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Devon vs Lincolnshire Results (16.06.2018.) 990

Devon failed in their bid to reach the Final of the Minor Counties tournament, losing to the current holders Lincolnshire 10-6 in the semi-final held on Saturday. This tournament’s regulations state that the playing grades of any 16 man team should not, when added together, exceed 2880 or an average of 180 per person. The fact that Lincolnshire chose to include Grandmaster Matthew Turner did not unduly worry Devon as they would have to pay the price in terms of grades lower down the order. On the top 6 boards Devon only lost 3½-2½, yet out-graded Lincs on all of the next 11 boards – grounds for cautious optimism, but it was in this area that the match was truly lost, going down 6½-3½.

The details were as follows (Devon names 1st in each pairing).

1. J. Underwood (191) 0-1 M. Turner (GM – 248). 2.J. Stephens (189) ½-½ N. Birtwistle (196). 3. J. Fraser (192) ½-½ S. Milson (193). 4. G. Bolt (188) 0-1 P. Cumbers (196). 5. S. J. Homer (181) 1-0 N. Stead (187). 6. T. Paulden (189) ½-½ M. Smith (197). 7. J. Wheeler (187) 0-1 J. Kilshaw (183). 8.M. Abbott (186) 0-1 I. David (169). 9.B. Hewson (179) 1-0 K. Palmer (163). 10. P. Hampton (175) 0-1 D. Georgiou (159). 11. J. Haynes (176) 0-1 P Cusick (169). 12. S. Martin (184) 0-1 F. Bowers (165). 13. D. Cowley (175) 1-0 C. Holt (160). 14. J. Duckham (164) 0-1 R. Herbert (161). 15.P. Brooks (166) ½-½  K. McCarthy (161). 16. W. Ingham (157) 1-0 A. Parnian (147).

One bright spot for Devon was this miniature that put them in the lead for a while. Analysis kindly supplied by the winner.

White: N. Stead. Black: Stephen Homer.

Nimzowitsch Defence.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4+ 4.Nf3 Ne4 A move played by Karpov so it can’t be bad. It has the advantage of avoiding 5.Bg5, my opponent’s usual set-up. 5.Qc2 d5 5…f5 is the alternative. 6.e3 0–0 7.Bd3 f5 8.0–0 c6 9.cxd5 exd5 I’d seen White’s next move, with the pin of Black’s d-pawn against his king and the possible loss of a pawn on e4. 9…cxd5 is the alternative, but I decided to go for the pawn sacrifice after 10…Bd6 and 11. White takes twice on e4. 10.Qb3 Bd6 10…Qe7 is a better move, but the move played sets a deadly trap. 11.Nxe4?? This looks natural but in fact it’s a blunder. Correct is 11.Bxe4 fxe4 12.Nxe4 Bc7 13.Ne5! when Black’s d-pawn remains pinned and Black will have to prove sufficient compensation for the lost pawn which will follow on 13.Nxe4 11…fxe4 12.Bxe4 Kh8! Breaking the pin and once White’s bishop moves away gives rise to a deadly exchange sacrifice on f3. 13.Bc2 Rxf3! The move I’d envisaged on move 9. The follow-up with 14.Qg5+ wins, as it allows the queen to transfer to h5 with a double attack on h2 and f3. 14.gxf3 Qg5+ 15.Kh1 Qh5 16.f4 Qf3+ 17.Kg1 Bh3 and mate cannot be avoided.0-1.

The solution to last week’s 2-mover was 1.Qa8! waiting for Black to fall on his sword, as all moves lose.

This position arose in a game recently in which White played a conservative 1.Ne2. Did he perhaps miss something a little more enterprising?

White to play

50th Cotswold Congress Results (09.06.2018.) 989

The 50th Cotswold Congress took place over the Whitsun weekend at the King’s School, Gloucester, with the following results: (all points out of 6). Open Section; 1st Keith Arkell (237) 5. 2nd Peter Cusick (169-Grantham) 4½. 3rd= Dom Mackle (196-Torquay); Tim Headlong (188-Brown Jack) & Tim Spanton (163) all 4. Grading prize Andrew Waters. (158 – Kent).

