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Archive for the ‘Western Morning News’ Category

Devon’s New County Champion.

Cornwall’s individual championship is decided at their annual congress each January, the current champion being James Hooker. Devon’s is done on a knockout basis throughout the season and this was the deciding game between the two finalists.  Notes condensed from those supplied by the winner.

White: J. K. Stephens (196). Black: T. J. Paulden (187).

Robatsch Defence  [B06]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 a6 4.Nf3 d6 5.a4 b6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0–0 Ne7 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Qd2 h6 10.Rfe1 g5!? A double edged move – Black claims control over f4, but in the long run, his king may be exposed. 11.h3 Ng6 12.Ne2 Nf6 13.Ng3 White eyes the weak h5 square. If the Nf6 ever moved, this would be a great attacking square. 13…0–0 14.a5 b5 15.Bb3 Bb7 16.d5! White waits for the bishop to move to b7 before closing the long diagonal. If played whilst the bishop is still on c8, Black plays e5, and f5 will follow quickly. 16…c5 Solving a lot of Black’s opening problems. 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Bb6 Qb8 19.Rad1 White maintains a slight edge due to his greater king security and play on the d-file. 19…d5 20.exd5 White missed: 20.Nd4 Bb7 21.exd5 Bxd5 22.Ndf5! Bxb3 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3 The move I missed, threatening Nh5+ 24…Nf4 25.Ne4 e5 26.Nxf6 and White is close to winning. 20…Bxd5 21.Bxd5 Nxd5 22.Bd4 Ndf4 putting the other knight on f4 is perhaps better e.g. 22…Ngf4 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qd4+ Kh7 and although the Black king is exposed, it’s not easy for White to make progress, as the knights do a good job of controlling White’s pieces. 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3+ f6 This allows White to set up nasty threats on the 7th rank. 25.Rd7+ Rf7 26.Red1 Ra7! 27.Qc6 Ne5 28.Nxe5 Qxe5 29.Rd8? This looks to be winning for White, but Black has defensive resources. Better was 29.Rxf7+ Kxf7 30.Rd8 Re7 31.Qa8 Ng6 and all the key squares around Black’s king are covered, although White stands better due to his activity on the queenside. 29…Rfe7 30.Qc8 Kg6? The move to find was 30…h5!! and White has no mate! 31.Rg8+ Rg7?? After this, it is all over. Black could stay in the game with: 31…Kh7 32.Rh8+ Kg6 33.Rdd8 Ne2+ 34.Nxe2 Qxe2 35.Rdg8+ Rg7 36.Qe8+ Kf5 37.g4+ Kf4 and although White is slightly better, one wrong move could spell disaster. 32.Qe8+ The rest is more or less forced 32…Raf7 33.Rd7 Qe1+ 34.Kh2 Qxf2 Black sportingly lets White mate him 35.Qxf7+ Kh7 36.Qxg7# 1–0.

The Paignton Congress starts a fortnight tomorrow, so late entries need to be in a.s.a.p. Contact the Crickmores on 01752-768206 or e-mail: plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

In last week’s position, White had the queen sacrifice 1.Qh8+ forcing Bxh8 and then 2.Rh8 mate.

In this game from 1949, neither Tiverton’s A. R. B. Thomas (W) nor D. M. Horne have adhered to the unwritten rules of normal piece development, and both are liable to pay the price. In this case it was Black who got the break. How did he finish quickly?

Black to play and win

British Championship Best Game Prize.

The recent British Ladies Championship in Coventry was won by the diminutive 13 year old Surrey schoolgirl, Akshaya  Kalaiyalahan. She is the 3rd 13 yr old to win the title, the first being Elaine Saunders (later Pritchard) at Bournemouth in 1939, followed by Humpy Koneru at Torquay in 2000. She scored 6½/11, achieved a Women’s IM norm and took the prize for the best performance in the Championship by a player graded under 2000. She was probably favourite for that particular prize as her grade was 1999, while her grade for the tournament was 2335.

Next year’s championship will be held at Bournemouth.

The Alexander Prize for the Game of the Tournament went to Glenn Flear for his win in Round 4. The two opponents were born within 12 months of each other in Leicester in the late 1950s, and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well.

