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Exotic Wijk aan Zee (28.01.2017.)

After Hastings, the next event on the European chess circuit is that held in the Dutch village of Wijk aan Zee, (pop. 2,400) but sponsored by the nearby steelworks, formerly Hoogovens, then Corus and now Tata.

The top Masters Section reads like the membership of some exotic United Nations committee, namely M. Carlsen, (Norway). W. So (Philippines-born). S. Karjakin, I. Nepomniachtchi  & D. Andreikin (all Russia); L. Aronian (Armenia); P. Harikrishna & B. Adhiban (both India): P. Eljanov (Ukraine); R. Wojtaszek (Poland); Y. Wei (China); R. Rapport (Hungary); L. Van Wely & A. Giri (both Netherlands). Even the “local” player, Anish Giri, has a Nepalese father, Russian mother and spent much of his childhood in Japan.

Here is his Rd. 6 win after 5 draws.

White: Anish Giri (2773). Black: Ian Nepomniachtchi (2767)

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Var. [B91]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 e5 7.Nde2 Be7 8.Bg2 Nbd7 9.a4 b6 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.Qxd5 Rb8 12.Nc3 0–0 13.0–0 Bb7 14.Qd1 Rc8 15.Re1 h6 16.Bh3 Rc6 White sees how to win a pawn and disrupt Black’s defences. 17.Bxh6! gxh6 18.Qg4+ Bg5 19.Qxd7 Qxd7 20.Bxd7 Rc7 21.Bf5 Bd2 22.Red1 Bxc3 23.bxc3 Rd8 24.Rab1 Rc6 25.f4 exf4 26.e5 Bc8 27.Be4 Rxc3 28.Rxd6 Rxd6 29.exd6 Rc4 If 29…fxg3 30.Rxb6 30.Bd3 Rc6 31.Rd1 setting a trap – if 31…Rxd6 32.Bh7+ winning the rook. 32.Bxa6 fxg3 33.hxg3 and the advanced d-pawn will prove decisive. 1–0

The solution to last week’s 2-mover was 2.Ra4! and whatever Black tries will be met by different mates.

The final round of the British Chess Problem Solving Championship takes place on Saturday 18th February at Eton College. The competition started last summer with the publication of the “Starter Problem”, in this case a 2-mover by John Rice. Prospective competitors were invited to send in their solutions, and those with the correct key move were sent a set of 8 further problems of varying types and difficulty, to be returned to the organiser by the end of November. Anyone with a good score was invited to the final. The list of qualifiers for this year may be found on the event website.

Here is that starter problem from June 2016, the solution to which was 1.Qb4! threatening 2.Qc4#. Black’s 5 efforts to escape and White’s replies were as follows: 1…Rxb4  2. Nxb4#.

1…Rc5    2.Nb6#.

1…Sc6    2.Nc7#.

1…Bc5    2.Qe4#.

1…Bxe5  2.Rxe5#.

Incorrect solutions submitted, together with Black’s refutations, were as follows:-

Claim            Refutation(s)

1.Qf4?            1…Nf5!

1.Nb6+?         1…Rxb6!

1.Qxg5?         1…B any move!

1.Qa5?           1…B any move! & 1…Nf5!

1.Qc1?           1…Bc3!

1.Qe2?          1…Be3! & 1…Nf5!

1.Qg2+?        1…Nxg2!

1.Rc5+?         1…Bxc5! & 1…Rxc5!

1.Nb4+?         1…Rxb4!

Simon Bartlett R. I. P.

Simon Bartlett, one of the most regular figures on the schess scene in Devon & Cornwall, passed away on Wednesday evening, after a short but brave fight against an aggressive form of cancer.

His great friend over the years, Ivor Annetts, broke the news yesterday morning, as follows:-

It saddens me greatly to have to inform you that my dear friend, Simon Bartlett, passed away last evening.  His partner, Margaret, telephoned me with the news this morning.

As you probably know, in August last year he was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour and was given between three and sixth months to live; he managed four and a bit.

Simon was a self-confessed chess obsessive.  You will have come to know him because of that.  He would have been 63 in just over two weeks time.

I will inform you of the funeral arrangements as soon as they are made known to me.  In due course I will attempt an obituary for Chess Devon and Keverel Chess.

The words of Brian Hewson come to mind as I write.  Brian’s reaction to the news of Simon’s diagnosis was: “This is terrible news. He is such a great bloke!.”

Ivor Annetts.

Simon was noted for his exotic shirts, which brightened up many a photograph that I took at various events. Here are a couple that jump off the page.

Simon, appearing to offer up a prayer before the start of play at the Seniors' Congress in Exmouth.

Simon & Ivor Annetts playing for Tiverton in the Devon Team Blitz Tournament

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree Results. (21. 01.2017.)

