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Archive for August, 2010

School Team Successes (28.08.10.)

 Two Devon schools got teams through to the National Schools’ Finals. In the U-11 section, Broadclyst Primary came 6th/8 behind Eltham College and Nottingham High School. Torquay Boys’ Grammar School got four teams through to the Finals, a creditable achievement in itself. In the U-12 section they came 5th/5 teams, while in the U-14s their ‘A’ team came 3rd and ‘B’ team came 5th of five teams. There were 3 teams in the U-16 section, and Torquay came 2nd behind King Edward School, Birmingham.

The 60th Paignton Congress starts tomorrow week at Oldway Mansion. To mark this diamond event Michael Adams will be taking on 30 opponents simultaneously on the Tuesday evening and a special book on the history of the event has been written, entitled 60 Years In The Same Room (ISBN 0-9531321-5-3  157pp  SB  £15.99). This will be given gratis to every competitor, but extra copies will be available from the publisher at 40, Phillipps Avenue, Exmouth, EX8 3HZ.

This is a game from the book, the last of Adams’ 14 games played at Paignton, which clinched a share of 1st prize. (Notes based on those from his own book “Development of a Grandmaster”).

White: M. Adams (208). White: P. C. Griffiths (218).

Evans Gambit [C51]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Be7 6.d4 d6 Theory recommends 6…Na5 7.Nxe5 Nxc4 8.Nxc4 d5 9.exd5 Qxd5 10.Ne3 with a slight edge for White. 7.Qb3 Na5 8.Bxf7+ Kf8 9.Qa4 Kxf7 10.Qxa5 b6 11.Qb5 Bd7 12.Qe2 Bf6 13.0–0 Ne7 14.dxe5 dxe5 15.Nxe5+ An over-optimistic move, although perhaps the one most in the spirit of the opening. 15…Bxe5 16.Qh5+ Ng6 17.f4 Bf6 18.f5 Bc6 19.fxg6+ hxg6 20.Qe2 The first wave of attack has been beaten off and White has to bring up reinforcements. 20…Qd7 21.Bg5 If 21.a4 (to stop …Bb5) 21…Rae8 is hideous for White. 21…Rae8? Very strong, indeed decisive, at this stage would have been 21…Bb5! 22.c4 Qd4+ 22.Nd2 Re5? Better was 22…Rh5 although by this stage White no longer stands worse. 23.Nf3 Re7 24.Rad1 Qe8 25.Qc4+ Kf8 26.e5! The attack has grown to enormous proportions very quickly as Black has not dealt with his exposed king position. A pleasing queen sacrifice concludes the game. 26…Bb5 27.exf6 Bxc4 28.fxe7+ Kf7 If 28…Kg8 29.Rd8 wins simply, but the move played does not prolong Black’s resistance. 29.Ne5+ Ke6 30.Nxc4 Qb5 31.Rfe1+ 1-0 The winner was 14 at the time and Griffiths was a 3-times winner.

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.Nf2!  In this position, how did M. Suba quickly finish off the Hungarian GM, Guyla Sax?

White to play and win by force.

(NB: There was a mistake in keying in this position, not spotted before publication, so don’t waste time finding the win – just spot the error.)

Review Copies Sent Out

Some review copies of the Paignton Congress book were sent out yesterday.

Ray Keene was first to respond, saying he would give it a plug in the Times at some point – probably nearer the event.

John Saunders was next, but with a full review on his blog, in which our respective wives, Jennifer Jones and Elaine Saunders, get their own mentions. Go to his Blog  ( http://johnchess.blogspot.com )or read it below:-

John discussed the project with me at Torquay at last year’s British Championship when he came down, and warned me about the temptations and dangers of letting such a project mushroom almost out of control, as one tends to shove in more and more material. Consequently, I’ve been aware of trying to maintain that balance between including interesting material without getting it overloaded.

John Saunders’ Chess Blog

John Saunders

Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom

Chess editor, writer, photo-journalist, webmaster

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Book Review: ‘Sixty Years in the Same Room’

‘Sixty Years in the Same Room‘ by Robert H Jones (Keverel Chess Books, 2010)
The sub-title of this book perhaps gives a better clue to its contents: “a history of the Paignton Chess Congress“. The title refers to the fact that this much-loved congress has been played annually since 1951 in the very same room of the prestigious Oldway Mansion in Paignton. It started life in 1951 as a celebration of the Devon County Chess Association’s 50th year of existence and it is now coming up to its own 60th instalment in the same room of the same building (of course), running from Saturday 5th to Saturday 11th September 2010.

