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Posts Tagged ‘chess problems’

When Paignton Moved to Torquay (24.08.13.)

Following close on the 100th British Championship comes the 63rd  Paignton Congress which starts a week tomorrow. It will be a bit different this year as for the first time it’s not being held in Oldway Mansion, nor even in Paignton as it’s moving to the Livermead House Hotel, not far from Torquay’s Riviera Centre. This is because Oldway is currently being redeveloped by the Akkeron Group. Although this bonanza of chess is a feast for locals, the proximity of the two events is bound to affect the inclination of players from further afield to make the long trip twice in a month. So it seems likely that in spite of the usual late influx, entries may be down on a typical year. Enquiries about late enquiries should go to Linda Crickmore on 01752 768206 or plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

Here is a game from the Paignton Premier of 1957. Bonham was blind and would sit fingering his special board before announcing his move, and checking his clock with its markers outside the glass face. He was awarded a Grandmaster title in 1972.

White: F. Kitto. Black: R. Bonham.

Sicilian Defence – Margate Variation  [B62]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.0–0 Qa5 Black is presumably eyeing up the undefended bishop on g5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Qf3 Qe5 12.Rad1 Rb8 13.Rfe1 Be7 Black resists the temptation of the b2 pawn, but White quickly withdraws the offer anyway. If 13…Rxb2 14.Qd3 Be7 15.Qa6 c5 16.Nde2 c4 17.Rb1 Rxb1 18.Rxb1 Qc5 19.Rb7 Bc8 20.Qa4+ Kf8 21.Rxa7. 14.b3 c5 15.Nde2 Bc6 16.Qe3 Qg5 17.f4 Qg7 18.Ng3 h5 Black decides to keep his king in the centre and go for an all-out kingside attack. 19.f5 h4 20.Nge2 Rg8 21.Qf2 exf5 22.Nf4 fxe4 23.Nxe4 Kf8 24.Nxd6 threatening 25.Nf5 24…Bxd6 25.Rxd6. Now Black’s c-pawn is at risk with the threat of a discovered check to follow. 25…Bxg2. The position is lost, but least worst was probably 25…Qxg2+ 26.Nxg2 Rxg2+ 27.Qxg2 Bxg2 28.Kxg2 26.Rd8+! and mates in 2 1–0

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.Qc2! Only the Black king can move, to either Ka3 (2.Qb3 mate) or Ka1 (2.Qa4 mate).

This position arose in a Rd. 9 game in the recent British Championship. Black has no pieces left, but his 3 pawns are all connected and can be shepherded forwarded by his king. He also knows that if he can manage to swap off 2 pawns each then White cannot win, but he must first get those pawns moving, as White will want to leave his where they are. To this end he plays …h5. Good or bad?

Black plays ...h5. How should White reply?

British Championship Prizewinners

There were a number of outstanding achievements by Westcountry players at the recent British Championships in Torquay. Grandmaster Keith Arkell of Paignton set a world record for the number of games completed in 1 hour. This was 37, all against Gary Lane, a Paigntonian by birth. Arkell also won the prize for the greatest number of points scored in all tournaments. He was greatly helped in this quest by having notched up 22 wins in the above bullet chess challenge before anyone else had started, as it was the opening event.

Alex ter Hark of Bristol became British U-120 Champion, while Torquay schoolboy, John Fraser, did well enough to gain automatic qualification for next year’s British Championship in Aberystwyth.

Another local player, Dom Mackle of Newton Abbot, won a grading prize in the main championship for his excellent score of 6/11 points. In this game from Round 5 he plays former Commonwealth and Australian Champion, Gary Lane. 

White: G. W. Lane (2401). Black: D. Mackle (2216).

Notes based on those by the winner.

