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Archive for June, 2015

Somerset Lose To Essex In Close Match (27.06.2015.)

Of the Westcountry teams that qualified for the various sections of the National Stages of the Inter-County Championship, only one remains. In the Minor Counties section, Somerset lost narrowly to Essex by 8½-7½ in the semi-final, while in the Under-140 section Hampshire lost 9-7 to Nottinghamshire. On the other hand Devon drew with Lancashire 8-all in the semi-final of the Under-180 section, but won on the tie-break rule, in which  the numbers of the boards on which each team won, are added together and the team with the lower total goes through. Thus wins by the better players are given greater weighting. The Finals will be played next Saturday at Trident College, Warwick, where Devon are due to play Middlesex who beat Warwickshire 11½-4½ in the other semi.

Although losing to a stronger Essex team, Somerset’s match was only decided by the last game to finish. Here are the individual results, with Essex names 1st in each pairing: 1. J. Rogers (216) ½-½ J. Rudd (221). 2. A. P. Lewis (207) 0-1 T. Goldie (208). 3. D. Sands (205) ½-½       B. Edgell (197). 4. J. H. Hodgson (187) ½-½  A. Footner (182). 5. T. Hebbes (193) 1-0 B. Morris (178). 6. D. Spearman (188) 0-1 D. Littlejohns (177). 7. I. Reynolds (186) 0-1 S. Whatley (172). 8. J. Goldberg (185)       0-1 G. N. Jepps (171). 9. I. Myall (185) 1- 0 D. Peters (171). 10.K. White (181) ½-½ P. Cusick (167). 11. S. Rix (178) 1-0  C. Purry (159) 12. J. White (177) ½-½ A. Gregory (157) 13.        N. Twitchell (161) 1 R. D. Knight (157). 14. M. Murrell (158)    1-0 C. Strong, (155). 15. D. Smith (148) 0-1 M. French (154). 16. E. Cocks (144) 1-0 M. Baker (148). (Essex average grade 181 :: Somerset average grade 173).

This was the game won by Max French, a pupil at Millfield School.

White: D. Smith (148). Black: M. French (154).

Caro-Kann Defence – Exchange Variation.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.c3 e6 6.Bf4 Bd6 7.Bxd6 Qxd6 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Re1 a6 11.Nbd2 b5 12.Ne5 Bd7 13.Ndf3 b4 14.Qe2 bxc3 15.bxc3 a5 16.Rab1 Rab8 17.Ng5 h6 18.Rxb8 Qxb8 Black now has to tread carefully, but it’s White who loses his way. 19.Nxd7 Nxd7 20.Nxe6? An idea that loses a piece. Alternatively  20.Nxf7 Rxf7 21.Qxe6 Qf4 22.Rf1 Qf6 23.Qxd5 at least leaves White with 3 pawns for his piece deficit. 20…Re8 If now 20…fxe6 21.Qxe6+ Rf7 22.Bg6 Qf4 23.Bxf7+ Qxf7 24.Qxc6 21.Qg4 fxe6 22.Rxe6 Nf8 23.Rxe8 Of course, not 23.Rxc6?? Re1+. 23…Qxe8 24.Qf5 Qe1+ 25.Bf1 Ne7 26.Qf3 Nd7 27.Qe2 Qxe2 28.Bxe2 Nb6 29.f3 Nf5 30.Kf2 Na4 31.g4 Nd6 32.Bd1 Nxc3 33.Bb3 a4 and White must lose his a-pawn and his bishop can’t cover the queening square of a1. 0–1

The solution to last week’s 2-mover was 1.d6! and if 1…KxN 2. Qh8# ; or 1…RxN 2.Qd5#.

This week you are in the shoes of World Champion Alexander Alekhine in the 1920s, looking for a sharp finish against Black. Can you help him?

White to play

Small Clubs’ Survival Struggle (20.06.2015.)

