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Philidor’s Sad Demise – (21.10.2017.) 956

The greatest player of the 18th Century was Francois-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795). A child prodigy in both music composition and chess, he became a familiar figure in court circles, which after the French Revolution did him no favours, and after one of his annual visits to London to play matches against wealthy patrons, in 1793 it was felt too dangerous for him to return to his wife and children, as his name was on a hit-list of dangerous “émigrés”. So he was left marooned in London, taking residence at 10, Ryder Street, Piccadilly. Parted from his family he was physically and emotionally broken. He fell ill and died there, and was buried on 3rd September 1795 in one of the new cemeteries on the edge of the city, adjacent to where the first Euston Station would be built in 1837.

His contemporaries found his skills at simultaneous and blindfold play quite incredible, and his book, L’Analyze des Échecs went into 100+ editions worldwide and influenced chess theory for generations, not being fully appreciated until the 20th century.

If his lonely end was not sad enough, more was to come, when in 1849, Euston station was extended with platforms 9 & 10 added by taking over part of Philidor’s cemetery. Some of the headstones were laid out as paving stones but what happened to the disinterred coffins, including Philidor’s, is not known.

Members of the Staunton Society, Chairman Barry Martin and Ray Keene, having got Howard Staunton’s neglected grave renovated in Kensall Green cemetery and a blue plaque erected, lobbied English Heritage to get a plaque for Philidor placed in Ryder Street. They declined saying that “he was not famous enough”.

Here is a game of his, played at odds in London in 1789 against one of his regular opponents, J. Wilson. Philidor is White and is without his QN, while Wilson gives up his f7 pawn.

1.e4 Nh6 2.d4 Nf7 Philidor follows his normal plan of occupying the centre with pawns and developing pieces in support. 3.f4 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 cxd4 6.cxd4 Nc6 7.Nf3 Bb4+ Annoying, as White is without his knight to block the check 8.Ke2 Qc7 9.a3 Be7 10.Be3 d6 11.b4 Bd7 12.Rc1 Qd8 Black is already finding it difficult to find good squares for his pieces. 13.h3 Rc8 14.g4 Nb8 15.Qd2 Rxc1 16.Rxc1 d5 17.e5 a6 18.f5 h6 19.fxe6 Bxe6 20.Bf5 Bxf5 21.gxf5 Bg5 22.e6 Bxe3 23.exf7+ Kxf7 24.Qxe3 Re8 25.Ne5+ Kg8 26.Qf4 Qf6 27.Kf3 Rf8? 28.Ng6! Re8 29.Qe5! Qxe5? 30.dxe5 The exchange of queens works in White’s favour as it unites his forward pawns. Nc6 31.Kf4 Kf7 32.Rd1 d4 33.h4 Rd8 34.Ke4 b5 35.h5 a5 Desperation – he has little else to do. 36.Rc1 d3 This brings us to this week’s diagrammed position. Black has a freely advancing pawn backed by a rook, so will our hero have time to take the undefended knight? What will he do?

In last week’s position, White could play 1.Qe1! which threatens to both capture the knight and to “skewer” Black’s queen and rook.

Can Philidor afford to risk taking Black's knight?

Success For Torquay Schoolboys (14.10.2017.) 955

Last weekend saw an International Schools Team Tournament at Millfield School, Somerset, in which the Devon representative was Torquay Boys’ Grammar School. The format involved all schools playing 2 preliminary rounds, on the basis of which teams were allocated to the Championship or Major Section for the 5 subsequent rounds.

Having lost their older and more experienced players to tertiary education, Torquay had a younger team than usual and just failed to qualify for the top section, but were well-placed in the Major. Their team comprised the following players, with their final scores out of 7.

Bd. 1: Vignesh Ramesh (3). 2. Ben Sturt (3½). 3. Jakub Kubiac (3½). 4. Ben Sanders-Watt (3½). 5. Luke Glasson (6½). 6. Isaac Kennedy-Bruyneels (6). 7. Toby O’Donoghue (3½). 8.Oliver Mortimer (2½). 9. Evan McMullan (5½). 10 Kiernan Raine (6). 11. James Gibbs (4½) & 12. Surinder Virdee (5½).