French Defence – Tarrasch Var. [C04]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Be2 Be7 7.Nf1 0–0 8.Ne3 Black needs to challenge the pawn on e5 or else his q-side pieces risk becoming trapped. 8…f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.0–0 Bd6 11.c4 b6 12.b3 Bb7 13.Bb2 Bf4 14.Rc1 Ne4 15.a3 Ne7 16.Rc2 Bxe3 17.fxe3 Nf5 18.Bc1 dxc4 19.Bxc4 Bd5 20.Ne5 Qg5 21.Qg4 Qxg4 Black had toyed with the speculative queen sacrifice 21…Nxe3 22.Qxg5 Bxc4 but the problem was that after 23.Re1 Nxg5 and the more or less forced sequence 24.Bxe3 Bxb3 25.Rc3 Black simply ends up a piece down. 22.Nxg4 c5 23.dxc5 bxc5 24.Rf4 Nfd6 25.Ne5 g5 26.Rxf8+ Rxf8 27.Bb2 Bxc4 28.Nxc4 Nf5 29.g3 However, as played, his active knights and freer rook make the endgame easier to play for Black.  29…Rb8 30.Kg2 Rxb3 31.Kf3 Ned6 32.Nxd6 Nxd6 33.Be5 Nf5 34.Rxc5 Nxe3 35.Ke4 Rxa3 36.Rc8+ Kf7 37.Rc7+ Kg6 38.Rg7+ Kh6 39.Re7 Ng4 40.Bd4 e5 41.Bxa7 Nxh2 42.Bf2 Ng4 43.Be1 Kg6 44.Re6+ Kh5 45.Bb4 Rxg3 46.Ra6 Re3+ 47.Kf5 Rf3+ 0–1. If 48.Ke6 Rf6+ wins the rook or 48.Ke4 Rf4+ wins the bishop.

In last week’s position, White won by 1.h6 g7xh6 He must take or be taken, then 2.f6 and White queens in 2.

This 2-mover was one of 6 used in an evening problem-solving competition at the British Championships in Torquay, won by Giles Body of Lympstone.

pieces risk becoming trapped. 8…f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.0–0 Bd6 11.c4 b6 12.b3 Bb7 13.Bb2 Bf4 14.Rc1 Ne4 15.a3 Ne7 16.Rc2 Bxe3 17.fxe3 Nf5 18.Bc1 dxc4 19.Bxc4 Bd5 20.Ne5 Qg5 21.Qg4 Qxg4 Black had toyed with the speculative queen sacrifice 21…Nxe3 22.Qxg5 Bxc4 but the problem was that after 23.Re1 Nxg5 and the more or less forced sequence 24.Bxe3 Bxb3 25.Rc3 Black simply ends up a piece down. 22.Nxg4 c5 23.dxc5 bxc5 24.Rf4 Nfd6 25.Ne5 g5 26.Rxf8+ Rxf8 27.Bb2 Bxc4 28.Nxc4 Nf5 29.g3 However, as played, his active knights and freer rook make the endgame easier to play for Black.  29…Rb8 30.Kg2 Rxb3 31.Kf3 Ned6 32.Nxd6 Nxd6 33.Be5 Nf5 34.Rxc5 Nxe3 35.Ke4 Rxa3 36.Rc8+ Kf7 37.Rc7+ Kg6 38.Rg7+ Kh6 39.Re7 Ng4 40.Bd4 e5 41.Bxa7 Nxh2 42.Bf2 Ng4 43.Be1 Kg6 44.Re6+ Kh5 45.Bb4 Rxg3 46.Ra6 Re3+ 47.Kf5 Rf3+ 0–1. If 48.Ke6 Rf6+ wins the rook or 48.Ke4 Rf4+ wins the bishop.

In last week’s position, White won by 1.h6 g7xh6 He must take or be taken, then 2.f6 and White queens in 2.

This 2-mover was one of 6 used in an evening problem-solving competition at the British Championships in Torquay, won by Giles Body of Lympstone.

White to play and mate in 2

100th British – Rd. 3 Pt. 2

What’s the problem?

