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Archive for July, 2011

British Championship Rd. 1 (30.07.2011.)

Dorset’s Match Captain, Alf Bullock of Poole, died last month at the age of 85 after a long illness. He was a regular character on the westcountry congress circuit and was his county’s non-playing captain, though often having to sit in at short notice for missing players.

Alf Bullock at the Exmouth Seniors Congress


The British Championships started in Sheffield on Monday after a late surge had pushed the overall entry to a healthy 875+. The Championship section features 12 Grandmasters and 20 other titled players among the 86 entrants. One interesting, probably unique feature is the mother and son combination of Susan Lalic and her 16 year old son Peter. Over the years, several father and son pairs have played in the same championship, but I can’t recall a mother and child pair having played before – this may be a first.

In Round 1, Peter won fairly quickly and his mother must have felt duty bound to assert her own bragging rights and went on to create one of the surprises of the first week by beating Simon Williams, the self-styled Ginger GM, in the following game.

White: S. K. Lalic (2277). Black: Simon Williams (2528)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 c5? 7.Bxe7 Kxe7 If 7…Qxe7 the knight will be able to invade Black’s position, but now the black king may get stuck in the centre. 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.Qd2 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qb6 The race is now on to attack each king a.s.a.p. 11.Nxc6+ bxc6 12.0–0–0 h6 If 12…Nxe5 13.Qg5+ f6 14.Qxg7+ further weakening the black king. 13.f4 Rb8 14.b3 Nc5 15.Rh3 Rd8 16.Qd4 blockading the d-pawn. 16…Qa5 17.h5 Rb4 18.Qf2 d4 Black’s steamroller picks up speed. 19.Qh4+ Ke8 20.Nb1 Qxa2 21.Rg3 Rd5 22.Bc4 d3 threatening mate on c2 23.Rdxd3 Nxd3+ 24.Bxd3 Rxb3 Sacrificing material to break open the king’s position, but did Black overlook 24…Rxe5? when White cannot  capture the rook without losing her queen. 25.cxb3 Qf2 26.Qg4 a5 27.Qxg7 Qxf4+ 28.Kb2 Rxe5 29.Qg8+ Kd7 30.Rf3 Qd4+ 31.Nc3 f5 32.Rg3 Kc7 33.Bc2 White succeeds in tucking her king away before going on the attack herself.  33…Qf4 34.Rg7+ Bd7 35.Qa8 Qd4 36.Rg8 Rb5 37.Qd8+ Kd6 38.Qf8+ Kc7 39.Qg7 Re5 40.Qf6 Rd5 41.Qd8+ Kd6 42.Qf8+ Ke5 43.Qxh6 1–0. White is a piece up and now has an advanced passed pawn. Black’s slip as early as move 6 eventually proved his undoing.

The solution to David Howard’s problem last week was 1. Qd8! threatening 2. Qxa5.

This position arose in a game between past and present residents of Paignton at the local congress. How did Keith Arkell (Black against Gary Lane) finish the game in 3 moves?

Black to play and mate in 3

New Grades (2011 – 2012)

The new grading list was published to coincide with the start of the British Championships on Monday.

Here is Exmouth’s section of it. Most of the higher grades are slightly down and the lower grades tend to be slightly up. The outstanding feature is the arrival of Oliver Wensley with a grade of 164. His last known grade was 97 at the age of 12, almost 20 years ago. He was introduced to competitions with an estimated grade of 120, in the assumption that, even with any further experience, he had improved since his pre-teen years. By Christmas this had been upgraded to an estimate of 130, but he continued to go from strength to strength and his grade is now confirmed at 164.

However, even this may be surpassed in September, if and when a new potential member turns up, as he promised. No names just yet.

Ref Name Cat. Standard Previous Cat. Rapid Previous
129415F Abbott, Mark V A 170 177 E 167 165
242270A Badlan, Tom W B 110 122      
173289E Belt, Malcolm C 120 118      
285020F Dzenis, Juris D 139        
111446D Gosling, Brian G.E. A 150 156     158
112584K Hewson, Brian W.R. C 178 176      
140874E Hodge, Fred R. D 118 111 E 107 113
266234G Hurst, Kevin J. C 186        
233570A Jamieson, Ian M. B 163 171      
113895K Jones, Robert H. A 130 138 E 147 154
164040K Kennedy, Philip J. A 147 151      
116002D Murray, J. Stephen C 151 143      
118154D Rogers, David R. A 138 150      
155629A Stephens, John K.F. B 173 181 E 176  
242384E Toms, David A. A 153 159      
242283K Underwood, Jonathan D 172 172      
285021H Wensley, Oliver E D 164        

H. V. Trevenen – the Forgotten Champion (23.07.2011.)

Back in March I referred to the lack of available information on the first West of England Champion in 1946, H. V. Trevenen, who was little more than a name in the record books. Since then I have unearthed a few more facts about him.

