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Revd. Bremridge’s Wooden Spoon Avoided (28.04.2018.)

Exeter having already won the Bremridge Cup by beating home & away the other two teams, Exmouth and Newton Abbot, these were left “playing for peanuts” as the Tournament Secretary put it. However, this proved more difficult than usual. On the first occasion, Newton Abbot couldn’t raise a team for their away leg and the match was postponed until 28th April. For their home leg, it was Exmouth that couldn’t raise a team, but it was too late in the season for a postponement, so that was declared “unplayed”.

In an effort to infuse a small element of significance to the match it was felt the teams could be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon. And so the games were played slowly and seriously. The first point went to the visitors in the shape of Vignesh Ramesh who overcame a 22 point deficit to beat his experienced opponent. Then nothing happened for some time, when four games seemed to finish in a flurry. John Stephens exploited his extra pawn in a R&P ending, got it to the 7th rank and Black could do nothing about it.

Underwood’s and Hampton’s games also finished at this time with wins for the home team. Meanwhile, Walter Braun was struggling to defend his position a piece down, Steve Homer, who, being the player he is, was never going to let up.

With the score at 3-2 it was left to Brian Gosling and Josh Blackmore to finish things off. They were down to a black-square bishop each and a sprinkling of pawns. The game went on for some time long after the other players had gone. Blackmore was making all his moves in the last 5 seconds of each incremental 30 seconds, but Gosling managed to retain a very slight edge, and chipped away at the pawns. There was a moment when Blackmore might have been able to sacrifice his bishop for his opponent’s last pawn to leave a draw, but the chance passed, and Gosling was able to mop up pawns on his was to a win, leaving the final score 4-2 and the Wooden Spoon was avoided.

Bremridge Cup (Div. 1)   28.04.2018.
EXMOUTH Grd NEWTON ABBOT Grd
1 Dr. W. Braun 203 0 1 S. J. Homer 181
2 Dr. J. Underwood 192 1 0 P. Brooks 170
3 J. K. F. Stephens 189 1 0 T. F. Thynne 170
4 S. Martin 186 0 1 V. Ramesh 164
5 P. G. Hampton 172 1 0 C. V. Howard 154
6 B. G. E. Gosling 160 1 0 J. Blackmore 147
1,102 4 2 986

Walter Braun vs Steve Homer (Bd.1)

Bd. 2: Paul Brooks vs Jonathan Underwood

Charlie Howard makes a move against Paul Hampton on Bd. 5

Josh Blackmore vs Brian Gosling on Bd. 6 last to finish after a tight endgame.

left: John Stephens vs Trefor Thynne with Steve Martin in view on right.

Exeter Retain Top Prize (24.02.2018.) 974

Devon’s Premiership club competition was decided on Saturday when Exeter travelled all the way to Exmouth for the final showdown. Both 6-player teams’ grade total were almost 1,100 which made it a very strong event, but the result was the same as in recent encounters, a 3½-2½ win to Exeter.

Details: Exmouth names first in each pairing. 1. J. Stephens (189) 1-0 G. Bolt (188). 2. W. Braun (197) 0-1 L. Hartmann (183). 3. Dr. J. Underwood (191) ½-½ Dr. T. Paulden (189). 4. S. Martin (184)  ½-½ P. O’Neill (187). 5. O. E. Wensley (175) ½-½ C. Lowe (179). 6. B. Gosling (160) 0-1 Dr. D. Regis (165).

Here is the game from Board 1.

White: J. Stephens. Black: G. Bolt.

Sicilian Defence – Maroczy Bind [B38].

