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Castle With A Twist (10.02.2018.) 972

Cornwall’s championship and general congress will be held on the weekend of 9th – 11th March at Carnon Downs. The winner of the top section, the Emigrant Cup, will be declared the Cornish Champion, while the Falmouth Cup is for players graded 145 or below in the January list. Full details may be found on the website cornwallchess.org.uk.

Devon’s Division 1, the Bremridge Cup, is a limited affair with only three clubs involved this year, playing a double round. Division 2, the Mamhead Cup, is more interesting with seven teams competing. The holders are Exmouth who have had to survive several close encounters as they try to retain the cup. At the weekend they travelled to Dartmouth in order to play the burgeoning South Hams Club. The venue was the magnificent house called The Keep built in 1856 like a castle with tower and turrets, in order to blend in with its situation overlooking the even more historic Dartmouth Castle and the whole estuary.

This match looked like going to the South Hams team until an unlikely late twist turned the tide. It was ironic that it should be a castle that administered the coup de grace.

White: P. McConnell (128). Black: M. Belt (119). King’s Indian Defence [A47]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Nf3 Bb7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Be7 7.Nbd2 Nh5 8.Bg3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 h6 10.Qc2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Nc6 12.a3 Rc8 13.Qa4 0–0 14.Ke2? White ultimately pays the price for keeping his king in the centre. Better was 0-0. 14…d6 15.Rh2 Qc7 16.d5 exd5 17.Qg4 with 3 pieces bearing down on Black’s rather lonely king 17…f5! The best reply, though it loses material in the short term. 18.Bxf5 Rxf5 19.Qxf5 Black’s exchange sacrifice not only staves off the immediate threats but also allows his knight & white-square bishop a chance to work in concert, which they do to great effect. 19…Ba6+ 20.Kd1 Ne5 21.Nd4 Bd3 22.Qe6+ Kh7 23.f4 Bc2+ 24.Ke1 Nd3+ 25.Ke2 Nc5 26.Qxd5 Bd3+ 27.Kf2 Bf6 28.Kg1 Ne4 Threatening a back rank mate. 29.Nxe4 Removing the immediate threat, but it’s not enough. 29…Qc1+ 30.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 31.Kf2 Rf1# 0–1

The 43rd East Devon Congress starts a week on Friday at the Corn Hall, Exeter, details of which may be found on a new website called Chess Hawk. The site’s front page via the calendar has links to the congress brochure and means of paying to enter, plus a list of current entries. The Open Section looks like being a strong tournament with 17 players graded above 170, and more entering all the time as Rd, 1 approaches.

Hopefully, solvers will have realised that the queen in last week’s position should have been white.

This position arose last year between a Cornish and Devon player, Jeremy Menadue (Truro) and Matthew Wilson (Teignmouth). Black’s pieces are somewhat cramped which allows White (Menadue) to reap material benefit. How did he do this?

White to play

1st Simon Bartlett Memorial Results (03.02.2018.) 971

A new event took place last weekend at the Livermead Hotel, Torquay – a specially organised congress in memory of the late Simon Bartlett who passed away a year ago. The winners were as follows:- Open Section: 1st= Keith Arkell (Torquay ) & Steve Berry (Wimbledon) 4/5 pts. 3rd Walter Braun (Exmouth) 3½.   Major (U-170) 1st= Robert Taylor (Bristol); Bill Ingham (Teignmouth) & Yasser Tello (Hastings) 4 pts. 4th= Russell Goodfellow (Tunbridge Wells) & Alan Brusey (Newton Abbot) 3½. Intermediate (U-140) 1st Eddie Hurst (Salisbury) 4 pts. 2nd= David Gilbert (DHSS) & Dave Rogers (Exmouth) 3½. Minor (U-120): 1st E. McMullan (Newton Abbot) 4½. 2nd= Mark Huba (Kings Head) & Tony Tatam (Plymouth) 4.        Simon was always noted for wearing a highly-coloured and patterned shirt at all events and so as not to miss out on this aspect of his presence, a prize was offered for the most decorative and eye-catching creation. This was awarded to fellow Cornishman Ian Rescorla, whose splendid creation had the look of two halves of garish curtain material sewn together.                                              Top seed in the Open was local GM Keith Arkell, who would normally reckon to finish with a maximum 5/5 in an event of this nature, but a bit of a stir was created when he lost to a player, little-known locally, Peter Anderson from Leeds with a grade of 174.

