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Devon vs Lincolnshire Results (16.06.2018.) 990

Devon failed in their bid to reach the Final of the Minor Counties tournament, losing to the current holders Lincolnshire 10-6 in the semi-final held on Saturday. This tournament’s regulations state that the playing grades of any 16 man team should not, when added together, exceed 2880 or an average of 180 per person. The fact that Lincolnshire chose to include Grandmaster Matthew Turner did not unduly worry Devon as they would have to pay the price in terms of grades lower down the order. On the top 6 boards Devon only lost 3½-2½, yet out-graded Lincs on all of the next 11 boards – grounds for cautious optimism, but it was in this area that the match was truly lost, going down 6½-3½.

The details were as follows (Devon names 1st in each pairing).

1. J. Underwood (191) 0-1 M. Turner (GM – 248). 2.J. Stephens (189) ½-½ N. Birtwistle (196). 3. J. Fraser (192) ½-½ S. Milson (193). 4. G. Bolt (188) 0-1 P. Cumbers (196). 5. S. J. Homer (181) 1-0 N. Stead (187). 6. T. Paulden (189) ½-½ M. Smith (197). 7. J. Wheeler (187) 0-1 J. Kilshaw (183). 8.M. Abbott (186) 0-1 I. David (169). 9.B. Hewson (179) 1-0 K. Palmer (163). 10. P. Hampton (175) 0-1 D. Georgiou (159). 11. J. Haynes (176) 0-1 P Cusick (169). 12. S. Martin (184) 0-1 F. Bowers (165). 13. D. Cowley (175) 1-0 C. Holt (160). 14. J. Duckham (164) 0-1 R. Herbert (161). 15.P. Brooks (166) ½-½  K. McCarthy (161). 16. W. Ingham (157) 1-0 A. Parnian (147).

One bright spot for Devon was this miniature that put them in the lead for a while. Analysis kindly supplied by the winner.

White: N. Stead. Black: Stephen Homer.

Nimzowitsch Defence.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4+ 4.Nf3 Ne4 A move played by Karpov so it can’t be bad. It has the advantage of avoiding 5.Bg5, my opponent’s usual set-up. 5.Qc2 d5 5…f5 is the alternative. 6.e3 0–0 7.Bd3 f5 8.0–0 c6 9.cxd5 exd5 I’d seen White’s next move, with the pin of Black’s d-pawn against his king and the possible loss of a pawn on e4. 9…cxd5 is the alternative, but I decided to go for the pawn sacrifice after 10…Bd6 and 11. White takes twice on e4. 10.Qb3 Bd6 10…Qe7 is a better move, but the move played sets a deadly trap. 11.Nxe4?? This looks natural but in fact it’s a blunder. Correct is 11.Bxe4 fxe4 12.Nxe4 Bc7 13.Ne5! when Black’s d-pawn remains pinned and Black will have to prove sufficient compensation for the lost pawn which will follow on 13.Nxe4 11…fxe4 12.Bxe4 Kh8! Breaking the pin and once White’s bishop moves away gives rise to a deadly exchange sacrifice on f3. 13.Bc2 Rxf3! The move I’d envisaged on move 9. The follow-up with 14.Qg5+ wins, as it allows the queen to transfer to h5 with a double attack on h2 and f3. 14.gxf3 Qg5+ 15.Kh1 Qh5 16.f4 Qf3+ 17.Kg1 Bh3 and mate cannot be avoided.0-1.

The solution to last week’s 2-mover was 1.Qa8! waiting for Black to fall on his sword, as all moves lose.

This position arose in a game recently in which White played a conservative 1.Ne2. Did he perhaps miss something a little more enterprising?

White to play

Quarter Final Results of Devon & Cornwall (19.06.2018.) 986

The West of England’s 2 teams that went forward to the National Stages were Devon & Cornwall, and they played their quarter-final matches on Saturday. Devon faced Worcestershire in the Minor Counties section, and cruised through 9½-6½. Devon won the toss and had white on the odd-numbered boards. Devon names 1st in each pairing: 1. D. Mackle 0 – 1  K. Hurney. 2. J. Underwood ½ – ½ Z. Koneki. 3. J. Stephens 1 – 0 E. Osbourne. 4. T. Paulden ½ – ½ D. Lambourne. 5. J. F. Wheeler ½ – ½ L. Davis. 6. S. Martin 0 – 1 P.Kitson. 7. G. Ross-Andrews ½ – ½ G. Jackson. 8. B. W. Hewson. 1 – 0 I. I Clarke. 9. C. Lowe ½ – ½ P. Barker. 10. J. Haynes 1 – 0 S. Mellor. 11. P. Hampton 1 – 0 N. Towers. 12. D.Cowley 1 – 0 S. Woodhouse.  13. T. F. Thynne 0 – 1 J. Welch. 14. P. Brooks 1 – 0 G. Dyett. 15. J. Duckham 1 – 0 M. Hadley. 16.  Y. Wang 0 – 1 B. Fuller.