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be3 c5 Transposing into a Sicilian Defence. 5.c4 The Maroczy Bind, the idea of which is to discourage Black from playing …d5 which would free up his position. 5…cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Be2 0–0 9.Rc1 Bd7 10.f3 a6 11.Qd2 Rc8 12.b3 Re8 13.0–0 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Qa5 15.Qe3 Qh5 16.Qf2 e6 17.Rfd1 Bc6 18.Bb6 Nd7 19.f4 Qh6 20.Be3 Bf8 21.b4 b5 Allowing White to obtain 2 passed pawns, which become more important as the game goes on, and White takes every chance to make equal exchanges 22.cxb5 axb5 23.Nxb5 Bxe4 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Nxd6 Bxd6 26.Rxd6 Nf6 27.Rd4 Qf8 28.Qh4 Qg7 29.Rc4 Rxc4 30.Bxc4 Nd5 31.Qd8+ Qf8 32.Qxf8+ Kxf8 and now those pawns can spring to life. 33.Bc5+ Ke8 34.g3 Kd7 35.a4 Nc3 36.a5 Kc7 37.Kf2 Bc6 38.Ke3 Nd5+ 39.Kd4 f6 40.b5 Bd7 41.Bf8 Kd8 42.b6 Resigned 1–0.

The East Devon Congress started last evening in Exeter’s Corn Hall, and continues until tomorrow evening. With 3 days to go, there were no late Grandmaster entries; no John Nunn, as last year, acting as a magnet attracting enough players to make it a record entry for recent years. Total entries at this point are 137.

Future events include the following:

(a) West of England Championship & general Congress at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth over Easter weekend i.e. from Fri. 30th March – Mon. 2nd April.

(b) Fri. 18th May.29th Frome Congress

(c  Sat. 26th May. 50th Frome Congress.

A report was received this week of the death of a regular and popular player in Westcountry congresses, Robert Everson of Dartford, Kent. Like Simon Bartlett, who passed away last year, Robert also worked in the chemical industry and developed an inoperative brain tumour. A fuller obituary and photograph may be found on keverelchess.co.uk/blog.

In last week’s position, Black’s queen was overloaded trying to protect both c6 and f7, enabling White to play 1.Bc6 and if 1…QxB 2.Qxf7 mate.

Leafing through an old copy of Chess Life this week, I found a page of positions entitled Find The Zingers! (It’s an American magazine) and this is one from their Intermediate section. White to play.

Find The Zinger! White to play

Devon’s Div. 1 (Bremridge Cup) Retained (13.02.2018.)

Saturday was the defining day for this year’s destination of the Bremridge Cup, when Exeter were due to travel to neigbours Exmouth for their return match. Exmouth needed a win to retain any hope of wresting the cup from Exeter’s grasp, while a draw would be enough for Exeter to retain the trophy.

With this in mind, Exeter drafted in Exeter University student Lorenz Hartmann to beef up their team list, while Exmouth were able to field former local hero John Stephens. Unfortunately, this was offset by having three “unavailables”, but even so, the home team were slightly stronger on paper.

Things started badly for Exmouth, when Dave Regis was able to take full and immediate advantage of his opponent’s opening plan which left his king marooned in the centre and unable to move left or right to avoid the on-coming storm. 0-1

Boards 3, 4, & 5 were more cautious affairs all players keen not to miss any lurking dangers, and draws were agreed.

This left the top two games to settle matters. There was a distinctly continental flavour about Bd. 2 in which Hartmann, over from Germany doing in doctorate in Maths (in Game Theory, wouldn’t you know it!) was playing Viennese FIDE Master Walter Braun, currently enjoying his second period of residence in Exmouth. However, a slight slip in his early mid-game calculations enabled Hartmann to get a central pawn storm going, which proved impossible to resist. This was the win that clinched the title.

Which meant that Exeter team captain, Graham Bolt, didn’t need to worry too much about the way his own game was going. After Stephens had established 2 connected queenside pawns, he swapped off material whenever possible, increasing those pawns’ significance all the time until they were impossible to resist. It was consolation for Exmouth, but not quite enough.

