Posts Tagged ‘Exmouth Chess Club’
A very small piece of chess history was made when the small fledgling East Budleigh club played their first ever match against Exmouth, the current Devon champions.
In fact, the relative strengths of the clubs had little to do with it, as the competition involved was the local League’s new Handicap RapidPlay Competition. The rules state that the total team grade must not exceed 560 (140 average) and stronger players will be handicapped in the time they are allocated on the clock, as indicated below. Team captains can thus select their teams working in two dimensions. East Budleigh chose to play their two strongest players in the hope and expectation that they would be able to rattle off their moves quickly enough to offset their time handicaps. Exmouth chose to play 76 grading points short of the permitted maximum in the hope that their extra time on the clock would make up the difference. Doubtless a delicate balance to try and judge, and get right.
In the event the different factors seemed to balance themselves out and the match finished 4-all. The only player to finish on 100% was Simon Blake, who played on level terms timewise. Although these matches are meant to be a bit of fun, (results don’t go for grading) in fact it was an exhausting encounter for all concerned – the players were totally shattered at the end.
|Exmouth||Grd||mins||rd 1||rd 2||rd 1||rd 2||E. Budleigh||Grd||mins|
|1||O. Wensley||149||44||½||0||½||1||K. Hurst||191||16|
|2||R. Jones||129||38||0||½||1||½||B. Gosling||157||22|
|3||I. Grist||108||28||0||1||1||0||M. Lester||80||32|
|4||S. Blake||102||30||1||1||0||0||T. Miner||70||30|
Exmouth’s 2nd match in Devon’s premier inter-club competition, the Bremridge Cup, was against Tiverton (A). Their loss of Somerset players, Edgell and Littlejohns has been offset by the acquisition IM Jack Rudd and Theo Slade, which meant that they were probably even a little stronger than before. However, both teams turned out to be missing key players. Tiverton were missing Slade and Duckham, while Exmouth were without Mark Abbott and Steve Martin, which probably cancelled each other out. Another cancelling out was on Bds. 1 & 6 where Exmouth were outgraded by 28 points on Bd. 1, while Tiverton were similarly situated on Bd. 6. Overall, the total difference was just 4 points, so anything could be expected – even the unexpected. Tiverton won the toss and chose white on odd-numbered boards.
The first game to finish was Rudd-Stephens, both regular quick starters. After just 15 minutes’ play they had reached move 15 (i.e. 30 seconds per move). Stephens went in for the Sicilian Defence with White playing 6. Bb5. Black played 7…Qb3 attacking White’s b-pawn newly abandoned by the bishop. White ignored the threat, leaving Black with the thought “shall I take it and risk the inevitable counter-threats to the advanced queen – or play safe?” Known as the Poisoned Pawn variation, for obvious reasons, top players with either colour wouldn’t go in for it if they didn’t know the risks. Rudd not only sacrificed the pawn but a knight as well, in order to achieve active play, but he chose the wrong follow-up line and after a number of equal exchanges Black finished up with the only piece on the board which was more than enough to deal with the remaining scattering pawns. 1-0 to Exmouth in under 2 hours. On Bd. 6 the game ended rather suddenly when Black resigned, even though there still seemed to be some play in it, although he had been under attack for some time. 2-0 to Exmouth. Meanwhile, Oliver Wensley had been successful in cramping his opponent’s position, while gradually building up his own kingside attack with all his pieces bearing down on the enemy king to a point where mate was unavoidable. 3-0.
The one game spectators had mentally written off in favour of the home side was on Bd. 4 where Scott looked to be dead in the water. A pawn down, his queen and 2 rooks were cramped in a corner around his king, trying to stave off further material loss, while Black had the freedom of the board. Somehow, and nobody, least of all the losing player himself, could explain how and when it all started to go wrong, but Scott gradually extricated his queen and rook, got counter-play and finished with a sharp mating combination. 4-0.
With the match result now decided, and there being little advantage to either side in the two remaining games, they quickly agreed draws, and everyone was left scratching their heads about what they had just witnessed.
This left Tiverton on 50% after 3 matches, while Exmouth have 2 wins out of 2, with another tight-fought match against Exeter next up.
|1||Jack Rudd||224||0||1||John Stephens||196|
|2||Brian Hewson||174||½||½||Jon Underwood||180|
|3||Simon Bartlett||169||½||½||Meyrick Shaw||173|
|4||Ivor Annetts||162||0||1||Chris Scott||154|
|5||Keith Atkins||157||0||1||Oliver Wensley||151|
|6||Kelvin Hunter||120||0||1||Brian Gosling||148|
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|
|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|
Two turning points from the match:
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.
Exmouth now have to face Tiverton (A) and Newton Abbot (H) in this league in the New Year.