Luke, Isaac, Evan, Kieran and Surinder all won prizes for the Best Board performance.

The final school positions in the Major were as follows: 1st TBGS. 2nd Chepstow School. 3rd St. Benildus College, Dublin. 4th St. Andrews College, Dublin. 5th Colaiste Eanna (Dublin ‘A’). 6th Colaiste Eanna (Dublin) ‘B’.

The Championship Section finished as follows: 1st Gonzaga College (Dublin) ‘A’. 2nd Royal GS. Guildford. 3rd Millfield. 4th Winchester. 5th Q.E. School, Barnet & Gonzaga College ‘B’.

The very strong Isle of Man tournament ended a few days ago, with a victory for World Champion, Carlsen. The draw for Rd. 1 was done randomly, which was lucky for some, like Carlsen and Adams who were drawn against much weaker opponents, while the much closer seeds, Caruana and Kramnik were paired together. Here is Adams’ first game.

White: M. Adams (2738). Black:  V. Bianco (2086).

Caro-Kann – Arkell-Khenkin Variation [B12]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 The Arkell-Khenkin Variation, pioneered by our local player and Russian ex-pat Igor Khenkin. Although a 2nd move by the same piece in the opening would seem to be bad, both had successes with it and pioneered its use. 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 Ba6 8.e6 fxe6 9.0–0 Bxd3 10.cxd3 g6 11.Bf4 Bg7 12.Qe2 Nf6 13.Nd2 Nh5 14.Be5 0–0 15.Nf3 Bxe5 16.Nxe5 An excellent outpost for the knight. 16…c5 17.g3 Qd6 18.Rac1 Rac8 19.Rfe1 Ng7 20.h4 Rf5 21.b4 Rc7 22.bxc5 Rxc5 23.d4 Rc7 24.Qd2 Rf8 25.Rxc7 Qxc7 26.Rc1 Qb7 27.g4 Ne8 28.Qe3 Nc7 29.h5 Kg7 30.hxg6 hxg6 31.Nd7 Rc8 Completing the desertion of their king by Black’s pieces. 32.Qg5 Threatening e5 and e7. 0–1 Analysis shows that 1…Rf8, although losing the rook is the only move to avoid a quicker forced mate. 1–0

In last week’s position played out in Manchester in 1929, after 1.RxB QxR there followed 2.Ng5 threatening both the queen and Rxh7 mate, so 2…Qg6 is forced, but White continues with 3.RxP+ QxR and 4.Nf7+ is what is called a smothered mate – probably the move that Black overlooked when he originally accepted the “gift”.

In this position White has a move that wins significant material.

White to play

S. Devon Chess Festival Details (07.10.2017.) 954

The South Devon Chess Festival starts in exactly one month’s time when the 18th Royal Beacon Seniors Congress starts on Monday 6th November at Exmouth. This will consist of a game a day throughout the week, finishing on Friday afternoon and giving everyone who wishes to partake in both just enough time to get down to the Livermore House Hotel, Torquay, where the 51st Torbay Congress will start at 7 p.m. that evening. This will provide players with 10 games in 7 days. For more details about the Seniors event, contact the Organiser by e-mail at, and for the Torbay Congress contact Phil McConnell on Downloadable entry forms for both events may be found on several local websites including

In last year’s Seniors event, Andrew Footner mistook the start time of Rd. 1 and was defaulted, which meant he had to pull out all the stops in his remaining games, which he did winning all 4 and coming 2nd=.

White: M. Dow. Black: A. F. Footner.

Scandinavian Defence [B01]