Major: 1st Andrew Munn (150-Bristol) 5½. 2nd Jamie Morgan (149-Penzance); 3rd= Rich Weston (153-Cowley) & Andrew Price (151-Leamington) 4. Grading Prize(a) Dave Rogers (131-Exmouth). Grading prize(b) Ethan Gardiner (106-Manchester).

Minor: 1st Nigel Morris (123-Leamington) 5. 2nd= C. Costeloe (122-London); Rob Furseman (120-Newmarket), Georgina Headlong (116-Brown Jack) & Rohan Palet (85-Glos). Grading prizes: Christine Constable (105-Bude) & Paul Munroe.

Top grade was GM Keith Arkell and he duly won after conceding a couple of late draws. In this game he showed what he is more than capable of doing.

White: J. Jenkins (180). Black: K. Arkell.

Nimzo-Indian Defence – Rubinstein Variation.  [E41]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Signature moves of the Nimzo-Indian Defence, one of Black’s most potent weapons against the Queen’s Gambit. 4.e3 A quiet move developed by the Polish GM, Akiba Rubinstein, against which Black must strike quickly before White can develop his centre. c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3 d6 7.0–0 Now that the bishop has served its purpose it can go, leaving Black free to concentrate on the enemy king’s position. Bxc3 8.bxc3 e5 9.e4 Bg4 10.d5 Ne7 11.h3 Bd7 12.Nh4 h6 Both white bishops are now severely restricted in scope. 13.Qe2 g5 14.Nf5 Nxf5 15.exf5 Qe7 16.Re1 0–0–0 17.a4 Rdg8 18.g4 h5 19.a5 hxg4 20.hxg4 Rh4 21.f3 e4! Giving up a pawn to allow his queen access to the attack without interfering with his rooks’ open h-file – cheap at the price. 22.Bxe4 Qe5 23.Qg2 Rgh8 24.Re2 Rh3 Threatening Rg3 winning the queen. 25.Bc2 Qxc3 26.Ra3 Qxc4 27.Rd3 Nxg4 Continuing the break-up of White’s kingside, but equally effective is 27…Bxf5 28.gxf5 Qh4 and the triple attack down the h-file will again quickly exact heavy gains. 28.Qxg4 Rh1+ 29.Kf2 R8h2+ 0-1. Further resistance was hopeless. All 60 games from the Open Section may be found on Dave Tipper’s website,

The last Westcountry team left in the National Stages is Devon who play on Saturday against Lincolnshire, the holders, at Kemerton, Worcestershire in the semi-final of the Minor Counties section. No Westcountry team has ever held this particular title, and Lincs are the current holders, so a tough battle is guaranteed.

The solution to last week’s problem was 1.f3+! forcing 1…Kf4, then 2.Pxg7+ a discovered check from which there is no escape.

This week’s position is taken from David Howard’s 2005 book, My 100 Best Two-Movers. It looks fearsomely complicated but there are patterns to be discerned which should lead you to the solution.

White to mate in 2

Frome Congress Results (02.06.2018) 988

183 players entered the recent 29th Frome Congress, and the winners were as follows (all scores out of 5):

Open Section: 1st= S. Jones, V. Stoyanov & R. de Coverley 4 pts. Grading prizes: U-2050 1st P. Anderson. 3½. U-1900 1st= J. Turner & S. Jukes 3.

Major Section: (U-165); 1st= D. Marshall; J. Fisher; S. Appleby & F. Pittman 4. Grading prizes: U-155: D. Watson & J. Lobley 3½. U-144: S. Williams 3½. Intermediate (U140) 1st G, Miller 5.        2nd= R. Millener; J. Beviss & B. Headlong 4. Grading: U-129: I. Kamotskiy 3½. U-116: T. Gough 3½. Minor (U-110) 1st= S. Walsh & M. Archbold 4½. 3rd J. Grover 4. GPs (U-100): D. Williams; E. Fields; M. Fields & P. Allaway. 3½. GP U-86: M. Cox 3½.

The Somerset champions for each section were as follows: Open: Tim Headlong (Brown Jack). Major: Dave Marshall (Trowbridge). Intermediate: Jamie Beviss (Langport). Minor: James Grover (Bath).