He was born Henry Vickers White Trevenen in May 1921, the son of Joseph, a stonemason, and Honor (nèe White) and lived in the family home of 17, Holly Terrace, Heamoor, near Penzance.

At the end of WWII, he turned up in Bristol, where, without any known previous track record, he won the Championship of the strong Bristol & Clifton Club in their first post-war season. On the strength of this he was invited to join three “old guard” players to play in the first West of England Championship. If his win was unexpected, the same could not be said of his victories in ‘48 & ’49, when the entry was extended to 8 invited players.

From 1950–‘68, he was an occasional participant in the WECU Championship and played for Cornwall on top board. He won the Cornish Championship in 1948, ’49, ‘56 and ‘68.  However, as the years went by, his form fluctuated greatly as he struggled with mental illness. He was committed to the Cornwall Mental Asylum in Bodmin, the old St. Lawrence’s Hospital. In fact, a chess club was listed at St. Lawrence’s as early as 1950, participating in Cornish league matches, and this may be an indication that Trevenen was a patient at that early stage, and help to explain his irregular appearances and apparent under-performance after 1950. The exact nature of his illness is not clear, but when the problemist David Howard, tracked him down and visited him there in the late 1970s, he seemed pleasant enough and they chatted amiably for an hour on chess matters. He remained in Bodmin until the autumn of 1982 when he developed intestinal problems and was transferred to Treliske Hospital, Truro, for exploratory tests. Within a few days he had contracted pneumonia and died there on 10th November aged 61.

Trevenen’s chess career was tragically cut short at both ends; the war prevented most competition in his formative years and ill-health had taken over by 1950. The result is that he is a largely forgotten man in spite of his considerable achievements

Due to a mix-up, the diagram given on 18th June was incorrect and did not match the solution given the following week – apologies for that. The solution to last week’s problem was 1.Bd5+ Pxd5 (forced) 2.Qf5 mate.

Here is another original 2-mover, just sent in by David Howard of East Harptree, who says it’s not too difficult.

White to mate in 2

Devon Fall Agonisingly Short of National Title (09.07.2011.)

Devon’s hair-raising progress through the National Stages continued to the bitter end when they fell at the very last hurdle in their match against Nottinghamshire in the National Final on Saturday. At the death, with just two of the sixteen games to finish, Devon needed a win and a draw in order to bring the score to 8-8, in which case Devon would have won the match, and the National U-180 Championship, on tie break. With only minutes left Torquay schoolboy, Alex Billings, had four pawns against a solitary bishop, a guaranteed no-loss situation with clear winning possibilities. On the strength of this almost assured win (or so it seemed), the other Devon player agreed a draw in a better position in order to seal the match win, but no sooner had he done so, than Billings’ opponent found an almost miraculous move that saved his seemingly lost game, and so Devon fell half a point short of victory, 7½-8½.

Here is one of Devon’s two wins, with notes kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Dr. Dave Regis (166). Black: Andre Antunes (166).

English Opening [A14]

1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nf3 c6 5.b3 Nbd7 6.Bb2 Be7 7.0–0 0–0 8.d3 b6 9.Nbd2 Bb7 10.Rc1 c5 11.d4 dxc4 12.Nxc4 b5 13.Nce5 cxd4 14.Qxd4 Nxe5 15.Qxe5 Qd5 16.Rfd1 Qxe5 17.Nxe5 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 White’s pieces are all a little better-placed than their Black counterparts. 18…Rac8? Played quickly. 19.Nc6 Nd5? 20.Nxe7+? I was grateful to find this “simple win of the exchange”. 20…Nxe7 21.Ba3 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Expecting Black to resign. 22…Rc8! Oops! – missed that one. 23.Rxc8+ Nxc8 24.Bc5! White now has to work to exploit the slight advantage of B vs N. White wants to run Black out of moves before exchanging BxN in favourable circumstances. 24…f5?! 25.Kf3 Kf7 26.Kf4 Kf6 27.Bd4+ Kf7 28.Ke5 Ke7 29.Bc5+ Kf7 30.h3 a6 31.e4!? g6 32.exf5 gxf5 33.h4 h5?! 34.f3 Ne7 35.Bxe7 Kxe7 36.b4 Kd7 37.Kf6!? 37…Kd6 38.Kg5 Kd5 39.f4! Kc4 40.Kxh5 Kxb4 41.Kg5 Ka3 42.h5 b4 43.h6 Kxa2 44.h7 b3 45.h8=Q b2 46.Qa8! The saving move, which had to be anticipated before committing to 37.Kf6 46…b1=Q 47.Qxa6+ Kb2 48.Qb5+ Kc1 49.Qxb1+ Kxb1 50.Kf6 1–0 With queens removed, the Black King is left powerless to prevent an easy win.