Another of Stewart Reuben’s bright ideas for this 100th event is to have a problem-solving competition. He has collected a set of 10 and Trefor Thynne, President of the Torbay Chess League, has arranged to have them displayed in the windows of various shops, cafes, restaurants etc. around the town.

They are not problems in the manner of Comins Mansfield, that Devonian “Genius of the 2-mover”, who could challenge, tittilate and hope to defeat the world’s best solvers with his devilish constructions. These positions are meant to be accessible even to relative beginners, more likely to give pleasure at finding the correct move order, than frustration at an inability to do so.

To give an idea, here are 2 of the 10 to give you a taster. 

Problem 4 of 10. White mates in 2.

A pawn down, but White (to play) can win. How?

Who’s on-line in the mornings?

As the number of electronic boards goes up each year, the question arises of how to get the best use out of them. In recent years, they’ve generally hosted some of the junior sections, but this year, as an experiment, some of the other sections are getting their moment in the spotlight. Yesterday, for example, it was the turn of the U-140 Championship, with the result that, round about noon, Dave Gilbert, one of that number and an organiser of the 9 Man Simul , rushed into the Office, beaming widely, saying what a brilliant move it was, as within minutes he’d already had 2 congratulatory e-mails from friends and family who were following his victory live. 

Dave Clayton, the man in charge of the boards, tells me this week is an experiment to see how it goes. If successful, next week he may be able to predict which sections are featured live on the event website. However, the needs of the main Championship must always come first, and may affect what is possible in the mornings.

Round 3 Starts:

While some chessplayers were whizzing round in the Big Wheel, back at the ranch the afternoon events were getting under way. First of all, the previous day’s Best Game prize.

Did someone call my name?! Yang-fan Zhou hears of his Rd.2 Best Game Prize.

Gary Lane starts off against Stephen Gordon.

Dan Fernandez on his way to a win over the "Ginger GM", Simon Williams.


Bearded Richard Palliser on his way to the Rd. 3 Game of the Day vs Arkell.


Cotswold Congress Prizelist (08.06.2013.)

The 45th Cotswold Congress was held in Cheltenham over the bank holiday weekend. The winners were as follows (all points out of 6):

Open: 1st C. Beaumont (5). 2nd= S. Berry & H. Lamb (4½). Grading prize: J. Jenkins (4).

Major Section (U-160): 1st T. Slade (5); 2nd= L. Roberts, M. Ashworth, P. Wood & R. Weston (4½). Grading prizes: A. 1st= A. Farthing & E. Varley (3½). B. 1st= T. McLaren & M. Forknall (3).

Minor Section (U-120): 1st= S. Crockett, C. Mace, M. Schroeder, K. Hapeshi & D. Archer (4½). Grading prizes: (A). 1st= S. Rees, R. Waters, C. Smith & B. Headlong (3½). (B) 1st= S. Calderbank, N. Purry, R. Buxton & C. Vernon (2½).

This was Theo Slade’s best win, with his own notes.

White: T. Slade (157). Black: B. O’Gorman (155).

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 g6 4.b3 Bg7 5.Bb2 0–0 6.Be2 c5 7.0–0 cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6 9.Re1 Nh5! 10.c4 Nf4 11.c5? Nxe2+ 12.Qxe2 Bg4 13.Rd1 Re8? 13…e5! 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Nxd4 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 e5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Bxe5 17…Rxe5! doesn’t look natural but actually keeps Black’s advantage. 18.Nc3 Qa5 19.Rac1 Bxc3 In hindsight 19…d4 would have been better. The text move presents White with a small advantage. 20.Qxc3 Qxa2 21.Rxd5 Rad8? The decisive error which makes White’s task easier. 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Ra1 Rd3 This move must be tried, but unfortunately White wins after 24.Qf6! Qxb3 25.Rxa7 Qd1+ 26.Kh2 Rd8 27.Rxb7 27…Rf8 28.c6 Qd5 29.Rd7 Qb5 30.Rd8 Qb6 31.Rxf8+ Kxf8 32.Qd6+ Kg7 33.Qe5+ Kh6 34.c7 Qc6 35.Qe7 1-0

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.Qa5+ threatening 2.Nb3 mate.