Entering the final round, Simon Jones was in with a chance of 1st place, but had the Black pieces.

White: J. Turner. Black: S. Jones.

Sicilian Defence – Lasker Variation [B33]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 forces Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 This is a retreat, but the alternative 8…Ne7 constricts Black’s kingside development. 9.c3 Be7 10.a4 0–0 11.Be3 a6 12.Na3 f5 13.Bd3 Nd7 14.f4 Nf6 15.fxe5 Ng4 Ironically, the very piece that had to retreat earlier now forces the same fate on White. 16.Bg1 Nxe5 17.Be2 f4 18.Bf2 Qe8 Now all but one of Black’s pieces are heading for the enemy king’s position.19.0–0 Qg6 Also very strong was 19…Bh3 20.bf3 Nxf3+ and if 21.Qxf3 Bg4 wins the queen.  20.h4 Qh6 21.Nc2 g6 22.Bf3 Bxh4 23.Nd4 Bg3 Threatens mate. 24.Bxg3 fxg3 25.Re1 Qh2+ 26.Kf1 Bh3 27.Ke2 If 27.gxhe Qxf7 mate. Bxg2 28.Ke3 Nc4+ 29.Ke4 Qh4+ 0-1 30.Kd3 would be forced and 30…Nxb2+ wins the queen.

This miniature took place in the Major:

White: P. Markham.  White: A. Papier

Queen Pawn’s Game [D00]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 Nxe4 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Ne7 8.f3 Nf5 Attacking a piece and opening lines for his other pieces to attack. What could possibly go wrong? 9.Qd2 Qh4+ 10.g3 Nxg3 Black jumps in, seeing attacking chances for himself. 11.Bb5+ 11…c6? Black needs to develop more pieces e.g. 11…Bd7! 12.Bxd7+ Kxd7 13.Bf2 e3 14.Qxe3 Qb4+ 15.c3 Qxb2 etc. 12.Bg5 Qh5 13.dxc6+- Be6 14.Qd7+! 1–0. If 14. ..BXQ 15 PxB mate.

Thanks to Dave Tipper for supplying these and many other game scores. Much more information may be found on the website.

In last week’s 2-mover by David Shire, White should play 1.Nde5! after which Black will not be able to evade all the mating threats.

This week’s position is a return to the rooks-only theme of Alain White from his little book published in 1910. Because of the limited resources available. e.g. no knights beloved of composers, the vast majority in this category involve more than 2 moves, but this is one of the few.

White to play and mate in 2.

Quarter Final Results of Devon & Cornwall (19.06.2018.) 986

The West of England’s 2 teams that went forward to the National Stages were Devon & Cornwall, and they played their quarter-final matches on Saturday. Devon faced Worcestershire in the Minor Counties section, and cruised through 9½-6½. Devon won the toss and had white on the odd-numbered boards. Devon names 1st in each pairing: 1. D. Mackle 0 – 1  K. Hurney. 2. J. Underwood ½ – ½ Z. Koneki. 3. J. Stephens 1 – 0 E. Osbourne. 4. T. Paulden ½ – ½ D. Lambourne. 5. J. F. Wheeler ½ – ½ L. Davis. 6. S. Martin 0 – 1 P.Kitson. 7. G. Ross-Andrews ½ – ½ G. Jackson. 8. B. W. Hewson. 1 – 0 I. I Clarke. 9. C. Lowe ½ – ½ P. Barker. 10. J. Haynes 1 – 0 S. Mellor. 11. P. Hampton 1 – 0 N. Towers. 12. D.Cowley 1 – 0 S. Woodhouse.  13. T. F. Thynne 0 – 1 J. Welch. 14. P. Brooks 1 – 0 G. Dyett. 15. J. Duckham 1 – 0 M. Hadley. 16.  Y. Wang 0 – 1 B. Fuller.