1.e4 d5 Signature move of the Scandinavian Defence, immediately asking a question of White. 2.exd5 the most usual answer. Black now has to choose whether to retake immediately, the Main Line, in which case his queen will be attacked, or to leave it for the time being and build up an attack against it.  2…Nf6 3.d4 Bg4 4.Be2 Bxe2 5.Qxe2 Qxd5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.c3 0–0–0 8.Be3 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.0–0 Bd6 11.Nbd2 Rhe8 12.Rfd1 Nd3 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Qc2 a6 15.Bd4 c5 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Ne3 Qe4 18.Rd2 Bh6 19.Ne1 Nxf2! Black wins a pawn as Whte’s knight is triple attacked. 20.Rxd8+ Rxd8 21.Qxe4 Nxe4 22.Nf5 Bf4 23.Nf3 Ng5 24.N5h4 Rd6 25.Re1 Re6 Black is trying very hard to get his f-pawns undoubled. 26.Kf1 Kc7 27.Re2 Rxe2 28.Kxe2 Kd6 Black’s king now sets off on an 11 move odyssey. 29.c4 Ke6 30.Kd3 h5 31.b3 Nxf3 32.Nxf3 Kf5 33.h3 Be5 34.Ng1 Bb2 35.Nf3 Kf4 36.Ke2 Kg3 37.Kf1 f5 38.Ng1 Be5 39.Ne2+ Kh2 40.Kf2 f4 41.Kf3 h4 42.Nc1 Kg1 43.Nd3 Bd6 44.Nc1 If White tried to win a pawn with 44.Nxf4 there follows 44…Bxf4 45.Kxf4 Kxg2 46.Kg4 f5+ 47.Kxf5 Kxh3 and the h-pawn will queen, so the knight is reduced to impassivity. 44…Kf1 45.Nd3 f6 46.Nc1 Ke1 47.Nd3+ Kd2 48.Nb2 Kc2 49.Na4 b5 50.cxb5 axb5 51.Nb6 Kb2 0–1 White resigned, fearing his pawns would be gobbled up, but the position was perhaps less clear than that. e.g. 52.a4 Kxb3 53.axb5 c4 threatening to break away. 54.Nxc4 Kxc4 55.Kg4 Kd5 As the bishop covers the b8 queening square, the king needs to come across asap. 56.Kxh4 Ke5 57.b6 Kf5 58.Kh5 Ke4 59.Kh4 and it’s still unclear.

In last week’s position, Mrs. Hogg played 1.f7+ forcing 1…Rxf7 and allowing 2.Rh8 mate.

In this position from a game c. 100 years ago, in an attempt to break through Black’s well set up defences, White offered the sacrifice of the exchange with 1.RxB, an offer Black considered and then accepted. Was he wise to do so?

WECU Jamboree Results (23.09.2017.)

The West of England Jamboree took place on Sunday at the Kenn Centre, next to the A38. Five teams of 12 players took part, in a format that guarantees each team has 6 whites and 3 of their players will face one of the other 4 teams. Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire entered teams, while Devon, being the home side and currently possessing plenty of chess talent, entered a 1st & 2nd team.

Most pairings were closely enough matched in strength to make their games long and well-contested.

It was, perhaps, no great surprise that Devon A came 1st with 9½/12 points, followed by Somerset (7 pts); Cornwall (5); Devon B (4½) and Gloucestershire (4). The complex results chart and some photographs may be found on while games may be found on

The event was organised by Mark Hassall of the Carrick Club, and his game bore a striking resemblance to the one he played at last year’s jamboree, and printed here at the time.

White: M. Hassall (168). Black: P. O’Neill (188).

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Var. [B99]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Last year his opponent played 7…e5 in order to free up his white square bishop, an idea that didn’t work. 7…Be7 Subsequent moves will vary in detail from a year ago but are very much following the same plans. 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0–0–0 Nbd7 10.g4 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.f5 Nc5 13.a3 Rb8 14.Bh3 b4 15.axb4 Rxb4 16.g5 Qa5? A loss of tempo, in view of 17.Nc6 Qb6 If Black had pressed ahead with 17…Qa1+ there would follow 18.Kd2 Qxb2 19.Rb1 Nb3+ 20.Ke1 Qxc2 21.Nxb4 winning the queen. 18.Nxb4 Qxb4 19.fxe6 Nxe6 20.gxf6 Bf8 21.Rhg1 Qc5 22.e5 dxe5 23.Qa8 h5 24.Bxe6 fxe6 25.Ne4 Qc7 26.Nd6+ Bxd6 27.Rxd6! Qc4 1-0 and Black resigned as White has several lines ending in mate, the most direct being  28.Rc6 hitting queen and bishop.

Here is an instructive miniature from the same tournament.

White: C. J. Scott (160). Black: A. Champion (147).