Meanwhile, Cornwall faced a sterner examination, losing 4-12 to a Surrey team that was at maximum strength. Cornish players 2nd in each pairing. 1. C. Briscoe ½ – ½ J.Menadue. 2. R. Granat 1 – 0 J. Hooker. 3. R. Haldane 1 – 0 L. Retallick. 4. D. Rosen 1 – 0 M. Hassall. 5. D.Young. 0 – 1 G.Healey. 6. J. Shepley 1 – 0 T.Manton. 7. I. Heppell 1 – 0 C. Sellwood. 8. S. Galer ½ – ½ R. Smith. 9. P. Stimpson 0 – 1 A. Hussain.  10. O. Phillips ½ – ½  T. Willis. 11. N. Faulks 1 – 0 G. Trudeau. 12. I.McLeod ½ – ½ J. Morgan. 13. H. Jones 1 – 0 M. Hill . 14. J. Eckert 1 – 0  J. Henderson 15. J. Fox 1 – 0 D. R. Jenkin. 16. N. Grey 1 – 0. (def.)

No game scores have yet emerged from either match. Surrey will now play Suffolk, while Devon face last year’s champions, Lincolnshire, in the semi-finals

In last week’s position, Spassky lost out to 1.Qg3+ Kh8 2.Rf7! 1-0 Play might have continued 2… Rg2 3.Rxf7+ Kh6 4.Qh3+ Kg6. 5.Qhf+ etc.

This week’s 2-mover is the starter problem for the Winton British Chess Solving Championship 2018-19. White is playing up the board, has the move and must mate in 2 against any Black defence. There is no entry fee and is open only to British residents. Competitors need only send White’s first move, known as the key move, to either Nigel Dennis, Boundary House, 230 Greys Rd., Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1QY, or by e-mail to  Don’t forget to mention that you saw the problem in the Western Morning News.

All entries must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than 31st July 2018 and must give the entrant’s name & home address. Juniors U-18 on 31st July 2018 must also give their date of birth.

After the closing date, all competitors will be sent (a) the answer to the starter problem and (b) those who got it right will receive the Postal Round, consisting of 8 more difficult and varied positions.

In due course the best competitors and 5 best juniors will be invited to the Final at Eton College on Saturday 23rd February 2019. The ultimate winner will win the right to represent Great Britain at the World Solving Championships 2019.

White to mate in 2.

End of Season matches (05.05.2018.) 984

Devon’s last match in Division 1 was played out on Saturday between Exmouth and Newton Abbot. As both teams had already lost home and away to Exeter, there wasn’t much to play for, except to avoid the wooden spoon. In this, Exmouth succeeded narrowly, but there were wins for both teams.

At quickplay Paul Hampton has few equals on the local circuit. He won this game, but missed a mating combination.

White: P. D. Hampton (172). Black: C. V.  Howard (154).

Bird’s Opening  [A03]

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.b3 Be7 5.Bb2 c5 6.Be2 Nc6 7.0–0 b6 8.Qe1 Bb7 9.d3 Qc7 10.Ne5 Bf8 11.Nd2 0–0–0 12.Ndf3 Ne8 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.c4 Now knowing which side Black has castled, White wastes no time in launching an attack against it. 14…Nd6 15.b4 Nf5 16.cxd5 exd5 17.bxc5 Bxc5 18.d4 Bd6 19.Rc1 threatening Bb5. White can ignore the threat to his e3 pawn as the knight would be needed to defend the white-square bishop, especially with Black’s king & queen are in line. 19…Kb7 20.Ne5 Bxe5 21.fxe5 Nxe3 White gifts the e-pawn as it frees up all his pieces.  22.Ba6+ Kxa6 23.Qxe3 Qd7 24.Rf3 Rc8 25.Rcf1 f6 26.exf6 gxf6 27.Rxf6 Rc7 28.Ba3 Qg7 29.Bd6 Bb5 30.R1f2 Rc4 31.Be5 Re8 Welcome to the game. Now Black has options. 32.Qa3+ Ra4 33.Qd6 Qg4 34.h3 Qe4 35.Kh2 Rc8 36.Rf7 Bd3 The killer move. 37.Rxa7+! The killer move. 37…Kxa7 38.Qd7+ Check and forking both rooks. 38…Ka6 39.Qxc8+? Wrong rook; White missed a mate in 4 by taking the other rook viz 39.Qxa4+ Kb7 40.Rf7+ Rc7 41.Rxc7+ Kb8 42.Qe8# 39…Ka5 40.Qc3+ Ka6 41.Rd2 1-0

A rapidly-improving junior, Ramesh showed his growing class with this win over a more experienced opponent.