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|
|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|
Last year, Seaton improved their chances by bringing in Steve Martin, and this year added Dr. Jonathan Underwood, which tipped the balance altogether. Seaton won both rounds 2.5 – 1.5 and finished 5-3 winners. Chris Scott maintained his continuing improvement by winning his individual encounter against Martin, while Jones managed to stem early aggression from Adams and may have had very slight advantages in both games but with time running out offered draws, which Adams was minded to accept. But Underwood was clearly fired up after winning 6 Blitz games eight days earlier and the combination of his endgame technique and speed of move proved too much for the Exmouth captain. Blake had a won position in Rd. 1 but ran very low on time and Dowse kindly offered a draw when he could have won on time.
Exmouth have started with a loss several times before in this competition, but managed to make up lost ground. In this case, this seems less likely than hitherto, and Seaton must be considered serious contenders for the title.
|Seaton||Grd||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 1||Rd 2||Exmouth||Grd|
|1||Jon Underwood||179||1||1||0||0||Mark Abbott||167|
|2||Steve Martin||172||½||0||½||1||Chris Scott||157|
|3||Martyn Adams||133||½||½||½||½||Bob Jones||147|
|4||Alan Dowse||111||½||1||½||0||Simon Blake||91|
The start of Exmouth’s league season was a unique event in the history of the club. For the first time ever, they had entered two teams in the Exeter & District League Division 1, and the league rules rightly state that any club with 2 teams in the same division must make that their first match, to avoid any possible suspicion that, should they meet in a later round, one team might voluntarily lose in order for the other to win the cup. Not that they would, of course, but any team so edged out couldn’t help but wonder…..
Not that there would be any danger of that happening in this case, as, given the club’s relatively limited playing resources, both teams were likely to be well short of the maximum team grade total of 640, unless they acquire some strong new members from somewhere. But the club are treating it as a fun event with no high expectations of ultimate glory.
On the night, blunders abounded; one player tore his scoresheet up in disgust while another didn’t submit his scoresheet at all - all good fun. At the end of night it was the Elephants that got trampled while the Eagles soared above.
|Bd||Exmouth Elephants||Grd||Exmouth Eagles||Grd|
|1||S. J. Murray||138||½||½||C. J. Scott||157|
|2||D. Thomson||134||½||½||R. H. Jones||129|
|3||F. R. Hodge||97||0||1||M. Belt||128|
|4||T. Badlan||82||0||1||S. Blake||102|
Barnstaple made the long trip to Exmouth knowing that a drawn match would secure them the Div. 2 championship. With International Master Jack Rudd and England Junior International Theo Slade on board, this was always a distinct possibility. However, in any grade-limited tournament like this one (639 max) the price has to be paid on the lower boards where players of a more modest grade have to be played. On this occasion, Exmouth chose to play 4 middle-range grades in the hope that 2 points could be rescued on Bds. 3 & 4. And this is exactly how it played out, although all 4 games were tense and well-contested affairs by both players.
On Bd. 1 the position soon developed into a complex one with pieces of both colours all over the board, but with only 3 pawns each. Rudd, of course, is known to play only at express speed, and he made his 35 moves in 35 minutes, but such were the comlications that Shaw ran out of time and his flag fell 5 moves short.
On Bd. 2 Oliver Wensley orchestrated a kingside attack based on the rock of having a knight posted immovably on his 5th rank. However, his massed pieces left the other wing vulnerable, and Slade countered down the a-file with doubled rooks. This won material and with it the game.
Gosling’s position looked relatively even until Smith put his king into trouble and lost out to a Q+K fork, and resigned on move 28.
Scott won a piece in a series of exchanges around move 30, but still had the tricky job of finding the best lines to exploit this advantage to a winning one. A Q+R knight fork settled the outcome.
Thus the drawn match was what Barnstaple came for and they were duly delighted, whereas Exmouth had nothing to play for in this tournament except pride in a good perfomance on the day, and this they achieved.
The games may be found on the chessdevon website.
|1||Meyrick Shaw||172||0||1||Jack Rudd||219|
|2||Oliver E. Wensley||157||0||1||Theo Slade||162|
|3||Brian G. Gosling||151||1||0||Richard Smith||139|
|4||Chris J. Scott||142||1||0||Michael Dow||115|
Exmouth approached this match in bullish mood, on the backs of a win against Newton Abbot and a win and a draw against Tiverton, in 3 different competitions. However, there’s nothing like chess for bringing folk back down to earth again, and this was the case here.
In the first game to finish, Abbott gave up a piece in order to try and get a stranglehold on White’s back rank with mating threats. Ingham had to be careful, and he was, managing to repeat moves 3 times. At this point, although Shaw’s position looked unclear, Wensley and Scott seemed to have their games under control. But as Shaw started to run out of time, Wensley lost his outside passed pawns and was suddenly on the back foot, while Scott missed a winning move and had to settle for a draw as Tidy was able to repeat moves. Shaw’s position collapsed under time pressure, leaving Wensley forced to try for a win in order to save the match, but with only pawns and opposite-coloured bishops left there was nothing he could do except agree a draw. Full results below.