The smaller chess clubs have always struggled to survive. In Exeter alone the list of casualties is a long one. Those at the Wyvern Barracks Officers’ Mess and Sidwell St. YMCA disappeared over a century ago, to be followed by St. Luke’s and St. Loye’s Colleges, the Civil Service and even the once-mighty University. In the wider county, the clubs at Dawlish, Buckfastleigh, Winkleigh, Tavistock and Dartington have also long since gone. Other counties are doubtless the same.

It is refreshing, therefore, to see, bucking the trend, a new club created at East Budleigh (pop.650), where they recently invited the Grandmaster Keith Arkell to give a simultaneous display. He won every game, of course, but commended Malcolm Belt and Chris Scott for their resilience in adversity for which they received book prizes, and for this one Arkell also kindly added his own instructive insights.

White: C. J. Scott (154). Black: K. C.  Arkell (234.)

Queen’s Pawn Game [D02]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Be7 5.Bd3 d5 6.h3 Nbd7 7.Nd2 0–0 8.Ngf3 b6 9.0–0 Bb7 10.Re1 Perhaps White should play 10.Qc2 to prevent 10…Ne4. 10…Ne4 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Bd6 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Qg4 f5 16.Qg3 Qxg3 17.fxg3 Rac8 18.Nc4 It’s a nice idea to try and bring the knight to the outpost on e5, but there is a tactical problem. 18…Rfd8? Better would have been 18…cxd4 19.Nd6 Rc6! 20.Nxb7 dxc3 21.bxc3 Rfc8 and Black is near to winning. 19.Ne5 cxd4 20.exd4 b5 21.Rac1 Rc7 22.b3 g6 22…g5! is more to the point. 23.Red1 Kg7 24.Kf2 Nicely played. It is important to prevent Black from getting in …f4 24…g5 25.Ke3 Rf8 26.Rf1 h5 27.h4! Again well played. Black was threatening 27…h4 28 gxh4 f4! with a clear advantage. 27…gxh4 28.gxh4 Kf6 29.g3 Rg8 30.Kf4 Rcg7 31.Rg1 Rd8 32.Ke3 Ba8 33.Rc2 The idea of my previous move was to meet a possible 33.c4 bxc4 34.bxc4 Rb8 grabbing the b-file. The position is about equal here. 33…a5 If 33…Rdg8 34.Kf4 Rg4+ 35.Nxg4+ Rxg4+ 36.Ke3 f4+ 37.Kf2 e3+ 38.Ke2 but my connected passed pawns won’t last very long. 34.c4? A mistake on which I failed to capitalise. 34…bxc4? I should have played 34…f4+ 35.Kxf4 Rxd4 and the more you look at this position the more you realise White is completely lost. 35.Rxc4! Not giving me a second chance. 35…Bd5 36.Ra4 Ra8 37.Nc4? The losing move, as it allows me to break through on the kingside. Better would have been 37.Kf4 Rc7 and although Black stands a little better, there is still a lot of work to do. 37…Rag8 38.Kf2 f4 39.Ne5 e3+ 40.Ke2 Rxg3 41.Rxg3 Rxg3 42.Rxa5 Rg2+ 43.Ke1 f3 44.Rxd5 Rg1# 0–1

Last week’s game between Aitken and Keffler ended with the combination 1…QxR+! forcing 2.NxQ Nf3+! and 3.Re1 mate cannot be avoided.

The problemist Arthur G. Pike of Redlands, Tiverton, died recently at the age of 92. Several of his 2-movers have appeared in this column over the years, and this is one of his best.

White to mate in 2 moves

Devon Reach National U-180 Final (13.06.2015.)

