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Archive for January, 2012

Stephens Is New Devon Champion.

John Stephens of the Exmouth Club became Devon’s Individual Chess Champion when he beat Brian Hewson in their 2nd game on Saturday. The first game was drawn and in the next game Hewson had the white pieces and played his usual English Opening. Stephens was determined at the outset to play off the front foot and set up a series of small threats which eventually led to White voluntarily giving up all his queenside pawns in order to try and create pressure on the kingside. However, it was Black’s resulting queenside pawn majority that proved decisive and it became impossible for White to prevent queening.

John first learned the game at Withycombe Raleigh Primary School, where Deputy Head Tony Lake ran the team, and was soon representing his school in the Exmouth Primary Schools’ Chess League in the 1990s. He got extra challenges at the Exmouth Junior Club run by Fred Hodge. At Exeter School, he spent many lunchtimes playing quick games against Dave Beckwith, the Maths teacher who ran the school chess club.

After graduating at Imperial College, he returned to the Exmouth Club where he was soon challenging for the Club Championship, a title he has now won several times. This victory is his best chess achievement to date.

Last season, Club President, Mark Abbott , won the magnificent Winter-Wood Shield for the champion of Devon club champions (see below), and this success adds greatly to the Club’s recent achievements. It now behoves Oliver Wensley to win the Intermediate Section and Bob Jones to win the Minor to make it a hat-trick of wins for the same club – highly unlikely to happen, of course, but still theoretically possible.

John with some of his Exmouth Clubmates at the 2011 AGM. seated: l-r Tom Badlan, Mark Abbott, John Stephens, Fred Hodge. Standing: Malcolm Belt, Obie Ebanks, Simon Blake, Oliver Wensley.


John receives the local League's Div. I Championship Cup as Captain of the Exmouth team. (June 2011).

Exmouth Club’s New Grades – Jan. 2012

The first time the ECF have introduced a new grading list half-way through the season has produced this result.

Most grades are slightly up and Obie Ebanks has his first-ever OTB grade. Kevin Hurst, who has recently re-joined the Club is unchanged at 186.

Ref Name Category Standard Previous Rapid Previous
129415F Abbott, Mark V A 170 170 167 167
242270A Badlan, Tom W D 104 110    
173289E Belt, Malcolm D 131 120    
285020F Dzenis, Juris D 139 139    
286680J Ebanks, Obie E 105      
111446D Gosling, Brian GE B 159 150    
140874E Hodge, Fred R D 122 118 107 107
113895K Jones, Robert H A 131 130 150 147
164040K Kennedy, Philip J B 153 147    
116002D Murray, J Stephen C 145 151    
269814G Redman, Mike D E 194      
118154D Rogers, David R A 136 138    
155629A Stephens, John KF C 175 173 180 176
242384E Toms, David A C 155 153    
242283K Underwood, Jonathan D 176 172    
285021H Wensley, Oliver E B 165 164    

Hants I Beat Devon I Again

Devon were determined to avoid anything like the 12½-3½ thrashing they received in last year’s match against Hampshire, and they did do a little better at Wincanton on Saturday, but still went down 10-6 in the 1st team. Only late wins by Mackle, Homer and Abbott offered any form of compensation. The Hants winners were M. Yeo, D. Tunks, W. McDougall, J. Tambini, T. Anderson, D. Fowler and C. Priest.

The 2nd team match was quite a different story, which Devon won 8-4, with wins by C. Howard, J. Duckham, B. Gosling, J. Allen, J. Morrison and K. Alexander.

This was the top game in the 1st team.

White: I. D. Thompson (204). Black: D. Mackle (Devon – 197).

English Opening – Sicilian Var. [A20]