Meanwhile, Cornwall faced a sterner examination, losing 4-12 to a Surrey team that was at maximum strength. Cornish players 2nd in each pairing. 1. C. Briscoe ½ – ½ J.Menadue. 2. R. Granat 1 – 0 J. Hooker. 3. R. Haldane 1 – 0 L. Retallick. 4. D. Rosen 1 – 0 M. Hassall. 5. D.Young. 0 – 1 G.Healey. 6. J. Shepley 1 – 0 T.Manton. 7. I. Heppell 1 – 0 C. Sellwood. 8. S. Galer ½ – ½ R. Smith. 9. P. Stimpson 0 – 1 A. Hussain.  10. O. Phillips ½ – ½  T. Willis. 11. N. Faulks 1 – 0 G. Trudeau. 12. I.McLeod ½ – ½ J. Morgan. 13. H. Jones 1 – 0 M. Hill . 14. J. Eckert 1 – 0  J. Henderson 15. J. Fox 1 – 0 D. R. Jenkin. 16. N. Grey 1 – 0. (def.)

No game scores have yet emerged from either match. Surrey will now play Suffolk, while Devon face last year’s champions, Lincolnshire, in the semi-finals

In last week’s position, Spassky lost out to 1.Qg3+ Kh8 2.Rf7! 1-0 Play might have continued 2… Rg2 3.Rxf7+ Kh6 4.Qh3+ Kg6. 5.Qhf+ etc.

This week’s 2-mover is the starter problem for the Winton British Chess Solving Championship 2018-19. White is playing up the board, has the move and must mate in 2 against any Black defence. There is no entry fee and is open only to British residents. Competitors need only send White’s first move, known as the key move, to either Nigel Dennis, Boundary House, 230 Greys Rd., Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1QY, or by e-mail to  Don’t forget to mention that you saw the problem in the Western Morning News.

All entries must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than 31st July 2018 and must give the entrant’s name & home address. Juniors U-18 on 31st July 2018 must also give their date of birth.

After the closing date, all competitors will be sent (a) the answer to the starter problem and (b) those who got it right will receive the Postal Round, consisting of 8 more difficult and varied positions.

In due course the best competitors and 5 best juniors will be invited to the Final at Eton College on Saturday 23rd February 2019. The ultimate winner will win the right to represent Great Britain at the World Solving Championships 2019.

White to mate in 2.

Chess – The Musical – is back!

Among his many skills and interests, Sir Tim Rice is a keen chessplayer. After his early successes as a lyricist teaming up with Andrew Lloyd Webber for musicals like Evita, he drew up plans for an old idea of his in which the Cold War was acted out over a chessboard, much as the Fischer-Spassky match of 1972 had been. In 1982 he approached his regular tunesmith partner with the idea, but by then Lloyd Webber was unable to help, being fully committed with his own project, Cats. It was suggested to him that as Abba was at that moment in the act of breaking up, the two Bs in that particular partnership, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, might be looking for fresh opportunities. They jumped at the chance, and Chess -The Musical was born.

Notoriously difficult to stage, especially trying to cater for different audiences as it toured the world, but the songs quickly became all-time classics. Its latest incarnation opened recently at the London Coliseum to excellent reviews.

While the sociopathic Fischer-based  character was largely retained, Spassky was just too nice a gentleman to be a sparky on-stage persona, and it was thought to be loosely based on someone like Victor Korchnoi.

In this latest production, this character is played by Michael Ball, former pupil at Plymouth College.

Here’s a game from that epic 1972 encounter. Fischer had virtually given his opponent a 2 point start, but Spassky hadn’t won any of the next 8 games and was 6½– 3½ down. Here is Game 11, in which the Russian knows he has to come up with something special.

White: B. V. Spassky. Black R. J. Fischer Sicilian Defence [B97]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 Fischer went for the Poisoned Pawn variation for a second time in the match, but Spassky had done some homework on it.  9.Nb3 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 This was one “improvement”, as it breaks up Black’s kingside pawns and makes it difficult for him to castle there. 11.Be2 h5 Denying White’s bishop that square.  12.0–0 Nc6 13.Kh1 Avoiding a possible check later. 13…Bd7 14.Nb1! A remarkable idea, intended to keep Black’s queen trapped in a cage of her own making. 14…Qb4 If 14…Qb2 15.a3 followed by Nc3 & Ra2 trapping the queen. 15.Qe3 Denying b6 as an escape route. 15…d5 16.exd5 Ne7 17.c4 Nf5 18.Qd3 h4? 19.Bg4! Nd6? 20.N1d2 f5 21.a3 Qb6 22.c5 Qb5? 23.Qc3! Now White has threats to rook & knight while a4 wins the queen. There’s no way out., but Fischer plays on anyway 23…fxg4 24.a4 h3 25.axb5 hxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rh3 27.Qf6 Nf5 28.c6 Bc8 29.dxe6 fxe6 30.Rfe1 Be7 31.Rxe6 Rh8 1-0. Spassky’s best game so far played, but it was not enough in the long run.

