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Archive for the ‘Western Morning News’ Category

Hooten & The Lady & the Fawcett Brothers (24.09.2016.)

Last weekend’s TV schedules flagged up the start of a new adventure series entitled Hooten and the Lady, with high production standards and deeming it enjoyable but forgettable Friday night candy floss. In it, British Museum curator, young Lady Alex Lindo-Parker, jets off to the Amazon rainforest in search of Col. Percy Fawcett’s lost camp, is thrown together with maverick adventurer Hooten, and within on-screen minutes the pair stumble on a cave containing a skeleton, presumably that of Fawcett, grasping a treasure map in its bony hand, which quickly leads them to the fabled city of gold, El Dorado. The fact that scores of expeditions from Sir Walter Raleigh’s in 1595 to Fawcett’s in 1925 had all failed in that very same project is neither here nor there; one must suspend one’s disbelief.

What the programme doesn’t mention (and why should it?) is that Fawcett was brought up at 3, Barnpark Terrace, Teignmouth, together with 3 sisters and an older brother, Edward Douglas (1866-1960), who led a life every bit as exotic as Percy; a pioneering science fiction writer, philosopher, alpinist, aviator & chessplayer.

Douglas founded the Totnes Club in 1901 and played for Devon. He moved to Switzerland for many years to concentrate on his mountaineering, but after a heart attack halfway up the Matterhorn at the age of 66 he was forced to give up, and returned to quieter pursuits, including chess. He played in the Paignton Congress from its inception in 1951 to 1959 died in 1960 aged 94.

A report of Paignton 1958 said Of the veteran players, 92 year old Mr. Douglas Fawcett, played some good games and delighted everyone with his memories of Pillsbury and his first game with Steinitz, played in 1879”.

Much more detail of his life may be found on keverelchess.com/e-douglas-fawcett.

Here is his game from Rd. 8 of the Southsea Congress 1949, in which he beats the 9-times Irish Champion, illustrating his sharp attacking style.

White: E. Douglas Fawcett. Black: J. J. O’Hanlon.

Ruy Lopez – Berlin Defence.  [C67]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 Black accepts the proffered pawn, not often done these days. 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.Nc3 0–0 Fawcett is following the Pillsbury Variation, in tribute to his hero. 10.Nd4 Nc5 11.Rd1 Qe8 12.Nf5 Ne6 13.Ne4 Rb8 14.b3 Rb5 15.f4 Rd5 16.Be3 Bb7 17.Qg4 Building up a kingside attack from which a black rook and bishop are powerless to defend. 17…Kh8 18.c4 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 g6 20.Nxe7 Qxe7 21.Nf6 The perfect place for a knight. 21…Rd8 Black needs f8 for his knight to defend h7. 22.Qh4 Nf8 23.c5 d5 24.Bd4 Qe6 25.g4 Bc8 26.Rf1 Ba6 This threat can be ignored. 27.f5 Qe7 28.e6! Opening the bishop’s diagonal.  28…fxe6 29.Nxd5+ 1–0 Winning the queen.

In last week’s position, Arkell had the choice of 2 mates; 1.RxN+ RxR 2.Rh7 mate, or 1.Rh7+ NxR 2. RxN mate.

Here is a 2-mover by John Brown of Bridport (1827 – 63).

White to play & mate in 2.

Paignton Congress Prizewinners (17.09.2016.)

The Paignton Congress finished at the weekend with the following prizewinners. (All points out of 7). Premier: 1st Keith Arkell (Paignton) 6½. 2nd Ashley Stewart (Royston) 4½. 3rd= Graham Bolt (Exeter); Stephen Peters (Aylesbury) & Mike Waddington (Dorchester). A. Stewart was awarded the Qualifying Place for next year’s British Championship.

Challengers (U-180): 1st= N. Burrows & A. Milnes both 5½. 3rd= K. Hurst (E. Budleigh); J. Hickman (Reading) & R. Everson (Dartford) all 5 pts.

Minor (U-135): 1st L. Bullock (Hackney) 5½. 2nd= E. Fierek (Gloucester); D. Gilbert (DHSS); G. Parfett (Athenium) & R. Everson (Dartford) all 5 pts.

Boniface 5-Rd Morning: 1st Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh) 4/5 pts. 2nd= J. Hickman (Reading) & R. Puchades (Cosham) both 3½.

