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Archive for April, 2018

Revd. Bremridge’s Wooden Spoon Avoided (28.04.2018.)

Exeter having already won the Bremridge Cup by beating home & away the other two teams, Exmouth and Newton Abbot, these were left “playing for peanuts” as the Tournament Secretary put it. However, this proved more difficult than usual. On the first occasion, Newton Abbot couldn’t raise a team for their away leg and the match was postponed until 28th April. For their home leg, it was Exmouth that couldn’t raise a team, but it was too late in the season for a postponement, so that was declared “unplayed”.

In an effort to infuse a small element of significance to the match it was felt the teams could be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon. And so the games were played slowly and seriously. The first point went to the visitors in the shape of Vignesh Ramesh who overcame a 22 point deficit to beat his experienced opponent. Then nothing happened for some time, when four games seemed to finish in a flurry. John Stephens exploited his extra pawn in a R&P ending, got it to the 7th rank and Black could do nothing about it.

Underwood’s and Hampton’s games also finished at this time with wins for the home team. Meanwhile, Walter Braun was struggling to defend his position a piece down, Steve Homer, who, being the player he is, was never going to let up.

With the score at 3-2 it was left to Brian Gosling and Josh Blackmore to finish things off. They were down to a black-square bishop each and a sprinkling of pawns. The game went on for some time long after the other players had gone. Blackmore was making all his moves in the last 5 seconds of each incremental 30 seconds, but Gosling managed to retain a very slight edge, and chipped away at the pawns. There was a moment when Blackmore might have been able to sacrifice his bishop for his opponent’s last pawn to leave a draw, but the chance passed, and Gosling was able to mop up pawns on his was to a win, leaving the final score 4-2 and the Wooden Spoon was avoided.

Bremridge Cup (Div. 1)   28.04.2018.
EXMOUTH Grd NEWTON ABBOT Grd
1 Dr. W. Braun 203 0 1 S. J. Homer 181
2 Dr. J. Underwood 192 1 0 P. Brooks 170
3 J. K. F. Stephens 189 1 0 T. F. Thynne 170
4 S. Martin 186 0 1 V. Ramesh 164
5 P. G. Hampton 172 1 0 C. V. Howard 154
6 B. G. E. Gosling 160 1 0 J. Blackmore 147
1,102 4 2 986

Walter Braun vs Steve Homer (Bd.1)

Bd. 2: Paul Brooks vs Jonathan Underwood

Charlie Howard makes a move against Paul Hampton on Bd. 5

Josh Blackmore vs Brian Gosling on Bd. 6 last to finish after a tight endgame.

left: John Stephens vs Trefor Thynne with Steve Martin in view on right.

Westcountry Juniors in Albania (28.04.2018.) 983

The Cornish junior, Adam Hussein of the Truro Club, is currently playing in the U-13 section of FIDE’s World School Championship in Durres, on Albania’s beautiful Adriatic coast. Also in the English team of 8 players is Georgia Headlong of the Brown Jack Club near Swindon who recently became the West of England Ladies Champion in Exmouth. Their progress may be followed on the chess-results.com or event websites.

The Sicilian Defence leads to very active play for both sides, with lines of play more numerous and harder to evaluate than any other opening. Whole libraries could be assembled on this opening alone. Almost every game has something to teach us, like this one from a match last weekend. A seemingly innocuous move by White enables Black to take complete control of the kingside almost immediately.

White: Yuyang Wang (155). Black: John Stephens (196).

