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Archive for the ‘Current season news’ Category

Devon vs Dorset (08.03.2014.)

Luppitt Village Hall, tucked away in a hidden valley, high in the Blackdown Hills, is the traditional venue for this annual match. This year, like most, the sky was clear and bright, and both sides looked forward to an entertaining afternoon.

Although Dorset had received a real trouncing at the hands of Somerset in an earlier round and were not expected to win here, they were always in the match and it was only a few late wins for Devon that made the score look respectable to Devon eyes.

The result meant that Devon had won the Wayling Cup for 2nd teams for the 16th consecutive year.

Bd DORSET U-160 Grd     DEVON U-160 Grd
1 Mark Littleton 160 1 0 Oliver Wensley 157
2 Warren Legg 150 0 1 Mike Stinton-Brownbridge 155
3 Geoff C Searing 146 1 0 Peter E Halmkin 155
4 Julian Cherryson 137 0 1 Ivor S Annetts 152
5 David Aldwinckle 133 0 1 Brian. G. Gosling 152
6 Paul Brackner 135 ½ ½ Andrew S. Kinder 152
7 Colin E Winch 130 0 1 Andrew Frangleton 152
8 Ivan J Willis 137 0 1 Chris J .Scott 145
9 Paul T Errington 126 0 1 Keith P. Atkins 142
10 Terje Lundin U/G 1 0 Robert G Wilby 137
11 Andrew Young 122 ½ ½ Wilfred R P Taylor 139
12 Paul A Jackson 127 ½ ½ Piet Dobber 135
13 Mick Rogan U/G ½ ½ Nathan Mills 135
14 John (W) Kelly 117 ½ ½ Jacquie Barber-Lafon 135
15 Keith C Spooner 119 ½ ½ Robert H Jones 132
16 Sidney A Jones 108 0 1 Norman F Tidy 124
      6 10    


The venue set in the Blackdowns


Oliver Wensley, whose paternal ancesters go back in Luppitt for several generations, moves on top board.


Bds 5 = 8


Willis v Scott on Bd. 8


A neat win by Tidy (Black) put Devon on the road to victory.


Bds. 13 - 16.

E. Devon Congress 2014 – Rd. 1

With only 6 days to the start of this year’s East Devon Congress, the new Entry Secretary, John Stephens, told me that, at 183, he was the 6th highest-graded player in the Open. It was accepted that very often the top players leave their entries to the last minute, and this was no exception. By the Friday evening, he had dropped to 10th, as a whole raft of top players had joined the fray, bringing the total to 43 and making this the strongest Exeter Open for many years. The top 20’s average grade was 188.

The overall entry was 125, bringing the event safely over the break-even point. As the regulars well know, the hall is spacious, with a waiting space and facilities for refreshment adjacent. In John Ariss and Tony Tatam they have excellent Arbiters, but the Committee has dropped to just three people, which is causing concern to them. The regulars are Mark Abbott and Sean Pope, while John Stephens has replaced Alan Maynard who moved to near Weston-Super-Mare. They have put out an appeal for at least 2 more local players to come forward and share the load, if the event is to continue satisfactorily.

General view from the stage.

Bd. 1 Open Section: Bolt v Rudd, both destined to finish 2nd =

Bd. 2: Dom Mackle v Simon Bartlett.

Rd. 1: Theo Slade vs Steve Dilleigh

Minor Section - Rd. 1: Graham Mill-Wilson vs Mike Kaye

Devon vs Hants (08.02.2014.)

Devon have experienced several defeats at the hands of Hampshire in recent years, so it was of some interest to see whether changing the venue from Wincanton to the old Roman town of Ilchester might have some effect on the eventual outcome. Ilchester, the only Roman town in Somerset apart from Aqua Sullis, situated as it is beside the old Fosse Way at its junction with the A303, seems to have changed little since its historic heyday, with the Town Hall probably built on the site of the Roman Forum. 

The playing room is comfortable, warm and well-lit, with a small analysis area and kitchen adjacent. The only disadvantage was that it was an upstairs room, making the carrying of equipment somewhat more onerous.

The first result in was a quick draw between former colleagues Regis and Bellers, but closely followed by a win for Jonathan Underwood, and Devon were never headed from then on, although never by more than 1 or 2 points. Eventually, with the last game in progress, Devon led 8-7, but with Stephens down to his last 2 minutes, abandoning his recording and having to move almost instantly in a complex unclear position. Yet somehow he managed to coordinate his remaining 3 pieces, Queen, rook and a knight had hadn’t moved for 44 moves, into a mating net. Match won 9-7.