Thynne 5-Rd Morning (U-135): 1st N. Andrews (York). 2nd= P. Foster (Medway); A. Collins (Cowley); M. Roberts (Holmes Chapel) & J. Shaddick (Basingstoke) all 3½.

Local player, Brian Gosling , won the top section of the Morning tournaments, after starting with this win in Rd. 1. Notes based on those by the winner.

White: B. Gosling (159). Black: A. Hibbitt (158).

Sicilian Defence – Closed System.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nbd2 Bg7 5.g3 d6 reinforcing e5. 6.Bg2 Rb8 7.a4 a6 8.0–0 Bd7 9.Re1 b5 10.axb5 axb5 11.Nb3 e5 12.Bg5 Bf6 13.Be3 Bg7 14.c3 Preventing intrusion by Black via b4 & d4. 14…Nge7 15.d4 c4 Black attacks the knight and wins space but White has a positional sacrifice in mind. 16.dxe5 cxb3 17.exd6 Nc8 18.e5 For the knight sacrifice White has a protected passed pawn on d6 and the more active pieces. 18…0–0 19.Bg5 Qb6 20.Qxb3 White now has 3 pawns for the knight, a balance of forces favouring White. 20…Be6 21.Qd1 Nxe5? If 21…b4 Black could hope to survive. 22.Nxe5 Nxd6? Better was 22…Bxe5 23.Rxe5 Nxd6. 23.Be3 Qc7 24.Nc6 Rb7 24…Ra8 hoping against hope 25.Rxa8 Rxa8. 25.Bf4 White’s pieces all have long lines and diagonals, while Black is losing material. The pin on the knight is fatal. 1–0. Play might have continued 25.Bf4 Re8 26.Qxd6 Qxd6 27.Bxd6+.

Many more games from the event may be played through or downloaded from the chessdevon website.

The West of England Inter-County Jamboree took place on Sunday at the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, Taunton, with, like Paignton, a lower than usual entry. Devon retained the Congress Cup for the top section with 8½/12 points, followed by Somerset (6) and Cornwall (3½). The grade-limited section was won by the Torbay League (7½/12), followed by Gloucestershire (6) and Somerset II (4).

Last week’s 2-move miniature by David Howard was solved by 1.Qg1! threatening 2.Qg5 mate. If 1…Kxh4 2.Qh2 mate.

Here is a 2-move finish by Keith Arkell from a game earlier this year. If it seems relatively easy from this point, the skill lies in reaching the position in the first place.

White to play and win.

Paignton Congress & Latest on Oldway Mansion (09.09.2016.)

The Paignton Congress started on Sunday with another slight drop in entries, and some talk among players and organisers about the possible reasons for this, including comparisons between the relative virtues of its original venue of 62 years, Oldway Mansion, and its current one at the Livermead House Hotel. The latter is an excellent venue, but there seems to be an unconscious yearning for a return to its roots.

As is well-known, Oldway was acquired  by James Brent’s Akkeron Group, with promises of turning the main building into a luxury hotel and hopes that the congress might be able to return there. But nothing was done as Brent and the Torbay Council locked horns over the best way to proceed. In January Akkeron sued the Council for £8 million in damages, but this also came to nothing, and meanwhile Oldway continued to decay. Now, for the sake of the building before it becomes too far gone to do anything with, Brent has washed his hands of the whole project, and Oldway is back in Council hands.

Inspectors representing Historic England, recently checked the fabric of the building inside and out, and have reported that the empty building is not deteriorating as badly as many feared. So if the Council can obtain the necessary funds from a variety of sources, including the National Lottery and various heritage funds, there may be some hope that the Congress may be able to return there one day.

Meanwhile, local Grandmaster, Keith Arkell is a nailed-on certainty to win the Premier, so far ahead is he in grading of the other 17 players in that section. We can only admire the seven games he will have played by the last round this afternoon. Here, for example, is his Rd. 1 game which features a very short, sharp finish.

White: Graham Bolt (190). Black: Keith Arkell (241).

