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Devon’s New County Champion.

Cornwall’s individual championship is decided at their annual congress each January, the current champion being James Hooker. Devon’s is done on a knockout basis throughout the season and this was the deciding game between the two finalists.  Notes condensed from those supplied by the winner.

White: J. K. Stephens (196). Black: T. J. Paulden (187).

Robatsch Defence  [B06]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 a6 4.Nf3 d6 5.a4 b6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0–0 Ne7 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Qd2 h6 10.Rfe1 g5!? A double edged move – Black claims control over f4, but in the long run, his king may be exposed. 11.h3 Ng6 12.Ne2 Nf6 13.Ng3 White eyes the weak h5 square. If the Nf6 ever moved, this would be a great attacking square. 13…0–0 14.a5 b5 15.Bb3 Bb7 16.d5! White waits for the bishop to move to b7 before closing the long diagonal. If played whilst the bishop is still on c8, Black plays e5, and f5 will follow quickly. 16…c5 Solving a lot of Black’s opening problems. 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Bb6 Qb8 19.Rad1 White maintains a slight edge due to his greater king security and play on the d-file. 19…d5 20.exd5 White missed: 20.Nd4 Bb7 21.exd5 Bxd5 22.Ndf5! Bxb3 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3 The move I missed, threatening Nh5+ 24…Nf4 25.Ne4 e5 26.Nxf6 and White is close to winning. 20…Bxd5 21.Bxd5 Nxd5 22.Bd4 Ndf4 putting the other knight on f4 is perhaps better e.g. 22…Ngf4 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qd4+ Kh7 and although the Black king is exposed, it’s not easy for White to make progress, as the knights do a good job of controlling White’s pieces. 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3+ f6 This allows White to set up nasty threats on the 7th rank. 25.Rd7+ Rf7 26.Red1 Ra7! 27.Qc6 Ne5 28.Nxe5 Qxe5 29.Rd8? This looks to be winning for White, but Black has defensive resources. Better was 29.Rxf7+ Kxf7 30.Rd8 Re7 31.Qa8 Ng6 and all the key squares around Black’s king are covered, although White stands better due to his activity on the queenside. 29…Rfe7 30.Qc8 Kg6? The move to find was 30…h5!! and White has no mate! 31.Rg8+ Rg7?? After this, it is all over. Black could stay in the game with: 31…Kh7 32.Rh8+ Kg6 33.Rdd8 Ne2+ 34.Nxe2 Qxe2 35.Rdg8+ Rg7 36.Qe8+ Kf5 37.g4+ Kf4 and although White is slightly better, one wrong move could spell disaster. 32.Qe8+ The rest is more or less forced 32…Raf7 33.Rd7 Qe1+ 34.Kh2 Qxf2 Black sportingly lets White mate him 35.Qxf7+ Kh7 36.Qxg7# 1–0.

The Paignton Congress starts a fortnight tomorrow, so late entries need to be in a.s.a.p. Contact the Crickmores on 01752-768206 or e-mail: plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

In last week’s position, White had the queen sacrifice 1.Qh8+ forcing Bxh8 and then 2.Rh8 mate.

In this game from 1949, neither Tiverton’s A. R. B. Thomas (W) nor D. M. Horne have adhered to the unwritten rules of normal piece development, and both are liable to pay the price. In this case it was Black who got the break. How did he finish quickly?

Black to play and win

British Championship Best Game Prize.

The recent British Ladies Championship in Coventry was won by the diminutive 13 year old Surrey schoolgirl, Akshaya  Kalaiyalahan. She is the 3rd 13 yr old to win the title, the first being Elaine Saunders (later Pritchard) at Bournemouth in 1939, followed by Humpy Koneru at Torquay in 2000. She scored 6½/11, achieved a Women’s IM norm and took the prize for the best performance in the Championship by a player graded under 2000. She was probably favourite for that particular prize as her grade was 1999, while her grade for the tournament was 2335.