Full details:-

D.C.C.A. Bremridge Cup                 Played Sat. 17.02.2018.
EXMOUTH Grd EXETER Grd
1 John Stephens 189 1 0 Graham Bolt 188
2 Walter Braun 197 0 1 Lorenz Hartmann 183
3 Dr. Jon Underwood 191 ½ ½ Dr. Tim Paulden 189
4 Steve Martin 184 ½ ½ Paul O’Neill 187
5 Oliver Wensley 175 ½ ½ Chris Lowe 179
6 Brian Gosling 160 0 1 Dr. Dave Regis 165
1,096 1,089

Nearest: Bd 2 Hartmann (W) vs Braun & Bd. 1 Stephens (W) vs Bolt

Two Doctors heading for a draw: Underwood (W) vs Paulden.

Regis (W) vs Gosling

O'Neill (W) vs Martin

Devon’s First Div. 1 Match of the Season (29.10.2017,) 957

Devon’s 1st league match of the season took place on Saturday between old rivals Exmouth and Exeter, in the 1st Division, the Bremridge Cup. It was also a small piece of chess history as it was the first time DCCA had decreed that digital clocks should be used in their league matches, in this case giving each player 90 minutes thinking time, and an extra 30 seconds being automatically added by the clock each time a move was made. It resulted in a 4-2 win for Exeter, but there will be a return match later in the year. Here are 2 games from the match – a win for each team.

White: Chris Scott (160). Black: Jeremy Amos (144).

Sicilian Defence – [B32]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 It is generally reckoned that if Black, playing the Sicilian Defence, can get in …d5 without incurring any setback, he is well on the way to securing the initiative, so White, if he gets the chance, will try to protect against it by playing c4, called the Maroczy Bind, 6…a6 7.N5a3 f5 8.Nc3 Nf6 9.Bg5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Nc2 0–0 12.Bd3 f4 13.Be2 g5 Black is really throwing caution to the winds. 14.Bg4 Nd4 15.Be2 g4 16.Nxd4 exd4 17.Nd5 d3 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Qxd3 Qxb2 20.0–0 f3 21.gxf3 gxf3 22.Bxf3 Bh3 23.Bg2 Bxg2 24.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 25.Rxf2 Qxa1 This skirmish leaves the position materially level, but Black’s pieces could not be further apart, while White’s have the freedom of the board to unite against an undefended king. 26.Qxd6 Qg7+ 27.Kh3 Threatening Rg2 winning the queen. 27…Qc3+ 28.Kh4 Qe1?? Losing his queen by force. 29.Qg3+ Kh8 30.Rf8+ Rxf8 31.Qxe1 Kg7 32.Kg5 Rf7 33.Qc3+ Kf8 34.Qe5 Rg7+ 35.Kh6 Re7 36.Qh8+ Kf7 37.Qxh7+ 1–0

White: John Morrison (144). Black: Brian  Gosling (148).

Vienna Game  [C27]

1.e4 d6 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.f4 Signature move of the Vienna Opening with the idea that if 4…exf4 5.d4 wins back the pawn while setting up a strong pawn centre. 4…Bg4 5.Be2 Bxe2 6.Qxe2 c6 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.d4 Qa5 9.Bd2 Qc7 losing a tempo. 10.0–0 exd4 11.Nxd4 0–0–0 12.Nb3 h5 13.a4 Ng4 14.a5 Be7 15.h3 Ngf6 16.Qc4 White keeps probing at weak spots. 16…Rhf8 17.Be3 Nc5 18.Nxc5 dxc5 19.Qe2 White could have opened up the position with 19.Bxc5 Bxc5+ 20.Qxc5 which would have won a pawn, but he declined that option. 19…Kb8 20.e5 Nd5 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Qxh5 d4 23.Bd2 c4 24.Qf3 Bc5 25.b4 cxb3 26.Qxb3 Opening the b-file to Black’s king. 26…d3+ 27.Kh1 Bd4 28.Rac1 dxc2 29.Rxc2 Qd7 From its unprepossessing square, White’s bishop suddenly strikes out and delivers a fatal blow. 30.Bb4! Rfe8 31.Bd6+ Ka8 32.Rc7 1–0

In last week’s position, Philidor decided he could take the knight, allowing Black to continue 1…d2, on the verge of queening, but the rest of his moves are forced. 1. Rc7+ Kg8. 2.f6 gxf6 3.exf6 Rd4+ 4.Ke5 Rd5+. 5.Kf4 Rd4+. 6.Kg3 Rxg6. 7.hxg6.

