January 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘chess’

County match results (24.01.2015.)

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree took place on Sunday at the Isca Centre in Exeter. Four teams of 12 players representing the North, South, East and West of the county were paired in such a way that each team had 6 whites and blacks and met 4 players from each of the opposing teams. The teams were very evenly matched in overall playing strength, which showed in the final result. North were 1st with 6½/12 points; 2nd= were East and North (6 pts) while South finished on 5½.

This entertaining and instructive game on Bd. 4, featured a well-known former TV presenter against a former British U-16 contender.

White: Adam Hart-Davis (161). Black: Chris Scott (157).

Sicilian Defence [B50]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Usual here is 3.d4, but White delays this move, and it later costs him a central pawn, which one can rarely afford to do in such double-edged openings as the Sicilian Defence. 3…Nf6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.h3 a6 6.a4 e6 7.d4 Nxe4! 8.Nxe4 d5 In this opening Black is usually looking to get in …d5 as soon as possible in order to free up his position, as long as it doesn’t incur disadvantage elsewhere. Here it wins his piece back. 9.Nxc5 dxc4 10.Be3 Qd5 11.b3 b6 12.bxc4 Qxc4 13.Nd3 Bb4+ 14.Bd2 Bxd2+ 15.Qxd2 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Qxd4 17.0–0 Bb7 securing the long diagonal. 18.Qg5 0–0 19.Nf4 h6 20.Qg3 Qf6 21.Rab1 Be4 22.Rxb6 Bxc2 23.a5 Rfd8 24.Rc6 Ba4 25.Rc5 Rac8 26.Rfc1 Rxc5 27.Rxc5 And now the position has really opened up, but Black retains the extra pawn and the BvN. 27…Rd4 28.Nh5 Rd1+ 29.Kh2 Qd4 30.Rc4 Qa1 Defending and attacking. 31.Rc8+ Kh7 32.Qb8 Rh1+ 33.Kg3 Re1 34.Nf4 g5 35.Nh5 Qe5+ Forcing off queens to maximise his small advantages. 36.Qxe5 Rxe5 37.Nf6+ Kg7 38.Nh5+ Kg6 39.Kg4 f5+ 40.Kf3 Bd1+ 0–1 The knight is lost. If 41.Kg3 Kxh5 from where the Black king is safe from all attack and is free to shepherd his pawns forward.

The loser’s consolation was that his team won the trophy anyway. Full details are available on keverelchess.com and all games are on the chessdevon site.

On Saturday, Somerset and Gloucestershire met at Stone, in the West of England Inter-County Championship, ending in a 10-6 victory for Somerset, and at Ilchester Devon beat Hants 12½-3½. More details next week.

In last week’s position, Richard Smith won after a rook sacrifice and this series of forcing checks. 1…Rxg4+! 2.hxg4 (2.Kh2 is no better) Qh2+ 3.Kf1 Qh1+ 4.Ke2 Rh2+ 5.Kd3 Qxd1+ 6.Ke4 Qxg4+ 7.Kd3 Qxf5+ 0-1

Here is a new 2-mover by Dave Howard, that he describes as “really easy”.

White to play and mate in 2.

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree 2015 Results

Four teams of 12 players from the four corners of the county contested Devon’s annual Inter-Area Jamboree, hosted this year by the East, at the Isca Centre in Exeter. There is a total grading limit of 1,650 for each team, which means the county’s middle strength players feature most. The formula for pairing means that each team has 6 Whites and 6 Blacks, and that 3 X 4 players from any team will face other other teams (complicated to explain, but, if unsure, check the charts below).

The playing room was large, with well-spaced individual tables for each game, and was warm, well-lit and totally quiet. The teams were so closely matched that every game would clearly have a bearing on the final result.

Even though they lost their top 3 games, it was the West team (Plymouth) that edged out as winners, a point ahead of East and North. Ben Wilkinson, as Captain of the West team,  received the trophy from DCCA President, Paul Brooks.

The games will appear on the chessdevon website in due course.

General view of the playing area

Bd. 1 game: Tim Paulden vs Brian Hewson.

Former TV presenter, Adam Hart-Davis vs former British U-16 hopeful, Chris Scott.

Wilf Taylor vs Oliver Wensley nearest.

Norman Tidy vs Jon Duckham

West Captain, Ben Wilkinson, receives the trophy from Devon President, Paul Brooks.

  Team A     Team B     Team C     Team D  
  East     North     South     West  
1 T. Paulden 185   B. Hewson 174   A. W. Brusey 176   M. Brownbridge 164
2 C. J. Scott 157   S. Bartlett 169   P. Brooks 154   A. Hart-Davis 161
3 B. G. Gosling 149   I. Annetts 162   A. Kinder 147   B. Medhurst 157
4 O. Wensley 149   K. P. Atkins 157   W. Taylor 142   N. Butland 154
5 S. Pope 144   J. Duckham 152   N. F. Tidy 137   S. Levy 145
6 W. Marjoram 132   S. Clarke 133   J. E. Allen 132   M. Quinn 143
7 E. Palmer 131   K. Hunter 120   N. Mills 132   R. G. Wilby 140
8 D. Thomson 130   R. Dooley 120   M. Hussey 113   N. Hodge 130
9 R. H. Jones 129   M. Dow 115   J. Knott 109   B. Wilkinson 129
10 R. Whittington 123   S. T-Tracey 104   N. Narayanan 101   C. B. Peach 110
11 G. J. Jenkins 111   J. Flanagan 100   M. Cockerton 100   A. Tatam 107
12 S. Blake 102   G. Jones 100   J. Blackmore 100   P. McConnell 102


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Tot.
A East 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ 6
B North 0 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ ½ 6
C South 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 5
D West 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 7