This week’s 2-mover is the starter problem for the 2013-14 British Solving Championship. Work out White’s only move (the key) that leaves Black unable to avoid mate next move. Send the solution to Paul Valois, 14, Newton Park Drive, Leeds, LS7 4HH, together with a cheque or postal order for £3 made payable to the British Chess Problem Society. Please provide an e-mail address if you have one. All entries should be postmarked no later than 31st July 2013. Don’t forget to mention that you saw the position in this paper. After the closing date, all competitors will receive the solution and a free copy of The Problemist. Those who got the correct solution will also receive the Postal Round, comprising 8 positions of slightly greater difficulty and variety. In due course, the best competitors from the postal round will be invited to the Final at Eton College in February.

British Solving Championship 2014 - Starter problem - a 2-mover.

The 24th Frome Congress took place last weekend, and the prizewinners were as follows (with club & grade).

Open: 1st David Buckley (Bath – 218). 2nd= Tyson Mordue (S. Bristol – 195); Chris Ross (Peterborough – 207) & Paul Bonafont (H. Hempstead – 187).

Grading prize (U-170): 1st= Graham Steer (Frome – 171) & Martin Clancey (Ringwood – 175).

Major (U-170): 1st= R. Radford (S. Bristol – 159) & P. Jackson (Coulsdon – 165). 3rd= C. Bellers (Wimborne – 167); G. Crockart (Yeovil – 166); S. Appleby (Gillingham – 165); A. Gregory (Bath – 145); R. Bennett (Newport -147): D. Marshall & D. Weston (both Trowbridge). Grading prize (U-50): 1st= K. Winter (Bingley – 147) & B. Macreamionn  (Wilts).

Intermediate (U-140): 1st A. Champion (Frome – 134). 2nd= C. Brown (Bath – 126); O. Bennett (Newport – 128) & Phil Foley (Upminster – 129).  Grading prize: P. Horne (N. Radstock – 125)

Minor (U-115): 1st Marian Cox (Southampton – 107). 2nd= A. Fraser (Beckenham – 104) & R. Porter (Bristol Uni. – 110). Grading prize (U-90): M. Watson (Taunton – 79) & C. Bennett (Newport – 74).

This Rd. 5 game clinched Buckley’s 1st place.

White: D. Sully (189). Black: D. Buckley (218).

Alekhine’s Defence – Spielmann Variation. [B02]

1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 Nfd7 4.e6 Rudolf Spielmann’s move, typical of his aggressive style. 4…fxe6 5.d4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bb5 g6 8.0–0 Bg7 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Re1 0–0 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Be3 Qd6 13.Bd4 Rxf3 White feels this offer too risky, for if 14.gxf3 e5 15.Bxc5 Qxc5 16.Qd2 Bf5 and Black’s bishop pair and 4 central pawns will prove difficult to deal with, so 14.Bxg7 Rf5 15.Qd4 Nd7 16.Bh6 e5 17.Qd2 Nf6 18.h3 Bb7 19.Qe2 Rh5 20.Bd2 c5 21.f3 Rf8 22.g4 Now the rook is doomed anyway. 22…Rxh3 23.Kg2 Rh4 24.Qxe5 d4 25.Qxd6 exd6 26.Kg3 dxc3 27.bxc3 If 27.Bxc3 g5 allows the rook to escape. 27…Rxg4+ 28.fxg4 Ne4+ winning the exchange back. 29.Rxe4 Bxe4 30.Bf4 g5 31.Bxg5 Rf3+ 32.Kh4 Rxc3 33.Rf1?? Bg2 Threatening mate and the rook. 0–1

Coming up next weekend is the 45th Cotswold Congress at St. Edward’s School, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. Enquiries to Mike Powis on 077-4801-4988 or e-mail:mike.powis@which.net.

