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100th British – Rd. 3 Pt. 2

What’s the problem?

Another of Stewart Reuben’s bright ideas for this 100th event is to have a problem-solving competition. He has collected a set of 10 and Trefor Thynne, President of the Torbay Chess League, has arranged to have them displayed in the windows of various shops, cafes, restaurants etc. around the town.

They are not problems in the manner of Comins Mansfield, that Devonian “Genius of the 2-mover”, who could challenge, tittilate and hope to defeat the world’s best solvers with his devilish constructions. These positions are meant to be accessible even to relative beginners, more likely to give pleasure at finding the correct move order, than frustration at an inability to do so.

To give an idea, here are 2 of the 10 to give you a taster. 

Problem 4 of 10. White mates in 2.

A pawn down, but White (to play) can win. How?

Who’s on-line in the mornings?

As the number of electronic boards goes up each year, the question arises of how to get the best use out of them. In recent years, they’ve generally hosted some of the junior sections, but this year, as an experiment, some of the other sections are getting their moment in the spotlight. Yesterday, for example, it was the turn of the U-140 Championship, with the result that, round about noon, Dave Gilbert, one of that number and an organiser of the 9 Man Simul , rushed into the Office, beaming widely, saying what a brilliant move it was, as within minutes he’d already had 2 congratulatory e-mails from friends and family who were following his victory live. 

Dave Clayton, the man in charge of the boards, tells me this week is an experiment to see how it goes. If successful, next week he may be able to predict which sections are featured live on the event website. However, the needs of the main Championship must always come first, and may affect what is possible in the mornings.

Round 3 Starts:

While some chessplayers were whizzing round in the Big Wheel, back at the ranch the afternoon events were getting under way. First of all, the previous day’s Best Game prize.

Did someone call my name?! Yang-fan Zhou hears of his Rd.2 Best Game Prize.

Gary Lane starts off against Stephen Gordon.

Dan Fernandez on his way to a win over the "Ginger GM", Simon Williams.


Bearded Richard Palliser on his way to the Rd. 3 Game of the Day vs Arkell.


100th British – Rd. 3

“Big Wheel turning…..”

(From a lyric by ELO)

The last time we came to Torquay, in 2009, the fun thing to do on the sea-front was a chess match in the helium balloon that was moored near the venue. This consisted of a 2-game match between Jack Rudd (Devon) and Andrew Greet (Cornwall) – one game played on the way up to 400 ft above the promenade and a return game on the way down. This was filmed, with interviews of the contestants by the splendid James Essinger, and the video posted on YouTube, still viewable in 2 parts (type in “chess at 400 ft.”).

This year it is all a little more informal, with the Big Wheel substituting for the balloon, (now departed). This Wednesday afternoon (31st July) is the time set aside for Chess on the Big Wheel. Just turn up at the wheel with a pocket set of some kind in mid-afternoon ( c. 15.00 hrs) and you will be allowed on free of charge, a freebie negotiated by Stewart Reuben.

The Big Wheel

This is not just any old big wheel.  The new attraction has come to the Torquay straight from the  London Olympic Park where it was at the centre of the celebrations next to the Olympic village.

At 60 metres high it is taller than Nelson’s Column, and  has 40 enclosed, lit gondolas, and weighs in at 365 tons.  The Torquay Big Wheel is a great place to take in the fabulous  views over the Bay while playing a friendly game of chess.

So if you missed out on the Olympic Park experience, this could be the next best thing. Don’t miss out a 2nd time!

General view

Get a pod with a view!

Looking at the picture above reminds me that perhaps we should not forget the sorry fate of the first official British Chess Champion. Who he? Of course, we mostly know about Napier’s win in 1904 and the subsequent domination by Atkins, but that was only under the auspices of the BCF. But long before that, the British Chess Association organised several British Championships, the first being in 1866, and won by Cecil De Vere, who beat every one of his 4 opponents 3-0. He died of TB in the quayside building on the extreme right of the above photograph, just a few minutes walk from this year’s venue. He was only 29. He was buried in Torquay cemetary, a mile or so from the venue. So the real 1st champion and this year’s, whoever that may be next week, will, for a short time, be just yards apart.

