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Archive for January, 2012

13th Seniors Congress 2012 Safe

As reported earlier, the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth, home of the West of England Congress and the Royal Beacon Seniors Congress, went into receivership during the Christmas period, when the bank foreclosed on the owner’s loans. The (former) owner, Paul Nightingale, is appealing against their decision, pointing out that he had never defaulted on any re-payments, and the matter clearly still has some way to run. Until a long-term resolution is reached, the bank has put in a temporary manager who will ensure that it is a case of “business as usual” until things can be sorted out.

Fortunately, this meant the West of England’s Easter Congress, where entries are already coming in and rooms at the hotel booked, could proceed as planned. Panic over – for now. Looking further ahead, the Seniors Congress, pencilled in the hotel’s diary for November 2012, is also safe, based on the dates and terms already agreed. I double-checked this with the management last night before going ahead with preparing the brochure.

So, with all arrangements being unchanged, the event starts on Monday 5th November, (so may we expect a few fireworks in Rd. 1?) and finishes on the afternoon of Friday 9th, shortly before the start of the Torbay Congress at the Riviera Centre, Torquay,  at 7 p.m. thus enabling the keen ones to enjoy a full 7 days of chess on the English Riviera.

The brochure/entry form is currently at the printers and will be available shortly. Meanwhile, here is a picture of the Beacon, taken by the hotel’s Deputy Manager, Robert Davies, with his kind permission.

Exmouth's Royal Beacon Hotel, a fine chess venue.

Historic Hastings (07.01.2012.)

The World’s oldest regular event is the Hastings Congress which started in 1895 and is now held annually in the post-Christmas period. The top section this year has 108 players, and is held on a 9-round Swiss system. At the time of going to print, just before the start of the final round, the sole leader on 7/8 was Yue Wang (China), half a point ahead of Baku Lilath and Sunda Shyam, both of India.

With 15 of the competitors coming from India, the wise men of the East have certainly arrived in force, but they are not bearing gifts, as they are likely to be taking back with them most of the top prizes.

With a round to go, Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) was having a good tournament on 5/8, Keith Arkell (Paignton) was on 50% while Paul Helbig (Bristol) was on 3.

Two of these westcountry players met in round 7 and produced this cracking game.

White: Jack Rudd (2290). Black: Paul Helbig (2128).

Alekhine’s Defence -[B03].

1.e4 Nf6 This was Alekhine’s idea to tempt White’s pawns forward to an extent where they become overstretched and vulnerable to attack. 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 All fairly standard so far, but White is determined to bolster his pawn centre at the cost of exposing his King. 5…dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Qd2 Bb4 11.a3 Bxc3 12.bxc3 0–0 13.Bd3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 White now has several open lines to the enemy King and will exploit them to the full. 14…f6 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.0–0–0 Na5 Threatening Nb3+ forking the queen. 17.Qa2 c5 18.Rhg1 cxd4 The position is critically balanced, with both sides bent on attack. The difference is that the knights are restricted to the edge of the board while the bishops have much scope to either defend or attack. 19.Bxd4 e5 20.c5+ Kh8 21.Be3 Qxf3 22.Rg3 Qd5 23.c4 Nbxc4 White’s pieces are now beautifully poised for a crushing attack. 24.Bxh7 Qc6 Unclear is  24…Nxe3 25.Rxd5 Rf1+ 26.Kd2 Rf2+ 27.Kxe3 Rxa2 28.Rh3 Nc4+ 29.Ke4 Rxa3 30.Rxa3 Nxa3 31.Bf5 for example, would leave Black 2 pawns up. 25.Bd3 Qa4 26.Rh3+ Kg8 27.Bh7+ Kf7 28.Rf3+ Ke6 29.Rd6+! The “defending” knight is, of course, pinned. 29…Ke7 30.Bg5+ Rf6 31.Bxf6+ gxf6 32.Qg2 Rf8 If 32…Nxd6 33.Qg7+ Nf7 34.Qxf6+ Kd7 35.Bf5+ Ke8 36.Be6 attacking f7 and preventing Qc4+. 33.Rdxf6 Rxf6 34.Qg7+ Kd8 35.Qxf6+ Kc7 36.Bc2 White cannot afford to ignore his defences. 36…Qb5 37.Qf7+ Qd7 38.Ba4 Nb3+ If 38…Qxf7 39.Rxf7+ and the king must get pegged to the back rank while the h-pawn will be difficult to stop. 39.Bxb3 1–0

