Archive for the ‘Current season news’ Category
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.
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|
|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|
Here are some views of the match in progress.
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.
|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|
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|
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.
|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|
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.
|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|
Alison is not interested in the match but is reading a chess book.
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.
|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|
All 6 games here ▼
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.
|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|
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.
|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|
Exmouth’s first weekend match of the season was one of the toughest tasks they could expect – a Div. 1 Bremridge Cup encounter against the current holders, Newton Abbot. Before the visitors arrived, the home team would probably have settled for a draw, but a comparison of the team sheets showed that Exmouth actually outgraded their opponents on 5 of the 6 boards and made them wonder whether a win might be possible.
Exmouth lost the toss and took Black on odd-numbered boards. Stephens and Mackle set about each other like a hurricane, whipping out 20 moves in just 5 minutes each. Then, Mackle took 45 minutes for his 21st move as the position looked highly complex, with pieces hanging all over the board.
Meanwhile, 4 draws followed at a more sedate pace in the middle order. Hurst/Kinder was a 19 move draw, while Wensley had to rise from the dead to snatch a fortuitous draw from an opponent who was moving instantaneously in a rook & pawn endgame. Shaw and Gosling both had possible chances near the end but agreed draws as time started pressing around move 27.
As the Bd. 1 game approached its climax, Stephens was a rook up, but Mackle’s pieces excercised great threats and the utmost care was needed by both sides. Eventually, Black managed to ease the corset he had been strapped in for so long, and managed to start running his 3 united kingside pawns. This proved the decisive factor and he would have queened one of them had not Mackle resigned.
But just as a win seemed possible, David Toms lost on time in a complex position, leaving a drawn match.
|DCCA Div. 1|
|1||John Stephens||192||1||0||Dominic Mackle||202|
|2||Kevin Hurst||176||½||½||Andrew Kinder||162|
|3||Oliver Wensley||172||½||½||Nijad Rahimili||161|
|4||Meyrick Shaw||166||½||½||Trefor Thynne||158|
|5||Brian Gosling||164||½||½||Paul Brooks||157|
|6||David Toms||159||0||1||John Allen||149|