The full sorry story of his life is recorded in his biography “The English Morphy”? (Steinitz’s description),  available now at the Chess & Bridge bookstall.

Look for the blue cover

5 p.m.

OK. so what actually happened?

At 3 p.m. there were 30 people assembled at the entrance to the wheel, carrying a variety of sets & boards, from the neatest small magnetic sets to a big floppy board. Stewart Reuben took names and pairings, and then the thing started. However, it soon became clear that there had been a misunderstanding; Stewart thought he’d wangled free use of 3 or, at best, 4 circuits of the wheel, but the company had, in fact, pencilled them in for a whole hour! Fine for the players – not so good for the photographer who had no opponent and no head for heights.

Syringa & Imogen Camp; Martin Simons & Jordan Lewis et al. lining up for the Big Wheel.

Stewart Reuben taking a roll call.

Syringa & Imogen get down to play.

Play in the adjacent pods

View from the top. The Riviera Centre is top right.


All done. Looking back, one notices the wheel's sunflower-like centre.

100th British – Rd. 2

There were no great suprises in yesterday’s 1st Rd. Among the titled players, just Glenn Flear and Richard Palliser dropped a half point, but that will probably be of little significance at the end of the day.

There will be Game of the Day awards in the shape of £20 cheques, to be determined by Andrew Martin and presented at the start of each subsequent round. The Rd. 1 prize goes to Gawain Jones for his game vs Reid (see on-line). Unfortunately, he was late for the presentation at 2.30, but pleased to find it on his table when he did arrive.

Gawain Jones looking pleased at his Best Game prize.

Stephen Gordon & Dom Mackle both wondering what the next move should be in this line.


Rudd already looking impatient, waiting for move 2.

General view of the playing hall.

Westcountry players Alan Brusey (l) and Stephen Dilleigh.

Local players Keith Arkell (l) & Steve Homer.


Junior Coaching:

As in recent years, coaching is available for all juniors, free at the point of need, but funded by a very generous bequest by the late John Robinson. This year, it is being held by two senior players; Sheila Jackson, former British Ladies Champion (1975 / ‘78 / ‘80 & ‘81) and   Vaidnyanathan Ravikumar. They may be found at the far end of  the auditorium. Ask in the Office for details of times and availability.

Sheila Jackson with pupils.


Happy in their work!

100th British – Opening Ceremony.

As the clock wound down to 2 p.m. with players and dignitaries rapidly assembling, things took on a swan-like demeanour – relaxed and graceful on the outside, while paddling like fury beneath the surface. Being the 100th such opening, there were several unusual features.

Firstly, a Guard of Honour organised, to accompany the platform party to their places, and then stand sharply to attention throughout the half-hour proceedings. These were, in fact, six members of the Combined Services Chess Association who were all due to be playing later in the week. By name, they were: Commander Charles Chapman R.N.; Major Ron Townend (Army); Squadron Leader Glen Parker R.A.F.; Lieutenant Dave Ross R.N.; Sergeant James Blair R.A.F.; and Sergeant Munroe Morrison R.A.F. In full dress uniform, with shoes polished to a mirror-like finish and trouser creases sharp enough to cut bread with, they made an impressive show.

Speeches started with me standing in for both John Wheeler (President of W.E.C.U.) and Paul Brookes (President of D.C.C.A.) welcoming everyone on behalf of the Union and the county association. I gave way to Stewart Reuben, who had devised a spectacular end to his speech. He recalled the success of last year’s Olympics Opening Ceremony and the bit where the Queen parachuted in from a helicopter. He had prepared a child’s toy parachute with 2 chess piece queens attached, to be tossed from the balcony and gracefully landing among the assembled throng, all of which I was supposed to video on a borrowed camera I’d never used before. The evening before, in rehearsal the parachute worked perfectly, landing serenely in one of the aisles. This time, however, it all happened so quickly, by the time I’d put down my SLR camera and picked up the borrowed video camera, the parachute had already landed ….. on the shoulder of the only blind person in the auditorium. Nevertheless, an excellent idea, typical of Stewart’s Powers of Lateral Thinking. 