  Devon 1st       Hampshire 1st  
1 S. J. Homer 189 ½ ½ I. D. Thompson 217
2 J. K. Stephens 186 1 0 W. M. McDougall 192
3 P. D. Sivrev 183 ½ ½ D. R. Tunks 188
4 Dr. D. Regis 180 ½ ½ C. J. V. Bellers 186
5 J. Fraser 180 ½ ½ P. F. Cooper 182
6 B. W. R. Hewson 179 0 1 D. W. Fowler 181
7 J. F. Wheeler 176 ½ ½ A. McDougall 173
8 A. W. Brusey 167 ½ ½ F. N. McLeod 168
9 M. Shaw 176 ½ ½ S. W. Knox 167
10 Dr. J. Underwood 171 1 0 D. F. Thompson 160
11 T. F. Thynne 166 0 1 C. P. A. Priest 158
12 W. H. Ingham 169 1 0 S. J. Smith 158
13 P. Brooks 163 ½ ½ G. A. Jones 158
14 S. Martin 166 1 0 Miss G. A. Moore 147
15 M. Stinton-Brown. 155 0 1 B. A. Kocan 146
16 N. Rahimili 148 1 0 J. I. Chilton 139
      9 7    
  Devon 2nd       Hampshire 2nd  
1 O. E. Wensley 157 ½ ½ T. J. Chapman 135
2 B. G. E. Gosling 152 ½ ½ K. G. Steele 134
3 A. S. Kinder 152 ½ ½ J. G. Young 133
4 C. J. Scott 145 ½ ½ D. Culliford 131
      8 0 Defaults  
      10 2    


Here are some views of the match in progress.

General view of the Main Hall

General view of the top boards

Top 4 games - Bellers V Regis nearest.

Boards 9 - 12 (nearest)

Bd. 16 Chilton V Rahimili nearest.

Amaurosis Scachistica Outbreak In Exmouth (12.05.2013.)

The term Amaurosis scachistica is an ailment diagnosed in some detail by the physician, Tarrasch, the main symptom being the making of obvious but uncharateristic blunders, better known in English as Chess Blindness. Tarrasch claimed there was no sure preventative treatment and he had some evidence that it may actually be infectious, calling this amaurosis scachistica chronica communis.

After Exmouth’s final home match of the season yesterday, against Teignmouth in a Division 2 match, we have further evidence to support the infection theory. In a small room with just 8 players, it can be deadly, spreading like wildfire in a very short time, each blunder more profound than the one commited just minutes earlier.

It all started on Bd. 3, where White, tempted by a hot pawn on the other side of the board, took it with his queen, thereby abandoning her protection of a rook that was being eyed up by the Black queen.  There swiftly followed …QxR+ and the game was over. The stars on top board seemed to have some natural immunity to this craziness, and Stephens, having recently realised that his strength might lie in rook+pawn endgames, true to his instincts quickly reached such a position and ran his a-pawn to queen, forcing a win. Exmouth at this stage were 2 up with 2 to play, but the infection was spreading rapidly.

On Bd. 4, the Teignmouth player attacked the enemy queen with a bishop. White responded by advancing a pawn, discovering a check by the queen. What a blunder – but instead of taking the queen, Black simply moved his king aside. Both players obviously badly infected and the outcome clearly impossible to predict. Teignmouth reduced the arrears by winning this game, but at least the Bd. 2 game was safe, where the home player was never seriously troubled and the game seemed to be heading for at least the draw required to win the match. They had got down to rook + bishop vs rook + knight, where the former had the positional advantage. But you know what knights are like……  The knight checked on a square where it could be taken by the bishop, the perpetrator fully expecting an exchange of the minor pieces. White saw the check, but not the fact that it also forked his rook. As on Bd. 4 earlier, he moved his king away and was amazed to see his rook snaffled. End of game – end of match. Exmouth had snatched a draw from the jaws of victory.

Several players considered calling in to the local A & E Dept. on the way home, but it would have done no good. As Tarrasch correctly predicted, there is no known cure.

  Mamhead Cup       11.05.2013.  
  Exmouth Grd     Teignmouth Grd
1 J. K. F. Stephens 192 1 0 A. W. Brusey 174
2 M. Shaw 166 0 1 J. G. Gorodi 148
3 Dr. D. A.Toms 159 1 0 N. F. Tidy 119
4 I. G. Grist   96 0 1 J. Ariss 120
    613 2 2   561


An Exmouth team confident of victory.

The Teignmouth team.

View from the other end.

The first victim of amaurosis scachistica - but not the last.

Exmouth To Retain Newman Cup?