White: P. Anderson. Black: K. Arkell.

Nimzo-Indian Defence [E41]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Signature move of the Nimzo-Indian Defence, one of the sharpest tools in Black’s repertoire 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 6.Nf3 is more usual, which prevents Blacks next move. 6…e5 Black is encouraged to come on… but it allows White to establish a central pawn wedge. 7.d5 Ne7 8.Qc2 d6 9.Ng3 b5 10.b3 bxc4 11.bxc4 0–0 12.0–0 Bxc3 13.Qxc3 Rb8 14.f4 exf4 15.exf4 Ng6 16.Bb2 Re8 17.Qd2 Ng4 18.h3 Ne3 19.Rfe1 Nh4 20.Qc3 The 1st mating threat. 20…Qf6? Black might have tried 20…Rxb2 21.Qxb2 Nhxg2 22.Qf2 Bxh3 with advantage to Black. 21.Qxf6 gxf6 22.Bc1 Nhxg2 23.Bxe3 Nxe1 24.Rxe1 Rb2 25.Nh5 Re7 26.Nxf6+ Kg7 27.Nh5+ Kh6 28.Ng3 Bxh3 29.f5+ Kg7 29…Rxe3 30.Rxe3 Rg2+ 31.Kh1 Rxa2 30.f6+ Kxf6 31.Nh5+ Ke5 32.Bg5+? White missed a mate in 2, viz 32.Bxc5+! Re2 33.Rxe2# every one of White’s pieces cooperating to form an inescapable net. 32…Kd4 33.Bxe7 Kxd3 34.Bxd6 Rg2+ 35.Kh1 Rg5 36.Nf4+ Kd2 37.Nxh3 Rh5 38.Bg3 Rxh3+ 39.Kg2 1–0 Black could win a piece back to reduce the position to pawns-only, but the d-pawn is free to queen.

It’s perhaps no surprise that after a few games this Autumn Anderson’s grade has rocketed to 192 in the January list with a rapidplay grade of 200. He’ll be one to watch at the East Devon Congress in 3 weeks time.

In last week’s position, Black could play 1…b5 asking questions of White’s queen. e.g. If 2.Qb3 BxN wins a piece; or similarly 2.NxP PxN.

This week, White mates in 2.

White to move and mate in 2

Devon vs Gloucestershire – The Result. (27.01.2018.)

The West of England Chess Union covers an area from Penzance c. 230 miles east to Portsmouth and c. 230 miles north-east to Tewkesbury, and because of the return mileages involved in an inter-county match it takes a good captain to get out a maximum strength team. For example, in their recent match against Cornwall held near Exeter, Gloucestershire arrived 4 players short for a 16 board match and lost 12-4.

On Saturday they were 2 players short for their match against Devon at Chedzoy Village Hall near Bridgwater, and although their top 8 boards did score 5-3, this was offset by losing 1-7 in the lower half, giving Devon a 10-6 win.

Devon names 1st in each pairing:-

1.D. Mackle (198) 0-1 J. Stewart (199). 2.J. Underwood (192) 1-0 M. Ashworth (192). 3.J. Stephens (189) 1-0 C. Mattos (190). 4.P. O’Neill (188) 0-1 J. Jenkins (185). 5.J. Wheeler (185) 0-1 P. Meade (178. 6.B. Hewson (184) ½-½ P. Kirby (177). 7.L. Hartmann 0-1 P. Masters (175). 8.T. Paulden ½-½ N. Bond (175). 9.M. Abbott (183) 1-0 R. Ashworth (161). 10.S. Homer (181) 1-0 M. Taylor (160). 11.P. Hampton (172) 1-0 A. Richards (133). 12.C. Lowe (176) 0-1 I. Blencowe (131). 13.J. Haynes (171) 1-0 P. Bending (112). 14.T. Thynne (170) 1-0 D. Walton (109). 15.S. Martin (186) 1-0 d/f. 16.D. Regis (166) 1-0 d/f.

Here is one of Devon’s wins.

White: Robert Ashworth. Black: Mark Abbott.