T. Paulden





B. W. R. Hewson




A. W. Brusey





M. S-Brownbridge




S. Bartlett





P. Brooks




A. Hart-Davis





C. J. Scott




B. Gosling





A. Kinder




I. S. Annetts





B. Medhurst




N. Butland





K. P. Atkins




W. Taylor





O. E. Wensley




N. F. Tidy





J. Duckham




S. Pope





S. Levy




S. Clarke





W. Marjoram




M. Quinn





J. E. Allen




E. Palmer





K. Hunter




N. Mills





R. G. Wilby




R. Dooley





M. Hussey




N. Hodge





D. Thomson




R. H. Jones





J. Knott




M. Dow





B. R. Wilkinson




C. B. Peach





S. Thorpe-Tracey




N. Narayanan





R. Whittington




M. Cockerton





J. Flanagan




J. Maloney





A. Tatam




G. Jones





S. Blake




P. McConnell





J. Blackmore


WMN Chess Column to Return by Popular Demand

I heard officially today that the Western Morning News’s chess column is to be re-started, according to the Editor, “by popular demand”. He says he’s “been inundated with inquiries about the whereabouts of the column”.

So thanks to everyone who so “demanded” its return. It will continue to be on a Saturday but will be on a different page, as the Westcountry Life supplement has had to be radically restructured. The first column will appear this  Saturday, the 17th January 2015.

Peter Hugh Clarke (1933 – 2014) Obituary now complete.

The noted chess player, organiser and author of chess books, Peter Clarke, died on 11th December in hospital after a long illness, bravely borne. He was 81.

This obituary has been put together from several sources, notably, Keith Jones, Geoff Martin, close family members and my own archives and on-line resources. It will continue to expand as new material comes to hand.

Peter was an only child, born on 18th March 1933 to  Olive Gertrude (nee Ekblom) and Hugh Clarke, who had married the previous year. Olive was of Swedish stock while Hugh’s father was William Ferrier Clarke, born in Linlithgow, near the Firth of Forth opposite Dunfermline. But Hugh and Olive’s roots were firmly in London’s East End, Plaistow, West Ham.

Peter with his father in 1935

He was taught to play chess at the age of 6 by his father, and won the London Boys’ Championship in 1950 and 1951, and the SCCU Boys’ Championship in 1950. At this time he was also playing in the Ilford Congress and playing Correspondence chess for Essex, a form of chess in which he would eventually gain the Grandmaster title. In 1953, now aged 20, he was runner-up to Dr. Fazekas in the Essex Championship, was playing Bd. 2 in the Essex Correspondence team. In the Ilford Congress he was 2nd to P. J. Oakley in the Premier Reserves, where the top section comprised Alexander, Hooper, Wade, Fazekas and Alan Philips, all except Hooper to become British Champions. This was his first appearance at the British Championship at Hastings where he came 18th= on 5/11 points, behind Yanovsky. Perhaps more impressive was leading his Ilford team on Bd. 1 to the National Club Championship that year.

He attended the university on his doorstep, Queen Mary College, in the Mile End Road, where he read for a BSc. Part of London University its alumni include such diverse figures as W. G. Grace, Sir Roy Strong and Lord Robert Winston. But the call for a career in science was nowhere as strong as his love of chess, and that is the road he chose to go down. But first, National Service could not be avoided. He spent part of this 2 year interude  in Bodmin in the Intelligence Corps, training as a Russian linguist and translator, and at the Joint Services School for Linguists. This re-ignited his love for north Cornwall, as he had frequently spent holidays there as a child with his parents.

By 1959 he was a regular writer for the British Chess Magazine, reporting at length on prestigious events and analysing games and openings. He and his great friend, Jonathan Penrose, were the two highest graded players in the UK, the only two in the 1b category. He played in 8 Olympiads between 1954 and 1968, and his and England’s record for those years was as follows:- to have lost only 15 of 96 games played at this level is remarkable.

  Yr venue Pos p w d l %
1 1954 Amsterdam  9th / 26 7 2 2 3 43
2 1956 Moscow  8th / 34 12 7 5 0 80
3 1958 Munich 11th / 36 15 2 10 3 47
4 1960 Leipzig 12th / 40 14 4 7 3 54
5 1962 Varna 14th / 37 15 3 10 2 53
6 1964 Tel-Aviv 18th / 48 12 2 8 2 50
7 1966 Havana 21st / 52 13 2 10 1 54
8 1968 Lugano 16th / 54 8 0 7 1 44
      totals 96 22 59 15  


A little seen photo from the Munich Olympiad 1958 - Clarke vs Eliskases: game drawn.

He first came to prominence as a player at the Ilford Club, and while his best performace was at Moscow his playing summit was probably captaining the England team at the 1966 Olympiad in Havana. His record there tells us something of his strengths and weakness as a top player: Played 13: Won 2: Drawn 10: Lost 1. Hartston at the time felt “Clarke’s score on top board is creditable. He is often criticised for his drawish tendencies, but a solid score such as this is a fine achievement against such opposition. It is remarkably difficult to score wins without suffering losses as well, as Lee and Littlewood found to their cost!” It’s easy to forget that his performance at the board must have been affected by (a) playing 13 tiring games (b) being captain for all matches and (c) reporting at length and in great detail for BCM.

This solidity as a player helped him to a splendid record in the British Championship, without ever actually winning the ultimate title, having to be content with being, uniquely, runner-up five times. But he didn’t seem to mind this at all, as he was often edged out by his best friend, Jonathan Penrose. 

During the late 50’s / early 60s Peter had several times dated B. H. Wood’s daughter, Margaret, universally known as Peggy.  They married 6 months later at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield, Jonathan Penrose being Peter’s Best Man.  

