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17th Royal Beacon Seniors Congress – Results (06.11.2016.)

It would be easy to claim that it would be ridiculous to have 44 players in one section with grades from 198 to 70, and several former British Champions in different forms of the game, a GM and a former World Record holder all in the mix. Yet this is what happened this year in the Exmouth Seniors, and in most years before. One could imagine it descending a procession of massacres, unsatisfying for winner and loser alike. Yet it rarely, if ever, turns out this way. There are upsets galore, as modest club players regularly rise to the opportunity to play a much higher-graded opponent, and so it happened this year.

For example, Teignmouth player, Bill Ingham, lowest graded player in the top section, before the grading prizes kicked in, carved through the field, including the top 2 grades, to take clear 1st prize. There were other notable stories too. Michael Dow (127) mated the GM in Rd. 2 and led the field, before proceeding to lose his next 3 games; The GM only scored 50%; Andrew Footner, arrived an hour late for Rd. 1, was defaulted and then proceeded to win the next 4 games to come 2nd=; These were the stories that caught the eye, but many games were entertainingly well-fought.

The “Junior” Section (50 – 64 yrs) was more predictable and the top 3 grades got the main prizes, and the top player in each Graded Section, took the Grading Prize. No prize for Cornishman Colin Sellwood, but in very elevated company he went through undefeated with 5 draws.

Details were:-

Prizelist

Seniors Chart 2016

"Junior" Section 2016

General view of the playing hall from the Controller's table, with Arbiter Tony Tatam striding purposefully forward.

View from the entrance looking half left.

Rd. 3: Bill Ingham against Ewart Smith, former Controller of this event, but now just happy to play.

Steve Murray, late of the Met. Office, and Barbara Newcome of Exmouth Hospital, fellow members of the local club, meet in Rd. 4 of the "Juniors" section.

Rd. 4: Identical twins, identically dressed: Martin Cutmore (nearest) plays Colin Sellwood, who drew every game in distinguished company, while brother David faces Paul Botham.

Rd. 4: Malcolm Belt (Exmouth) on his way to a win against Sid Jones (Dorchester).

Rd. 4: With 3 wins under his belt, Bill Ingham now faces the top seed, Jim Johnson (198), a test he passed with flying colours.

Rd 4: Yorkshireman Paul Kendall plays M. Adams (Martyn!) while another Yorkshireman, Richard Hall plays Peter Wood (Hastings)

Rd. 4: Ian Heppell, who makes a habit of snatching 1st prize in the final round, here makes a move against the top seed, Graham Bolt - game drawn and both entered the final round in joint 1st place on 3/4

Rd. 5: Heppell could only draw against the solid play of Alan Brown, while Graham Bolt (right rear) beat David Cutmore to come clear 1st.

Rd. 5: Andrew Footner's 1st round debacle, believing it to be a 2 p.m. start, only seemed to spur him on to make amends, here notching up his 4th consecutive win, beating Correspondence GM, Richard Hall (blue shirt), in a dramatic game. In the foreground, Robert Everson goes on to beat Alan Dean (Exmouth and Tiddleywinks World Championship contender).

Seniors and the Grob (29.10.2016.)

The Royal Beacon Seniors Congress starts in Exmouth on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. with a slight rise in entries and a number of new faces. Shortly after that will be the 50th Torbay Congress in Torquay, over the weekend starting Friday 11th November. To commemorate this landmark there will be some extra attractions, like book prizes, etc. The prizelist will be considerable as it includes the Torbay individual championship in each of the four sections. Entry forms can downloaded from chessdevon.org.

Devon’s inter-club competitions are under way with the first completed match last Saturday involving Exmouth’s long trip to Barnstaple for a match in Division 2, the Mamhead Cup. This was the game on Board 4, which involved the rare sighting of an eccentric opening.

White: Alan Dean (140). Black: Rob Oughton (124)

Grob Opening [A00]

1.g4 The Grob Opening, analysed by the Swiss international, Henry Grob (1904-’74) in his book of 1942. It has had a number of other names, most recently “The Spike”. It’s rarely seen in serious tournament play, but has a small number of devoted adherents, like the IM Mike Basman and the winner of this game. It undoubtedly has a surprise value, but White players are advised to know it well before trying it, and Black players are advised not to take it too lightly – it can bite. 1…d5 2.e3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.d4 e6 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.Nc3 a6 7.b3 c5 8.Bb2 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Ne7 10.Qd2 Rb8 White has compromised his kingside as a safe haven and intends to castle long. Black senses this and prepares his own attack on the queenside.   11.0–0–0 But White does it anyway. 11…Nc6 12.Nce2 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 0–0 14.h4 Of course. It’s now a race to get their attack in first. 14…Qe7 15.h5 g5? White’s charging pawns cause Black to weaken his own pawn formation. Better might have been 15…e5 16.Ne2 Nb6 with a pawn centre and an attack on g4. 16.h6 Bh8 17.f4 White can afford to throw all his kingside pawns forward; if he doesn’t Black will soon be doing the same on the queen’s wing. 17…f6?? It looks innocent enough but weakens e6 and allows White to strike a fatal blow. Better to try and give his queenside pieces a chance of developing with something like 17…Nf6. 18.Nxe6! Nb6 If 18…Qxe6 19.Bxd5 winning the queen. 19.Nxf8 Kxf8 20.fxg5 Ke8 21.Rhf1 Bringing a third piece to attack Black’s pinned f-pawn – it’s too far gone for Black to save. 1–0