The answer to last week’s position was 1.Qxf5+ KxQ 2. Bd3 mate, as the king has nowhere to go.

Here is your chance to beat Spassky. He is all set to mate with Qxa3#, but it’s not his move. Is there anything you, as, White, can do about it?

White to play against Spassky

End of Season matches (05.05.2018.) 984

Devon’s last match in Division 1 was played out on Saturday between Exmouth and Newton Abbot. As both teams had already lost home and away to Exeter, there wasn’t much to play for, except to avoid the wooden spoon. In this, Exmouth succeeded narrowly, but there were wins for both teams.

At quickplay Paul Hampton has few equals on the local circuit. He won this game, but missed a mating combination.

White: P. D. Hampton (172). Black: C. V.  Howard (154).

Bird’s Opening  [A03]

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.b3 Be7 5.Bb2 c5 6.Be2 Nc6 7.0–0 b6 8.Qe1 Bb7 9.d3 Qc7 10.Ne5 Bf8 11.Nd2 0–0–0 12.Ndf3 Ne8 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.c4 Now knowing which side Black has castled, White wastes no time in launching an attack against it. 14…Nd6 15.b4 Nf5 16.cxd5 exd5 17.bxc5 Bxc5 18.d4 Bd6 19.Rc1 threatening Bb5. White can ignore the threat to his e3 pawn as the knight would be needed to defend the white-square bishop, especially with Black’s king & queen are in line. 19…Kb7 20.Ne5 Bxe5 21.fxe5 Nxe3 White gifts the e-pawn as it frees up all his pieces.  22.Ba6+ Kxa6 23.Qxe3 Qd7 24.Rf3 Rc8 25.Rcf1 f6 26.exf6 gxf6 27.Rxf6 Rc7 28.Ba3 Qg7 29.Bd6 Bb5 30.R1f2 Rc4 31.Be5 Re8 Welcome to the game. Now Black has options. 32.Qa3+ Ra4 33.Qd6 Qg4 34.h3 Qe4 35.Kh2 Rc8 36.Rf7 Bd3 The killer move. 37.Rxa7+! The killer move. 37…Kxa7 38.Qd7+ Check and forking both rooks. 38…Ka6 39.Qxc8+? Wrong rook; White missed a mate in 4 by taking the other rook viz 39.Qxa4+ Kb7 40.Rf7+ Rc7 41.Rxc7+ Kb8 42.Qe8# 39…Ka5 40.Qc3+ Ka6 41.Rd2 1-0

A rapidly-improving junior, Ramesh showed his growing class with this win over a more experienced opponent.

White: V. Ramesh (164). Black: S. Martin (186)

Sicilian Defence – Dragon Variation [B72]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 Nf6 8.f3 Bd7 9.Qd2 a6 10.h4 h5 11.0–0–0 b5 White having committed to castling long, Black moves to launch a pawn storm, but it takes a lot of moves to get the a & b pawns onto really threatening squares, which perhaps could be better used completing piece development  12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.Kb1 Qc7 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Bd7 16.Rhe1 a5 17.Bd3 b4 18.Qf2 Rb8 19.Bd4 Bxd4 20.Qxd4 Black has left castling too late 20…Rg8 If 20…0–0 21.Rxe7. 21.Re2 e6 22.dxe6 Bxe6 23.Rde1 Kd7 24.Re5 Ke7 25.R5e4 Qc5 26.Qxc5 dxc5 27.Re5 Rgc8 28.Bxg6! Not difficult to see; just the fruit of everything that’s gone before. 28…Kf6 29.Bxh5 Re8 30.b3 Rbc8 31.Bg4 Rc6 32.Bxe6 fxe6 It’s now a pure R&P endgame, except that Black doesn’t have enough of the latter. 33.Kc1 a4 34.g4 axb3 35.axb3 c4 36.bxc4 Rxc4 37.R5e4 Rc3 38.R1e3 Rec8 39.Rxe6+ Kf7

The solution to last week’s ancient teaser was 1.Rhg7! Wherever the king or knight move will allow one of the rooks to mate on the back rank.