Exmouth put themselves in pole position to retain Devon’s RapidPlay League, the Newman Cup, after a comfortable away win over Seaton, last evening.

Exmouth won the toss (for a change) and opted for white on the odd-numbered boards in Rd. 1.  It’s of less significance in a 2 round match like this, but if it helps to build a lead by half time, it can’t be too bad. In fact, Exmouth white players both recorded quick wins. Hazel Welch overlooked the fact that after an exchange of pieces her opponent could grab her b-pawn without any of the risks that usually attend the snaffling of a knight’s pawn, and it rather went downhill from then on. Simon Blake ran out of time, and Shaw was involved in a desperate finish in which he allowed his opponent counter-play. However, with seconds left, Alexander missed the best line and time ran out for him too. 3-1 at the break.

In Rd. 2, Stephens agreed a quick draw. The position in Jones’ game was much more blocked than in their first encounter, but he eventually found the space for his pieces (Q + 2R) while Hazel’s were trapped behind her own pawns, and he managed to break through. Blake, meanwhile, was having his game of the season so far, winning material left and right, and rightly giving some of it back in order to simplify out to a win. Ken Alexander showed his skill by beating his opponent, winner of the recent Kingsbridge RapidPlay.

It only remains for the return match to be played. Exmouth may be in pole position, but nothing will be, nor can be, taken for granted. This game has a nasty habit of biting you on the b-t-m. 

  Newman Cup             RapidPlay League  
  Seaton   Rd 1 Rd 2   Rd 1 Rd 2 Exmouth  
1 S. K. Dean 152 0 ½   1 ½ J. K. F. Stephens 184
2 K. Alexander 129 0 1   1 0 M. Shaw 164
3 H. Welch 116 0 0   1 1 R. H. Jones 148
4 A. Dowse 131 1 0   0 1 S. Blake   96
    528 1   3   592


WECU Ladies Champion, Hazel Welch patiently waiting for the photographer to finish.

Seaton Captain, Steve Dean (W), on his way to an excellent draw in Rd. 2

Ken Alexander (B) on his way to an excellent win against Shaw.


Simon Blake (nearest) playing his game of the season, so far.

Exmouth’s First Loss of the Season.

Tiverton vs Exmouth – Mamhead Cup Div. 2  – 16.03.2012.

Saturday Afternoon At The Tomato doesn’t have quite the same ring about it as the mid-70s classic jazz-fused song “Midnight At The Oasis”, but there was at least a tiny bit of Tiverton chess history involved as it was their first match at this experimental venue. “Tomato” is the striking title of a tapas bar, near the town centre in Tiverton, with a spacious room upstairs, which the owner lets free of charge, provided all the refreshments are purchased at the bar downstairs.

This was Exmouth’s 7th match of the season, and were so far undefeated, but any temptation to say they wanted to squash their opponents was firmly resisted. Just as well, too, because any squashing was done by the home team.

It all started so well, too, as John Stephens ended with a pretty finish in a pawn ending. At the other end, Simon Blake was the exchange up going into the endgame – a rook + 2 minor pieces vs 3 minor pieces. However, these included two knights, and these can become very slippery if given half a chance, and a knight check won a bishop, and it was downhill from thereon in. But at least the other two games looked solid enough, giving reasonable expectations  of yet another drawn match. Gosling agreed a draw, which left Shaw wondering whether to also settle for a draw or try and for a win in order to win the match. But it was one of those positions in which whoever tries to push for win, usually ends up losing, and this is what happened, giving Tiverton the match.

Bd. Tiverton Grd     Exmouth Grd
1 B. W. R. Hewson 174 0 1 J. K. F. Stephens 192
2 S. Bartlett 164 1 0 M. Shaw 166
3 I. S. Annetts 152 ½ ½ B. G. E. Gosling 164
4 J. Knowles 128 1 0 S. Blake   96
    618       618


The Exmouth line-up (Bd. 4 nearest)

 Dramatic Spanish decor throughout.

Tiverton line-up with bovine backdrop.

Newman Cup vs Tiverton (13.03.2013.)

This was the key match in this year’s Newman Cup, Devon’s RapidPlay League. As last year, it was a 3-way tie between Tiverton, Exmouth and Seaton, with home and away matches. Earlier in the season, Exmouth, the current holders, drew 2-2 away to Tiverton, and needed a result in this home leg, to stand any chance of retaining the cup.

The visitors were a little shy of the maximum permitted team grade total of 599, Exmouth gambling on playing a low-graded player on Bd. 4 in order to fit in their best 3 players. In this respect, Grist’s two losses were the key to the eventual win.