White: V. Ramesh (164). Black: S. Martin (186)

Sicilian Defence – Dragon Variation [B72]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 Nf6 8.f3 Bd7 9.Qd2 a6 10.h4 h5 11.0–0–0 b5 White having committed to castling long, Black moves to launch a pawn storm, but it takes a lot of moves to get the a & b pawns onto really threatening squares, which perhaps could be better used completing piece development  12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.Kb1 Qc7 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Bd7 16.Rhe1 a5 17.Bd3 b4 18.Qf2 Rb8 19.Bd4 Bxd4 20.Qxd4 Black has left castling too late 20…Rg8 If 20…0–0 21.Rxe7. 21.Re2 e6 22.dxe6 Bxe6 23.Rde1 Kd7 24.Re5 Ke7 25.R5e4 Qc5 26.Qxc5 dxc5 27.Re5 Rgc8 28.Bxg6! Not difficult to see; just the fruit of everything that’s gone before. 28…Kf6 29.Bxh5 Re8 30.b3 Rbc8 31.Bg4 Rc6 32.Bxe6 fxe6 It’s now a pure R&P endgame, except that Black doesn’t have enough of the latter. 33.Kc1 a4 34.g4 axb3 35.axb3 c4 36.bxc4 Rxc4 37.R5e4 Rc3 38.R1e3 Rec8 39.Rxe6+ Kf7

The solution to last week’s ancient teaser was 1.Rhg7! Wherever the king or knight move will allow one of the rooks to mate on the back rank.

In this level-looking position from 1995 White noticed a breakthrough move.

What did he play?

Cornwall vs Devon Results (31.03.2018.) 979

The delayed Devon vs Cornwall match took place on Sunday at the Plymouth Bridge Club and resulted in a win for Devon by 12 points to 4. The details were as follows: (Devon names 1st in each pairing. 1.Dominic Mackle (196) 1-0 Jeremy Menadue (191). 2. Jonathan Underwood (191) ½-½ James Hooker (178). 3.John Stephens (189) 1-0 Lloyd Retallick (174). 4.Graham Bolt (188) 1-0 David Saqui (169). 5.John Wheeler (187) ½-½ Mark Hassall (168). 6.David Twine (182) 0-1 Robin Kneebone (164). 7. Brian Hewson (179) 1-0 Richard Stephens (160). 8. Chris Lowe (179) 1-0 Colin Sellwood (155). 9. Jos Haynes (176) 1-0 Richard Smith (153). 10.Paul Hampton (175) 1-0 Adam Hussain (145). 11.Dennis Cowley (175) 0-1 Gary Trudeau (148). 12. Trefor Thynne (174) ½-½  Jamie Morgan (146). 13           Vignesh Ramesh (164) 1-0 Jan Rodrigo (141). 14. Leif Hafstad (164) 1-0 Mick Hill (139) 15. Brian Gosling (160) ½-½ Toby Willis (135). 16. Mike Stinton-Brownbridge (158) 1-0 David Jenkins (121).

As reported, Toby Willis created great interest at the Cornish Congress recently by winning the Falmouth Cup with 5/5, only ever having learned to play via videos on YouTube. This was his first county match and he got a creditable draw against a highly experienced opponent.

Devon now go one to compete in the Minor Counties section of the National Stages and await to learn of their quarter-final opponents.

Here is one of the Cornish wins, with notes based on those by the winner. This and another game may be found on

White: G. Trudeau. Black: D. Cowley.    Alekhine’s Defence [B02]

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.dxc3 Pawns usually seek to take towards the centre, but in this case after 4.bxc3 Black gets a comfortable game viz. 4…d6 5.Nf3 Bg4. 4…e6 More usual here is 4…d6 as it immediately asks a question. 5.Be3 b6 6.Nf3 Bb7 7.Be2 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Qd2 d5 10.Rad1 c5 11.Ne1 preparing a kingside charge. 11…Qc7 12.f4 Nd7 13.Nf3 Rad8 14.Qe1 c4 15.Nd4 Nc5 16.Bf3 Qc8? 17.g4 f5? Black really needed to challenge White’s centre with 17…f6 18.gxf5 exf5 19.Qg3 Ne4 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Rd2 g6 22.Rfd1 Playable was 22.Rg2 in keeping with his plan for a kingside attack, but White preferred to watch and wait. 22…Bc5 23.h4 Kf7? 24.Qg5 Be7 25.Qh6 Rg8 setting a trap. e.g. 26.Qxh7+ Rg7 27.Qh6 Rh8 winning White’s queen. Easily seen, so 26.e6+ Kf6 27.Qg5+ Kg7 28.Qxe7+ Kh6 29.Qf6 Rdf8 30.Nxf5+ 1–0 It’s mate next move.