Then came a remarkable speech by 13 yr old Stephen Whatley, who seemed to pack the whole 100 year history of the event into a well-delivered six-minute talk. This was followed by ECF President Roger Edwards, born in the Stoke area of Plymouth, now long-term resident in the Stoke area of Staffordshire, and wearing a pair of my shoes (don’t ask!).

Last of all, it was the duty of Torbay Council Chairman, Cllr. Julien Parrott, to officially open the Congress, and he spoke very well indeed. Then everyone processed into the playing hall where the usual photo-opportunies were taken, with Cllr. Parrott making (or appearing to make) the first move on top board. Then a hush descended over the multitude and the show was finally on the road.

Several impressions occurred in the opening minutes. Firstly, the very size of the Championship was impressive, with row upon row of tables, each with 2 games in progress, involving 105 players, and there was a titled player on every board up to Bd. 36 – comprising 4 complete rows of Masters of one kind or another. Put another way, 72 of those 105 players were either a master or were playing one. Naturally, as cream rises to the top, these masters will gravitate to the top tables by the 3rd or 4th round.

Also, gone are the days when appeals went out for teams of schoolchildren to act as monitors for the giant chessboards behind the top 4 games. It used to be one of Lara Barnes’ jobs to organise them into relays and ensure they were paid the correct amount for the hours put in. Now it is all done on smart-looking electronic display screens linked up directly to the boards, where the last move made is indicated by a coloured arrow on the board. These are being used for the 3rd year.

Also, no less than 35 boards are fully wired up so that the games can be followed on-line. That’s a big jump up from the handful it used to be, and a big, on-going  job for Dave Clayton (Lancs) and Matthew Carr of Cannock, whose job it is to keep all the plates spinning. The boards also appear in the Analysis Room where commentators Andrew Martin and Vaidyanathn Ravikumar can pick up the games directly from the event website, and with the help of Fritz (other engines are available) can insert variations etc. No longer do they have to rely on juniors, running back and forth between the main hall and the commentry room in the bowels of the building,  bearing slips of paper with the last few moves scribbled in an uncertain hand.

100th British – Preliminaries Pt. 2

The simultaneous match on the Sunday before the big event get off the ground, is one of the traditional extra events. This year it was given by Grandmaster Nick Pert. As often as is possible, it is held out of doors, in or near somewhere the public can see the action, and join in if they so wish. At Torquay, however, the venue is just so near and yet so far from the sea front, that the logistics of getting all the equipment, tables, chairs sets, etc. makes the outdoor option prohibitive. Also, the weather on Sunday afternoon was extremely unpredictable, and a torrential downpour at tea-time proved the wisdom of discretion.

So 20 boards were set up in the venue, yet strangely, in spite of the record entry and many players milling around the building, only 14 actually sat down to play, mostly youngsters. Pert’s progress around the boards was slow and steady, giving the oppostion plenty of time to think about their moves. Not that that did them any good, as Pert won all 14 games. However, book prizes were awarded to 4 players, including the 2 youngest and the last to finish.

The first move is made.

Early days

Who's happy to be here?

Prizewinning sisters - pleased, or what?

The 4 awardees with GM Nick Pert.

 While the special extras were going on, there was a 6 round RapidPlay tournament going on in the main playing hall. The prizewinners were as follows:

1st Danny Gormally 6 pts. £140.00

2nd= Andrew Greet;  Mark Hebden; Simon McCullough; Mark Talbot;  all 5 pts. £17.50

Grading prize: Ollie Willson 4 pts. £40.00 

Rd. 6 - Bd. 1 Greet vs Gormally.

Andrew Greet gets his cheque from Lara Barnes.