Sicilian Defence – Opocensky Variation.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 This move is named after the Czech expert analyst, Karel Opocensky (1892–1975). 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Be7 Interestingly, every square on the e-file is occupied with a piece, four of them bishops. 9.Nd5 Nxd5 10.exd5 Bf5 11.c4 Nd7 12.0–0 0–0 13.Bg4? This manoeuvre allows Black to obtain a grip on the kingside, which he keeps for the rest of the game. 13…Bxg4 14.Qxg4 f5 forcing White back. 15.Qe2 f4 16.Bc1 Qe8 17.Nd2 Qg6 18.f3 Qh5 19.Ne4 Nf6 20.Qf2 Rac8 21.b3 b5 22.Nxf6+ Rxf6 Completing Black’s kingside mastery. 23.Qb6 White is forced to seek counterplay on the other wing. 23…Rh6 24.h3 Qg5 25.Qxa6 Rf8 26.Kh1 Qg3 27.Qb6 Black is still a pawn down, but his positional superiority gives him the freedom to hammer at the castle walls. 27…Rxh3+ 28.Kg1 Certainly not 28.gxh3?? Qxh3+ 29.Kg1 Qg3+ 30.Kh1 Rf5 and mate follows. 28…Qh2+ 29.Kf2 Bd8 30.Qa7 Bh4+ 31.Ke2 Qxg2+ 32.Rf2 Bxf2 33.Qxf2 Qxf2+ 34.Kxf2 This skirmish leaves Black with 2 lively rooks, while White’s 2 pieces are on their original squares, though he does have a 3–1 queenside pawn majority, which perhaps needs dealing with before it becomes a possible threat. 34…bxc4 35.Kg2 Rg3+ 36.Kf2 cxb3 37.axb3 Rb8 38.Rb1 Rb5 39.b4 h5 40.Bd2 h4 41.Rh1 Rxd5 42.Be1 g5 43.Ke2 Rg2+ 44.Bf2 Kf7 It’s now safe for the king to join the party. 45.Kf1 And finally an exchange sacrifice to finish things off. 45…Rxf2+ 46.Kxf2 Rd2+ 47.Ke1 Rb2 48.Rh3 Rxb4 49.Ke2 Kf6 50.Rh1 Kf5 51.Rd1 Rb2+ 52.Ke1 h3 and the h-pawn must queen. 0–1

In last week’s position, White should play 1.Rh2! and either rook will be able to mate next move, depending on what Black does with his pieces.

From the same book that last week’s 2-mover was taken is this one, on the same theme of White Rook’s Only. Alain White introduced it as…”one of the most famous 2 movers of antiquity”, first seen in 1350, “but the theme is fresh and full of life even today”.

Two Games from the Champion. (14.04.2018.) 981

In the recent WECU Championship, the absence of the 2017 winner, Keith Arkell, opened up the way for about 10 other players to seize their opportunity. Of these, it was Dominic Mackle who led the charge. In this Rd. 4 game he pounces of an early error by one of the Scandinavian juniors and quickly takes full advantage.

White: D. Mackle. Black: Leif Halfstad.

King’s Indian Defence.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Nf3 Bb7 5.Nbd2 c5 6.Nc4 d5 7.Nce5 a6? Necessary was 7…Nfd7 to counter the twin knight threat. 8.Ng5 Rg8 9.Ngxf7 Qe7 10.c3 b5 11.Bd3 Nc6 12.Nxc6 Qxf7 13.Ne5 Qe7 14.Bg5 g6 15.dxc5 Bg7 16.c6 Bc8 17.0–0 Qc7 18.Bf4 Qd6 19.a4 b4 20.a5 Qc5 21.cxb4 Qxb4 22.Qc2 Qe7 23.Rac1 Ra7 24.c7 with the twin threats of Nc6 forking Q & N or Qc6+ 1-0

In the penultimate round he faced the experienced FIDE Master, Mike Waddington, so couldn’t expect any blunders to help him.

White: M. Waddington. Black: D. Mackle.

French Defence.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 The Burn Variation, played regularly by the Yorkshireman Amos Burn (1848–1925) and later taken up by World Champion, Tigran Petrosian. 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6 Black doesn’t mind opening up the g-file and later exploits it with fatal results. 7.Nf3 a6 8.Bd3 f5 9.Ned2 c5 10.c3 cxd4 11.cxd4 Nc6 12.Nb3 Bb4+ 13.Ke2 White could block the check but decides to castle the long way round, which takes up valuable time. 13…0–0 14.a3 Be7 15.Re1 Bf6 16.Bc2 a5 17.a4 Nb4 18.Kf1 b6 19.Ne5 Ba6+ 20.Kg1 Rc8 21.Bb1 Kh8 22.Qh5 Threatening to fork K&Q. 22…Rc7 23.Re3 Bxe5 24.dxe5 f6 25.h3 Bc4 26.Qf3 Rg8 27.g3 f4 28.Rc3 Nd5 29.Rc2 White has 4 pieces stuck in the corner while Black is opening lines against the white king. How does he retain the initiative? 29…fxg3 30.fxg3 f5 31.Kh2 Nb4 Attacking a rook while vacating d5 for his bishop to further pressure to bear on the white king’s corner. 32.Rd2 Bd5 33.Qe3 Rcg7 34.g4 fxg4 35.Be4 Black’s bishop is well enough protected which gives Black the chance to further strip away the castle walls. gxh3 36.Rf1 Qh4 37.Bxd5 Nxd5 38.Qe1 Rg2+ 39.Kh1 Qg5 40.Rdf2 h2 41.Qe4 Rg1+ There’s no escape as there are several other mates. e.g. 41…Rxf2 42.Rc1 Qg1+ 43.Rxg1 42.Kxh2 Qg3#.

