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Archive for February, 2011

Exmouth’s First Win of the Season. (26.02.2011.)

Exmouth have found it difficult to win anything this season, but they managed to break their duck on Saturday, though they needed several strokes of luck to go their way in order to achieve it.

Firstly, both teams had two of their top players unavailable, but with Tiverton fielding another team at the same time they found it difficult to replace like with like. Exmouth fared slightly better when Jonathan Underwood was able to do some last minute juggling with his family commitments and was able to turn out for the sea-siders. This made all the difference to the outcome, though all four games were well-contested throughout – there’s no such thing as an easy game in the Devon leagues.

The Annetts – Underwood game raced to a draw after an exchange of several pieces in a Sicilian where the resulting pawn formation made it clear neither side would be able to force the issue.

Having won the toss (another stroke of good fortune) Hewson on Bd. 1 was able to play his favoured English Opening and after making 6 captures in 7 moves (21 – 27) winning 2 pawns in the process, forced Bartlett to resign.

On Bd. 4, Jones played a Sicilian, won a pawn in the opening and later the exchange, and thereafter managed to keep things simple, eventually reaching a won endgame of R vs B and a scattering of pawns on each wing.

On Bd. 3, Phil Kennedy was kept stretched for most of the game, until after a big exchange of material his Queen and bishop suddenly bore down on the Black King stuck in its fianchettoed corner and mate was inevitable.

Mamhead Cup Div.2 26.02.2011.
Exmouth Grd. Tiverton
1 W B. W. R. Hewson 176 1 0 S. Bartlett 162
2 B Dr. J. Underwood 172 ½ ½ I. S. Annetts 155
3 W P. J. Kennedy 151 1 0 J. Knowles 133
4 B R. H. Jones 138 1 0 S. Thorpe-Tracey 114
639 max. 637 ½ 564

Match in progress (Bd. 1 nearest)

Exmouth team on left.

Forthcoming Congresses (26.02.2011.)

The East Devon Congress starts next Friday evening at Exeter’s Corn Hall. Enquiries about late entries should be addressed to the Secretary, Alan Maynard, on 01363-773313 or e-mail:

The Cornish Championships will be held at Stithians Village Hall over the weekend commencing Friday 25th March. The top section, the Emigrant Cup, is for Cornwall-registered players only, but all players under 145 grade may enter the other section. Details are on their website.

It is not too early to be thinking about the West of England Congress at Exmouth over the Easter weekend, as the number of places there is limited. Every year, some players book their hotel accommodation and buy rail tickets months before actually sending in their entry form for the congress. That is extremely unwise for this particular event. Enquiries should be sent to the Secretary, Andrew Footner, on 01935-873610 or e-mail

Here is one of Devon’s three wins from their recent match against Somerset, with notes kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Andrew Gregory (163). Black: Paul Brooks (160).

French Defence – Exchange Variation [C01].

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Be2 Nc6 I usually try to create some imbalances against the drawish Exchange Variation. 6.0–0 Nge7 7.b3 0–0 8.Bb2 Ng6 9.Nbd2 Nce7 10.Ne5 f6 11.Nxg6 Nxg6 12.Re1 c6 13.Nf1 Bc7 14.g3 f5 Black’s aim in this set-up is to try to get pressure on White’s kingside. The advance of the f-pawn is attractive now that White has weakened his pawn cover with his last move. 15.f4 Bxf4! 16.Bh5 Black’s sacrifice looks speculative, but his pieces combine well, while White’s are rather disorganised. After 20 minutes thought, my opponent declined the offer. Here’s just one possible continuation, had he accepted. 16.gxf4 Nxf4 17.Bf3 Nh3+ 18.Kg2 (Of course, not 18.Kh1?? Nf2+) 18…Qg5+ 19.Ng3 (If 19.Kxh3 f4+ 20.Bg4 f3! 21.Ne3 Rf4 22.Rg1 Qh5+ wins 23.Kg3 Bxg4 24.Nxg4 Rxg4+ 25.Kf2 Qxh2+ etc.) 19…f4 20.Bc1 Qh4 I’d seen up to this point and trusted to luck for the rest! 21.Re5 Nf2! 22.Rh5 Bh3+ 23.Kg1 fxg3 24.Rxh4 Nxd1 25.Rxh3 Rxf3 26.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 27.hxg3 Nc3 28.Bb2 Ne4 29.Kg2 Rf8 with a winning endgame.

