During the recent West of England Championship I celebrated my Golden Wedding and was able to reassemble the whole wedding party, bridesmaids, Best Man and ushers, which set me thinking on the lines of how some things have changed and some haven’t. The French have a phrase – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The same applies to the WECU Championship of half a century ago. It was held in Weymouth that year and attracted 94 players, divided into 10 smaller sections, including sections for ladies, girls, juniors, reserves A & B etc. Today, all entries are consolidated into just 3 sections, Open, Major and Minor, based on grade alone.
Many of those players involved at Weymouth have since moved on to the great chequerboard in the sky, of course, but a significant number are still very involved in the game, both as players and organisers. Trefor Thynne, Ivor Annetts, Brian Gosling, John Wheeler, Phil Meade and Leon Burnett, for example, all did well that year and have been very active in westcountry chess ever since. Scillonian David Ellis went on to become Champion the following year before emigrating to Perth, Australia, where he still conducts a chess column in his local paper. Burnett became Champion in 1966 and was still playing strongly in the recent Bristol Congress.
The winner of this game was awarded the Brigadier Morris Trophy for the best game by a junior in 1965. Today, David Shire is a noted problem composer – but what happened to the trophy is a mystery.
White: D. J. Shire. Black: B. G. Gosling. Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0–0–0 Nbd7 10.g4 Rb8 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.g5 Nd7 13.Rg1 b5 14.a3 b4 15.axb4 Rxb4 16.Bh3 Nc5 17.f5 All moves so far are identical to the Hindle-Gligoric game at the 1965 Hastings Christmas Congress; the boys really knew the latest opening theory. 17…Qb7 Attacks b2 and prevents e5. For example, Gligoric played 17…Bd7 18.e5! opening up attacking possibilities, and the game went on… 18…d5 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Nxe6 Bxe6 21.Bxe6 Nxe6 22.Nxd5 and Hindle won, something of a sensation at the time. 18.f6 Bf8 19.b3 Rg8 20.Rde1 gxf6 21.Nd5! Threatening a knight fork on f6. 21…exd5 22.exd5+ And now White proceeds to wreak havoc. 22…Kd8 23.Qxf6+ Kc7 24.Qxf7+ Kb6 25.Qxg8 Bxh3 26.Qxf8 Qc7 27.Nc6! Threatening Re7 1–0.
Last week’s Morphy game ended with a combination that is well-known because of its ingenuity but one that rarely occurs in practice. 1.Qa3+ Kg8 (if Ke8 then Qe8 mate) 2.Ne7+ Kf8 3.Ng6+ Kg8 4.Qf8+ Rxf8 5.Ke7 mate, known as a smothered mate, as the king is hemmed in by its own pieces, in this case the rooks.
Having indicated how rare it is in actual play, here is another example, incredibly also by Morphy – in the same year. Just repeat the drill.