1.c4 e5 Giving a position that looks like a Sicilian Defence with colours reversed, generally regarded as Black’s most active response. 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 h6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Nf3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 e4 7.Nd4 0–0 8.0–0 b6 9.Nb3 d6 10.d3 Bb7 11.Nd2 Nbd7 12.dxe4 Saddling himself with a second pair of doubled pawns, weak and vulnerable. After this, White’s pieces are always chasing the game, rarely able to combine to create any lasting threat. 12…Re8 13.Qc2 Nc5 14.f3 Qd7 15.Nb3 Qa4 16.Be3 Qxc4 17.Nxc5 bxc5 18.Rfd1 Bc6 19.Qd3 Qa4 Not 19…Qxd3, of course, as it would solve several of White’s problems. 20.c4 Rab8 21.Bd2 Nd7 22.f4 Nf6 23.e5 Bxg2 24.Kxg2 dxe5 25.fxe5 Rxe5 26.Bc3 Re6 27.Bxf6 Rxf6 28.Rf1 Rd6 29.Qf5 Qxc4 Those isolated pawns are easily picked off without compromising the defences. 30.Rac1 Qxa2 31.Rxc5 Qxe2+ Now Black is 3 pawns up and hunting the enemy king at close quarters. 32.Rf2 Qe7 33.Rfc2 Rf6 34.Qd3 Rd8 35.Qc4 Qe3 Utilising the long open files to close in on the exposed king. 36.Rxc7 Qf3+ 37.Kh3 If 37.Kg1 Rd1+. 37…Rd5 While the queen keeps the king hemmed in, the rooks seek to finish him off with a first threat of mate on h5. 38.Rc8+ Kh7 39.Rc5 Rxc5 40.Qxc5 Rf5 0–1. Only a queen sacrifice can delay mate.

Meanwhile, Somerset had an equally comfortable win over Gloucestershire at Clevedon by11½-4½, losing only one game in the process. Somerset winners were Messrs Rudd, Sherwin, Studdard, Freeman, Jepps, Musson, Peters and Senior. Gloucestershire’s sole winner was John Waterfield. Next week, I hope to include one of the key games.

Last week’s 2-mover from the postal round of the British Solving Championship was solved by 1.Nc3!  threatening 2.Ne6#. Black had seven possible attempts to escape the inevitable, but each was met by a different mate: viz 1…Kxc3 2.Nb3#; 1…bxc5 2.Qg7#; 1…Qxc3 2.Qd6#;1…Qxb5 2.Nxb5#; 1…Nxc3 2.e3#; 1…Bxe2 2.Nxe2# and finally 1…Bb3  2.Nxb3.

In this 2-mover Black is streets ahead in material and his king is surrounded by defensive forces, yet there is a chink in that armour. Can you spot it?

Westcountry Junior Team Event

Last Saturday, Devon hosted a junior chess team event at Tiverton, with teams representing Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset and South Wales taking part in 3 age groups – U-9s over 12 boards and 3 rounds; U-11s over 20 boards and 3 rounds and U-14s over 10 boards and 3 rounds.

The results were as follows:

U9: 1st Wiltshire (31); 2nd S. Wales (29.5); 3rd Devon (11.5)

U-11: 1st S. Wales (39.5); 2nd Devon (34.5) 3rd Wiltshire (16)

U-14: 1st S. Wales (22); 2nd Somerset (17.5); 3rd Devon (12.5); 4th Wiltshire (8).

No further details are available at the moment.

Cobb Wins Bristol Winter Congress (21.01.2012.)

Winners of the Bristol Winter Congress held last month were as follows:- Open Section: 1st James Cobb (223) of the Clifton Club. Major Section: 1st Ian Ponter (153) of Downend. Minor Section: Richard Collis (117) of the Cabot Club.

Here is Cobb’s Rd. 1 miniature against Bristol University student, Robert Thompson, formerly of Newton Abbot in Devon.

White: James Cobb (223). Black: Robert  Thompson (178)

King’s Indian Defence [E61]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0–0 5.Bg5 d6 6.e3 c5 7.Be2 Qb6 It’s true that Black attacks the b-pawn, but he has neglected to develop his Q-side minor pieces, which soon proves fatal. 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.0–0 Re8 10.h3 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Qa5 12.Bh4 d5 13.cxd5 Nxd5 14.Nb3 Not only has the Black queen become a target for attack but the forward knight must also fall. His attempt at counter-attack fails. 14…Qb4 Hitting the undefended bishop on h4, but 15.Nxd5! 1–0 Resigns in view of the possible continuation… 15…Qxd2 16.Nxd2 Nf6 17.Nc7 Rd8 18.Nxa8 Rxd2 19.Rfd1 Rxe2 20.Rd8+ Bf8 21.Rxc8 and Black is a rook down.

Another win for Cobb came in Rd. 4 and went as follows:

White: Peter Kirby (171). Black: J. Cobb (223).