This weekend the West of England Championships are being held at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth, EX8 2AG, with rounds 3 and 4 taking place today, 5 & 6 are on Sunday and the final round is on Monday morning.

In last week’s position, Black could offer a pseudo sacrifice with 1…QxP+! And if 2.RxQ then Rc1+ is mate as the rook is pinned.

Here is a 2-mover by the pioneering composer and Westcountryman, John Brown (1827 – 1876), taken from Brian Gosling’s excellent biography.

White to mate in 2 moves

Devon vs Gloucestershire – The Result. (27.01.2018.)

The West of England Chess Union covers an area from Penzance c. 230 miles east to Portsmouth and c. 230 miles north-east to Tewkesbury, and because of the return mileages involved in an inter-county match it takes a good captain to get out a maximum strength team. For example, in their recent match against Cornwall held near Exeter, Gloucestershire arrived 4 players short for a 16 board match and lost 12-4.

On Saturday they were 2 players short for their match against Devon at Chedzoy Village Hall near Bridgwater, and although their top 8 boards did score 5-3, this was offset by losing 1-7 in the lower half, giving Devon a 10-6 win.

Devon names 1st in each pairing:-

1.D. Mackle (198) 0-1 J. Stewart (199). 2.J. Underwood (192) 1-0 M. Ashworth (192). 3.J. Stephens (189) 1-0 C. Mattos (190). 4.P. O’Neill (188) 0-1 J. Jenkins (185). 5.J. Wheeler (185) 0-1 P. Meade (178. 6.B. Hewson (184) ½-½ P. Kirby (177). 7.L. Hartmann 0-1 P. Masters (175). 8.T. Paulden ½-½ N. Bond (175). 9.M. Abbott (183) 1-0 R. Ashworth (161). 10.S. Homer (181) 1-0 M. Taylor (160). 11.P. Hampton (172) 1-0 A. Richards (133). 12.C. Lowe (176) 0-1 I. Blencowe (131). 13.J. Haynes (171) 1-0 P. Bending (112). 14.T. Thynne (170) 1-0 D. Walton (109). 15.S. Martin (186) 1-0 d/f. 16.D. Regis (166) 1-0 d/f.

Here is one of Devon’s wins.

White: Robert Ashworth. Black: Mark Abbott.

Sicilian Defence – Maroczy Bind [B36]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 The Hungarian’s plan to deter Black from playing the freeing d5, but here it’s White who becomes positionally tied up. Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.Qd3 Be6 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Rc1 Rfc8 13.b3 Nd7 14.0–0 a6 15.Bd4 Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 Rc7 17.f4 Qb6 18.Rcd1 Qxd4+ 19.Rxd4 f6 20.Rf3 Rac8 21.Nd5 Bxd5 22.exd5 a5 23.Re3 Kf8 24.Bg4 f5 25.Bf3 Nf6 26.h3 h5 27.Kf2 h4 28.Re6 Kf7 29.Ke3 White’s rooks are disconnected, he’s running out of time and has already twice offered a draw, but Black, having denied White any opportunities for a quick king-side attack, is now set on exercising Black’s theme in the Sicilian of attacking the queenside. 29…a4 30.Kd2 b5 31.Kd3 Nd7 32.Re3 b4 33.Bd1 Nc5+ 34.Ke2 Ne4 Compare and contrast the roles of the bishop and knight. 35.Kf3 Nc3 36.Rd2 Ra8 37.Red3 Ne4 38.Rb2 Kf6 39.Rd4 Nc3 40.Bc2 a3 41.Rb1 Taking the rook may be superficially tempting but the text is better as it opens up the a-file, and in any case the knight is stronger than the rook. 41…Nxa2 42.Rd2 Nc3 43.Ra1 Rc5 44.Rd3 Rca5 45.Re3 a2 White is hamstrung. 46.Re6+ Kf7 47.Re3 Rc8 48.Re6 Nxd5 49.Bxf5 gxf5 50.cxd5 Rxd5 51.Rh6 Rd2 52.Rxh4 Rc3# 0–1

In last week’s position, Black played 1…Bd8! both attacking the queen and opening up the e-file with the threat of 2…Qe4+ 3.Kb1 and RxB mate. White can avoid this but would have to give up a rook in the process.

In this position from a recent tournament, it’s Black to play and he discovered a piece-winning move. Can you see what that was?

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree 2018 Results (20.01.2018.) 969

On Sunday, Devon’s annual jamboree took place at the Isca Centre in Exeter, involving teams of 12 players from three areas of the county. The East comprised players from clubs in the Exeter & District League, though not all clubs were represented. Similarly, the South team was made up of players from clubs involved in the Torbay League, while the West team drew from a solitary club, Plymouth, but a larger population base.