King’s Fianchetto Opening

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 c5 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 d4 5.Ne4 e5 6.c3 Be7 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.Nxf6+ Bxf6 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 Bf5 11.Nd2 Threatening to double Black’s pawns. 11…Qd7 12.Ne4 With twin threats to c5 and f6. 12…Be7 13.Bd2 a5 14.a4 Be6 15.Qc2 f5 With pieces developed Black now commences a kingside attack. 16.Ng5 Bxg5 17.Bxg5 f4 18.gxf4 exf4 White’s black-square bishop could become trapped after …h7; Bh4 g5.  19.Bh4 g5! Arkell’s favourite move, played whenever possible. 20.Bxg5 The pawn has gone, but lines have been opened down which Black can attack. 20…Qg7 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Kh1 f3 23.Rg1 It’s a tussle for control of the g-file and Black seems vulnerable with his queen in front of his king. 23…fxe2 24.c4 If 24.Bh6 Bd5+. 24…Rxf2! 25.Bh4 Bg4 26.Rxg4 Rf1+ Less neat is 26…Qxg4 27.Bxf2 Qf3+ 28.Kg1 Rf8. 27.Rg1 Qxg1# 0–1

In last week’s position White won after 1.RxR+ Kf7 2. NxB+ Kf6 3.PxN=Q mate.

Here is a new 2-move miniature by David Howard.

White to mate in 2

UK Chess Challenge Swansong?

The world’s largest chess tournament, the Delancy UK Chess Challenge, which annually attracts between 40 – 70 thousand children, came to a thrilling finale in Loughborough recently, with prizewinners at all age groups, and not always the expected ones.

However, it may be a finale in more ways than one, as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have declared bankrupt the event’s organiser for the last 21 years, Mike Basman, with a VAT bill of c. £⅓ million for an unpaid 20% tax on the children’s entry fees. Even now, the authorities are assessing his assets to see whether being forced to sell his house in Chessington would cover the bill.

Last January the law was changed to allow not-for-profit sports organisations to benefit from tax breaks. One hundred different sports were so advantaged, including Boccia, Tchoukball, Octopush and Arm-wrestling, to name but four (don’t ask what they are, but the other 96 may be found on the HMRC website), but “mind sports” like chess and bridge were excluded. The English Bridge Union appealed against the ruling but was unsuccessful.

Basman’s case is that he works tirelessly in his own time for the benefit of children, happily pays up to £12,000 VAT per annum on badges, trophies etc. but to become VAT-registered himself in order to process the entry fees would involve the nightmare of accountants, rigorous book-keeping, tax inspections etc. after which the schools would claim back their VAT payments anyway, making the whole exhausting rigmarole pointless.

Many of the children involved are among the country’s very brightest and best, and will be competing in their age-group at world level, as have previous winners. Compare this treatment by the Government to that of our recently returned Olympic heroes and heroines who have had about £⅓ billion of Lottery money spent on them.

Mike Basman deserves a gold medal himself, yet for all his efforts, freely given over two decades, faces being turned out onto the street.

It is also in stark contrast to the way HMRC deals with global businesses like Amazon, Starbucks et al, tentatively asking whether they could possibly spare a few crumbs from their massive profits by way of tax. It’s another example of the old saying about the law being “good at catching sparrows while the eagle soars free”.

The event website, delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com contains details of all prizewinners, photographs, games, etc. and a petition page where anyone can register their wish to have chess de-registered from VAT like all physical sports. Basman also encourages anyone concerned over the issue to write to their MP, requesting a credible explanation and some effort to get things changed.

The solution to last week’s 3-mover was 1.Bg6! and whatever Black tries White has 2.Bh5 and 3.Qe2 mate.

In this position, Black can survive for 2 moves but will be powerless against White’s 3rd move.

White to play and win

A Classic Game from the Paignton Congress (27.08.2016.)

The Paignton Congress starts next weekend, and overall entries are currently down on previous years but organisers are hoping for a last minute rush of entries to balance things up. Entry forms are downloadable from chessdevon.co.uk.

Here is a game from Paignton in 1955.

White: Sir Philip Milner-Barry. Black: Harry Golombek.

Notes by the winner.

Sicilian Defence – Wing Gambit [B10].

