Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
Simon Bartlett’s funeral was held yesterday (08.02.2017.) and his great friend, Ivor Annetts, has compiled these facts and memories of Simon, and invited anyone to make use of them.
He writes as follows:
Simon was born, brought up and educated, in Paignton. He attended a boys’ school and did extremely well, gaining admittance to Bristol University to read law. After a time he decided that this was not for him, and he took a year off in Morocco. He then returned to Bristol University to read chemistry and was awarded a degree in that subject. Apart from a brief period with another company, the whole of his working life was spent with a chemical company in Cornwall called Key Organics. At its peak, Simon led a team of seven researchers. Their task was to produce organic chemical compounds with particular properties as requested by the company’s customers. During the 90s, China began to be able to do this much more cheaply and this led to Simon eventually being the sole researcher for Key Organics. He told me on more than one occasion that he still got a kick out of doing his job. Simon eventually retired at the age of 58 and gave every indication that he was thoroughly enjoying his new life.
I first met Simon around 28 years ago at Tor Abbey. It was a unique chess occasion, as the West of England Championship was held at that prestigious venue. Brian Boomsma was also a competitor and he and Simon were already friends. Years later Simon was to become the godfather of Brian’s new son. At Tor Abbey, Brian introduced me to this 35 years old confident upstart, then graded at something like 125, and over the next few years the three of us, all very different from each other, became close friends.
During the chess year we would enter anything up to half a dozen or more congresses across the west country. It became traditional for the three of us, frequently joined by Brian’s partner Lynda, to meet up for an Indian meal on the Saturday night. Fueled by too many bottles of house red, the conversation would flow, arguments would sometimes be intense, and occasionally when Brian and I took opposing views, Simon would remain the calm, objective and rational one. And now I realize that throughout all of the intervening years, I have never seen Simon angry or, apart from his final few months, emotionally disturbed in any way.
He was tremendously well-read, retained facts, and had a lively enquiring mind. He was particularly knowledgeable on economics, his partner, Margaret having a degree in that subject. I well remember his scary, penetrating analysis at the time of the financial crisis in 2008.
Ten years or so ago we discovered that we both had had experiences with the game of bridge, with Simon’s being rather more than an experience as he played regularly in a Camelford club. We arranged to partner each other once per week as members of an online bridge club. I vaguely remembered elements of the Acol and Blackwood bidding systems; Simon knew them inside out and tempted me towards something called a Precision Club(?) system. He was also, to my eyes, extremely skilled at playing the cards. After a time, this, with chess, was too much for me and so I pulled the plug on our bridge soirees. Simon, true to his character, showed no concern at my decision. It is extremely possible that he was secretly relieved at not having to continue to carry the burden of teaching a novice. If so, he showed no sign of it.
I am also indebted to him for sharing his chess opening expertise with me. Following explanations from Simon, I did at various times experiment with the Sveshnikov Sicilian – Simon insisting on calling it the Pelikan – the Grunfeld and the French Wing Gambit. It soon became clear that Simon’s occasionally risky, tactical play was not consistent with my attempted cautious positional style. I well remember him saying,
“The point about chess is that you are trying to have fun!”
Another Simon quote I remember is,
“People are passionate about all kinds of things throughout their lives. With me it’s chess.”
Such was his passion for the game that some years ago he joined Tiverton Chess Club in order to strengthen the club’s team in Devon County team competitions. At week-ends he would regularly play for Tiverton in the Bremridge (Div 1), Mamhead (Div 2) and the Rooke Cup. On occasion he accepted my invitation to play in midweek Exeter & District League matches. Every single game he played for Tiverton involved him in a 150 mile round trip from his home in Camelford. For DCCA week-end home matches he would lunch with me and my partner, Yvonne, in Tiverton. There were never any quiet moments during those lunches. I came to believe that Simon possessed a restless mind; always thinking, always enquiring; always ready to discuss. Yvonne tells me of how he was always able to answer her scientific queries and how he always replied to her enquiring emails accurately and concisely.