White: Glenn Flear (2450). Black:  Mark Hebden (2500).  King’s Indian Defence – Averbakh Variation.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0–0 6.Bg5 Averbakh’s line. 6…c6 More usual here is 6…c5 hitting more directly at White’s centre. 7.Nf3 Also playable is 7.Qd2 or 7.f4 setting up the 4 Pawns Attack, but White prefers this more conservative line. 7…Na6 8.0–0 h6 9.Be3 Ng4 Pushing the bishop back, but the knight is not tenable on g4. 10.Bc1 e5 11.h3 exd4 12.Nxd4 Nf6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Bf3 Nd7 15.Be3 Ne5 Again the knight tries to establish a forward position, but will become a target once more. 16.Be2 Nc5 17.Qd2 Qh4 18.f4 Ned7 19.Bf3 a5 20.Bf2 Qe7 21.Rad1 Nb6 22.b3 a4 23.Qc2 axb3 24.axb3 Nbd7 Compromising the development of the white-square bishop. 25.b4 Na6 26.b5 Nb4 27.Qb3 c5 28.Nc2 Nxc2 29.Nd5! a useful zwischenzug, or in-between move. 29…Qd8 30.Qxc2 Nb6 31.e5 Bf5 32.Qb3 dxe5 33.Bxc5 Nxd5 34.Bxd5 Qc7? Black’s position is now getting worse by the move. Better was 34…Qc8. 35.Bd6! Qa5 If 35…Qxd6?? 36.Bxf7+ wins the queen. 36.fxe5 Be6 37.Bxe6 Rxe6 38.c5 Giving White a vice-like grip on the centre. 38…Rae8 39.Rf1 Now focussing on f7. 39…Qd8 40.Qf3 Qd7 41.c6 bxc6 42.bxc6 Qa7+ 43.Kh1 f5 44.c7 Bxe5 45.Bxe5 Rxe5 46.Qb3+ Kh8 47.Rd7 Qa6 48.Rg1 1-0. White has multiple threats on b8, d8 and f7.

The next big event in the area is the Paignton Congress, which starts on Sunday 13th September. Entries are relatively low at the moment, so there is plenty of room for more players. Enquiries should be directed to the Entry Secretaries, Alan & Linda Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail: plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

In last week’s position, Carlsen could afford to take the knight because then his passed pawn would be able to make forward progress viz 1.RxN and if RxR 2.b7 Rb5 3.pb8=Q RxQ 4.BxR.

In this game, Black has plenty of piece activity but is still vulnerable.

Can you see where?

White to win in 2 moves

Hawkins Is British Champion (15.08.2015.)

So the possibility of a multiple tie in the British Championship with the necessity of a play-off, never came about, as all but one of the top players seemed to lose their nerve and drew their games, this being the exception.

White: Jonathan Hawkins (256). Black: Keith Arkell (241).

Sicilian Defence.

1.e4 c5 Both players had to play an attacking game if they were to win the prize, especially Arkell who was a half point behind – it was win or nothing for him. So he adopted Black’s most immediately attacking opening weapon against 1.e4. 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 White was also determined to play an open game. 3…cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.f4 White continued with his aggressive approach. An early f4 used to be called the Grand Prix Attack as it was used by GMs on the weekend congress circuit to generate a quick kingside attack and pick up “easy” points against lesser players. 6…a6 7.Nxc6 Qxc6 8.Bd3 b5 9.Qe2 Bb7 10.Bd2 White now had the option of castling on either side, though on the queenside this could prove tricky, given Black’s forward pawns and 11th move. 10…Be7 11.a3 Rb8 Further deterring White from castling long and attacking the kingside. 12.0–0 Nf6 13.e5 Nd5 14.f5 White presses on, also preventing Black playing …f5. 14…Nxc3 15.Bxc3 Black is doing a good job of frustrating White’s intentions at this stage, but having constantly to find double-edged moves is using up Black’s time considerably. 15…g6 16.fxe6 dxe6 17.Bb4 Bxb4 18.axb4 0–0 19.Rf4 Rbd8 20.Qf2 Qc7 21.Re1 Rd5 22.Qe3 Qe7 23.Rg4 Black now only has c. 30 seconds per move left to reach move 40 and goes for 23…h5? which weakens his kingside pawns. Better might have been 23…Rfd8. 24.Rf4 Rfd8 25.Ref1 Qg5 26.Qf2 Black now played 26…Rd4 but resigned soon after in view of 27.Rxd4 winning immediately. However, if instead White had played 27.Rxf7 with a mating attack down the f-file, Black had the resource 27…Bxg2 28.Rf8+ Kg7 29.Qg3 Rg4 30.R1f7+ Kh6 31.Rxd8 Qxd8 32.Qe3+ Qg5 33.Kf2 Bd5 but this would have been difficult to work out in the little time available. 1–0

The full point gave Hawkins the clear lead on 8½/11 points, and with it the title of British Champion. 2nd= were David Howell, Danny Gormally and Nick Pert all on 8 points. 5th= on 7½ were Mark Hebden, Simon Williams Chris Ward, Aaron Summerscale and Richard Pert. Keith Arkell had to make do with a 5-way share of 11th place. Chess can be a cruel game at times.