Alekhine’s Defence [B03]

1.e4 Nf6 Alekhine’s Defence, in which Black tries to lure Black’s pawns forward to a point where they become unstable and can be more easily attacked, as White will by then have neglected his piece development. 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.f4 dxe5 5.fxe5 Nc6 6.c4 Nb6 7.Be3 Bf5 8.Nf3 e6 9.Nc3 Qd7 10.Be2 0–0–0 11.Qd2 Be7 12.0–0–0 Nb4 13.a3 Nc2 Black has succeeded in getting in behind White’s front lines 14.c5 But the White pawns press ahead anyway. 14…Nxe3 15.cxb6 Nxd1?? Black sees only the chance of going a whole rook up, but completely overlooks his defences. 16.bxa7 c5 17.a8Q+ Kc7 18.Qa5+ 1–0.

In last week’s position White won simply with 1. QxR+. If 1…KxQ 2.Rh3# or 1…Kg8 2,RxP+ etc.

Here we have a bit of Tal magic from 35 years ago, as fresh today as the day it was created. He is looking for a quick finish before White can start to exploit his

vulnerable back rank. Any ideas?

Black to play and win quickly

Paignton Congress Results (16.09.2017.)

The Paignton Congress finished last week with 61 cash prizes totalling £4,500, being awarded – too many to name all the winners here, though they are all on the keverelchess website. Here is a summary of the main winners.

Premier: 1st= Keith Arkell (Paignton) & Richard Bates (Hackney). 3rd Mike Waddington (Dorchester). Challengers (U-180) 1st K. Simpson (Mansfield). 2nd= Chris Lowe (Exeter); Robert Stern; Paul Jackson; Paul Jackson & Alex Rossiter (Bristol). Intermediate (U-150) 1st Ivor Annetts (Tiverton); 2nd= Terry Greenaway (Torquay) & Geoff Harrison (Gosforth). Minor (U-120) 1st= Tim Allen & Paul Errington. 3rd= Alan Davies (South Hams)  & Tim Crouch. 5 Round Morning sections. U-180 1st Roger Hutchings. U-135 1st Paul Doherty.

This game from the last round of the Morning tournament attracted a crowd during its fast finish. Notes based on those kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Martin Keeve. Black: Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh).

Dutch Defence [A85]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 The Dutch Defence, a regular choice against 1.d4 in the 19th century, and still a sound tool in Black’s armoury. 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Bb4 5.g3 b6 6.Bg2 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Bb7 8.Ba3 Preventing castling pro tem. 8…Ne4 Attacking the doubled pawns. 9.Qb3 Nc6 10.Bb4 a5 11.Ba3 a4 12.Qc2 Na5 13.c5 Nc4 Black is establishing a strong centre. 14.Bb4 bxc5 15.dxc5 Bd5 Black is planning to block White’s dark-square bishop out of the game, but must first take care of his own bishop. 16.Rd1 c6 17.0–0 0–0 18.Nd4 Qg5 After some successful jousting on the queenside, Black turns his attention to the other wing where the rest of the game will be played out. 19.e3 Rf6 20.Qe2 Rg6 21.f4 Qf6 21…Nxg3 is probably better but more complicated and with time running out was rejected. 22.Bxe4 fxe4 23.f5 exf5 24.Rxf5 Qh4 25.Qf2 Qg4 26.Rf1 Threatening mate on f8. 26…h6 27.Rf4 Qg5 28.Kh1? White now offered a draw, which Black declined as he could foresee the strength of his next move. 28…Ne5! 29.Rf5 Qe7? Better was 29…Ng4 30.Qf4 Qxf4 31.R5xf4 Nxe3. 30.Qf4 Nd3 31.Qc7 Bxa2 Black takes time out to snaffle a pawn and  create a passed pawn. 32.Qb7 Re8 33.Qa7 Bb3 34.Kg2 34.Ba5 is the only chance for White. 34…Kh7 35.h3? White falters in severe time trouble. 35.Kg1 is better. 35…Qh4 36.g4 Rxg4+ Black can afford to play this, knowing he has a draw by repetition in hand. 37.hxg4 Qxg4+ 38.Kh2 Qh4+ 39.Kg2 Be6 winning the rook which has nowhere to go. 40.Qc7 Bxf5 41.Rxf5 And now the last rites are acted out. 41…Ne1+ 42.Kf1 Nd3 43.Qxd7 Only seconds to go, and White seeks counter-play, but it’s too little too late. 43…Qh1+ Forcing 44.Ke2 Qe1#.