Shortly after the diagnosis of his condition, I stayed with him and Margaret overnight in Camelford and experienced the overwhelming attention of his Great Dane, Boris, and his Irish Wolf Hound, Maeve. The contentment of Simon and Margaret, with their dogs and Margaret’s horses was clear. He had often spoken to me of his joy in walking the dogs in the surrounding countryside. Quite recently a fashion magazine had been shooting in the Camelford area and the photographer decided that he needed an Irish Wolf Hound to stand next to one of his wiry female models. Enquiries led to Simon and Margaret’s door and I well remember the pleasure shown by Simon next time I saw him. It wasn’t just the handsome fee that Maeve had earned for him. He showed me the magazine, and the pride at having Maeve gracing the pages of an upmarket fashion mag. was clear to see.
On an earlier occasion he had found his dogs useful in a different way. Noisy neighbours had moved in next door and repeated requests for the music to be turned down had had no effect. A visit to the offenders with Boris and Maeve did the trick!
I have received many tributes to Simon from chess players across the West Country and beyond. I end with one of them from Brendan O’Gorman, photographer for the ECF:
“Dreadful news but thanks for letting me know. I liked Simon. He had a sense of humour and, beyond the chess board, was smarter than your average chess player.
Ivor Annetts has announced details of the funeral of Simon Bartlett, who passed away a few days ago.
Dear Chess Friends,
Margaret Wallace, Simon Bartlett’s partner, telephoned this evening with the details of Simon’s funeral:
Wednesday 15th February, 2.30 pm, at Glyn Valley Crematorium, Turfdown Road, Fletchers Bridge, Bodmin, PL30 4AP and afterwards at The Mason’s Arms, Market Place, Camelford, PL32 9PB
Please note that the Crematorium is on the Bodmin – Liskeard Road and not in Bodmin itself.
‘No flowers’ by request but donations may be made to Brain Tumour Research via https://www.justgiving.com/braint
Simon Bartlett, one of the most regular figures on the schess scene in Devon & Cornwall, passed away on Wednesday evening, after a short but brave fight against an aggressive form of cancer.
His great friend over the years, Ivor Annetts, broke the news yesterday morning, as follows:-
It saddens me greatly to have to inform you that my dear friend, Simon Bartlett, passed away last evening. His partner, Margaret, telephoned me with the news this morning.
As you probably know, in August last year he was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour and was given between three and sixth months to live; he managed four and a bit.
Simon was a self-confessed chess obsessive. You will have come to know him because of that. He would have been 63 in just over two weeks time.
I will inform you of the funeral arrangements as soon as they are made known to me. In due course I will attempt an obituary for Chess Devon and Keverel Chess.
The words of Brian Hewson come to mind as I write. Brian’s reaction to the news of Simon’s diagnosis was: “This is terrible news. He is such a great bloke!.”
Simon was noted for his exotic shirts, which brightened up many a photograph that I took at various events. Here are a couple that jump off the page.
The 1st Torbay Congress took place in November 1966 at the Raleigh Hotel, Dartmouth. Numerate readers will immediately spot that this should then be the 51st Congress, but about a decade ago the planned venue, the Riviera Centre in Torquay, pulled out at the last minute and no suitable alternative venue could be found at short notice, so the 40th Congress had to held over for a year. It was a feature of the Riviera management at that time that although they were happy to pencil in the dates of the Congress, they would delay confirming it until quite late on, in the hope that they might get a better offer. Usually they didn’t, but on this one occasion they did. This policy, coupled with the ever-rising charges for room hire, meant that eventually they lost the Congress for ever.
But to go back to the beginning, how did it all start? The Torbay League had been created by J. E. Jones and started activities on October 5th 1957. The Paignton Congress and Exeter & District League had both been started in 1953, and this was deemed sufficient to cater for players’ needs at the time. Jones would, in time, almost certainly have got around to the idea of Torbay having its own congress, but by 1963, with the prospect of his school, King Edward’s G. S., Totnes, becoming a comprehensive school, he decided to climb further up the promotional ladder, taking a Master’s degree at Birmingham University before joining the staff at Didsbury Training College in Manchester which was eventually absorbed into Manchester University.
So, without Jones’s authoritarian leadership, how did the idea of a Torbay Congress get off the ground? The owner of the Raleigh Hotel at the time was Henry Baguley, but who contacted who? Those of us who were around at the time (and still are) are fairly sure that it was Baguley who originally had the idea and suggested it to the League management. That year, 1966, he was the newly-appointed President of the Dartmouth Rotary club and would have been looking to do something new to help put Dartmouth on the map. Secondly, his hotel was in need of something to boost bookings at the lowest point of the year – between the end of the holiday season and Christmas, and thirdly, his son, John, was a promising junior chessplayer who had enjoyed successes in the Torbay Schools Chess League and was then the current Devon U-18 Champion, so Henry was keen to provide another arena in which his son could shine.