Peter & Peggy Clarke

It would be easy to think that his book-writing days took over as his playing activities decreased, but this was not the case – he was doing it all at the same time! His reputation as a writer came to equal, if not overtake, that of a player, with titles that were not only highly-regarded at the time of publication, but have stood the test of time.  His subjects included Tal (1961) and Petrosian (1964) two more different players one can cannot imagine. He translated and edited Smyslov’s Best Games (1958) and 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures (1963). First editions of these books published by Bell in their distinctive dustwrappers, can still take pride of place in anyone’s chess library. Another title he worked on was Foldeak’s Chess Olympiads (2nd enlarged ed. 1969).  Two interesting points here: (a) he seemed to hate dustwrappers on books and would quickly get rid of them if they were in any way slightly imperfect,  and (b) in spite of his facility in Russian, constantly translating it into English, none of his daughters ever heard him speak a word of Russian in the house.

After marriage and the birth of their first daughter, Salli, in 1966, he felt the urge to move to the westcountry, and they moved to a small house in Milton Dameral, where a second daughter, Penelope, was born. Peter started a chess club in the village which eventaully reached a membership of over 20, almost unheard of for such a small place.

They then moved to the village of Bush, near Stratton, where in 1977  their 3rd daughter, Susie, was born. He also became British Correspondence Champion that year. In 1979, he found his dream home, called Chapel House, in the hamlet of Shop near Morwenstow. Built c. 1800 it has the appearance of an expansive rectory, with large high-ceilinged rooms. The adjacent farm buildings are Grade II listed. In his 1855 novel Westward Ho! Charles Kingsley borrowed the name Chapel House, but applied it to another house in the story. 

In 1971 the world in general was agog at the prospect of the Fischer-Spassky match, and Britain in particular was on the brink of a chess explosion. An expression of this was the response to his first organised event, the 1st Barnstaple Congress. It had been put on by Clarke and a group of 5 local friends, who called themselves The Hexagon. There were 70 entries, all lumped together in one large Swiss, 22 of whom were graded between 180 – 226. Grandees like Golombek and Wood were joined by young Turks like Botterill, Bellin, Gerald Bennett and Danny Wright. In the event it was won by an almost unknown local schoolboy, Peter Waters, who played none of the above, except Golombek. The following year the entry rocketed to 164, and its continuing success was assured. The Hexagon functioned as a group for about 10 years until Peter suffered a cerebral haemmorrhage in 1983, forcing him to give up such intensive activity. 

For a time, he ran bookstalls at local congresses, notably Paignton, Exeter and Frome and was happy to chat to grassroots players. He found that postal chess was better suited to a slower life-style and he competed at the highest level, winning the Grandmaster title for postal chess, as did his friend, Jonathan Penrose.

After his stroke he had more time for his other interests. Sports he followed included golf, cycling, F1, tennis, darts, snooker, athletics et. al. He collected books, not only on chess, but on his other interests including science, astronomy and philosophy.  His study had floor-to-ceiling shelves on all free walls, all stacked with books.

1996: Peter is playing his old friend and adversary, Dr. Jonathan Penrose in his study at Chapel House. The board is the one presented to him by Fidel Castro at the end of the Havana Olympiad - each team captain received one. Photo courtesy of Keith Jones. Peter's long-time unofficial chauffeur.

He was the most modest of men, with no discernible vanities or conceits, and a most hospitable host when entertaining visitors to his vast collection of chess  books. 

He leaves his wife, Peggy, 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren: Isaac, Reuben, George, Madelaine, Heidi, Gemima, Grace and Frank.

The funeral took place in Poughill Cemetery, near Bude, and was attended by a good number of relatives, local friends and chess acquaintances.

The secular ceremony was led by the Celebrant, Alison Timms. Firstly his mother’s ashes were interred, followed by Peter’s coffin.

Then five of the grandchildren each read out a verse from Peter’s favourite poem, that he had had read to him by his father. Its philosophy is sometimes summarised by the saying “Eat, Drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”, but there is also an element of the Latin maxim Carpe diem – sieze the day, and in this repect that is exactly what Peter did.

The position of the grave site, overlooking St. Olaf's

Alison Timms leads the graveside ceremony, with Peggy seated, with stick & blanket.

The grandchildren circulated with small baskets containing sprigs of rosemary and flower petals, and those present were invited to drop them onto the coffin.


There were a number of written tributes, some read out at the gathering at Morwenstow, other sent later.

The following was sent by Peter’s great friend, Dr. Jonathan Penrose, who was unable to attend due to transport problems, and is probably the one that deserves most attention, as it reveals his own personal slant on Peter’s career. Perhaps the last word should go to him…

In Memoriam: Peter Hugh Clarke 1933 –  2014:  

Peter Clarke was a very good friend of mine for over 60 years. Amazingly, over that long period of time I cannot recall a single cross word between us. We first met in the early 1950s as members of the same chess teams, particularly the Essex county team, but also the London University team for a short period of time. 

In those days (the early to mid 1950s) there seemed to be a comparative paucity of ambitious young chess players in England, so it was our good fortune that we were often selected to play for England in the prestigious chess Olympiads, played in different countries every two years. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. 

I think it was the Olympiad held in Moscow in 1956 which stood out as Peter’s most successful tournament of this kind. The English team reached 8th place overall at the end, a fine performance for its time. Peter’s contribution was a magnificent 79% (scoring 7 wins, 5 draws and no losses). 

The other members of the team including myself thought that the standard of Peter’s play had progressed very well, and that future selection of Peter’s place on the English team was likely to be assured for many years to come.  

In retrospect, it would become clear that Peter’s standard of play had just about reached its peak at this time, and that he performed well back in England in tournaments in 1957 and 1958.  

I was personally impressed by a game he played and won against Alexander in the 1957 British Championship. Hugh Alexander was widely regarded as England’s strongest chess player since the end of the Second World War, and this game was somehow symbolic that a younger generation of players might be beginning to supersede the older ones.  

However, at about this time, Peter also started to display a budding talent for writing books on chess, and eventually wrote some classic works in the genre. This was fine, but I felt that in so doing, he might have made himself less prepared to play chess as aggressively as he had done formerly. As a result, he tended to become more “drawish” in his play, and therefore began to relinquish the chance to win a big chess tournament.  