Sicilian Defence – Maroczy Bind [B36]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 The Hungarian’s plan to deter Black from playing the freeing d5, but here it’s White who becomes positionally tied up. Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.Qd3 Be6 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Rc1 Rfc8 13.b3 Nd7 14.0–0 a6 15.Bd4 Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 Rc7 17.f4 Qb6 18.Rcd1 Qxd4+ 19.Rxd4 f6 20.Rf3 Rac8 21.Nd5 Bxd5 22.exd5 a5 23.Re3 Kf8 24.Bg4 f5 25.Bf3 Nf6 26.h3 h5 27.Kf2 h4 28.Re6 Kf7 29.Ke3 White’s rooks are disconnected, he’s running out of time and has already twice offered a draw, but Black, having denied White any opportunities for a quick king-side attack, is now set on exercising Black’s theme in the Sicilian of attacking the queenside. 29…a4 30.Kd2 b5 31.Kd3 Nd7 32.Re3 b4 33.Bd1 Nc5+ 34.Ke2 Ne4 Compare and contrast the roles of the bishop and knight. 35.Kf3 Nc3 36.Rd2 Ra8 37.Red3 Ne4 38.Rb2 Kf6 39.Rd4 Nc3 40.Bc2 a3 41.Rb1 Taking the rook may be superficially tempting but the text is better as it opens up the a-file, and in any case the knight is stronger than the rook. 41…Nxa2 42.Rd2 Nc3 43.Ra1 Rc5 44.Rd3 Rca5 45.Re3 a2 White is hamstrung. 46.Re6+ Kf7 47.Re3 Rc8 48.Re6 Nxd5 49.Bxf5 gxf5 50.cxd5 Rxd5 51.Rh6 Rd2 52.Rxh4 Rc3# 0–1

In last week’s position, Black played 1…Bd8! both attacking the queen and opening up the e-file with the threat of 2…Qe4+ 3.Kb1 and RxB mate. White can avoid this but would have to give up a rook in the process.

In this position from a recent tournament, it’s Black to play and he discovered a piece-winning move. Can you see what that was?

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree 2018 Results (20.01.2018.) 969

On Sunday, Devon’s annual jamboree took place at the Isca Centre in Exeter, involving teams of 12 players from three areas of the county. The East comprised players from clubs in the Exeter & District League, though not all clubs were represented. Similarly, the South team was made up of players from clubs involved in the Torbay League, while the West team drew from a solitary club, Plymouth, but a larger population base.

The team grade limit of 1,650 made it an average of 137 per player. The East succeeded in getting closest to that maximum, with the South & West both c.35 points lower. However, the South team emerged clear winners with 7½ points, ahead of East (5½) and West (4½). Full details of all players’ scores and photographs of the event may be found on keverelchess.com/blog.

Here is a win by a member of the Bacon family of the Sidmouth Club; father and 3 sons, of whom 15 year old Nicholas is the eldest. The whole family entered as a team of 4 in a recent rapidplay tournament

White: Nick Bacon (124). Black: Tony Tatam (114).

Queen’s Gambit Accepted [D26]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bxc4 e6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 0–0 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 c5 10.Rfd1 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Bb3 a6 13.Nc4 Nxc4 14.Bxc4 b5 Intending to push the bishop back, but overlooking White’s next move, which wins a pawn. 15.Nxb5 Qb6 16.Nd4 Bb7 17.Rac1 Qa5 18.Rc3 Rfd8 19.Ra3 Qb6 20.Rb3 Qa7 21.Nf3 Bxf3 22.Qxf3 Qc7 A second attack on the bishop, which doesn’t quite work. 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 If 23…Rxd8 24.Rc3 and Black’s pawns are again in danger. 24.h3 The possibilities of back rank mates are tying down the pieces on both sides, so a flight square for the kings is in order.  24…h6 25.Qe2 a5 26.Qd3 Qc7 27.Rc3 Rd8 28.Qc2 Best. 28…Qb7 29.Bd3 Nd5 30.Be4 Qb8 White continues with his plan to keep it simple. 31.Bxd5 exd5 32.Rc5 Qa8 33.Qd2 a4 34.Qa5 Winning a 2nd pawn. 34…Qb8 35.Rb5 Qc8 36.Qxa4 Qc1+ 37.Kh2 Qc7+ 38.Qf4 Qd7 This time, an exchange of queens might have worked in Black’s favour as his unopposed d-pawn could become a problem. e.g. 38…Qxf4+ 39.exf4 d4 40.Rc5 d3 41.Rc1 Switching to White’s undefended pawns – Rb8 42.b3 Ra8 43.a4 Rb8 44.Rb1 d2 45.Rd1 Rxb3 46.Rxd2 Ra3 47.Rd8+ Kh7 48.Rd4 so White could probably hang on to his extra pawns, but only with best play. 39.Rc5 g5 40.Qf6 Kh7 41.Rc6 Kg8 42.Qxh6 Qf5 43.Qf6 1-0