This week it’s White to play & mate in 2

White to play & mate in 2

Exmouth’s 1st Match of the Season (21.10.2017.)

A tiny bit of chess history was made in Exeter on Saturday 21st October 2017 when Exmouth took on their near neighbours, Exeter, at Oxygen House, Grenadier Rd., Exeter. This was the first inter-club match under the aegis of the Devon County Chess Association to be played using digital clocks. The rate of moves, dictated by the clocks was 90 minutes for all moves, with 30 seconds added each time a move was made. Given, for example, a 60 move game this would provide an additional 30 minutes to the hour and a half, making a total of 2 hours thinking time per player, close to that allowed hitherto by analogue clocks. Several differences arose out of this change: (a) players had to write down all moves, right to the end of the game, as there would always be at least 30 seconds in which to do this. (b) Also, there would no need for the furious, frantic “time-scramble”, so often a feature of the previous system.

The match was preceded by the presentation of the Devon individual championship cup for the 2016-17 season. The previous champion, Steve Martin, in the visitors’ team, had brought the cup with him and was able to hand it over to his successor, Graham Bolt, captain of the home team – photo below.

Both teams were under-strength for a variety of reasons, but were still closely matched. Exeter had had to draft in a reserve at a few hours notice when Leif Halfsted phoned in sick. His replacement, Jeremy Amos, was the first to lose, but Exmouth’s lead lasted about 2 minutes when Oliver Wensley missed a trick, lost a piece and fell to Chris Lowe. Then it was Exeter’s turn to take the lead, after John Morrison, always dangerous when allowed the freedom to attack, pulled off a short, sharp combination that would have led to mate, had not Gosling resigned.

Seeing light at the end of the tunnel encouraged Exeter’s Bolt and Regis to agree to draws, making the score 3-2. This left Braun and Paulden to determine the final outcome. In a tight endgame they got down to a N & B each with a scattering of pawns. Paulden was down to his 30 secs per move, while Braun had plenty of time left, but seemed to move even more quickly than his opponent. He had extra pawns and felt there were no possible tactics and his play should be routine. Unfortunately, in this he was wrong, and lost his bishop. It was still very difficult for Paulden to make progress, but it was probably the effect of always having 30 seconds thinking time, as opposed to having to make instantaneous moves, that helped him keep finding the best moves, pressurising the position, to a point where his opponent had to throw in the towel. Result 4 – 2 to Exeter.

Exeter Grd Exmouth Grd
1 Tim Paulden B 183 1 0 Walter Braun 203
2 Graham Bolt W 196 ½ ½ Steve Martin 186
3 Chris Lowe B 176 1 0 Oliver Wensley 172
4 Dave Regis W 166 ½ ½ Steve Dean 161
5 Jeremy Amos B 147 0 1 Chris Scott 160
6 John Morrison W 144 1 0 Brian Gosling 154
Totals 1012 4 2 1036

Devon's individual champion 2016, Steve Martin, hands the cup to his successor, Graham Bolt (l).

Some nervous banter between players just before the kick-off

Exeter team captain, Graham Bolt, makes his move.

Chris Lowe, formerly of the old Paignton Palace club, makes his move against Oliver Wensley, Devon's Player of the Year, last season.

FIDE Master, Walter Braun (r), awaits Tim Paulden's reply to his Nimzo-Larsen opening.

Steve Dean (r) played his first match for Exmouth and earned a well-deserved draw after his usual steady play.

The first game to finish proved to be Exmouth's only win, as Chris Scott (l) overcame the late replacement, Jeremy Amos.

John Morrison (r) is always a dangerous attacking player, and as the opening transposed into a Vienna, it suited his style of play and he didn't miss out.

Clash of the Titans (11.02.2017.)

The current Devon Champions, Exmouth, hosted local rivals, Exeter, in a match on Saturday that would not only confer local bragging rights but probably determine who would win this year’s Devon club championship.