In last week’s position, Carlsen lost to 1.Bc6! and he must lose a piece in order to prevent a back rank mate.

He is due to meet the Indian, Vishy Anand, to contest the World Championship later this year. This week it is Anand’s turn to lose. How did White mate him in 3 moves?

White to play and mate in 3.

Dorset vs Somerset II Results (29.12.2012.)

Dorset played Somerset II at Bradford Abbas earlier this month, in the 2nd division of the West of England Inter-county tournament. There was a grade ceiling of 160, but even so, Somerset won fairly comfortably by 10½-5½ as they had the greater strength in depth. The details were as follows (Dorset names first).

1.P. Aston (151) ½-½ D. Freeman (156). 2.W. Legg (149) 0-1 P. Humphreys (154). 3.S. Blake (145) 1-0 C. McKinley (152). 4.M. Fielding (140) 0-1 A. Bellingham (147). 5.P. Errington ½-½ A. Champion (147). 6.C. Winch ½-½ L. Cutting. 7.P. Brackner ½-½ S. Wojcik (143). 8.P. Jackson ½-½ T. Wallis (142). 9.J. Kelly ½-½ R. Knight (139). 10.P. Bland (128) 0-1 T. West (u/g). 11.F. Fallon (124) 0-1 C. Strong (136). 12.N. Mackie (117) 0-1 M. Baker (133). 13.K. Spooner (113) ½-½ I. Stringer (131). 14.J. George (108) 0-1 R. Fenton (127). 15. S. Jones (106) 1-0 M. Cooper (126). 16. M. Kaye (95) 0-1 N. Mills (125).

2013 is but a few days away, bringing with it the return of the British Championships to the Riviera Centre, Torquay, 27th July – 10th August, for the 4th time in 15 years. Even in a “normal” year Torquay attracts around 1,000 entries, but as it will be the 100th championship, there are bound to be a few added extra activities attracting even more players, so it will be important for westcountry players not to leave entering until the last minute. Although entry forms are not yet out, it is likely that many of the top players will not be passing up the chance of becoming the 100 British Champion, providing it doesn’t clash with tournaments abroad. Among them, Taunton’s Michael Adams would have to be favourite.

This, too, will be an opportunity for qualifiers from the local congresses to rub shoulders with the GMs. The next opportunity to win a qualifying place will be at the WECU Junior event in Swindon in February; then the WECU Congress in Exmouth over the Easter weekend, followed by Frome in May.

In last week’s ending from the London Chess Classic, Mickey Adams played Bh3+! And whether White takes it or not, Black will mate on h1.

This is another original composition from reader Dave Howard for you to puzzle over this holiday period, should you manage to get a few quiet minutes to yourself. It’s a 3-mover this time, but he tells me it’s not too difficult. White to move and mate in 3.

White to move & mate in 3.

Olympic-Themed Problem Solution (25.08.2012.)

This weekend sees the Steve Boniface Memorial Congress taking place in Bristol, while next Sunday will be the start of the Paignton Congress at Oldway Mansion. This will be the last congress there for a bit, because the developers will have moved in by next summer as they start to convert the mansion into a hotel. Although they are planning to retain the Ballroom for functions, it’s unclear whether the congress will be able simply to slot back in as before.

Last week’s pawn promotion problem was solved by 1.Qc8 and after any king move 2.Pd8=Q mate.

This week’s diagram is a repeat of the one given three weeks ago, the winner of a world-wide competition which challenged any composer to find an imaginative interpretation based on the Olympic’s symbolic five interlocking rings. The judge of the 2-move section was Christopher Reeves of the Truro club and he felt this entry was head and shoulders above the others. Although the 22 entries he saw were nameless, this one turned out to be by Marjan Kovačević of Serbia, generally recognised to be currently the world’s best 2-move composer.