In this level-looking position from 1995 White noticed a breakthrough move.

What did he play?

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

You-Tube Student (24.03.2018.) 977

Cornwall’s Championship and general congress took place last weekend at Carnon Downs Village Hall. James Hooker was unable to defend his title due to illness which left ten players to fight it out over 5 rounds. Going into the final game, the clear leader was Mark Watkins who faced top seed Jeremy Menadue, the latter emerging triumphant and winning the Emigrant Cup for the 5th time. Rodrigo continued his recent improvement by winning the U-150 Grading Prize in his first appearance in this section.

Details kindly supplied by Ian George: 1st Jeremy Menadue (185 – Carrick) 4/5. 2nd= David Saqui (170 – Penwith); Gary Trudeau (151 – Liskeard) & Mark Watkins (172 – Penwith) 3½. 5th Jan Rodrigo (140 – Penwith) 2. 6th= Percy Gill (143 – Penwith); Grant Healey (Carrick) & Colin Sellwood (149 – Camborne) 2. 9th Adam Hussain (150 – Carrick) 1½. 10th David J. Jenkins (144 – Penwith) 1.

The Falmouth Cup for those graded U-146 was contested by 18 players one of whom was a complete novice, Toby Willis, who made the most interesting story of the day. Toby is a 1st Year student at the Penryn Campus of Exeter University, and before the weekend had never played before in public, having taught himself the game entirely via the chess materials on YouTube. However, far from being an innocent thrown to the wild beasts, he won every game and came clear 1st. Definitely one to watch.

Details: 1st T. Willis (UG – Carrick) 5. 2nd= Keith Brewer (UG – Liskeard); Jason Henderson (124 – Lerryn) & Bryan Jones (103 – Carrick). Here is one of the games from the top section involving 3 queens on the board at the same time.

White: G. Trudeau. Black: J. Rodrigo.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Be3 e5 5.d5 Be7 6.Be2 c6 7.f4 Qa5 threatening 8…Nxe4 8.Qd2 Qb4 9.Bf3 This time ignoring the threat. 9…Qxb2 Black’s acceptance of the b-pawn is double-edged: on the one hand he later gets a 2nd queen in that corner, but on the other he is neglecting normal piece development. 10.Rb1 Qa3 11.Nge2 Qa5 12.0–0 a6 13.Ng3 g6 14.Kh1 c5 15.f5 b5 16.Bh6 Bf8 17.Be3 Bg7 18.h4 Nb6 19.Be2 b4 20.Nd1 gxf5 21.Bh6 Rg8 22.exf5 Nbxd5 23.Bc4 Bb7 24.Bg5 Qc7 25.h5 h6 26.Bh4 Qc6 27.Be2 Qa4 28.Bf3 b3 29.Bxf6 Bxf6 30.Ne4 bxa2 31.Rxb7 a1Q 32.Qxd5 Taking stock, Black has a queen & 2 pawns for 2 knights, but his king is trapped in the centre and his rooks are disconnected, whereas White has queen, rook & knight in threatening positions. 32…Q1a2 33.Qxf7+? The obvious move is 33.Nxf6+! and if 33…Kd8 34.Qxd6+ Kc8 35.Qc7#; or 33…Kf8 34.Rxf7# 33…Qxf7 34.Nxd6+ Kd8 35.Nxf7+ Kc8 36.Nd6+ Kd8 37.Ne4 Rg7 38.Ndc3 Qc6 39.Rd1+ Kc8 1-0 Resigned in view of 40.Rxg7 Bxg7 41.Nd6+ winning the queen.

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.QxP+ PxQ 2.Bishop moves = mate.