The actual game continued… 16…Bd6 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Bc1 f4 19.gxf4 Qh4 20.Be3 Bg4 21.Qd2 Bf3 22.Qf2 Qg4+ 23.Qg3 Bxf4 24.Qxg4 Bxg4 25.Ng3 Bd6 26.Bd2 Bh3 27.Re2 Rf6 28.Nh1 Raf8 29.Nf2 Bxh2+! a little tactic to finish it off. 30.Kxh2 Rxf2+ 31.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 32.Kxh3 Rxd2 With only 2 minutes left for 8 moves and a totally lost ending, White resigned. 0–1

This week’s elementary 2-mover shouldn’t detain you for too long.

White to play & mate in 2.

Exmouth vs Exeter RapidPlay (Newman Cup) 16.02.2011.

Exmouth don’t seem able to even buy a win this season, a feeling reinforced on Wednesday when they entertained Exeter in the Newman Cup, Devon’s RapidPlay tournament. With teams of 4, each player plays their opponent with both Black and White and 30 minutes each on the clock. Having already been caned by Tiverton 6-2  in their away leg, the prospects looked much brighter as the visitors fielded a noticeably weaker team than Exmouth’s maximum strength side.

The first round finished with all games drawn, unusual in games played at this pace. Abbott entered the endgame with Q+6 vs Q+4 but his opponent made it impossible for him to make progress, as one of his pawns was passed and on the 6th rank. He made no mistake in the second game, but this was offset by a loss on Bd. 4. Match drawn.

  Exmouth Grd           Exeter Grd
1 John Stephens 181 ½ ½   ½ ½ Sean Pope 166
2 Mark Abbott 178 ½ 1   ½ 0 Giles Body 140
3 Oliver Wensley 120e ½ ½   ½ ½ Jonathan Waley 135
4 Juris Dzenis 120e ½ 0   ½ 1  Will Marjoram 125e
      2 2   2 2    
    599   4     4   558


Exmouth team on left (Bd. 1 nearest)


Exmouth team on right (Bd. 4 nearest)

Devon Lose to Somerset (19.02.2011.)

In the latest round of the West of England Inter-County competition for the Harold Meek Cup, Devon lost heavily to Somerset by 11-5 at West Buckland on Saturday. Somerset’s nine winners were Jim Sherwin, Jack Rudd, Ben Edgell, Arturo Wong, Paul Hatchett, Patryk Kryzanowski, Andrew Footner, Chris Purry and Gerry Jepps. Devon’s three winners were Dave Regis, Bill Ingham and Paul Brooks. The four drawn games were between Buckley and Stephens; Stuttard and Brusey; Wallis and Howard; Fewkes and Annetts.

Devon have tended to dominate this competition in recent years and it seems other counties have now responded by making greater efforts to get their best players out, while some of Devon’s top people have been unavailable for a variety of reasons.

The other match scheduled for Saturday was between Cornwall and Hampshire, but was called off when the Cornish were unable to raise a full team and conceded a default win.

Here is one of Somerset’s wins.

White: Dr. J. Underwood (Seaton – 172). Black: A. F. Footner (Dorchester – 175).

English Opening – Keres Var. [A23]

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 c6 Paul Keres’ favoured move in this position. 4.Nf3 It’s always a danger when one invites a pawn to come forward and attack a piece like this 4…e4 5.Nd4 Almost immediately this knight is harried. 5…d5 6.cxd5 Qb6 7.Nb3 7.Qa4 would have combined defence with attack. 7…a5 8.a4 Ng4 an early threat of mate. 9.e3 cxd5 10.Bb5+ Nc6 11.Nxd5 Qd8 12.Nc3 Nge5 13.Nxe4 White is now 2 pawns up, but it is Black who has the open lines for his pieces to attack. 13…Bg4 14.Qc2 Nf3+ Further stunting White’s chances of getting his defences sorted out. 15.Kf1 But there is no hiding place here. 15…Qd7 16.Nec5 Bxc5 17.Nxc5 Bh3+ 18.Ke2 Nfd4+! 19.exd4 Nxd4+ 20.Kd3 Bf5+ 21.Kc3 Nxb5+ 22.axb5 Rc8 the last straw for White. 23.Re1+ Kd8 24.Qxf5 White had little choice but to give up his queen as alternatives are no better. e.g. 24.d4 Bxc2. Or 24.d3 Rxc5+ 25.Kb3 Qxb5+ 26.Ka2 Rxc2 24…Qxf5 25.d4 b6 26.Re5 Qf3+ 27.Be3 Re8 28.Ra4 Rxe5 29.dxe5 Rxc5+ the rook takes with check and will mop up more pawns, so White resigned. 0–1