The solution is 1.Qf8! threatening 2.Nb5. Black has five attempts to stop this but each is met in a different way: viz. 1…Rg6 2.Nxf3; 1…Na3 2.bxc3; 1…Qxb2 2.Be3; 1…Bf5 2.Rxd5; 1…e4 2.Qf6.

The allusion to five rings may be found in the fact that White had five unsuccessful attempts at mate:

viz. (a) 1.Rc8 threatening 2.Nb5 refuted by 1…Bf5.

(b) 1.Bf8 threatening 2.Nb5 refuted by 1…Qxb2.

(c) 1.Qc8 threatening 2.Nb5 refuted by 1…Na3.

(d) 1.b4 threatening 2.Nb5 refuted by 1…Na3 and

(e) 1.Nd3 threatening 2.Nb5 refuted by 1…Rg6.

White’s unsuccessful tries are, in sequence, moves by a rook, bishop, queen, pawn and knight, and the refutations are, again in sequence, moves by bishop, queen, pawn, knight and rook – a cyclic shift in attack and defence.

Fiendishly difficult for the casual solver, of course, but ingenious when explained.

The reader who got this spot on was Mr. Giles Body of Lympstone, near Exmouth who wins the £25 prize.

John Brown’s Body Lies Easier…

Brian Gosling, whose book on John Brown, the pioneering 19th century problemist,  was recently published, tells me the refurbishment of his headstone is now complete. It was always his intention that any proceeds from the book would go towards this litle project.

JB's headstone before refurbishment.


The headstone looking vastly improved.

Upcoming Events (14.01.2012.)

Next Saturday, Devon is hosting the West of England & South Wales team event at Tiverton, when over 200 Westcountry juniors will be involved.

The same day will also see a key round in the WECU Inter-County Championship when Somerset play Gloucestershire and Devon meet Hampshire at Wincanton. Both matches are likely to be close and the outcomes to have a major bearing on the eventual trophy winners.

The 26th Wilts and West of England Junior Congress will take place on 18th & 19th February at St. Joseph’s Catholic College,

Ocotal Way, Swindon, Wilts. This will include all the West of England junior titles in the various age groups. Details and entry forms may be found on their own website wiltshirejuniorchess.co.uk. The top section has become so strong in recent years that the organisers applied for, and the WECU Executive was pleased to grant them, one of their four Qualifying Places for the British Championship in August.

This is another of Jack Rudd’s wins from the recent Hastings International, in which White fatally weakens his own kingside defences and Rudd needs no second invitation.

White: J. Burnett (2137). Black: J. Rudd (2290).

Hromadka Defence.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 a move introduced by the Hungarian, Karel Hromadka (1887-1956), and subsequent play often leads to the Modern Benoni. 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d5 6.cxd5 a6 7.N5c3 Bc5 8.e3 e4 9.Be2 0–0 10.a3 Qe7 11.b4 Bd6 12.Bb2 Bf5 13.Nd2 b5 14.Nb3 Nbd7 15.Nd4 Bg6 16.Rc1 Ne5 Black’s pieces are beginning to assemble for a kingside attack. 17.0–0 Rfd8 18.Qb3 Neg4 19.g3 Weakening the white squares around the king. 19…Qd7 20.Rcd1 h5 Black’s king is well tucked away, so he can consider this pawn advance without risking too much. 21.Rd2 h4 22.Nd1 Ne5 23.Kg2 Nd3 24.Bc3 White could perhaps try to be a bit more pro-active, trying to draw the sting of the gathering storm by exchanging pieces with something like 24.Nc6 Rdc8 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Bxd3 exd3 27.f3. etc. 24…Nc1 25.Qb2 Nxe2 working on the weakness of the white squares around the king. 26.Rxe2 Bh5 27.Rd2 Bf3+ 28.Nxf3 exf3+ 29.Kxf3 If 29.Kg1 Qh3; or 29.Kh1 Qh3 30.Rg1 Ng4. 29…Qg4+ 0–1 Resigned, as Black has a 4 move mate viz. 30.Kg2 h3+ 31.Kg1 Qf3.