Chess in the West Country is very lucky to have its own dedicated historian, Bob Jones, who for many years has lovingly memorialised the game in this part of England in newspaper articles, books and on the web (e.g. here and here). In this book he has collated the history of the congress from coverage given in CHESS, BCM and other sources, with photos of some of the contestants, summaries of each year’s tournaments, pen pictures of eminent players and sixty memorable games (where have I heard that phrase before?! No, Bobby Fischer didn’t play there but one famous world champion did come to Paignton and suffered defeat in the very first round ever played in the congress. The book tells all). There is even a section on the history of the Oldway Mansion, which started life as the home of the celebrated US plutocrat Isaac Singer, and the author even touches on this remarkable gentleman’s decidedly colourful love-life (in the best possible taste, of course).

The book is effectively a nostalgic look-back at British chess throughout the past sixty years, since nearly everyone who is anyone in the British chess world has put in an appearance there at some point in their career. The Paignton Congress is a fixed point in the much-changing universe of British chess, perhaps even more so than the more venerable Hastings Congress (with its changed formats and venues). It is quaint but delightfully so and its supporters come back year after year, and decade after decade. Not just amateurs, either – Keith Arkell is its most loyal supporter amongst the chess elite, also local boy made Australian(!) Gary Lane, and there are plenty of other titled players who have played there. It is cunningly held just after the school term begins in September but that did not stop a very young Mickey Adams putting in a crafty appearance or two when he was ‘nobbut a lad’ (skiving off school to play chess? You could already tell he was going to be a top-class player). And Mickey is there again in 2010, giving a simul on 7 September 2010, according to the entry form. Mickey is of course a born and bred West Country man and it is a matter of enormous and well-deserved pride in those parts to have produced arguably the finest chessplayer ever to have come from these islands.

This is clearly a well-researched labour of love by Bob Jones and it will be a delightful read for those who have ever played at Paignton, or are well-stricken in years and enjoy a good helping of chess nostalgia. One very nice touch was his dedication: “to chess widows everywhere and my wife Jennifer, in particular”. I showed this to my own “chess widow” and reminded her that, 15 years ago, she had declared the Paignton Congress to be the best one she had ever been to. She still stands by this verdict, on the grounds that it allowed us to do some tourism in the morning, in a particularly lovely part of Devon, then she could take a time-out in the afternoon while I played my chess and finally we could rendezvous in the evening for dinner. I have to say that Elaine’s criticism of certain other congresses (which better remain nameless) has been withering in the extreme – so, for her to utter words of approbation about Paignton should be taken as the very highest recommendation possible.

I’m guessing that this book will be available from The Chess Shop in Baker Street any day now (my review copy was hot off the press) or from Bob himself. 157 pages softback, plenty of photos, £15.99.

Paignton Books Delivered.

Back home after two weeks in the frozen North (Leeds – well, the first week was like winter; the 2nd was warm and humid) – and the books on the Paignton Congress, the final proofs of which were sent to the printers 2 days before I left, were delivered this evening, right on cue. Timings could not have been better.

First impressions are that it looks good, and the contents have the kind of varied, interest-provoking look I was after. Lots of charts, tables, photographs, games with diagrams etc.

It remains to be seen what the public reception is like.

Every entrant at this year’s event (5th – 11th Sept.) will get a free copy. Extra copies will be available to other customers after Monday 6th September 2010.

The book cover

The Adams Title-Clincher (21.08.2010.)

This was the game from Round 10 that secured the British Championship for Michael Adams with a game to spare. It is typical of his style in that there is no great fireworks display, but an accumulation of one small advantage after another, like a python coiling itself around its intended victim until the life is squeezed out of it. His opponent here is one of Britain’s leading Grandmasters.

White: Michael Adams (267). Black: Simon Williams (237).

Sicilian Defence – Sokolsky Variation. [B52]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 The check gave White the chance to get in c4 which binds the centre by preventing Black from playing a quick d5. 5.c4 The Sokolsky Variation, named after the Soviet theorist Alexei Sokolsky (1908 – 69). 5…Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.Be3 Rc8 11.b3 e6 12.Rc1 d5 Black does eventually get in d5, but obtains no advantage from it. 13.e5 Ne8 14.cxd5 exd5 15.f4 Nc6 16.0–0 Nc7 17.Nxc6 bxc6 Once one problem is solved, more quickly follow. The d-pawn is no longer isolated, but White now has a series of niggling attacks. 18.Ne4 Ne8 19.Nc5 Qe7 20.Nd3 Qe6 21.Qf3 a5 Black is desperately trying to create space for his rooks to occupy, but in doing so weakens his pawn structure. 22.Nc5 Qe7 23.Bf2 a quiet move that allows the White Queen to sweep left or right as the need demands. 23…Rab8 24.Qh3 f5 25.Qc3 The key to a successful attack is often the ability to switch forces quickly from one wing to another, hence the wisdom of having played 23.Bf2 earlier. White must also have considered 25.exf6 Nxf6 26.f5 gxf5 27.Qxf5 Ne4 28.Nxe4 Qxe4 29.Qd7 Qg6 30.Rce1 Re8 31.Rxe8+ Qxe8 32.Qc7 a4 33.Re1 Qc8 The exchanges have helped Black though White retains some spacial advantage. 25…Ra8 26.Na4 threatening Nb7 forking both rooks, and Black’s a-pawn is also vulnerable – if that falls, White will have a passed pawn. 26…Ra6? 27.Qd3 1-0 Black resigned in view of … 27…Rca8 28.Nb6 Rxb6. (If 28…R8a7 29.Nc8 forking rook and Queen). 29.Bxb6 and Black is crumbling rapidly both positionally and materially.