In last week’s position, Keith Arkell noticed that Black’s queen was close to becoming trapped, so he played 1.Nb3xN which allows his queen to defend his other knight. 1…NxN and the simple 2.a3 attacks the trapped and powerless queen.

Hastings Winners (13.01.2018.) 968

Wise Men from the East arrived in Bethlehem shortly after Christmas bringing a gift of gold, so perhaps it was appropriate that they did well at the Hastings Christmas Congress, not bringing but taking much gold back with them in the form of prize money.

Indian GM Deep Sengupta and Chinese IM Yiping Lou, tied for 1st prize on 7 points, each receiving £1,600 and being jointly awarded the Golombek Trophy.  Third prize was shared between Uzbek GM Jahongir Vakhidov and two Indian IMs Stany and Das on 6½ points. Then came the English brigade in 6th place, Danny Gormally, Mark Hebden, Keith Arkell and Steve Mannion, with Iranian Borna Derakhshani and Norwegian Pal Royset all on 6 points.

A bright spot came with the award of the Best Game prize to Danny Gormally for his Rd. 6 game against Alexandr Fier, the tournament 2nd seed from Brazil.

White: D. Gormally (2477). Black: A. Fier (2576)

Torre Attack [A48]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 The signature move of the Torre Attack, named after the Mexican player Carlos Torre (1905-78) Bg7 4.Nbd2 0–0 5.e4 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.Nb3 a5 8.a4 h6 9.Bd2 Nc6 10.Bb5 Ncb4 11.c3 c6 12.Be2 Na6 13.0–0 b6 14.Re1 c5 15.Bd3 cxd4 16.Nbxd4 Nc5 17.Bc2 Bb7 18.Ne5 All White’s minor pieces are bearing down on the enemy king’s position, with the queen able to support, leaving Black with choices to make. 18…Rc8 18…e6 would have given his queen a route out, eg 19.Ng4 Qh4. 19.Ng4! hitting h6. 19…Kh7 Not good enough is 19…h5 20.Nh6+ Kh8 21.Nxf7+ Rxf7 22.Bxg6 Rf6 23.Qxh5+ Kg8 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Bh6 Bxh6 26.Qxh6+ Kg8 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Qh8#. 20.Nxh6 Nf6 If 20…Bxh6 21.Qh5 winning the bishop. 21.Nhf5 21.Ng4 was also good for White. e.g. 21…Qd5 22.Nxf6+ Bxf6 23.Qg4 Qd7 24.Qf4 Qc7 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.Bg5 Bxg5 27.Qxg5 e6. 21…gxf5 22.Nxf5 e6 23.Nxg7+ Kxg7 24.Bh6+ Kg8 24…Kxh6 25.Qc1+ Kg7 26.Qg5+ Kh8 27.Qh6+ Kg8 28.Re3; If 24…Kxh6? 25.Qc1+ and White has several mating lines. 25.Qc1 Qd5 Black has his own mating threat, but it’s easily dealt with. 26.f3 Nh5 If Black tries to save his rook with 26…Rfd8 there would follow 27.Qf4 and Black’s king is quite trapped and vulnerable. 27.Bxf8 Kxf8 28.Qh6+ Ng7 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qxg7 Qd2 31.Rac1 Rd8 32.Qg3 Rd5 33.Qf2 Qh6 34.Rcd1 Rh5 35.Qd2 1-0 forcing off the queens, otherwise there might follow 35…Rxh2 36.Qd6+ Kf6 37.Qd4+ Kg5 38.Qd8+ and White has a number of mating lines.

Tomorrow, 3 teams of 12, from the East, West & South of Devon compete in a Jamboree at the Isca Centre, Exeter. Full details next week.

