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Archive for June, 2017

Is This The Breakthrough? (24.06.2017.)

Many chessplayers are also keen on, and good at, contract bridge, and the two games have similar appeals as both are excellent mental and socialising activities. For decades, the English Bridge Union and ECF have tried, and failed, to convince HMRC that the games should be categorised as sports, thus becoming exempt from having to pay VAT on tournament entry fees. In 2015 the High Court ruled that bridge and chess were not sports eligible for lottery funding, with lawyers acting for Sport England telling the Court that the games were no more a sport than “sitting at home reading a book”.

Consequently, as reported earlier, the long-time organiser of the world’s biggest tournament for junior chessplayers, Mike Basman, was declared a bankrupt for his failure to collect VAT.

Recently, however, the English Bridge Union took their case to the European Court of Justice, and one of its most senior lawyers, the Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar, argued that sport should be understood as something that involved the “training of mental or physical fitness in a way that is generally beneficial to the health and well-being of citizens”, and recommended that Bridge be exempted from VAT in the UK.

He also noted that the International Olympic Committee was among organisations that “expressly include mental sports or endorse activities without a physical element”, having classified Bridge as a sport in 1998.

Also, the 2011 Charities Act adopted a definition of sport as “activities which promote health involving physical or mental health or exertion”, which specifically included “mind sports”.

Advocate Generals’ recommendations are not necessarily binding, but the courts rarely go against their rulings.

Where Bridge leads, English Chess Federation officials must now surely follow, and quickly, to make sure Chess does not miss out. But can it be done before Brexit?

Devon’s opponents in the U-180 team championships will be Middlesex who squeezed past Essex after an 8-all draw and tie-break rules were applied. This will take place at Warwick next month, and will be Brian Hewson’s last match as Devon Captain, having won the West of England hat-trick of the Jamboree in the Autumn, and the 1st & 2nd divisions of the inter-county championship. It would be a great treat to win the National title as well. His final award of Devon Player of the Year went to Oliver Wensley (Exmouth) for his unbeaten run of games against strong opposition.

There’s only room for a short game this week. White: R. Combe. Black: W. Hasenfuss. (Folkestone 1933). 1.d4 c5 2.c4 cxd4 3.Nf3 e5 4.Nxe5?? Qa5+ winning the knight. Combe had the last laugh by wining the 1946 British Championship at a canter in the greatest upset in the history of that event.

In last week’s position (above) Black could play 1… Rd2! with threats of a back rank mate.

In this position, Black is a piece up with a free-wheeling queen. Is there anything White can do about it?

White to play

Devom March On To A National Final (17.06.2017.)

After beating Nottinghamshire in the quarter finals of the U-180 Inter-County Championship, Devon met their semi-final opponents, Surrey, on Saturday at Burcombe Village Hall, on the A30 near Salisbury. The teams were very evenly matched in strength, apart from one Surrey player having to withdraw at short notice and being replaced by a lower-graded reserve. His eventual loss was the difference between the teams as Devon finished 8½-7½ winners. They now go on to play in the Final next month. The details were as follows:- (Devon names first in each pairing).

1.John Fraser (178) ½-½ R. F. Holmes. 2.John Wheeler (176) 1-0 F. Hernandez. 3.Mark Abbott (176) 1-0 D. J. Young. 4.Chris Bellers (173) ½-½ J. Ranga. 5.Plamen Sivrev (173) 1-0 D. Sedgwick. 6.Trefor Thynne (165) ½-½ J. P. Foley. 7.Oliver Wensley (168) ½-½ M. Smart. 8.Jos Haynes (165) ½-½ M. G. Smith. 9.Alan Brusey (161) ½-½ N. L Edwards. 10.Paul Brooks (162) 0-1 O. S. Phillips. 11.Meyrick Shaw (159) 0-1 N. Faulkes. 12.Bill Ingham (165) ½-½ I. Deswarte. 13.Brian Gosling (159) ½-½ P. D. Barasi. 14.Chris Scott (152) ½-½ P. Gibbons J. 15.Andrew Kinder (153) 0-1 N. D. Grey. 16.Martin Quinn (145) 1-0 D. J. Howes.

Here is Devon’s unusual opening and subsequent win from Bd. 2.

White: F. Hernandez (178). Black: John Wheeler (176).