The team grade limit of 1,650 made it an average of 137 per player. The East succeeded in getting closest to that maximum, with the South & West both c.35 points lower. However, the South team emerged clear winners with 7½ points, ahead of East (5½) and West (4½). Full details of all players’ scores and photographs of the event may be found on

Here is a win by a member of the Bacon family of the Sidmouth Club; father and 3 sons, of whom 15 year old Nicholas is the eldest. The whole family entered as a team of 4 in a recent rapidplay tournament

White: Nick Bacon (124). Black: Tony Tatam (114).

Queen’s Gambit Accepted [D26]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bxc4 e6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 0–0 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 c5 10.Rfd1 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Bb3 a6 13.Nc4 Nxc4 14.Bxc4 b5 Intending to push the bishop back, but overlooking White’s next move, which wins a pawn. 15.Nxb5 Qb6 16.Nd4 Bb7 17.Rac1 Qa5 18.Rc3 Rfd8 19.Ra3 Qb6 20.Rb3 Qa7 21.Nf3 Bxf3 22.Qxf3 Qc7 A second attack on the bishop, which doesn’t quite work. 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 If 23…Rxd8 24.Rc3 and Black’s pawns are again in danger. 24.h3 The possibilities of back rank mates are tying down the pieces on both sides, so a flight square for the kings is in order.  24…h6 25.Qe2 a5 26.Qd3 Qc7 27.Rc3 Rd8 28.Qc2 Best. 28…Qb7 29.Bd3 Nd5 30.Be4 Qb8 White continues with his plan to keep it simple. 31.Bxd5 exd5 32.Rc5 Qa8 33.Qd2 a4 34.Qa5 Winning a 2nd pawn. 34…Qb8 35.Rb5 Qc8 36.Qxa4 Qc1+ 37.Kh2 Qc7+ 38.Qf4 Qd7 This time, an exchange of queens might have worked in Black’s favour as his unopposed d-pawn could become a problem. e.g. 38…Qxf4+ 39.exf4 d4 40.Rc5 d3 41.Rc1 Switching to White’s undefended pawns – Rb8 42.b3 Ra8 43.a4 Rb8 44.Rb1 d2 45.Rd1 Rxb3 46.Rxd2 Ra3 47.Rd8+ Kh7 48.Rd4 so White could probably hang on to his extra pawns, but only with best play. 39.Rc5 g5 40.Qf6 Kh7 41.Rc6 Kg8 42.Qxh6 Qf5 43.Qf6 1-0

In last week’s position, Keith Arkell noticed that Black’s queen was close to becoming trapped, so he played 1.Nb3xN which allows his queen to defend his other knight. 1…NxN and the simple 2.a3 attacks the trapped and powerless queen.

Somerset & Devon in Close Fight (02.12.2017.) 962

Devon and Somerset’s 1st and U-160 teams met on Saturday at Sampford Peverell Village Hall, the latter fielding their strongest team for several seasons. On paper, bds 1-8 looked competitive, while Devon seemed likely to run away with it on bds 9–16. However, that’s not how it worked out, as Devon were left scrambling right to the end in order to scrape home by the narrowest of margins, 8½ – 7½. The details were as follows (Devon names 1st in each pairing): 1. W. Braun (203) 0-1 J. Rudd (215). 2. D. Mackle (198) 0-1 B. Edgell (202). 3. G. Bolt (196) 0-1 P. Krzyzanowski (197). 4. J. Underwood (192) 0-1 A. Wong (189). 5. P. O’Neill (188) 1-0 A. Gregory (175). 6. S. Martin (186) 1-0 A. Cooper (174). 7. J. Wheeler (185) ½-½ D. Painter-Kooiman (163). 8. B. Hewson (184) ½-½ L. Bedialauneta (159). 9. T. Paulden (183) ½-½ R. Radford (157). 10. S. Homer (181) ½-½ D. Freeman (156). 11. C. Lowe (176) ½ -½ G. Jepps (156). 12. D. Cowley (173) 1-0 R. Knight (156). 13. P. Hampton (172) 1-0 D. Peters (156) 14. O. Wensley (172) 1-0 A. Conway (150). 15. J. Haynes (171) 1-0 A. Champion (147). 16. P. Brooks (170) 0-1 C. Purry (147).

It was more clear cut in the grade-limited match where Devon’s strength in depth got them through comfortably, 8½-3½.

1. A. Brusey (158) 1-0 P. Chapman (141). 2. C. Howard (155) 1-0 C. Fewtrell (146). 3. B. Gosling (154) 1-0 C. McKinley (144). 4. N. Butland (150) 0-1 C. Strong (144). 5. P. Halmkin (148) ½-½ T. Wallis (144). 6. A. Kinder (147) 1-0 U. Effiong (142). 7. M. Quinn (146) 1-0 J. Fewkes (141). 8. J. Blackmore (143) 1-0 N. Mills (133). 9. R. Wilby 140 ½-½ B. Radford (133). 10. A. Hart-Davis (135) ½-½ M. Baker (130). 11. J. Allen (134) 0-1 C. Lamming (129). 12. R. Jones (128) 1-0 M. Willis (129).