Here is another look at last week’s 2-mover as one sometimes needs the position in view in order to fully appreciate the subtleties involved. The solution is 1.Be4! The bishop can be taken by either the King or d5 pawn. However, if 1…Kxe4 then 2.Rxf4 is mate as both the defending pieces are now pinned. If 1…dxe4 the Queen can now mate on d7 because the removal of the pawn empowers the rook on f5 to cover c5. Among other unsuccessful tries are 1…Nb4+ but it is taken by the Queen which mates, or 1…Bxf2 but this simply empowers the very rook it attacks and allows 2.Rxd5 mate.

White to mate in 2

Death of Tim Hay (12.02.2011.)

Devon’s former Match Captain, Tim Hay, passed away last month at the age of 64, after a long illness. His major feat was a unique achievement for a provincial county when, in 1992, he led Devon’s Under-11 team to the National Championship, usually the preserve of sides from the big conurbations. Then taking on the senior side, he took two Devon teams to the National Finals in 1996, winning the U-150 Championship.

In the current West of England competition, Gloucestershire have drawn two of their matches. Against Cornwall it finished 6-all in a 12 board match with wins for Nigel Hosken, Chris Mattos and Graham Brown, while Ian George, Gary Trudeau and David Lucas scored wins for the Cornish. Last month they drew 8-all against Somerset at Cheltenham. The home team winners were John Jenkins, John Waterfield, Graham Brown and Alun Richards, while the visitors’ victors were Gerry Jepps, Jim Fewkes, David Peters and Roger Morgan.

The 36th East Devon Congress starts a fortnight on Friday, so now is the time for late entries to be sent to the Secretary, Alan Maynard. (Tel: 01363-773313 or e-mail Last year’s winner, Paul Helbig of Bristol, went on to become West of England Champion a few weeks later, so it is a good indication of form. He will be defending his title again this year. Last year’s top seed was the Devon champion, but he came unstuck in two games of which this is one.

White: D. Mackle. Black: T. Paulden. Dutch Defence [A90]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 signature move of the Dutch Defence. 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 d5 5.Nh3 c6 6.b3 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bd6? moving this piece for the 2nd time in the opening is the start of the slippery slope. It is much better to get castled now before it is too late. 8.Bc3 Ne4 9.Bb2 Bb4+ forcing the King to move. Already White is on the back foot. 10.Kf1 0–0 11.f3 Nf6 12.Nf4 Bd6 13.Nd3 Nbd7 14.Nc3 Qe7 15.Qd2 b6 16.Rc1 Bb7 17.Qe3 Nh5 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.f4 g5 20.Bf3 Ndf6 21.fxg5 Ng4 22.Bxg4 fxg4+ 23.Ke1 Ba6 24.Kd2 Rf5 25.Rhf1 Raf8 26.Rxf5 Rxf5 27.Ne5! Black has spotted the winning move. 27…Rxe5 28.dxe5 Bc5 trapping the White Queen. If White tries 29.Nxd5 Bxe3+ 30.Nxe3 Qxg5 leaving White Queen for rook down. 0–1

The solution to last week’s position was 1.Qb1! from where the queen can administer mate whichever way the black king runs.

The final of the British Solving Championship takes place on Saturday 26th February at Oakham School, with Jon Lawrence of Paignton being the Westcountry representative. This 2-mover was one of the problems from the postal round sent to all potential qualifiers. It was composed by E. J. Polglase and first appeared in The Field in 1913. White to move.

White to mate in 2

Tim Hay (1946 – 2011)

Timothy James Hay. 

(31.03.1946. –   24.01.2011.)

Tim Hay was a life-long chessplayer who was brought into the mainstream of Devon chess from about 1985 onwards as he encouraged his son Stephen in the game, and came to achieve great things for the county in his capacity as Match Captain of both the Junior and Senior teams. 