And so it was that 20 players met at the Raleigh Hotel on Dartmouth’s picturesque waterfront in November 1966. The League’s Secretary at this point was Alan B. Cole, of the Teignmouth Club, so their members got full notice of the new up-coming event, and Ivor Annetts was among that small band of 20 for the first Congress. However, no record of this first event can be found in the official records of the time. Ken Bloodworth, Eddy Jones’s successor as the Western Morning News chess columnist, would certainly have covered it, but the black bin-liners of unsorted cut-out columns that he bequeathed to me did not contain any from this period.
From this small beginning, the event was considered a success and continued year on year, although the contact with the Baguleys did not survive long. The Raleigh Hotel went into receivership a few years later and John Baguley was not seen again on the Westcountry chess scene. The Congress ticked along quietly for a few years, mostly unreported nationally, as the congress scene in Devon was dominated by Paignton and Peter Clarke’s Hexagon-organised events in North Devon, the latter attracting up to 200 players. But the post-Fischer-Spassky explosion of 1972 led to a vast increase in the number of weekend congresses nationally and the young generation of prospective GMs.
By the 1980s the Torbay Congress got an occasional mention in the Forthcoming Events column of Chess, where it was recorded in 1986 that the 21st event would be held on November 21st – 23rd at the Templestow Hotel with Bob Liggitt as Entry Secretary. The BCM of 1980 actually had a brief winners’ list showing that some big name title-hunters were showing up. Open: 1st= Murray Chandler (GM in ‘83) & Craig Pritchett (IM in ‘76). 3rd= Mark Hebden (IM in ‘82) & Michael Franklin. Major: 1st= Ken Bloodworth & A. Chapman. 3rd= Brian Boomsma, Robin Cotton & Ken Gunnell. Minor: 1st= Paul Foster (still a prizewinner 36 years later), A. Robins & N. P. Williams.
Also playing that year, though not appearing in the prizelist, was a youngster celebrating his 9th birthday – a lad with a shining future ahead of him, by the name of Michael Adams.
The congress was a rung on his ladder to grandmasterdom, with a record as follows:-
year age section performance
1979 9 Minor 105 15th=
1980 10 Challengers 166 8th=
1981 11 Challengers 155 16th=
1982 12 Open 166 2nd
1983 13 Open 212 1st=
1984 14 Open 199
1985 15 Open 212 2nd
1986 16 Open 238 1st=
Today, that generation of title-hungry aspirants has largely moved on to higher things and the event is left to local players and congress regulars from around the country. It’s now settled at the Livermore House Hotel on Torquay sea-front, the same venue as the Paignton Congress since it was ousted from Oldway Mansion. It hosts both events within weeks of each other, and it suits the players very well as it offers plentiful parking and accommodation, proximity to the town’s railway station and local bus routes, top class service, a bar and restaurant, sea views, spacious playing room etc. For all its grandeur, Oldway Mansion had none of these things.
Anyway, getting back to the point, the 50th Congress, under the leadership of Ken Alexander, a relatively new Congress Organiser, went very well at the Livermead House Hotel. Entries up to 138, but no IMs or GMs among them to scoop the top prizes, which made it more competitive, as witnessed by the prizelist below. Never have more prizes been handed out, whether in cash or kind.