Four Knights Game [C47]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0–0 0–0 10.Bg5 c6 11.Qf3 Be7 12.Rae1 Re8 13.Nd1 h6 14.Bf4 Be6 15.Ne3 Bd6 16.Nf5 Bxf4 17.Qxf4 Bxf5 18.Bxf5 Qb6 19.b4 a5 20.a3 axb4 21.Qxb4 Qa7 22.Ra1 c5 23.Qf4 c4 24.Rfd1 Qc5 25.Qf3 Ra6 26.Rdb1 g6 27.Bh3 Ne4 28.Rb7 weakening the back rank defences. 28…Ng5 29.Qg3 Rxa3!

0–1 Resigns in view of 30.Qxa3 Qxa3 and the queen cannot be taken because of the back rank mate. The least worst option is probably 30.Rf1 to prevent the immediate mate Rxg3 31.hxg3 Nxh3+ 32.gxh3 but even this is quite hopeless.

All games from the congress may be found on the Bristol League’s website –

Last week’s problem by H. D’O Bernard was solved by 1.Qh8! after which the Black knight can move to 8 squares. If it goes to a5, b4, d4 or e5 then 2.Ba6 mate. If it goes to d8 or e7 then 2.Qa1 mate. If 1…Nb8 2.Nb6 mate, and finally 1…Na7 2.Nc7 mate. So all White’s pieces have a chance to administer the mortal blow.

The British Solving Championship will be held at Eton College on Saturday 18th February. The Postal Round, which consisted of 8 problems of increasing difficulty worth 5 points each, attracted 55 entries of whom 37 got the requisite 30 points. These have been invited to the final to join those pre-qualified; experts like GMs John Nunn and Jonathan Mestel. This was the only 2-mover of the eight – a kind of (relatively) easy starter. How would you have done? White to play.

White to mate in 2 moves.

Devon vs Hants (21.01.2012.)

All players turned up, as selected, and they were better matched than last year, which was reflected in a slightly better scoreline, though not enough to avoid a hefty defeat once again. Only three late wins by Abbot, Homer and Mackle managed to avoid a repetition of last year’s 12.5-3.5 thrashing. Mackle’s win was particularly eye-catching.

  Hants 1 Grd     Devon 1 Grd
1 I. D. Thompson 204  0  1 D. Mackle 197
2 M. J. Yeo 196  1 K. J. Hurst 186
3 A. McDougall 193  0  1 S. J. Homer 179
4 D. R. Tunks 187  1 B. W. R. Hewson 178
5 W. M. McDougall 183  1  0 J. F. Wheeler 173
6 F. N. McLeod 176  0 M. V. Abbott 170
7 R. D. W. Marsh 174  .5 .5  A. W. Brusey 174
8 P. F. Cooper 172  .5 .5  T. F. Thynne 171
9 C. J. V. Bellers 169  .5  .5 Dr. T. Paulden 174
10 J. Tambini 168  1 J. Leung 165
11 T. R. Anderson 163  1 D. R. Cowley 161
12 T. McFaul 161  .5 .5  W. H. Ingham 166
13 D. W. Fowler 161  1  0 O. E. Wensley 164
14 D. F. Thompson 154  .5 .5  A. S. Kinder 162
15 C. P. A. Priest 151  1  0 P. Brooks 160
16 T. J. Chapman 149  .5  .5 N. Rahimili 158
  Totals    10    
  Hants II       Devon II  
1 P. Barber 149  0 C. V. Howard 158
2 R. E. Ashmore 149  .5  .5 Ms. H. Dale 157
3 G. E. Moore 145  0 1 J. Duckham 153
4 R. E. Hartley 138  0 B. G. E. Gosling 150
5 D. Culliford 136  1 P. E. Halmkin 150
6 K. Steele 136  .5 .5  P. Dobber 149
7 M. Pope 135  1  0 F. Sugden 147
8 S. Dean 134  0 J. E. Allen 150
9 J. G. Young 126  0 1 J. V. Morrison 148
10 S. D. LeFevre 122  .5  .5 K. P. Atkins 146
11 K. Sawers 115  .5 .5  W. R. P. Taylor 141
12 S. J. Murphy 113  0  1 K. R. D. Alexander 137
  Totals    4 8     

The 2nd team match also followed along the lines of last year’s encounter, with Devon outgrading Hants on every board. John Morrison had one of his better games and started the ball rolling with a crushing win in 16 moves and little over half an hour’s play, and Devon were never seriously threatened thereafter.