The omens were not good for the hosts, as Exeter were able to field their strongest team, probably one of the strongest sides seen for many a decade, while Exmouth were under par, conceding c. 16 points per board over Bds 3 – 6 – a big ask. However, the match proved to be a truly titanic struggle as each game came to an end.

First of all, Exeter’s captain, Graham Bolt, won the toss yet chose to give their opponents White on top board. That was the first to finish, when O’Neill came unstuck and resigned, and put Exmouth 1-0 up. Was Bolt’s tactic a wise one? Next, Chris Scott got a valuable draw against Jamie Morgan, playing his first game for Exeter. Then, Oliver Wensley generated enough pressure to cause his opponent to run out of time.

Thus Exmouth had 2.5 point after 3 games, and it seemed highly possible they would be able to get something from the other 3 games to squeeze at least a draw.  Then Dave Regis, who had 2 minor pieces for a rook, forced a win, while Bolt found himself in an ending with 2 bishops against 2 knights with a sprinkling of pawns on either side. The bishops found good long diagonals enabling his king to advance, keeping the black knights and king on their back rank, and a win was inevitable. 2.5 all, with former Scottish International, Paul Hampton, locking horns with Paulden, in what for the most part had been a blocked position. However, in seeking active play for his queen, he allowed Regis’ queen in to the centre. With just 2 minutes of extra time left on both clocks, there was a titanic struggle with both queens grabbing any pawn they could get hold of, preferably with check, and Paulden succeeded in this race.

So, with just seconds to go, Exeter took the lead for the first time in the match, and with it the match.

The details were:-

Bremridge Cup    Div. 1        11.02.2017
EXMOUTH Grd EXETER Grd
1 J. Underwood 187 1 0 P. A. O’Neill 185
2 S. Martin 185 0 1 G. Bolt 190
3 P. Hampton 166 0 1 T. J. Paulden 187
4 O. E. Wensley 168 1 0 C. Lowe 175
5 B. G. Gosling 159 0 1 D. Regis 175
6 C. J. Scott 152 ½ ½ J. Morgan 170
1,017 1,082

Exmouth Retain Bremridge Cup Div. 1 (04.04.2016)

Exmouth’s final match in Devon’s premier inter-club competition was against old rivals Teignmouth, at the Manor Hotel on Exmouth’s Beacon, overlooking the sea, with Teignmouth town feintly visible on the other side of the bay.

Looking at the team lists and grades, one might assume this could be an easy proposition for the cup holders, were it not for three things; (a) nothing is certain in chess (b) Exmouth were 3 X 170+ players light, for various reasons, including a family wedding and an Exeter City vs Plymouth Argyle match and (c) on the night of the recent Storm Katie, with the winds howling all around the town, the non-playing Captain, Bob Jones, heard a loud bang in the middle of the night. In the morning, fearing the worst and expecting some degree of structural damage to the house, as there had been in the previous storm only a couple of weeks earlier, he found the noise had been caused by the Bremridge Cup falling off its perch for no apparent reason. Could all this be an omen?

In the event, Teignmouth, too, were under-strength, with their top player, Alan Brusey, unwell. Yet the games went on and on – there were no quick wins anywhere. In fact, it was only when the endgames were reached that the differences in grade began to tell. All 6 games then finished within quite a short time of each other, and suddenly the match was over.

EXMOUTH Grd TEIGNMOUTH Grd
1 John Stephens 196 1 0 Bill Ingham 158
2 Dr. Jon Underwood 184 1 0 Nathan Mills 154
3 Steve Martin 183 1 0 Peter E. Halmkin 151
4 Brian Gosling 157 1 0 Rev. Charles Doidge 129
5 Chris Scott 150 1 0 John Ariss 121
6 Steve Murray 150 1 0 Norman F. Tidy 119
1,020 6 0 832

This left Exmouth with 3 won matches and one drawn. The match they came closest to losing was against Exeter, where Exeter were leading 3-2 and one unclear ending in progress. In the event, Brian Gosling found a clever pseudo-sacrificial move that won the game and saved the match.