On Sunday, Devon met Lancashire at Worcester in the semi-final of the Inter-County Championship U-180 grade section. It was a close match that finished 8-8, with 4 wins to each team and 8 drawn games. As replays are not possible a tie-break rule called board count is invoked. Under this system the score of the bottom game is discounted, until a clear winner emerges. As Lancs won the game on Bd. 16, that win was eliminated, leaving Devon the winners, going through to the Final in Warwick on July 4th.  The details were: (Devon names 2nd in each pairing) 1. J. Cooper ½-½ Dr. J. Underwood. 2. S. Riley 1-0 Dr. D. Regis. 3. R. Newton 0-1 A. Brusey. 4. M. Whitehead ½-½ B. W. R. Hewson. 5. M. Parker 0-1 S. Martin. 6. P. Jackson 0-1 M. Abbott. 7. R. Ashcroft  ½-½ M. Shaw. 8. J. Lyth ½-½ W. Ingham. 9. A. Clarkson 1-0 M. Stinton-Brownbridge. 10. C. Rutlidge ½-½ K. P. Atkins. 11. P. Taylor 0-1 Dr. D.Toms. 12. R.Collins ½-½ O. E. Wensley. 13. D. Owen ½-½ C. J. Scott. 14. C. Fisher ½-½ P. Brooks. 15. W. O’Rourke 1-0 A. Kinder. 16. N. Jayawarna 1-0 V. Ramesh.

The ending to last week’s game was 1…Rxc3+ smashing open the White king’s position. If 2.b2xc3 then Ba3 is mate.

The Hungarian Laszlo Polgar was an assiduous collector of chess material that he used in the early tuition of his 3 daughters, Susan, Sofia and Judith. He later published this material in two large tomes, one on problem-like mates and another on winning middlegame combinations, the latter consisting of 4,158 positions in its 1,015 pages. From it, this position caught my eye, marked up only as “Aitken – Keffler: Newquai 1951”. This sparked a hunt for the actual game score from which the diagram was taken. I guessed it probably referred to a West of England Championship, held at the Penolver Hotel, Newquay at Easter 1951, but the problem was that neither Aitken nor Keffler played in that event. However, the Championship did return there 3 years later, and Aitken became joint champion with A. R. B. Thomas. Thomas was unbeaten but Aitken did lose one game – in Rd. 4 to Peter Yvon Keffler, then of Somerset. Polgar simply got the year wrong. The full game score, taken from the souvenir bulletin, was as follows:

White: J. M. Aitken. Black: P. Y. Keffler.

Sicilian Defence – Dragon Var. [B70]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.g3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.e5 Nd7 10.Bxc6 Rb8 11.exd6 0–0 12.0–0 Ne5 13.dxe7 Qxe7 14.Bg2 Bg4 15.Qe1 Rfe8 16.Qe3 Qd7 17.Qf4 Bh3 18.Rd1 (see diagram). White is 2 pawns up and this seems a natural enough move as it (a) unpins the fianchetto bishop (b) develops the rook and (c) attacks Black’s queen. But it’s not quite as good as it looks, as Keffler now demonstated. Peter Keffler now lives in Suffolk, aged 92, and plays for the Braille Chess Association.

Black to play and win by force

Keith Arkell Simul. (10.06.2015.)

Grandmaster Keith Arkell visited the fledgling chess club at East Budleigh at the weekend. Popular though the hard-working GM is, attendance was affected by the fact that, quite by chance,  there were a number of other activities that weekend, not least the WECU Council Meeting at Ilminster and Devon were due to play Lancashire in the Semi-Final of the National Stages. Wives will only permit so much chess activity in any one weekend. That was bad luck on the Organiser and founder of the new club, Brian Gosling. 

Nevertheless, it was a most enjoyable session. Keith took on all-comers, playing everyone twice, and afterwards going through the games from memory, giving advice on the run of play. He picked out the 2 games that gave him the most trouble and they were awarded book prizes. These were Malcolm Belt and Chris Scott of the Exmouth Club, and their prizes, suitable inscribed, were presented to them at their Club in the Royal Beacon Hotel. Keith had analysed their games, the scores of which were posted on the ECF website together with an account of the occasion.

Arkell in action: Belt nearest and Scott furthest.


Belt & Scott play through one of the games, with their book prizes on show.


They found a better move - but too late!

Cotswold Congress at New Venue (06.06.2015.)