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 As played by Golombek against Penrose at the recent British Championship. Penrose replied 4.c4, which did not seem very effective. 4.b4 cxb4 5.a3 bxa3 6.Nxa3 A sort of Wing Gambit in which White has answered d4 with e5 – normally a poor move when the Black queen’s bishop can get out, but White has here an extra tempo. 6…Nc6 7.Be2 Bg4 8.d4 e6 9.0–0 Nge7 10.c3 Nf5 11.Qd3 So as to bring the queen and king’s bishop to their most hopeful attacking posts as quickly as possible. 11…Be7 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 h5 14.Bd3 g6 15.Nc2 Rc8 16.Bd2 Qd7 White has very little for the pawn, but his defensive position, based on the c3 pawn is very strong, and as the course of the game shows, the Black king’s wing is not as invulnerable as it looks. 17.Ne3 Kf8 Clearly he does not want to exchange on e3, giving White the f-file. 18.g3 a6 19.Ng2 Kg7 20.Nf4 Nh6 21.Kg2 White must be prepared to double rooks on the h-file, in case Black should exchange pawns when White plays g4. 21…Na7 22.g4 h4 23.Ne2 A further regrouping to play f4 and eventually f5. 23…Nb5 24.Qe3 Na3 25.f4 Black’s hold on f5 is so strong that White must face an eventual sacrifice. I considered seriously Rxa3 at once, so as to preserve the valuable white-square bishop; but eventually decided not to commit myself irrevocably just yet. 25…Nc4 26.Bxc4 dxc4 I had rather expected Rxc4 27.Kh2 Qc6 28.Rf2 Kf8 29.Rg1 Ke8 30.f5 exf5! Again best. If 30…gxf5 White would break through with 31.g5 and g6. 31.g5 f4 31…Ng8 32.Nf4 leaves Black sadly cramped. If 32…Qe4 33.Qxe4 fxe4 34.Re2 followed by d5. 32.Nxf4 Nf5 33.Qe1 Qc7 34.Nd5 Now 34.d5 could be met by 34…Bc5 34…Qd8 35.Nf6+ Kf8 The best chance was 35…Bxf6 36.exf6+ Kd7 37.Bf4 I doubt if the position can ultimately be held. 36.Qe4 Rc6 37.Rxf5 gxf5 38.Qxf5 39.d5 and 39.g6 were both threats. 38…Bxf6 39.gxf6 Qd5 39…Ke8 comes to much the same. e.g. 40.Qg4 Qa5 41.Qg7 Rf8 42.Bh6 Qa3 43.d5 followed by d6. 40.Qg5 Ke8 41.Qg7 Rb6 If 41…Rf8 42.Bh6; or if 41…Rh5 42.Qg8+ Kd7 43.Qg4+. 42.Qxh8+ Kd7 43.Qxh4 Rb2 44.Rg2 a5 45.Qg4+ 1-0. On the move follows e6. The most interesting game that I have played for many years. I do not know when Black went wrong; perhaps White’s 4th move is better than it looks.

The solution to last week’s 2-mover by Sam Loyd was 1.Bf8! after which Black has 4 unsuccessful “tries”, namely 1…KxR 2.BxQ mate. 1…KxB 2.Qa3 mate; 1…NxB 2.Qc2 mate or 1…RxB 2.Qa1 mate.

Here is a new 3-mover by Dave Howard.

White to mate in 3

Paignton Approaches (20.08.2016.)

The 66th Paignton Congress starts a fortnight tomorrow. Of course, for 62 years this was held at Oldway Mansion, one-time home of the Singer family of sewing machine fame. The respected writer and player, Harry Golombek, reporting on the event in the 1960s, wrote “Devon is indeed lucky in its choice for its annual congress …. a delectable spot to pursue the joys of a hard week’s chess, interspersed with the even greater and surer delights of walks and wanderings in the beautiful sunlit gardens that surround Oldway”.

And so it continued for decades until the estate was sold to property developers, who promised great things in honeyed words that have since proved empty, as the house has been mothballed ever since and continues to deteriorate. Hence the move to the Livermead House Hotel, which may lack the Grade 1 listed gardens and grandiose atrium, but compensates with a swimming pool, an excellent restaurant and easier parking.

Here’s a game from those good old days (1968) between two Birmingham boys who eventually retired to Paignton.

Notes by the winner.