In last week’s position, it wasn’t hard for White to see 1.QxR! and if 1…QxQ 2.Re8+. The power of the e7 pawn was unanswerable.

This position arose recently in which Keith Arkell was White, who could doubtless see that his pieces had greater mobility than his opponent’s. How did he quickly profit from this slight advantage?

White to Play

Poor Blackburne (06.01.2018.) 967

The 93rd Hastings Congress finished yesterday evening, too late to report on today, but after 7 of the scheduled 9 rounds Keith Arkell was well placed at 3rd=. There was a prize fund of £5,250 to be shared between the top 7 players.

Meanwhile, the World RapidPlay Championship was taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where a 1st prize of £186,000 awaited the winner, who proved to be Vishi Anand of India. The World Blitz Championship also took place there, won by Magnus Carlsen (Norway), 2nd Sergey Karjakin (Russia) and 3rd Vishi Anand, with similar rewards.

All of which would suggest that the world’s top players today can make a reasonable living out of chess. But it was not always so. For example, Britain’s top player for decades was Joseph H. Blackburne (1841 – 1924). He became a chess professional in 1862 after having decided a career in a Manchester office was not for him.

He won the 2nd British Championship in 1869 after a tie-break against the holder, Cecil De Vere, and played all over Europe, 53 major tournaments in as many years, getting many prizes and winning so many games he was nicknamed “The Black Death”.

To keep up his income, in winter months he participated in long series of simultaneous matches all over the country – there can hardly have been a club in the kingdom not to have been visited by him at some point. On tours of the Westcountry, for example, he visited Plymouth in 1888 where he played members simultaneously and blindfold. He returned in 1891 playing 8 club members blindfold one evening and 37 members simultaneously the next. Later, he visited Redruth (10 opponents) and Truro. It was a precarious living for one so talented, and he never enjoyed the best of health throughout his life, so in 1911 the BCF launched a testimonial appeal, which raised £800 and suitably invested guaranteed Blackburne an income of £2 per week, which doubtless helped keep a roof over his head.

What would he think of today’s rewards?

Here is a game he played at Bristol in 1875 against an opponent who went on to become a Ladies World Champion. Blackburne was without sight of the board and playing nine others at the same time.

White: Blackburne. Black: Mary Rudge.

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Nf3 h6 6.0–0 d6 7.Nxc3 Nf6 8.Bf4 Be7 9.Qd2 Ng4 10.Rad1 Nge5 11.Bxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 dxe5 13.Qe2 Bd6 14.f4 0–0 15.f5 Qg5 16.Rf3 Qh5 17.Nd5 Kh7 18.Qd3 f6 19.Rg3 Miss Rudge has played very carefully, and though her game is cramped she here makes an ingenious attempt to win. 19…Bxf5 20.exf5 e4 21.Rh3 Qxf5 22.Qe2 Qe5 23.Ne3 c6 24.Ng4 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 Qg5 26.Rh5 Qxh5 27.Nxf6+ winning the queen. 1–0

The solution to last week’s NF letter problem was 1.Nc3! If 1…KxR 2.b7 discovered mate. If 1…e2 2. Qf2 mate or any other move 2.Rc4 mate.

This position arose during last year’s Hastings. White to play and win by force.

White to play

Hastings History (30.12.2017.) 966

The 93rd Hastings Congress started on Thursday and continues for 9 rounds until next Friday. The top 3 seeds are the GMs Deep Sengupta of India (2589); Alex Fier of Brazil (2587) and Jakhongir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan (2518). In spite of their undoubted strength, it could be argued that they are not exactly familiar names to the man in the street, even to those who follow chess events.

However, a lesson could be learned from the very first congress held in the town in 1895. In May of that year, having explored the idea of an International Masters Tournament, and secured generous local funding, the Hastings Club Secretary sent out invitations for a tournament with a prize fund of £500 (£60,000 today) and guaranteed consolation money for non-prizewinners. There were 35 entries, mostly the great and good from around the world, including the current and future World Champions, Steinitz and Lasker, and the Committee had to narrow the entry down to 22. Inadvertently, they allowed in the Venetian Beniamino Vergani, an amiable chess journalist who had only arrived to report on the event, but mistakenly put his name on an entry form. He was ranked with another relative unknown, Harry Pillsbury of the U.S. It would be a bit cruel to say they weren’t household names – even in their own households, but they were certainly unknown quantities in Europe. As expected, Vergani came last, but Pillsbury, to everyone’s amazement, came clear 1st, and from then on was never out of the headlines. 2nd was Tchigorin, 3rd Lasker, 4th Tarrasch & 5th Steinitz.

