February 2016
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Posts Tagged ‘chess’

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.    
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.

Hastings Congress Results (09.01.2016.)

The Masters’ Section of the Hastings Congress, which finished on Tuesday, consisted of an eclectic mix of 76 players, including strong contingents from Eastern Europe and India. After the 9th and final round, two players tied on 7 points, J. Vakhidov (Uzbekistan) and A. Mista (Poland), with a raft of 5 players a half point behind, namely I. Khenkin (Germany); F. Berkes (Hungary); T. Fodor (Hungary); S. Sulskis (Lithuania) and J, Sarkar (USA).

Keith Arkell started well, but fell away in rounds 6-8, before finishing with a win which lifted him up to 5½ pts and 13th=. As he was the 6th highest graded player, this was a slightly below par performance compared to some of his successes of recent months. Jack Rudd’s last round loss left him on 5.

However, his play is never less than entertaining, and here is his Rd. 2 win against a 14 year old Sussex junior.

White: J. Rudd (216). Black: C. Brewer (188).

Bogo-Indian Defence  [E11]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 a5 5.Nc3 b6 6.e3 Bb7 7.Bd3 d6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 White commits to castling queenside, even though it looks as if Black could launch an early attack. 9.0–0–0 Qe7 10.e4 0–0–0 11.Rhe1 Bxc3 12.Bxc3 e5 13.d5 Nc5 14.Bf1 g6 15.b3 completing a protective shield around his king, which Black quickly attacks. 15…Kd7 With the aim of swinging his rooks over to attack. 16.a3 a4 17.b4 Nb3+ 18.Kb2 Ra8 19.c5 bxc5 20.Bb5+ Kd8 21.bxc5 Nxc5 22.Nxe5! Now it’s White’s turn to attack. 22…dxe5 23.Bb4 Nfd7 24.Bxd7 Qxd7 25.Qxc5 White has opened lines to the king’s position. 25…Ra6 26.f4 Re8 27.Ba5 Kc8 28.Rc1 Rxa5 The least worst option. 29.Qxa5 exf4 30.Rc4 Re7 31.Rec1 Qd6 32.Qxa4 g5 33.Qa7 f3 34.gxf3 Qxh2+ 35.R1c2 Qe5+ 36.Ka2 Qd6 37.Rb4 Ba6 38.Rb6! 1-0 Already a minor piece down, Black must not only lose more material, but White has, with best play, a mating combination. E.g. 38.Rb6 Kd7 39.Rxd6+ Kxd6 40.Qc5+ etc.

The 41st East Devon Congress in Exeter  is now less than 8 weeks away and takes place Fri. 4th – 6th March. Entry forms are downloadable from exeterchessclub.org.uk and the new Entry Secretary is Dr. T. Paulden, contactable on timpaulden@gmail.com.

This is followed 3 weeks later by the West of England Congress in Exmouth over the Easter weekend. Entry forms are downloadable from chessdevon.co.uk.

The solution to last week’s 3-mover was 1.Bg2! to which Black has a number of ineffective replies. For example, 1…Rxb2 2.d7 Kxc7 3.d8=Q mate; or 1…Ra4 2.Rb7+ Ka8 (if 2…Kc8 Pd7 mate) 3.Rb4 mate.

In tournaments where the players are not allowed to agree a draw verbally, they can sometimes achieve the draw by generating by a threefold repetition of moves. This is especially useful where one player is materially down, as in this 1958 game between Geller and Gurgenidze. White is the exchange down yet managed to force a draw by repetition. How did he do it?

White to play and draw by repetition.

The post-Christmas period is traditionally the time of the Hastings Chess Congress, one of the longest established in the world. The first was held in 1895 when all the world’s top players took part. It was won by the rank outsider, Harry Pillsbury, barely known in his own country (the US) let alone the wider chess community. However, Hastings did not become an annual event until after WWI when it found its present niche in the chess calendar. All the world champions have played there, with the exceptions of Fischer and Kasparov.