White: Peter C. Griffiths. Black: Jon E.  Lawrence,

Caro-Kann Defence [B10]

1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 Black’s plan is to play on the weakness of White’s isolated pawn on d2. In these types of position exchanges tend to favour Black and further weaken the isolated pawn. 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.Bb3 Not 7.Qe2?? as 7…b5 would be terminal. 7…Nxd5 Black has already equalised. 8.d4 Should White have accepted the proffered gift with 8.Bxd5 there would follow 8…Qe5+ 9.Qe2 Qxd5 10.Nf3. 8…Bc6 The struggle for White’s d-pawn begins. 9.Nf3 Nd7 10.0–0 e6 11.Re1 Be7 12.Nc3 N7f6 13.Bg5 0–0 14.Ne5 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Nd5 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Qg4 If 17.Nxf7 Rxf7 18.Bxe6 Bd5 19.Bxf7+ Bxf7 and Black has control of all the key white squares. 17…Nd5 18.Rac1 Rad8? Probably a slight inaccuracy. More dynamic would be 18…Rfd8 as the other rook would be better used on c8 or b8. 19.Qh4 Qe7 20.Qe4 Qf6 threatening Nxc3. 21.Bc2 g6 22.Nxc6 bxc6 23.Ba4 Better would be 23.Bb3. 23…Nxc3 24.Qxc6 Nxa4 25.Qxa4 Qxd4 assuming control of the d-file. 26.Qa6 Rd6 27.Qb7 Rd7 28.Qa6 Rd6 29.Qb7 Rd7 30.Qa6 Rfd8 Black now has complete control of the centre and d-file. 31.g3 Qd3 32.Qa4 Qd4. Black is now looking to the time control at move 40. 33.Rc4 Qb6 threatening Rd2. 34.Rc6 Rd4 35.Qc2 Qa5 36.Qb1 Rd2 37.a4 Desperation. 37…Qxa4 38.Qe4 Qxe4 39.Rxe4 R8d4 0-1. White is 2 pawns down with no compensation, so resigned. After 40.Rxd4 Rxd4 Black has reached the safety net of the time control and can rely on considered technique to nurse home the passed pawn.

In last week’s position, White can just plough ahead with a series of sacrificial captures, viz. 1.QxR+ BxQ 2.RxB+ QxR 3.RxQ mate, as Black’s remaining bishop blocks its king’s escape.

Here is a 2-mover by the evergreen Sam Loyd (1841-1911).

Adams Sprints Home (13.08.2016.)

So, Michael Adams won the British Championship for the 5th time with a record score of 10/11 points, comprising 9 wins and 2 draws. The only other player to achieve this was Julian Hodgson at Plymouth in 1993, but the field then was not as strong as this year, as sponsorship had attracted most of the active grandmasters.

In the final round, as he had already played all his main rivals, Adams was paired against someone far lower in the pecking order. Doubtless it was a great thrill for the 22 yr old Brown to be playing Adams on top board, and he had nothing to lose, except the game itself; everything else was a bonus.

White: Andrew Brown (222). Black: Michael Adams (269).

Scotch Game [C45]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 The Scotch Game  3…exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 8.Nd2 would constitute the Cochrane Attack, but White prefers to develop his knight to c3. 8…Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 Freeing up his constricted kingside position. 10.Qe4 g6 11.Bd3 The bishop might have had more scope on  e2, rather then lining up against Black’s solid fianchetto position. 11…Bg7 12.f4 0–0 13.0–0 White may be shaping up to occupy f5, but Adams decides to get there first, although in itself an unusual move in this position. 13…f5 14.exf6? In the majority of games reaching this position, White usually plays 14.Qe2, as taking en passant gives Black a good open position. 14…Qxf6 15.Bd2 d5 16.Qe2 If 16.cxd5 Bf5 17.Qf3 Qd4+ picking up the bishop. 16…Ba6 17.Rae1 Bxc4 18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Bc1 a5 20.Qc2 Rae8 21.Qa4? The queen departs the battlefield, with no threats of her own, which gives Adams the green light for an immediate all-out attack. 21…Qd4+ 22.Kh1 Rxe1 23.Rxe1 Qf2 Threatening mate. 24.Rg1 Bd4 25.Rd1 Re8 Another piece joins the fray to threaten another mate. 26.h3 Re1+ 27.Kh2 Qg1+ 28.Kg3 Ne3 Threatening mate on g2, but White calls it a day anyway 0–1. If 29.Rd2 h5 etc.

The tournament result demonstrated Adams’ continuing supremacy on the British chess scene, and he shows no sign of slowing down or relaxing his grip. On the other hand, Brown has no cause to feel down-hearted; much will be heard of him in future.