Cornwall qualified for the National Stages of the Inter-County Competition and entered the Minor Counties Section, where they have been drawn against Surrey, the match to be played on Sat. May 12th at East Huntspill TA9 4RA.

In last week’s position, White played 1.Qd3 which threatens mate on one side of the board and wins a knight on the other.

Imagine you were playing Bobby Fischer in a simultaneous match in which he’s given all his opponents the White pieces. Even so, they’ve all lost and it’s up to you to salvage some collective pride, but he’s attacking your rook. Where should it go?

White to play.

WECU Championship Shared (07.04.2018.) 980

At the end of the wettest, coldest March in living memory, the West of England Championship and Congress took place at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth over the Easter weekend. The absence of last year’s winner, GM Keith Arkell and Jack Rudd cast a small shadow over the proceedings, though it opened up the prospect of possible victory to almost half the Open section, so in that sense it was less of a procession and more of a real dogfight for every half point.

The final outcome was as follows: Open Section 1st Richard McMichael (King’s Head) 5½/7 pts. 2nd= Dominic Mackle (Torquay) & Lewis Martin (Brown Jack – Wiltshire) 5 pts. Although McMichael took the cheque for £400, as a Londoner he was not eligible for the title of WECU Champion which was shared by Mackle and Martin. The Grading Prize was a 6-way split between Alan Crombleholme (Walsall); John Stephens (Exmouth); Dave Littlejohns (Taunton); Roger de Coverley (Bourne End); Chris James (Dunbar) & James Forster (Southbourne) all on 3½.

Major Section: 1st Geoffrey Brown (Folkestone) 5½. 2nd Yasser Tello (Wimbledon). 3rd= Ronnie Burton (Weymouth);  Yuyang Wang (Plymouth); Jamie Morgan (Cornwall); Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh) & Paul G. Jackson (Coulsdon) all 4½.

Minor Section: 1st= Eddie Fuerek (Glos) & Gerald Parfett (Athenaeum). 3rd= Ray Hunt (E. Devon); Ken Alexander (E. Budleigh) & Andy Proudfoot (Plymouth) all 4½. Grading Prize: Kevin Markey (Stroud).

Here is a game from Rd. 1 between a local player and a Turkish Cypriot.

White: A. Gorgun (1619) – Black: J. Stephens. (1991)

Sicilian Defence [B52]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0–0 Nc6 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1 e6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 Often regarded as Black’s freeing move in this opening. 10.e5 Ne4 11.a3 Be7 12.Nbd2 Nxd2 13.Bxd2 0–0 14.b4 White should be thinking about an early king-side attack, but his knight doesn’t have a single move on the board, so he tries on the opposite wing, which is  traditionally where Black will be aiming for activity. 14…b5 15.Qb1 a5 16.Qb2 axb4 17.axb4 Qb7 18.Rec1 Rxa1 19.Rxa1 Ra8 20.Rxa8+ Qxa8 21.Ne1 Qa4 22.Nc2 Nxd4 23.Qxd4 Qxc2 24.g3 h6 25.Qa7 Bxb4! 26.Qb8+ Kh7 27.Bxb4 Qb1+ 28.Kg2 Qe4+ 29.f3 Qxb4 This skirmish leaves Black 2 passed pawns up. 30.Qe8 Qb2+ 31.Kh3 b4 32.f4 Qc2 33.g4 Kg6 34.f5+ exf5 35.e6 White’s first question – should Black defend f7 or attack? 35…fxg4+ 36.Kg3 Qd3+ 37.Kxg4 h5+ 38.Kh4 Qe4+ 39.Kg3 Qxe6 0-1 Question answered.

Last week’s 2-mover by John Brown of Bridport, taken from Brian Gosling’s excellent biography of the near-forgotten 19th century composer, was solved by 1. Qe7! Black has 7 attempts to escape the inevitable, but each is met by either White’s queen, bishop or knight.

In this position Brian Gosling (W) found a combination that gave him a small but significant material gain.

White to play and win material

West of England Chess Congress 2018 – the results

After a month of drenching rain, snow storms and bitter winds, yes – even in South Devon – it was perhaps a good time to hunker down indoors and get down to 7 rounds of serious chess, and Exmouth’s Manor Hotel provided the opportunity to do exactly that over the Easter weekend. To that end, 70 players foregathered to fight for a share of the £1,500 prize money and 4 trophies.