The regular venue for the West of England Congress for the past 12 years, the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth, went into receivership over the Christmas period, but the interim management put in by the Nat West Bank, has confirmed that it will honour all existing bookings, so this year’s event over the Easter weekend is safe.

This position arose in the very first Hastings congress of 1895, in a game between Tarrasch (W) and Walbrodt. Can you calculate White’s winning continuation?

White to play and win.

Brian Gosling’s Book on John Brown – A Review.

This month’s copy of The Problemist carries a review of Brian Gosling’s recent book on John Brown by the eminent problemist, Michael McDowell. It makes interesting reading for non-specialists. Here it is in full, courtesy of Christopher Jones.


NEW BOOKS, by Michael McDowell. 

John Brown – The Forgotten Chess Composer? by Brian Gosling. Paperback, xii + 209 pp.

Troubador Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1848767-294. Price £10. 

John Brown, otherwise known as J.B. of Bridport, was one of the most important English composers from the years of the mid-19th century known as the Transition Period, when the problem separated from the game. He died from tuberculosis in 1863 at the age of 36, and a memorial volume of his work was published two years later to raise funds for his destitute family. That volume, entitled Chess Strategy, is available in e-form from Anders Thulin’s website. Why then publish a new book about Brown? 

Brian Gosling is a player from East Devon who has an interest in problems and studies. The book’s main purposes are to present the fruits of his research into Brown’s life, and to introduce players to the art of composition, a goal for which Brown’s characteristic light, inviting problems are ideal. Fifty problems are presented in the main section, with solving hints, followed by the solutions. While there are some classics, many would nowadays be regarded as ordinary, but overall they give a fair impression of what was considered a good problem in the 1850s. The author has researched both the composer and his closest relatives. 

Brown was born into a family of Methodists, his father being a bookseller. He trained as a minister, but after only two years on probation resigned and became an Anglican. After his marriage in 1860 he was employed in Kentish Town as a coal-merchant’s clerk. The reader learns much about the upheavals in the Anglican and Wesleyan churches. To place Brown the composer in his historical context, there are chapters on the Transition School, the model mate and the Bohemian School, and Howard Staunton’s column in the Illustrated London News, where over half of Brown’s output was published. There is a list of references to Brown in specific years of the ILN, and an interesting addition is the ILN review of Chess Strategy. A chapter about Bernhard Horwitz and Josef Kling makes the debatable suggestion that they were major influences on Brown’s style. Another chapter presents H. F. L. Meyer’s views on Brown, taken from his 1882 book A Complete Guide to the Game of Chess, and the reader also learns something about Meyer. For an analysis of Brown’s style by a modern composer, the author has  included John Beasley’s BCPS lecture from November 1990, which contains some problems not found in the main section. There is a useful chapter on problem terminology and an extensive bibliography. The many illustrations include the one known photograph of Brown, and columns from the ILN

My few criticisms are minor ones. There are not many original sources, some of the solutions are not as full as they could be, and a few definitions are inexact. Twice the author refers to a failed white attempt as “leading to a draw”. It seems strange to say that Loyd invented the Excelsior theme, then immediately point out that Wormald had composed an earlier example. 

Mr. Gosling has produced an interesting and very worthwhile book. The Keverel Chess website mentions that proceeds will be used to pay for repairs to Brown’s headstone at Holy Trinity Church, Bradpole.