If the British Championship marks the climactic end of the old season, the Paignton Congress marks the start of the new. It begins 3 weeks tomorrow at the Livermore House Hotel on the Torbay seafront. Entry forms may be downloaded from chessdevon.co.uk or obtained from Alan Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail plymouthchess@btinternet.com. It’s his last year as Secretary and a successor is actively being sought.

Last week’s 2-mover was solved by 1.R6a6! when Black has only 2 possible moves. If 1…d3 2.Bg7 mate, or 1…Kxe4 2.Re6 mate.

In this position, both sides have long-ranging pieces, and it could be a case of Who moves wins. In fact it’s White’s move, so is this true? Can he win by

force or be mated himself.

White to play - who wins?

Adams In The Driving Seat (06.08.2016.)

At the time of going to press, after 9 of the scheduled 11 rounds of the British Championship, the eleven Grandmasters occupied most of the leading  places, as surely as cream rises to the top, though there was still time for an upset or two. Top seed Michael Adams was in the clear lead with 8/9 pts, followed by the 2014 champion, David Howell on 7, with Gormally, Nick Pert and New Zealander Justin Tan level on 6½. There was a whole raft of players on 6/9 pts, namely Mark Hebden, Chris Ward, John Emms, Richard Palliser, Keith Arkell, Martin Brown and Jovanka Houska, who will almost certainly become Ladies Champion. At this stage in the proceedings, it’s difficult to see how Adams can fail to become clear winner, as he has already played most of the top opponents.

The prizegiving takes place this morning at 10 a.m. and the full prizelists for all the many different sections may be found on the event website.

Next year it will be held in Aberystwyth and will be squeezed into 1 week instead of the traditional fortnight in the hope this might attract more players.

This was deemed Rd. 8’s Game of the Day between two very attacking players.

Black: Danny Gormally (245). Black: Chris Ward (240).

Sicilian Defence – Accelerated Dragon [B50]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.Bc4 d6 5.0–0 Nf6 6.d3 White decides to keep the centre closed for the time being; it looks slow, but has a latent sting. 6…0–0 7.Bb3 Nc6 8.h3 Restricting the scope of Black’s white-square bishop 8…Rb8 9.Re1 b5 It’s thematic in the Sicilian that Black should counter any White kingside attack with a thrust on the other wing. 10.Nbd2 a5 11.Nf1 b4 12.Be3 Nd7 13.d4 Now White decides to open up the centre, due to Black’s growing pressure on c3. 13…Ba6 14.N1h2 This looks a slow manoeuvre, but it’s eyeing up the attacking potential if and when the knight can get to g5. 14…bxc3 15.bxc3 cxd4 16.cxd4 Nf6? Inviting e5 and the start of a central attack. Much better was 16…Nb4 when Black may get the knight established on d3. If, for example, 17.Re2 then 17…Nb2 attacking both queen & rook. 17.e5! Suddenly the game has changed as White seizes the initiative. 17…Ne8 18.Ng4 d5 19.Qd2 Nc7 20.Rac1 Nb4 21.Rxc7!? A very brave exchange sacrifice. 21…Qxc7 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Qxh6 Threatening Ng5. 23…f6 24.exf6 exf6 25.Re6 Black is still the exchange up, but is fast running out of time and has only 30 seconds per move left, too little to calculate all the necessary defensive moves required. 25…Qg7 26.Qe3 h5 27.Re7 hxg4 If 27…Qh8 28.Qe6+ Rf7 29.Qxf7# 28.Rxg7+ Kxg7 29.hxg4 Bc4 30.g5 Rbe8 31.gxf6+ Kxf6 At this point Black’s allotted time ran out. 1–0

In the 2 days since going to press, everything was resolved, and, unable to wait till next Saturday, here is what happened, based on the report given on the event website by the ECF Publicity Officer, Mark Jordan.

Michael Adams, the long-time highest rated English player on the FIDE rating list, won the British Chess Championships, to add to his 4 previous British titles. His score of 10/11 equalled the record set by Julian Hodgson in 1992 and, given that future championships are planned to be run over 9 rounds, this was probably the last opportunity for the record to be equalled or exceeded.