In last week’s position from a game at Paignton White played 1.Na6+! giving Black the unwelcome choice of taking the knight or moving his king, but neither is good enough. If 1…PxN 2.Qb3+ and mates next move, or 1…Ka8 then 2.Nxc7+ wins the queen.

Here’s a position from Hall vs Brusey Exmouth 2007. White to play and win.

White to play and win by force

What Is It About Carnon Downs? (02.09.2017.) 949

Carnon Downs (pop. 1300) is a small but growing community situated on the A39 between Truro and Falmouth. Its recent development has included the construction of a fine village hall in which a number of societies meet, including a chess club. One might assume that this would be a somewhat parochial affair, attracting just a few villagers, but in fact, the club is named Carrick, after Carrick Roads, the name given to the estuary of the River Fal, which reaches from Falmouth up to Truro, and was formed 2 years ago from members of the old Falmouth and Truro clubs which were both ailing and have since closed down. It’s proved an inspired move, as last season they became Cornwall’s club champions by winning the County Cup, in which their 1st team, Carrick ‘A’, beat their 5 opponents home and away, Newquay, Liskeard, Camborne, Penwith and Carrick ‘B’. Even their 2nd team won most of their home matches and finished in a respectable position.

Carrick have strength in depth, with a pool of 7 players comprising Jeremy Menadue (191); Mark Hassall (168); Robin Kneebone (164); Richard Stephens (160); Adam Hussain (145); Marcus Pilling (145) and Mick Hill (139). These grades are the most recent published and 11 yr old Hussain’s meteoric rise through the lists bodes well for the club’s prospects this season.

Much information about Carrick and all Cornish clubs and competitions may be found on Ian George’s excellent website,

Here is a game from last year’s WECU Jamboree, won by a Carrick player.

White: M. Hassall. Black: Steve Homer

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 In keeping with White’s thematic plan against the Sicilian of an early kingside attack. 7…e5 8.Nf3 Qa5 To counter White’s Plan A, Black generally seeks to counter on the opposite wing. 9.Qd2 h6 10.Bxf6 Nxf6 11.Bc4 Be7 If 11…Qb4? there follows 12.fxe5 Qxc4 13.exf6 gxf6 14.Nd5 and if 14…Qxe4+ 15.Kd1 and with no other developed pieces, Black has to try and counter the threats of Re1 winning the queen & Nc7+ winning a rook. If 15…Qc4 16.Nb6 wins the rook anyway. 12.0–0–0 0–0 13.Kb1 a sensible precaution before launching into anything rash. 13…Qc5 From now on, tempo is everything. 14.Bb3 b5? 15.Nd5 Bd8 16.Rhe1 exf4 17.Qxf4 Nd7 18.Nd4 Bg5 19.Qg3 Ne5 20.h4 Bd8 21.Nf5 Bxf5 22.exf5 Kh7 23.Rf1 Ra7 24.f6 g6 25.h5 Rg8 26.Qh3 g5 27.Qf5+ Kh8 28.c3 opening the white diagonal to press home the attack. 28…a5 29.Bc2 Ng6 30.hxg6 Rxg6 31.Qh3 1-0. Black must lose a second piece.

In last week’s 2-mover 1.RxQ+ looked attractive, but after 1…PxR there was no mate, so it fails the test. The more subtle 1.Bb2 is the key, for any Black move is answered by 2.Nc6 mate.

This week’s position looks fairly innocuous, with level material and chances seemingly about even, yet GM John Nunn (W) found a killer move that won immediately.

White to move and win.

