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Archive for September, 2016

Hooten & The Lady & the Fawcett Brothers (24.09.2016.)

Last weekend’s TV schedules flagged up the start of a new adventure series entitled Hooten and the Lady, with high production standards and deeming it enjoyable but forgettable Friday night candy floss. In it, British Museum curator, young Lady Alex Lindo-Parker, jets off to the Amazon rainforest in search of Col. Percy Fawcett’s lost camp, is thrown together with maverick adventurer Hooten, and within on-screen minutes the pair stumble on a cave containing a skeleton, presumably that of Fawcett, grasping a treasure map in its bony hand, which quickly leads them to the fabled city of gold, El Dorado. The fact that scores of expeditions from Sir Walter Raleigh’s in 1595 to Fawcett’s in 1925 had all failed in that very same project is neither here nor there; one must suspend one’s disbelief.

What the programme doesn’t mention (and why should it?) is that Fawcett was brought up at 3, Barnpark Terrace, Teignmouth, together with 3 sisters and an older brother, Edward Douglas (1866-1960), who led a life every bit as exotic as Percy; a pioneering science fiction writer, philosopher, alpinist, aviator & chessplayer.

Douglas founded the Totnes Club in 1901 and played for Devon. He moved to Switzerland for many years to concentrate on his mountaineering, but after a heart attack halfway up the Matterhorn at the age of 66 he was forced to give up, and returned to quieter pursuits, including chess. He played in the Paignton Congress from its inception in 1951 to 1959 died in 1960 aged 94.

A report of Paignton 1958 said Of the veteran players, 92 year old Mr. Douglas Fawcett, played some good games and delighted everyone with his memories of Pillsbury and his first game with Steinitz, played in 1879”.

Much more detail of his life may be found on keverelchess.com/e-douglas-fawcett.

Here is his game from Rd. 8 of the Southsea Congress 1949, in which he beats the 9-times Irish Champion, illustrating his sharp attacking style.

White: E. Douglas Fawcett. Black: J. J. O’Hanlon.

Ruy Lopez – Berlin Defence.  [C67]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 Black accepts the proffered pawn, not often done these days. 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.Nc3 0–0 Fawcett is following the Pillsbury Variation, in tribute to his hero. 10.Nd4 Nc5 11.Rd1 Qe8 12.Nf5 Ne6 13.Ne4 Rb8 14.b3 Rb5 15.f4 Rd5 16.Be3 Bb7 17.Qg4 Building up a kingside attack from which a black rook and bishop are powerless to defend. 17…Kh8 18.c4 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 g6 20.Nxe7 Qxe7 21.Nf6 The perfect place for a knight. 21…Rd8 Black needs f8 for his knight to defend h7. 22.Qh4 Nf8 23.c5 d5 24.Bd4 Qe6 25.g4 Bc8 26.Rf1 Ba6 This threat can be ignored. 27.f5 Qe7 28.e6! Opening the bishop’s diagonal.  28…fxe6 29.Nxd5+ 1–0 Winning the queen.

In last week’s position, Arkell had the choice of 2 mates; 1.RxN+ RxR 2.Rh7 mate, or 1.Rh7+ NxR 2. RxN mate.

Here is a 2-mover by John Brown of Bridport (1827 – 63).

White to play & mate in 2.

Paignton Congress Prizewinners (17.09.2016.)

The Paignton Congress finished at the weekend with the following prizewinners. (All points out of 7). Premier: 1st Keith Arkell (Paignton) 6½. 2nd Ashley Stewart (Royston) 4½. 3rd= Graham Bolt (Exeter); Stephen Peters (Aylesbury) & Mike Waddington (Dorchester). A. Stewart was awarded the Qualifying Place for next year’s British Championship.

Challengers (U-180): 1st= N. Burrows & A. Milnes both 5½. 3rd= K. Hurst (E. Budleigh); J. Hickman (Reading) & R. Everson (Dartford) all 5 pts.

Minor (U-135): 1st L. Bullock (Hackney) 5½. 2nd= E. Fierek (Gloucester); D. Gilbert (DHSS); G. Parfett (Athenium) & R. Everson (Dartford) all 5 pts.