Summaries of results and performances are as follows:

Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4
Bd vs Newton A vs Tiverton vs Exeter vs Teignmouth
1 Stephens 1 Stephens 1 Underwood 0 Stephens 1
2 Underwood ½ Martin 1 Martin ½ Underwood 1
3 Martin ½ Underwood 1 Abbott ½ Martin 1
4 Abbott ½ Abbott 1 Wensley ½ Gosling 1
5 Wensley ½ Wensley 1 Gosling 1 Scott 1
6 Scott ½ Scott 1 Scott ½ Murray 1
6 3 6
Name P W D L %
John Stephens 3 3 0 0 100
Jon Underwood 4 2 1 1 62.5
Steve Martin 4 2 2 0 75
Mark Abbott 3 1 2 0 66
Oliver Wensley 3 1 2 0 66
Brian Gosling 2 2 0 0 100
Chris Scott 4 2 2 0 75
Steve Murray 1 1 0 0 100
Bremridge Cup Div. 1       2015 – 16 season
Team 1 2 3 4 5 Tot. For Against
1 Exeter X 1 0 0
2 Exmouth 1 X 2 2 2 7 18½
3 Newton Abbot 2 0 X
4 Teignmouth 0 X
5 Tiverton 2 0 X

Exmouth Retain Bremridge Cup (Div. 1)

Exmouth’s final match in Devon’s premier inter-club competition was against old rivals Teignmouth, at the Manor Hotel on Exmouth’s Beacon, overlooking the sea, with Teignmouth town feintly visible on the other side of the bay.

Looking at the team lists and grades, one might assume this could be an easy proposition for the cup holders, were it not for three things; (a) nothing is certain in chess (b) Exmouth were 3 X 170+ players light, for various reasons, including a family wedding and an Exeter City vs Plymouth Argyle match and (c) on the night of the recent Storm Katie, with the winds howling all around the town, the non-playing Captain, Bob Jones, heard a loud bang in the middle of the night. In the morning, fearing the worst and expecting some degree of structural damage to the house, as there had been in the previous storm only a couple of weeks earlier, he found the noise had been caused by the Bremridge Cup falling off its perch for no apparent reason. Could all this be an omen?

In the event, Teignmouth, too, were under-strength, with their top player, Alan Brusey, unwell. Yet the games went on and on – there were no quick wins anywhere. In fact, it was only when the endgames were reached that the differences in grade began to tell. All 6 games then finished within quite a short time of each other, and suddenly the match was over.

Bremridge Cup (Div. 1)     02.04.2016.
EXMOUTH EXMOUTH EXMOUTH EXMOUTH
1 John Stephens 1 John Stephens 1 John Stephens 1 John Stephens 1
2 Dr. Jon Underwood 2 Dr. Jon Underwood 2 Dr. Jon Underwood 2 Dr. Jon Underwood 2
3 Steve Martin 3 Steve Martin 3 Steve Martin 3 Steve Martin 3
4 Brian Gosling 4 Brian Gosling 4 Brian Gosling 4 Brian Gosling 4
5 Chris Scott 5 Chris Scott 5 Chris Scott 5 Chris Scott 5
6 Steve Murray 6 Steve Murray 6 Steve Murray 6 Steve Murray 6

This left Exmouth with 3 won matches and one drawn. The match they came closest to losing was against Exeter, where Exeter were leading 3-2 and one unclear ending in progress. In the event, Brian Gosling found a clever pseudo-sacrificial move that won the game and saved the match.

Bremridge Cup Div. 1       2015 – 16 season
Team 1 2 3 4 5 Tot. For Against
1 Exeter X 1 0 0
2 Exmouth 1 X 2 2 2 7 18½
3 Newton Abbot 2 0 X
4 Teignmouth 0 X
5 Tiverton 2 0 X

Exeter-Exmouth Bremridge Cup Result (27.02.2016.)

It was time for another top level encounter between near neighbours on the Exe, Exeter & Exmouth. 