This loss rather undid the excellent win against Newton Abbot just two weeks earlier. We now await the visit of Barnstaple on 12th April, the final match in Division 2.
|Mamhead Div. 2.||15.02.2014.|
|1||Alan Brusey (B)||181||1||0||Meyrick Shaw||172|
|2||Bill Ingham (W)||160||½||½||Mark Abbott||165|
|3||John Gorodi||159||½||½||Oliver Wensley||159|
|4||Norman Tidy||123||½||½||Christopher Scott||142|
Exmouth’s last match in Devon’s Newman Cup (for RapidPlay teams of 4 totalling U-600 grade) was against Tiverton and was effectively a cup final, with the winner taking all. However, Tiverton had a built-in edge as a 4-4 draw would give them the Cup on the 1st level of tie-break (game points). Before clocks were started, their captain explained that even if we had been level on game points, Exmouth would still have lost out due to having lost to Tiverton in Rd. 1, which led his opponent to quip “I see – even if we win we lose!”
Tiverton won the toss and chose Black on Bd. 1. for the 1st round. Simon Blake played forcefully and at one point was looking at the opportunity of possibly being able to sacrifice his queen for a back rank mate, but his opponent was alert to the risk. The game finished with opposite coloured bishops and level pawns all on squares that could not be attack by the enemy piece, amd a draw was agreed.
Oliver Wensley was happy to push all his pawns forward whenever he could, which Annetts avoided taking, so the endgame featured two long strings of pawns across the board, like WWI trench lines, except that Oliver was able to probe for weaknesses and eventually had 2 pawns that could run for the line. Annetts could only stop one by letting the other queen.
On Bd. 2 Mark Abbott started with some advantages in piece development but was unable to convert this into any other more practical advantage and the game slid into a R+5 vs R+4 endgame, and Atkin’s extra pawn was central, advanced and shepherded by his king. However, Abbott’s rook cleverly pecked away at the other pawns, won one back and the danger was over. Draw agreed.
The game on Bd. 1 was more difficult to assess by the spectator. Hewson had an attack down the open g-file against the enemy king involving Q, R + N, which White was managing to hold, while creating a passed pawn on the a-file that could not be ignored. The pressure built up as time started to press and it was Hewson that broke first.
Exmouth had to score a minimum of 4½ points to win the cup and a 3-1 lead from Rd. 1 was a healthy start, but this competition is notorious for the way in which the luck changes from one round to the next. For any one player, the hardest thing to do is to win both games outright, so nothing could be taken for granted.
Sure enough, Blake’s position crumbled after overlooking a knight capture in the middle of the board and Exmouth started with a loss. This was evened up when Annetts overlooked a bishop skewering both rooks and getting out of that merely allowed a bishop to fork king and knight, and Wensley scored his 2nd win soon after.
Abbott’s endgame looked not unlike the first one in some respects, but this time Atkins did not let things slip and he evened up their personal scores.
In the top game, Shaw broke through against the enemy king using both bishops, a knight and his queen, which was enough to win, leaving the round a 2-2 draw, but 5-3 overall.
The competition overall has once again proved a close one, with all teams losing at least one match.
|Bd||Exmouth||Grd||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 1||Rd 2||Tiverton||Grd|
|1||M. Shaw||164||1||1||0||0||B. W. Hewson||184|
|2||M. V. Abbott||159||½||0||½||1||K. P. Atkins||139|
|3||O. E. Wensley||146||1||1||0||0||I. S. Annetts||140|
|4||S. Blake||100||½||0||½||1||J. Knowles||117|
Having lost at home to Tiverton in Rd. 1, a trip to Newton Abbot for our 2nd match on Feb 1st 2014, was not a prospect to be relished. With a grading ceiling of 639 both teams had opted to keep as close as possible to the average of 160 per player, rather than playing a 190+ player on Bd. 1 in the hope of a sure win, while hoping the 120+ on Bd. 4 might be able to scrape a result.
The first game to finish by a considerable margin was that involving the Ajerbaizani ex-pat, Rahimili, who seems to share with Jack Rudd the inability to play at a speed less than that of an express train throughout any game. His game lasted a little less than half of the allocated 4 hours, most of which ws taken up by his opponent. Scott blundered a piece away entering the endgame, yet within a few moves, Rahimili had blundered not only a piece back but most of his pawns as well, with no counterplay.
Brian Gosling won the exchange and maintained a strong grip on the position, managing to win further material and the game. 2-0 up but the other two faced strong opposition. Shaw blundered a piece in the endgame but hung on to see how his neighbour would fare in a very tight N+P endgame. When Wensley offered and got a draw when 2 pawns up, Shaw resigned immediately, as the match was won.
|1||John Fraser||167||1||0||Meyrick Shaw||172|
|2||Paul Brooks||167||½||½||Oliver Wensley||157|
|3||Nijad Rahimili||162||0||1||Chris Scott||142|
|4||Wilf Taylor||136||0||1||Brian Gosling||151|