Here is one of his wins from Hastings.

White: H. Pillsbury. Black: W. Steinitz.

Queen’s Gambit – Exchange Var. [D35]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.e3 Be6 8.Nge2 Nc6 9.g3 cxd4 10.exd4 Bb4 11.Bg2 Qb6? 12.0–0 0–0–0 Though this move has been criticised, it’s almost forced. Black must protect his d-pawn and his king would be unsafe on e8 or g8. 13.Na4 Qa6 14.a3 Bd6 15.b4 Bg4 16.Nac3! Ne7 17.b5 Qa5 18.Qb3 Kb8 19.h3 Be6 20.f4 f5 21.Rfc1 Rd7 22.Na4 Rc8 23.b6! This prevents Black doubling his rooks and limits scope for his queen. 23…a6 24.Nec3 Rc6 25.Bf1 Rd8 26.Na2 Bd7 27.Nb4 Rcc8 28.Nc3 Rg8 If instead 28…Qxb6 29.Nxa6+ Ka7 30.Nb4 leaves White with a fine attacking game. Or if 30…Bxb4 31.axb4+; Or if 28…Bxb4 29.axb4 Qxb6 30.b5 axb5 31.Na4 again, with a fine game. 29.Kf2 h5? 29…Rg6 is better. 30.h4 Bxb4 31.axb4 Qxb6 32.Be2 Rg6 33.Nxd5 Qe6 34.Bf3 Bc6 35.Re1 Bxd5 36.Rxe6 Bxb3 37.Rxe7 Rc2+ 38.Re2 Rc3 39.Rae1 Rb6 40.Rd2 Rxb4 41.d5 Rc2 42.Rxc2 Bxc2 43.Bxh5 Be4 44.Bxf7 Rd4 45.Be6 Rd2+ If 45…Bxd5 46.Bxf5 46.Re2 Rd3 If 46…Rxe2+ 47.Kxe2 and White’s h-pawn will romp home at leisure. 47.Re3 Rd2+ 48.Ke1 Rd4 49.h5 Bxd5 50.Bxf5 Bf7 51.h6 Rd8 52.g4 a5 53.g5 1–0

Last week’s 2-mover was taken from a book in which White’s pieces are printed in red and Black’s are blue, which makes it easy to transcribe incorrectly. The 2 bishops on the 7th rank should have been white, as here, not black. Apologies.

A Christmas Theme (23.12.2017.) 965

Sixteen players took part in last weekend’s Cornish Christmas RapidPlay in Tuckingmill. They all won a prize of some sort, but the main ones were 1st Colin Sellwood (Camborne) on 4½/5. 2nd= were David Saqui and Jan Rodrigo (both Penwith) on 4/5. Tom Oates (Camborne) won the junior prize with 3.

The January issue of Chess magazine, which will be out early, effectively as a Christmas issue, will include the story of how R. D. Blackmore, world famous author of Laura Doone, came to invite William Steinitz, future World Chess Champion, round to his house for Christmas dinner. It’s an unlikely but fascinating story, yet true.

The traditional post-Christmas chess feast is the venerable Hastings Congress. Here is a game from the Challengers Section of the 1965 Hastings event, taken from the British Chess Magazine and introduced by their reporter, Owen Hindle.

“It seems incredible that A. R. B. Thomas has been playing at Hastings for over 40 years. His style is as lively as ever, particularly in his pet lines against the Sicilian. Play through this game, you will enjoy it!”

ARB had spent 40 years teaching at Blundell’s School in Tiverton, which Blackmore had attended as a pupil, and if, by this time, he had reached the stage of Grand Old Man of chess, Mike Basman was, by contrast, an 18 year old tyro, destined to become an IM with a penchant for exotic openings. He was born Mikayel Basmadijan of Armenian parentage, and his babysitter was a young Cleo Laine, who usually managed to sing him to sleep.

White: Andrew Thomas. Black: M. Basman.

