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Beer & Blitz – A Celebration In Memoriam (23.04.2016.)

A number of leading chess players have died in recent months, among them England Olympiad veteran Peter Clarke (81) from north Cornwall; financier Jim Slater (86) who called Bobby Fischer a “chicken” in the run-up to his famous 1972 world championship match with Spassky, which, together with a £5,000 bonus from Slater, stung the American into actually turning up; Jeremy James (79) who presented chess tournaments on BBC TV in the 1970s under the title “The Master Game”; writer Dr. Colin Crouch (58) and problemist Sir Jeremy Morse (87), former Chairman of Lloyd’s Bank.

A good advert, incidentally, for the longevity of chessplayers.

David Norwood, a grandmaster who abandoned a career in chess to amass a fortune in commodity trading, took it upon himself to commemorate their lives and achievements in the game by organising and underwriting a very strong blitz chess tournament at the King’s Head pub in Bayswater on 27th February. Sixty four of England’s strongest players played in 8 All-Play-All leagues in the early rounds, changing to knockout when it was down to the last 16 players.

The rate of moves was 3 minutes per player for all moves, but with the digital clocks being used, 2 seconds were added each time a move was made. Unfortunately, electronic boards were not available to record the moves automatically, being played at almost lightning speed, but the later games were videoed and may be seen on-line; just visit www.youtube.com and search for “Beer and blitz – Celebration in Memoriam”.

Four grandmasters made the semi-finals, in which Michael Adams beat Luke McShane and Mark Hebden beat Simon Williams. In the final, Cornishman Adams beat Hebden in Game 1 with Black against a Ruy Lopez, and drew Game 2, netting him the £700 first prize. It was another example, if ever one was needed, of Adams’ supreme chess skill – speed of thought and deep knowledge of the game.

Last week’s position was an illustration of the “power of the check”. Whatever else is possible, a check must be dealt with first, which allows White to win a piece with 1.QxB+ KxQ 2.RxQ.

Sir Jeremy Morse, was something of a polymath. After Winchester, he took a Double First at Oxford, and was elected a fellow of All Souls. Not only one of the finest minds of his generation in the City, he was, amongst other things, a classics scholar, a pianist, a lover of poetry and a solver and composer of cryptic crosswords. He was an international chess judge, and in retirement published Chess Problems: Tasks and Records, (Faber & Faber 1995) a collection of some 837 problems, about 50 of them of his own devising. His speciality was the 2-mover, the “purest of all chess exercises”. Here is one of his own compositions from that book.

White to move and mate in 2.

White mates in 2