…… and finally, the last event of the day was probably the craziest – a 9-man simultaneous match. Put as simply as possible (which is far from easy) all 9 players play their 8 opponents simultaneously. Simple maths shows that this involves (9 X 8 ) / 2 = 36 games  on 18 tables, all of which took up a considerable area of the hall. This formula has been devised by David Gilbert, who has organised several such events at his club, but only with 7 players hitherto, never 9. Before the start, he ran through the rules with the assembled players and then it was all go, with everyone running hither and thither, trying to keep up with their 8 games and clocks. It perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise that the quicksilver “Jumping” Jack Rudd was the winner at the end of the night. He’s been running round chess halls all his life, calculating at the speed of light, and this was truly his metier. If there was a world championship at this form of the game, he would surely be a candidate.

The wall chart, colour-coded.

Dave Gilbert explains the do's and don'ts to the assembled players.

Off they go!

Jack Rudd looks well up for it; on the way to a win.

100th British – the Preliminaries: Part 1.

As this is the 100th British, a number of extra events have been organised, some of them of a traditional nature, others being done for the 1st time.

Bullet Chess Challenge:

The first of these was the Bullet Chess Challenge, sponsored by Think Drink. The start was originally scheduled for 10 a.m. but was put back to noon, to allow (a) the sponsor’s directors to be present and (b) for the players involved to be fully awake with brains in gear.

These were (a) Keith Arkell, a Grandmaster now domiciled in Paignton - Keith has been British RapidPlay Champion and is well-versed in the thought  processes needed for very quick chess, and (b) Gary Lane, born and bred in Paignton, now domiciled in Australia, where he has been their national champion.

The aim was to set a world record for the number of games completed by two players at the board in 1 hour, a record to be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, subject to their strict conditions. The players to sit directly opposite each other one one board with another one adjacent, to be used when the previous one was being re-set. Matt Carr and Tom Thorpe were the two young ECF Arbiters in charge of re-setting the boards and clocks. Dave Welch kept score and was time-keeper.

Bency Silvester (MD) and Dr. Stefan Hesse (Director) of Think Drink duly arrived on cue and after a few last-minute discussions about the rules, play got under way. The speed of moves was bewildering to the mere mortal, their hands becoming little more than a blur. After 28 games, the score was 14-all; Keith Arkell lost the 1st game, and although he took the lead he was never more than 2 games ahead, as Lane kept pulling back. However, after the 14-all stage, two things happened (b) Arkell lost the nerves he’d had in the first half and Lane began to lose some focus, as it seemed to him that they’d been playing for hours on end. Consquently, Arkell won the last 9 games 8 – 1, making the final score 22 – 15. However, it was certainly not a one-sided affair, being very competitive throughout.

Afterwards, Bency Silverster and Dr. Stefan Hesse of Think Drink,  presented both players with cheques for £200, and commended them for their brain-draining efforts. They certainly needed some brain-boosting refreshment after that!

Last minute check on the rules.

Dr. Stefan Hesse of Think Drink makes the 1st move.

A handshake gets it all started.

Re-setting clocks & boards.

General view of the hall.

37th and final game gets under way.

Players & sponsors relax with an after-match drink.

The “British” Starts Tomorrow (27.07.2013.)

The British Championships at Torquay get under way tomorrow with a couple of “extra” features to whet the appetite.

In the morning, titled players Keith Arkell and Gary Lane, will attempt a speed chess record, trying to see how many games they can complete in 1 hour, playing at a rate of 60 seconds per player per game for all moves. This is called “Bullet Chess” and it will be interesting to see how close they can get to 30 games.

In the afternoon, a simultaneous match will be held, outside if the weather permits, by the Grandmaster Nick Pert, who will take on as many as 30 opponents at a time. All are welcome to participate.

The championship itself gets under way on Monday afternoon at 14.15 hrs. Anyone not able to attend in person can follow developments on the event website and for other insights into the event.