Jack Rudd (6½) came 15th=; Jeremy Menadue (5) 39th=; Theo Slade (4) 60th= and Matthew Wilson (1½) 74th= .

In last week’s position from Rd. 3 of the British Championship, Allan Pleasants finished with the remarkable 1.Qg6+! fxg6 2.Bg8+ Kh8 3.Bf7+ Kh7 and White now has the luxury of choosing either 4.Bxg6 or fxg6 both mate.

In this position from a recent game, World Champion Magnus Carlsen (W) has a winning move.

White to play and win.

British Championship Nears Climax (08.08.2015.)

The British Championship finished late last night, though after 8 of the 11 scheduled rounds, there may well be a play-off this morning, as there was a bunch of 7 players all within a half point of the lead. If so, this can be watched live on the event website.

After the early rounds last week it looked as if last year’s joint champions, Jonathan Hawkins and David Howell, were determined to repeat the feat as they took an early lead. Yet the chasing pack were always on their heels and after Rd. 8 Danny Gormally and Nick Pert had taken the lead on 6½ points, with Keith Arkell, Simon Williams and John Emms joining the defending champions on 6.

This was Rd. 1’s Game of the Day.

White: J. Hawkins (2554). Black: J. D. Wager (2117).

Queen’s Gambit – Slav Defence  [A84]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 4.Nc3 f5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Be7 7.Bd3 0–0 8.Qc2 Ne4 9.g4 Na6 10.a3 fxg4 11.Ne5 Nf6 12.c5 Nb8 As Black’s pieces pose no threat at all, White opens even more lines to the Black king. 13.h3 g3 14.Rg1 gxf2+ 15.Qxf2 Nh5 16.Qc2 Bh4+ 17.Kd2 Nxf4 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 19.exf4 Qf6 20.Rg4 Bf2 21.Bd3 Black now played 21…Bxd4 but then resigned as he could see what was coming next. e.g. 22.Rh4+ Black’s least worst reply is 22…Qxh4 23.Ng6+ Kg8 24.Nxh4. If 22…Kg8 23.Bh7+ Kh8 24.Ng6+ etc.  Either way he loses his queen.1–0

After this Rd. 7 game, Pert took Howell’s place at the top of the leader board.

White: D. Howell (2698). Black: N. Pert (2562).

Zukertort Opening – English Variation. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.d4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d5 Na6 7.e4 Nc5 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bh3 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Bxe5 11.Bh6 Preventing kingside castling. 11…d6 12.0–0 Bc8 13.Bg2 Bf5 14.Re1 Qd7 15.Re3 Bh3 16.b4 Bxg2 17.Kxg2 Na6 18.Rb1 c5 19.dxc6 Qxc6+ As it’s check Black can sidestep the threatened fork. 20.Kg1 Nc7 21.Qd3 Ne6 22.Nd5 Rc8 23.Rc1 g5 24.Ree1 Rg8 At this point, White’s pieces look to be active, while Black’s king is stuck in the centre and his rooks are not united, but… 25.Qxh7 Rh8 Oops! Every player knows that pawn-snatching can often lead to trouble. This simply loses a bishop. 26.Qe4 Rxh6 27.Qg4 Qd7 28.Rcd1 Rh8 White now gives up more material in order to try and get some activity for his remaining forces, but he is now a whole rook down. 29.Rxe5 dxe5 30.Nxb6 f5 31.Qf3 Qc6 32.Qxf5 White can’t afford to exchange queens. e.g. 32.Qxc6+ Rxc6 33.Nd7 Rd6 34.Nf6+ Kf7 32…axb6 White now gets in a few bravado checks, but they lead to nothing. 33.Qg6+ Kf8 34.Qf5+ Kg8 35.Qg6+ Kf8 36.Qf5+ Kg7 37.Qxe5+ Kg8 38.c5 Rh6 39.a4 Qxa4 40.Ra1 Qxb4 0–1

Last week’s position was solved by 1.Qa2! and if 1…RxQ 2.Bf3 mate. Black had about 10 other possible moves, but each one had a mating reply.

From this position in Rd. 3 Allan Pleasants of Weymouth was able to finish Black off with a sharp 4 move combination.

