Devon’s three wins in their recent match against Surrey was enough to take them through to the semi-finals. This was Robert Thompson’s game which featured an interestingly asymmetric balance of forces.
White: A. French (173). Black: R. Thompson (170).
Sicilian Defence – Alapin Variation. [B22]
1.e4 c5 2.c3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 d5 5.e5 Nc6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.h3 Nh6 8.g4 0–0 9.f4 White is being very bold in advancing all his kingside pawns so early without a prepared hiding place for his king. 9…f6 10.Bg2 fxe5 11.fxe5 e6 12.Nf3 Qb6 13.0–0 Black now sacrifices a rook for knight and pawn. 13…Rxf3 14.Bxf3 Qxd4+ 15.Qxd4 Nxd4 16.Bf4 Nf7 17.Rae1 Nc6 18.Nxd5 exd5 19.e6 Nh6 20.e7 Bd7 21.Bxd5+ Kh8 Black now has 2 knights for rook and pawn. 22.Bd6 Ng8 23.Rf8 Ncxe7 24.Rxa8 Nxd5 Now there is an even more interesting balance of forces with Black’s 3 minor pieces against 2 rooks. 25.Be5 a6 26.Kf2 Nb4 27.Bxg7+ Kxg7 There now follows a period of manoeuvring for positional advantage. 28.Rd1 Bc6 29.a3 Nd5 30.Rd4 Ngf6 31.Rc4 Bb5 32.Rd4 Nc7 33.Ra7 Bc6 One rook is now locked away while the other has to fend off attacks from the minor pieces. 34.Rc4 Nfd5 35.a4 Kf6 36.b4 Ke5 37.Kg3 Kd6 38.Rd4 Ne6 39.Rd2 Ng5 40.Rd1 Ne4+ 41.Kh4 h5 42.Ra1 Ke5 43.b5 axb5 44.axb5 Bxb5 (If 44…Ndf6 forces 45.g5) 45.Re1 Nf4 threatening g5 mate, so forcing… 46.Rxe4+ Kxe4 47.gxh5 gxh5 48.Kg5 Nxh3+ 49.Kxh5 Nf4+ 50.Kg5 Nd5 51.Ra5? The b-pawn is Black’s only hope of a win and yet White ignores it. 51…Bc6 52.Ra1 Nc3 53.Re1+ Kd5 54.Kf4 Kc4 55.Ke5 b5 56.Kd6 Be4 57.Ke5 b4 58.Rg1 b3 59.Rg8 Bc2 60.Rg4+ Ne4 61.Rg1 b2 62.Re1 Nc3 63.Rh1 Be4 64.Rg1 Kd3 65.Re1 Kc2 66.Kd4 Bd3 67.Rg1?? (A blunder, but the game is lost anyway, for if 67.Rh1 Kd2 68.Ke5 Nd1 69.Rh2+ Be2 and the b-pawn can queen safely). 67…Ne2+ White resigned as the knight will now come to c1 to protect the queening square of b1.
In the semi-final Devon are now due to meet Warwickshire who beat Lancashire 10-6.
The noted Cornish problemist, Dr. Maurice Jago was most prolific during the war when he was a lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He became increasingly interested in the more flamboyant and unusual kinds of positions and problems. This 2-mover is taken from an article entitled Horse Play that he got published in the British Chess Magazine in 1943, and is typical of his work at that time.