The 47th Cotswold Congress was held over the recent bank holiday weekend at a new venue, King’s School in Gloucester. It followed close on the heels of the recent Frome event, but this didn’t seem to affect the local players’ appetite for chess as about 100 took part.

The Open was won at a canter by 13 year old Pavel Asenov (Witney) who scored 5½/6 and is rapidly becoming one of the top players on the Westcountry circuit. 2nd= on 4 pts were the more familiar names of Chris Beaumont (Bristol), Joey Stewart (Gloucester), Ian Robson (Wotton Hall) and Graham Bolt (Exeter).

Major Section: (U-155) 1st Andrew Munn (Downend). 2nd= Max French (Frome); Richard Dixon (Gloucester); Tim Acton (St. Albans) & Brendon O’Gorman (DHSS).

Minor Section (U-125): 1st Stephen Crockett (Redditch). 2nd Neil Graham. 3rd= Peter Sartain (Hanham) & John Constable (Bude).

Joint winner of the Frome Congress was Grandmaster Matthew Turner, chess master at Millfield School, who enjoyed the finish to this game.

White: Matthew Turner (237). Black: Jeremy Fallowfield (180).

English Opening – Anglo-Dutch Defence.

1.c4 f5 Black goes in for a Dutch Defence style of position. 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.e4 fxe4 7.dxe4 0–0 8.Nge2 c5 9.0–0 Nc6 10.h3 e5 11.Nd5 Be6 12.Kh2 Anticipating Black’s next move. 12…Qd7 13.Bg5 Rf7 14.Qd2 Raf8 15.f3 Supporting the e4 pawn and blocking out the potential threat of the doubled rooks down the f-file. 15…Nd4 16.Nxd4 cxd4 17.Rac1 Kh8 18.Qa5 b6 19.Qa3 Ng8 20.Bd2 Bh6 21.Bxh6 Nxh6 22.f4 Ng8 Or 22…Bxd5 23.cxd5 exf4 24.gxf4 Rxf4 25.Rxf4 Rxf4 26.Qb4 winning the d-pawn. 23.fxe5 dxe5 24.Rxf7 Rxf7 25.c5 bxc5 26.Rxc5 Qd6 27.b4 Qf8 28.Qc1 h6 29.Rc6 Bxd5 30.exd5 Both sides have their major pieces cooperating nicely and Black’s central passed pawns have potential.  30…Rf2 Normally rooks do their best work along their 7th rank in the later stages of the game, but in this case it leads to problems. 31.Rc8 Qf3 Black’s queen has to move so it may as well threaten mate… except that he is mated first. 32.Qxh6# The “defending” knight was pinned.1–0

In last week’s position, White had overlooked that after 1.Nd5+ Black could simply take it with 1…Qxd5 as after 2.Rxd5 Rc1+ is mate.

In 2009, a record was set at the British Championships when Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) and Andrew Greet (St. Austell), representing their respective counties, met in a match in a helium balloon tethered 400 ft above Torquay sea-front. If that’s difficult to believe, the film is still available in 2 parts on YouTube (just type in “balloon chess” – it had 1,500+ views at last count).

They met again recently, this time at ground level, in the 4Nations Chess League. In this position, how did Greet (Black) finish the game sharply?

Black to play and win.

E. Devon League Annual Prizegiving 2015 (04.06.2015.)

The League’s annual prizegiving took place at its usual venue of the Manor Hotel, Exmouth, followed by a match.