Adams will next be seen in this area at the Paignton Congress where he will take on 30 of the competitors simultaneously on the evening of Tuesday 7th September. It is possible he may concede one or two draws, but for the most part it will resemble the Massacre of the Innocents.

The solution to last week’s position was 1.Nf2! Here is a second 2-mover by Christopher Reeve.

White to mate in 2 moves.

Adams is New Champion – Of Course! (14.08.2010.)

So, Mickey Adams proceeded to win the British Championship as expected with the excellent score of 9½/11 points, 1½ ahead of his nearest rival and the highest total since Julian Hodgson won the title with 10 points at Plymouth in 1992. The other native Cornishman, Andrew Greet, also did very well in coming 3rd= on 7½, with a late run of 4/5 points in the 2nd week. The three adopted Devonians did rather less well, though were by no means disgraced. Leading the trio was Keith Arkell (7), ahead of Dominic Mackle (6½) and Jack Rudd (6), though Mackle’s performance related to his actual grade (194) was by far the better.

Here is a second look at Adams’ first game. White, faced at the outset with almost certain defeat and the choice of what opening to play, feels he might as well go down in buccaneering style, and opts for a swashbuckling gambit in the hope, perhaps, that there might be some glimmer of light in the ensuing complications. There was, of course, but only for Adams.

White: Robert Eames (207). Black: Michael Adams (267). Bishop’s Gambit – Morphy Variation. [C33]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 The King’s Gambit, offering White’s f-pawn in exchange for quick development and a strong centre. 2…exf4 3.Bc4 This is now called the Bishop’s Gambit. 3…d5 Not to be outdone in the generosity stakes, Black offers a pawn back, for the same reasons. A move propounded by the German Ludwig Bledow in 1840  4.Bxd5 Nf6 the great Paul Morphy’s favoured continuation. 5.Nf3 Nxd5 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Nc3 Qf5 8.0–0 Nc6 9.d4 Be6! This invites White to try and win a piece. If White had fallen for it by playing 10.d5 forking 2 pieces then 0–0–0! simply wins the d-pawn; 10.Ne2 g5 11.b3 0–0–0 12.Bb2 Bg7 13.c4 g4 14.Ne1 f3! Naturally, Black must try to crack open White’s kingside defences without delay. 15.gxf3 Rhg8 16.f4 If 16.fxg4 Qxg4+ 17.Ng3 Nxd4 16…g3 Already there is no defence. 17.Nf3 If 17.Nxg3 Bxd4+ 18.Bxd4 Nxd4 19.Rf2 (or 19.Kh1 Rxg3 20.hxg3 Qh3+ 21.Kg1 Qxg3+ 22.Ng2 Bg4 23.Qe1 Ne2+ 24.Qxe2 not 24.Kh1?? Qh3 mate) 19…Qh3 20.Ng2 Nf5 21.Qf3 Nxg3 and Black’s attack is unstoppable. 17…gxh2+ 18.Kh1 Bf6 19.Qd2 Qg4 20.Rf2 Bf5 21.Qe3 Nb4 0–1

Black brings his final piece into play, ready to invade the White defences on either c2 or d3. This crushing win by Adams in Round 1 spelled out to the rest of the field just what they could expect.

The solution to last week’s position was 1.Rf2! allowing the Queen to administer mate in several places across the 3rd rank.

There now follows the 1st of 2 early two-movers by the noted Cornish problemist, Christopher Reeve.

Whte to mate in 2 moves.

Adams Wins At A Canter at Canterbury.

The British Championship is over for another year, and trying to follow it from a distance, instead of being there among the blood, sweat and tears, has proved novel and somewhat frustrating, though Steve Connor’s excellent work on the website has reduced this to a minimum.

For the sake of relaying events to a general readership in the Western Morning News, I’ve concentrated on trying to follow the fortunes of the five “local” players – the two native-born Cornishmen, Michael Adams and Andrew Greet, and the three adopted Devonians, Keith Arkell, Jack Rudd and Dominic Mackle. Not a dull process, either, as all five made headlines in one way or another.