He was born in Retford, Nottinghamshire, the elder of two boys born to Robert and Katri Hay. Tim’s maternal grandmother was called Goode, a family of minority Protestants from County Wexford in the Irish Republic, while his father was of Scottish descent; Tim was very proud of the Clan Hay and wore the tartan from time to time. In WWII Robert Hay had been a Major in the Royal Artillery (71st West Riding Regiment). Originally part of the 1st Army in North Africa, where he was awarded the MC and was mentioned in dispatches, he was involved in the landings onto the Italian mainland at Salerno, and was later one of the 105,000 Allied casualties in the four battles for the Monte Cassino monastry, where he lost a leg.

The Hay Tartan

After the war, being a talented engineer, he went to work for the Marshall Richards Machine Co. of Crook, Co. Durham, starting as PA to Mr. Richards and eventually rising to become Managing Director.

 When he was 2, with a baby brother, Patrick, to be compared with, Tim was clearly not developing physically or mentally as he should have, but it was years before it was discovered he had a malfunctioning thyroid. By the time this was diagnosed he was several years behind average both in height and attainment at school, but a course of medication put him on the road to recovery. This was not helped by having some allergies and contracting every common infectious disease possible, including pneumonia.

Bow School, Durham.

At the age of 8 he was sent to Bow School, (right) the preparatory department of Durham School, where sport is highly rated. Tim and his brother both played for the school cricket team, reportedly once bowling out an entire visiting team for 0 runs.

 At about this time, a visiting relative gave the boys a chess set. Tim was immediately hooked, as it appealed to his competitive instincts without requiring any verbal or academic skills. He played the game from then till the day he died.

Both boys had their names put down for Repton, the noted private school on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, whose alumni included such sporting legends as C. B. Fry, Harold Abrahams and Bunny Austin, and in more recent times, Jeremy Clarkson and Dr. Graeme Garden of the Goodies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, with his track-record, Tim failed the entrance exam and was sent instead to Brickwall School, now called Frewen College, a school specialising in dyslexic and dyspraxic pupils, situated in a magnificent Jacobean manor house in the East Sussex village of Northiam, East Sussex. This recent aerial photograph shows a chessboard fashioned in topiary, created in 1980.

Aerial view of the present day school.

Brickwall School, now Frewen College.


Patrick later got into Repton, and it would be understandable if Tim had felt something of a failure, or jealous of his brother’s success, but this was not to understand him. He loved his school, the Headmaster, the educational projects and the sport, where he excelled at hockey, tennis and cricket, while his brother hated every minute of his time at Repton. Tim finished with 5 GCE ‘O’ levels, an excellent achievement after his unfortunate start in life. Perhaps it was a reflection of the residential nature of his schooling, but he also had an ambition to become either a chef or go into the hotel business.

The 1937 Bentley

Meanwhile, during the school holidays, in his early teens Tim purchased an old banger, (a Standard Flying 12) for £10, that the brothers used to drive around the family’s 5½ acre estate, devising hair-raising stunts that terrified their mother, who hadn’t forgotten how Tim had broken his arm performing some madcap stunt on his bike when aged 10. One prank involved Patrick hanging from the lower branch of a tree and dropping onto the car roof as Tim drove beneath it – or vice versa. Such fun! After all that practice, Tim passed his driving test first time and invested in a 1937 Bentley 4.25 for driving on the open road. After rumours reach his mother that he once did 100 mph in it, she took fright, and when they returned from school for their next holiday at home, they found the car missing. On asking its whereabouts, their mother said “I sold it for £25 and here’s £12-10 shillings for each of you”. They never forgave her for that.

 After school, Tim was determined to follow his career inclination and started work at Ye Olde Bell Hotel in Barnby Moor, near Retford where he was born, and he quickly rose through the ranks. 

The brothers outside Ye Olde Bell

Ye Olde Bell today.


Tim relaxed

He then moved to the 5 star Westbury Hotel, one of the finest venues in London’s Mayfair. This was at the height of the Swinging Sixties when London was the centre of the universe and Tim made sure he didn’t miss out – he was at the epicentre. Without in any way neglecting his hotel duties, he was a founding member of the Playboy Club and Crockfords, the famed exclusive gaming club, where he was to be seen in hand-made tuxedo and silk-lined cloak. After 2 years in London he got a post at a 5-star hotel in Cologne, before moving to one of Europe’s most luxurious venues, L’Hotel de Crillon in Paris (below).

L'Hotel de Crillon

He then returned to England, to work at the Salcombe Hotel in Devon, before moving to the Tara Hotel at Upton St. Leonards, near Gloucester (since re-named the Hatton Court Hotel). Here he met Rosamund (née Crozier) who worked at the same hotel and in 1973 they married. Ros already had two children and a son, Stephen, was born in 1975.