In later years, Peter began to show a great interest in solving chess problems. This is an area of chess where the supreme subtleties of the game can best be explored. Peter was a good solver and played in a few problem solving competitions, I believe just for fun. 

On personal visits to Chapel House over the years, I remember the great pleasure of discussing with Peter the beauty of some modern and classical chess problems – and such memories in turn will remind me of how much I will miss him in the future. 

Jonathan Penrose

Exmouth March On In Division 2

Exmouth had their first home match of the season when they entertained old rivals Teignmouth to the town. It was not quite a home match as the Club’s new base, the Royal Beacon Hotel, had a Christmas party booked. But the Manor Hotel, just down the road, on the Beacon, came to the rescue and offered their small “Writing Room” as a suitable area. They also had a function booked, the annual meeting of the local Euchre League (don’t ask – it’s a strange American card game that has survived in Exmouth for generations). But both activities were ‘low maintenance’ and didn’t interfere with each other. It must be said that over the past 2 decades the managements of both hotels have been very good to the chess community, both local and national, and it is hoped will continue as it’s of mutual benefit.

After c. 90 minutes play, the match seemed to be going the visitors’ way, as Boards 1 and 4 were definitely looking bad for Exmouth, but two blunders in those games came to the rescue and turned what could have been a 3-1 defeat into a 3-1 victory.

  Mamhead Cup Div 2     29.11.2014  
  Exmouth Grd     Teignmouth Grd
1 John Stephens 194 1 0 Bill Ingham 176
2 Jon Underwood 179 ½ ½ Alan Brusey 176
3 Oliver Wensley  149 ½ ½ Kevin Hindom 145
4 Simon Blake 102 1 0 Norman Tidy 137
  totals 624 3 1   634

Two turning points from the match:

Stephens vs Ingham

Above: Black has just played …h5, possibly expecting the g-pawn to move, but  f5! wins immediately as Black can’t prevent a passed pawn being created.

Below: White has been asking all the questions so far in the game, and has just played Rd7, threatening Black’s f-pawn and possibly with thoughts of doubling his rooks on the open file at some point. But …Bc8 wins a piece and Black’s bishop pair boss the game from then on.

Position after Rd7

Exmouth now have to face Tiverton (A) and Newton Abbot (H) in this league in the New Year.

Home captain, Oliver Wensley, makes his move, with Tidy vs Blake in the background.

John Stephens vs Bill Ingham (nearest) and Dr. Jonathan Underwood vs Alan Brusey.

Not the WMN (08.11.2014) 813

The Chipping Sodbury RapidPlay was held recently at the Old Grammar School. The winners were as follows:

Open Section: 1st James Cobb (228) Bristol& Clifton 5/6 pts. 2nd= Chris Beaumont (214) Bristol & Clifton & Jerry Humphries Downend & Fishponds 4½.

Major Section (U-155): 1st= Andrew Munn (150) & David Tipper (143) both Downend & Fishponds, and David Dugdale (151) Thornbury all 4½.

Minor Section: Dorota Pacion (117) S. Bristol 5½. 2nd=  Jack Walpole (90) & Richard Port (113)  both University and Kevin Langmaid (112) Yate & Sodbury all 4 pts. Dorota Pacian was the only female player in the tournament.

While the 15th Beacon Seniors tournament was played out during the week, the World Seniors Championship was due to finish on Wednesday at Katerini, Greece. Millionaire chess player, Terry Chapman, had organised a team of four English players, himself incuded, to have a concerted effort for one of them to win the title.

This was the 8th round game between two of the contingent.

White: Keith Arkell (2450). Black: Mark Hebden (2540).

King’s Indian Defence [E62]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.d4 0–0 5.g3 d6 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0–0 Rb8 8.b3 a6 9.Nd5 Nh5 10.Bb2 e6 11.Nc3 b5 12.d5 Ne7 13.dxe6 fxe6 14.c5 dxc5 15.Qc2 Nc6 16.Rad1 Nd4 17.Nxd4 cxd4 18.e3 e5 19.exd4 exd4 20.Nd5 d3 21.Qc1 Bf5 22.Bxg7 Nxg7 23.Qxc7 Qxc7 24.Nxc7 White has now won a pawn and has a distinct advantage considering Black’s isolated pawn and inferior piece placement. 24…a5 25.Nd5 Rf7 26.Ne3 Rd7 27.Rd2 a4 28.Nxf5 Nxf5 29.Rfd1 axb3 30.axb3 Black must lose at least one of his 2 queenside pawns. 30…Rbd8 31.Bc6 Rd4 32.Bxb5 Now the other must fall as well. 32…g5 33.Rxd3 Kg7 34.Kg2 R8d6 35.Rxd4 Nxd4 36.Bc4 Kf6 37.b4 Ke5 38.Re1+ Kf6 39.b5 Nf5 40.Rb1 Rb6 41.Bd3 Nd6 42.Rb4 h6 43.h4 Nf7 44.Ra4 Ke5 45.hxg5 hxg5 46.Ra6 Rb8 47.Rg6 Kd4 48.Be2 Ke5 49.Bc4 1–0. Now Black’s last pawn must go, leaving him in a hopeless position. Arkell won again in the next round, putting him in the joint lead with 2 games to play, and Hebden and Nunn just behind. The chances of having an English World Seniors Champion look good.

In last week’s miniature problem White wins by 1.Qg7! from where it can go to either a7 or a1 to give mate, depending on which way the Black king goes.

This position comes at the end of a blitz game earlier this year. White is 2 pawns down but might have winning chances; if only he had more than a few seconds to think about it…

White to play and win.