Devon’s annual Inter-Area Jamboree took place in Plymouth on Sunday. The hope is always that teams of 12 will enter from the North, South, East and West of the county. In practice, the North has too few players to be able to field a team, while any East captain has the problem of trying to liaise with five quite active but well-spaced out clubs, from Tiverton to Seaton. The South and West, on the other hand, are able to base their teams mostly on just one club each, Plymouth and Newton Abbot. This year only the South and West could raise teams. Both were near the maximum permitted strength and the final result was in doubt right to the end, with the West retaining the trophy, winning 7-5. South names first in each pairing.

1.A. Brusey (165) ½-½ S. Levy (177). 2. M. Wilson (158) 0-1 D. Twine (165). 3. V. Ramesh (154) 1-0 N. J. Butland (150). 4. C. Howard (156) 0-1 M. Quinn (146). 5. J. Allen (141) 0-1 M. Stinton-Brownbridge (145). 6. J. Blackmore (138) 1-0 A. Hart-Davis (139). 6. J. Ariss (123) 0-1 R. Wilby (137). 8. N. F. Tidy (122) 0-1 P. McConnell (126). 9. B. Sturt (118)  ½-½ G. Banks (123). 10. N. Narayanan (119)1-0 J. Dean (121). 11. M. Cockerton (115) 1-0 A. Crickmore (110). 12. M. Hussey (101) 0-1 C. Peach (100).

Here are 2 games kindly sent in by Devon’s Tournament Secretary, Nick Butland. In the first  game the veteran TV presenter misses the danger posed by his schoolboy opponent.

White: Adam Hart-Davis. Black: Joshua Blackmore.

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Najdorf’s key move, partly defence but also preparing for a queenside attack later in the game. 6.Bd3 e6 7.0–0 Be7 8.Be3 0–0 9.Qd2 Ng4 10.Rad1 Nd7 11.Bc4 Nxe3 12.Qxe3 Qb6 13.Bb3 Nf6 14.Kh1 14…Qc7 15.Qg3 Also playable is 15.f4 which is in keeping with White’s traditional aim against the Sicilian of an early kingside attack. 15…Nh5 16.Qh3 g6 17.Qe3 Nf6 18.f4 Qc5 19.Rd3 e5 20.fxe5 dxe5 21.Nf3 Ng4 22.Qd2 Be6 23.Bxe6 fxe6 24.h3 Nf6 25.Rd1 Rfd8 26.Qh6 Rxd3 27.Rxd3 Qf2= Black threatens c2 and hopefully offers a draw. White declines the offer and promptly blunders. 28.Ng5?? Boxing in his own queen. 28…Bf8 0–1

White: D. Twine Black: M. Wilson.

Sicilian Defence – Closed System.

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.a4 Bg7 6.Nf3 a6 7.Bc4 e6 8.0–0 Ne7 9.d3 0–0 10.Nxd4 cxd4 11.Ne2 d5 12.Bb3 dxe4 13.dxe4 Qb6 14.Kh1 Rd8 15.Rf3 Nc6 16.Bd2 Bd7 17.Qe1 Rac8 18.a5 Qb5 19.Ba4 Qc5 20.e5 Bf8 21.Ng3 Nb4?? 22.Ne4 Nxc2 23.Qh4? 23.Nf6+ Kh8 24.Qh4 leaves Black struggling to survive.; or 23.Rh3 Be7 24.Nxc5 Nxe1 25.Nxd7 Nc2 26.Rc1 leaves White a piece up. 23…Be7? 24.Qh6 Nxa1 25.Nxc5? 25…Bf8 26.Qh4 Bxc5 27.Bd1 Bf8 28.Rh3 h5 29.Bxh5 Bg7 30.Bd1 Re8 31.Bb4 f5 32.exf6 Kf7 33.fxg7 Rc1 34.g8Q+ 1–0.

In last week’s position, the White king was effectively trapped in the centre enabling 1…Bh4+ forcing 2.g3 followed by Nxf3+ forking king and queen.

Here is a new 2-mover, just sent in by Dave Howard. White to move.

White to mate in 2.

Gloucestershire’s Varying Fortunes (24.12.2016.)

Last month, Gloucestershire beat a Somerset side, weakened by defaults, by 9½-6½ points, the details being as follows:- (Glos. names 1st in each pairing). 1.P. Townsend (200) 0-1 J. Rudd (213). 2.J. Stewart (191) 1-0 P. Krzyzanowski (183). 3.N. Hosken (187) 0-1 M. Stanforth (179). 4.M. Ashworth (186) 1-0 A. F. Footner (175). 5.J. Jenkins (181) ½ -½ M. French (170). 6. P. Masters (179) 1-0 Default. 7.J. Jones (176) ½ -½ D. Freeman (163). 8.C. Mattos (174) 1-0 G. N. Jepps (159). 9.P. Kirby (171) 0-1 A. A. Champion (153). 10.P. J. Meade (163) 1-0 R. Knight (150). 11.J. Fowler (158) ½ -½ C. Purry (149). 12.R. Dixon (155) ½ -½  J. E. Fewkes (142). 13.R. Ashworth (153) ½ -½ T. Wallis (142). 14.P. Baker (146) 0-1 C. Strong (133). 15. A. Killey (138) 1-0 Default. 16.I. Blencowe (129) 1-0 d/f.

