.Qd6+ Kc8 35.Qxc6+ Kd8 36.Bg5#) 31…Bxc1 32.Rxc1 Na4 33.Ng5 Rbe8 34.f7 Re7 35.Qf6 Rfxf7 36.Bxe6+! Kc7 (If 36…Rxe6 37.Qxe6+ Kc7 38.Nxf7) 37.Bxf7 resigned in view of 37…Rd7 38.e6 Rd8 39.Rb1 Ra8 with a choice of mating attacks. 1–0

The Frome Congress is on this weekend. The Yeovil Congress takes place 18th – 20th June at a new venue, Westfield Community School, and the 2nd Bideford Congress will be on 17th & 18th July.

In the problem world, the word “miniature” is a technical one that means a composition involving 7 pieces or less. One of the earliest exponents of this genre was John Brown of Bridport (b. 30.05.1827 – d.11.11.1863). My colleague, Brian Gosling of East Budleigh, is currently writing a book on the life and work of this composer about whose life little is known. He has already published a booklet entitled John Brown: The Forgotten Chess Composer for sale in Bridport, and  is planning a much larger work due out some time next year.

Teignmouth RapidPlay Results (01.05.2010.)

The recent Teignmouth RapidPlay Congress was won for the 4th time by Ben Edgell of Somerset, with a triple tie for 2nd place between Graham Bolt and Steve Homer, both of Exeter and Alan Pleasants of Weymouth. The U-170 Grading prize was won by Michael Richardt (Taunton), while the U-155 prize was a tie between Steve Dean (Sidmouth), Peter Halmkin (Teignmouth) and Peter Jaszkiwskyj (Yeovil).

Major Section (U-145) 1st= Charlie Keen & John Maloney (both Exeter) and Allan Papier (Bristol). Grading prizes (U-130): 1st Chris McKinley (Sedgemore). (U-105): John James (Plymouth). The Junior prize was won by Freddie Sugden (Newton Abbot).

The 21st Frome Congress starts on Friday evening. Details regarding late entries obtainable from Gerry Jepps e-mail

Last year there was a 4-way tie for 1st prize in the Frome Open. One of those was the Wellington College schoolboy Alex Galliano, who won this last round game to clinch his joint 1st place.

White: Alex Galliano (181). Black: Stephen Payne (177).

Sicilian Defence – Alapin Variation. [B22]

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 (Black cannot win the d-pawn with 7…e6 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Qxd4?? because of 9.Bxc6+ winning the Queen). 8.0–0 Nf6 9.Nc3 Qa5 10.Be3 Bd6 11.a3 0–0 12.b4 Qd8 13.Qb3 h6 14.Rfd1 Ne7 15.h3 Bf5 16.Ne5 Ned5 (Not 16…Bxe5 as 17.dxe5 wins a piece and more besides). 17.Nxd5 Nxd5 18.Bf3 Nxe3 19.Qxe3 Qe7 20.Nc4 Rfd8 21.Na5 Rd7 22.Rac1 Rad8 23.Rc3 Bb8 24.Qc1 e5 25.Rc5 Rxd4 26.Rxd4 Rxd4 27.Nxb7 White grabs a risky knight’s pawn, which often leads to trouble. 27…e4 28.Be2 Bxh3 Black can now win a pawn 29.gxh3 Qxb7 30.Qe3 Qd7 centralising the queen seems like the sensible thing to do, but there is a flaw. 31.Bg4 Qd6? The Black Queen is now “overloaded” and the back rank check is unavoidable. 32.Rc8+ Kh7 33.Rxb8 Rd1+ Black may be in shock as this loses even more material unnecessarily. 34.Bxd1 Qxd1+ 35.Kg2 and Black is a whole rook down.1–0

Galliano subsequently helped his school team to become National Champions, while his grade rose to 203 in August.