Scotch 4 Knights [C47]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 White’s pawn on e4 is no longer protected as its defender is pinned. 6.f3 This seems a reasonable defensive move but then… 6…Nxe4? A gambit usually assumes the voluntary loss of a pawn in return for advantages other than purely material. Offering a whole piece is much more unusual, especially in such a crucial match.  However, if it was Black’s wish to lead his opponent into unfamiliar territory, he surely succeeded in that.  7.fxe4 Qh4+ 8.Ke2 If 8.g3 Qxe4+ forking king & rook, but after 9.Qe2 Black’s queen is pinned anyway, so there’s no real advantage. 9.bxc3 Qxe4+ At least Black gets 2 pawns for his knight, and White’s pawns, isolated and doubled, look a mess compared to Black’s.  10.Be3 d6 11.Nf3 0–0 12.Qd3 White would like to make equal exchanges won’t help Black’s cause, so… 12…Qg4 13.h3 Qh5 14.Kd2 Bf5 15.Qc4 Be6 16.Qf4 Qd5+ 17.Bd3 Rfe8 18.Rhb1 Threatening Rb5 winning the White queen. 18…Ne5 19.Qe4? The threatened mate forces Black’s hand, but it proves bad for White. 19…Qxe4 20.Bxe4 Nc4+ 21.Kd3 Nxe3 22.Bxb7? In not retaking immediately, White has miscalculated.  22…Bf5+! Not just check but defending the knight as well. 23.Kd2 Rad8 White has now lost his one piece advantage and is a pawn down. 24.Nd4 Nc4+ 25.Kd1 Bd7 26.Rb4? A fatal error, inviting c4; but first… 26…Ne3+ 27.Kd2 c5 forking rook & knight. 0–1

The key to last week’s position (above) was 1.NxP+ and if 1…PxN 2. Qd6#, or 1…Kf8 2.Qh8#.

This week’s position came at the end of a game played in the US Championships earlier this year. Black to play and win.

Black to play and win

Cotswold Congress Results (10.06.2017.)

The Cotswold Congress finished on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, and of the 116 competitors the following emerged with prizes:-

Open Section: 1st= Michael Ashworth 186 – Wotton Hall) & Tim Kett (202 – Cardiff). 3rd= Don Mason 193 – Shirley), Martin Simons (194- Southbourne) & Joe Stewart (194 – Gloucester). Grading prize: Ian Clarke (168 – Malvern). Junior prize: Charlie McClaren (177 – Wotton Hall).

Major Section (U-155) 1st T. Woodward (154 – Trowbridge). 2nd= D. Edwards (142 – Witney); C. Hosdurga (141 – Bristol); B. O’Gorman (150 – DHSS); A. Papier (139 – Bristol) & I. White (148 – Wotton Hall). Grading prizes (U-145) D. Curry (139 – Halesowen) . (U-136) A. Di-Vetta (127 – Bridgend). Junior: Eleanor Hapeshi (136 – Kings’ School).

Minor Section (U-125): 1st= S. Butterworth (120) & K. Langmaid (114 – Yate). 3rd= B. Aubrey (108 – Dragon School), C. Frazer & Rachel McIntosh (110 – Chepstow). Grading prizes: (U-111) Christine Constable (106 – Bude). (U-100) Z. Ashraf (77 – Wiltshire).

Joint winner of the Open, 55 year old Tim Kett has been playing since he was 4, but only since retiring early from his career as a software specialist with a global company about 3 years ago has he been able to play much more frequently. He has thrice been Welsh Champion (2012 -14 & -16) and with his wife, Sarah, has set up TSK, which brings coaching to schools and individuals in South Wales, where they are heavily involved in the Chess in Schools and Communities project. He has truly made his hobby his 2nd career.

Here was his Rd. 5 win against the no. 3 seed.

White: T. J. Kett (202). Black: Martin Simons (194)

Nimzowitsch Defence [B00]

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.d4 d6 4.d5 Nb8 5.Bg5 c6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nbd7 9.0–0–0 Taking a considerable but calculated risk, as Black’s queenside pawns are well-placed to launch an attack at any time. But at least White has castled while Black still has some way to go.  9…Qc7 10.Be2 g6 11.Qe3 Bg7 12.Bh6 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 c5 14.Qe3 a6 15.f4 Before Black’s pawns can fully mobilise, White concentrates on the centre. 15…b5 16.Bf3 b4 17.Ne2 Rb8 18.g4 h6 19.h4 Completing an impressive array of advanced kingside pawns, forcing Black to divert his attention away from his own plan of attack. 19…h5 20.gxh5 Nxh5 21.Bxh5 Rxh5 22.Ng3 Rh7 23.e5 dxe5 24.f5 Nf6 25.fxg6 fxg6 26.Qg5 Kf7 27.Rhe1 e4 28.Nxe4 Rh5 29.d6! Best. White is not to be diverted, as the centre is rapidly breaking open to his advantage. 29…Qc6 If 29…Rxg5? 30.Nxg5+ Ke8 31.dxc7 Ra8 32.Ne6 Black has lost a rook and White threatens 38.Rd8=Q+. 30.Qf4 Rf5 31.Ng5+ 1–0 Play might have continued… Kg8 32.Qc4+ Rd5 33.dxe7 Re8 34.Rxd5 Qxd5 35.Qxa6 Kg7 36.Ne6+ with the deadly fork 37.Nc7 to follow.

In this week’s position, almost hidden among all these pieces is a mate in 2 for White. Can you see it?

White to play

E. Devon League’s End of Term Jolly (06.06.2017.)

On Tuesday evening the local league held their annual end-of-term prizegiving and match at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth, by kind invitation of the new Management.

