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Archive for August, 2017

Paignton Approaches (26.09.2017.) 948

The Paignton Congress starts a week tomorrow with entries coming in all the time. Meanwhile, here’s a game from the 1996 event by then Paignton resident, Gary Lane, who won it that year. Here he faced a former joint-British Champion. Notes condensed from those originally kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Gary Lane. Black: Alan Phillips.  Bishop’s Opening [C24]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 A good way to avoid the Petroff which has the reputation for being a bit dull. 2…Nf6 3.d3 c6!? A line known as the Paulsen Defence after Louis Paulsen (1833 – 91), one of the world’s leading players in the 1860s. 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bb3 The bishop retreats which is part of the opening plan in this line so that …d7-d5 lacks bite because it won’t be attacking the bishop on c4. 5…0–0 6.0–0 d6 7.Re1 Na6 8.c3 A slow, gradual way to create a pawn centre with an eventual d4, and it also allows an escape square for the bishop to avoid an exchange of pieces. 8…Nc5 9.Bc2 Bg4 10.Nbd2.

The middlegame plan is to prevent any counterplay so that White can slowly build up his kingside pieces in preparation for an attack. 10…Ne6 11.h3 Bh5 12.Nf1 Ne8 13.Ng3 Bg6 Black should think about exchanging some pieces to avoid getting a cramped position. 14.d4 Bf6 15.Be3 catching up on development. 15…Qc7 16.a4 a5 17.Qe2 The queen moves to the 2nd rank in order to coordinate the rooks and keep an eye on the possibility of …b7-b5. 17…c5 18.d5! 18…Nf4?! 19.Qd2 Nh5 Black avoids losing a pawn but now the initiative allows White to step up the kingside pressure in an effort to make the most of the black pieces’ lack of harmony. 20.Nf5 Bd8 21.g4 Nhf6 22.Kh2 There is no rush as Black has no hint of counterplay, so there is time to reinforce against a possible later kingside attack. 22…Qd7 23.c4 23…h5!? Black was in no mood to sit and wait so tried to mix things up. 24.Rg1 hxg4 25.hxg4 Nh7 26.Rg3 26…Nef6 27.Rh1 Re8 28.Bh6! forcing home the advantage because acceptance of the sacrifice would lead directly to mate. 28…Nxe4 Desperation, but there’s nothing better. 29.Bxe4 gxh6 30.Qxh6 Bf6 31.Kg2 The king steps out of the way to unleash the rook on the h-file which is all part of the plan 31…Qd8 32.g5! Bh8 33.N3h4 White can now force checkmate. 1–0

Last week’s problem by Mansfield was solved by 1. Nd3! and there’s nothing Black can do to prevent 2.Qf5#.

The opening round of the British Problem Solving Championship closed at the end of July, and there were more correct solutions sent in by WMN readers than any other provincial daily, so congratulations to all those. By now they will have received the postal round comprising 8 more positions in various categories and of increasing difficulty. The best solvers of these will be invited to participate in the Final at Eton College next February.

Meanwhile, here is another 2-mover by Dave Howard, having its first showing worldwide.

White to Mate in 2

Jones Regains Title (12.08.2017.) 946

At the start of the final round of the British Championship on Sunday, there were no less than 7 players with a chance of reaching the 7 points that could involve them in the almost inevitable play-off. In the event 4 players managed it, namely Gawain Jones, Luke McShane, John Emms & Craig Hanley, which made the play-off easier to organise. In the semi-final Jones beat Howell and MacShane beat Hanley. In the subsequent final, played using the controversial Armageddon tie-break rules, it was Jones that kept his nerve and wits to wear down McShane and take the title for the first time since 2012.

Jovanka Houska became British Ladies Champion for the 6th time. Other prizewinners were as follows: U-21 1st= Ravia Haria (Wood Green) & Andrew Horton (3Cs). 50+: 1st John Emms (Wood Green).

Some of the winners from the other sections were as follows: Seniors 50+: 1st John Nunn. 65+: 1st= Stephen Berry (Wimbledon) & Roger Emerson (Guildford). U-180: 1st O. Chinguun. U-160: 1st= G. Brown & O. Chinguun. U-140: R. Clegg (Huddersfield). U-120: 1st C. Fraser W. Bridgford). U-100: 1st Y. Kumar (Bath. U-16: 1st= K. Kalavannan (Surbiton). U-14: 1st V. Stoyanov (Sandhurst). U-12: 1st C. Tombolis (Richmond). U-11: Y. Han. U-10: A. Chung. U-9: 1st= J. Birks & G. Clarkson. U-8: 1st= S. Verma & S. Lohia.

Here is the new champion’s game from Rd. 3.

White: IM Richard Palliser (2408). Black: GM Gawain Jones (2660).