 In 1977, they decided to go in with another couple in buying the Moors Park Hotel in Bishopsteignton, near Teignmouth, Devon, but in 1981 the partners decided to return to Gloucester, and they were forced to sell up. With Stephen having started at the local primary school and Tim having joined the Teignmouth Chess Club, they had put down roots, and as they wanted to stay in the village, they purchased the Manor Inn. To help with the income, Tim decided to fall back on his other love of cookery, and started by making a few pasties on the kitchen table and selling six a day to the village butchers nearby. 

From that small beginning they built up a home-based business called the Pasty Mine that employed 14 people. To expand further would have meant acquiring an industrial premises, and this they were not prepared to do, so the Hays kept the business at a level they were happy with, and so it continued this way until 1998.

During this 17 year spell, Tim got involved in village affairs, playing in the village cricket team and serving on the Carnival Committee, and was elected as Liberal Democrat member for Kingsteignton on the Teignbridge District Council. At the chess club he helped found the annual Teignmouth RapidPlay Tournament, which still runs today. As his son reached the top end of his junior school, he went in to take a weekly chess club. From this he was appointed Team Manager of the South Devon Primary Schools Chess Association, taking teams to national tournaments all over the country. The young players all responded to his leadership, which culminated in 1992 when he led the team to the National Under-11 Championship, an unprecedented feat for a provincial team against the might of those from the big conurbations.

The details below demonstrate the magnitude of the achievement:-

 List of Previous Winners (by way of comparison). 

1967 Liverpool   1977 London   1987 Wey Valley  
1968 Nottingham   1978 London   1988 Kent  
1969 Liverpool   1979 London   1989 Gt. Manchester  
1970 London   1980 Liverpool   1990 Kent  
1971 Birmingham   1981 London   1991 Gt. Manchester  
1972 Nottingham   1982 London   1992 Devon   
1973 London   1983 London        
1974 London   1984 Manchester        
1975 London   1985 N. W. London        
1976 Manchester   1986 S. E. London        

 How the Devon team performed individually.

B1 Devon Player Rd.1 Rd.2 Rd.2 Total
1 David Rudall ½ ½ ½
2 Andrew Stone ½ 0 1
3 Stefan Butterfield 0 0 1 1
4 Tom Fayle 0 ½ 1
5 Matthew Dawson 0 0 1 1
6 Nicholas Child ½ 1 ½ 2
7 Edward Radway 1 1 1 3
8 Rowland Turton 1 ½ 0
9 David Hodge 1 ½ 1
10 Ben Grainger 1 1 0 2
11 Chris Leedham 1 1 1 3
12 Adam Clarke ½ 1 ½ 2
13 Joseph Collman 1 1 ½
14 Wojciech Szymanski 1 1 1 3
15 Oliver Wensley 0 1 0 1
16 Daniel Horseman 0 1 1 2
17 Simon Keir 0 1 1 2
18 Chris White 1 1 1 3
19 Toby Dummett 0 1 1 2
20 Tim Praill 1 1 1 3
  Totals 12 14½ 15 41½

 The final team table.

On the strength of this Tim was appointed Match Captain of Devon’s senior team. Success again followed when in June 1996 he took two teams to the National Final of the Inter-Counties Championships – in the Under-150 and Under-100 sections.

 After victories for the stronger team over Leicestershire (10-6) in the Quarter-Final and Cambridgeshire (11½-4½) in the Semis, they faced Nottinghamshire in the Final in Birmingham.  With three games to finish, the match could have gone either way, as Matthew Leigh, Paul Carpenter and Mark Abbott all had very close endgames. They asked Tim if they could agree a draw, but he refused and made them play on, wisely as it turned out, as all three went on to win, making the final score look more comfortable that it actually was.

  Devon        Notts  
1 D. Hill 142 0 1 A. Blake 148
2 J. G. Gorodi 140 ½ ½ N. Graham 148
3 S. Webb 146 1 0 A. Dyce 148
4 I. Taggart 145 ½ ½ J. Tassi 147
5 C. Brookwell 149 ½ ½ B. Hayward 145
6 P. E. Halmkin 143 ½ ½ W. Selby 143
7 M. Leigh 149 1 0 A. Wright 143
8 M. Hamon 148 0 1 J. Cast 143
9 P. Carpenter 145 1 0 N. Bowler 142
10 P. Scott 140 1 0 Z. Yahya 141
11 R. Towers 143 ½ ½ M. Shaw 140
12 S. Pope 142 0 1 R. Taylor 139
13 D. Ruddall 141 1 0 I. Nicholson 137
14 M. V. Abbott 139 1 0 G. Beales 136
15 I. S. Annetts 131 1 0 M. Taylor 131
16 K. J. Bloodworth 135 0 1 P. Kirby 127


Tim receives the U-150 trophy from BCF President, Alan Martin.