White to play and win

Winning Devon Game (01.08.2015.)

This was Devon’s top win in their recent National U-180 Final, and was the last game to finish in a tense finale. Mark was the only player to win all three of his games in the National Stages, a fine performance.

White: M. V. Abbott (171). Black: C. Mackenzie (175).

Nimzo-Indian Defence [E49]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 0–0 9.Ne2 b6 10.0–0 Ba6 11.f3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Re8 13.Ng3 Nc6 14.Bb2 c4 15.Qd2 Qd7 16.Rae1 Re6 17.Bc1? Better might be 17.e4 threatening the knight. 17…Ne8 (17…dxe4 18.fxe4). 17…Rae8 18.Qc2 b5? 19.e4 a5 20.e5 Qa7 21.Qf2 Nd7 22.f4 b4 23.f5 R6e7 24.f6 Re6 25.fxg7 White could bring pressure to bear after 25.Nh5 bxc3 26.Be3 g6 27.Qf4 Kh8 28.Ng7 Nd8 29.Rf3 Rg8 30.Rh3 Nf8 31.Nxe6 Ndxe6 32.Qf3 etc. 25…Ndxe5 Black sacrifices a piece in order to (a) get some activity for his pieces, and (b) create a 4-2 queenside pawn majority. 26.dxe5 Qxf2+ 27.Rxf2 Nxe5 28.Ref1 bxc3 29.Nh5 R8e7 If 29…d4 30.Nf6+ Rxf6 31.Rxf6 d3 32.Bg5 d2 30.Nf6+ Kxg7 31.Nxd5 Rb7 32.Nf4 Rd6 33.Nh5+ Kf8 34.Nf6 Nd3 35.Bh6+ Ke7 36.Re2+ Kd8 37.Re8+ Kc7 38.Re7+ Kc6 39.Rxb7? 39.Re4 Nb2 40.Bg5. 39…Kxb7 40.Be3 Re6 41.Rb1+ Kc8 42.Nd5 c2 43.Rf1 Kd7 43…Rxe3 44.Nxe3 c1Q 45.Rxc1 Nxc1 46.Nxc4 Nb3 44.Bc1 Kc6 45.Nc3 Kc5 46.Rf5+? Kc6? Better is 46…Kd4 as White’s king needs to be up in support of his dangerous pawns. 47.Rf1 Can Black now start to exploit his passed pawns, or will White’s extra piece be enough to prevent this? It’s a close call. 47…Kc5 48.Bd2 Kd4 49.Nb5+ Kc5 50.Nc3 Kd4 51.Na2 Re2? 52.Bxa5 Re7 53.Bb6+ Ke4 54.a4 Rb7 55.a5 f5 56.g3 h5 57.Kg2 h4 58.Nc3+ Ke5 59.Ne2 hxg3 60.hxg3 Ke4 61.Nc3+ Ke5 62.Ne2 Ke4 63.Nc1 Nxc1 64.Rxc1 Kd3 65.Kf3 Kc3 If 65.Kd2 in support of the forward pawn, there follows 66.Be3+ Kc3 67.a6 and Black has lost time. 66.Be3 Rd7 67.a6 Kb2 68.Ke2 Re7 69.Rf1 c3 70.Kd3 Rd7+ 71.Ke2 Re7 72.a7 Re8 73.Kd3 Rd8+ 74.Kc4 Rc8+ 75.Kb5 Re8 76.Bc1+ Kb3 77.Bf4 Kb2 78.Bb8 c1=Q 79.Rxc1 Kxc1 80.a8=Q The 4th queen of the game – will there be the chance of a 5th? Re2 81.Qh1+ Kb2 82.Bf4 c2 So near and yet so far. 83.Qc1+ Kb3 84.Bd6 Re6 85.Qa3 mate.

The British Championships started at Warwick University on Monday and finish next Friday. Games may be followed live on the event website, as well as updates results in all sections. There are 74 entrants in the top section, with local interest focussing on K. Arkell (Paignton – 4th seed); J. Rudd (Bideford – 18th); J. Menadue (Truro – 52nd ); T. Slade (Marhamchurch – 64th) and M. Ashworth (Gloucester – 69th).

In last week’s position, White may have allowed his queen to be taken because he could see the combination 1.Nf6+ forcing gxf6 and then 2.Bf7 mate.

Here is a conventional 2-mover by Arthur Ford Mackenzie (1861 – 1905). This is one for serious solvers.

White to mate in 2

A Forgotten Westcountry Chess Master.