Next year’s championship will be held at Bournemouth.

The Alexander Prize for the Game of the Tournament went to Glenn Flear for his win in Round 4. The two opponents were born within 12 months of each other in Leicester in the late 1950s, and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well.

White: Glenn Flear (2450). Black:  Mark Hebden (2500).  King’s Indian Defence – Averbakh Variation.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0–0 6.Bg5 Averbakh’s line. 6…c6 More usual here is 6…c5 hitting more directly at White’s centre. 7.Nf3 Also playable is 7.Qd2 or 7.f4 setting up the 4 Pawns Attack, but White prefers this more conservative line. 7…Na6 8.0–0 h6 9.Be3 Ng4 Pushing the bishop back, but the knight is not tenable on g4. 10.Bc1 e5 11.h3 exd4 12.Nxd4 Nf6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Bf3 Nd7 15.Be3 Ne5 Again the knight tries to establish a forward position, but will become a target once more. 16.Be2 Nc5 17.Qd2 Qh4 18.f4 Ned7 19.Bf3 a5 20.Bf2 Qe7 21.Rad1 Nb6 22.b3 a4 23.Qc2 axb3 24.axb3 Nbd7 Compromising the development of the white-square bishop. 25.b4 Na6 26.b5 Nb4 27.Qb3 c5 28.Nc2 Nxc2 29.Nd5! a useful zwischenzug, or in-between move. 29…Qd8 30.Qxc2 Nb6 31.e5 Bf5 32.Qb3 dxe5 33.Bxc5 Nxd5 34.Bxd5 Qc7? Black’s position is now getting worse by the move. Better was 34…Qc8. 35.Bd6! Qa5 If 35…Qxd6?? 36.Bxf7+ wins the queen. 36.fxe5 Be6 37.Bxe6 Rxe6 38.c5 Giving White a vice-like grip on the centre. 38…Rae8 39.Rf1 Now focussing on f7. 39…Qd8 40.Qf3 Qd7 41.c6 bxc6 42.bxc6 Qa7+ 43.Kh1 f5 44.c7 Bxe5 45.Bxe5 Rxe5 46.Qb3+ Kh8 47.Rd7 Qa6 48.Rg1 1-0. White has multiple threats on b8, d8 and f7.

The next big event in the area is the Paignton Congress, which starts on Sunday 13th September. Entries are relatively low at the moment, so there is plenty of room for more players. Enquiries should be directed to the Entry Secretaries, Alan & Linda Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail: plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

In last week’s position, Carlsen could afford to take the knight because then his passed pawn would be able to make forward progress viz 1.RxN and if RxR 2.b7 Rb5 3.pb8=Q RxQ 4.BxR.

In this game, Black has plenty of piece activity but is still vulnerable.

Can you see where?

White to win in 2 moves

Hawkins Is British Champion (15.08.2015.)

So the possibility of a multiple tie in the British Championship with the necessity of a play-off, never came about, as all but one of the top players seemed to lose their nerve and drew their games, this being the exception.

White: Jonathan Hawkins (256). Black: Keith Arkell (241).

Sicilian Defence.