Not the Western Morning News! 1st Nov. 2014 (812)

As you might have realised by now, Western Morning News has, as from 1st November 2014, been forced to cut in half the Westcountry Life supplement in its Saturday edition, and with it has gone the chess column. They are due to monitor the situation in January, when further decisions will be made on future developments. In the meantime, the editorial staff will welcome views on the future of the column. Letters should be addressed to:- The Editor, Western Morning News, 3rd Floor, Studio 5-11. Millbay Road, Plymouth PL1 3LF.  During that interim period, I’ll be posting a weekly column in the WMN slot on this website, even though it will not appear in the paper itself.  The code number (812) refers to the number of columns I’ve written since starting about 17 years ago. If the WMN column is not restored in January, I may have to reconsider.

So, here goes……

The new President of the English Chess Federation is Dominic Lawson, former Editor of the Sunday Telegraph, son of former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson and brother to Nigella. He is a strong and active player who is likely to use his professional contacts to raise the profile of the game in the national consciousness. To this end he has, all this week, been involved in a second series on Radio 4 in which, while playing a game with them, he talks to a number of diverse public figures for whom chess has played a part in their lives. On Monday it was the World Champion Magnus Carlsen and on Thursday it was Sol Campbell, former Arsenal and England footballer. He did a 1st series earlier this year which included boxing champion Lennox Lewis. All ten broadcasts will remain available on the BBC website for at least a year.

By way of introduction, writing in the Radio Times, Lawson links this with the film The Imitation Game, shortly due for UK release, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the part of the mathematician Alan Turing. It concentrates on Turing’s work at Bletchley Park cracking the “unbreakable” Nazi codes, where his line managers included British Chess Champion Hugh Alexander and Sir Stuart Milner-Barry.

Turing was not in their league as a player but left an even greater legacy to the chess world when, in 1952, he developed the first chess program, which he called “Turochamp”. It took half an hour to execute the instructions for each move but it worked, and 45 years later its direct descendant “Deeper Blue” defeated Kasparov himself.

This begs the question as to whether the silicon algorithms have taken over and are killing human creativity. While there is no substitute for human vs human competition, the best players will always be those that harness the computer to help develop their innate skills; to be its master rather than its slave.

Here is the 1997 game in which a computer defeats a world champion in a match for the first time.

White: Deeper Blue. Black G. Kasparov Caro-Kann Defence – Steinitz Var. [B17]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.N1f3 h6?? The blunder that sealed the human’s fate as it allows a known winning sacrifice 8.Nxe6! Qe7 9.0–0 fxe6 10.Bg6+ Kd8 11.Bf4 b5 12.a4 Bb7 13.Re1 Nd5 14.Bg3 Kc8 15.axb5 cxb5 16.Qd3 Bc6 17.Bf5 exf5 18.Rxe7 Bxe7 19.c4 1–0

Last week’s short game ended with 1.Bxf7+ Should Black take the bishop and try to hang on – or not? Black chooses the former 1…Kxf7?? 2.Ng5+ Ke8 and 3.Ne6 traps the queen, a move that Black clearly overlooked. But even if 1…Kf8 2.Ng5 Ndf6 3.Bb3 Nh6 etc. his position is a mess.

In this position from 1882, how does White win in two moves?

White to play and mate in 2

48th Torbay Congress 2014

The 48th Torbay Congress went back to one of its earlier venues, the Toorak Hotel, Torquay, just over the road from its home of recent years, the Riviera Centre. It took place in awful, wet weather, but was well-supported, with 149 players distributed throughout the four sections.

The Open had no GMs this year and was, perhaps, former Devon Champion Dominic Mackle’s best chance to take 1st place. Ali Jaunooby being the only higher graded player, gave Mackle the chance to start and finish with the white pieces. Also in his favour was the fact that his opponent, Graham Bolt, had barely recovered from a nerve-shredding finish against John Stephens in the morning round, and Mackle was able to create a crushing position early on, to finish up clear winner. (photo below)

In joint 2nd place, both Menadue and Wheeler went through without losing, but perhaps the more impressive performance was by Shaw who was the only player in the section to finish with 3 wins, and move up the field from half a point from 2.

  Name Grd 1 2 3 4 5 Pts
1 Mackle, Dominic 203 w19= b24+ w7= b6+ w5+ 4
2 Menadue, J. F. 189 w23+ b9= w12= b14= w6+
3 Shaw, Meyrick 170 bye= b7- w23+ b18+ w14+
4 Wheeler, John F. 181 w14+ b12= w5= b7= w15+
5 Bolt, Graham 180 bye= w15+ b4= w20+ b1- 3
6 De Coverley, R 190 b16+ w10+ b8+ w1- b2- 3
7 Dilliegh, S. P. 182 b15 w3+ b1= w4= b8= 3
8 Woolcock, C. 163 b22+ w20+ w6- b12= w7= 3
9 Archer-Lock A. 183 bye= w2- b20- w11+ b13=
10 Bartlett, Simon 169 w18+ b6- b22= w13= b17=
11 Brusey, Alan W 176 w12- b23= w24+ b9- w22+
12 Fairbairn, S. 199 b11+ w4= b2= w8= w/d
13 Fraser, John 182 w24= b17= w18= b10= w9=
14 Jaunooby, Ali R. 205 b4- b19+ w17+ w2= b3-
15 Macreamoinn, B 162 w7= b5- w19+ b22+ b4-
16 Saqui, David A 173 w6- b18- b21+ w17= b23+
17 Abbott, Mark V. 173 bye= w13= b14- b16= w10- 2
18 Homer S. J. 188 b10- w16+ b13= w3- b19= 2
19 Littlejohns, D 178 b1= w14- b15- w24+ w18= 2
20 Stephens, J. K. 194 w21+ b8- w9+ b5- w/d 2
21 Ingham, H. W. 176 b20- w22- w16- b23= b24+
22 Sivrev P. D. 187 w8- b21+ w10= w15- b11-
23 Barton, R. Alan 170 b2- w11= b3- w21= w16- 1
24 Wettasinha, V. 138 b13= w1- b11- b19- w21- ½