Paignton Approaches (26.09.2017.) 948

The Paignton Congress starts a week tomorrow with entries coming in all the time. Meanwhile, here’s a game from the 1996 event by then Paignton resident, Gary Lane, who won it that year. Here he faced a former joint-British Champion. Notes condensed from those originally kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Gary Lane. Black: Alan Phillips.  Bishop’s Opening [C24]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 A good way to avoid the Petroff which has the reputation for being a bit dull. 2…Nf6 3.d3 c6!? A line known as the Paulsen Defence after Louis Paulsen (1833 – 91), one of the world’s leading players in the 1860s. 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bb3 The bishop retreats which is part of the opening plan in this line so that …d7-d5 lacks bite because it won’t be attacking the bishop on c4. 5…0–0 6.0–0 d6 7.Re1 Na6 8.c3 A slow, gradual way to create a pawn centre with an eventual d4, and it also allows an escape square for the bishop to avoid an exchange of pieces. 8…Nc5 9.Bc2 Bg4 10.Nbd2.

The middlegame plan is to prevent any counterplay so that White can slowly build up his kingside pieces in preparation for an attack. 10…Ne6 11.h3 Bh5 12.Nf1 Ne8 13.Ng3 Bg6 Black should think about exchanging some pieces to avoid getting a cramped position. 14.d4 Bf6 15.Be3 catching up on development. 15…Qc7 16.a4 a5 17.Qe2 The queen moves to the 2nd rank in order to coordinate the rooks and keep an eye on the possibility of …b7-b5. 17…c5 18.d5! 18…Nf4?! 19.Qd2 Nh5 Black avoids losing a pawn but now the initiative allows White to step up the kingside pressure in an effort to make the most of the black pieces’ lack of harmony. 20.Nf5 Bd8 21.g4 Nhf6 22.Kh2 There is no rush as Black has no hint of counterplay, so there is time to reinforce against a possible later kingside attack. 22…Qd7 23.c4 23…h5!? Black was in no mood to sit and wait so tried to mix things up. 24.Rg1 hxg4 25.hxg4 Nh7 26.Rg3 26…Nef6 27.Rh1 Re8 28.Bh6! forcing home the advantage because acceptance of the sacrifice would lead directly to mate. 28…Nxe4 Desperation, but there’s nothing better. 29.Bxe4 gxh6 30.Qxh6 Bf6 31.Kg2 The king steps out of the way to unleash the rook on the h-file which is all part of the plan 31…Qd8 32.g5! Bh8 33.N3h4 White can now force checkmate. 1–0

Last week’s problem by Mansfield was solved by 1. Nd3! and there’s nothing Black can do to prevent 2.Qf5#.

The opening round of the British Problem Solving Championship closed at the end of July, and there were more correct solutions sent in by WMN readers than any other provincial daily, so congratulations to all those. By now they will have received the postal round comprising 8 more positions in various categories and of increasing difficulty. The best solvers of these will be invited to participate in the Final at Eton College next February.

Meanwhile, here is another 2-mover by Dave Howard, having its first showing worldwide.

White to Mate in 2

Jones Regains Title (12.08.2017.) 946

At the start of the final round of the British Championship on Sunday, there were no less than 7 players with a chance of reaching the 7 points that could involve them in the almost inevitable play-off. In the event 4 players managed it, namely Gawain Jones, Luke McShane, John Emms & Craig Hanley, which made the play-off easier to organise. In the semi-final Jones beat Howell and MacShane beat Hanley. In the subsequent final, played using the controversial Armageddon tie-break rules, it was Jones that kept his nerve and wits to wear down McShane and take the title for the first time since 2012.

Jovanka Houska became British Ladies Champion for the 6th time. Other prizewinners were as follows: U-21 1st= Ravia Haria (Wood Green) & Andrew Horton (3Cs). 50+: 1st John Emms (Wood Green).

Some of the winners from the other sections were as follows: Seniors 50+: 1st John Nunn. 65+: 1st= Stephen Berry (Wimbledon) & Roger Emerson (Guildford). U-180: 1st O. Chinguun. U-160: 1st= G. Brown & O. Chinguun. U-140: R. Clegg (Huddersfield). U-120: 1st C. Fraser W. Bridgford). U-100: 1st Y. Kumar (Bath. U-16: 1st= K. Kalavannan (Surbiton). U-14: 1st V. Stoyanov (Sandhurst). U-12: 1st C. Tombolis (Richmond). U-11: Y. Han. U-10: A. Chung. U-9: 1st= J. Birks & G. Clarkson. U-8: 1st= S. Verma & S. Lohia.