How does one account for Hampshire’s recent upswing in fortune? The answer lies in the enrolment of David Fowler as the County Recruiting Officer for their county’s teams. He makes it his job to get the best players out, but doesn’t have the worry of arranging accommodation, getting the refreshments and being in charge once the match begins. This lies with Dominic Tunks, who formerly did both jobs for Hants. The new formula is certainly working. 

General view of the playing area.

Thompson v Mackle gets under way on Bd. 1.

Bill Ingham makes his move against McFaul.

Azerbaijani, Nijad Rahimili, from Baku, plays his 1st game for Devon.

One of the more colourful characters in the match was Nijad Rahimili, like Exeter University student Hannah Dale, playing his first game for Devon. Born in Baku and now 75, and has, since his wife’s death recently, moved to Torquay to live near one of his two daughters who work in the UK  (the other lives in Newcastle). He used to be the political correspondent on Azerbaijan  for USSR television. He has rubbed shoulders with many of the Russian chess legends, and can tell many stories about them. In 1963, he commentated live on TV on the World Championship match bewteen Botvinnik and Petrosian, using a demonstration board.

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree NOT Cancelled.

Devon’s annual Inter-Area Jamboree has found it difficult this year to attract the four teams from the 4 quarters of the county – North, South, East & West.  First of all, the North had to drop out, and then, in spite of great efforts to recruit 12 players, the East could only identify half that number and reluctantly had to pull out as well.

Due to a misunderstanding it was thought that as a result the whole event had been cancelled, but I am reliably informed that it will proceed as a straight match between South & West, rather than on a Jamboree basis. With the West team kindly acting as hosts, this will take place on Sunday 22nd January, the day after Devon’s match with Hampshire at Wincanton. This may have been a factor in making players in the East and North reluctant to turn out on consecutive days, with long journeys involved each time.

Even Devon county captain, Brian Hewson, with all the forward notice and careful planning he is noted for, is finding it hard to assemble a team strong enough to match that which Hampshire is likely to field on the 21st. as a growing number of his strongest players are unavailable. As he works down his list of contacts, even I am moving up the order of  possible contenders. Yes – it’s that bad!

Exmouth Lose 1st Weekend Match of the Season

Exmouth’s first Devon League match of the season was in Division 2 (Mamhead Cup) when they entertained Tiverton in what promised to be a close match. Tiverton’s team total grade was at the maximum permitted, while Exmouth was not far behind.

Approaching the 1st time control, Duckham and Gosling agreed a draw after a tense game. Minutes later, Jones had to concede defeat to give the visitors a clear edge.  Jones had played conventionally against a Sicilian Defence and was always mindful that he should try and prevent Black getting in d5, which is always Black’s aim. However, in spite of White having set up a sort of Maroczy Bind position with pawns on c4 & e4 in order to deter this very eventuality, Atkins succeeded and brought pressure to bear through the open centre. His killing move came right on the time control at move 40.

The other two games both went to the last minute of extra time, Murray defending an endgame with R vs R+2. This he managed to do with great skill for many moves until time almost ran out. It was felt afterwards that the ending of K+R vs K+ R + f & g pawns could be a theoretical draw with best defensive play, but actually finding those moves when the clock’s ticking is another matter. The Board 1 game ran to the final seconds, and Hurst was unable to exploit several very small advantages that he felt he had earlier in the game, and Hewson played out the final minute very coolly.

  Mamhead Cup       Div. 2  
Bd. Exmouth Grd     Tiverton Grd
1 Kevin J. Hurst 186 ½ ½ Brian W. R.Hewson 178
2 J. Steve Murray 151 ½ ½ Simon Bartlett 162
3 Brian G. E. Gosling 150 ½ ½ Jon Duckham 153
4 Robert H. Jones 130 0 1 Keith P. Atkins 146
    617   639


Hewson plays his usual 1.c4 to get the match started.

Hurst, Murray and Gosling all achieved draws.

Tiverton's Brian Hewson and Simon Bartlett.

Upcoming Events (14.01.2012.)

