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Archive for August, 2014

Paignton Congress 2014 – Day 1 (31.08.2014.)

It's Torbay and the schools are back. Must be time for the Paignton Congress. Here at its new venue of the Livermead House Hotel, right on the sea-front.

Don't forget the hotel was someone's private residence once.

The view from the venue - a luxury liner in the Bay under the bluest of skies.

At 2 p.m. DCCA President, Mr. Paul Brooks welcomed all participants, in fron of the preoccupied arbiters, Tony Tatam (green), John Ariss (blue) and Victor Cross (yellow)

General view of the playing area. The re-alignment of the tables has created more space for movement around the room.

Tactics used are many and varied. Simon Bartlett's shirt, for example, is clearly giving his opponent a headache.

Top seed, Grandmaster Danny Gormally, completes his kingside fianchetto.

2nd seed, Grandmaster Keith Arkell, reflects on his opening move.

The number of lady players has almost reached double figures this year. On these 2 boards, for instance, they outnumber the men by 3 to 1. Nearest the camera is the noted chess artist, Nette Robinson.

The Other Cornish Olympian (30.08.2014.)

Michael Adams may have been the outstanding player for England at the recent Olympiad, but he was not the only Cornishman involved. St. Austell-born Andrew Greet was playing for Scotland, where he works as an editor for the Glasgow-based publisher Quality Chess. He excelled on Board 2 and narrowly missed achieving a Grandmaster norm. In this game from Round 5 he surprises a strong GM.

White: Emir Dizdarevic (Bosnia-Herzogovina – 2522). Black: A. Greet (Scotland – 2431).

Reti Opening [A06]

1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.b3 c5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Be2 Nc6 7.0–0 Bd6 8.d4 The game started as a Reti, but has transposed into the Tarrasch Defence to the Queen’s Pawn opening. 8…cxd4 9.Nxd4 Qe7 10.Nf3 Making a second unnecessary move with the same piece while other pieces remain undeveloped must lose tempo. 10…Be6 11.Bb2 0–0 12.Nc3 a6 13.Rc1 Rfd8 It might be better to develop the other rook first, then bring the other one to e8 13…Rad8. 14.Qc2 Rac8 15.Qb1 Bb8! Preparing …Qd6 and opening the centre with …d4. 16.Rfd1 Ng4 Black’s pieces are lined up against the enemy king. 17.h3 Now is not the moment to retreat. 17…Nxf2! 18.Kxf2 Qc7 threatening …Qg3+ and if Kg1 then Bxh6. 19.Bf1? White is so disconcerted by the sacrifice that he blunders and Greet extracts maximum advantage. 19…Qg3+ 20.Kg1 Having committed to attack, Black must bring every available piece into action – this is no time for vacillation. Ne5 21.Nd4 Bxh3 22.Rd3 Ng4 23.Nf3 Qf2+ 24.Kh1 Bxg2+ 25.Bxg2 Rc6 0–1. The distant rook suddenly joins the fray and 26…Rh6 mate cannot be prevented.

The death was announced last week of John G. Gorodi, aged 88, a regular and venerable figure on the south west congress circuit. With his brother and 200,000 others he fled his native Hungary after the collapse of the Hungarian uprising against the Russians in 1956, eventually settling in Newton Abbot. He kept in contact with some of his former chess colleagues and put me in touch with a Hungarian problemist, whose work subsequently appeared in this column. Only last year he became the British U-150 Champion at Torquay, probably the oldest title-holder in British chess history. That was after he crashed his car on the way home after round 3, discharging himself from hospital so that he could compete in Rounds 4 & 5, both of which he won.

Last week’s problem by Lt. Col. George Ansell was solved by 1.Ne6! threatening 2.Nd4 mate, and 1…BxN allows the White queen to do the honours.

From a recent game Black is faced with losing his rook with check. What’s his best response?

Black to play and win.

Adams Stars at Olympiad (23.08.2014.)

The recent 41st Olympiad at Tromsø was won by China, who at the outset were seeded 7th of the 177 participating teams of 4, based on the rating of their players. Second were Hungary (5th seed) and 3rd were India (18th seed). This serves to illustrate how the balance of power is moving from west to east. England came a disappointing 28th (10th seed), Ireland were 66th (62nd seed), Scotland were 83rd (65th seed) and Wales were 105th (98th seed).

One bright spot for England was the outstanding performance of Michael Adams, who scored 6½ points from the 9 games he played. Only a split on tie-break denied him the gold medal for the best individual performance on Board 1, and he had to settle for silver. This game from Rd. 5 against Vietnam was probably his best.

White: Le Quang Liem (2710). M. Adams (2740).