It was a different story when they subsequently met a strong Devon side. The top half of the match was competitive with Gloucestershire sharing the points 5 – 3, but from board 9 down Devon were able to field a raft of 170+ players, too strong for their opponents to cope with. The details as follows:- (Glos. names first). 1.N. Hosken (187) 0-1 D. Mackle (208). 2.M. Ashworth (186) ½-½ J. K. Stephens (192). 3.J. Jenkins (181) 1-0 Dr. T. J. Paulden (187). 4.P. Masters (179) 0-1 P. O’Neill (185). 5.C. Mattos (174) ½-½ S. Homer (190). 6.D. Dugdale (172) 0-1 Dr. J. Underwood (183). 7.P. Kirby ½-½ B. W. R. Hewson (182). 8.P. J. Meade (163) ½-½ S. Martin (182). 9.J. Fowler (158) 1-0 Dr. D. Regis (175). 10.R. Ashworth (153) ½-½  P. Sivrev (175). 11. P. Baker (146) 0-1 C. Lowe (175). 12.A. Papier (143) 0-1 J.  F. Wheeler (174). 13.A. Killey (136) ½-½ T. F. Thynne (170). 14.I. Blencowe (129) 0-1 P. Hampton (161). 15.A. Richards (123) ½-½  O. E. Wensley (168). 16.P. Bending (115) 0-1 M. O. Marshall (166).

This was the complex game from Bd. 4 in which both players became very short of time.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 d6 5.Bg5 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Be2 c5 8.d5 a6 9.0–0 Rb8 10.Qc2 Qa5 11.a4 Re8 12.h3 Nf8 13.Rfd1 Bd7 14.Bf4 Qb4 15.Ne1 Qb6 16.Ra3 Rbd8 17.a5 Qc7 18.Bf3 Bc8 19.Qd2 N8d7 20.Nd3 b6 21.axb6 Nxb6 22.b3 Nfd7 23.Ne4 Bb7 24.Ra2 h6 25.g4 e5 26.dxe6 26.Bh2 Might have been better in the longer term. 26…Rxe6 27.Nxd6 Bxf3 28.Nxf7 attacking queen & rook. 28…Ne5 Better might have been 28…Qc8 29.Nxd8 Qxd8 30.Rc1 29.Nxd8 Rd6 Not 29…Qxd8? 30.Nxe5 Qxd2 31.Rdxd2 leaving Black the exchange & 2 pawns down. 30.Nxe5 Bxd1? Better would be 30…Rxd2 31.Rdxd2 Bxe5 31.Nd3 Bxb3 An alternative continuation might be 31…Qxd8 32.Bxd6 Bxb3 33.Nxc5 Bxa2 34.Ne6 leaving Black with a bishop for 2 pawns. 32.Ne6! Qc6 33.Bxd6 Bxa2 Black also had 33…Nxc4 34.Qe2 Qxd6 35.Nexc5 Bxa2 but White has threats after 36.Qxa2. 34.Ndxc5 Bxc4 35.Nxg7 Kxg7 35…Nc8 36.Be5 Qxc5 37.Qd8+ Qf8 38.Ne8. 36.Qd4+ Kh7 37.Bf4? 37.Qf6 would have threatened mate after 38.Qe7+ K moves, 39.Qe8. 37…Qd5? 38.Qxd5? 38.Qf6 followed by 39.Be5 would threaten mate. 38…Nxd5 39.Bd6 Kg7 40.e4 Nc3?? 41.Be5+ Kf7 42.Bxc3 1–0

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.Qe4!

This new 3-mover is a little more difficult than usual, so you might need to find a quiet spot somewhere after the Christmas dinner.

White to play and mate in 3

New Kids on the Block (17.12.2016.)

The recent 3rd Plymouth Rapidplay tournament was won jointly by Grandmaster Keith Arkell (Paignton) and Paul Hampton (Seaton). Arkell has been one of Britain’s most active and best-known players for several decades, whereas Hampton is a recent arrival on the Westcountry scene. As a schoolboy back in the mid-‘80s he represented his native Scotland in the World U-16 Championship in Colombia (won by the Russian, Alexey Dreev), and in the Glorney Cup in the Netherlands. His recent move to East Devon has rekindled his interest in the game and he is rapidly getting back to his old form, as evidenced by his draw against Arkell, one of the country’s leading rapidplay specialists. Other prizewinners were:-

3rd= C. Archer-Lock (Reading), A. W. Brusey (Newton Abbot) & P. Sivrev (Plymouth). Grading prizes as follows: U-166: G. Body (Exeter), J. Haynes (Tiverton) & M. Stinton-Brownbridge (Plymouth). U-155: C. Sellwood  (Camborne) & S. Dean (Seaton). U-144: M. Quinn (Plymouth). U-130: M. O’Brien (Plymouth).U-119: J. Fowler (S. Hams). U-103: M. Richards (Liskeard) & S. Franks.