Last week’s debut 2-mover by David Howard was solved by 1.Ng2! threatening 2.Ne3 mate and whatever Black tries to prevent this simply allows a different mate.

Here is an easier one, in which White is two pieces down and has abandoned his defences for all-out attack. He must succeed quickly or surely lose. How can this be done?

White to mate a.s.a.p.

Hampshire Win National U-140 Title (16.07.2011.)

The only other West of England team involved in the recent inter-county finals was Hampshire who contested the U-140 title against Kent. As the first games ended, Hants shot into a 5–1 lead and a win looked a formality, but Kent gradually pulled them back and in the end, Hants were glad to drag themselves over the finishing line, winning by the narrowest of margins, 8½-7½, with wins from James Chilton, John Symons, Norhidayah Azman, Andy Manning, Jonathan Young and James Barnett. They thus retain the trophy they won in 2010.

Here is Devon’s only other win in their U-180 Final against Nottinghamshire, reported last week. The game was described at the time by Devon’s captain as “a real dogfight”.

White: T. Walker (179). Black: T. F.  Thynne (177).

Sicilian Defence – Grand Prix Attack [B21]

1.e4 c5 2.f4 this move, played either here or next move, proved popular in the 1970s and ‘80s as weekend congresses mushroomed and good players sought a quick, sharp win with White against the Sicilian. In this particular case, Black is too good to fall for any cheap tricks like that.  d5 3.exd5 Nf6 4.Bb5+ Bd7 5.Bxd7+ Qxd7 6.c4 e6 7.Nf3 exd5 8.Ne5 Qd8 9.Qb3 Qb6 10.Qa4+ Nc6 11.Nc3 d4 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.cxd5 Qb4 14.Qc2 Nxe5 15.fxe5 Be7 16.d6 Bd8 17.0–0 0–0 18.b3 Ba5 19.a3 Qb5 20.a4? White might do better to release his bishop towards the centre with 20.d3. 20…Qe2 21.Qf5 Rae8 22.Ba3 Rxe5 an important capture. 23.Rf2 Rxf5 24.Rxe2 d3? 25.Re7 Bxd2 26.Rd1 Bg5 27.Rxd3 b6 Black had to resist the temptation of capturing the rook. e.g. 27…Bxe7 28.dxe7 Re8 29.Rd8 and Black will lose a rook. 28.Bb2 Rd8 29.Re4 h5 Black has to beware of getting trapped on the back rank. 30.d7 Kh7 31.h4 Bf4 32.Re8 Bc7 Black’s saving move. 33.Rxd8 Bxd8 34.Rg3 f6 35.Rd3 0-1 And at this point, White’s flag fell well short of the time limit on move 40. He had used too much time trying to press home his attack. Usually in this kind of game it is the defender who runs short of time as he seeks to avoid imminent catastrophe, but in this case Black kept his head and in the final position was two pawns up with no significant weaknesses, provided he kept an eye on the advanced pawn, and with best play he would probably have won the game anyway. Good time management is a vital feature in the chessplayer’s armoury.

Last week’s position ended abruptly after 1.Qxg8+! Kxg8 (forced) 2.Nf6++ which is a double check that Black cannot get out of.

How can White end this game equally quickly?

White to mate in 2.

H. D’O Bernard (1878 – 1954)

Henry D’Oyly Bernard

(2nd  March 1878  – 23rd Nov. 1954)

Bernard aged 42.

Henry Bernard was one of a number of Devon-born problemists who made a major contribution to the art at a national and international level.