Here is the top game of the day.

White: W. Braun. Black: J. Rudd.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7 5.h3 0–0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Nbd7 8.g4 Nc5 9.Bd3 At this point, Rudd had his longest think, wondering about the wisdom of exchanging his active knight for the blocked bishop. Often pieces blocked out of the action for long periods have a nasty habit of wreaking havoc once they have broken their bonds. However, Rudd decided not to risk this possibility. 9…Nxd3+ 10.Qxd3 Ne8 11.g5 f5 12.gxf6 Nxf6 13.0–0–0 Black immediately acts against the enemy king’s position. 13…a6 14.Nge2 b5 15.c5 b4 16.Na4 a5 17.Ng3 Ba6 18.Qc2 h5 19.Kb1 h4 20.Nf1 Nh5 21.cxd6 cxd6 22.Qc6 Be2 23.Nd2 If 23.Re1 Bd3+; or 23.Rd2 Bf3 Either way White’s position is unravelling. 23…Rc8 24.Qb6 Qd7 25.Qxa5 Bxd1 26.Rxd1 Qxh3 27.Nb6 Qg4 clearing the path for the passed pawn with a threat. 28.f3 Rxf3 29.Nxc8 Rxe3 30.Ne7+ Kh7 31.Rc1 Re2 32.Qxb4 Qg2 33.Rd1 The Private is just three steps from a Field Marshall’s baton 33…h3 34.Qxd6 h2 35.Qe6 h1=Q 0–1

In last week’s position, Timman lost to 1.Rxe5 leaving the queen no meaningful move. If 1…QxR there follows 2.Qf3+ Kh2 3.Qf2 Kh3 4.Bc8+.

Here is a traditional but more difficult 2-mover.

White to mate in 2.

Devon vs Somerset (26.11.2017.)

Devon & Somerset’s 1st and U-160 teams met yesterday at a new venue, Sampford Peverell’s Village Hall. It proved an ideal set-up, situated, as it is, almost on the county border, close to the M5 and with its own main-line railway station, Tiverton Parkway. The hall itself was ideal in every respect, and being decked out with boughs of holly brought a seasonal touch to the proceedings.

The 1st team meeting proved to be a match of two halves – the top and bottom half. Somerset had a strong top 4, but conceded more and more the further one went down the team lists, and from that alone one could reasonably expect a fairly comfortable win for Devon. The fact that it didn’t turn out that way seemed to lie in the middle orders, boards 7 – 11 where Devon enjoyed a 20 grading points advantage on every board, yet failed to record a single win. This, coupled with the fact that Somerset won all 4 top games, made it a very close, sweaty-palmed afternoon indeed. If Devon hadn’t been offered some free help – one no-show and a suicide – there might have been a somewhat different outcome.  The Devon Captain’s observations follow:-

Meanwhile, the U-160s took no such chances, losing only 2 of their 12 games. They have now won both of their matches in the WECU stage, and await the draw for the National Stages, early next year.

Jonathan Underwood wrote as follows:

When I saw the Somerset team before the match, I’d thought we should have a large lead on the lower 12 boards (where we outgraded them by on average 20 points) which would win the match provided nothing too disastrous happened on the top four, which proved somewhat prophetic.

At the venue there was an ill omen as the first lot of tables we found were of a height intended for toddlers, but eventually we found the right ones. First panic over. I thought the place was very suitable and would certainly book it again.

By the time the match started Somerset were still missing three of their players, only two of whom did eventually turn up, leaving Steve Martin with a wasted journey and Devon with a point. It wasn’t our first though, as Oliver’s opponent miscued his gambit and resigned after 10 moves.

Looking around at a fairly early stage of the match our three Pauls seemed to be going well, with Paul Hampton’s opponent running short of time already after just 10 moves on the board. Jos Haynes also looked to be winning, and soon afterwards both he and Paul O’Neill added wins to draws from Tim, Brian, Chris and Stephen Homer. One way or the other games involving Jack Rudd always finish quickly, and this time Walter succumbed to the Somerset IM. Devon led 6-3.

Things on the other top boards weren’t looking so good. Dominic ran out of time after 29 moves and Graham had to contend with a menacing passed pawn. I offered a draw thinking my opponent was bound to accept as he was significantly worse albeit, with a big lead on time. I was wrong. Over the next few moves my position improved to winning.. and then went to dead lost as I struggled with the clock. A similar reverse befell Paul Brooks and it was 6 all.

By now Dennis had a pair of bishops for a rook, which together with his opponent’s weakened pawn structure proved enough to win, but Graham had to resign shortly afterwards and it was 7 all. So we went down 4-0 on the top boards.