Devon's victorious U-150 team parading their trophy.

l-r: Peter Halmkin; Steve Webb; Danny Hill; Matthew Leigh; John Gorodi; Ian Taggart; Tim Hay (holding cup); Ken Bloodworth; Sean Pope; Paul Carpenter; David Rudall; Patrick Scott; Chris Brookwell & Ivor Annetts.

 However, in 1998, all this joy came to a sudden end in a most unexpected way. While he was making a routine delivery of pasties to a shop in Exeter, he was stung by a bee in the cab of his van. As Tim knew he was allergic to bee stings, he prepared to drive back home immediately, taking the precaution of asking the shop manager to follow his van to make sure he got home safely. This was duly achieved and from home he was taken by ambulance to hospital, where they discovered that not only had he been stung, but he must, at some point, have fallen against his van in Exeter and hit the back of his head. The next day he had a cerebral haemorrhage and spent a month in hospital.

 After this he attempted to carry on as before, but had two fits whilst driving his van. After a third fit resulted in his crashing into a ditch, it was discovered these were as a result of epilepsy, and he was banned from driving for a minimum of three years until the condition could be stabilised.

 The business could not function successfully under this handicap, so Tim and Ros sold the Pasty Mine to a former employee and moved into a flat nearby.

After this, Tim gave up chess for almost a decade, but in 2008 they moved into Teignmouth and he started to get involved again in the local scene, re-joining the Teignmouth Club and playing in local congresses. He got involved in the chess element of the Twinning between Torbay and Hellevoetsluis in Holland, joining groups of players to visit the Dutch town and hosting them in return. In the summer of 2010 he arranged for a match between the two sides to be played at Forde House in Newton Abbot, the very house in which William III stayed on his first night in England, having landed his troops at nearby Brixham, on his way from Hellevoetsluis to London to assume the British Crown. The Dutch appreciated the significance.

In December 2010, during a bitterly cold spell, he was returning to his house when he slipped and fell on some steep steps leading to his front door, fracturing his skull. He was taken to hospital but never recovered consciousness. 

His memorial service was held at Torquay Crematorium on 4th February 2011, when chess colleagues joined with family members in celebrating Tim’s rich and varied life.

With thanks for information and family pictures to:

Ros Hay; Tim’s mother, and brother Patrick; Tim Onions;

WECU Junior Championships (05.02.2011.)

The West of England Junior Championships start in Swindon three weeks today, just enough time to get late entries in.

This venerable event started way back in 1948 when it was held as a special section of the traditional West of England Easter Congress. It was held in Bristol that year and the first winner was P. T. Burnett. The following year there was a tie between G. Allin (Plymouth) and D. S. Reed (Bath) and in 1950 it was won by a 14 year old Exeter School pupil, Denis Gray with a 100% score of 8/8. He retained this title for several years and was a leading westcountry player until his role as a GP in his family practice took over, eventually being knighted for his services to the medical profession.

As more and more juniors took up the game in the 1970s, following the inspiration provided by the exploits of Bobby Fischer, it was hived off as a stand-alone event with its own Organiser, the last one being Ralph Maishman of Burnham-On-Sea.

It was then felt appropriate to combine it with the increasingly successful Wiltshire Junior Championships, and this formula has proved successful for several years.

This year’s congress takes place on 26th & 27th February at St. Joseph’s Catholic College, Swindon, SN3 3LR, and there will be prizes for boys and girls in both the West of England and Wiltshire Championship in the following age groups: U-18; U-16; U-14; U-12; U-12; U-10; U-9 and U-8. There are also other non-championship sections, so there is something for everyone.

Full details may be obtained from the Entry Secretary, Bev Schofield, on 01793-487575  or by e-mail to

Here is an instructive game of Gray’s from the 1952 WECU Junior Championship in which he demonstrates how to maintain the initiative after a bold piece sacrifice. His opponent was the runner-up.