Another new face to the area won the recent Bristol Winter Congress. This was Daniel E. Malkiel who arrived in Bristol last year from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was 2nd seed to Chris Beaumont in the Open Section, and they met in Rd. 4 with decisive results.

White: D. E. Malkiel (201) Black: C. Beaumont (209)

Grünfeld Defence [D85]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Qa4+ c6 8.Qa3 Nd7 9.Nf3 0–0 10.Bg5 c5 11.Bd3 h6 12.Be3 b6 13.Rd1 Qc7 14.Qc1 Kh7 White now decides not to bother with castling, but goes for the throat immediately… 15.h4 Nf6 16.Bf4 Qb7 17.h5 Nxh5 … starting with an exchange sacrifice. 18.Rxh5 gxh5 19.e5+ Kh8 20.Bxh6 f6 Obviously not 20…Bxh6 21.Qxh6+ Kg8 22.Qh7#. 21.Qf4 Bg4 21…fxe5 might have looked as if it was attacking the queen, but in reality it allowed a forced mate in 4 – viz 22.Bxg7+ Kxg7 23.Qg5+ Kh8 24.Qh6+ Kg8 25.Qh7#. 22.Nh4 e6 23.Ng6+ Kg8 24.f3 Bf5 25.Bxf5 exf5 26.e6 Rfd8 27.d5 Re8. Black could try 27…Bxh6 28.Qxh6 Qh7 29.Qxh7+ Kxh7 30.Ne7 Re8 31.d6 Kg7 32.Nxf5+ Kg6 33.Nh4+ Kg7 but the 2 central pawns are mighty powerful. 34.e7 Rad8 35.Kf2. 28.Bxg7 Qxg7 29.Qxf5 c4 30.d6 1–0 After the game, Beaumont complained “I can’t get out of the opening against this guy!”

The other prizewinners were as follows: Open: 2nd= C. Beaumont, C. Bicknell, S. Dilleigh & M. Payne. Major Section (U-155): 1st = T. Jones & Alice Lampard. 3rd= R. Ashworth & N. Towers. Minor Section (U-125): 1st G. Daly. 2nd E. Ko. 3rd= D. Clarke, N. Cunliffe, T. Golding & B. Parnian.

In last week’s position Magnus Carlsen played the unlikely looking 1.Qh6+ which can be taken 2 ways, neither of which helps: e.g. KxQ 2.Rh8 mate or PxQ 2.RxP mate.

The previous week’s position was quickly sorted by Black’s queen sacrifice viz. 1…QxR+ 2.B or N xQ then Rd1+ leads to mate.

Here is the latest 3-move offering from Dave Howard of East Harptree.

White to play and mate in 3

Carlsen Shades It (10.12.2016.)

Last weekend in New York, the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, narrowly beat his challenger, the Russian Sergei Karjakin.

The match was over 12 games, at the end of which both players had one win, the rest being drawn. Many on-line observers around the world thought these games were pretty thin gruel, as neither player wished to take risks.

Then came a tie-break match of 4 rapidplay games, with approx 30 minutes thinking time for each player for all moves. After 3 of the 4 games, Carlsen led 2-1 and the Russian had to win the next in order to stay in the match and take it to the final tie-break stage of games played at 5 minutes per player, although viewed by many as an unsatisfactory way of deciding such a prestigious title.

This is that final rapidplay game that Carlsen only needed to draw.

White: Magnus Carlsen. Black: Sergei Karjakin.

Sicilian Defence – Maroczy Bind. [B55]

1.e4 c5 Karjakin is 2–1 down and needs to win this last Rapidplay tie-break game in order to stay in the match, so, for the first time, he adopts Black’s most potent weapon against 1.e4 – a Sicilian Defence. 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3 e5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.c4 The Maroczy Bind, named after the Hungarian master, Géza Maróczy (1870- 1951), aimed at preventing Black from playing an early …d5 which usually frees up Black’s position, and preventing it often secures a lasting positional edge for White. 7…a5 8.Be3 a4 9.Nc1 0–0 10.Nc3 Qa5 11.Qd2 Na6 12.Be2 Nc5 13.0–0 Bd7 14.Rb1 Rfc8 15.b4 axb3 16.axb3 Qd8 17.Nd3 Ne6 18.Nb4 Bc6 19.Rfd1 h5 20.Bf1 h4 21.Qf2 Nd7 22.g3 Ra3 23.Bh3 Rca8 24.Nc2 R3a6 25.Nb4 Ra5 26.Nc2 Black is stuck for any good move and time is ticking by. 26…b6 27.Rd2 Qc7 28.Rbd1 Bf8 29.gxh4 White is taking a bit of a gamble by weakening his kingside pawn structure, though Black has no immediate threats. 29…Nf4 30.Bxf4 exf4 31.Bxd7 Qxd7 32.Nb4 Ra3 33.Nxc6 Qxc6 34.Nb5 Forcing further simplification. 34…Rxb3 Losing the exchange, but it’s the least worst option. 35.Nd4 Qxc4 36.Nxb3 Qxb3 37.Qe2 Be7 38.Kg2 Qe6 39.h5 Ra3 40.Rd3 Ra2 41.R3d2 White would like to simplify at this stage in order to increase the possibly of getting the draw he requires to win the match, but Black must try and avoid this. 41…Ra3 42.Rd3 Ra7 43.Rd5 Rc7 44.Qd2 winning either the d- or f-pawn. 44…Qf6 45.Rf5 Qh4 46.Rc1 Ra7 47.Qxf4 Ra2+ 48.Kh1 Qf2 Threatening mate on g2, which Carlsen blithely ignores, because he’s seen something special. 49.Rc8+ Kh7 which brings us to this week’s position.