Next Saturday, Devon is hosting the West of England & South Wales team event at Tiverton, when over 200 Westcountry juniors will be involved.

The same day will also see a key round in the WECU Inter-County Championship when Somerset play Gloucestershire and Devon meet Hampshire at Wincanton. Both matches are likely to be close and the outcomes to have a major bearing on the eventual trophy winners.

The 26th Wilts and West of England Junior Congress will take place on 18th & 19th February at St. Joseph’s Catholic College,

Ocotal Way, Swindon, Wilts. This will include all the West of England junior titles in the various age groups. Details and entry forms may be found on their own website The top section has become so strong in recent years that the organisers applied for, and the WECU Executive was pleased to grant them, one of their four Qualifying Places for the British Championship in August.

This is another of Jack Rudd’s wins from the recent Hastings International, in which White fatally weakens his own kingside defences and Rudd needs no second invitation.

White: J. Burnett (2137). Black: J. Rudd (2290).

Hromadka Defence.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 a move introduced by the Hungarian, Karel Hromadka (1887-1956), and subsequent play often leads to the Modern Benoni. 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d5 6.cxd5 a6 7.N5c3 Bc5 8.e3 e4 9.Be2 0–0 10.a3 Qe7 11.b4 Bd6 12.Bb2 Bf5 13.Nd2 b5 14.Nb3 Nbd7 15.Nd4 Bg6 16.Rc1 Ne5 Black’s pieces are beginning to assemble for a kingside attack. 17.0–0 Rfd8 18.Qb3 Neg4 19.g3 Weakening the white squares around the king. 19…Qd7 20.Rcd1 h5 Black’s king is well tucked away, so he can consider this pawn advance without risking too much. 21.Rd2 h4 22.Nd1 Ne5 23.Kg2 Nd3 24.Bc3 White could perhaps try to be a bit more pro-active, trying to draw the sting of the gathering storm by exchanging pieces with something like 24.Nc6 Rdc8 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Bxd3 exd3 27.f3. etc. 24…Nc1 25.Qb2 Nxe2 working on the weakness of the white squares around the king. 26.Rxe2 Bh5 27.Rd2 Bf3+ 28.Nxf3 exf3+ 29.Kxf3 If 29.Kg1 Qh3; or 29.Kh1 Qh3 30.Rg1 Ng4. 29…Qg4+ 0–1 Resigned, as Black has a 4 move mate viz. 30.Kg2 h3+ 31.Kg1 Qf3.

The solution to David Howard’s New Year 2-mover was 1.Qb7! Last week’s Hastings 1895 continuation was 1.Nxg3 Rxg3+ 2.hxg3 Rxg3+ 3.Kf1! Rxd3 4Rg4! and Black resigned as his queen is pinned and mate is threatened on f8.

This week’s miniature 2-mover is by Henry D’Oyly Bernard (1878-1954) who was born in Combe Raleigh near Honiton. Interestingly, all four of White’s pieces may have the chance to administer mate, depending on how Black responds to the key move.

White to mate in 2.



Graham Hesse Dies

President of the Teignmouth Chess Club, Graham Hesse (85) passed away at his Dawlish home over the Christmas period.

Graham Hesse as Mayor of Dawlish in 2002.


He was born in Bournemouth before the family moved to Exeter in 1936. After completing his education and trying various jobs, he settled in the Bristol area and became a Research Assistant at the University of Bristol Department of Anaesthetics, based at Bristol Royal Infirmary, eventually being promoted to Chief Physics Technician on the University staff. He retired in 1982 and went to live in Dawlish.

He was always very active in local politics, somewhat left of centre. The combination of career and politics had left no time for chess, but he had been infected by the virus at an early age, passed on by his father, and retirement allowed him to take it up again, fitting in visits to the Teignmouth Club, where he became President.

His father was L. E. (Ted) Hesse, a founding father of the Exeter & District Chess League in 1953. Ted was its inaugural Deputy President, and soon raised to the Presidency a few years later. He was a member of the old Civil Service Club in Exeter, along with such young tyroes as Ray Shepherd, Bill Frost, Eric Soper and E. W. Bailey, to name but a few.

Here are a couple of pictures of Ted Hesse in action.

Ted Hesse (extreme right) at the 2nd Exeter League AGM.

Ted Hesse (left) at the League AGM in May 1961