H. D’O Bernard was born on 2nd March 1878, the first child of Arthur Francis and Mary L. Bernard. At that time, his father was 27 and his mother 21 years of age, and the family lived at a house called The Abbots in the East Devon village of Combe Raleigh, just a mile from Honiton. Arthur had been born in nearby Sidmouth, while Mary’s somewhat more exotic birthplace was somewhere in Eastern India.

Family home with village church in background.

Two views of the Bernard family home in Combe Raleigh, built c. 1790 and taken here c. 1900 when Arthur Bernard was a magistrate on the Honiton circuit. The tower of the 15th century village church can be seen in the background of the left hand picture.       (from the collection of Alfred Newton)

In 1880, when Henry was 2, a sister, Ruth Capel Bernard, was born, and this small family was supported by four female servants, an indication of a very comfortable background. The name Henry Doyly, being one of the nobles who signed Magna Carta in 1215, also suggests the family had historic connections or pretensions. As White’s Devonshire Directory of 1850 lists a Rev. William Bernard as being lord of the manor of Combe Raleigh, this may well be true.

By 1901, he had a further three siblings, all living at home in Combe Raleigh; Charles, 19, a lieutenant in the Lancashire Artillery, Muriel, 15, and Marjorie, 13, the household kept going with the help of a cook, maid, parlourmaid, housemaid and kitchenmaid. However, Henry himself, now 24, had married Elionor (sic) 4 years older than himself, and who, like his mother, had been born in India, in the North West Provinces. Also, the couple had moved to London, living at No. 36, Primrose Mansions, south of the River Thames bordering on Battersea Park.

By 1911, he had risen to Clerk in Principal in the Probate Registry, working in Somerset House, the national headquarters of registration of births, marriages and deaths. He had moved to 101, Albert Bridge Road, Wandsworth in the Parish of Battersea, London. He had a daughter, Ursula aged 8, and a son, Nigel aged 4.

Henry had learned the game at home, but, as was typical of Devon’s rural communities at the time, having few opportunities for over-the-board games, he turned to problem composition as an outlet for his new enthusiasm. He specialised in 2-movers and made his mark in the field of mutates, in which field he was a true pioneer and was described in his BCM obituary as “a persistent and leading figure”. He proved “its most artistic and thematic interpreter with his glorious 1st Prize in the Chess Amateur of 1918 – 19″.

He was highly self-critical and expected the same standards of others. On one occasion, when acting as judge to the Western Morning News problem competition, he famously returned all entries to the Chess Editor, refusing to award any prize at all, deeming them all just not good enough.

He worked as a civil servant in London, at one time serving at the Probate Registry in the department of Receiver of Wills.

Bernard in later life.

He had suffered all his life with asthma, and later in life, to alleviate the associated symptoms, moved to Monaco, from where he kept in close touch with the British chess problem world. He was made a Fellow of the British Chess Problem Society, and made several generous gifts to its Permanent Fund, successfully avoiding any cash-for-honours scandal, and made generous donations to other bodies, including the BCM.

He died in Monaco in the winter of 1954.

His problems may be found today in magazines, books and newspapers around the world, and are a lasting tribute to this true Devon Pioneer.

Left: Henry Bernard in later life.

Bibliography:                                                                                                                                                                                                  BCM 1955.

Watts, W. H. (Ed.)   Chess Pie BCF. 

Gaige, J: Chess Personalia McFarland 1987.

White:  Devonshire Directory 1850. 

Kelly’s Directory. 

House pictures from English Heritage NMR.

© R. H. Jones. 2010 All rights reserved.

C. T. Blanshard (1852-1924)

Charles Thomas Blanshard   M. A.

(26th Jan.1852   -   Aug. 1924) 

C. T. Blanshard.


Charles Blanshard was born in Leeds in 1852, the son of the Rev. Richard Blanshard of Lincoln College, Oxford. An ancestor of his was William Isaac Blanshard, a barrister at law and an expert at taking notes in a shorthand he devised himself, and published a book on it in 1779, though it never reached the popularity of Pitman’s method. He also helped defend Warren Hastings when he was impeached in 1787 for corruption in his position as first Governor General of India. 

Charles attended Clifton College and took a scholarship to Queen’s College, Oxford, and in 1874 took first class degrees in both Chemistry and Physics, the first person at Oxford to do so. In 1880 he took up the study of phonography, much like his forefather, William. He started the Oxford School of Shorthand and tried to get the University authorities to take the subject seriously, without any lasting success. 