Meanwhile, here is a game by the very first British Champion in 1904, William Napier, seen here playing Capt. Claude Chepmell, then of Plymouth, who died in Bristol in 1930. The notes are by the winner, in the style of the day.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 c5 4.e3 cxd4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.exd4 Nf6 7.Nc3 a6 It is obviously opposed to every principle of chess to neglect the development of 3 pieces, because one has no immediate outlook. 8.0–0 b5 9.Bb3 Bb7 Black’s game is assailable in so many ways that I very nearly lost in my anxiety to come at the Black king. 10.Re1 Be7 11.Ne5 Nbd7 No better is 11…0–0 on account of 12.Qe2 and it is difficult to see how 13.Nxf7 can be prevented. e.g. 12…Nd5 13.Nxf7 Rxf7 (13…Qb6 14.Nh6+ etc.) 14.Qxe6 and Black is helpless. 12.Nxf7 Not to be resisted by flesh and blood! Neither at the time nor subsequently was I able to find a valid defence for Black, though it is possible one exists. 12…Kxf7 13.Rxe6 Kf8 14.Bf4 Rc8 The alternative was 14…Nb6 15.d5 Nbxd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 (16…Nxd5 17.Qh5 Qe8 18.Qf3 Nxf4 19.Qxf4+ Qf7 20.Qxf7+ Kxf7 21.Rb6+ and should win.) 17.Rxf6+ Bxf6 18.Bxd5 Ra7 19.Qh5 g5 20.Qh6+ and wins. 15.Qe2 Rxc3 of no avail. 16.bxc3 Nd5 17.Bd6 N7f6 If 17…Bxd6 18.Rxd6 Qg5 19.Rxd7 wins. 18.Bxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxe7+ Nxe7 20.Re1 Qd5 21.f3 h6 22.Rxe7 1–0.  

Last week’s problem was solved by

1.Nb5 with the unstoppable threat of Nxc3 mate.

This 2-mover, in which every piece is still on the board, won prizes for the late Godfrey Quack of Budleigh Salterton.

White to mate in 2

Exmouth’s Latest Grades – July 2013

The latest grading list is out this morning, and it shows Exmouth players as having drifted up or down to a greater or lesser extent.

Here is the table in full, and will remain in force until the next list is published in Jan. 2014.

Ref Name Standard Previous Rapidplay Previous
129415F Abbott, Mark V 156 X 172 A 159 E 164 E
247351D Archer-Lock, Adrian 188 C 192 A 180 D 180 C
242270A Badlan, Tom W 80 C 88 C 83 E    
173289E Belt, Malcolm 134 C 136 B        
286681L Blake, Simon 100 D 100 D        
214854H Derrick, Ken W 206 C 210 C        
111446D Gosling, Brian GE 151 A 154 A        
181711F Grist, Ivor G 103 C 104 C        
140874E Hodge, Fred R 101 C 108 C 121 E 123 D
266234G Hurst, Kevin J 184 A 174 D 150 E    
113895K Jones, Robert H 133 A 128 A 150 B 149 D
116002D Murray, J Stephen 148 C 144 B     133 E
118154D Rogers, David R 149 A 135 A        
248908K Scott, Chris 142 D 135 E 154 E    
290163J Shaw, Meyrick 172 X 168 A 167 A 164 E
155629A Stephens, John KF 190 X 191 A 187 B 186 D
242384E Toms, David A 150 B 161 B        
242283K Underwood, Jonathan 172 D            
285021H Wensley, Oliver E 157 B 173 A 146 D 144 D

Simplified a little and converted to standard grade order, it looks like this:

Ref Name Standard Rapidplay
214854H Derrick, Ken W 206 C    
155629A Stephens, John KF 190 X 187 B
247351D Archer-Lock, Adrian 188 C 180 D
266234G Hurst, Kevin J 184 A 150 E
290163J Shaw, Meyrick 172 X 167 A
242283K Underwood, Jonathan 172 D    
285021H Wensley, Oliver E 157 B 146 D
129415F Abbott, Mark V 156 X 159 E
111446D Gosling, Brian GE 151 A    
242384E Toms, David A 150 B    
118154D Rogers, David R 149 A    
116002D Murray, J Stephen 148 C    
248908K Scott, Chris 142 D 154 E
173289E Belt, Malcolm 134 C    
113895K Jones, Robert H 133 A 150 B
271080J Waley, Jonathan 126 D    
181711F Grist, Ivor G 103 C    
140874E Hodge, Fred R 101 C 121 E
286681L Blake, Simon 100 D    
242270A Badlan, Tom W 80 C 83 E

British Championships Getting Close (13.07.2013.)