It has to be said that the playing strength of the Hastings Premier has declined in recent decades due to the worldwide proliferation of other events with greater financial backing to attract the top players. Yet the glories of the past are recorded for all time, as with this game from the 1895 tournament that won the event’s Brilliancy Prize. Notes based on those by Tarrasch from the tournament book.

White: W. Steinitz. Black: Curt Von Bardeleben.

Italian Game [C54]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 d5 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.0–0 Be6 If 9…Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bxc3 White gets a dangerous attack by 11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 12.Qb3+. 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxd5 Bxd5 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.Bxe7 Nxe7 14.Re1! The point of all the exchanges as White now obtains command of the board, prevents Black from castling and initiates a powerful attack on the king. 14…f6 This keeps out the knight for the time being but at the cost of weakening his pawns which proves costly later. Better was 14…Kf8. 15.Qe2 Qd7 16.Rac1 c6? It would have been preferable to play 16…Kf7 as White then has nothing better than  17.Qxe7+ Qxe7 18.Rxe7+ Kxe7 19.Rxc7+ Kd6 20.Rxb7 and Black has drawing prospects. 17.d5 A pawn sacrifice, breaking up Black’s position and making way for the knight to strengthen the attack. 17…cxd5 18.Nd4 Kf7 19.Ne6 Threatening both Rc7 and Qg4. Rhc8 20.Qg4 g6 21.Ng5+ Ke8 To protect his queen. This is the position that appears in numerous chess problem books challenging the reader to find the best move. 22.Rxe7+!! and this is the move that won Steinitz the Brilliancy Price. Note how every White piece is en pris and yet Steinitz pursues his prey without flinching. 22…Kf8 If 22…Kxe7 23.Re1+ Kd6 24.Qb4+ Kc7 25.Ne6+ Kb8 26.Qf4+ and wins. 23.Rf7+ Kg8 24.Rg7+ Kh8 25.Rxh7+ 1-0 At this point Bardelben didn’t resign but simply left the tournament hall and didn’t return. He had probably seen what was in store. 25…Kg8 26.Rg7+ Kh8 27.Qh4+ Kxg7 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qg7+ Ke8 31.Qg8+ Ke7 32.Qf7+ Kd8 33.Qf8+ Qe8 34.Nf7+ Kd7 35.Qd6#.

Steinitz eventually came 5th, receiving £40 for his month’s work and an extra £5 for this timeless creation.

Last week’s 3-mover was solved by

1.Ne5! If 1…Kc7 2.Qc6+ and the queen will mate on the 7th rank. If 1…Ke7 2.Qd7+ Kf6 3.Ng4 mate.

Here is a third original 3-mover by Dave Howard. White to play.

White to mate in 3

London Chess Classic Results (19.12.2015.)

Wiltshire marked their return to the West of England Inter-County competition with an 8-4 win over Cornwall in the U-160 section at Chudleigh Knighton Village Hall. Compensation for the Cornish was the continuing emergence of 9 year old Adam Hussein as a force to be reckoned with. Details as follows: (Wilts names first in each pairing).

1. T. Woodward (154) 1-0  C. Sellwood (157). 2. M. Bowhay (152) 1-0  R. Smith (143). 3. D. O’Byrne (149) 1-0 R. Stephens (142). 4. Fenella Headlong (148) 0-1 M. Hill (136). 5. C. Snook-Lumb (139) 1-0 N. Robinson (129). 6. T. Cooper (133) 1-0 D. R Jenkins (124). 7. C. Callow (130e) 1-0 D. Lucas (124). 8. B. Headlong (126) 0-1 R. Clark (124). 9. R. Morris (122) 0-1 I. Renshaw (121). 10. R. Carver (115) 1-0 D. Hutchinson (UG). 11. M. Walters (104) 1-0 B. Parkin (115). 12. R. Sparks (80) 0-1 A. Hussein (82).

The London Chess classic finished on Sunday evening in a 3-way tie for 1st place, after top seed Magnus Carlsen (Norway) won from what was at one stage was a lost position to draw level with Anish Giri (Holland) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France). This necessitated a play-off which Carlsen won, thus going from potential zero to hero in the space of a few hours.