An almost forgotten Westcountry chess master of the 19th century was William Henry Krause Pollock (1859-1896). He was born in Cheltenham, son of the Rev. W. J. Pollock and was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and Somersetshire College, Bath. In 1882 he qualified as a doctor in Dublin, but chess took precedence from then on, becoming Irish Champion. He then spent time in the U.S. and Canada, before returning to England to play in the great Hastings International Tournament of 1895, one of the strongest tournaments ever held up to that point.  However, he was already in the grip of that scourge of 19th century chessplayers, TB, and his play there was irregular and fitful, though there were occasional glimpses of the old fire when he beat, among others, the English veteran H. E. Bird, the recently deposed World Champion, Steinitz, and in this game, the great Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Notes adapted from those by Pollock himself.

White: W. H. K. Pollock. Black: S. Tarrasch.

French Defence [C00]

1.e4 e6 2.e5 Tarrasch was a leading theoretician on the French Defence, and Pollock intended to take him out of the book immediately. 2…f6 3.d4 c5 A premature attempt to break up White’s centre. In a close game like the French the pawn centre is paramount. 4.Bd3 f5 Black has followed a line that Blackburne played, and lost, against Pollock 3 years earlier, that Tarrasch was fully aware of but played it anyway. 5.g4 Black now has to decide whether this advance is sound or not, and if not, how to prove it. 5…cxd4 6.gxf5 Qa5+ 7.c3 A key move, which White had thought through to his 10th move. 7…Qxe5+ 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.0–0 Bc5 So far, Tarrasch had spent 1 whole hour over his nine moves. 10.Re1 Qf6 11.Nd2 exf5 12.cxd4 Be7 Recapturing with 12…Bxd4 wins a piece. 13.Nxd4+. 13.Nf3 Kd8 Slightly better might have been 13…Kf8. 14.Bg5 As Tarrasch’s discomfort increases, so does the crowd of spectators around the board, wondering what is going on. 14…Qf7 15.Bxe7+ Ngxe7 16.Qd2 Occupying important diagonals and uniting the rooks. 16…h6 17.Ne5 Nxe5 18.dxe5 b6 19.Nf4 The game is now virtually won. 19…Bb7 20.Bb5 Nc6 21.e6 Qe7 22.Ng6 Qg5+ 23.Qxg5+ hxg5 24.Nxh8 Nd4 25.e7+ 1-0. Resigns, for if 25…Ke8 26.Bxd7+ Kxd7 27.Rad1 Rxh8 28.Rxd4+ Ke8 29.Rd8+.

Pollock’s health went rapidly downhill from then on, dying on 5th October 1896 aged just 37 and was interred in Arno’s Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

One obituarist wrote of him, “As a chess expert he was brilliant rather than profound; a fanciful player delighting in prettiness, apt to lose to dull players of the exact school”.

In last week’s position, White won by 1.Rg8+! RxR (forced) 2.Qf6+ and White will mate on g7.

In this position, White has just lost his queen. Surely he should resign, shouldn’t he?

Should White resign?

The Rise and Fall of a Dawlish Girl.

The August issue of Chess will contain a short biography of a Dawlish girl, born Rhoda, the youngest of 7 daughters to William Knott a local tailor, who rose to fame in the chess world and became a pioneer of female emancipation, before tragically dying in obscurity.

She founded the Ladies Chess Club in London, a social phenomenon at the time, and in 1897 organised the 1st Ladies World Championship, won by the Bristolian, Mary Rudge. In the process of all this she became a great friend of the great American Grandmaster Harry Pillsbury. No one is suggesting that he let his fondness for her influence him in any way when he awarded her the Brilliancy Prize at the 1st Devon Congress in 1902; it’s a smart sacrificial attack that wins the game, which Pillsbury annotated in the British Chess Magazine.

White: Rhoda Annie Bowles. Black: Ellison Pearse (Devonport)