Boniface 5-Rd Morning: 1st Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh) 4/5 pts. 2nd= J. Hickman (Reading) & R. Puchades (Cosham) both 3½.

Thynne 5-Rd Morning (U-135): 1st N. Andrews (York). 2nd= P. Foster (Medway); A. Collins (Cowley); M. Roberts (Holmes Chapel) & J. Shaddick (Basingstoke) all 3½.

Local player, Brian Gosling , won the top section of the Morning tournaments, after starting with this win in Rd. 1. Notes based on those by the winner.

White: B. Gosling (159). Black: A. Hibbitt (158).

Sicilian Defence – Closed System.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nbd2 Bg7 5.g3 d6 reinforcing e5. 6.Bg2 Rb8 7.a4 a6 8.0–0 Bd7 9.Re1 b5 10.axb5 axb5 11.Nb3 e5 12.Bg5 Bf6 13.Be3 Bg7 14.c3 Preventing intrusion by Black via b4 & d4. 14…Nge7 15.d4 c4 Black attacks the knight and wins space but White has a positional sacrifice in mind. 16.dxe5 cxb3 17.exd6 Nc8 18.e5 For the knight sacrifice White has a protected passed pawn on d6 and the more active pieces. 18…0–0 19.Bg5 Qb6 20.Qxb3 White now has 3 pawns for the knight, a balance of forces favouring White. 20…Be6 21.Qd1 Nxe5? If 21…b4 Black could hope to survive. 22.Nxe5 Nxd6? Better was 22…Bxe5 23.Rxe5 Nxd6. 23.Be3 Qc7 24.Nc6 Rb7 24…Ra8 hoping against hope 25.Rxa8 Rxa8. 25.Bf4 White’s pieces all have long lines and diagonals, while Black is losing material. The pin on the knight is fatal. 1–0. Play might have continued 25.Bf4 Re8 26.Qxd6 Qxd6 27.Bxd6+.

Many more games from the event may be played through or downloaded from the chessdevon website.

The West of England Inter-County Jamboree took place on Sunday at the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, Taunton, with, like Paignton, a lower than usual entry. Devon retained the Congress Cup for the top section with 8½/12 points, followed by Somerset (6) and Cornwall (3½). The grade-limited section was won by the Torbay League (7½/12), followed by Gloucestershire (6) and Somerset II (4).

Last week’s 2-move miniature by David Howard was solved by 1.Qg1! threatening 2.Qg5 mate. If 1…Kxh4 2.Qh2 mate.

Here is a 2-move finish by Keith Arkell from a game earlier this year. If it seems relatively easy from this point, the skill lies in reaching the position in the first place.

White to play and win.

66th Paignton Congress – 2016 – Full Prizelist & Photos.

The Paignton Congress has always been held on the first week of September, after the kids have gone back to school and by allowing the magnificent Oldway Mansion to host a chess congress free of charge, originally, the local Council could feel they were stretching the holiday season a bit. As the years went by budgets tightened and local councils everywhere found themselves unable to offer such largesse and hire charges were introduced.

Eventually, the cash-strapped Torbay Council felt obliged to give up Oldway and its surroundings, the Fernham Estate and eight years ago sold it to a developer, who promised wonderful things including that the Congress would/might be able to return to Oldway after it had been converted into a de luxe hotel. Yet nothing happened. For six years the place was effectively mothballed and the puzzlement of chessplayers and local citizens gradually grew to anger as the building continued to decay.

Behind the scenes, the developer realised that the gardens surrounding Oldway were Grade 1 listed, even higher than the Mansion itself, and his Plan A, to move in the bulldozers and build houses, the proceeds of which would pay for the hotel, proved unworkable. The developer and the Council locked horns, suing each other in court, until just before this year’s Congress when the news broke that the developer had dropped the case and handed the estate back to the Council, “for the good of the building”.