Hants vs Somerset Results (31.12.2011.)

The recent match between Hampshire and Somerset resulted in easy wins for Hants in both the 1st and 2nd teams. There are the details (Hampshire names first).

1. M. Yeo (196) 1-0 J. Rudd (213). 2. P. Hackman (191) 0-1        D. Buckley (201). 3. D. Tunks (187) ½-½ P. Krzyzanowski (188). 4. O. Gill (184) 0-1 A. Footner (173). 5. F. McLeod (176) 0-1   P. Chaplin (172). 6. R. Marsh (174) 0-1 G. Jepps (161). 7. P. Cooper (172) 1-0 D. Peters (157). 8. C. Bellers (169) 1-0 N. Senior (156). 9. J. Wilkinson (167) 1-0 P. Humphreys (155). 10. I. Stipcevic (u/g) 1-0 P. Flexman (154). 11. T. Anderson (161) ½-½ A. Champion (153). 12. D. Fowler (158) ½-½  C. Purry (151). 13.P. Kocan (158) 1-0 R. Morgan (147). 14. A. Samuels (155) 1-0 T. Wallis (145). 15. D. Thompson (154) 1-0 D. Wood (145). 16. C. Priest (151) 1-0 A. Byrne (134). Totals 10½-5½.

The 2nd team match was played out over 12 boards and finished thus:-

17. T. Chapman (149) ½-½ L. Cutting (u/g). 18. S. Smith (149) ½-½  C. Strong (132). 19. P. Barber (149) 1-0 C. Stanton (129). 20. A. Beaney (146) ½-½ M. Baker (129). 21. G. Moore (145) 1-0 S. Hill (125). 22. K. Steele (136) 1-0 S. Cook (123). 23. D. Culliford (136) 0-1 R. Fenton (121). 24. M.  Pope (135) ½- ½ M. Cooper (118). 25. J. Young (126) 1-0 R. Waters (113). 26. Double default. 27. J. Barnett (112) 1-0 R. Turner (112). 28. J. Davis (103) ½-½ P. Ploskonka (90). Totals 7½-3½

Somerset 1 fared very well on the top boards, getting 4½/6 points, but didn’t win a single one below that. Here was one of their bright spots from Board 4.

White: O. Gill (184). Black: A. F. Footner (173)

Scandinavian Defence [A00]

1.e4 d5 2.Nc3 immediately departing from conventional lines d4 3.Nce2 e5 4.Ng3 Be6 5.Nf3 f6 6.Bb5+ Nd7? This develops a piece, though it is immediately pinned which give White attacking chances.  7.Nxe5 fxe5 8.Qh5+ Ke7! If 8…Bf7 9.Qxe5+ Be7 10.Qxd4 and White has 3 pawns for his knight, but still needs to develop those pieces asap; or if 8…g6 9.Qxe5. 9.Bxd7 Nf6 10.Qxe5 Qxd7 11.Nf5+ Kf7 12.Nxd4 Re8 13.Nf3 Bg4 14.Ng5+ Kg6 It looks like a King-hunt, but Andrew assures me his was an attacking King. 15.Qg3 and now White’s lack of development suddenly looks fatal. 15…Nxe4 16.Nxe4 Rxe4+ 17.Kf1 Bd6 18.Qc3 Rhe8 Threatening mate on e1. Also winning is 18…Be2+ 19.Kg1 Qg4 20.Qh3 Qxh3 21.gxh3 Bf3 etc. 19.d3 too little too late, though there is nothing better. 19…Bb4 0–1.

The game illustrates the dangers of attacking before all one’s pieces are able to join the fray once the initial forces have been liquidated.

The solution to last week’s problem by Alain White was 1.Rf4!

This week’s 2-mover is another world premier by David Howard of East Harptree, near Bristol. In spite of the maximum number of knights, the problemist’s favourite piece, it’s not one of his most difficult, so the seasonal festivities are no excuse for not having time to solve it.