At this stage Paul Hampton’s lead on the clock was down to a few minutes, with a complicated open position and only 25 moves made. John was holding an awkward bad bishop against knight endgame.  With only a minute or so left Paul’s opponent went for simplifications, which seemed to leave him worse though not obviously losing, but having to consider a lot of possible threats in no time. I not sure whether Paul or I was the more relieved to see the flag fall around move 33. John’s game was agreed drawn within seconds, and Devon scraped home 8.5-7.5.

Thanks to everyone who turned out to play. I have now learned the wisdom of always fielding the strongest possible team, just in case it’s one of those days.


Bd Devon 1st team Grd Somerset 1st team Grd
1 Walter Braun 203 0 1 Jack Rudd 215
2 Dom Mackle 198 0 1 Ben Edgell 202
3 Graham Bolt 196 0 1 Pat Krzyzanowski 197
4 Jon Underwood 192 0 1 Arturo Wong 189
5 Paul O’Neill 188 1 0 Andrew Gregory 175
6 Steve Martin 186 1 0 Andrew Cooper 174
7 John Wheeler 185 ½ ½ D. Painter-Kooiman 163
8 Brian Hewson 184 ½ ½ Lander Bedialauneta 159
9 Tim Paulden 183 ½ ½ Robert Radford 157
10 Steve Homer 181 ½ ½ Darren Freeman 156
11 Chris Lowe 176 ½ ½ Gerry Jepps 156
12 Dennis Cowley 173 1 0 Roger Knight 156
13 Paul Hampton 172 1 0 Dave Peters 156
14 Oliver Wensley 172 1 0 Alex Conway 150
15 Jos Haynes 171 1 0 Adrian Champion 147
16 Paul Brooks 170 0 1 Chris Purry 147
Devon U-160s Somerset U-160s
1 Alan Brusey 158 1 0 Philip Chapman 141
2 Charlie Howard 155 1 0 Chris Fewtrell 146
3 Brian Gosling 154 1 0 Chris McKinley 144
4 Nick Butland 150 0 1 Chris Strong 144
5 Peter Halmkin 148 ½ ½ Tim Wallis 144
6 Andrew Kinder 147 1 0 Utibe Effiong 142
7 Martin Quinn 146 1 0 Jim Fewkes 141
8 Josh Blackmore 143 1 0 Nigel Mills 133
9 Rob Wilby 140 ½ ½ Ben Radford 133
10 Adam Hart-Davis 135 ½ ½ Mark Baker 130
11 John Allen 134 0 1 Chris Lamming 129
12 Bob Jones 128 1 0 Martin Willis 129

Some nervous banter among the top boards before play started

Geberal view of the hall, decked out with boughs of holly and other festive trimmings

Somerset's top 4 boards get down to action, except Krzyzanowski whose empty chair bears witness to his being late.

Exotic and exciting Venezuelan, Arturo Wong, nearly reduced Devon's captain to tears with his fighting finish after being well down in the middlegame.

WECU Inter-County Championship – U-160 Section. (04.11.2017.)

Three WECU counties decided to enter the U-160 section of the ECF’s Inter-County Championship. These were Devon and their two neighbours, Cornwall and Somerset. Devon’s first match was against Cornwall, with the latter being deemed the home side. Non-playing captain, Mark Hassall, wanted to avoid the parking problem, often experienced in the town centres of Plymouth and Launceston on a Saturday afternoon, and went for the small village of Altarnun, near the A30 south of Bodmin Moor. The village hall was spacious, warm, well-lit and well provided for refreshments.

The top 11 boards were well-matched and Mark Hassall felt at one point that Cornwall had rather the better of things, and in fact Devon only won by 6-5 on Bds 1 – 11. However, from then on down, the grade differential increased significantly, and Devon won all 5 games, making the fnal score 5-11, which somewhat belies the struggle on the higher boards.

Full details were:-

WECU Inter-County Championship

Bd Cornwall U-160 Grd Devon U-160 Grd
1 Colin Sellwood 155 0 1 Alan Brusey 158
2 Richard Smith 153 1 0 Charles Howard 155
3 Gary Trudeau 148 0 1 Brian Gosling 154
4 Jamie Morgan 146 1 0 Matthew Best 154
5 Adam Hussain 145 0 1 Mike Stinton-Brown. 154
6 Percy Gill 144 0 1 Sam Coutu-Oughton 151
7 Jan Rodrigo 141 0 1 Nick Butland 150
8 Jeff Nicholas 140 1 0 Andrew Kinder 147
9 Mick Hill 139 ½ ½ Steve Murray 147
10 Richard Clark 137 ½ ½ Steve Clarke 143
11 John Wilman 136 1 0 Rob Wilby 140
12 Stephen Pearce 126 0 1 Ben Wilkinson 138
13 David Jenkins 121 0 1 Adam Hart-Davis 135
14 Ian Renshaw 121 0 1 John Allen 134
15 Martin Jones 116 0 1 Robert Jones 128
16 Sam Edwards 100 0 1 Richard Smith 124
Totals 2168 5 11 2312

Start time approaching and waiting for sets.