  MAJOR (U-170)              
  Name Grd 1 2 3 4 5 Pts
1 Archer-Lock C 168 bye= w37+ b3= w30+ b13+ 4
2 Cordner, D. A. 167 b24+ w4= b16+ w7+ b3= 4
3 Stinton-Brownbridge 164 w25+ b26+ w1= b21+ w2= 4
4 Dugdale, David 160 w15+ b2= w14= b11= w18+
5 Smith Richard A 149 bye= b11= w17= b37+ w21+
6 Atkins, Keith A 157 w31- b33+ w26= b19= w22+ 3
7 Body, Giles 169 w23+ b22+ w21= b2- w8= 3
8 Burton, Ronnie 152 w14= b28= w36+ bye= b7= 3
9 Dean Steve K 167 bye= w17= b20+ b22= w14= 3
10 Desmedt, Richard 161 w26- b15+ w28+ b14= w11= 3
11 Fewkes, James E. 150 b30= w5= b35+ w4= b10= 3
12 Gamble Raymond 161 b37= w34+ b30= w13= b16= 3
13 Harris, Martyn J. 163 b20+ w16= w19+ b12= w1- 3
14 Heard Andrew H. 136 b8= w29+ b4= w10= b9= 3
15 Papier, Alan R. 145 b4- w10- bye= w35+ b30+ 3
16 Sellwood, Colin 156 w32+ b13= w2- b26+ w12= 3
17 Ayres, Jonathan 136 w27= b9= b5= bye= w23=
18 Greatorex, Roger 150 w35= b19- b34+ w24+ b4-
19 Hamilton, Selwyn 136 bye= w18+ b13- w6= b20+
20 Hibbitt, Arthur M 147 w13- b23+ w9- b31+ w19=
21 Jackson, Paul G 163 b33+ w31+ b7= w3- b5-
22 O’Gorman, Brendan 157 b36+ w7- b31+ w9 b6-
23 Wilson, Matthew 148 b7- w20- w33+ b36+ b17=
24 Brodie, Eric J 147 w2- b32+ w27= b18- w28= 2
25 Cross, Ian K 147 b3- w36- b32- w34+ b35+ 2
26 Hindom, Kevin 145 b10+ w3- b6= w16- b32= 2
27 Nyman, John C 153 b17= w30- b24= w32= b29= 2
28 Pope, Sean 144 bye= w8= b10- w29= b24= 2
29 Rogers, David R 158 bye= b14- w37= b28= w27= 2
30 Ross, Stuart 135 w11= b27+ b12= b1- w15- 2
31 Wilby, Rob G 140 b6+ b21- w22- w20- bye= 2
32 Willett, Greg 140 b16- w24- w25+ b27= w26= 2
33 Williams, Stephen 143 w21 w6- b23- bye= w36+ 2
34 Nielsen, Jorgen 149 bye= b12- w18- b25- w37+
35 Gorton, John M. 107 b18= bye= w11- b15- w25- 1
36 Keen, Charles, E 141 w22- b25+ b8- w23- b33- 1
37 Matthew, Ian, G 145 w12= b1- b29= w5- b34- 1


  INTER (U-140)              
  Name Grd 1 2 3 4 5 Pts
1 Mills, Nathan 132 b12+ w10+ b17+ w7+ b5+ 5
2 Georgiou, G 139 b24+ w16= b7= w27+ b11+ 4
3 Woolgar, S. G. 122 b37+ w7- b23+ w17+ b10+ 4
4 Brackner, Paul 138 bye= w5= b6= w32+ b20+ 3
5 Plumb, M. D. 132 w28+ b4= w32+ b21+ w1-
6 Sandercock, E. B. 130 bye= b15= w4= b31+ w21+
7 Webb, Chris 133 w14+ b3+ w=2 b1- w15+
8 Foster, Paul 132 bye= w35+ b20= w10- b27+ 3
9 Ramesh, V. 131 b35= w34= b13= w16+ b17= 3
10 Turowski, M. K. 136 w27+ b1- w22+ b8+ w3- 3
11 Willoughby, R 133 b16- w26+ b34+ w30+ w2- 3
12 Woodbridge, L 120 w1- b18= b29+ w23= b24+ 3
13 Alexander, Ken 126 bye= b19= w9= b12= w18=
14 Barber-Lafon, J 121 b7- b27- bye+ w23= w31+
15 Bland, Paul A 133 b22= w6= b33+ w20= b7-
16 Doidge, Charles 121 w11+ b2= w21- b9- w33+
17 Galloway, J. H. 134 w25+ b33+ w1- b3- w9=
18 Greenaway, T. 130 b20- w12= b35= w34+ b13=
19 Hill, Michael 133 b34= w13= b27- w35+ w22=
20 Hunt, Ray K 124 w18+ b21= w8= b15= w4-
21 Tidy, Norman F. 137 b26+ w20= b16+ w5- b6-
22 Woodbridge, T 123 w15= bye+ b10- w24= b19=
23 Adams, Martyn 130 bye= b31= w3- b14= w25= 2
24 Blencowe, Ian 130 w2- b28+ w31= b22= w12- 2
25 Hadfield, Roy 123 b17- w29= b30- w26+ b23= 2
26 Ludlow, Roy A. 128 w21- b11- w28+ b25- w35+ 2
27 O’Brian, Megan 128 b10- w14+ w19+ b2- w8- 2
28 Spooner, Keith 113 b5- w24- b26- w29+ b32+ 2
29 Crouch, T. J. 137 w33- b25= w12- b28- b34+
30 Gilbert, D. J. 132 w31= b32- w25+ b11- wd
31 Jones, M. E. 121 b30= w23= b24= w6- b14-
32 Whittington, Reece 123 bye= w30+ b5- b4- w28-
33 Wilkinson, B 129 b29+ w17- w15- bye= b16-
34 Allen T. S. 121 w19= b9= w11- b18- w29- 1
35 Peach, Clifford 110 w9= b8- w18= b19- b26- 1
36 Dimond, Peter 133 w3-         0