His main occupation was teaching, natural science, shorthand and modern languages being his forte. There was a Charles T. Blanshard listed as headmaster of Calday Grange Grammar School, on the Wirral, between 1886 – 1891, who could be our subject – the name, initials, profession and dates are exactly right, but there is, at present, no corroboration. 

He was a great traveller, having visited most countries of Europe, including Scandinavia and Russia. Three of these trips he made in a canoe. He was fond of mountaineering and cycling. 

Apart from his many writings on shorthand and articles on various scientific topics, he published five books on chess, including a series entitled Chess Master Play, which gave the best games played in international tournaments between 1887 and 1896. There were also three small volumes called Classified Chess Openings. These were later published in one volume. 

He started a chess column in the Plymouth-based Western Daily Mercury in August 1902, which he edited for a year, together with Philip Dancer, General Secretary of the new Cornwall C.A., who contributed the Cornish input. 

That he was not among the strongest of Devon players at that time, is illustrated by the fact that he lost to Mrs. Rhoda Bowles on Board 8 of the North v South Devon match in 1902. But at the same event, he gave a blindfold exhibition, conducting two Knight’s Tours simultaneously, so clearly possessed a considerable mental dexterity. In fact, the Knight’s Tour held a special fascination for him, as it did for several other chess-playing mathematicians. H. E. Dudeney was a leading expert at the time, but Blanshard, working independently, made several discoveries in this field which he published in the Chess Amateur in August 1923 (p.349). 

At the Southern Union Congress in Plymouth in 1903, he played in the third American Section, where he won but a solitary point out of seven, and that was against a Miss Hunt from North Devon, who scored a complete blank. Henry Bremridge came 1st= with 5½.  Yet the fact that in the photograph below he was seated front centre hints at the esteem in which he was held by his peers.

S.C.C.U. Congress at Plymouth 1903


A group from the Southern Union Congress at Goodbody’s Café, Bedford Street, Plymouth, September  1903.

Front row: G. E. H. Bellingham, A. Clark.

Seated (l – r): C. J. Lambert (Exeter); Rhoda Annie Bowles (born in Dawlish); R. F. B. Jones; C. T. Blanshard (Totnes); Rev. W. C. Palmer; Mrs Joughin; F. W. Forrest.

Standing: E. D. Fawcett; Thomas Taylor (Plymouth); A. Emery; Henry L. Bowles; W. P. Weekes; C. F. Lewis; Rev. J. F. Welsh; C. F. Cooper.

Back row: F. J. Welsh; J. A. Parry; W. P. MacBean; W. H. Watts; A. Axtell. 

When the Devon Association was founded in October 1901, Blanshard was on the committee, and he founded the Totnes club at this time. It is not clear whether he stayed in Devon throughout the remaining 23 years of his life. He certainly played postal chess for the county during this period, and as late as 1922 was paying an annual fee of 52p to be one of the Association’s 28 Vice Presidents, but was not listed among the membership of any Devon club. So perhaps he was living a distance away in his later years, but maintaining contacts. 

At the DCCA’s A.G.M. in October 1924, the General Secretary, George W. Cutler, reported  on the passing, that year, of a great swathe of Pioneers, including Carslake Winter-Wood and his sister, Mrs. W. J. Baird, the Secretary of the Totnes Club, the “genial and much loved J. Darley Dingle”, and followed by “Mr. C. T. Blanshard, who was playing for Devon in a correspondence match at the time of his death, and whose name and connection with Devon Chess from the foundation of Association will be familiar to very many of you”. 

Having been so active at the time of Devon’s Chess “Big Bang” (1901 -02) Charles Blanshard was indeed a true Pioneer. 

 R. H. Jones. copyright 2011 

Bibliography: BCM 1903.

Website: Knight’s Tour Notes by George Jelliss.

Website: Calday Grange Grammar School, The Wirral.

Devon Chess Pioneer – G. W. Cutler (1845-1927).

George W. Cutler. (1845 – 1927) 


George W. Cutler



Photograph by T. Arthur Goard, son-in-law, fellow member of Exeter Chess Club and Vice-President of Exeter Camera Club. 

George Cutler was a tireless worker for the Devon County Chess Association for almost a quarter of a century from the time of its formation in 1901. 