Stephens, playing Black in Rd. 1. got his last pieces trapped behind his own pawns, and lost, but he hit back in the next game, forcing a mate in the corner. Shaw always seemed to have a solid position in both games, tempering the creation of threats with a solid defence. Wensley, also, was never seriously threatened by Aldwin, but was always behind on the clock and needed to be careful to keep time in hand.

The 5-3 win gives Exmouth a good chance of retaining the trophy, though they still have to play Seaton twice.

  Newman Cup             13.03.2013.  
  Exmouth Grd Rd1 Rd2   Rd1 Rd2 Tiverton Grd
1 J. K. F. Stephens 184 0 1   1 0 B. W. R. Hewson 174
2 M. Shaw 164 1 1   0 0 I. S. Annetts 151
3 O. E. Wensley 136 1 1   0 0 B. Aldwin 122
4 I. G. Grist   96 0 0   1 1 J. Knowles 113
    580 2 3   2 1   560
        5     3    


The match gets under way - Shaw vs Annetts nearest.

Grist VS Knowles nearest.

Hewson Vs Stephens (l) & Shaw Vs Annetts.

Alison is not interested in the match but is reading a chess book.

Bremridge Cup-Div.1: Teignmouth vs Exmouth

A look at the team lists before the match started would suggest that Exmouth could anticipate being in for a relatively easy afternoon. A look at the completed result chart would suggest that that is exactly how it turned out, especially after John Stephens on Bd. 1 had a quick, 18 move win, to put the visitors 1-0 up.

How wrong can one be. The remaining 5 games were all tense affairs right up to the fourth hour of play, and at one stage it looked as if Exmouth could lose the match. The Gorodi-Hurst match was unclear for most of the time until Hurst finally broke through, while Wensley never had any advantage against Peter Halmkin and went on to lose his last piece and with it the game. Norman Tidy had much freedon in the centre of the board to deploy his queen and rooks, and Shaw had to defend very carefully. Eventually Shaw broke through to record a hard-earned point.

Ariss played in his usual aggressive way, and Gosling countered well, but used much time to find the right moves which put the pressure on. With a minute or two left on White’s clock a draw was agreed, securing the necessary 3.5 points for an Exmouth win.

Meanwhile, Abbott had entered a long endgame with Q+N vs Q+R, but found a clever resource to win the exchange back. But Black’s queen had many checks available and drove his opponent’s king to the opposite side of the board. With seconds of extra time left, Abbott managed to force the queens off, leaving him with c. 25 seconds to queen his 2 pawns and mate his opponent. He managed it with 5 seconds left.

It was all very hard work, especially watching it from the sidelines.

  Bremridge Cup       16.02.’13.  
Bd Teignmouth Grd     Exmouth Grd
1 A. W. Brusey 174 0 1 J. K. Stephens 192
2 H. W. Ingham 158 0 1 M. V. Abbott 167
3 J. G. Gorodi 148 0 1 K. J. Hurst 176
4 P. E. Halmkin 140 1 0 O. E. Wensley 172
5 N. F. Tidy 119 0 1 M. Shaw 166
6 J. A. Ariss 120 ½ ½ B. G. Gosling 164
    859   1,037

All 6 games here ▼


General view of the match.

Abbott vs Ingham (nearest) & Brusey vs Stephens

Wensley vs Halmkin (nearest) & Gorodi vs Hurst.

Gosling vs Ariss (nearest) & Tidy vs Shaw.

E. Devon League Div.1 Exmouth vs Exeter

The League rules state that 1st division teams must not exceed a total grade of 640 (as distinct from Under-640, as in DCCA’s Div. 2). For this match, on Wednesday 13th February 2013,  both captains were quietly pleased to have assembled a team of maximum strength, only revealed when team lists were exchanged. No pressure, then.

Exmouth won the toss and took white on Bd. 1.  Shaw on Bd. 3 built up his position slowly at first, but opened it up with a couple of pawn captures and mated on move 24. This inevitably put pressure on the other Exeter players, but no clear advantages were perceptable for some time on the other boards. The Amos-Hodge game proceeded to a roughly equal B vs N endgame, but Hodge’s knight was eventually pushed to the back rank, while the king invaded his pawns and he had to resign – all square.

The Paulden-Abbott game proceeded to an endgame, without a clear advantage to either side, and as White’s time ran to the last minute of extra time, a draw was agreed.

In the top game, Black allowed his pieces to become constricted on the queenside, which allowed White to probe for openings on the undefended king’s wing. There was just enough time for the h-pawn to run through for a 2nd queen, forcing Black to give up a rook for it.