1.e4 c5 Both players had to play an attacking game if they were to win the prize, especially Arkell who was a half point behind – it was win or nothing for him. So he adopted Black’s most immediately attacking opening weapon against 1.e4. 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 White was also determined to play an open game. 3…cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.f4 White continued with his aggressive approach. An early f4 used to be called the Grand Prix Attack as it was used by GMs on the weekend congress circuit to generate a quick kingside attack and pick up “easy” points against lesser players. 6…a6 7.Nxc6 Qxc6 8.Bd3 b5 9.Qe2 Bb7 10.Bd2 White now had the option of castling on either side, though on the queenside this could prove tricky, given Black’s forward pawns and 11th move. 10…Be7 11.a3 Rb8 Further deterring White from castling long and attacking the kingside. 12.0–0 Nf6 13.e5 Nd5 14.f5 White presses on, also preventing Black playing …f5. 14…Nxc3 15.Bxc3 Black is doing a good job of frustrating White’s intentions at this stage, but having constantly to find double-edged moves is using up Black’s time considerably. 15…g6 16.fxe6 dxe6 17.Bb4 Bxb4 18.axb4 0–0 19.Rf4 Rbd8 20.Qf2 Qc7 21.Re1 Rd5 22.Qe3 Qe7 23.Rg4 Black now only has c. 30 seconds per move left to reach move 40 and goes for 23…h5? which weakens his kingside pawns. Better might have been 23…Rfd8. 24.Rf4 Rfd8 25.Ref1 Qg5 26.Qf2 Black now played 26…Rd4 but resigned soon after in view of 27.Rxd4 winning immediately. However, if instead White had played 27.Rxf7 with a mating attack down the f-file, Black had the resource 27…Bxg2 28.Rf8+ Kg7 29.Qg3 Rg4 30.R1f7+ Kh6 31.Rxd8 Qxd8 32.Qe3+ Qg5 33.Kf2 Bd5 but this would have been difficult to work out in the little time available. 1–0

The full point gave Hawkins the clear lead on 8½/11 points, and with it the title of British Champion. 2nd= were David Howell, Danny Gormally and Nick Pert all on 8 points. 5th= on 7½ were Mark Hebden, Simon Williams Chris Ward, Aaron Summerscale and Richard Pert. Keith Arkell had to make do with a 5-way share of 11th place. Chess can be a cruel game at times.

Jack Rudd (6½) came 15th=; Jeremy Menadue (5) 39th=; Theo Slade (4) 60th= and Matthew Wilson (1½) 74th= .

In last week’s position from Rd. 3 of the British Championship, Allan Pleasants finished with the remarkable 1.Qg6+! fxg6 2.Bg8+ Kh8 3.Bf7+ Kh7 and White now has the luxury of choosing either 4.Bxg6 or fxg6 both mate.

In this position from a recent game, World Champion Magnus Carlsen (W) has a winning move.

White to play and win.

Exmouth Club’s New Grades – 2015 – 16

The new Grading List came out recently, with the majority of members showing a healthy up-turn in the grades, arising out of what was a highly successful season, both in inter-club matches and congresses.

Well done to all concerned – but don’t forget…… what goes up must come down!

Name New from Rapid  from
Abbott, Mark V. 178   171   166   168  
Badlan, Tom W. 82     81     77     77  
Belt, Malcolm 133   128   112   122  
Blake, Simon 105   106   92   90  
Gosling, Brian G.E. 154   148          
Grist, Ivor G. 100     98     87     83  
Hodge, Fred R. 92     94   135   131  
Hurst, Kevin J. 183   183          
Jones, Robert H. 118   125   137   139  
Martin, Steven 184   178   166   166  
Murray, J Stephen 151   141   141   140  
Rogers, David R. 140   152          
Scott, Chris J. 149   154   157   159  
Shaw, Meyrick 177   173   171   164  
Stephens, John K.F. 196   196   182   181  
Thomson, David John 105   152          
Toms, David A. 162   159       144  
Underwood, Jonathan WR 186   182   202   196  
Wensley, Oliver E. 170   151   156   154  

Also, hearty congratulations are due to John Stephens, who has topped off a brilliantly successful season for the Club by becoming the Devon Individual Champion, after beating Dr. T. J. Paulden in a play-off after drawing their 1st game. 

Bob Jones

British Championship Nears Climax (08.08.2015.)

The British Championship finished late last night, though after 8 of the 11 scheduled rounds, there may well be a play-off this morning, as there was a bunch of 7 players all within a half point of the lead. If so, this can be watched live on the event website.

