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Hastings History (30.12.2017.) 966

The 93rd Hastings Congress started on Thursday and continues for 9 rounds until next Friday. The top 3 seeds are the GMs Deep Sengupta of India (2589); Alex Fier of Brazil (2587) and Jakhongir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan (2518). In spite of their undoubted strength, it could be argued that they are not exactly familiar names to the man in the street, even to those who follow chess events.

However, a lesson could be learned from the very first congress held in the town in 1895. In May of that year, having explored the idea of an International Masters Tournament, and secured generous local funding, the Hastings Club Secretary sent out invitations for a tournament with a prize fund of £500 (£60,000 today) and guaranteed consolation money for non-prizewinners. There were 35 entries, mostly the great and good from around the world, including the current and future World Champions, Steinitz and Lasker, and the Committee had to narrow the entry down to 22. Inadvertently, they allowed in the Venetian Beniamino Vergani, an amiable chess journalist who had only arrived to report on the event, but mistakenly put his name on an entry form. He was ranked with another relative unknown, Harry Pillsbury of the U.S. It would be a bit cruel to say they weren’t household names – even in their own households, but they were certainly unknown quantities in Europe. As expected, Vergani came last, but Pillsbury, to everyone’s amazement, came clear 1st, and from then on was never out of the headlines. 2nd was Tchigorin, 3rd Lasker, 4th Tarrasch & 5th Steinitz.

Here is one of his wins from Hastings.

White: H. Pillsbury. Black: W. Steinitz.

Queen’s Gambit – Exchange Var. [D35]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.e3 Be6 8.Nge2 Nc6 9.g3 cxd4 10.exd4 Bb4 11.Bg2 Qb6? 12.0–0 0–0–0 Though this move has been criticised, it’s almost forced. Black must protect his d-pawn and his king would be unsafe on e8 or g8. 13.Na4 Qa6 14.a3 Bd6 15.b4 Bg4 16.Nac3! Ne7 17.b5 Qa5 18.Qb3 Kb8 19.h3 Be6 20.f4 f5 21.Rfc1 Rd7 22.Na4 Rc8 23.b6! This prevents Black doubling his rooks and limits scope for his queen. 23…a6 24.Nec3 Rc6 25.Bf1 Rd8 26.Na2 Bd7 27.Nb4 Rcc8 28.Nc3 Rg8 If instead 28…Qxb6 29.Nxa6+ Ka7 30.Nb4 leaves White with a fine attacking game. Or if 30…Bxb4 31.axb4+; Or if 28…Bxb4 29.axb4 Qxb6 30.b5 axb5 31.Na4 again, with a fine game. 29.Kf2 h5? 29…Rg6 is better. 30.h4 Bxb4 31.axb4 Qxb6 32.Be2 Rg6 33.Nxd5 Qe6 34.Bf3 Bc6 35.Re1 Bxd5 36.Rxe6 Bxb3 37.Rxe7 Rc2+ 38.Re2 Rc3 39.Rae1 Rb6 40.Rd2 Rxb4 41.d5 Rc2 42.Rxc2 Bxc2 43.Bxh5 Be4 44.Bxf7 Rd4 45.Be6 Rd2+ If 45…Bxd5 46.Bxf5 46.Re2 Rd3 If 46…Rxe2+ 47.Kxe2 and White’s h-pawn will romp home at leisure. 47.Re3 Rd2+ 48.Ke1 Rd4 49.h5 Bxd5 50.Bxf5 Bf7 51.h6 Rd8 52.g4 a5 53.g5 1–0

Last week’s 2-mover was taken from a book in which White’s pieces are printed in red and Black’s are blue, which makes it easy to transcribe incorrectly. The 2 bishops on the 7th rank should have been white, as here, not black. Apologies.

A Christmas Theme (23.12.2017.) 965

Sixteen players took part in last weekend’s Cornish Christmas RapidPlay in Tuckingmill. They all won a prize of some sort, but the main ones were 1st Colin Sellwood (Camborne) on 4½/5. 2nd= were David Saqui and Jan Rodrigo (both Penwith) on 4/5. Tom Oates (Camborne) won the junior prize with 3.

The January issue of Chess magazine, which will be out early, effectively as a Christmas issue, will include the story of how R. D. Blackmore, world famous author of Laura Doone, came to invite William Steinitz, future World Chess Champion, round to his house for Christmas dinner. It’s an unlikely but fascinating story, yet true.