The other notable achievement was that of Cornishman Michael Adams who drew every one of his 9 games against the World’s best. His defensive qualities were severely tested at times but no one could get the better of him. In fact, wins were rare throughout. Of the 45 games played there were only 9 wins.

Here is the Rd. 9 game that brought Carlsen level with the other leaders.

White: Magnus  Carlsen. Black: Alex Grischuk [B51]

1.Nf3 c5 2.e4 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.0–0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 6.Re1 b5 7.c4 g5 8.Nxg5 Ne5 9.Be2 bxc4 10.Nc3 Rb8 11.Rf1! h6 12.Nf3 Nd3 13.Ne1 Nxb2 14.Bxb2 Rxb2 15.Bxc4 Rb4  16.Qe2 Bg7 17.Nc2 Rb6 18.Rab1 0–0 19.Rxb6 Qxb6 20.Ne3 e6 21.f4 Kh8 22.f5 a5 23.a4 White has a positional and time advantage and seems destined for an easy win.  Qd8 24.h3 Qe7 25.Ba6 Bxa6 Black could have defended his a-pawn but thinks there might be chances for himself. 26.Qxa6 Nh5! Opening lines for his queen and bishop, with an eye on g3. 27.Rf3 Rg8! 28.Nb5? Moving a piece away from his attacked kingside. Be5 29.Ng4 Qh4 30.fxe6!? fxe6? 30…Rxg4! would lead to winning chances for Black. 31.Nxe5 dxe5 32.Qxe6 Qe1+? 32…Qg5! would have been good enough to draw. 33.Kh2 Rxg2+ 34.Kxg2 Qxd2+ 35.Kg1 Qe1+ 36.Rf1 Qe3+ 37.Rf2 Qe1+ 38.Kg2 Black suddenly realises he has no perpetual check in hand. 38…Qxe4 39.Kh2 and suddenly it’s all over.1–0

In last week’s position, White played 1.Nxc6 and Topolov blundered by retaking with his bishop instead of rook, which allows 2.BxN and Black can’t retake because there is a back-rank mate, so he loses significant material.

This week’s position is a hitherto unpublished 3-mover by Dave Howard. Black is clearly set to lose, but how can it be done neatly in just 3 moves?

White to mate in 3

Gloucestershire beat Devon & The London Chess Classic (12.12.2015.)

Gloucestershire beat Devon recently for the first time in years, probably due to a combination of Devon missing several of their top players for this match and the fact that Gloucestershire is starting to draw more on players from the north Bristol League area. Details as follows:- (Devon names 2nd in each pairing).

1.M. Townsend (203) ½-½ J. Stephens (196) 2.J. Stewart (200) 1-0 J. Underwood (186). 3.I. Robson (199) 1-0 L. Hartmann (190). 4.M. Ashworth (190) ½-½ T. Paulden (185). 5.J. Jenkins (185) ½-½ S. Martin (184). 6.N. Hosken (184) 1-0 D. Regis (180). 7.P. Masters (182) ½-½ C. (179). 8.P. Kirby (181) ½-½ B. Hewson (176). 9.C. Jones (180) ½-½ J. F. Wheeler (177). 10.P. Meade (169) ½-½ P. Sivrev (172). 11.P. Dodwell (14 9) ½-½ O. Wensley (170). 12.R. Ashworth (145) ½-½ T. Thynne (167). 13.P. Baker (141) ½-½ G. Body (163) 14.C. Haynes (138) ½-½ W. Ingham             (158). 15.B. Whitelaw(137) ½-½ P. Brooks (158). 16.A. Richards (125) 0-1 N. Butland (155).

Another feature of the match was the high percentage of draws (75%).

This is also the case in the London Chess Classic, with only 3 wins from the first 20 games. They are using a different scoring system, sometimes referred to as “Bilbao Rules”, players earning 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and none for a loss. “Sofia Rules” also apply, whereby players cannot agree a draw without the arbiter’s permission, and then only granted when there is deemed to be no purposeful play left in the position. There is also the added incentive of best game prizes.