George William Cutler was born in Christchurch, Hampshire in August 1844. He first learned the game about 1868 and for about 10 years was his main recreation. Then his career in banking took over and he didn’t play for about 20 years. He retired as a Bankers’ Accountant and moved to Exeter in 1896 and finding himself with more leisure time returned to the game, joining the Exeter Club and playing most days. 

The 1901 census records that he was a widower and lived with his daughter Matilda Ellen and her husband, Thomas Arthur Goard, a 35 year old dentist living at 7, Elm Grove Road, Exeter, with their 3 year old son Arthur. Goard was also a member of Exeter Chess Club and a keen photographer (see above) 

When the Devon County Association was founded in 1901, although the Rev. Henry Bremridge was the hard-working figurehead, he had Cutler’s full and active support. At the Association’s 1905 A.G.M. Bremridge had determined to give up the posts of both Secretary and Treasurer. In the end, a compromise was reached when Cutler took over as Treasurer on condition that Bremridge remained as Secretary. 

The BCM of January 1908 contained a very affectionate portrait of Henry Bremridge, written by Cutler, in which he stated that he was a regular visitor to Bremridge’s  Winkleigh Vicarage. The Editor added the footnote,  “The kindly sentiments expressed here show how close is the bond of friendship is between the two leading officials of the Association”. 

Eventually, in 1909 Bremridge did resign as Secretary, and it wasn’t long before Cutler held both key posts himself. He held these posts as late as 1924, when he was still living at his son-in-law’s house in Elm Grove Road. According to the Exeter club minute books, Cutler attended their A.G.M.s but played no active role in the club’s administration, reserving his energies for the Devon Association. 

He was a strong correspondence player, having played 9 games for Devon by 1906, winning 7 and drawing 1. In Rhoda Bowles’ postal tournaments in Womanhood, he played 25 games of which he won 17 and drew 5. He won 2nd prize in Section B of the 4th Tournament and was awarded the Brilliancy Bronze medal.

In 1927, Goard died aged 61 (“one of the club’s oldest members”) and Cutler, then 82, left Exeter and moved to 3, Kingsdown Road, Epsom. He died there in November 1927 aged 83. There is no mention of his death in the Exeter Club’s minutes nor any obituary in other contemporary chess literature. He seems to have died a forgotten man, but someone who devoted himself to the first quarter century of the D.C.C.A. must be remembered as a true Pioneer. 

© R. H. Jones   2010   All rights reserved. 


BCMs 1906 & 1908

Exeter club minute books.

1901 & 1911 census online.

“Devon Loch Finish” In Grand National Finals

Devon’s nail-biting journey to the National Final of the U-180 Inter-County Tournament continued to the very end of the trail, with a tragi-comic twist reminiscent of a famous finish to the Grand National, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

They were due to meet a Nottinghamshire team playing near their home territory, in contrast to Devon’s need to oragnise a complex and expensive combination of minibus pick-ups and private cars for the long trip north on a hot and inevitably tiring day. In addition, Devon had lost three of their regular side, with Mark Abbott (177 and on a pre-fixed holiday), Robert Thompson (175 at a family wedding) and David Toms, apparently vanished off the radar in the days beforehand, turned out to be in hospital and incommunicado.

An innovation this year was the ability to be able to monitor the state of play throughout the afternoon as results, as they came in, were posted on the East Anglian Union website. This was a little short of watching live games as we have become used to in big events, and one had to realise that the scores did not change unless one logged off and on regularly – if one stayed on-line, the score did not  change. Still, it was progress.

In the event, Devon slipped behind at an early stage, but never got too far behind, and the climax proved just a nerve-wracking as their quarter- and semi-final matches. However, this was a bridge too far for the man who saved them on both those occasions, Brian Gosling, and he lost this time. Nor was there a fairytale finish in store for the venerable, 85 year old John Gorodi, who had stepped in at the last minute for the missing David Toms, as he lost too. As ever, the outcome boiled down to the last two games still in play.

Alex Billings, playing Black, had 4 advancing pawns against a solitary bishop. He couldn’t lose and looked all set for a win that would level the scores to 7.5 each. With just minutes to go, the other player, Tim Paulden, was advised to settle for a draw in order to seal the envisaged win, as an 8-8 draw would give Devon the match on the board count tie break system. Paulden duly obliged, but seconds later Billings’ opponent found a brilliant saving move, and the expected win, in both the game and the match, evaporated before everyone’s eyes.

Cruel luck on Devon, but they had the satisfaction of having done much better than expected in the National Stages in general and this match in particular.