The traditional post-Christmas chess feast is the venerable Hastings Congress. Here is a game from the Challengers Section of the 1965 Hastings event, taken from the British Chess Magazine and introduced by their reporter, Owen Hindle.

“It seems incredible that A. R. B. Thomas has been playing at Hastings for over 40 years. His style is as lively as ever, particularly in his pet lines against the Sicilian. Play through this game, you will enjoy it!”

ARB had spent 40 years teaching at Blundell’s School in Tiverton, which Blackmore had attended as a pupil, and if, by this time, he had reached the stage of Grand Old Man of chess, Mike Basman was, by contrast, an 18 year old tyro, destined to become an IM with a penchant for exotic openings. He was born Mikayel Basmadijan of Armenian parentage, and his babysitter was a young Cleo Laine, who usually managed to sing him to sleep.

White: Andrew Thomas. Black: M. Basman.

1.e4 c5 2.c3 The c3 Sicilian, which has since become even more popular. 2…Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 dxe5 9.d5 Now White is asking the first serious question. 9…e4 Basman was never one to be cowed and chooses to counter-attack. 10.dxc6 Qxd1+ 11.Kxd1 exf3 12.Bb5 One threat is met, to be replaced by another. 12…Kd8 13.Bf4 Bg4 14.Kc2 Bf5+ 15.Kb2 Kc8 16.Rhd1 g5 17.Rd8+! 1–0 After 17…Kxd8 18.cxb7 there are several mating combinations in 5 or 6 moves. Work them through when you get a chance.

Last week’s position was a case of “Give something to win something”. That is, 1.Qg8=Q+! forcing 1…RxQ  losing the queen but unpinning the bishop which can now play 2.Be5+ Rg7 3.BxR+ KxB allowing White to get his queen back with 4.Ph8=Q+ Kf7 and 5.Nxd4 denies Black any series of checks.

Edith Baird née Winter-Wood (1859-1924) was adept at constructing all sorts of chess problems, including ones in which the pieces took the form of letters of the alphabet. One Christmas she published this 2-mover in the Illustrated London News with the title Noël Fantaisie: can you see how the pieces form the initials NF? And she added this quotation from The Merchant of Venice:- “Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you,” as valid a seasonal wish now as then.

White to mate in 2

New Year Events (16.12.2017.) 964

The first local congresses of 2018 are the Somerset New Year Congress on Saturday & Sunday 13th & 14th January, at the Walton Park Hotel, a beautiful venue overlooking the Severn estuary in  Clevedon, BS21 7BL. Details are obtainable from the organisers, Colin and Rebecca Gardiner on 01209-217210 (before 9 p.m.), or e-mail congresssecretary

Following that is the Simon Bartlett Memorial Chess Congress for Friday to Sunday 26th to 28th January at the Livermead House Hotel, Torquay. Details may be found on the Bude Chess Club website Although there have already been two large events at this popular sea-front venue this Autumn, the prize fund of £2,300 should attract entries.

Simon Bartlett (1954 – 2017), one of the most regular players on the Westcountry congress circuit was born in Paignton, eventually taking a degree in chemistry at Bristol University. He spent most of his career at Key Organics in Camelford, before he was diagnosed with a brain tumour which proved fatal.

Here is a game of his from the 2013 Torquay Open in which he beats Arkell; not the Grandmaster, Keith Arkell, but his brother Nick.

White: S. Bartlett (1943). Black: N. Arkell.

Pillsbury Defence [B07]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Be3 c6 5.Qd2 Nd7 6.Bd3 Qc7 7.f4 White goes for a strong pawn centre. 7…b5 8.Nf3 Bb7 9.Ne2 Ngf6 10.Ng3 a6 11.f5 c5 12.c3 0–0–0 13.0–0 c4 14.Bc2 d5 15.Bf4 Qb6 16.e5 Ne4 17.Qe1 Playable was 17.Bxe4 after which 17…dxe4 18.Ng5 Bd5 19.Nxf7 Bxf7 20.e6 Bxe6 21.fxe6 Qxe6 22.Rae1 etc. 17…Nxg3 18.Qxg3 h6 19.fxg6 fxg6 20.Qxg6 Qxg6 21.Bxg6 Rdf8 22.Bg3 Nb6 23.Nh4 Kd8 24.Nf5 Rhg8 25.Bh7 Bc8 Probably best 26.Bxg8 Bxf5 Now Black must win the exchange back, leaving White just the pawn up. 27.Rxf5 Rxf5 28.Be6 Rf8 29.b3 h5 30.Rf1 White cannot allow Black to dominate the open file. 30…Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Bh6 32.Ke2 Ke8 33.Be1 Kf8 34.Bd2 Bxd2 35.Kxd2 Time now for the kings to do some work. 35…Kg7 36.Ke3 Kg6 37.g3 h4 38.Kf4 hxg3 39.hxg3 Kg7 40.Bf5 A much better square for the white-square bishop, which must have scope to move freely. 40…cxb3 41.axb3 a5 42.Bb1 White has to beware of Black’s outside pawn which could prove a lasting threat later on. 42…a4 43.Ba2 If 43.bxa4 bxa4 and White will be tied down watching that a-pawn. 43…e6 One would think g4 would be the natural move, but White has a plan. 44.Ke3 Kg6 45.Kd2 Kf5 46.bxa4 Nxa4 47.Kc2 This is just a ruse to encourage Black’s king forward. 47…Kg4?? He falls for it. 48.Bxd5 exd5 49.e6 Catch-me-if-can – it must queen. 1–0