  MINOR (U-120)              
  Name Grd 1 2 3 4 5 Pts
1 Cuggy, Mike J 107 b39+ w14+ b37+ w4= w7+
2 Hughes, Peter J 95 b45+ bye= w3= b19+ w20+ 4
3 Kelly, Edmund 107 bye= w46+ b2= b23+ w24+ 4
4 McConnell, Phil 102 bye+ w16+ b18+ b1= w5= 4
5 McGeeney, D 113 bye= w43+ b25+ w9+ b4= 4
6 Fraser, Alan R. 105 w41+ w18- b21= b25+ w27+
7 Greenhalgh, Roy 97 bye= b29+ w44+ w18+ b1-
8 Loyden, G 112 b24= w40= b34+ w37+ b10=
9 May, Philip 99 b17+ w34+ w10= b5- b29+
10 Saunders, Peter 103 b50+ w33+ b9= w12= w8=
11 Spargo, Philip 107 bye= w21= b30+ w13= b12+
12 Constable, John 112 bye= b31+ w38+ b10= w11- 3
13 Crickmore, E. A. 117 bye= b26+ w20= b11= w15= 3
14 Hafstad, Elnar 82 w22+ b1- b16- w33+ w35+ 3
15 Hafstad, Leif 110 b29= w25- b43+ w46+ b13= 3
16 Knott, Jim A 109 w42+ b4- w14+ b24- w31+ 3
17 Langmaid, K. 112 w9- b51= w26+ b31= w37+ 3
18 Mackie, Norman 107 w51+ b6+ w4- b7- w39+ 3
19 Mill-Wilson, G 111 b23+ w37- b42+ w2- b34+ 3
20 Pope W.W. 108 b43= w47+ b13= w39+ b2- 3
21 Rescorla, Ian R. 123 w31= b11= w6= b35= w40+ 3
22 Wallman, James 109 b14- w50+ b39- w47+ b41+ 3
23 Webster, Alan F 92 w19- b49+ b33+ w3- b46+ 3
24 Welch, Hazel 96 w8= b27= b45+ w16+ b3- 3
25 Archer-Lock, Helen 99 bye= b15+ w5- w6- b51+
26 Cox, Reg 80 b32= w13- b17- w50+ w44+
27 Dean, John E 119 bye= w24= b46= w30+ b6-
28 Gardiner, Colin J 114 w30= b44- w29- b51+ b50+
29 Holmes, Nick, D 87 w15= w7- b28+ b38+ w9-
30 Narayanan, N 101 b28= w35+ w11- b27- w42+
31 Carr, John W 101 b21= w12- b40+ w17= b16- 2
32 Childs, Barry 107 w26= b38- w36= b41- b48+ 2
33 Cox, Marian 110 w47+ b10- w23- b14- b49+ 2
34 Dengler, Terry 99 w48+ b9- w8- b44+ w19- 2
35 Donovan, J. P. 108 bye= b30- w51+ w21= b14- 2
36 George, John M 116 b37- w42- b32= w43+ w38= 2
37 Healey, David J 101 w36+ b19+ w1- b8- b17- 2
38 Maber, Martyn 99 bye= w32+ b12- w29- b36= 2
39 Overshott, Ken 80 w1- b48+ w22+ b20- b28- 2
40 Walsh, Shaun 106 bye= b8= w31- w45+ b21- 2
41 Wells, Yannis 56 b6- w45- bye+ w32+ w22- 2
42 Ashby, Ken 83 b16- b36+ w19- w48= b30-
43 Brinkley, Alan 70 w20= b5- w15- b36- bye+
44 Constable, Chistine 107 bye= w28+ b7- w34- b26-
45 Jenkins, Geoff J 111 w2- b41+ w24- b40- b47=
46 Thorpe-Tracey, S 103 w49+ b3- w27= b15- w23-
47 Tigue, Kevin J 90 b33- b20- w49+ b22- w45=
48 Broderick, P. G. 104 b34- w39- bye= b42= w32- 1
49 Carr, Wendy 0 b46- w23- b47- bye= w33- 1
50 Brightman, F 41 w10- b22- bye= b26- w25- ½
51 Leggett, Peter 79 b18- w17+ b35- w28- w25- ½
Summary of prizewinners:
    Name Grd Club Pts
Open 1st D. Mackle 203 Newton Abbot 4
  2nd= J. Menadue 189 Truro
    M. Shaw 170 Exmouth
    J. F. Wheeler 181 Cosham
GPs U-184 S. P. Dilleigh 182 Horfield  
    G. Bolt 180 Railways  
  U-176 C. Woolcock 163 Barry 3
Major U-170        
  1st= D. Gordner 168 Cosham 4
    M. Stinton-Brown. 164 Plymouth 4
    C. Archer-Lock 168 Maidenhead 4
Inter U-140        
  1st N. Mills 132 Brixham 5
  2nd= S. Woolar 122 Patchway
    G. Georgiou 139 Swindon
GPs U-127 M. Plumb 130  
    E. B. Sandercock 132  
  U-125 L. Woodbridge 120 Devon 3
Minor U-120        
  1st M. Cuggy 107 Brixham
  2nd= P. McConnell 102 South Hams 4
    P. J. Hughes 95 Mutual Circle 4
    E. B. Kelly 107 Exeter Juniors 4
    D. McGeeney 113 Bristol Cabot 4
GPs U-108 A. Fraser 105 Beckenham
    P. May 99 Godolphin
    P. Saunders 103 Patchway
    P. J. Spargo 107 Camborne
  U-99 R. Greenhalgh 97 South Hams


British Ch. 2015 Qualifier Dominic Mackle
Torbay     League Individual     Champions
Open:             Basil Wallis Cup Dominic Mackle
Major:               Challenge Cup Mike Stinton-Brownbridge
Inter:             Intermediate Cup Nathan Mills
Minor:             Candidates Cup Mike Cuggy
Best score:         Newman Cup Nathan Mills
Best Junior:        Whitfield Cup Edmund Kelly
Team event: Truro


General view of the playing area - Atkins vs Wilby nearest camera.