There was some talk among players that this might mean a possible return to Oldway, or whether they preferred the Livermead anyway, with all that it had to offer; on the seafront with splendid views over Torbay, in-house accommodation, easier parking, an outdoor swimming pool, quiet carpeted playing room, next to the station etc. So who needs Oldway? That story is on-going.

Meanwhile, local resident, GM Keith Arkell, was odds-on to win the Premier, as he was 316 ratings points above his nearest rivals, Stephen Peters and Stewart Ashley. Even so, the others still had £650 prize-money to play for. Keith’s record over the years at Paignton is impressive;   22  1st or 1st=s  and 2 second places in 24 years.  Yet another 7/7 result, to add to his fine nationwide run seemed a near certainty.

Except that not everything went his way. Colin Rose, the hotel’s maintenance man, regularly passed through the analysis room and book stall, carrying a pot of paint and a brush on his way to a job he was doing out the back. He freely admitted he knew nothing about chess – “couldn’t even set the board up, mate”, but still enjoyed a bit of good-natured banter on his way past each time. Before the start of Rd. 4 he chirped up “How’s the big guy doing, then?” (i.e. Keith). “Pretty well”, I replied, “He’s a locked on certainty to win”  “Not today, I don’t think. I’ve got him down for a draw – or maybe even a loss. That’s my prediction anyway” he quipped and on he went.

Sure enough, Keith was down to play Stephen Peters, for whom this was his first return to tournament chess after a lengthy absence. Game drawn. “I was never in it at any point” said Keith afterwards. “Never had any advantage”. Little did he know how the odds of a win were stacked against him from the outset. After that it was plain sailing, but he still had to settle for 6½/7.

Not all attention was focussed on the GM, of course, as prize money totalling £3,600 was spread among 42 players.

The full prizelist was as follows:

66th Paignton Congress 2016
4th – 10th September    Livermead House Hotel,   Torquay
Prize List
Premier /7 £
1st Keith Arkell 2452 Paignton 400
2nd Ashley Stewart 2068 Royston 300
3rd= Graham Bolt 2024 Exeter 4 100
Stephen Peters 2136 Aylesbury 4 100
Mike Waddington 2075 Dorchester 4 100
GP U-2026 Steve Dilleigh 1984 Horfield 10
Dave Littlejohns 2008 Taunton 10
Adrian Pickersgill 1986 Hastings 10
Jonathan Wells 1997 N. Norfolk 10
Slow start (0/2) Daniel Gibbs 1808 Brentwood 20
18 entrants
A. Stewart took the British Championship 2017  QP
Challengers (U-180) /7 £
1st= N. Burrows 172 Cowley 250
A. Milnes 167 Cavendish 250
3rd= K. Hurst 174 E. Budleigh 5 34
J. Hickman 162 Reading 5 34
R. Everson 179 Dartford 5 34
GP U-158 Y. Tello 156 Wimbledon 30
GP U-143 G. Naldrett 135 Gerards Cross 30
Slow start J. Robertson 134 E. Kilbride 3 20
43 entrants
Minor (U-135) /7
1st L. Bullock 130 Hackney 300
2nd= E. Fierek 130 Gloucester 5 75
D. Gilbert 131 DHSS 5 75
G. Parfett 130 Athenium 5 75
G. Shepherd 131 Church Stretton 5 75
GP U-126 R. Burroughs 103 Malvern 4 7.50
R. Hamilton 125 Metropolitan 4 7.50
P. Gordon 119 BCA 4 7.50
R. Waters 108 BCA 4 7.50
GP U-101 M. Cox 89 Southampton 3 12.50
P. Broderick 97 Newport (Salop) 3 12.50
H. Welch 97 Seaton 3 12.50
R. Cox 86 Southampton 3 12.50
33 entrants
Boniface 5 Rd. A.M.   (U-180) /5
1st B. G. Gosling 159 E. Budleigh 4 300
2nd= J. E. Hickman 162 Reading 150
R. Puchades 164 Cosham 150
GP U-159 N. Mahoney 147 Barmby Dun 3 25
20 entrants
Thynne 5 Rd. A.M. (U-135)
1st N. G. Andrews 124 York 4 300
2nd= P. Foster 126 Medway 75
A. Collins 130 Cowley 75
M. A. Roberts 131 Holmes Chapel 75
J. Shaddick 124 Basingstoke 75
GP U-125 M. Cuggy 121 Brixham 3 25
Slow start C. Doidge 124 Teignmouth 20
22 entrants