This position is taken from the 6 nation international Clare Benedict Tournament of 1963, where, in Rd. 2, Owen Hindle (W) was the only winner, enabling England to beat Spain 2½-1½. How did he do that from this position?

White to play and win.

The Bird Has Flown: (10.03.2018.) 976

After Jack Rudd’s apparently easy progress through the recent E. Devon Congress, it was found that not all games were quite that straightforward. This one from Round 1, for example, could have been an upset.

Notes by Hampton and Tim Paulden

White: Paul Hampton (175). Black: J. Rudd (225)

Bird’s Opening [A03]

1.f4 Much favoured by Henry Edward Bird (1830-1908) who, after a lengthy absence from the game, found “it led to highly interesting games out of the usual groove and I became partial to it.” Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.d3 d5 4.e3 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.0–0 c5 7.Qe1 Nc6 8.c3 d4 9.cxd4 cxd4 10.e4 Black has planned to exploit the weak d3 pawn, but now White has a solid centre on which to base a kingside attack, which will be all out for mate, giving little regard for any queenside activity. 10…b6 11.Na3 a5 12.Bd2 Ba6 13.Rc1 Rc8 14.Nc4 Nd7 Black brings more pieces to pressurise the d3 pawn, but the knight on f6 is a key defensive piece so h7 is now White’s target. 15.Qh4 Nc5 16.f5 Nb4 17.Bh6 f6 Black is finally forced to weaken his position to counter the threat of Ng5. 18.Nce5! Turning the game in White’s favour. 18…Nbxd3 If 18…fxe5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Rxc5 bxc5 21.Ng5 and Black has to give up his queen to avoid mate e.g. 21…gxf5 19.fxg6 hxg6 20.Nxg6 Nxc1 21.Bxa6 Nxa6 22.Nfe5? White missed the subtlety of Black’s knight check putting his king in the corner. Also, post-congress analysis has uncovered the continuation… 22.Bxg7! Kxg7 23.Qg4! From this point on, all lines are winning for White, and although with best play Black can avoid any forced mates, White will hoover up material.  Ne2+ 24.Kh1 Kh7 25.Nfh4 d3 26.Nf5 Rc7 27.Nf4 threatening mate on g7. 27…Ng3+ 28.hxg3 e5 29.Qh5+ Kg8 30.Nh6+ Kg7 31.Ne6+ forking K, Q & 2 rooks. 31…Kh8 32.Nf7+ double check. 32…Kg8 33.Qg6 mate But it’s a highly complex position and difficult to see every possibility in the heat of battle. 22…Ne2+ 23.Kh1 fxe5 24.Nxf8 Qxf8 25.Rxf8+ Rxf8 Now the importance of the N-check is clear: if Black did not threaten mate then White could exchange bishops and fork K & N. But the chance of an upset has gone, as the lone queen is not enough to combat a rook & 2 knights. 26.g4 Bxh6 27.Qxh6 Rf6 28.Qg5+ Kf7 29.Qxe5 Nc5 30.Qh5+ Kg7 31.Qg5+ Kf8 32.e5 Ne4 33.Qh4 Rf1+ 34.Kg2 Rf2+ 35.Kh1 Nf4 36.Qh8+ Kf7 37.Kg1 Rg2+ 38.Kf1 Nd2+ 39.Ke1 Nf3+ 40.Kf1 Nxh2+ 41.Ke1 Nxg4 42.Qh7+ Ke6 43.Qg8+ Kxe5 44.Qg5+ Ke4 45.Qxe7+ Kf3 46.Qb7+ Kg3 47.b4 Nd3+ 0–1

Last week’s position by Sam Loyd was taken from the collection entitled Roi acculé aux angles (Paris – 1905), White could play 1.Qa8! and if the Black queen moves there will be mate on a8 or if Black’s pawn moves 2.Rh6 mate. Here is another from that book, composed by Lilian Baird (1881 – 1977), the young daughter of Edith (née Winter-Wood), the queen of the problem world. Lilian was indeed a prodigy, with compositions published at the age of 8 but didn’t keep it up to the extent her mother did.

A prodigy's problem: White to move & mate in 2