Yet the preponderance of draws continues. Most of the games have been well-contested, but almost inevitably, when the world’s top players are involved, things will gravitate towards a draw as irresistible attack meets immovable defence. Striving too hard for wins will certainly invite the danger of losses, handing 3 pts to an opponent. Early on, sharp attacking openings like the Sicilian Defence have been largely absent, in favour of the more solid and safer, Ruy Lopez. The event finishes today.

Here’s a rare win from the early stages.

White: V. Topalov. Black: A. Giri.

Grünfeld Defence [D71]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Bg2 d5 5.Qa4 Nfd7 6.cxd5 Nb6 7.Qd1 cxd5 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.e3 Bg7 10.Nge2 0–0 11.0-0 Re8 12.b3 e5 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.h3 Bf5 15.Nd4 Bd3 16.Re1 Ba6 17.Qd2 Nd3 18.Rd1 Bxd4 19.exd4 Qf6 20.a4!? Qxd4!? 21.a5 Nd7 22.Ra4 Qe5 23.Nxd5 Nxc1?! 24.Rxc1 Nf6 25.Nc7 Rad8 26.Qf4 g5 27.Qb4 Qb2 28.Raa1 Re2 29.Qc5 h6 30.Nxa6 bxa6 31.Rab1 Qd2 32.Bf3 Ne4! 33.Qxa7?? Nxf2! 34.Bxe2 Nxh3+ 35.Kf1 Qd5! 36.Bh5 Qh1+ 37.Ke2 Qg2+ 38.Ke1 Re8+ 39.Kd1 Nf2+ 40.Kc2 Ne4+ 0-1 After 41.Kd3 Qd2+ 42.Kc4 Rc8+ it’s mate next move.

In last week’s position, Anand lost to the queen sacrifice 1.QxP+! forcing 1…RxQ 2.Ng6+ Kg8 3.Rh8 mate. Here’s a Topolov loss from some years ago. White to play and win.

White to play & beat Topolov

London Chess Classic 2015

Many of the World’s top players have been gathering in the capital this week for the London Chess Classic, the strongest tournament ever held in the UK, which started yesterday at Olympia and will run until next Sunday.

The 10 players forming the top section, with their nationality and world rankings,   are Magnus Carlsen (Norway – World Champion); Veselin Topolov (Bulgaria – no. 2); Vishy Anand (India – no. 3); Hikaru Nakamura (USA – no. 5); Fabio Caruana (USA – no. 6); Lev Aronian (Armenia – no. 7); Anish Giri (Holland – no. 9); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France – no. 12); Alexander Grischuk (Russia – no. 14) & Michael Adams (no. 18).

Today’s Rd. 2 pairings are:- 1. Giri vs Adams. 2. Aronian vs Anand. 3. Carlsen vs Caruana. 4. Nakamura vs Vachier-Lagrave & 5.Topalov vs Grischuk. The games may be watched live on the event website. Interestingly, the football league system of awarding 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw is used, to reduce the risk of short, dull, grandmaster draws, and increase the likelihood of spirited fighting chess.

Among the many other sections available to players of more modest talents is a new knockout tournament involving 8 of Britain’s top players, in which England’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 6th grades, David Howell, Luke McShane, Nigel Short and Gawain Jones are joined by the 2 most promising juniors, Yang-Fan Zhou and Daniel Fernandez plus Scottish No. 1 Jonathan Rowson.

Visitors will also be able to play them as several, including Nunn, Speelman and McShane will be taking on 20 at a time – simultaneously.

This game came from the London Classic Knock-Out 2 years ago.

White: Michael Adams (2754). Black: Peter Svidler (2758)

Sicilian Defence – Sveshnikov Variation. [B90]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 The signature move of the Sveshnikov, in which Black accepts a weakening of his d-pawn and a weak d5 square, in return for buying time to develop his pieces.  7.Nf3 Qc7 8.a4 Be6 9.Be2 h6 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.h3 Be7 12.Nh2 0–0 13.Ng4 Qc6 14.Qd3 Rfc8 15.Rfd1 Rab8 16.a5 Nc5 The power of the check comes into play. 17.Nxf6+ Bxf6 allowing his already weakened d-pawn to fall. If 17…gxf6 18.Bxc5 Qxc5. 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 Be7 20.Rd2 Bg5 21.Bxg5 hxg5 22.Bg4 b5 23.axb6 Rxb6 24.Nd5 Threatening Ne7+ winning a rook. 24…Rb7 25.f3 Rcb8 26.b4 1–0 After 26…Bxd5 27.Rxd5 Ne6 28.Bxe6 fxe6 and Black’s doubled pawns can be picked off at leisure.