Carlsen (W) is about to be mated on g2, and his world championship title is on the line. Should he now defend or continue to attack? You may have seen it elsewhere during the week, but enjoy the moment again anyway. The move had spectators purring and forgiving the Norwegian for all the earlier dross. Not only that, but it was Carlsen’s birthday that day, and this was his gift to the whole chess world.

White to play and win

Plymouth’s Return To The Bremridge Cup (26.11.2016.)

Last Saturday saw a small bit of chess history unfold, as Plymouth returned to the Bremridge for the first time in a period best measured in decades, probably between 25 and 30 years. That they did so was on the condition that John Stephens, Exmouth born & bred and their top player in recent years, left the Exmouth team and signed on for Plymouth, his current active club membership. The splendid ambience of the Plymouth Bridge Club on Mutley Plain, more than did justice to the occasion.

However, on the day, both teams were missing members who were unavailable for whatever reason. Exmouth had 5 players out: Stephens (for reasons already explained), Shaw & Marshall playing in the World Seniors event in the Czech Republic; Wensley (wedding – not his!), Abbott (Exeter City FC home match), while Plymouth were 3 down. This resulted in the two teams being very closely matched as regards current grades, with only a few points between them.

Once play got under way, the first game to finish was on Bd. 5 where Scott managed to get a knight up front that forked the queen and both rooks – not so much a fork as a trident. Murray got a slight positional edge against Rob Wilby, but was unable to develop it into any lasting advantage and a draw was agreed.

The game on Bd. 2 was a strange one in that Pollock, early on, won the exchange with a knight forking queen and rook, but subsequently kept dropping pawns here and there, to a point where Steve Martin still had 7 pawns lined up against just 4, so the material advantage lay with him, especially as White’s rook just couldn’t find any meaningful activity. Eventually, the black pawns sprang to life and charged forward like a swarm of little black ants against which the rook was powerless.

Plymouth’s up-& coming Nick Hodge kept his cool under Gosling’s various ploys, and gradually got his pieces into advanced positions against the enemy king, to keep the match alive. He has a place booked at St. Andrews University for the next academic year, so will be another loss to the club as his strength will surely continue to grow.

In the top game, Stephens went wrong late in the game to a point where it was resignable, but he played on in view of the match position and the chance that there were possibilities of a swindle, as time was very short and the position still needed careful manoeuvring, but Underwood, under extreme time pressure, managed to avoid all such traps and queened a pawn.

The last game to finish featured a finely balanced endgame between Paul Hampton and the home captain, Sivrev, which finished with 2 blocked pawns each and a draw was agreed.

Most games available in PGN  on chessdevon.org.

DCCA  Division 1 – Bremridge Cup  26.11.2016
Plymouth Grd Exmouth Grd
1 John Stephens 192 0 1 Jonathan Underwood 183
2 Richard Pollock 181 0 1 Steve Martin 182
3 Pavel Sivrev 175 ½ ½ Paul Hampton 167
4 Nick Hodge 159 1 0 Brian Gosling 159
5 Mike Stinton-Brownbridge 145 0 1 Chris Scott 151
6 Rob Wilby 137 ½ ½ Steve Murray 151
989 2 4 993

General view of the playing room.

P. Hampton vs P. Sivrev

Pollock vs Martin

Scott vs Stinton-Brownbridge (nearest) & Wilby vs Murray.

Camborne’s Christmas Cracker (26.11.2016.)

Camborne Chess Club is embracing the approaching festive season with a Camborne Christmas Lightning tournament on Friday 16th December, at Bickford Smith Bowling Club, Tuckingmill, TR14 8RG, starting at 7.15 p.m.  It will consist of 5 or 6 rounds, and entry is free, except that it is good form to take a small prize (chocolates, biscuits, bottle of something etc.) that will be awarded during the evening. Anyone can enter – you don’t have to be a member of any club – just turn up, although it would save time on the night if players entered in advance by phoning Robin Kneebone on 0753-1543-651 or on-line at contact@cornwallchess.org.uk

Steve Homer is a fine attacking player with an excellent record at the top level of Devon chess. This season, however, he seems to have developed a blind spot when his opponent happens to be Cornish. His loss to James Hooker in October’s Devon vs Cornwall match has already been noted, but here is his game from the WECU Jamboree in September.