Garside vs Billings - the critical position.

Here is the crucial position upon which the whole match revolved. Black now played 1…a3 in order to protect his b-pawn and to pile on the pressure, but in reply White played 2.Bd1! and he can safely take on b3  because of the danger of stalemate.

Correct is 1…Kc3 after which the “save” doesn’t work. e.g. 2.Bd1 Kd2 3.Bxb3 axb3 4.Kxb2 Ke2 wins. So the bishop must stay on. Much fascinating and subtle play still invloved, but very difficult to work out in the final minutes.

The full details were as follows: 

Bd. Notts Grd     Devon  Grd  
1 G. Halfpenny 179 ½ ½ B. W. R. Hewson 176 W
2 T. Walker 179 0 1 T. F. Thynne 177 B
3 J. Harrison 176 ½ ½ A. W. Brusey 175 W
4 R. Hearne 174 ½ ½ Dr. T. J. Paulden 174 B
5 D. Flynne 170 ½ ½ Dr. J. Underwood 172 W
6 J. Swain 168 ½ ½ D. R. Cowley 170 B
7 A. Antunes 166 0 1 Dr. D. Regis 166 W
8 I. Kingston 166 1 0 A. S. Kinder 166 B
9 S. Burke 165 ½ ½ J. Duckham 165 W
10 G. Gibson 165 ½ ½ W. H. Ingham 164 B
11 D. Sudar 162 ½ ½ P. Brooks 160 W
12 S. Foster 161 ½ ½ C. V. Howard 158 B
13 D. Levens 159 1 0 B. G. E. Gosling 156 W
14 A. Garside 163 ½ ½ A. J. Billings 148 B
15 B. Hayward 158 ½ ½ P. J. Kennedy 151 W
16 E. Williamson 153 1 0 J. G. Gorodi 150 B



British Championships 2011 Getting Nearer.

Devon, the westcountry’s last survivor, meet Notts in Leicester this afternoon in the U-180 county championships final. Best of luck to them.

The 98th British Championships, start in Sheffield three weeks tomorrow. Guaranteed appearance money has ensured the participation of some of Britain’s strongest active Grandmasters, including the top three, Adams, Short and Howell and much interest will revolve around their performances. Westcountry interest will centre on players who qualified through local congresses, among them being Bruce Jenks (Frome); Patryk Krzyzanowski (WECU-Exmouth); John Waterfield (Bristol); Chris Beaumont (Torbay); Richard Almond and Martyn Simons (both Paignton).

Chessplayers are notorious for often leaving things to the last minute, but even so, the overall total entry of only 279 for all 22 sections at this late stage must be causing some concern to the organisers as the event usually requires about three times that number to reach break-even point. By contrast, the Torquay venue at the Riviera Centre generally attracts almost 1,000 individual entries. If entries do prove to be low this year, it may be due to a combination of the recession (all congresses have been down recently), and a public perception, however unfair, of Sheffield not being the most attractive place to spend two weeks in high summer.

Meanwhile, here is Michael Adams’ Round 7 win from last year’s tournament in Canterbury (897 entries overall), which he won easily.

White: Stephen Gordon (2534). Black: Michael Adams (2706).

Catalan System [E00]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bd6 6.Bg2 c6 7.Qc2 Nbd7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Rd1 Qe7 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.Nbd2 e5 13.dxe5 Bxe5 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.Nxe5 Qxe5 16.Nc4 Qf6 After an early skirmish, the position seems well-balanced. 17.e4 Nb6 18.Ne3 Be6 19.f4 Rad8 20.f5 Bc8 21.Ng4 Qe7 White seeks to break open the King’s position. 22.f6 gxf6 23.Nxh6+ Kg7 24.Nf5+ Bxf5 25.exf5 Mission accomplished, yet White cannot capitalise on Black’s disrupted pawns. 25…Rfe8 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Rf1 Rd4 28.b3 Nd7 29.Rd1 Qc5! 0-1. Suddenly, White must lose material. If 30.Qxc5 30…Rxd1+ 31.Kf2 Nxc5. Or if 30.Rxd4 Qxc2 and White cannot afford to take the knight with 31.Rxd7 because of Qc5+ 32.Kf1 Qxf5+ winning the rook.

The solution to last week’s problem was 1.Ka6! which gives White’s big guns scope to mate next move, whatever Black tries.

This week’s 2-mover is a new composition by David Howard of East Harptree.

White to mate in 2.