|Torbay Congress 2016 – Prizelist.|
|R. J. Webster||Calderdale||3||£15|
|U-175||O. E. Wensley||Exmouth||2½||£15|
|R. G. Taylor||Wales||2½||£15|
|0/2||W. G. Adaway||Dorchester||1½||£30|
|U-159||A. M. Hibbitt||Banbury||3||£6|
|M. R. Wilson||Teignmouh||3||£6|
|R. J. Gamble||Derby||3||£6|
|I. S. Annetts||Tiverton||3||£6|
|P. E. Halmkin||Teignmouth||3||£15|
|1st||D. J. Jenkins||Penwith||4½||£120|
|U-132||M. A. Roberts||Holmes Chapel||3||£15|
|R. K. Hunt||Seaton||3||£15|
|U-125||T. J. Crouch||Kings Head||2½||£15|
|C. B. Peach||S. Hams||2½||£15|
|0/2||M. J. Cuggy||Brixham||2||£30|
|1st=||H. Archer-Lock||Abbey School||4||£40|
|J. D. Madden||Leamington||4||£40|
|A. R. Fraser||Beckenham||4||£40|
|R. Greenhalgh||S. Hams||4||£40|
|U-112||M. R. Pope||Salisbury||3||£10|
|A. H. Davies||S. Hams||3||£10|
|D. F. Burt||Bournemouth||3||£8|
|J. W. Carr||Portsmouth||3||£8|
|Mrs. W. Carr||Portsmouth||1½||£8|
It would be easy to claim that it would be ridiculous to have 44 players in one section with grades from 198 to 70, and several former British Champions in different forms of the game, a GM and a former World Record holder all in the mix. Yet this is what happened this year in the Exmouth Seniors, and in most years before. One could imagine it descending a procession of massacres, unsatisfying for winner and loser alike. Yet it rarely, if ever, turns out this way. There are upsets galore, as modest club players regularly rise to the opportunity to play a much higher-graded opponent, and so it happened this year.
For example, Teignmouth player, Bill Ingham, lowest graded player in the top section, before the grading prizes kicked in, carved through the field, including the top 2 grades, to take clear 1st prize. There were other notable stories too. Michael Dow (127) mated the GM in Rd. 2 and led the field, before proceeding to lose his next 3 games; The GM only scored 50%; Andrew Footner, arrived an hour late for Rd. 1, was defaulted and then proceeded to win the next 4 games to come 2nd=; These were the stories that caught the eye, but many games were entertainingly well-fought.
The “Junior” Section (50 – 64 yrs) was more predictable and the top 3 grades got the main prizes, and the top player in each Graded Section, took the Grading Prize. No prize for Cornishman Colin Sellwood, but in very elevated company he went through undefeated with 5 draws.
Devon’s annual Team Blitz tournament (teams of 4 with 12 minutes each for all moves) has been a regular feature of the calendar for many decades, and in the old days used to attract up to 24 teams. It gradually declined in popularity, until DCCA Secretary, Trefor Thynne, made concerted efforts to revive its fortunes in more recent times. These days, he hosts the event at his own club, Newton Abbot, and more trophies have been introduced to give teams lower down the batting order something to play for. This has had some success, though the days of 20 teams or more still seems some way off.
Having said that, some Dorset players asked if they might enter a team, as they were feeling a little deprived of inter-county events, since that county has been unable to identify a county captain since the retirement of their last one. The was some discussion in Devon circles as to whether this was acceptible, but it was agreed to, on the understanding that they couldn’t claim any of the trophies. In the event, there was little chance of that happening, but they enjoyed the experience (I think).
The number of teams (10) was the same as last year, but the strength of the top teams was noticeably beefed up (Exeter, Newton Abbot, Tiverton), augmented by a strong team from debutantes Seaton.
After 6 draining rounds the results were as follows:
|DCCA Team Blitz – 30th October 2016|
|1st||Exeter A||740||3½||6||8½||12½||16½||19||Thomas Cup|
|4th||Newton Abbot A||677||4||4||7½||11||11||15|
|9th||Newton Abbot B||508||½||1||3||5½||5½||7|
|1st||Exeter A||1||T. Paulden||187||½||1||0||1||1||½||4|
|4th||Newton Abbot A||1||D. Mackle||208||1||0||1||1||0||1||4|
|5th||Exmouth Eagles||1||M. Shaw||163||1||0||0||0||1||1||3|
|6th||Exeter B||1||S. Pope||144||0||0||½||0||0||½||1|
|7th||Torquay B.G.S.||1||V. Ramesh||154||0||1||0||1||1||½||3½|
|9th||Newton Abbot B||1||C. Scott||151||0||½||1||1||0||½||3|
|Royal Beacon Seniors Congress 2016|
|Entry form below|
|Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth 31.10. – 04.11.|
|Bold = most recent before Red
Red = New since last posting
|Entries as at 27.10.2016|
|182||Hall||Richard V. M.||Gt. Lytton|
|“Juniors Section” (50-64 yrs)|
Ivor Annetts has just contacted me with the following story from the Trump – Clinton battle for the Presidency. As there’s insufficient time to get it in any of the usual printed magazine outlets before the election takes place, I thought it would be appropiate to post it here before the moment is missed.