White: Mark Hassall (183). Black: Stephen  Homer (190).

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation. [B94]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Najdorf’s signature move. 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 e5 8.Nf3 Qa5 pinning the knight and threatening NxP 9.Qd2 h6 10.Bxf6 Nxf6 11.Bc4 Be7 If 11…Qb4 there might follow 12.fxe5 Qxc4 13.exf6 gxf6 14.Nd5 threatening to fork queen and rook on b6, or force Black’s king to move after NxP+. 12.0–0–0 0–0 13.Kb1 After this preparatory move the race is on to attack first. Qc5 14.Bb3 b5 15.Nd5 Bd8 16.Rhe1 exf4 At this stage all White’s pieces are developed, coordinated and focussed, whereas Black’s back rank looks awkward and cramped. Black could do with getting his bishops more into the game, so that his rooks can become connected, with something like 16…Bg4. 17.Qxf4 Nd7 17…Nh5 might have been more pro-active. 18.Qd2 Re8 etc. 18.Nd4 Bg5 19.Qg3 Ne5 20.h4 Bd8 Now White can start to focus on attacking the king’s position. 21.Nf5 Threatening NxP+ 21…Bxf5 22.exf5 Kh7 23.Rf1 Ra7 24.f6 g6 25.h5 Rg8 26.Qh3 g5 27.Qf5+ Kh8 28.c3 Freeing c2 for his bishop to join the fray. 28…a5 29.Bc2 Ng6 The “cheapest” way to avoid immediate mate. 30.hxg6 Rxg6 31.Qh3 1-0 Resigns, Having just given up his knight to avoid mate now Black must lose a rook as well or get mated.

The 3rd Plymouth Rapidplay tournament is accessible to players from both counties and takes place on Sunday 4th December at the Plymouth Chess Club, starting at 10 a.m. More details may be found on their website www.plymouthchess.co.uk.

Last week’s 3-mover was solved by 1.Qh8! followed by 2.Qa8+ or Qe8+ depending on what Black tries, and then 3.Qb5# or Bc2#

In this week’s position from a game earlier this year, White (to play) has all his big guns idling on the back rank doing nothing very much. Should he do something about that or is there a better plan?

White to play

50th Torbay Congress 2016 – A Short History.

The 1st Torbay Congress took place in November 1966 at the Raleigh Hotel, Dartmouth. Numerate readers will immediately spot that this should then be the 51st Congress, but about a decade ago the planned venue, the Riviera Centre in Torquay, pulled out at the last minute and no suitable alternative venue could be found at short notice, so the 40th Congress had to held over for a year. It was a feature of the Riviera management at that time that although they were happy to pencil in the dates of the Congress, they would delay confirming it until quite late on, in the hope that they might get a better offer. Usually they didn’t, but on this one occasion they did. This policy, coupled with the ever-rising charges for room hire, meant that eventually they lost the Congress for ever.

But to go back to the beginning, how did it all start? The Torbay League had been created by J. E. Jones and started activities on October 5th 1957. The Paignton Congress and Exeter & District League had both been started in 1953, and this was deemed sufficient to cater for players’ needs at the time. Jones would, in time, almost certainly have got around to the idea of Torbay having its own congress, but by 1963, with the prospect of his school, King Edward’s G. S., Totnes, becoming a comprehensive school, he decided to climb further up the promotional ladder, taking a Master’s degree at Birmingham University before joining the staff at Didsbury Training College in Manchester which was eventually absorbed into Manchester University.

So, without Jones’s authoritarian leadership, how did the idea of a Torbay Congress get off the ground? The owner of the Raleigh Hotel at the time was Henry Baguley, but who contacted who? Those of us who were around at the time (and still are) are fairly sure that it was Baguley who originally had the idea and suggested it to the League management. That year, 1966, he was the newly-appointed President of the Dartmouth Rotary club and would have been looking to do something new to help put Dartmouth on the map. Secondly, his hotel was in need of something to boost bookings at the lowest point of the year – between the end of the holiday season and Christmas, and thirdly, his son, John, was a promising junior chessplayer who had enjoyed successes in the Torbay Schools Chess League and was then the current Devon U-18 Champion, so Henry was keen to provide another arena in which his son could shine.

And so it was that 20 players met at the Raleigh Hotel on Dartmouth’s picturesque waterfront in November 1966. The League’s Secretary at this point was Alan B. Cole, of the Teignmouth Club, so their members got full notice of the new up-coming event, and Ivor Annetts was among that small band of 20 for the first Congress. However, no record of this first event can be found in the official records of the time. Ken Bloodworth, Eddy Jones’s successor as the Western Morning News chess columnist, would certainly have covered it, but the black bin-liners of unsorted cut-out columns that he bequeathed to me did not contain any from this period.