Ruy Lopez – Modern Steinitz Defence. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nge7 A variation favoured by Steinitz, it being one of his many attempts to establish a valid defence to the Lopez attack. 4.0–0 Probably stronger would be 4.Nc3 and eventually d4 reserving the option of castling on either side at a later stage. 4…d6 5.d4 a6 6.Ba4 Using wide discrimination in not exchanging pieces and queens, as it would rather be to Black’s advantage to remain with his king in the centre. 6.Bxc6+ Nxc6 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qxd8+ etc. Possibly some would prefer 6.Bc4 for if Black continues 6…b5 7.Be2 and Black’s queenside would be weak. 6…b5 7.Bb3 Bg4 A distinct error. The only continuation from this point giving Black a playable game is 7…Nxd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.Qh5 (not 9.Qxd4 c5 and …c4 wins.) 9…Ng6 for if 10.Qd5 (or if 10.f4 Be7 11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 12.f5 Bf6 13.fxg6+ hxg6 14.Qd5+ Be6 15.Qxd4 Kg8 and White has no advantage.) 10…Be6 11.Qc6+ Bd7 drawn. 8.Bxf7+ Better than 8.dxe5 Bxf3 (Of course, if Black plays 8…Nxe5 White wins by 9.Nxe5) 9.Qxf3 Nxe5 10.Qg3 etc. 8…Kxf7 9.Ng5+ Kg8 Bad, although after 9…Ke8 10.Qxg4 Nxd4 11.Na3 (safest). Also, White can venture 11.Nc3; 11.Ne6 might easily lose as follows: 11…Qd7 12.Nxg7+ Bxg7 13.Qxg7 Rg8 14.Qxh7 Rxg2+ with a winning game. 10.Qxg4 Qc8 If now 10…Nxd4 11.c3 h5 12.Qh3 Ne2+ 13.Kh1 Qc8 (if 13…Rh6 14.Ne6 and wins.) 14.Qf3 Nf4 15.g3 winning a piece. 11.Qf3 Qe8 12.Qb3+ d5 13.exd5 g6 For Black’s obvious reply was 13…Nxd4 although even then White should win being a pawn ahead and positional advantage. 14.dxc6+ Kg7 15.Ne6+ Kf6 The mate following or decisive win of material is forced. 16.Bg5+ Kf5 17.Qh3+ Ke4 18.Qf3# 1–0

In last week’s position, White was on the brink of defeat but had 1.QxN+ to which Black has two options; 1…RxQ 2.Re8+ or 1…Kg8 2.Ne7 mate.

Like last week, Black is poised to mate on e1, but it’s not his move. What should White do?

What is White's best continuation?

Devon’s Narrow Loss in National Final (11.04.2015.)

Devon got close to getting a result against Middlesex on Saturday in the final of the National Under-180 Championship at Warwick, but fell tantalisingly short, finishing the losers by 7½-8½. The details were as follows (Devon names first in each pairing);

1. J. Underwood (180) ½-½ M. Tasker (187). 2. D. Regis (181) ½-½ C. Nettleton (169). 3. A. Brusey (181) 0-1 N. Chan (179). 4. B. W. Hewson (176) ½-½ I. Calvert (176). 5. S. Martin (175) 1-0 M. Crichton (176). 6. M. Abbott (171) 1-0 C. Mackenzie (175). 7. M. Shaw (173) ½-½ R. Kane (173). 8. W. Ingham (168) ½-½ W. Taylor (173). 9. M. Stinton-Brownbridge (168) ½-½ M. Dydak (170). 10. S. Dean (167) ½-½ G. Dickson (167). 11. K. Atkins (160) 0-1 A. Fulton (173). 12. N. Butland (158)  0-1 L. Fincham (166). 13. I. Annetts (157) ½-½ D. White (165). 14. O. Wensley (151) 0-1 C. Kreuzer. (167). 15. C. Scott (154) ½-½ J. Kay (160). 16. P. Brooks (152) 1-0 L. Boy (159).

It’s almost inevitable that in such a tense situation players on both sides will let the pressure get to them and mistakes will follow, as in this game. Notes based on those by the winner.

White: M. Crighton (176). Black: Steve Martin  (175).

English Opening – 4 Knights Var. [A29]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.g3 Bc5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 Re8 7.d3 h6 8.Nd2 d6 9.Nde4 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Bb6 11.Nc3 a6 Black is trying to limit the scope of White’s minor pieces. 12.a3 Rb8 Defending the b-pawn before developing his other bishop. 13.b4 Bg4 14.h3 Bh5 15.Kh2 Bd4 16.Bd2 f5 Black is trying to build kingside pressure. 17.Rc1 Ne7 en route to the kingside. 18.Qe1 c6 Blocking the white-square bishop and so releasing Black’s rooks. 19.e3 Ba7 20.e4 Bg6 Also playable was 20…fxe4 21.f4 Qd7 22.Be3 Bxe3 23.Qxe3 Rbd8 White stands slightly better at this stage as his pieces are less constricted. 24.Rcd1 Kh7 25.Rf2 Ng8? The idea was to open the file for the rook to threaten the queen and give his knight a good post on c6, but White’s rooks are becoming more active. 26.Rdf1 exf4 27.Qxf4 fxe4 28.Nxe4 Re5 Although White looks threatening on the f-file it is difficult to see how he can break through with f7 defended by the bishop. 29.c5 Overlooked by Black. It loosens Black’s grip on the centre who responds by giving up his best defender. 29…Bxe4 30.Bxe4+ Kh8 31.cxd6? Better was 31.d4. 31…Qxd6 32.Qh4 Ree8 33.Rf7 33…Rf8 White now has mating chances e.g. 34.Qg4 Rxf7 35.Rxf7 Qe5 36.Qg6 Qb2+ 37.Kg1 Qc1+ 38.Rf1 etc.  But the strain of 5 hours concentration does strange things to one’s brain. 34.Qxd8?? White had assumed Black would retake with the queen and completely overlooked the rook. 34…Rxd8  0–1.