The top boards soon after kick-off

The lower boards

Bd. 1: Alan Brusey vs Colin Sellwood.

Bd. 5: Mike Stinton-Brownbridge vs Adam Hussain.

Bd. 7: Nick Butland vs Jan Rodrigo

Standing in the hall doorway one can see the impressive facade of the Wensleyan Chapel, marking a spot where John Wesley regularly used to stop on his travels to preach to Cornwall's industrial workers further south.

Although Altarnun is a small village, its parish is, in fact, the largest in the county, encompassing over 15,000 acres of Bodmin Moor, coniferous forest etc. This large wall map, done for the Millennium and hanging in the hall, marks out the Parish boundary in yellow, and shows many features to be found within.

Devon vs Cornwall At Altarnun (11.11.2017.) 959

Another small piece of chess history was acted out on Saturday when a Cornish Under-160 team hosted one from Devon in Altarnun Village Hall. The sides consisted of 16 players, each of whom had a grade of 159 or below, the first time such a match has been played by either county. The other novelty was the venue which had never hosted such a match before. Altarnun, tucked away near the A30, doesn’t have quite the same Cornish ring to it as places like Mevagissey or Zennor, but although it has a population of just a few hundred souls, it is in fact the largest parish in the county comprising over 15,000 acres, and includes the famous Jamaica Inn.

The two teams looked well-matched on paper, although the Devon players may have had the slight edge of a handful of grading points in the bottom half of the team list. At the half way point, the Cornish non-playing captain, Mark Hassall, even suspected Cornwall had the edge, but as the games progressed, those few extra grading points made the difference, with Devon running out 11-5 winners. Details with Cornish players first in each pairing:

1.C. Sellwood 0-1 A. Brusey. 2.R. Smith 1-0 C Howard. 3.G. Trudeau 0-1 B. Gosling. 4.J Morgan 1-0 M. Best. 5.A. Hussain 0-1 M. Stinton-Brownbridge. 6. P. Gill 0-1 S. Coutu-Oughton. 7. J. Rodrigo 0-1 J. Butland. 8.J. Nicholas 1-0 A. Kinder. 9.M. Hill ½-½ S. Murray. 10.R. Clarke ½-½ S. Clarke. 11.J. Wilman 1-0 R. Wilby (captain). 12.S. Pearce 0-1 B. Wilkinson.  13.D. Jenkins 0-1 A. Hart-Davis. 14.I. Renshaw 0-1 J. Allen. 15. M. Jones  0-1 R. Jones. 16.S. Edwards 0-1 R. Smith.

Both teams had a Richard Smith, a Clarke and a Jones. Both Smiths won but were at opposite ends of their team, while the Clarkes and Joneses played each other. After a long game, the Clarkes were left with just a bishop and pawns each and drew, while this was the other game.

White: Mr. Jones. Black: Mr. Jones.

1.b3 Nf6 2.Bb2 e6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0–0 d5 7.d3 Be7 8.Nbd2 0–0 9.Re1 Bc5 10.c3 Qe7 11.d4 Bd6 12.Qc2 Rac8 13.b4 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Nf3 Bd6 17.Nd4 Ready to jump left or right. 17…Qd7 18.Nf5 c5 19.Nxd6 White can’t afford to open up the c-file, so 19…Qxd6 20.b5 Qd7 21.a4 Rfe8 22.Rad1 Qe6? This innocuous-looking move proves to be the turning point as it removes defence from the bishop and allows… 23.c4 Rcd8 24.Bxf6 Removing a defender of d5… 24…Qxf6 and acquiring a central defended passed pawn. 25.cxd5 25…Re5 26.e4 Qe7 Time to mobilise all the central pawns.  27.f4 Rh5 28.e5 Bc8 29.d6 Qd7 30.Qe2 Rh6 31.Be4 Qh3 32.Qg2 Given White’s pawn superiority, it’s time to simplify out. 32…Be6 33.Qxh3 Bxh3 34.f5 Rh5 35.e6 If 35.f6 gxf6 36.exf6 Kf8 37.Bc6 Be6 38.d7 Rf5 39.Rf1 Re5. 35…fxe6 Or 35…Bxf5 36.e7 Re8 37.Bxf5 g6 38.Bg4. 36.fxe6 Bxe6 37.Bxh7+ Kxh7 38.Rxe6 Rf5 39.d7 Rff8 40.Re7 Kg8 41.Rde1 Kh8 42.Re8 Kh7 43.Rxf8 Rxf8 44.Re8 1–0

This week’s position is a 2-mover. White to play.