Here is the new champion’s game from Rd. 3.

White: IM Richard Palliser (2408). Black: GM Gawain Jones (2660).

Ruy Lopez -  Steinitz Defence [C75]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 One of the more conventional openings from the 450+ played in the Championship. Players of this strength should know it well. 3…a6 4.Ba4 d6 The Steinitz Defence Deferred, the theme of which is for Black to wait to see how White deploys his pieces before deciding on his own plan.  5.c3 5…Bd7 6.0–0 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.Bg5 f6 9.Be3 Nh6 10.dxe5 dxe5 The opened d-file becomes a big factor later in the game. 11.Qd5 Qe7 12.Na3 0–0–0 13.Qd2 Ng4 Bringing the knight into play, attacking a bishop that doesn’t have a move on the board. 14.Qe2 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 f5 16.exf5 gxf5 Generally, pawns should take towards the centre, and this has the additional advantage of opening lines to White’s king. 17.Rad1 Kb8 18.Rd5 e4 19.Bxc6 Bxc6 20.Rxf5 Rd3 21.Qg5 Qd7 22.Nd4 Bxd4 23.cxd4 Rxd4 24.Rc5? Surely it was time to bring the knight in from the cold with 24.Nc2. 24…e3 Offering a pawn in order to open up further lines to White’s king. 25.Qxe3 Rg8 grabbing more space on the k-side. 26.g3 Rd1 27.f3 Re8 28.Re5 Rxf1+ 29.Kxf1 Qd1+ 30.Kg2 Rxe5! setting up a neat combination. 31.Qxe5 Qxf3+ 32.Kh3 Bd7+ 33.Kh4 Qg4# 0–1

In last week’s position, it was White’s bishops that do the damage. 1.QxP+! forces 1…PXQ then 2.Bg6 mate.

Here is a championship-level 2-mover by Comins Mansfield that first appeared in this paper 80 years ago.

White to play & mate in 2

British Championship Surpises. (05.08.2017.) 945

Of the 103 competitors in the British Championships, which reaches its climax tomorrow in the final round, 13 are Grandmasters. These tend to sail through the early rounds as they are drawn against players from the lower reaches, but their games get progressively tougher as their opponents will have the same score. Approaching the half-way mark at Llandudno, most of the GMs had avoided mishaps, with one or two exceptions.

In this game the veteran and 7th seed Mark Hebden (60 next year) took on a strong player (41st seed) who is not quite a household name in chess circles, and the outcome was probably the biggest upset of the opening 4 rounds.

White: John Merriman (210). Black: GM Mark Hebden (242).

King’s Indian Defence – Sämisch Variation [E81]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Bg5 a6 7.Qd2 c6 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.Nge2 e5 10.d5 cxd5 11.cxd5 White’s pawns will take some shifting, and prove to be the key to the game. 11…b5 12.0–0 Nc5 13.Bc2 a5 14.a3 a4 15.Nc1 Bd7 16.Nd3 Qb6 17.Be3 Nh5 18.Ne2 Rac8 19.Rac1 f5 20.Nxc5 dxc5 Freeing up Black’s backward pawn, but also White’s advanced d-pawn. 21.Bd3 Qd6 22.g3 f4 23.gxf4 exf4 24.Bf2 c4 25.Bb1 25…Bh3 Attacking White’s rook, which normally one would expect to be moved, but White makes the decision to ignore that threat and pursue his own agenda – i.e. exploiting his 2 central pawns. 26.Nd4 Bxf1 27.Kxf1 Qd7 28.Ne6 Rfe8 29.Nxg7 Qh3+ 30.Kg1 The best place to attack a pawn chain is at its base, but Black must deal with the knight first. 30…Kxg7 31.Qc3+ defending his f-pawn – White can’t afford to be too generous with his defensive pieces. 31…Kg8 32.e5 Best to push the central pawns quickly, while knight + queen are stuck on the rim. 32…Rcd8 33.d6 Ng3 34.Re1 Nf5 35.Be4 Ng7 36.Bc6 Ne6 Now it’s Black’s turn to ignore an attack on a rook. 37.Bxb5 White doesn’t wish to simplify the position by exchanging pieces as he’s still the exchange down – better to maintain his grip on the position. 37…Ng5 38.Bc6 holding the vital f-pawn. 38…Kg7 39.Bb6 Kh6 40.Bxd8 Rxd8 41.Kh1 Rb8 42.d7 Rb3 43.Qd2 Rd3 44.Qxf4 1-0. With the knight pinned and the bishop still holding the f-pawn, the e-pawn is free to storm ahead. Play might have continued…. 44…Qf5 45.Qxf5 gxf5 46.e6 Nxe6 47.Rxe6+ Kg5 48.Re8 etc.