The British Championships in Torquay are now but a fortnight away. Although there is still time enough for late entries to creep into the lists, the top seeds for the Championship itself, are Gawain Jones and David Howell who are effectively level in grading, while the other 7 grandmasters are some way behind them.

From last year’s Championship here is a last round game that Black had to win in order to force a play-off.

White: D. Ledger. Black: G. C. Jones.

Sicilian Defence – Yugoslav Attack. [B78]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0–0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0–0–0 The key move of the Yugoslav system against the Sicilian, in which White aims for a kingside blitz before Black’s thematic queenside counter can get going. 10…Rb8 This move, known as the Chinese Dragon, signifies Black’s intention not to delay his own attack.  11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 This is already looking a little overdue. 12…b5 13.h5 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Bh6 Qb6 17.b3 cxb3 18.axb3 Bxh6 19.Qxh6 Rf7 Black must consign another defender to h7. 20.Qg5 Rc8 21.Nd5 Nxd5 22.exd5 Qa5 23.Kb2 e5 White would love to play 24.dxe6 but obviously can’t as his queen is hanging. 24.Ne2?? Much better was 24.Nc6 Bxc6 allowing him 25.Rxh7!! Rxh7 26.Qxg6+ Rg7 27.Qe6+ Rf7 28.Qxc8+ Rf8 29.Qg4+ Kf7 30.Qe6+ Kg7 31.dxc6 Qc7 32.Rh1 Rf6 33.Qh3 and, with best play, White will mate, or at worst win the queen e.g. 33…Kf8 34.Qh8+ Ke7 35.Rh7+ Rf7 36.Rxf7+ Kxf7 37.Qh7+. 24…Bf5 Black is now much better. 25.Rd2 Rb7 26.Ra1 Qc5 27.Rc1 Kg7 28.g4 h6! 29.Qh4 Black now finishes things off vigorously. 29…Bxc2 30.Rcxc2 Rxb3+! 31.Kc1 Not 31.Kxb3?? Rb8+ 32.Ka4 Qb4#  31…Qa3+ 32.Kd1 Rb1+ 33.Nc1 Qxf3+ 34.Re2 Qd3+ 0–1. 35.Red2 allows the forced continuation 35…Qf1+ 36.Qe1 Rxc1 37.Rxc1 Rxc1 38.Kxc1 Qxe1+.   Or 35.Rcd2 Rbxc1#; Or 35.Ke1 Rxc1+ 36.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 37.Kf2 Qd4+ 38.Kf3 Qf4+ 39.Kg2 Qf1+ 40.Kg3 Rc3+ 41.Kh2 Qxe2+

In last week’s position, White could avoid stalemate by under-promoting to a rook, allowing Kxg7 and then 1.Bh6 is mate.

This position is from a game in the Barnstaple Club’s Summer Tournament, played last week between Jack Rudd and Rob Oughton. Black has just played Qe7-c5 and after Rudd’s next move Black resigned. What move was it, and did Black necessarily have to resign so soon?

Exmouth Player Stars At Sunningdale

Last weekend, Exmouthian, Meyrick Shaw, shared 1st prize in the Major Section (U-175) of the prestigious e2-e4 chess congress at Northcote House, Sunningdale. He scored 4.5/5 points, as did the Nigerian Mustapha Othman, both sharing £450 in prizemoney. They drew in Rd. 4, having been in the sole lead, and went on to win their last round game. Meyrick’s tournament grade was 197 compared to his current standard grade of 168, which is surely bound to rise in the new list.

His games, together with all the others, are downloadable from the e2-e4 website.

The venue is Northcote House, an impressive neo-Georgian structure built in 1930, set in 65 acres of parkland.

Meyrick Shaw in the WECU Championship - Easter 2013

Northcote House, the Sunningdale venue.