Last week’s game ended with 1.Bxh7+

Kxh7 2.Qh4+ Kg8 3.Ng5 and Black resigned in view of 3…g6 4.Rd7 and Black must lose his queen.

In this position, Black is lined up to either mate on h2 or win the bishop on b2, but it’s not his move. What can White do about it?

Can White avoid defeat?

Bournemouth Congress Prizewinners (04.07.2015.)

A prize fund of £3,700 attracted 175 players to last week’s Bournemouth Congress, including a number of titled players. The winners were as follows:-

Open: 1st= GM Simon Williams (233) & IM Alfonso Llorente Zaro       (246) both 4½ and sharing £1,300. 3rd= GM Nick Pert (254); IM Gediminas Sarakauskas (233); FM Andrew Lewis (207) & FM Richard Britton (205) all 4pts. Grading prizes: U-209: WFM Jane Richmond (192) 3½. U-190 Harry Grieve (181)   3½. U-180: Kenny Harman (175) 3. U-170 Stephen Appleby (165) & Paul Rowan (158) 2½.

Challengers (U-165): 1st P. Chrysidis (156)  4½. 2nd= D. Butcher (162); S. Benson (159) & C. Purry (159) all 4. GPs U-156: P. Morton     (155) & J. Wright (152) 3½. U-145: Gillian Moore          (144) & M. Roberts         (142) 2½. U-140: J. Everson (139)   3.

Intermediate (U-135): 1st K. Alexander (128)         4½. 2nd= D. Agostinelli (134); C. Cornes (131); G. Taylor       (129) & S. Crockett (120) all 4. GPs U-120: J. Gilbert (112) 3. U-112: J. Wallman (110).

Minor (U-110): 1st A. Fraser (107) 5. 2nd W. Curry(106) 4½. 3rd C. Sheeran (102).

This was the crucial Rd. 4 game between the two Grandmasters.

White: Nick Pert. Black: Simon Williams.

Ruy Lopez – Close Defence. 

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Black chooses not to open things up at this early stage. 5…Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.d3 d6 9.c3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.Nbd2 Nc6 12.a4 b4 13.Nf1 Rb8 14.Ng3 Re8 15.h3 h6 16.d4 cxd4 17.cxd4 exd4 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Qxd4 b3 20.Bb1 Qb6 21.Qd3 Qa8 22.Bd2 Qa6 23.Qf3 Be6 24.Bd3 Qa8 25.Nf5 Nh7 26.Ne7 Re7 27.Qg3 attacking both h & d pawns. 28.Bxh6 f6 29.Bf4 Rd8 30.Bd6 Red7 32.e5 f5 32.f4 Rxd6 already 2 pawns down Black now sacrifices the exchange in an effort to free up his cramped position. 33.exd6 Rxd6 34.Rad1 Qd8 35.Be2 Bf7 36.Qe3 Qh4 37.Qf2 Qf6 38.Rxd6 Qxd6 39.Rd1 Qc7 40.Bd3 g6 41.g3 Qd7 42.Qc5 Ne6 43.Qe3 Qa4 44.Rc1 Nf8 45.Qc5 Ne6 46.Qc4 Qe8 47.Qc8 Nd8 48.Kf2 Kh7 49.Rc7 Qh8 50.Ke3 Qf6 51.Rd7 Qe6 52.Kd2 Nc6 Black’s queen is now overloaded, allowing White to win more material. 53.Rxf7+ Qxf7 54.Qxc6 Qa7 55.Qf3 a4 56.Qe3 Qb7 57.Qc5 a3 White now faces threats on both wings. 58.Qxa3 Qg2+ 59.Kc3 Qxg3 60.Qe7+ Kh8 61.h4 Qf4 62.Qd8+ Kh7 63.Qd4 Qxd4 64.Kxd4 Kh6 and White went on to win as his king and bishop can both easily pick up the b-pawn and focus on preventing Black’s connected pawns from doing damage, leaving his own b-pawn to march forward unhindered.