Proceedings started with the presentation of trophies by the League President, Brian Aldwin. Pictures may be found below, but in summary they were as follows:

Cup___________ For Winning_________ Team________Recipient

RapidPlay Cup:    RapidPlay League        Exmouth Eels           Alan Dean

Cottew Cup:       Div 1 Champions         Sidmouth Scorpions     Charlie Keen

Turner Cup        Div. 1 Grading prize       Exmouth Eagles        Steve Murray

Polsloe Cup        Div. 2 Champions           Just Seaton                  Hazel Welsh

Mainstay Cup    Div. 2 Grading prize     Tiverton Thinkers       Greg Fotheringham

This bit didn’t take long, and then it was time to sort out the 28 players present into two teams of roughly equal ability, ready for two rapidplay games of 30 minutes per player per game. This finished as follows.

E. Devon League Prizegiving – 2017
RapidPlay Details
Bd President’s XIV 1st 2nd Secretary’s XIV 1st 2nd
1 J. Underwood 0 0 T. Paulden 1 1
2 T. F. Thynne 1 1 M. Shaw 0 0
3 I. Gregory 1 0 G. Body 0 1
4 I. S. Annetts ½ ½ S. Dean ½ ½
5 B. G. Gosling ½ ½ C. Keen ½ ½
6 A. Dean ½ 0 J. Duckham ½ 1
7 J. S. Murray 0 ½ J. Amos 1 ½
8 W. Marjoram 1 ½ R. H. Jones 0 ½
9 P. Dillon 0 ½ G. Fotheringham 1 ½
10 R. Scholes 1 1 M. Haines 0 0
11 B. Newcombe 1 0 M. Hussey 0 1
12 B. Perchard 1 0 S. Honeyball 0 1
13 H. Welch 1 1 G. Jenkins 0 0
14 P. Leask 1 1 R. Greenall 0 0
……………………… ………………………
TOTALS
16 12
Charlie Keen receives the Cottew Cup on behalf of the Div. 1 Champions, Sidmouth Scorpions
Alan Dean takes the RapidPlay Cup for Exmouth Eels, a slippery lot when it comes to quickplay!

Steve Murray collects the Turner Cup for Exmouth Eagles.

Hazel Welch takes the Polsloe Cup for Just Seaton.

Greg Fotheringham takes the Mainstay Cup for Tiverton.

Jupiter Bring In The Stars (03.06.2017.)

Chess events are often run on a financial  shoestring, so it’s nice to see private enterprise stepping in to support tournaments from time to time. Winton Capital Management, for example, have for several years lent their name to the annual British problem-solving Championship, the latest version of which starts this week (see below).

As reported last week, Jupiter Asset Management organised an even more unusual event. They got the services of Daily Telegraph chess columnist, Malcolm Pein, to round up 8 top players, each one of whom would partner a Jupiter employee, in a Pro-Am blitz knockout tournament. The professionals comprised World Championship finalists, Nigel Short and Michael Adams; world top amateur GM Luke McShane; GM Gawain Jones and his wife Sue; GMs David Howell & Peter Wells, and English Ladies Champion, Kanwal Bhatia.

Malcolm Pein paired the players off, which led to Cornishman Adams joining up with Jupiter IT expert and former Exmothian, Chris Hunter-Jones, to form a Westcountry team. The rules were: to make alternate moves; no conferring and 15 minutes per team for all moves.

In the quarter-final the Westcountry team beat Sue Jones’s team and went on to meet Nigel Short and Edward Bonham Carter in the Semi. Their first game was drawn with only seconds to spare, but lost the tie-break game. This consisted of a 5 minute game by just the amateurs, in which Carter played a King’s Gambit and Hunter-Jones blundered in the opening (easily done in those circumstances) and it was quickly over. The Short/Carter team then lost in the Final to Peter Wells and Alastair McFie. The chess was often crazy – but great fun.

The solution to last week’s position (above) was 1…Qg3+ and if 2.hxQ Ng2 mate, while if 2.Rf2 QxR mate.

The road to discovering who will be next year’s Winton British Solving Champion starts here, as this week’s position is the starter problem. It’s White to play and force mate in 2 moves against any Black defence. There is no entry fee and the competition is open to British residents only. Competitors need only send White’s first move, known as the “key move” and this may be done in 2 ways. (a) by post to Nigel Dennis, Boundary House, 230 Greys Road, Henley-on-Thames RG9 1QY , or (b) by e-mail to winton@theproblemist.org.

All entries must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than 31st July 2017 and must give the entrant’s name and home postcode. Don’t forget to mention that you saw this notice in either the WMN or Western Daily Press.

After the closing date, all competitors will receive the solution, and those who get it right will be sent the postal round containing 8 more difficult and varied problems. In due course the best competitors and 5 best juniors (U-18 on 31.07.2017) will be invited to participate in the final at Eton College on Saturday 18th February 2018.

Best of luck to anyone who takes up the challenge.