In last week’s position, White can play 1.Nf3 and if Black replies 1…Kc3 2.Nc2 mate.

This position arose in a game earlier this year. Black is itching to get in 1…e3+, but it’s not his move. Will this fact be of any help to White?

White to play and avoid defeat.

Another Win For The Cornish (09.12.2017.) 963

For many years, Cornwall played their county matches in the Victory Hall, Exminster, but have recently transferred to Shillingford Village Hall, on the other side of the M5, where they played Gloucestershire recently. The result was a crushing 12-4 win for the Cornish, helped by defaults as four of the visitors failed to turn up. Even so, it was still an 8-4 win on games played. The details were as follows (Cornish names 1st in each pairing). 1.Jeremy Menadue (191) ½-½ M. Ashworth (192). 2.James Hooker (178) 1-0 C. Mattos (190). 3.Lloyd Retallick (174) 0-1 J. Jenkins (185). 4.David Saqui (169) ½-½ P. J. Meade (178). 5.Mark Hassall (168)        0-1 P. Masters (175). 6.Robin Kneebone (164) 1-0        M. Roberts (167). 7.Richard Stephens (160) 1-0 J. Ashworth (161). 8.Colin Sellwood (155) 0-1 M. Taylor (144). 9.Gary Trudeau (148) 1-0 A. Richards (133). 10     .Jamie Morgan (146) 1-0 D. Walton (109). 11.Percy Gill (144) 1-0 R. Jones (108). 12.Mick Hill (139) 1-0 J. Jones (61). 13. Richard Smith (153) 1-0 d/f. 14.Adam Hussain (145) 1-0 d/f. 15.Jan Rodrigo (141) 1-0 d/f.16.Jeff Nicholas (140) 1-0 d/f.

Most of the Cornish wins were long affairs, but not this one.

White: Chris Mattos (Stroud – 190). Black: John Hooker (Camborne – 178)

1.d4 d6 The Pillsbury Defence, named after the great American Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872 – 1906) who died young but played in Devon on several occasions. 2.Nf3 Nd7 3.Bf4 Ngf6 4.h3 g6 5.e3 Bg7 6.Bc4 0–0 7.0–0 c5 8.c3 d5 9.Bd3 Qb6 Asking the first of several questions: i.e. attacking White’s b-pawn  10.b3 Ne4 11.Nfd2 f5 12.f3 Nxd2 13.Qxd2 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Kh1 Be6 16.Bg3 Rad8 17.Bf2 c4 18.Bc2 Qa6 19.b4 Nc6 A 2nd question is posed. 20.a4? Not the right answer as it overlooks… 20…Nxb4 21.Na3 Nxc2 22.Nxc2 Qd6 23.Rfb1 Rd7 24.a5 g5 25.Nd4 g4 26.Nb5 Qe5 27.f4 Qf6 28.h4 Re8 29.g3 Bf7 30.Ra3 Qe7! And finally, threatening to lay a trap for both rooks: e.g. 31…a6 would attack one rook’s sole defender. 31.Ra2?? White sees that threat but not the more serious  one. 31…Qe4+ Forking king and rook. 0–1

The Camborne Club are organising their annual Christmas RapidPlay tournament next Friday at their venue, the Bickford Smith Bowling Club, Tuckingmill. There’s no need to enter in advance but entrants should arrive by 7 p.m. for a 7.15 start. The competition will consist of a 5 round Swiss with 12 minutes each on the clock. The games will not be graded. There will be a vast quantity of prizes to give out afterwards. It is intended that play will end at 10.15 p.m with the prizegiving following immediately. Seasonal refreshments after round 2 with tea, coffee, biscuits, etc. available throughout. They hope to welcome a large entry from around the county to this popular event.