Naturally, Adams won it at a canter, and it was difficult to try and generate any suspense by pretending “anything might happen”. It was never going to; Adams is a class act, and it certainly showed at Canterbury. His only failure was to equal Julian Hodgson’s total of 10 points at Plymouth in 1992. With his compatriot present, Greet was never likely to follow his recently-won Scottish title with a British one; in fact, at the end of the 1st week, he was lost in the pack, but a fine week 2, yielding 4/5 points brought him up to 3rd=, a fine performance in the circumstances.

The “Devonians” fared rather less well; after an explosive start beating 2 GMs and Greet – a GM norm-holder- , Jack Rudd then fell back, scoring only another 3 points from 8 further games. Contrast that with last year when he started with a dismal 1/4 points, but finished with his best-ever score in the British of 7 points. That’s Jack for you, unpredictable as ever. Does doing the Bulletin and playing in the cricket team and doing the Sunday Simul (as he did last year at Torquay) help or hinder his performance OTB?  Keith Arkell who finished with 7, must have played more moves than any other player in the history of the championship,  one game alone requiring 160 moves (each!) to reach a draw. Probably the best performance of all in terms of tournament grade over actual grade (194) was that of Dominic Mackle, whose 6.5/11 total was excellent. There are many good stories involved in just these five players’ performances – doubtless more will emerge in the coming weeks.

In spite of my absence from Canterbury, life has been pretty frantic as my book on the history of the Paignton Congress came to a frenetic climax at the same time. The deal is that all players at the 60th Congress in a few weeks’ time, will get a free copy, so there was never any way of pushing back the deadline. Further complicating matters is the fact that I’m going away tomorrow for 2 weeks and return just 2 weeks before the event starts. So it all had to be tied up before today – all printer’s proofs read and corrected, cover design agreed etc. etc. - nothing that might need further decisions when I’m away. After some midnight oil-burning this has just been achieved with about 2 days to spare.

Adams Almost Home & Dry in British (07.08.2010.)

With nine of the eleven rounds of the British Championship completed at the time of going to press, things have gone more or less as one might have forecast for local players. The favourite, Mickey Adams, has found it a stroll in the park, conceding only 2 draws so far, and well clear of his nearest rivals. Jack Rudd has proved as unpredictable as ever, starting with 3 great wins followed by 3 disappointing losses. Keith Arkell has played a series of long endgames, including one game of 160 moves, close to a world record length for a strong over-the-board tournament. Andrew Greet performed well enough without any danger of adding the British to his recent Scottish title, while Dominic Mackle has done much better than last year at Torquay, having benefited from that experience.

Here is Jack Rudd’s win from Round 3 which won him the Game of the Day accolade. He has to withstand a strong attack, but strikes back with telling effect at the weak points left by Black.

White: Jack Rudd (211). Black: Simon Williams (237).

King’s Indian Defence – Classical Variation. [E99]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.a4 Rf6 Black launches his kingside attack, looking for a quick kill. 14.a5 a6 15.Nd3 Rh6 16.Qc2 Qe8 17.Rfc1 Nf6 18.h3 Qh5 19.Kf1 Bxh3 20.gxh3 Qxh3+ 21.Ke1 g4 22.Kd2 g3 23.Bg1 c6 24.Qb3 Black’s attack has left his Queenside poorly protected, which will rebound on him as White exploits it. 24…Qd7  Sound the retreat! 25.c5 cxd5 26.cxd6 Nc6 27.Nxd5 Nxd5 28.exd5 Nd8 29.Nc5 Qxd6 30.Ne4 Qd7 31.Bb6 Nc6 32.Rh1 Rxh1 33.Rxh1 Now the open lines created by Black are utilised by White. 33…Nd8 34.d6+ Kh8 35.Bd3 h6 36.Nf6! Qf7 If 36…Bxf6 mate follows thus:- 37.Rxh6+ Kg7 38.Rg6+ Kh8 39.Qg8#. 37.Qxf7 Nxf7 38.Ne4 Bf8 39.d7 Kg7 40.Rh4 Be7 41.Rg4+ Kf8 42.Nc5 Ng5 43.Rxg5! hxg5 44.Nxb7 g2 45.Ke2 Rb8 46.Be4 Bd8 47.Kf2

1–0. Black resigned as he cannot cope with the threats in the Queenside corner.

The 60th Paignton Congress is now just 4 weeks away, and late entries should be directed to Linda Crickmore on 01752-768206.

Alert solvers will have noticed my mistake in last week’s solution, which should have been 1.Rcc7, not Rc8 which fails to 1…Nc6. I knew this, of course, (no, honestly!) but mistyped it at the crucial moment. Last week’s position was solved by 1.Rf2! and Black’s best efforts will be thwarted by a Queen mate somewhere along the 3rd rank. Here is a 3rd 2-mover by Heathcote.

White to mate in 2 moves.