General view from one angle

General view from another angle (standing gent hasn't moved)

Meanwhile, the view from outside the analysis room. Berry Head, beyond Brixham, on the horizon

The view from the venue back to Torquay seafront

Stephen Peters vs Jonathan Wells

In the Challengers, Megan O'Brian (Plymouth) makes a move against Michael Marshall (Exmouth).

Wendy Carr poised to move against Hazel Welch.

Keith Arkell enjoys some banter with Stephen Peters before the start of their game, but the result had already been correctly forecast by the Hotel Handyman

Brian Gosling (East Budleigh) makes a move in his final game to clinch his clear 1st in the top 5 Rd. Morning section.

Brian Gosling receives his cheque for £300 from Senior Arbiter, Tony Tatam, while the section arbiter, Victor Cross looks on.

Paignton Congress & Latest on Oldway Mansion (09.09.2016.)

The Paignton Congress started on Sunday with another slight drop in entries, and some talk among players and organisers about the possible reasons for this, including comparisons between the relative virtues of its original venue of 62 years, Oldway Mansion, and its current one at the Livermead House Hotel. The latter is an excellent venue, but there seems to be an unconscious yearning for a return to its roots.

As is well-known, Oldway was acquired  by James Brent’s Akkeron Group, with promises of turning the main building into a luxury hotel and hopes that the congress might be able to return there. But nothing was done as Brent and the Torbay Council locked horns over the best way to proceed. In January Akkeron sued the Council for £8 million in damages, but this also came to nothing, and meanwhile Oldway continued to decay. Now, for the sake of the building before it becomes too far gone to do anything with, Brent has washed his hands of the whole project, and Oldway is back in Council hands.

Inspectors representing Historic England, recently checked the fabric of the building inside and out, and have reported that the empty building is not deteriorating as badly as many feared. So if the Council can obtain the necessary funds from a variety of sources, including the National Lottery and various heritage funds, there may be some hope that the Congress may be able to return there one day.

Meanwhile, local Grandmaster, Keith Arkell is a nailed-on certainty to win the Premier, so far ahead is he in grading of the other 17 players in that section. We can only admire the seven games he will have played by the last round this afternoon. Here, for example, is his Rd. 1 game which features a very short, sharp finish.

White: Graham Bolt (190). Black: Keith Arkell (241).

King’s Fianchetto Opening

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 c5 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 d4 5.Ne4 e5 6.c3 Be7 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.Nxf6+ Bxf6 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 Bf5 11.Nd2 Threatening to double Black’s pawns. 11…Qd7 12.Ne4 With twin threats to c5 and f6. 12…Be7 13.Bd2 a5 14.a4 Be6 15.Qc2 f5 With pieces developed Black now commences a kingside attack. 16.Ng5 Bxg5 17.Bxg5 f4 18.gxf4 exf4 White’s black-square bishop could become trapped after …h7; Bh4 g5.  19.Bh4 g5! Arkell’s favourite move, played whenever possible. 20.Bxg5 The pawn has gone, but lines have been opened down which Black can attack. 20…Qg7 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Kh1 f3 23.Rg1 It’s a tussle for control of the g-file and Black seems vulnerable with his queen in front of his king. 23…fxe2 24.c4 If 24.Bh6 Bd5+. 24…Rxf2! 25.Bh4 Bg4 26.Rxg4 Rf1+ Less neat is 26…Qxg4 27.Bxf2 Qf3+ 28.Kg1 Rf8. 27.Rg1 Qxg1# 0–1

In last week’s position White won after 1.RxR+ Kf7 2. NxB+ Kf6 3.PxN=Q mate.

Here is a new 2-move miniature by David Howard.

White to mate in 2