1.e4 c5 2.c3 The c3 Sicilian, which has since become even more popular. 2…Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 dxe5 9.d5 Now White is asking the first serious question. 9…e4 Basman was never one to be cowed and chooses to counter-attack. 10.dxc6 Qxd1+ 11.Kxd1 exf3 12.Bb5 One threat is met, to be replaced by another. 12…Kd8 13.Bf4 Bg4 14.Kc2 Bf5+ 15.Kb2 Kc8 16.Rhd1 g5 17.Rd8+! 1–0 After 17…Kxd8 18.cxb7 there are several mating combinations in 5 or 6 moves. Work them through when you get a chance.

Last week’s position was a case of “Give something to win something”. That is, 1.Qg8=Q+! forcing 1…RxQ  losing the queen but unpinning the bishop which can now play 2.Be5+ Rg7 3.BxR+ KxB allowing White to get his queen back with 4.Ph8=Q+ Kf7 and 5.Nxd4 denies Black any series of checks.

Edith Baird née Winter-Wood (1859-1924) was adept at constructing all sorts of chess problems, including ones in which the pieces took the form of letters of the alphabet. One Christmas she published this 2-mover in the Illustrated London News with the title Noël Fantaisie: can you see how the pieces form the initials NF? And she added this quotation from The Merchant of Venice:- “Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you,” as valid a seasonal wish now as then.

White to mate in 2

New Year Events (16.12.2017.) 964

The first local congresses of 2018 are the Somerset New Year Congress on Saturday & Sunday 13th & 14th January, at the Walton Park Hotel, a beautiful venue overlooking the Severn estuary in  Clevedon, BS21 7BL. Details are obtainable from the organisers, Colin and Rebecca Gardiner on 01209-217210 (before 9 p.m.), or e-mail congresssecretary @hotmail.com.

Following that is the Simon Bartlett Memorial Chess Congress for Friday to Sunday 26th to 28th January at the Livermead House Hotel, Torquay. Details may be found on the Bude Chess Club website www.budechess.co.uk. Although there have already been two large events at this popular sea-front venue this Autumn, the prize fund of £2,300 should attract entries.

Simon Bartlett (1954 – 2017), one of the most regular players on the Westcountry congress circuit was born in Paignton, eventually taking a degree in chemistry at Bristol University. He spent most of his career at Key Organics in Camelford, before he was diagnosed with a brain tumour which proved fatal.

Here is a game of his from the 2013 Torquay Open in which he beats Arkell; not the Grandmaster, Keith Arkell, but his brother Nick.

White: S. Bartlett (1943). Black: N. Arkell.

Pillsbury Defence [B07]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Be3 c6 5.Qd2 Nd7 6.Bd3 Qc7 7.f4 White goes for a strong pawn centre. 7…b5 8.Nf3 Bb7 9.Ne2 Ngf6 10.Ng3 a6 11.f5 c5 12.c3 0–0–0 13.0–0 c4 14.Bc2 d5 15.Bf4 Qb6 16.e5 Ne4 17.Qe1 Playable was 17.Bxe4 after which 17…dxe4 18.Ng5 Bd5 19.Nxf7 Bxf7 20.e6 Bxe6 21.fxe6 Qxe6 22.Rae1 etc. 17…Nxg3 18.Qxg3 h6 19.fxg6 fxg6 20.Qxg6 Qxg6 21.Bxg6 Rdf8 22.Bg3 Nb6 23.Nh4 Kd8 24.Nf5 Rhg8 25.Bh7 Bc8 Probably best 26.Bxg8 Bxf5 Now Black must win the exchange back, leaving White just the pawn up. 27.Rxf5 Rxf5 28.Be6 Rf8 29.b3 h5 30.Rf1 White cannot allow Black to dominate the open file. 30…Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Bh6 32.Ke2 Ke8 33.Be1 Kf8 34.Bd2 Bxd2 35.Kxd2 Time now for the kings to do some work. 35…Kg7 36.Ke3 Kg6 37.g3 h4 38.Kf4 hxg3 39.hxg3 Kg7 40.Bf5 A much better square for the white-square bishop, which must have scope to move freely. 40…cxb3 41.axb3 a5 42.Bb1 White has to beware of Black’s outside pawn which could prove a lasting threat later on. 42…a4 43.Ba2 If 43.bxa4 bxa4 and White will be tied down watching that a-pawn. 43…e6 One would think g4 would be the natural move, but White has a plan. 44.Ke3 Kg6 45.Kd2 Kf5 46.bxa4 Nxa4 47.Kc2 This is just a ruse to encourage Black’s king forward. 47…Kg4?? He falls for it. 48.Bxd5 exd5 49.e6 Catch-me-if-can – it must queen. 1–0

In last week’s position, White can play 1.Nf3 and if Black replies 1…Kc3 2.Nc2 mate.