Last week’s 2-mover was supposed to be a little more difficult than usual, but not to the point of impossibility, as the white pawn on b4 was inadvertently omitted. Here it has been corrected, so should now still be difficult, but at least possible. Apologies for the error.

Somerset & Devon in Close Fight (02.12.2017.) 962

Devon and Somerset’s 1st and U-160 teams met on Saturday at Sampford Peverell Village Hall, the latter fielding their strongest team for several seasons. On paper, bds 1-8 looked competitive, while Devon seemed likely to run away with it on bds 9–16. However, that’s not how it worked out, as Devon were left scrambling right to the end in order to scrape home by the narrowest of margins, 8½ – 7½. The details were as follows (Devon names 1st in each pairing): 1. W. Braun (203) 0-1 J. Rudd (215). 2. D. Mackle (198) 0-1 B. Edgell (202). 3. G. Bolt (196) 0-1 P. Krzyzanowski (197). 4. J. Underwood (192) 0-1 A. Wong (189). 5. P. O’Neill (188) 1-0 A. Gregory (175). 6. S. Martin (186) 1-0 A. Cooper (174). 7. J. Wheeler (185) ½-½ D. Painter-Kooiman (163). 8. B. Hewson (184) ½-½ L. Bedialauneta (159). 9. T. Paulden (183) ½-½ R. Radford (157). 10. S. Homer (181) ½-½ D. Freeman (156). 11. C. Lowe (176) ½ -½ G. Jepps (156). 12. D. Cowley (173) 1-0 R. Knight (156). 13. P. Hampton (172) 1-0 D. Peters (156) 14. O. Wensley (172) 1-0 A. Conway (150). 15. J. Haynes (171) 1-0 A. Champion (147). 16. P. Brooks (170) 0-1 C. Purry (147).

It was more clear cut in the grade-limited match where Devon’s strength in depth got them through comfortably, 8½-3½.

1. A. Brusey (158) 1-0 P. Chapman (141). 2. C. Howard (155) 1-0 C. Fewtrell (146). 3. B. Gosling (154) 1-0 C. McKinley (144). 4. N. Butland (150) 0-1 C. Strong (144). 5. P. Halmkin (148) ½-½ T. Wallis (144). 6. A. Kinder (147) 1-0 U. Effiong (142). 7. M. Quinn (146) 1-0 J. Fewkes (141). 8. J. Blackmore (143) 1-0 N. Mills (133). 9. R. Wilby 140 ½-½ B. Radford (133). 10. A. Hart-Davis (135) ½-½ M. Baker (130). 11. J. Allen (134) 0-1 C. Lamming (129). 12. R. Jones (128) 1-0 M. Willis (129).

Here is the top game of the day.

White: W. Braun. Black: J. Rudd.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7 5.h3 0–0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Nbd7 8.g4 Nc5 9.Bd3 At this point, Rudd had his longest think, wondering about the wisdom of exchanging his active knight for the blocked bishop. Often pieces blocked out of the action for long periods have a nasty habit of wreaking havoc once they have broken their bonds. However, Rudd decided not to risk this possibility. 9…Nxd3+ 10.Qxd3 Ne8 11.g5 f5 12.gxf6 Nxf6 13.0–0–0 Black immediately acts against the enemy king’s position. 13…a6 14.Nge2 b5 15.c5 b4 16.Na4 a5 17.Ng3 Ba6 18.Qc2 h5 19.Kb1 h4 20.Nf1 Nh5 21.cxd6 cxd6 22.Qc6 Be2 23.Nd2 If 23.Re1 Bd3+; or 23.Rd2 Bf3 Either way White’s position is unravelling. 23…Rc8 24.Qb6 Qd7 25.Qxa5 Bxd1 26.Rxd1 Qxh3 27.Nb6 Qg4 clearing the path for the passed pawn with a threat. 28.f3 Rxf3 29.Nxc8 Rxe3 30.Ne7+ Kh7 31.Rc1 Re2 32.Qxb4 Qg2 33.Rd1 The Private is just three steps from a Field Marshall’s baton 33…h3 34.Qxd6 h2 35.Qe6 h1=Q 0–1

In last week’s position, Timman lost to 1.Rxe5 leaving the queen no meaningful move. If 1…QxR there follows 2.Qf3+ Kh2 3.Qf2 Kh3 4.Bc8+.

Here is a traditional but more difficult 2-mover.

White to mate in 2.