Ruy Lopez -  Steinitz Defence [C75]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 One of the more conventional openings from the 450+ played in the Championship. Players of this strength should know it well. 3…a6 4.Ba4 d6 The Steinitz Defence Deferred, the theme of which is for Black to wait to see how White deploys his pieces before deciding on his own plan.  5.c3 5…Bd7 6.0–0 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.Bg5 f6 9.Be3 Nh6 10.dxe5 dxe5 The opened d-file becomes a big factor later in the game. 11.Qd5 Qe7 12.Na3 0–0–0 13.Qd2 Ng4 Bringing the knight into play, attacking a bishop that doesn’t have a move on the board. 14.Qe2 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 f5 16.exf5 gxf5 Generally, pawns should take towards the centre, and this has the additional advantage of opening lines to White’s king. 17.Rad1 Kb8 18.Rd5 e4 19.Bxc6 Bxc6 20.Rxf5 Rd3 21.Qg5 Qd7 22.Nd4 Bxd4 23.cxd4 Rxd4 24.Rc5? Surely it was time to bring the knight in from the cold with 24.Nc2. 24…e3 Offering a pawn in order to open up further lines to White’s king. 25.Qxe3 Rg8 grabbing more space on the k-side. 26.g3 Rd1 27.f3 Re8 28.Re5 Rxf1+ 29.Kxf1 Qd1+ 30.Kg2 Rxe5! setting up a neat combination. 31.Qxe5 Qxf3+ 32.Kh3 Bd7+ 33.Kh4 Qg4# 0–1

In last week’s position, it was White’s bishops that do the damage. 1.QxP+! forces 1…PXQ then 2.Bg6 mate.

Here is a championship-level 2-mover by Comins Mansfield that first appeared in this paper 80 years ago.

White to play & mate in 2

British Championship 2017 – Final Round Prospects.

The absence of 2 factors has probably helped to create this year’s blanket finish, going in to the final round this afternoon.

British Championship – Final Rd.
1 McShane Jones
2 Howell 6 Emms
3 Yang-Fan 6 6 Hanley
4 Gormally 6 Ghasi

Either Adams or Short would surely have this all sewn up by now, but they’re not here, and are surely missed by the spectators, if not the players.

The foreshortened 9 round format has many good points, but the possibility of a multiple play-off after the prizegiving is not one of them. An extra 2 rounds would have thinned down the contenders somewhat. As it is, the possibilities are almost endless.

For example, McShane and Jones can hardly afford to have a quick draw to ensure a play-off place, when Emms, who is clearly on-form, is capable of beating Howell, who is clearly not, thus taking the trophy outright. If Howell-Emms and Bd. 1 is drawn there would be 3-way tie. Or, if Howell, Yang-Fan and Gormally (all White) all win, while McShane – Jones is drawn, there’s a 5-way tie – and that could take the rest of the day tomorrow to resolve. And let’s not forget Hanley.

Two things are certain: there are many permutations, and the players will keeping a close eye on the other games as well as their own.

So who’s it going to be?

British Championship Surpises. (05.08.2017.) 945

Of the 103 competitors in the British Championships, which reaches its climax tomorrow in the final round, 13 are Grandmasters. These tend to sail through the early rounds as they are drawn against players from the lower reaches, but their games get progressively tougher as their opponents will have the same score. Approaching the half-way mark at Llandudno, most of the GMs had avoided mishaps, with one or two exceptions.

In this game the veteran and 7th seed Mark Hebden (60 next year) took on a strong player (41st seed) who is not quite a household name in chess circles, and the outcome was probably the biggest upset of the opening 4 rounds.

White: John Merriman (210). Black: GM Mark Hebden (242).

King’s Indian Defence – Sämisch Variation [E81]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Bg5 a6 7.Qd2 c6 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.Nge2 e5 10.d5 cxd5 11.cxd5 White’s pawns will take some shifting, and prove to be the key to the game. 11…b5 12.0–0 Nc5 13.Bc2 a5 14.a3 a4 15.Nc1 Bd7 16.Nd3 Qb6 17.Be3 Nh5 18.Ne2 Rac8 19.Rac1 f5 20.Nxc5 dxc5 Freeing up Black’s backward pawn, but also White’s advanced d-pawn. 21.Bd3 Qd6 22.g3 f4 23.gxf4 exf4 24.Bf2 c4 25.Bb1 25…Bh3 Attacking White’s rook, which normally one would expect to be moved, but White makes the decision to ignore that threat and pursue his own agenda – i.e. exploiting his 2 central pawns. 26.Nd4 Bxf1 27.Kxf1 Qd7 28.Ne6 Rfe8 29.Nxg7 Qh3+ 30.Kg1 The best place to attack a pawn chain is at its base, but Black must deal with the knight first. 30…Kxg7 31.Qc3+ defending his f-pawn – White can’t afford to be too generous with his defensive pieces. 31…Kg8 32.e5 Best to push the central pawns quickly, while knight + queen are stuck on the rim. 32…Rcd8 33.d6 Ng3 34.Re1 Nf5 35.Be4 Ng7 36.Bc6 Ne6 Now it’s Black’s turn to ignore an attack on a rook. 37.Bxb5 White doesn’t wish to simplify the position by exchanging pieces as he’s still the exchange down – better to maintain his grip on the position. 37…Ng5 38.Bc6 holding the vital f-pawn. 38…Kg7 39.Bb6 Kh6 40.Bxd8 Rxd8 41.Kh1 Rb8 42.d7 Rb3 43.Qd2 Rd3 44.Qxf4 1-0. With the knight pinned and the bishop still holding the f-pawn, the e-pawn is free to storm ahead. Play might have continued…. 44…Qf5 45.Qxf5 gxf5 46.e6 Nxe6 47.Rxe6+ Kg5 48.Re8 etc.

In last week’s position, White could simply take the rook because when its protective bishop retakes, White’s rook mates on the back rank.

Going in to the 6th of 9 rounds, the joint leaders are former child prodigies Luke McShane and David Howell on 4½/5, with no less than 11 players just a half point behind. When it finished tomorrow, it’s likely that a series of tie-break games will be needed.

This position arose in a game played at Walsall 20 years ago. Black is attacking both queen and c-pawn, so what is White’s best response?

White to play and win by force.