Ivor writes as follows:-
I have just heard that FIDE, the World Chess Federation, has banned all American chess players – most of them liberal elitists from the East and West Coasts – from using the Trumpowsky opening (1.d4 Nf6 2. Bg5) until after November 8th. FIDE claims that the ban is essential to prevent outbreaks of violence in American tournament halls.
An instant poll by CNN showed that Hillary Clinton’s approval rating sank to -62 on the news. A later Fox Newspoll put the figure at -97.4.
A secretly recorded tape then surfaced which appears to show Donald Trump claiming to be the grandson of the one-time Brazilian Chess Champion, Octavio Trumpowsky. Trump later denied that it was him after John Podesta, the Clinton Campaign Chair, suggested, in a CNN interview, that it was now quite clear that Trump was not actually an American citizen.
The Clinton campaign team have blamed the whole brouhaha on Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Russian President of FIDE, and accuses him of ‘manufacturing a cheap publicity stunt and of outrageous interference in the American democratic process’.
It may all seem bizarre, but then everything in the campaign so far has been pretty weird.
NB: Please address all comments to Ivor.
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|
|GP U-2026||Steve Dilleigh||1984||Horfield||3½||10|
|Jonathan Wells||1997||N. Norfolk||3½||10|
|Slow start (0/2)||Daniel Gibbs||1808||Brentwood||2½||20|
|A. Stewart took the British Championship 2017 QP|
|3rd=||K. Hurst||174||E. Budleigh||5||34|
|GP U-158||Y. Tello||156||Wimbledon||4½||30|
|GP U-143||G. Naldrett||135||Gerards Cross||4½||30|
|Slow start||J. Robertson||134||E. Kilbride||3||20|
|G. Shepherd||131||Church Stretton||5||75|
|GP U-126||R. Burroughs||103||Malvern||4||7.50|
|GP U-101||M. Cox||89||Southampton||3||12.50|
|P. Broderick||97||Newport (Salop)||3||12.50|
|Boniface 5 Rd. A.M. (U-180)||/5|
|1st||B. G. Gosling||159||E. Budleigh||4||300|
|2nd=||J. E. Hickman||162||Reading||3½||150|
|GP U-159||N. Mahoney||147||Barmby Dun||3||25|
|Thynne 5 Rd. A.M. (U-135)|
|1st||N. G. Andrews||124||York||4||300|
|M. A. Roberts||131||Holmes Chapel||3½||75|
|GP U-125||M. Cuggy||121||Brixham||3||25|
|Slow start||C. Doidge||124||Teignmouth||2½||20|
The West of England Chess Union’s Council Meeting (or AGM) was held at the Shrubbery Hotel, Ilminster on Saturday 4th June, with President, Brian Hewson, in the chair and Roger Morgan taking notes.
It was mostly routine, but essential stuff. There was some discussion as to the best way of determining the Ladies Champion in the annual WECU Congress. As things stand at the moment, getting 4/7 points in the Minor Section beats getting 3.5 in the Open, but which is the better performance? Several possible alternatives were mentioned, from maintaining the status quo to abolishing the Ladies trophy altogether, and several in between; e.g. tournament grade and, most radical of all, asking the ladies their opinion.
The role of presidential succssion usually takes up a fair amount of time each year, both at and before the meeting. Brian Hewson (Devon) was due to complete his second year in the Chair, with a Deputy President stepping up to the plate. Except that, in the previous 12 months, no Deputy had been identified/persuaded to take this on. Apparently, Robin Kneebone had toyed with the idea, but eventually decided that he was so fully committed to Cornish chess and keeping that particular boat afloat, that he wouldn’t be able to do justice to the Union role. Former President, Fenella Headlong, had also been approached, but the combination of work and family commitments made it very difficult for her to accept. In the end, former President , Gerry Jepps (Somerset), was persuaded to reprise the role. He tried to protest that the art of chairmanship was not his greatest skill, but the room was convinced that his great experience as a successful organiser over many years far outweighed this, and he was readily voted in, and will take the chair at the 2017 Executive Meeting. All other officers were re-elected en bloc.
Both trophies were available for presentation, the Harold Meek Cup for the 1st team competition and the Wayling Cup for the 2nd team. Normally, the President will hand each cup to the delegate of the winning county, but this was complicated by the fact that the President was also the match captain of both teams. So the Fixtures Secretary, Phil Mead, readily stepped in to the breach.