From this small beginning, the event was considered a success and continued year on year, although the contact with the Baguleys did not survive long. The Raleigh Hotel went into receivership a few years later and John Baguley was not seen again on the Westcountry chess scene. The Congress ticked along quietly for a few years, mostly unreported nationally, as the congress scene in Devon was dominated by Paignton and Peter Clarke’s Hexagon-organised events in North Devon, the latter attracting up to 200 players. But the post-Fischer-Spassky explosion of 1972 led to a vast increase in the number of weekend congresses nationally and the young generation of prospective GMs.

By the 1980s the Torbay Congress got an occasional mention in the Forthcoming Events column of Chess, where it was recorded in 1986 that the 21st event would be held on November 21st – 23rd at the Templestow Hotel with Bob Liggitt as Entry Secretary. The BCM of 1980 actually had a brief winners’ list showing that some big name title-hunters were showing up. Open: 1st= Murray Chandler (GM in ‘83) & Craig Pritchett (IM in ‘76). 3rd= Mark Hebden (IM in ‘82) & Michael Franklin. Major: 1st= Ken Bloodworth & A. Chapman. 3rd= Brian Boomsma, Robin Cotton & Ken Gunnell. Minor: 1st= Paul Foster (still a prizewinner 36 years later), A. Robins & N. P. Williams.

Also playing that year, though not appearing in the prizelist, was a youngster celebrating his 9th birthday – a lad with a shining future ahead of him, by the name of Michael Adams.

The congress was a rung on his ladder to grandmasterdom, with a record as follows:-

year   age           section performance

1979    9               Minor       105     15th=

1980   10       Challengers     166     8th=

1981   11       Challengers     155     16th=

1982   12             Open         166      2nd

1983   13             Open          212     1st=

1984   14            Open          199

1985   15            Open           212     2nd

1986   16            Open           238     1st=

Today, that generation of title-hungry aspirants has largely moved on to higher things and the event is left to local players and congress regulars from around the country. It’s now settled at the Livermore House Hotel on Torquay sea-front, the same venue as the Paignton Congress since it was ousted from Oldway Mansion. It hosts both events within weeks of each other, and it suits the players very well as it offers plentiful parking and accommodation, proximity to the town’s railway station and local bus routes, top class service, a bar and restaurant, sea views, spacious playing room etc. For all its grandeur, Oldway Mansion had none of these things.

Anyway, getting back to the point, the 50th Congress, under the leadership of Ken Alexander, a relatively new Congress Organiser, went very well at the Livermead House Hotel. Entries up to 138, but no IMs or GMs among them to scoop the top prizes, which made it more competitive, as witnessed by the prizelist below. Never have more prizes been handed out, whether in cash or kind.

Torbay Congress 2016 – Prizelist.
Prize Winner Club Pts/5 wins
OPEN
1st W. McDougall Chichester £225
2nd J. Edge Halesown 4 £130
3rd= C. Lowe Exeter £40
J. Menadue Truro £40
GPs
U-185 M. Waddington Dorchester 3 £15
R. J. Webster Calderdale 3 £15
U-175 O. E. Wensley Exmouth £15
R. G. Taylor Wales £15
0/2 W. G. Adaway Dorchester £30
MAJOR U-170
1st= R. Sayers 4 £85
R, Burton Weymouth 4 £85
M. O’Brien Plymouth 4 £85
GPs
U-159 A. M. Hibbitt Banbury 3 £6
M. R. Wilson Teignmouh 3 £6
Y. Tello Wimbledon 3 £6
R. J. Gamble Derby 3 £6
I. S. Annetts Tiverton 3 £6
U-148 P. Neatherway 3 £15
P. E. Halmkin Teignmouth 3 £15
0/2 N. Mills Teignmouth 2 £30
INTER U-140
1st D. J. Jenkins Penwith £120
2nd= S. Williams Cwmbran 4 £65
P. Foster Medway 4 £65
GPs
U-132 M. A. Roberts Holmes Chapel 3 £15
R. K. Hunt Seaton 3 £15
U-125 T. J. Crouch Kings Head £15
C. B. Peach S. Hams £15
0/2 M. J. Cuggy Brixham 2 £30
MINOR U-120
1st= H. Archer-Lock Abbey School 4 £40
J. D. Madden Leamington 4 £40
I. Farrow 4 £40
A. R. Fraser Beckenham 4 £40
G. Daly Downend 4 £40
O. Stubbs Downend 4 £40
R. Greenhalgh S. Hams 4 £40
GPs
U-112 M. R. Pope Salisbury 3 £10
A. H. Davies S. Hams 3 £10
P. Saunders 3 £10
U-106 M. Maber Taunton 3 £8
D. F. Burt Bournemouth 3 £8
J. W. Carr Portsmouth 3 £8
H. Welch Seaton 3 £8
U-95 J. Tye Downend 3 £30
U-76 A. Moorhouse Teignmouth £8
K. Hayden Teignmouth £8
Mrs. W. Carr Portsmouth £8
P. Tournier Hastings £8
0/2 E. Prenton £30

Outside the playing hall, looking into the morning sun over Torbay towards Brixham and Berry Head.