Catalan Opening.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 White goes in for the Catalan Opening, a system named by Tartakover after he tried it in Barcelona in 1929. 3…d5 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Nf3 c6 7.Qb3 0–0 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Rc1 a5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Na3 Qe7 13.e3 Rd8 14.Rab1 g6 15.Qc2 Bg7 16.Rd1 Nf6 17.Ne5 Bd7 18.Nxd7 Rxd7 19.Rd2 e5 Breaking open the centre to create space for his pieces. However it also allows White’s knight to join the fray. 20.dxe5 Qxe5 21.Rbd1 Rad8 22.cxd5 Nxd5 23.Nc4 Qe6 24.Bxd5 cxd5 25.Nxa5 d4 26.exd4 Qxa2 27.Nb3 Qa4 28.Ra1 Qb4 29.Qc3 Qb6 30.Ra4 Qe6 31.Nc5 Forking queen and rook, but Black has a vital check available. 31…Qe1+ 32.Kg2 Rc7 33.Rc2 Qe8! Hitting the undefended rook and threatening …b6 winning the pinned knight. 34.Rc4 b5 35.Rb4 Black may be a pawn down, but this is the beginning of the end for White as Adams launches a powerful attack. 35…Rxc5 36.Qxc5 Forced, as the defending pawn was pinned. 36…Bf8 The point of Black’s sacrifice, as becomes clear. 37.Qxb5 Qe4+ Now both rooks are attacked. 38.Kg1 Qxc2 39.Ra4 Qb1+ 40.Kg2 Qe4+ 41.f3 Qc2+ 42.Kh3 Qd1 43.f4 h5 44.Qc4 Rxd4! 0–1 If now 45.Qxd4 Qf1+ forcing 46.Kh4 Be7+. Or if 45.Ra1 Qg4+ 46.Kg2 Rxc4 In fact, White is mated in every variation. Match drawn 2-2.

Vietnam eventually finished level with England on match points but came 27th on tie-break.

The Paignton Congress starts a week tomorrow at the Livermead Hotel. Enquiries about last minute entries should go to Alan and Linda Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

The solution to last week’s problem was 1. Bb8! Here is another 2-mover by Lt. Col. George Kirkpatrick Ansell, who was killed in action exactly 100 years ago next week.

Chess Problemist Shot (16.08.2014.)

The one million British and Commonwealth WW1 fatalities cut swathes of heartbreak through every walk of life. Even the esoteric world of chess problemists did not escape.

Witheridge and Bristol’s Comins Mansfield, for example, was gassed in the trenches and temporarily blinded, but he survived to become a universally acknowledged genius of the 2-mover.

Less well-known was Lt. Col. George Kirkpatrick Ansell who was killed in the first days of the war. Born in 1872 in Wymering near Portsmouth, the son of a soldier, William and his wife Harriet, he joined the 5th Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Dragoon Guards, and served under Baden-Powell in South Africa. In France, two weeks after the declaration of war, the two armies met for the first time at Mons, after which the British sought to make an orderly retreat. On 31st August Ansell’s men were settled for the night in the small village of Néry. In the early morning mist of 1st September, a lost battalion of Germans blundered into them and more fighting broke out. Ansell’s unit was sent out to attack on the flank, which was an effective counter, and to get a good view of the skirmish he rode to the top of a nearby bluff. However, this made him a perfect target for German snipers and he was shot in the chest and died within 15 minutes, the most senior British officer to be killed at that point.

He is one of 51 Britons buried in Verberie, one of the 65 war cemeteries in the small department of Oise. The full account of what became known as “The Affair at Néry” can readily be found on-line and makes fascinating reading.

He had been a keen composer and publisher of chess problems before enlisting but once in the army his love of horses in general and polo in particular gradually took over.

He left a 9 year old son, Michael, who had a strangely parallel early life. He joined the same regiment as his father, played polo and rode competitively. Early in WW2 he, too, found himself retreating in the face of an advancing German army. He hid in a hayloft, and was shot at by British troops who assumed he was the enemy. As a result he was blinded, but this did not stop his involvement with horses. From his home, Pillhead House, Bideford, Col. Sir Mike Ansell became the driving force of British show jumping and equestrianism in the post war decades, making it a regular feature of TV scheduling.

The answer to last week’s position was 1…Rb3+! and if 2.axb3 Ra1 mate.

Here is one of Col. Ansell’s early 2-movers.

White to mate in 2

British Championship – Local Players’ Scores (09.08.2014.)

As reported last week, the British Championship was shared between Jonathan Hawkins and David Howell on 8½/11 points. A point behind in joint 3rd place were twins Nicholas and Richard Pert, Mark Hebden, John Emms, Keith Arkell and Ravia Haria. The Ladies Champion was Amy Hoare.

Westcountry qualifiers finished as follows: Allan Pleasants (Weymouth) 5½; Jeremy Menadue (Truro) and Martin Simons (Southbourne) both on 5; Jack Rudd (Bideford) started brilliantly but had 5 losses from his last 6 games to finish on 4½; Theo Slade (Marhamchurch) 4; Alan Brusey (Teignmouth) 3½ and John Fraser (Newton Abbot) on 3.

The Rd. 3 game between Chris Ward and Mark Hebden, that I gave two weeks ago, was eventually awarded the tournament’s Best Game prize.