Exmouth were without 2 of their top players, Stephens and Shaw, while Exeter had been able to beef up their team with 2 new acquisitions from the University. Matthew Best is a 2nd year economics student, while Chris Lowe is on the University staff, teaching English Grammar to anyone who needs it.  However, although he has just arrived in Exeter this season after 20 years in Sussex, he is not new to Devon, having been part of the Paignton Palace crew in the early 1980s. This was situated in Paignton but distinct from the old town club, and was based in Palace Avenue. Its membership consisted mainly of older Juniors, centred around future IM, Gary Lane, and included players like Paul Aston, A. K. Swift,  Brian Boomsma, the Hawthorne brothers et al.  They won the Bremridge Cup in 1982, ‘83 and ‘86, so Lowe was no stranger to this tournament. As the teenagers grew up they went their separate ways and the club eventually broke up. 

These changes made the teams very closely matched on every board, and the outcome impossibe to predict.  The games ended in 2 rafts of three, the first batch being all draws. Firstly, the Regis-Martin game came to an agreeable end when neither player had any advantage. Abbott vs Lowe came down to a R&Ps ending in which neither player felt inclined to push too hard in case it collapsed against them, as can happen all too often. There was nothing placid about Body vs Wensley, in which White quickly got a strong kingside attack in a Scotch Game. However, White spent so much time looking for the killer blow, that he ran short of time and agreed a draw. 

There was then a lull as the other 3 games played out. Pope vs Scott was eventually drawn in an even position, leaving the last 2 games which were definitely not even in any way. Underwood-Paulden had been a complex position from the start in which pieces were left en prise while Black probed for weakenesses all over the board. Eventually, White cracked, and attention then suddenly focussed on Gosling’s game. He had only c. 2 minutes left and was reduced to just ticking off his last few moves before move 40 was reached. He was a piece up but there were pieces and pawns all over the board. However, right at the death he found the far-from-obvious winning move that offered a piece back, but if taken would enable him to queen a pawn. A win and the match was saved. 3-3 was about what one would expect, the grades being what they were.

     Bremridge Cup  Div. 1                               27.02.2016.
  EXETER  Grd     EXMOUTH Grd    
1 Dr. Tim Paulden 185 1 0 Dr. Jon Underwood 184    
2 Dr. Dave Regis 180 ½ ½ Steve Martin 183    
3 Chris Lowe 179 ½ ½ Mark V. Abbott 177    
4 Giles Body 163 ½ ½ Oliver E. Wensley 171    
5 Matthew Best 155 0 1 Brian G. E. Gosling 157    
6 Sean Pope 142 ½ ½ Christopher J. Scott 150    
  Totals 1,004 3 3   1,022    

 

Exeter's Dave Regis (nearest) and Tim Paulden make their first moves.

Chris Lowe (facing) getting back to the Devon chess scene, against Mark Abbott.

Boards 4 (nearest) & 5.

Exeter's captain, Sean Pope in action.

Exmouth’s Defence of Bremridge Cup Continues (09.01.2016.)

Exmouth’s defence of the DCCA Div. 1 tournament continued with a match against Tiverton. Originally scheduled as a home match for Exmouth, finding a suitable venue proved very difficult. Finding 5 hrs parking in Exmouth on a Saturday afternoon is near impossible at the best of times, but add to this the £50 hire charge being asked by several places, and the Manor Hotel being closed for the week, led Exmouth to asking whether Tiverton could host the match. This was agreed and Exmouth were happy to  pay their £17.50 hire charge.

So far so good; but the weather conditions driving up the motorway towards Tiverton were atrocious to the point of being potentially dangerous, with torrential rain and spray all the way. John Stephens driving up from Plymouth found the main A38 blocked and he was redirected to minor roads and phoned in to say he would be late, and Steve Martin didn’t know where the venue was situated in the town. Thus the omens were not good, but at least all the Exmouth team were in place by 2.30. The Tiverton team was somewhat compromised by the unavailability for one reason or another of several of their top players; Rudd, Richardt, Duckham, Hunter et al. and they had drafted in 2 other Cornish players besides Simon Bartlett to make up a competitive team.