After the early rounds last week it looked as if last year’s joint champions, Jonathan Hawkins and David Howell, were determined to repeat the feat as they took an early lead. Yet the chasing pack were always on their heels and after Rd. 8 Danny Gormally and Nick Pert had taken the lead on 6½ points, with Keith Arkell, Simon Williams and John Emms joining the defending champions on 6.

This was Rd. 1’s Game of the Day.

White: J. Hawkins (2554). Black: J. D. Wager (2117).

Queen’s Gambit – Slav Defence  [A84]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 4.Nc3 f5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Be7 7.Bd3 0–0 8.Qc2 Ne4 9.g4 Na6 10.a3 fxg4 11.Ne5 Nf6 12.c5 Nb8 As Black’s pieces pose no threat at all, White opens even more lines to the Black king. 13.h3 g3 14.Rg1 gxf2+ 15.Qxf2 Nh5 16.Qc2 Bh4+ 17.Kd2 Nxf4 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 19.exf4 Qf6 20.Rg4 Bf2 21.Bd3 Black now played 21…Bxd4 but then resigned as he could see what was coming next. e.g. 22.Rh4+ Black’s least worst reply is 22…Qxh4 23.Ng6+ Kg8 24.Nxh4. If 22…Kg8 23.Bh7+ Kh8 24.Ng6+ etc.  Either way he loses his queen.1–0

After this Rd. 7 game, Pert took Howell’s place at the top of the leader board.

White: D. Howell (2698). Black: N. Pert (2562).

Zukertort Opening – English Variation. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.d4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d5 Na6 7.e4 Nc5 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bh3 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Bxe5 11.Bh6 Preventing kingside castling. 11…d6 12.0–0 Bc8 13.Bg2 Bf5 14.Re1 Qd7 15.Re3 Bh3 16.b4 Bxg2 17.Kxg2 Na6 18.Rb1 c5 19.dxc6 Qxc6+ As it’s check Black can sidestep the threatened fork. 20.Kg1 Nc7 21.Qd3 Ne6 22.Nd5 Rc8 23.Rc1 g5 24.Ree1 Rg8 At this point, White’s pieces look to be active, while Black’s king is stuck in the centre and his rooks are not united, but… 25.Qxh7 Rh8 Oops! Every player knows that pawn-snatching can often lead to trouble. This simply loses a bishop. 26.Qe4 Rxh6 27.Qg4 Qd7 28.Rcd1 Rh8 White now gives up more material in order to try and get some activity for his remaining forces, but he is now a whole rook down. 29.Rxe5 dxe5 30.Nxb6 f5 31.Qf3 Qc6 32.Qxf5 White can’t afford to exchange queens. e.g. 32.Qxc6+ Rxc6 33.Nd7 Rd6 34.Nf6+ Kf7 32…axb6 White now gets in a few bravado checks, but they lead to nothing. 33.Qg6+ Kf8 34.Qf5+ Kg8 35.Qg6+ Kf8 36.Qf5+ Kg7 37.Qxe5+ Kg8 38.c5 Rh6 39.a4 Qxa4 40.Ra1 Qxb4 0–1

Last week’s position was solved by 1.Qa2! and if 1…RxQ 2.Bf3 mate. Black had about 10 other possible moves, but each one had a mating reply.

From this position in Rd. 3 Allan Pleasants of Weymouth was able to finish Black off with a sharp 4 move combination.

White to play and win

Winning Devon Game (01.08.2015.)

This was Devon’s top win in their recent National U-180 Final, and was the last game to finish in a tense finale. Mark was the only player to win all three of his games in the National Stages, a fine performance.

White: M. V. Abbott (171). Black: C. Mackenzie (175).