Last week’s position was ended by 1.RxP+! with the threat of 2.Ne6+ forking king & queen.

Last year’s winner of the London Chess Classic was former World Champion, Vishy Anand. This position from a game in 1987, however, was not one of his finest moments. White to play and administer a knock-out blow.

White to play and demolish Anand.

What’s So Royal About the Royal Beacon?

The Royal Beacon Hotel – How Come


Since the millennium, the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth has become one of the best-appointed and popular venues for small to medium chess events. It also has an interesting background: so, what’s so “Royal” about the Royal Beacon? 

First of all, the Beacon. The hotel is situated on the highest point of the old cliff-top nearest the town centre, the site of the original beacon, which probably dated back to Elizabethan times. At that time, with the constant fear of invasion by Spanish Catholic forces, the whole of the English south coast was linked by a series of beacons on every prominence, each visible to those adjacent when lit. In this way, news of an approaching Armada could travel from Land’s End to London in a matter of hours – the nearest thing the Tudors had to e-mail. The cliff-top would have been kept well clear of the kind of scrubby bushes and trees that so annoyingly obscure the sea view today, so the beacon-keepers at Exmouth were in visible contact with Berry Head, near Brixham, and as soon as that was seen to be alight, Exmouth would spring into action, relaying the danger message eastward along the coast.  The original beacon has long since gone, of course, but a modern structure, symbolic of the original, still stands outside the Hotel’s front door. (see left)

The hotel’s origins can be traced to the French Revolution of 1789, which, after the guillotining and general Terror died down, was hijacked by the Corsican corporal, Napoleon Bonaparte, who for the next 20 years stomped up and down Western Europe with his armies, from Madrid to Moscow, fomenting further revolutions and was viewed at the time as being at best a bit of a pest, and at worst a dangerous megalomaniac. 

These troubles made it too dangerous for the British aristocracy to take their traditional Grand Tour, during which they would tour the Continent in general and Italy in particular, drinking in the culture of warmer climes. Now they had to make the best of things and make do with the English seaside – a novel idea at the time. This saw small towns like Sidmouth and Exmouth rise from fishing villages to become fashionable resorts for the moderately wealthy. Young Victoria herself had a place in Sidmouth, while Exmouth’s Beacon area became filled with fine Regency houses and hotels. Lady Nelson and Lady Byron lived there, and in 1810, with the Battle of Waterloo still 5 years away, the hotel was built, and named the Marine Hotel. 

And what of the royal connection, and how “royal” is it?  This is another fascinating story, woven into the mainstream of European history. At the recent 15th Seniors’ Chess Congress held there in November 2015, one of the players, Roger Scowen, ever the scholar, put me on to the story of how it all came about. 

Germany in the early 19th century consisted of a patchwork of small kingdoms, dukedoms, electorates, states etc. each with its own hierarchy of aristocrats. The Kingdom of Saxony (1806 – 1918), as it emerged from the post-Napoleonic upheavals, was centred around Dresden and Leipzig in the east of modern day Germany. 

In June 1836 Frederick Augustus II became King of Saxony. He was intelligent, liberal, popular with his people, and keen to learn about the natural world. To this end, in 1844 he organised an informal tour of the UK accompanied only by his personal physician, Carl Gustav Carus. After paying his respects to Victoria and Albert at Windsor he set off with Carus along the south coast, noting among other things, interesting flora and fauna, human activities, geological formations etc. 

Carus himself was a true polymath, being a doctor both of medicine and philosophy, scientist, artist, naturalist, psychologist and goodness knows what else besides. En route, he made regular notes about anything that interested either man, which were later written up into a book entitled The King of Saxony’s Journey Through England and Scotland. 