Attention now turns to the 41st Olympiad currently being played in Norway. With over 2,000 players from 177 countries it’s one of the world’s largest sporting events. In Rd. 1 England were paired against Wales with this game featuring on Bd. 1.

White: Gawain Jones (2665 – Eng). Black: Richard Jones (2414).

Petroff Defence [C43]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 The Steinitz Attack. Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nxd7 Bxd7 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Bd6 9.Qh5 Qe7+ 10.Be3 Be6 Instead of castling, which seems the natural move, White goes in for a combination likely to involve exchanges. 11.Bg5 Bg4+ 12.Bxe7 Bxh5 13.Bxd6 cxd6 The resulting weakened doubled pawns will  have a bearing on the outcome. 14.Rb1 0–0–0 15.Rb5 f6 16.Rxd5 Bf7 17.Ra5 Kb8 18.Kd2 There seems little point in castling now as White wants to bring his other rook into play, and the White king is effective and quite safe on d2. 18…Rc8 19.Rb1 Rhe8 20.Rab5 Re7 There now follows some gradual manoeuvring as White consolidates his pawn advantage. 21.a4 h6 22.a5 Be8 23.R5b4 Bf7 24.f3 Rcc7 25.c4 Bg8 26.R1b3 Bf7 27.Rc3 Kc8 28.Rb5 Kd8 29.h4 Kc8 30.g4 Kd8 31.g5 fxg5 32.hxg5 hxg5 33.Rxg5 Bg8 34.c5 dxc5 35.Rcxc5 b6 36.axb6 axb6 37.Rb5 The manoeuvrability of the white rooks settles matters. 37…Rc6 38.Rbf5 Threatening 39.Rf8+ Re8 40.RxR+ KxR 41.Rxg7 leaving White 2 passed pawns up. 38…Kc7 39.Rf8 Be6 40.Ra8 Bd7 41.Rg8 Rd6 42.c3 1-0 The g-pawn must fall and with it the game. Wins from Short, Howell and Sadler made it 4–0.

In last week’s game from this year’s British Championship, White finished with a double rook sacrifice, thus: 1.RxP+! KxR 2.Rh2+ Bh6 3.RxB+ KxB 4.Qh2+ Kg7 5.Bxe5 mate.

In this position from a recent rapidplay game, White is thinking about 1.RxB RxR 2.Qxe5+ winning the rook back, but it’s not his move. What can Black do about it?

Black to play and win

Hawkins & Howell Tie for the British Title (02.08.2014.)

With one round to go in the British Championship, matters were delicately poised. Jonathan Hawkins (31) of Consett, Co. Durham, had sailed into an early lead with 5 straight wins, and was still in the clear lead by half a point going in to the penultimate round. There, however, he had to play the ever dangerous Mark Hebden who was also keen to get his hands on the trophy, but the game was drawn. This left David Howell, playing fellow GM Nicholas Pert, though with Howell having the Black pieces. Howell pressed for the win, but Pert held firm and that game was also drawn, keeping Hawkins in a half point lead over Howell and Hebden going into the final round.

In that last round, Hawkins settled for a quick draw, taking him to 8½/11 points and guaranteeing him at least a share of the title. Howell, meanwhile, beat Hebden, to take him level with Hawkins and sharing the prize he won outright at Torquay last year.

Howell then departed immediately to join the rest of the England team for the forthcoming Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway. The team comprises, Michael Adams, Howell, Gawain Jones, Nigel Short and Peter Wells.

One game that caught the eye was between two Devon residents in Round 4 of the British Championship. Arkell is renowned for his endgame skills but here doesn’t get chance to exercise that particular mastery. Notes based on those kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Jack Rudd (2278). Black: Keith Arkell (2433).

Keres Defence.

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ 3.Nc3 c5 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 Ne7 6.e3 d6 7.Bd3 Nbc6 8.f4 f5 9.Nf3 0–0 10.h3 b6 11.g4 Na5 A 2nd  move by the same piece while 3 others remain untouched is too slow. Black underestimates how quickly White’s attack develops. 12.Rg1 Qe8 13.Ra2! Freeing up the other rook right across the 2nd rank. 13…Ba6 14.Rag2 g6 15.Ng5 Bxc4 16.Bxc4 Nxc4 17.Qe2 b5 18.h4 Rf6 19.h5 cxd4 20.hxg6 Rxg6 21.gxf5 exf5 22.Qh5 Rg7 23.Qh1 Qc6 24.Ne6 Rxg2 25.Rxg2+ Kf7 26.Nxd4 Qd5 27.Qxh7+ Ke8 28.Rg7 Qe4 Black’s queen is overloaded here, trying to do the impossible – to defend effectively both f5 and e7 simultaneously. 29.Nxf5 Qxf5 30.Rxe7+ Ending all Black’s resistance. 30…Kd8 31.Qxf5 1–0

In last week’s position, Black played 1…RxN 2.RxR e5! attacking both queen and rook.

This position arose in one of the earlier rounds of the British Championship. White is a grandmaster known for his attacking skills. Black has just played b4 attacking the bishop. How should White respond? 

White to play