Nimzo-Indian Defence [E49]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 0–0 9.Ne2 b6 10.0–0 Ba6 11.f3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Re8 13.Ng3 Nc6 14.Bb2 c4 15.Qd2 Qd7 16.Rae1 Re6 17.Bc1? Better might be 17.e4 threatening the knight. 17…Ne8 (17…dxe4 18.fxe4). 17…Rae8 18.Qc2 b5? 19.e4 a5 20.e5 Qa7 21.Qf2 Nd7 22.f4 b4 23.f5 R6e7 24.f6 Re6 25.fxg7 White could bring pressure to bear after 25.Nh5 bxc3 26.Be3 g6 27.Qf4 Kh8 28.Ng7 Nd8 29.Rf3 Rg8 30.Rh3 Nf8 31.Nxe6 Ndxe6 32.Qf3 etc. 25…Ndxe5 Black sacrifices a piece in order to (a) get some activity for his pieces, and (b) create a 4-2 queenside pawn majority. 26.dxe5 Qxf2+ 27.Rxf2 Nxe5 28.Ref1 bxc3 29.Nh5 R8e7 If 29…d4 30.Nf6+ Rxf6 31.Rxf6 d3 32.Bg5 d2 30.Nf6+ Kxg7 31.Nxd5 Rb7 32.Nf4 Rd6 33.Nh5+ Kf8 34.Nf6 Nd3 35.Bh6+ Ke7 36.Re2+ Kd8 37.Re8+ Kc7 38.Re7+ Kc6 39.Rxb7? 39.Re4 Nb2 40.Bg5. 39…Kxb7 40.Be3 Re6 41.Rb1+ Kc8 42.Nd5 c2 43.Rf1 Kd7 43…Rxe3 44.Nxe3 c1Q 45.Rxc1 Nxc1 46.Nxc4 Nb3 44.Bc1 Kc6 45.Nc3 Kc5 46.Rf5+? Kc6? Better is 46…Kd4 as White’s king needs to be up in support of his dangerous pawns. 47.Rf1 Can Black now start to exploit his passed pawns, or will White’s extra piece be enough to prevent this? It’s a close call. 47…Kc5 48.Bd2 Kd4 49.Nb5+ Kc5 50.Nc3 Kd4 51.Na2 Re2? 52.Bxa5 Re7 53.Bb6+ Ke4 54.a4 Rb7 55.a5 f5 56.g3 h5 57.Kg2 h4 58.Nc3+ Ke5 59.Ne2 hxg3 60.hxg3 Ke4 61.Nc3+ Ke5 62.Ne2 Ke4 63.Nc1 Nxc1 64.Rxc1 Kd3 65.Kf3 Kc3 If 65.Kd2 in support of the forward pawn, there follows 66.Be3+ Kc3 67.a6 and Black has lost time. 66.Be3 Rd7 67.a6 Kb2 68.Ke2 Re7 69.Rf1 c3 70.Kd3 Rd7+ 71.Ke2 Re7 72.a7 Re8 73.Kd3 Rd8+ 74.Kc4 Rc8+ 75.Kb5 Re8 76.Bc1+ Kb3 77.Bf4 Kb2 78.Bb8 c1=Q 79.Rxc1 Kxc1 80.a8=Q The 4th queen of the game – will there be the chance of a 5th? Re2 81.Qh1+ Kb2 82.Bf4 c2 So near and yet so far. 83.Qc1+ Kb3 84.Bd6 Re6 85.Qa3 mate.

The British Championships started at Warwick University on Monday and finish next Friday. Games may be followed live on the event website, as well as updates results in all sections. There are 74 entrants in the top section, with local interest focussing on K. Arkell (Paignton – 4th seed); J. Rudd (Bideford – 18th); J. Menadue (Truro – 52nd ); T. Slade (Marhamchurch – 64th) and M. Ashworth (Gloucester – 69th).

In last week’s position, White may have allowed his queen to be taken because he could see the combination 1.Nf6+ forcing gxf6 and then 2.Bf7 mate.

Here is a conventional 2-mover by Arthur Ford Mackenzie (1861 – 1905). This is one for serious solvers.

White to mate in 2