After purchasing a large ichthyosaur skeleton from Mary Anning herself in Lyme Regis, the pair proceeded westward. This is the relevant extract from pp 200 & 202 of the journal. 

Exmouth: July 1st  Evening. 

……. ‘At the top, the road passes through a deep cutting, and, after a short drive, we arrived at this place, which takes its name from its situation at the place where the river Ex empties itself into the channel. Exmouth is also very much visited by those who wish to enjoy the benefits of sea air and bathing. In my “Road Book of England”, Exmouth is said to be “the oldest and best frequented watering place in Devon;” and the height on which our small hotel (The Marine Hotel) is situated, it can clearly be perceived that the wide bay, with its numerous and boldly projecting promontories, must be a place in which ships can lie in perfect safety, sheltered from every storm. We went down to the shore and found it covered with the finest sand, in which here and there were specimens of the violet convolvulus (Convolvulus Soldanella), and the blue flowering Eryngium maritimum, and multitudes of shells of various colours. The evening had become gloomy, but calm and warm; merchant vessels at anchor were scattered about in the bay; small fishing-boats were cleaving the glassy waters, enclosed by the beautiful projecting headlands; whilst two ships, with their full-set sails flapping loose and scarcely able to catch a breath of wind, were being towed out to sea by a fishing-boat. The whole scene was charming; and when we remembered the noon-tide heat, the cool air proved doubly delightful and refreshing. 

Next morning: 

Exmouth bay penetrates deeply into the land, so that it would have added greatly to the distance to have travelled round; the carriages were, therefore, early in the morning put on board boats and thus conveyed across the water to a sandy promontory on the opposite side (Dawlish Warren) from which they were drawn by horses, sent for the purpose, to the high road on the further side. We, ourselves, passed the bay in a small row-boat, enjoying the delightful morning air and glorious sunlight reflected in all directions from the clear waves”………. 

And that’s it. One evening in Exmouth is all it took to establish that royal connection. Actually, the pair were travelling incognito, as they didn’t want a lot of fuss and fanfare to impede their progress, and the hotel staff may not have known at the time exactly who these bed & breakfast guests were, but word must have got out at some point. When it got back to the Proprietor, he wasn’t slow to spot an opportunity, and changed the name from the Marine to the Royal Beacon Hotel, and that’s how it’s been for the past 170 years. 

What happened to our pair of Saxons? Exactly 10 years after his Exmouth escapade, he was making a trip through the Tyrol and fell beneath the hooves of a horse that stepped on his head, and being childless was succeeded to the throne by his younger brother, Johann. 

Carus died in 1869 aged 80, and his work influenced, among others, Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories and Carl Jung’s theories on the role of the unconscious in the psyche. In 2015, his grave in Dresden is currently due for removal due to non-payment of fees.

Roger Scowan with a problem

Carl Gustav Carus - Polymath.

King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony

Devon Successes at World Seniors’ Championships (28.11.2015.)

Acqui Terme, midway between Genoa and Turin, is said to be one of the prettiest towns in Italy, and for most of November has been hosting the World Seniors Chess Championships. The bulk of the English entry in the one hundred strong 50–65 yrs section, was made up of three adopted Devonians; Keith Arkell (Paignton), who came 1st= last year, Meyrick Shaw (Exmouth) and Brian Hewson (Tiverton). This time, however, Arkell (4th seed) couldn’t quite maintain his previous form and finished 12th= on 7/11 points, and not very far behind him were Shaw (60th seed) 30th= on 6 pts and Hewson (53rd seed), 45th= on 5½, which made Shaw’s the stand-out performance. In Rd. 1 he was paired against a Grandmaster.

White: M. Shaw (2020). Black: GM Jens  Kristianson (2420).