At the start of the final round there was a remote chance that there could be a play-off as, had Adams lost and David Howell won, they would have both been on 9/11 necessitating a play-off. Unusually for the final round of the Championships however, the leader, Adams, was playing Black against an untitled opponent, Martin Brown, over whom he had a near 500 point rating advantage. One of the reasons for such an unbalanced pairing was that Adams had already played all his main rivals with an interesting effect on the up- and down-floats; the other reason being that Brown had had a very good tournament, and now needed a draw to secure an IM norm. Since Adams also needed a draw to ensure he won the title it was always possible that an early decision could be agreed. The question was whether Adams would be tempted to offer a quick draw in order to guarantee his 1st place and the prize money involved, and allow him to wander round the playing hall at leisure, enjoying the trials and tribulations of the other players. Or would he go for the throat, with the idea of going for a record-equalling high score of 10/11pts?

In the event, he eschewed the idea of a quick draw and went for a quick win, as Brown walked in to some pretty original and devilish opening preparation in a well-known position, failed to respond accurately and was despatched in short-order. The game was over hours before any other.

Brown had the compensation that he played a great tournament, and had the opportunity to contribute what might turn out to be a theoretically important game against, arguably, Britain’s greatest ever player on Bd. 1 of the last ever British Championships run in an 11-round format. So many congratulations to Michael Adams and a big thumbs-up to Martin Brown for contributing to an historic event!

Congratulations also to Jovanka Houska who has won the British Women’s title with a score of 7/11. She defeated Lentzos in the final round but already had the Championships in the bag with a round in hand.

Other Westcountry players in the Championship scored as follows:

Keith Arkell (Paignton) 6½

Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) & Jeremy Menadue (Truro)  both 5½

Carl Bicknell (Bristol); Brian Hewson (Tiverton) both 5.

Steve Dilliegh (Bristol) 3½

All this, and much else besides, may be found on the event website, and Mark Jordan will be producing a full report in the ECF’s on-line magazine, Chessmoves.

In last week’s position, Black’s queen had no quick retreat, so could be attacked with 1.b4 after which it can no longer defend his bishop which may be taken next move.

Here is a new 2-mover by Dave Howard.

White to play and mate in 2

British Championships Get Under Way (29.07.2016.)

The British Championship started on Monday at the Bournemouth Pavilion and continues until next Friday. Of the 86 entries in the Championship section itself, 11 are GMs, namely, in order of strength, Michael Adams; David Howell; Gawain Jones; Nick Pert; Mark Hebden; Tamas Fodor; Danny Gormally; John Emms; Keith Arkell; Chris Ward & Peter Wells. Cornishman Adams must be clear favourite, but there are other Westcountry residents in the mix, including Jack Rudd (Bideford), Brian Hewson (Tiverton), Jeremy Menadue (Truro), Steve Dilleigh & Carl Bicknell (both Bristol).

Games may be followed live on the event website – britishchesschampionships.co.uk.

A feature of the early rounds in this kind of tournament, the Swiss system, is that the grandmasters are drawn against opponents from halfway down the list and one can expect quite a few “massacres”, but this time most lasted up to 50 or 60 moves as the GMs played carefully, having no wish to finish up with egg on their faces by starting off with a surprise loss.

Here is an exception from Rd. 2.

White: K.C. Arkell (241). Black: Freddy Hand (192)

Queen’s Gambit Accepted [D23]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Qc2 Unusual, but White clearly wishes to guide his highly-graded, 13 year old opponent onto less familiar territory, and gets his queen active on the queenside right from the start. 4…dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bg4 6.Nbd2 Nbd7 7.g3 e6 8.Bg2 Be7 9.0–0 0–0 10.Ne5 Bh5 Not 10…Nxe5? because of 11.dxe5 and Black must lose either bishop or knight. 11…b5. 11.Ndf3 Rc8 12.Bg5 c5 13.Rac1 h6 14.Nxd7 Nxd7 15.Bxe7 Qxe7 16.Rfd1 The rooks are connected laterally and have the promise of activity down the files ahead of them. 16…Nb6 16…cxd4 17.Qxc8 Rxc8 18.Rxc8+ Kh7 19.Nxd4 and given their open lines, the 2 rooks should be slightly stronger than the queen. 17.Qb5 Rfd8 18.Qa5 continuing the queenside probing. 18…Bxf3 19.Bxf3 cxd4 20.Qxa7 Qb4 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Bxb7 Establishing 2 passed pawns. 22…Rc5 23.b3 Ra5 Black rightly wants to attack the pawns, but White’s open lines enable him to prevent this.  24.Qb8+ Kh7 25.Be4+ f5 26.Bb1 Rb5 27.Qf4 Threatening d4. 27…Rd5 28.Rc1 Rightly grabbing the open file. 28…Rd7 29.Qe5 Threatening e5.  29…Re7 30.Rd1 Nd5 Black’s hoping to get in Nc3 forking rook and bishop, but White has a clever resource. 31.Bxf5+ winning 2 pawns. 31…exf5 32.Qxf5+ Kh8 33.Qxd5 Rxe2 34.Qxd4 1–0 Resigns. Not 34.Rxd4? because of 34… Qe1+ 35.Kg2 Qxf2+ 36.Kh3 Qxh2+ 37.Kg4 Rxa2 and the win seems to have evaporated.