White: D. J. P. Gray. Black: N. Ashbee.

King’s Gambit Accepted [C39]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 Black aims to defend his extra pawn even before it’s attacked. 4.h4 White’s aim is to undermine that defence and attack quickly on the Kingside. 4…g4 5.Ng5 White is preparing a piece sacrifice. 5…h6 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 Note how, rather than grabbing the g-pawn, White seeks to develop all his pieces in order to try and retain the initiative. 7.d4 d6 8.Bc4+ Ke8 9.Bxf4 Nf6 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.Qd2 Qe7 12.0–0–0 Bg7 White has succeeded in his primary aim – now to attack the king stuck in the centre. 13.e5 breaking open the centre Nd7 14.exd6 Qf6 15.Rde1+ Kf8 16.Rhf1 Nxd4 17.Be5 Nf3 18.Rxf3 gxf3 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Qd5 Black resigned as mate is inevitable. 1–0

Last week’s position was solved by 1.Kc4! which forces 1…Ka4 allowing 2.Qa2 mate. Here is another of a similar standard, suitable for juniors. White to mate in 2.

White to play & mate in 2

Devon v Hants – A Match of Two Halves (29.01.2011.)

Devon’s encounter against Hampshire on Saturday certainly qualified for the description of “a match of two halves”. In this case, Devon’s 1st team were truly massacred 12½ – 3½, their only winner being Jonathan Underwood, while draws were obtained by Alan Brusey, Robert Thompson, Paul Brooks, Steve Clarke and Phil Kennedy. The top eight boards of the 16 man team were outgraded by Hants, but the lower half, who were much better matched, were unable to stop the rot.

On the other hand, the score of the 2nd team match over 12 boards was equally imbalanced, but the other way, as Devon won that by 9½-2½, consisting of wins by Mike Stinton-Brownbridge, Jeff Leung, Ken Alexander, Jon Munsey, Freddie Sugden, Rob Wilby, Oliver Wensley, Juris Dzenis and Rob Jones, with Peter Halmkin providing the half point.

Here is the game from Board 1, to give a flavour of the main match.

White: J. F. Wheeler (185). Black: I. D. Thompson (209).

Queen’s Gambit Declined – Semi-Slav Defence. [D44]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 Black declines the offer of the c-pawn and plays the key move of the Semi-Slav. 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.e5 Nd5 10.Be2 h5 11.h4 g4 12.Ng5 Be7 13.Nge4 Bb7 14.0–0 White can afford to castle as his h-pawn is poisoned bait. e.g. 14…Bxh4 15.Bxh4 Qxh4 16.Nd6+ Nd7 15.Rc1 Nxc3 16.Rxc3 c5 17.Nd6+ Bxd6 18.exd6 Qb6 19.Be5 f6 White now has to decide whether to retreat  his threatened bishop or continue to go all out for attack. 20.Bxg4 White might have tried  20.Qd2 fxe5 21.dxe5 Nxe5 22.Re3 Qc6 23.f3 to prevent an immediate mate. 23…gxf3 24.Rxe5 fxe2 25.Rxe6+ Kd7 26.Re7+ Kd8 and Black has been forced to give up castling. 27.Rxe2 20…hxg4 21.Qxg4 0–0–0 White has sacrificed a piece to attack on Black’s weakened white squares but Black’s King has scooted away to safety anyway. 22.Bxf6 White also had 22.dxc5 Qc6 23.Bxf6 Nxf6 24.Qxe6+ Nd7 25.Rg3. 22…Nxf6 23.Qxe6+ If White had envisioned a fork here, it doesn’t work out, and the game is effectively over. 23…Nd7 24.d5 Rde8 25.Qh3 Qxd6 26.Rd1 Rh5 White is 2 pieces down and his key d-pawn is bound to fall, so he resigned. 0–1

With February just around the corner the East Devon Congress cannot be far away. It starts on the evening of Friday 4th March. Details from Alan Maynard on 01363-771133 or e-mail:

In last week’s position Jack Rudd played 1.Rxd4!! and if 1…exd4 then 2.Bxd4 supporting the knight to check on b6. So Black replied 1…Nd2 to prevent the rook coming to c4 2. Rxd2 Rxd2 3.Rc4 Qxc4 4.bxc4. This was admittedly a complicated one by any standard. This week’s 2-mover is somewhat more clear-cut. White to play.

White to play and mate in 2