Bd Exmouth Grd     Exeter Rooks Grd
1 John Stephens 192 1 0 Dr. Dave Regis 179
2 Mark Abbott 167 ½ ½ Dr. Tim Paulden 177
3 Meyrick Shaw 166 1 0 Dr. Charlie Keen 155
4 Fred Hodge 115 0 1 Jeremy Amos 129
    640   640


Stephens & Abbott (nearest) in action.

Meyrick Shaw (W) heading for a quick (-ish) win.

Amos vs Hodge amid the daffodils.


A release of tension amid post-match analysis.

Exmouth V Barnstaple – What could possibly go wrong!?

Saturday was a beautiful cloudless day with the air like wine and the prospect of a trip across Devon, from the south to north coast for a chess match excited the sense of anticipation. All 8 people involved were experienced players and organisers, and although it was only a 2nd division match, it involved an International Master, 2 qualifiers for this year’s British Championship, 2 former and one current contender for British junior titles and a former World record holder – so what could possibly go wrong!?

Well, quite a lot actually. 30 minutes before I set off, the Home captain phoned to say he’d just realised he’d assembled a team whose total grade came to 640, when the rules clearly stated it should be Under 640. He wasn’t sure what to do about it at that late juncture, and I left him worrying about who, if anyone, he could call in and who should be left out at such short notice.

Minutes later, my two passengers arrived and we set off, heading north. Almost immediately one passenger was taken violently ill (nothing to do with my driving, I hasten to add) and we had to turn back and take him home, which, at best,  left us having to play a strong team with only three players.

Once in Barnstaple, we parked and arrived at the venue with 10 minutes to spare, only to find that the home team were locked out of their room. A local friend of the club usually arrives with a key, opens up and provides the refreshments, but he was nowhere to be seen. Their Plan B is to have a player with a spare key. In this case, he arrived only to find he’d left his key at home, and had to drive all the way back to Bideford to get it.

At 3 p.m. after half an hour waiting, someone came down from upstairs and said he had a key and would let us in, which he did, but then no-one had the key to the equipment cupboard, so we were little better off. We could at least now have tea or coffee, but someone had forgotten the biscuits. To fill the time, the captains tossed for colours; Barnstaple won and naturally took the two whites on 1 and 3, with Bd. 4 already in the bag.

Eventually, the second keyholder arrived from Bideford and a silence descended as play started about 45minutes late. However, it was not long before a security van drew up outside and its uniformed driver came in wanting to know who had set off the alarm. No alarm had been heard, but the system was wired up to the firm’s offices and it went off silently, so as not to scare off any intruder. It took him a half hour to satisfy himself that nothing untoward had occurred, but on leaving, warned us all, loudly, to watch out for possible trouble.

It wasn’t long thereafter before John Stephens fell to ‘Jumping’ Jack Rudd. Stephens, playing an opening he knows well, played his 10th move too quickly, getting the move order mixed up. Jack pounced and it was soon over. He played 34 moves in 11 minutes’ thinking time, at a rate of 19 seconds per move, quite usual for him. Quite apart from whatever’s happening on the board, this inevitably puts time pressure on all his opponents, as a scheduled 4 hour game isn’t going to last much longer than half that time at most, with the opponent’s clock running most of that time.

So it was 2-0 and any hope of a miracle win flown out of the window. Fortunately Jones, playing against the English Opening (which he hates), had managed to turn round an early reverse, and was finding the greater freedom for his pieces, with probing threats on both sides of the board, and eventually, his opponent resigned.

Meanwhile, Meyrick Shaw was having to cope with the dangerous Theo Slade, currently in the England Junior squad. Slade played the French Defence, and White managed to set up a strong early kingside attack, Black having to sacrifice the exchange in order stay in the game. This allowed Shaw the luxury of being able to sacrifice material back in order to continue his winning attack. leaving the match drawn. The captains reflected afterwards that after all that had gone before, probably neither side deserved to win.

All of which proves the old saying – “If a thing can go wrong, it probably will”, and it certainly did for both sides on this particular Saturday afternoon.

  Barnstaple Grd     Exmouth Grd
1 Jack Rudd 220 1 0 John Stephens 192
2 Theo Slade 145 0 1 Meyrick Shaw 166
3 Jon Munsey 135 0 1 Bob Jones 130
4 A. Rinvolucri 122 1 0 Fred Hodge (def) 115
    622 2 2   603


Bds 1 & 2 - two white wins.

Theo Slade plays the French Defence.

John Stephens facing Rudd - a possible rehearsal for this year's British.

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