The solution to David Howard’s New Year 2-mover was 1.Qb7! Last week’s Hastings 1895 continuation was 1.Nxg3 Rxg3+ 2.hxg3 Rxg3+ 3.Kf1! Rxd3 4Rg4! and Black resigned as his queen is pinned and mate is threatened on f8.

This week’s miniature 2-mover is by Henry D’Oyly Bernard (1878-1954) who was born in Combe Raleigh near Honiton. Interestingly, all four of White’s pieces may have the chance to administer mate, depending on how Black responds to the key move.

White to mate in 2.



Historic Hastings (07.01.2012.)

The World’s oldest regular event is the Hastings Congress which started in 1895 and is now held annually in the post-Christmas period. The top section this year has 108 players, and is held on a 9-round Swiss system. At the time of going to print, just before the start of the final round, the sole leader on 7/8 was Yue Wang (China), half a point ahead of Baku Lilath and Sunda Shyam, both of India.

With 15 of the competitors coming from India, the wise men of the East have certainly arrived in force, but they are not bearing gifts, as they are likely to be taking back with them most of the top prizes.

With a round to go, Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) was having a good tournament on 5/8, Keith Arkell (Paignton) was on 50% while Paul Helbig (Bristol) was on 3.

Two of these westcountry players met in round 7 and produced this cracking game.

White: Jack Rudd (2290). Black: Paul Helbig (2128).

Alekhine’s Defence -[B03].

1.e4 Nf6 This was Alekhine’s idea to tempt White’s pawns forward to an extent where they become overstretched and vulnerable to attack. 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 All fairly standard so far, but White is determined to bolster his pawn centre at the cost of exposing his King. 5…dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Qd2 Bb4 11.a3 Bxc3 12.bxc3 0–0 13.Bd3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 White now has several open lines to the enemy King and will exploit them to the full. 14…f6 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.0–0–0 Na5 Threatening Nb3+ forking the queen. 17.Qa2 c5 18.Rhg1 cxd4 The position is critically balanced, with both sides bent on attack. The difference is that the knights are restricted to the edge of the board while the bishops have much scope to either defend or attack. 19.Bxd4 e5 20.c5+ Kh8 21.Be3 Qxf3 22.Rg3 Qd5 23.c4 Nbxc4 White’s pieces are now beautifully poised for a crushing attack. 24.Bxh7 Qc6 Unclear is  24…Nxe3 25.Rxd5 Rf1+ 26.Kd2 Rf2+ 27.Kxe3 Rxa2 28.Rh3 Nc4+ 29.Ke4 Rxa3 30.Rxa3 Nxa3 31.Bf5 for example, would leave Black 2 pawns up. 25.Bd3 Qa4 26.Rh3+ Kg8 27.Bh7+ Kf7 28.Rf3+ Ke6 29.Rd6+! The “defending” knight is, of course, pinned. 29…Ke7 30.Bg5+ Rf6 31.Bxf6+ gxf6 32.Qg2 Rf8 If 32…Nxd6 33.Qg7+ Nf7 34.Qxf6+ Kd7 35.Bf5+ Ke8 36.Be6 attacking f7 and preventing Qc4+. 33.Rdxf6 Rxf6 34.Qg7+ Kd8 35.Qxf6+ Kc7 36.Bc2 White cannot afford to ignore his defences. 36…Qb5 37.Qf7+ Qd7 38.Ba4 Nb3+ If 38…Qxf7 39.Rxf7+ and the king must get pegged to the back rank while the h-pawn will be difficult to stop. 39.Bxb3 1–0

The regular venue for the West of England Congress for the past 12 years, the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth, went into receivership over the Christmas period, but the interim management put in by the Nat West Bank, has confirmed that it will honour all existing bookings, so this year’s event over the Easter weekend is safe.

This position arose in the very first Hastings congress of 1895, in a game between Tarrasch (W) and Walbrodt. Can you calculate White’s winning continuation?

White to play and win.