Interestingly, any idea that this might be just a collection of local yokels was dispelled by the international element, especially among the juniors, with players from Norway (3), Scotland (2), Austria, Cyprus, South Africa and China adding an almost exotic element to the mix. Although only one of these won a prize, they certainly enjoyed the occasion while giving the locals some new opposition.

At the end of 7 hard-fought rounds the winners were as follows:-

West of England Championship  -  Easter 2018
OPEN 1st R. McMichael 2232 King’s Head
2nd= D. Mackle 2164 Torquay 5 *Ch.
L. Martin 2079 Brown Jack 5 *Ch
U-2000 GP A. Crombleholme 1991 Walsall
J. Stephens 1991 Exmouth
D. Littlejohns 1981 Taunton
R. de Coverley 1953 Bourne End
C. James 1876 Dunbar
J. Forster 1812 Southbourne
McMichael was not eligible for the title, so it was

shared between Mackle & Martin.

U-1950 MAJOR
1st G. Brown 1847 Folkstone
2nd Y. Tello 1884 Wimbledon 5
3rd= R. Burton 1920 Weymouth
Y. Wang 1885 Plymouth
J. Morgan 1848 Cornwall
B. Gosling 1806 E. Budleigh
P. G. Jackson 1807 Coulsdon
U-1700 GP P. Grant-Ross 1615 King’s Head
U-130 MINOR
1st= E. Fierek 126 Gloucester 5
G. Parfett 119 Athenaeum 5
3rd= R. Hunt 129 E. Devon
K. Alexander 128 E. Budleigh
A. Proudfoot 112 Plymouth
U-107 GP K. Markey 105 Stroud 4
Georgia Headlong (Brown Jack) with 4/7 pts won the

Ladies Championship by virtue of having the highest

score of any of the 6 ladies competing.

In the final round, Dominic Mackle and Richard McMichael were keeping half an eye on each other’s game. The latter, who had no westcountry credentials, was not a rival for the trophy, so Mackle agreed an early draw to guarantee the title.  On seeing this, McMichael immediately began to press, but went wrong and it allowed his opponent in, and Lewis Martin went on to win and catch Mackle up on 5 points, who thereby lost £50 of prizemoney, £150 instead of £200. However, there was no problem with the Championship Cup and both were happy to share it for 12 months.

In the Major, Yuyang Wang (“Terry”) was the only one of the international set to win a prize, though his 1/5th share of 3rd place won’t get him far on his way back to China in August, when he returns to Xiamen with his mother who is on a 12 month secondment attached to Plymouth University.

Also in the Major, former WECU President, Fenella Headlong, found herself in a near-desperate battle with her 11 year old daughter, Georgia, for the Ladies Championship, the Elizabeth Walker Cup. Georgia was playing in the Minor, and both started the final round on 3 points. Whoever had the higher points total would be Champion. Fenella had already won this cup 4 times (twice in her maiden name of Cohen), but the thought of being beaten by her own daughter was not an attractive one. Her husband, Tim Headlong, also a WECU Champion in former times, would doubtless have been neutral on the issue. In the end, Fenella lost and Georgia won, so the victor’s laurels pass to a new generation, and Mum could not have been more proud.

At the prizegiving, Congress Secretary, Meyrick Shaw, announced the names of winners and Arbiter Graham Mill-Wilson was drafted in as cup presenter, allowing Bob Jones to take some pictures to record the happy scene.  See below.

Mackle (r) & McMichael - top 2 seeds in the Open

Andre Nielsen, from Altar in the far north of Norway, a World Junior Championship contender in 2016

Viennese FM Walter Braun, currently resident in Exmouth.

Veteran Midlander, Alan Crombleholme, currently playing for Walsall Kipping.

New Cornish Champion, Jeremy Menadue, on his way to a last round loss to Patryk Krzyzanowski.

Exmothians John Stephens (R) & Congress Secretary Meyrick Shaw on bottom Bd in the Open, alongside Yuyang Wang and Yasser Tello on top boards in the Major.

Benjamin Halvorsen, from Tromso, Norway, playing Cornishman Colin Sellwood in the Major.

Eddy Fierek of Gloucester, joint winner of the Minor Section.

Richard McMichael of the King's Head club, receiving his cheque for £400 from Graham Mill-Wilson.

Happy to share! Dominic Mackle (R) of Devon and Lewis Martin (Wilts).