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 b6 4.Nbd2 Bb7 5.c3 Be7 6.Qc2 c5 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Normally one would retake towards the centre with  8.cxd4 but the text is slightly better. 8…Nc6 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Rd1 0–0 11.Bd3 Nh5 12.Bg3 h6 13.Nc4 Nxg3 14.hxg3 This time it’s appropriate to take towards the centre as it opens the h-file, allowing the rook to focus on the enemy king’s position. 14…Qc7 15.f4 d6 16.Ne3 Bringing forces over to the kingside. 16…Rad8 17.Qe2 Qb7 18.Ng4 Rfe8 The critical position 19.Rd2? White missed the chance of a possible win if he had proceeded with his sacrificial attack immediately.19…e5 Black would like to bring his bishop to g5 with the dual purposes of shoring up his defences and attacking along the dark diagonal. 20.Nxh6+! gxh6 21.Qg4+ Kh7 22.Qf5+ The king must remain in contact with his h-pawn. For example, if 22…Kg7 22…Kg8 23.Rxh6 and White has a number of different mating combinations. 23.Qg4+ Kh7 24.Qf5+ Drawn by forced repetition of moves. A good start in the tournament for the club player. His Rd. 7 game went like this:

White: M. Shaw (2020). Black: Brian McLaren (2176)

Dutch Defence [A80]

1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 e6 4.e3 b6 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.c4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 0–0 9.Qb3 d6 10.c5 Bd5 11.c4 Be4 12.cxd6 cxd6 13.Be2 Nc6 14.Qa3 A double hit on d6. 14…e5 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Black has lost a pawn so far in these exchanges and seeks to catch up, but there’s an old adage about the danger of snatching at knights’ pawns. 17…Bxg2 18.Rg1 Bc6 19.Rd1 Suddenly all White’s pieces have long files and diagonals to exploit. 19…Qc8 20.Qd6 Ne8 21.Qh6! piling on the pressure. 21…Qb7 22.Bh5 Qe7 23.Qxc6 Qxe5 24.Qxa8 Qxh2 25.Rh1 1-0 Black is a whole rook down with no compensation.

Last week’s 2-mover was solved by 1.f4! and if Black tries to prevent 2.Qe4 mate with 1…Rh5, it allows 2.Bf3 mate.

Simon Bartlet (Newquay) and Andrew Footner (Yeovil) are regulars on the congress circuit, and here they are at the Paignton Congress in 2003. Bartlett (W) has had his opponent on the back foot for some time, but is still a pawn down. How can he win immediately?

White to play and win.

New Faces At the Torbay Congress (21.11.2015.)

There was a slight feeling of déjà vu at last weekend’s 49th Torbay Congress as it returned to the Livermead House Hotel on Torquay seafront only weeks after the Paignton Congress had used it. Yet interest was maintained by having some new faces among the regulars. 9 yr old Adam Hussein of Truro, for example, who had not only played for Cornwall shortly before but beat his much higher-graded opponent. He finished with a creditable 3/5 pts. in the Minor.

Also, among the older players was 5-times champion of Kenya, Humphrey Andolo, recently moved to Plymouth University. Going in to the final round, Ali Jaunooby was the clear leader and only needed to draw to be assured of 1st place, while Andolo had to win. Here’s how it went.

White: A. Jaunooby (202). Black: H. Andolo. (190).