In last week’s position, Alekhine found a combination that Black was powerless to do anything about. 1.Re8+ Nf8 2.Nh6+ Qxh6 3.Rxf8+ Kxf8 4.Qd8 mate.

It is said that every player should experience the pleasure of conducting a winning sacrifice on h7 at least once in their career. In this 1991 game, the sacrifice is obvious enough, but can you follow it through to a win? Is it sound?

Somerset Lose To Essex In Close Match (27.06.2015.)

Of the Westcountry teams that qualified for the various sections of the National Stages of the Inter-County Championship, only one remains. In the Minor Counties section, Somerset lost narrowly to Essex by 8½-7½ in the semi-final, while in the Under-140 section Hampshire lost 9-7 to Nottinghamshire. On the other hand Devon drew with Lancashire 8-all in the semi-final of the Under-180 section, but won on the tie-break rule, in which  the numbers of the boards on which each team won, are added together and the team with the lower total goes through. Thus wins by the better players are given greater weighting. The Finals will be played next Saturday at Trident College, Warwick, where Devon are due to play Middlesex who beat Warwickshire 11½-4½ in the other semi.

Although losing to a stronger Essex team, Somerset’s match was only decided by the last game to finish. Here are the individual results, with Essex names 1st in each pairing: 1. J. Rogers (216) ½-½ J. Rudd (221). 2. A. P. Lewis (207) 0-1 T. Goldie (208). 3. D. Sands (205) ½-½       B. Edgell (197). 4. J. H. Hodgson (187) ½-½  A. Footner (182). 5. T. Hebbes (193) 1-0 B. Morris (178). 6. D. Spearman (188) 0-1 D. Littlejohns (177). 7. I. Reynolds (186) 0-1 S. Whatley (172). 8. J. Goldberg (185)       0-1 G. N. Jepps (171). 9. I. Myall (185) 1- 0 D. Peters (171). 10.K. White (181) ½-½ P. Cusick (167). 11. S. Rix (178) 1-0  C. Purry (159) 12. J. White (177) ½-½ A. Gregory (157) 13.        N. Twitchell (161) 1 R. D. Knight (157). 14. M. Murrell (158)    1-0 C. Strong, (155). 15. D. Smith (148) 0-1 M. French (154). 16. E. Cocks (144) 1-0 M. Baker (148). (Essex average grade 181 :: Somerset average grade 173).

This was the game won by Max French, a pupil at Millfield School.

White: D. Smith (148). Black: M. French (154).

Caro-Kann Defence – Exchange Variation.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.c3 e6 6.Bf4 Bd6 7.Bxd6 Qxd6 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Re1 a6 11.Nbd2 b5 12.Ne5 Bd7 13.Ndf3 b4 14.Qe2 bxc3 15.bxc3 a5 16.Rab1 Rab8 17.Ng5 h6 18.Rxb8 Qxb8 Black now has to tread carefully, but it’s White who loses his way. 19.Nxd7 Nxd7 20.Nxe6? An idea that loses a piece. Alternatively  20.Nxf7 Rxf7 21.Qxe6 Qf4 22.Rf1 Qf6 23.Qxd5 at least leaves White with 3 pawns for his piece deficit. 20…Re8 If now 20…fxe6 21.Qxe6+ Rf7 22.Bg6 Qf4 23.Bxf7+ Qxf7 24.Qxc6 21.Qg4 fxe6 22.Rxe6 Nf8 23.Rxe8 Of course, not 23.Rxc6?? Re1+. 23…Qxe8 24.Qf5 Qe1+ 25.Bf1 Ne7 26.Qf3 Nd7 27.Qe2 Qxe2 28.Bxe2 Nb6 29.f3 Nf5 30.Kf2 Na4 31.g4 Nd6 32.Bd1 Nxc3 33.Bb3 a4 and White must lose his a-pawn and his bishop can’t cover the queening square of a1. 0–1

The solution to last week’s 2-mover was 1.d6! and if 1…KxN 2. Qh8# ; or 1…RxN 2.Qd5#.

This week you are in the shoes of World Champion Alexander Alekhine in the 1920s, looking for a sharp finish against Black. Can you help him?

White to play

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