 The winners’ names were announced by League President, Brian Aldwin, and the presentation was made to a representative of the winning team concerned.  (see photographs below).  Details of the various sections can be summarised as follows:

  Div. 1: 4 Bds  – U-640    
    1 2 3 4 5 6 Tot.  
1 Exeter Rooks X 2 0 2 2 2 8 Cottew Cup
2 Newton Abbot 0 X 2 2 2 1 7  
3 Exeter Bishops 2 0 X 2 0 2 6  
4 Exmouth Eagles 0 0 0 X 2 2 4 GP: Turner Cup
5 Exmouth Elephants 0 0 2 0 X 2 4  
6 Tiverton 0 1 0 0 0 X 1  


  Div. 2: 4 Bds – U-480    
    1 2 3 4 5 Tot.  
1 E. Budleigh X 0 2 1 2 5   Polsloe Cup
2 Seaton 2 X 2 1 0 5   Polsloe Cup
3 Sidmouth 0 0 X 2 2 4 GP: Mainstay Cup
4 Exeter 1 1 0 X 2 4  
5 Tiverton 0 2 0 0 X 0  


  4 Bds   -   U-560    
    1 2 3 4 5 Sub. bonus Total
1 Exeter Prestissimo X 2 4 2 3 11 4 15
2 Tiverton 2 X 2 4 4 12 2 14
3 Exmouth 0 2 X 2 4 8 1 9
4 E. Budleigh 2 0 2 X 1 5 0 5
5 Exeter Gambits 1 0 0 3 X 4 1 5

The presentations were followed by a match between those present. In the past this has been between teams drawn from the 3 coastal clubs and those inland i.e Coast vs Country, but this formula has become somewhat redundant in recent years, with the arrival of Newton Abbot on the one side and the demise of Sidmouth on the other. Therefore it had been agreed to try a revival of an old formula, not used in Devon for over 20 years.  That is a President’s vs Match Captain’s match, with teams drawn from whoever turned up on the night. The way it worked was as follows:

(a) Players likely to be presnt should submit their names beforehand.

(b) The players are the listed in grade order, top to bottom, and pairing cards made out.

(c) Once it is ascertained they are present in the room, Team A has the top-graded player. Then Team B is then allocated the next 2 top-graded players, and then Team A gets the next 2 – and so on to the bottom of the list. This guarantees two teams of approximately equal strength. The only slight adjustments that need to be made is where this formula pairs 2 players from the same club. It is unlikely that two players from Newton Abbot or Seaton would wish to travel a long distance only to play a club colleague they’d played in their club the night before.

(d) It had been decided to make it a rapidplay match – 30 minutes per player per game, with colours reversed for a 2nd game.

The evenness of the teams was demonstrated by the outcome. All the President’s men won the 1st round by 9-7, but lost the 2nd round by the same score, making it 16-all at the end. Details as follows:-

  Captain’s Team       President’s Team    
Bd.   Rd 1 Rd 2     Rd 1 Rd 2
1 T. J. Paulden 1 1   K. J. Hurst 0 0
2 S. Martin ½ ½   A. W. Brusey ½ ½
3 M. Shaw ½ 1   G. Body ½ 0
4 C. J. Scott ½ 0   T. F. Thynne ½ 1
5 K. P. Atkins ½ 0   O. E. Wensley ½ 1
6 E. Palmer 1 0   B. G. Gosling 0 1
7 K. Hunter 1 1   M. Belt 0 0
8 A. Dowse 1 1   J. Maloney 0 0
9 R. H. Jones ½ 0   R. Scholes ½ 1
10 M. Hussey 0 0   R. Player 1 1
11 Mrs. H. Welch 0 1   G. Fotheringham 1 0
12 S. Blake 0 ½   M. Maber 1 ½
13 G. J. Jenkins 0 1   A. Brinkley 1 0
14 M. Lee 0 1   G. Elliott 1 0
15 T. Murray 0 0   P. Darlow 1 1
16 T. Miner ½ 1   B. Marsh ½ 0
    7 9     9 7
    16     16


Eddy Palmer (Exeter Rooks) receives the Cottew Cup as League Champions, from Brian Aldwin and Tim Paulden.

Meyrick Shaw receives the Turner Cup from League President, Brian Aldwin, as the Grading Prize win for Exmouth Eagles.

Hazel Welch (Seaton) & Brian Gosling (East Budleigh) share the Div. 2 Mainstay Cup.

Steve Martin (Sidmouth) takes the Div. 2 Grading Prize.


Finally the fun stuff is over and it's down to the serious business of the evening.