General view of the Minor Section

Steve Homer waiting for Simon Bartlett to make a move in Rd. 1

Drawn together in Rd. 2, but destined for top and bottom places - Vesanta vs Mackle.

Rd. 3: Top game in the Major - O'Gorman vs Body.

Rd. 3: Jaunooby (205 ) vs Abbott (173) - game drawn. John Stephens looks on with interest.

Rd. 4: Joint leaders de Coverly and Mackle meet in a key game.

Rd. 5: Mackle has his 3rd white against Bolt who is still recovering after a tense finish 60 minutes earlier.

The bookstall's noticeboard.

A happy Mackle receives the Torbay League cup from arbiter Ray Chubb.

Mike Stinton-Brownbridge was the only one of the joint winners of the Major to qualify for the League trophy, here presented by his clubmate and arbiter, Tony Tatam (l).

Exmouth Open Account in Div. 2

Exmouth’s first match in the Devon Leagues involved the longest trip of the season, to Barnstaple, where they expected to be facing a team headed up by IM Jack Rudd or Theo Slade – or both. As it turned out, neither was available, for reasons that will become apparent. So the home team’s strength was somewhat below what was expected.

The Barnstaple captain, Steve Clarke, got into terrible trouble in the opening and faced with two ways of losing material, he prevented both with a move that allowed mate on move 13. That’s the problem with being a playing home captain - one’s head is full of potential problems e.g. is the premises going to be unlocked; is everyone going to turn up; are the refreshments organised etc. So much so that once play starts one’s head is elsewhere.

In the Scott-Oughton game, a lot of material came off the board early on, and with no discernable advantage to either side a draw was agreed. On Board 3, team captain Oliver Wensley secured Black’s d- and e-pawns and was able to force the issue down those central files with his extra pawn, backed by rooks, advancing with unanswerable threats. Malcolm Belt, usually a buccaneering cut & thrust merchant, found himself in a long attritional game in which, python-like, he gradually deprived his opponent of the oxygen of space, and kept him restricted to his back 2 ranks until the win was secured.

It may have been a relief not to be facing Rudd and/or Slade, but the reason for their absence was that, aparently, they were playing for Tiverton in the Bremridge Cup Div. 1, which is not such good news for Exmouth’s 1st team later in the season. Tiverton’s team list that day can only be wondered at.

  Mamhead Cup Div 2     08.11.2014  
  Barnstaple Grd     Exmouth Grd
1 Steve Clarke 133 0 1 Meyrick Shaw 170
2 Rob Oughton 131 ½ ½ Chris Scott 157
3 Jon Munsey 128 0 1 Oliver Wensley 149
4 Mike Dow 115 0 1 Malcolm Belt 128
  totals 507 ½   604

WMN Chess Column Suspended (November 2014)

Newspapers all over the country, if not the whole world, are struggling to adapt to the challenges brought about by the new media – multiple channels of 24 hour rolling news - twitface – etc. etc.  Added to that, the printed media’s lifeblood, advertising income, has been depressed throughout the banking and general financial crisis of recent years.

The Western Morning News cannot be immune to these factors, and must adapt to survive. One thing it has done is to sell off its award-winning flagship offices, built in the shape of a galleon, and move to premises near the docks.  Another idea was the addition of a Sunday edition. However, circulation figures are not as predicted, as folk are probably already locked in to their favourite Sunday titles, and loth to either switch or add another paper to the already heavy bundle the paper boy delivers. But the experiment was committed until the end of January 2015 when it will be assessed. Until then, economies have to be made and the cutting in half of the Westcountry Life supplement on a Saturday is one of them.

With it went the chess column.  That is the reason it has not appeared since October. In answer to the several enquirers I’ve already had, I am not too ill to write, or dead – far from it. Not yet, anyway.

The WMN chess column is one of the oldest provincial columns in the country. It started in 1891 under the editorship of Carslake Winter-Wood, writing under the nom de plume “Queen’s Knight”, in contrast to the contemporary Exeter columnist “King’s Knight”.  In March 1906 the column switched to the Illustrated Western Weeky News.   A. R. Cooper ran it from 1927 – 1939. Writing in the March 1939 issue of Chess, the eminent problemist, C. S. Kipping, observed that “the three British columns which have international reputations for their composing tourneys are (1) the Grantham Journal,  (2) the Falkirk Herald and (3) the Western Morning News”. After the war it was taken on by former British Champion, R. J. Broadbent (1948 & 1950) but it was mostly devoted to problems. That is, until the arrival from Lichfield of J. E. Jones in 1956, who took the paper to task and insisted there should be real local news, so a chess column appeared twice a week, one by Broadbest and a new one by Jones (no relation).

However, Jones ran his column on the same lines as Howard Staunton ran his, a century earlier – that is, as a pulpit  from which he would admonish any chess official who could not live up to his own high standards. In 1963 Jones moved away and when Ken Bloodworth took over he was quietly advised to keep it all low key. Which, of course, he did for the next 35 years. When he was approaching his late 80s, he wished to retire, but was keen that there should be no break to give the management an opportunity to end the sequence, and he recommended me to them, and the switch was smoothly made. I have now written 812 weekly columns.

There is now a hiatus until the end of January 2015 when further decisions will be made. If you wish to convey your personal opinion on the future of the column, I’m sure the decision-makers would listen attentively. 

Their address is: Western Morning News, Studio 5-11,  Millbay Road, Plymouth. PL1 3LF.