Torbay Palms almost masking the playing venue.

Congress Organiser, Ken Alexander, welcomes everyone before the start of Rd. 1

Marian Cox wins one of the first lottery prizes, Brian Gosling's biography of the problemist John Brown, nicely colour-coordinated with her outfit.

General view of the playing room at the start of Rd. 1

Chairman of the Torbay Council, Mr Ray Hill, formally opens the Congress on Saturday morning.

Meyrick Shaw (W) prepares to play Steve Dilleigh.

Ken Alexander introduces former congress secretary, Ray Chubb (left) and chessdevon webmaster Bill Frost with his daughter Debbie.

Chris Archer-Lock (W) plays Graham Bolt, a game that ended with just the 2 kings on the board.

50th Torbay Chess Congress (19.11.2016.)

The 50th Torbay Congress finished on Sunday evening with the following 48 players featuring in the prizelist.

Open: 1st William McDougall (Chichester), 2nd John Edge (Halesowen), 3rd= Chris Lowe (Exeter)  & Jeremy Menadue (Truro), Grading Prizes: (U-175): 1st= Mike Waddington (Dorchester) & R. Webster (Calderdale). U-175: 1st= Oliver Wensley (Exmouth) & Robert Taylor (Wales). Slow starter (0/2): William Adaway (Dorchester).

Major (U-170): 1st= R. Sayers, R. Burton & Megan O’Brien.  Grading prizes (U-159) 1st= Arthur Hibbitt, Matthew Wilson, Yasser Tello, Ray Gamble & Ivor Annetts. (U-148) 1st= A. Netherway & Peter Halmkin. Slow starter: Nathan Mills.

Intermediate (U-140): 1st D. Jenkins. 2nd= S. Williams & P. Foster. Grading prizes (U-132) 1st= M. Roberts & Ray Hunt. (U-125) 1st= T. Crouch & Clifford Peach. Slow Starter: Mike Cuggy.

Minor: (U-120): 1st= Helen Archer-Lock, J. Madden, I. Farrow, A. Fraser, G. Daly, O. Stubbs & R. Greenhalgh. Grading prizes (U-112) 1st= M. Pope, A. Davies & P. Saunders. (U-106); 1st= M. Maber, D. Burt, J. Carr & Hazel Welch. (U-95) 1st J. Tye. (U-76) A. Moorhouse, K. Hayden-Sadler, P. Tournier & Wendy Carr. Slow starter: E. Prenton.

A fuller report and photos may be found on keverelchess.com while games are on chessdevon.org

Here is the event’s first game to finish – a Devon vs Cornwall affair.

White: J. Menadue. Black: J. Wheeler. Queen’s Bishop’s Game [D00]

1.d4 d5 2.Bg5 The Levitsky Variation, named after the Russian Stepan Livitsky (1876–1924) who played this move against Rubinstein at Vilna in 1912, where he finished ahead of Alekhine and Nimzowitsch. 2…h6 3.Bh4 c6 4.Nf3 Qb6 Hunting a cheap pawn when perhaps the development of minor pieces should be a priority. 5.Nbd2 Bf5 If 5…Qxb2 6.e3 Nd7 7.Bd3 Ngf6 8.0–0. 6.b3 Nd7 7.e3 e6 8.Be2 Ngf6 9.0–0 Ba3 10.Rb1 Bb4 11.a4 0–0 12.Kh1 Rac8 Now Black has caught up in development, how will it go? 13.Bd3 Ne4 14.Bxe4 Of course not 14.Nxe4?? because dxe4 wins a piece. 14…dxe4 15.Nc4 Qa6 16.Nfe5 Nxe5 17.dxe5 f6 Significantly weakening his king’s position. 18.exf6 gxf6 19.Qh5 Heading directly for the weak spot. 19…Kg7 20.Rfd1 grabbing the open file, as one should. 20…Rc7 Slightly better would have been 20…Rf7 followed by …Bg6 to protect the king and nudge away White’s queen. The text move invites the black square bishop to conduct the funeral rites. 21.Bg3 Rcf7 22.Bf4 Rh8 23.Ne5! Re7 If 23…fxe5 24.Bxe5+ Kg8 25.Bxh8 Kxh8 26.Qxf7 and mate cannot be avoided.

24.g4 fxe5 25.Bxe5+ Kh7 26.gxf5 Rg8 27.Rd8! Rgg7 If 27…Rxd8 28.Qg6#. 28.Qg6+ Black knew mate was in store at this point, but sportingly allowed the game to run its course. 28…Rxg6 29.Rh8# 1–0

In last week’s diagram it wasn’t difficult to find 1.RxN! RxR 2.Rh8+ and mate cannot be avoided.

Here is a newly-composed 3-mover from Dave Howard.

White to play & mate in 2.

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