Queen’s Pawn Game [D00]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Nd2 Bd6 5.Bg3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.f4 0–0 8.Bd3 Ne7 9.Qf3 Qb6 10.Rb1 Preventing White from castling queen side. 10…cxd4 11.exd4 Nf5 12.Bf2 Be7 13.Ne2 Bd7 14.g4 Rather than castling, White decides to launch what he hopes will be a fierce attack. 14…Nd6 15.Ng3 Qa5 16.a3 Bb5 17.Bc2 Nc4 18.g5 Ne8 19.h4 f5 20.Nxc4 Bxc4 21.Kd2 White’s king sets off on a westward trek. 21…Nd6 22.Rhe1 Ne4+ 23.Nxe4 dxe4 24.Qd1 Rac8 25.Bb3 Bd6 26.Be3 All White’s pieces have become very cramped for space, in contrast with Black’s 26…Rfd8 27.Bxc4 Rxc4 28.Qb3 Qd5 29.Kc2 b5 30.Ra1 a5 31.h5 b4 Black picks this moment to start asking more serious questions of the White defences. 32.axb4 Bxb4! The defending pawn is pinned allowing this decisive intrusion by the bishop. 33.Kb1 Bxc3 34.Rc1 If 34.bxc3 Rb4 pinning the queen. 35.Qb2 Rxb2+ 36.Kxb2 Rb8+ 37.Kc1 Qb3 38.Kd2 Qb2+ 39.Kd1 Qxa1+ etc. 34…Bxd4 35.Rxc4 Bxe3 36.g6 If 36.Rc3 Bxf4 37.Qxd5 exd5 38.Rc5 Bxg5 39.Raxa5 36…Qd3+ 37.Qxd3 exd3 38.Rca4 d2 39.Kc2 hxg6 40.hxg6 Kf8 41.Rxa5 Ke7 42.R5a4 Rc8+ 43.Kd3 Rc1 0-1 The d-pawn must queen.

So after Andolo, Jaunooby came joint 2nd with Paul Helbig and Robert Thompson, both of Bristol. The U-189 Grading pirze went jointly to Stephens Dilleigh (Bristol) and Homer (Newton Abbot). Other prizewinners were as follows:

Major (U-170): 1st= R. Taylor (Malpas), P. Jackson (Coulsdon) & A. Waters (Rainham). GP U-159 1st= J. Nyman (King’s Head) & R. D. Knight (Yeovil). U-150: J. Ayres (Scarborough).

Intermediate (U-140): 1st= S. Williams (Cwmbran), S. Chadaway (Olton) & T. Greenaway (Torquay). GP (U-134) M. Fielding (Bristol). U-130: T. Crouch (Pimlico). Minor (U-120): 1st= R. Ludlow (Trowbridge), P. McConnell (S. Hams), M. Jones (Newquay), A. Fraser (Bromley) & J. Blackmore (Newton Abbot).

Last week’s position was solved by 1…Nf4+ If 2.BxN the RxQ and White can’t retake because of Qe1 mate.

This 2-mover featured in this year’s British Solving Championship.

White to mate in 2


Shock early result in the Newman Cup (rapidplay) 19.11.2015.

The Exmouth team made their annual pilgrimage to Seaton on a dark stormy midwinter night (nothing unusual there), with little hope of doing anything much against the new Champions. Sure enough, on arrival the home team were at maximum possible strength (599 rapidplay grading points) while the visitors were c. 50 points light. However, their low expectations proved unfounded as the match turned out to be what might possibly be one of the biggest upsets of the season in Devon chess.

Scott and Jones had no trouble in holding the fort in the middle order. In fact, in Game 2,  Scott, with plenty of time left, a rampant queen and in no immediate trouble,  let off his opponent with a draw when he had only seconds left on his clock. Blake had some careful defending to do at times in spite of his material advantage, but managed to avoid any potential pitfalls, while team captain, Mark Abbott was on top form and enjoyed 2 decisive wins against the most highly-graded rapidplay expert active in the DCCA leagues.

Everyone in Devon chess was pleased that earlier in the year Seaton had won their first DCCA trophy, the Newman Cup, very well-deserved after many years of trying, and indeed, they may yet retain it this year, in spite of this inauspicious start. But as in all sports, while winning a trophy is one thing – retaining it is quite another.  

  Newman Cup (rapid)             19.11.2015.  
  Seaton   Rd1 Rd2   Rd1 Rd2 Exmouth  
1 Jonathan Underwood 202 0 0   1 1 Mark Abbott 166
2 Steve Dean 150 ½ ½   ½ ½ Chris Scott 157
3 Martyn Adams 139 ½ ½   ½ ½ Bob Jones 137
4 Alan Dowse 108 0 0   1 1 Simon Blake   92
  Totals 599 1 1   3 3   552
  Grand total   2   6    


Ready for the Off - Scott v Dean (nearest) and Abbott v Underwood.

Bd. 2 gets under way, with the Newman Cup on display.

Simon Blake (W) vs Alan Dowse at the start of Rd. 2.