Last week’s position was easily solved by 1.QxR+! If Black takes the queen either of the white rooks can come to the h-file to administer mate, or if he retreats to g8 the queen herself mates on g7.

Here we have a position from a 1999 game by John Emms (W). What winning move did he have?

White to play

Chess on the Radio? (23.07.2016.)

Back in the day, when Adam was a lad, or more precisely the late 1950s, the BBC radio put on a regular chess programme on Network 3 on a Sunday afternoon. Chess on the radio was always going to be a challenge, but they rose to it, and included talks, reminiscences and consultation matches, in which I clearly remember hearing a teenage Bobby Fischer’s New York twang, as he consulted with Barden against Peter Clarke & Jonathan Penrose.

Another idea was to invite listeners to send in their best game, from which the experts would select the most promising six and these would take on, in a simultaneous match, the Yugoslav GM, Svetozar Gligoric, their games being analysed on air later by an expert.

One of the six was 19 year old Roger Scowen; now 76 he regularly plays in World and European Seniors events, and on the Westcountry congress circuit.

This was his game, with notes greatly reduced from those supplied by Leonard Barden from the book based on the series, The Chess Treasury of the Air.

White: S. Gligoric. Black R. S. Scowen.

French Defence -  Winawer Variation

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 This has been tried before with varying success, but it’s probably slightly inferior to 6…Ne7 and if 7.Qg4 Nf5. 7.Qg4 f5 8.Qg3 8.exf6 would only develop Black’s game after 8…Nxf6. 8…Ne7 Black was rather unlucky to fall into an opening variation that was thought to be quite good in Jan. 1960, but highly suspect by March. 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qxh7 cxd4 So far the game has followed the textbooks, but now Gligoric played  11.Kd1 Mr. Scowen probably didn’t know that White had already been successful with this move against Tal, Botvinnik & Petrosian, as development of the KB is unhindered. 11…dxc3 12.Nf3 Nbc6 13.Bg5 Bd7 14.Bb5 This powerful move virtually refutes Black’s opening play. White’s aim is to exchange all the minor pieces except his knight and Black’s bishop, which will be severely handicapped by its own pawn chain. 14…a6 15.Bxc6 Bxc6 16.Bxe7 Rf8 17.Nd4 Qxe7 18.Qxe7+ Kxe7 Black’s advanced pawn is weak, while on the other wing White has a pawn ready to advance. Now see how a GM transforms these advantages into a win. 19.Ke2 Rh8 20.f4 Rag8 21.Kf3 Rh7 22.Rab1 Kd7 23.Rb3 Rhg7 24.g3 Rh7 25.Rxc3 Rh3 Now Black threatens to regain material with R1xg3+. 26.Rb1 Rxh2 27.Nxc6 bxc6 28.Rb7+ Kc8 29.Re7 Rh3 30.Kg2 Rh4 31.Rxc6+ Kd8 32.Rexe6 Resigns.

This game illustrates the advantage you have when your opponent is saddled with a permanent weakness like a vulnerable pawn or blocked-in piece.

In last week’s position, Mordue (W) played 1.Bxh7+ which is not exactly the prelude to a spectacular mating attack, but does win the defending pawn. 1…Kxh7 2.Qd3+ and he gets the d6 bishop back.

This position occurred in the 2007 West of England Championship in Exmouth, between Joshua Hall (W) and Alan Brusey. Can you advise White on a good move?

White to play and win

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