A new and highly-praised film, The Queen of Katwe, tells the true life story of how, with the help of her chess coach, a young Ugandan girl discovers she has a prodigious talent for the game which transforms her life from Kampala slum to world fame. By contrast HMRC has now bankrupted our own chess coach, Mike Basman, to the tune of £300,000.

Last week’s 2-mover was a “waiter” in that the key move 1.Rc6!  poses no immediate threat, but any move that Black then makes will open up a mating move; e.g. 1…Bf3 2.Qh2# or 1…f6 2.Bd6# etc. Here is another new 2-mover by Dave Howard.

White to play and mate in 2

Exmouth Seniors Congress Approaches (15.10.2016.)

The 17th Royal Beacon Seniors Congress starts a fortnight on Monday in the Exmouth sea front hotel. There are some new faces among the regulars, including a former British Ladies Champion, a Correspondence Champion, a Latvian and identical twins. Late entries are still acceptable and a downloadable entry form may be found on chessdevon.org.

Here is a game from the 2005 event with something of an international feel to it.

White: Wim Wender (Netherlands), Black: Brian Ross (Wales),

French Defence [C00]

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 White nearly always plays  2.d4 here, but the Dutch often like to play in a sharp, unconventional style. 2…d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4 Suddenly this resembles a Sicilian Defence Wing Gambit. 4…a6 Black is perhaps a little wary of accepting the “free” offer: e.g. 4…cxb4 5.a3 Nc6 6.axb4 Bxb4 7.Ba3 Nge7 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.c3 Nbc6 10.d4 etc. 5.bxc5 Bxc5 6.d4 Be7 7.a4 b6 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.0–0 Bb7 10.c3 Rc8 11.Qe2 Ra8 12.Qb2 White now brings his queen back over to the queenside and concentrates on looking for play there. 12…Na5 13.Nfd2 g6 14.Na3 Qc7 15.Rb1 Bd8 16.c4 Ne7 17.cxd5 Nxd5 18.Nac4 Nxc4 19.Nxc4 0–0 Having discovered which side Black was going to castle, White’s attack switches sides, and it is the quickness of the switch that is so telling. 20.Bh6 Re8 21.Rfc1 Qb8 Probably the least worst option, with the threat of Nd6 looming. If 21…Qd7 22.Nd6 Re7 It’s often said that with a knight established on the 6th rank, the attack should play itself. 22.Nd6 Re7 23.h4 Rc7 24.h5 Rxc1+ 25.Rxc1 Ne7 26.Ne8 Kh8 27.Qd2 Nd5 28.Nd6 Threatening Nxf7+ Black has no pieces anywhere near his threatened king. 28…Kg8 29.Qe2 Ra7 30.hxg6 fxg6 31.Qg4 Be7 If 31…Bc8 32.Rxc8 Qxc8. 32.Qxe6+ 1-0 Black resigned, in view of 32…Kh8 33.Nf7+ Kg8 34.Nd8+ Kh8 35.Qf7 etc. Just as effective was 32.Bxg6 when Black can still do nothing to stave off mate. Here is another win by the Dutchman from the 2009 event.

White: M. Young. Black: Wim Velker.

Irregular Opening.

1.e4 Nc6 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qa5 5.d4 Nf6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Bb5 Nd5 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.Bd2 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Qa6 11.Qe2 Qxe2+ 12.Kxe2 e6 13.c4 Be7 14.h3 Bf5 15.c3 f6 16.g4 Bc2 17.Bc1 Rb8 18.Kd2 Be4 19.Ke3 Bc2 20.Rh2 Ba4 21.Ne1 h5 22.gxh5 Rxh5 23.Nd3 c5 24.Kf3 cxd4 25.cxd4 Bc6+ 26.Kg4 Rh7 27.Re2 Kf7 28.Bd2 Rbh8 Black is poised to attack down the h-file, and White has no choices left. 29.Nf2 f5+ 30.Kg3 Bh4+ 31.Kh2 Bxf2 32.Rxf2 Rxh3+ 33.Kg1 Rh1# 0–1

As Black was about to queen with check in last week’s “Pawn Puzzle”, White had to get his check in first and the only way to do this was by “under-promoting” to a knight; hence 1.a8=N+! forcing the king to the back rank, enabling 2.g8=Q mate.

This week’s problem is not quite a pawns-only position, but is from a blitz game earlier this year which means that White had c. 12 seconds to find a winning move. How long will you take to find it?

White to play and win.