In last week’s position, White could simply take the rook because when its protective bishop retakes, White’s rook mates on the back rank.

Going in to the 6th of 9 rounds, the joint leaders are former child prodigies Luke McShane and David Howell on 4½/5, with no less than 11 players just a half point behind. When it finished tomorrow, it’s likely that a series of tie-break games will be needed.

This position arose in a game played at Walsall 20 years ago. Black is attacking both queen and c-pawn, so what is White’s best response?

White to play and win by force.

British Championships Start Today (29.07.2017.) 944

The British Championships start this afternoon at 2.30 at the new venue of Llandudno. All games can be followed as they are played by going to the event website

David Howell is top seed, but will have to meet some strong opposition in the shape of former champions Gawain Jones and Jonathan Hawkins, and the too-rarely seen Luke McShane.  A safer bet for a 1st prize would be Grandmaster John Nunn who is streets ahead of his 29 co-entrants in the 50+ Seniors section, both in experience and current strength.

Here is a recent game of his from the 50+ section of the World Senior Teams Championship in May.

White: M. Adams. Black: J. D. M. Nunn.

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 8.Bg5 Be6 It should be noted that John’s opponent here is not former World Championship finalist Michael Adams, but Mark Adams of Wales – a different proposition,  and playing someone of Nunn’s calibre, White will be keen to get as much material off the board as soon as possible, in the hope this will simplify matters. However, it rarely does in cases like this, as the GMs are experts in “keeping it simple”. 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Nd5 Qd8 11.Nec3 g6 12.a4 Nc6 13.Bd3 Bh6 14.0–0 0–0 15.Qe1 Rc8 16.f4? Probably not the best plan as it’s Black that eventually benefits from this opening up of the kingside. exf4 17.Nxf4 Ne5 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Rxf8+ Qxf8 20.Qe2 White is hoping to bring his rook to f1 to complete his piece development and attack the queen, but Nunn is a move ahead of this plan. 20…Qf4 21.Qf2 Qg5 22.Kh1 Rf8 It’s Black that grabs the f-file. Now all Black’s pieces are focussed on the kingside, while most of White’s are on the queenside.  23.Qd4 Ng4 24.Nd1 If 24.hxg4 Qh4+ 25.Kg1 Bf4 with several mating lines. You could work them out. 24…Qd2 25.Qc3 Qf4 threatening mate on h2, so forces… 26.hxg4 From now on, Nunn uses the open lines for his pieces to maximum effect. 26…Bg7 27.Qe1 Be5 Again threatening mate on h2. 28.g3 Qxg4 29.Kg2 Qf3+ 30.Kh3 Qg4+ 31.Kg2 Rf3 0-1 The final straw, as Black has everything focussed of the isolated g-pawn. White may be a piece up, but they are powerless. White’s least worst option would have been 32.Qf2 Rxf2+ 33.Kxf2 Qxg3+ 34.Ke2 and Black would presumably push his 2 passed pawns.

No sooner has “the British” finished than the Paignton Congress will be not be far away, taking place during the week starting Sunday 3rd September. Entries can be done online at or postally via the entry form.

In last week’s position, White could win by force after 1.Qg8+! KxQ (if 1.RxQ Nf7 mate). 2.Ne7+ Kf8 (if 2…Kh8 3.Nf7 mate) 3.N7g6+ PxN. 4.NxP mate.

This week, White’s queen is under attack, so to where should he move it for best results?

Queen attacked - what to do?