This position arose in a game earlier this year. Black is itching to get in 1…e3+, but it’s not his move. Will this fact be of any help to White?

White to play and avoid defeat.

Another Win For The Cornish (09.12.2017.) 963

For many years, Cornwall played their county matches in the Victory Hall, Exminster, but have recently transferred to Shillingford Village Hall, on the other side of the M5, where they played Gloucestershire recently. The result was a crushing 12-4 win for the Cornish, helped by defaults as four of the visitors failed to turn up. Even so, it was still an 8-4 win on games played. The details were as follows (Cornish names 1st in each pairing). 1.Jeremy Menadue (191) ½-½ M. Ashworth (192). 2.James Hooker (178) 1-0 C. Mattos (190). 3.Lloyd Retallick (174) 0-1 J. Jenkins (185). 4.David Saqui (169) ½-½ P. J. Meade (178). 5.Mark Hassall (168)        0-1 P. Masters (175). 6.Robin Kneebone (164) 1-0        M. Roberts (167). 7.Richard Stephens (160) 1-0 J. Ashworth (161). 8.Colin Sellwood (155) 0-1 M. Taylor (144). 9.Gary Trudeau (148) 1-0 A. Richards (133). 10     .Jamie Morgan (146) 1-0 D. Walton (109). 11.Percy Gill (144) 1-0 R. Jones (108). 12.Mick Hill (139) 1-0 J. Jones (61). 13. Richard Smith (153) 1-0 d/f. 14.Adam Hussain (145) 1-0 d/f. 15.Jan Rodrigo (141) 1-0 d/f.16.Jeff Nicholas (140) 1-0 d/f.

Most of the Cornish wins were long affairs, but not this one.

White: Chris Mattos (Stroud – 190). Black: John Hooker (Camborne – 178)

1.d4 d6 The Pillsbury Defence, named after the great American Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872 – 1906) who died young but played in Devon on several occasions. 2.Nf3 Nd7 3.Bf4 Ngf6 4.h3 g6 5.e3 Bg7 6.Bc4 0–0 7.0–0 c5 8.c3 d5 9.Bd3 Qb6 Asking the first of several questions: i.e. attacking White’s b-pawn  10.b3 Ne4 11.Nfd2 f5 12.f3 Nxd2 13.Qxd2 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Kh1 Be6 16.Bg3 Rad8 17.Bf2 c4 18.Bc2 Qa6 19.b4 Nc6 A 2nd question is posed. 20.a4? Not the right answer as it overlooks… 20…Nxb4 21.Na3 Nxc2 22.Nxc2 Qd6 23.Rfb1 Rd7 24.a5 g5 25.Nd4 g4 26.Nb5 Qe5 27.f4 Qf6 28.h4 Re8 29.g3 Bf7 30.Ra3 Qe7! And finally, threatening to lay a trap for both rooks: e.g. 31…a6 would attack one rook’s sole defender. 31.Ra2?? White sees that threat but not the more serious  one. 31…Qe4+ Forking king and rook. 0–1

The Camborne Club are organising their annual Christmas RapidPlay tournament next Friday at their venue, the Bickford Smith Bowling Club, Tuckingmill. There’s no need to enter in advance but entrants should arrive by 7 p.m. for a 7.15 start. The competition will consist of a 5 round Swiss with 12 minutes each on the clock. The games will not be graded. There will be a vast quantity of prizes to give out afterwards. It is intended that play will end at 10.15 p.m with the prizegiving following immediately. Seasonal refreshments after round 2 with tea, coffee, biscuits, etc. available throughout. They hope to welcome a large entry from around the county to this popular event.

Last week’s 2-mover was supposed to be a little more difficult than usual, but not to the point of impossibility, as the white pawn on b4 was inadvertently omitted. Here it has been corrected, so should now still be difficult, but at least possible. Apologies for the error.

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