In spite of all this, play got under way at the appointed hour (14.30); quiet descended and a drama slowly unfolded.

The first games to finish were on Bds 5 &6.  On bottom board, Chris Scott was able to fork 2 rooks with his knight on move 24 and it was all over 3 moves later. On Bd. 5 Oliver Wensley reported on his game tus: “White abandoned his regular Kings’ pawn opening in light of a recent match against his opponent, albeit rapid play, where his Caro-Kann defence was extremely effective.

Whether or not this shocked Black, he seemed completely fine with his Dutch defence until move eleven where, with White as yet uncommitted to castling, he decided to go on the offensive with 11…. Qh5. This allowed White to win a key central Pawn as Blacks’ back rank defences had been abandoned. Having analysed the position, Black stood equal by developing his Queens’ Bishop to e6 instead. Here White probably would have played Ng5 attacking it.

White had earlier ceded the Bishop pair advantage to Black in order to prevent Ne4. The better way forward for Black would be to develop his Bishop to e6 and potentially allow white to equalise by allowing the exchange of his Bishop for Whites’ Knight.

After the text move, White realised the e5 space was in the offing for his Knight should a series of exchanges take place & this is what occurred. In the end, White took advantage of the open e-file & with Black’s queenside not developed, managed to get the advantage.” After playing 21.Ne5 getting his knight established in a forward position with threats, Black resigned.

White plays 22.Ne5 and Black resigns.

Scott played 22...Ne4 and White resigned 3 moves later.

 

And the games continued to finish in sequence – Bds. 4,  3,  2, and finally Bd. 1 which went to the last few seconds of extra time, and each one went to the visitors. Mark Abbott got the upper hand with just a rook and 2 minor pieces left.  Jon Underwood’s game revolved around control of the long dark-square diagonal towards his opponent’s king, which finished with a fatal skewer. This left the top two games which were very finely balanced throughout, until the clock eventually decided the outcome.  Bd. 2 featured a R+4 vs R+5 pawn ending. Martin had the extra pawn, but Retallick, with great concentration, managed to create his own threats. Looking at the clocks it appeared both players had the same amount of time left – a few minutes each, but in his concentration on the board, Retallick hadn’t fully appreciated that his few minutes left was of his 20 minutes extra time, while Martin’s few minutes left was of his original allocation of 100 minutes to reach move 40.  Suddenly his clock started flashing red to indicate all his time had elapsed. 5-0.  The Stephens-Hewson game looked completely blocked with pieces being shuffled around behind a barrier of pawns. When Stephens was down to 3 minutes left, compared to his opponent’s 7 minutes, he launched a pawn advance that opened the a-file and he won a piece. His own pieces now had some room to manoeuvre and Black had to use up his time advantage in trying to work out the better lines. Eventually, his time ran out with Stephens’ own clock well into  his final minute.

Such results at this level are rare, but not unique, as Brian Hewson recalled a Plymouth 6-0 Exeter result between 2 evenly matched teams; the following year the same two teams in the same competition recorded Plymouth 0-6 Exeter. 

  Bremridge Cup  Div. 1                         09.01.2016.    
Bd TIVERTON Grd     EXMOUTH Grd
1 B. W. R. Hewson 176 0 1 J. K. F. Stephens 196
2 L. Retallick 171 0 1 S. Martin 184
3 P. Hampton 175 0 1 Dr. J. Underwood 186
4 S, Bartlett 167 0 1 M. V. Abbott 178
5 I. S. Annetts 151 0 1 O. E. Wensley 170
6 G. Fotheringham 135 0 1 C. J. Scott 149
    975 0 6   1,063

 

Lloyd Retallick moves against Steve Martin.

Chris Scott (nearest/facing) & Oliver Wensley awaiting a move.

Shirtsleeved Mark Abbott & Jon Underwood with Martin in foreground.

General view of playing area.