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Clash of the Titans (11.02.2017.)

The current Devon Champions, Exmouth, hosted local rivals, Exeter, in a match on Saturday that would not only confer local bragging rights but probably determine who would win this year’s Devon club championship.

The omens were not good for the hosts, as Exeter were able to field their strongest team, probably one of the strongest sides seen for many a decade, while Exmouth were under par, conceding c. 16 points per board over Bds 3 – 6 – a big ask. However, the match proved to be a truly titanic struggle as each game came to an end.

First of all, Exeter’s captain, Graham Bolt, won the toss yet chose to give their opponents White on top board. That was the first to finish, when O’Neill came unstuck and resigned, and put Exmouth 1-0 up. Was Bolt’s tactic a wise one? Next, Chris Scott got a valuable draw against Jamie Morgan, playing his first game for Exeter. Then, Oliver Wensley generated enough pressure to cause his opponent to run out of time.

Thus Exmouth had 2.5 point after 3 games, and it seemed highly possible they would be able to get something from the other 3 games to squeeze at least a draw.  Then Dave Regis, who had 2 minor pieces for a rook, forced a win, while Bolt found himself in an ending with 2 bishops against 2 knights with a sprinkling of pawns on either side. The bishops found good long diagonals enabling his king to advance, keeping the black knights and king on their back rank, and a win was inevitable. 2.5 all, with former Scottish International, Paul Hampton, locking horns with Paulden, in what for the most part had been a blocked position. However, in seeking active play for his queen, he allowed Regis’ queen in to the centre. With just 2 minutes of extra time left on both clocks, there was a titanic struggle with both queens grabbing any pawn they could get hold of, preferably with check, and Paulden succeeded in this race.

So, with just seconds to go, Exeter took the lead for the first time in the match, and with it the match.

The details were:-

Bremridge Cup    Div. 1        11.02.2017
1 J. Underwood 187 1 0 P. A. O’Neill 185
2 S. Martin 185 0 1 G. Bolt 190
3 P. Hampton 166 0 1 T. J. Paulden 187
4 O. E. Wensley 168 1 0 C. Lowe 175
5 B. G. Gosling 159 0 1 D. Regis 175
6 C. J. Scott 152 ½ ½ J. Morgan 170
1,017 1,082

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.

To Sacrifice or Not? (04.01.2014.)

Speculative sacrifices in the opening are best made in rapidplay games when there is far less time for the defender to work out whether it is safe to accept the proffered piece and to negotiate the many variations after doing so. Here is a recent example in which White accepts the risk and walks a tightrope, always seeking to exchange off pieces in order to draw the sting from the attack. As time runs out, Black finally justifies his earlier gamble.

White: S. Martin (Seaton – 162). Black: M. Shaw (Exmouth – 164).

Alekhine’s Defence – Maróczy Var. [B02]

1.e4 Nf6 inviting the e-pawn forward. 2.d3 Invitation declined, as recommended by the Hungarian GM Geza Maróczy (1870–1951). d5 3.Nd2 e5 4.g3 dxe4 5.dxe4 Bc5 6.h3 Black decides to give up his bishop for 2 pawns and a major reconstruction of White’s kingside position. 6…Bxf2+ 7.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 8.Kg2 Not 8.Nxe4?? Qxd1. 8…Qd4 Threatening Qf2# 9.Qe1 Bf5 10.Bd3 Nxd2 11.Qxd2 If 11.Bxd2 Qd5+ 12.Nf3 e4 13.g4 Bg6 14.Bc3 0–0 15.Be2 exf3+ 16.Bxf3 Qb5 17.a4. 11…Qd5+ 12.Kh2 e4 13.Be2 Qc5 Again threatening Qf2# 14.Bd1 Nc6 15.Qe3 Qc4 16.b3 Qe6 17.Bb2 0–0–0 18.Be2 Kb8 19.Bc4 Qd7 20.Bc3 h5 21.h4 f6 22.Kg2 22.Ne2 uniting the rooks might have been better. 22…Rhe8 23.Ne2 Bg4 24.Rad1 Bf3+ 25.Kh2 Qg4 26.Rxd8+ Rxd8 27.Re1 The last of White’s pieces to be developed, and he is still a piece up. How can Black retain the initiative? 27…Ne7 28.Nd4 Nf5 29.Nxf5 Qxf5 30.Be2 g5 31.Bxf3 exf3 32.hxg5 Qxc2+! with several mating threats. 33.Re2 fxe2 34.Kh3 Qf5+ 35.Kg2 Qf1+ 36.Kh2 fxg5 37.Qxg5 Rf8 38.Bd4 e1Q 39.Bxa7+ A final cast of the dice. 39…Kxa7 40.Qc5+ Kb8 41.Qxf8+ Qxf8 42.Kg2 Qef1+ 0–1

The loser was at school with the late, great Tony Miles, Britain’s first GrandMaster.

Bristol’s Winter Congress starts a week on Friday, the 17th January at the Holiday Inn. Details may be obtained from Graham Mill-Wilson on 0779 0167415 or e-mail

In last week’s position, Black’s aim is to eliminate any chance of counterplay by exchanging queens: e.g. 1…Qf3+. 2.Ke5 Qf6+. 3.Ke4 or Kc4 then Qe6+ forces off the queens and Black’s pawns should romp home.


If you have any time or mental energy left before Twelfth Night tomorrow, here is another hitherto unpublished 2-mover by Dave Howard.

White to mate in 2.

Liz Neat Memorial Tournament – May 2013

Former member of the Exmouth Chess Club and Devon President, Dr. Roger Neat lost his wife to cancer last year, and was determined to commemorate her support for his, and his sons, chess efforts, with a special tournament. To give it its full title, The Mary Elizabeth Neat Memorial Seniors Invitation RapidPlay Tournament, Roger had decided it should be an 8-man American, with 20 minutes per player per game, with the invitees being players he had known in his Exmouth days.

To give it some edge, he was offering prizes of £100, £50 & £25 for the first 3 places, and was funding a splendid lunch. 

The Manor Hotel on Exmouth’s sea-front Beacon, was booked, and the 8 players duly assembled, together with local Arbiter John Ariss.

Front: Norman Tidy; Seated: John Ariss. Roger Neat, Brian Gosling. Standing: Ivor Annetts, Malcolm Belt, Greg Pond, Fred Hodge, Bob Jones.

After 3 rounds, only Brian Gosling had a maximum score, and everyone retired to the bar for drinks and a splendid repast, while considering the chances for the afternoon; e.g. could Brian be stopped? After lunch he continued in much the same vein, reaching 5/5, but then the wheels came off, trying the Polish Opening against a Polish veteran, Bob Jones. Going in to the final round, Gosling had Black against Neat, who was also having a good tournament, while Jones had White against Hodge. If Neat could hold Gosling and Jones could beat Hodge, the individual encounter between Gosling and Jones would determine the winner.

The first bit went according to plan, as Neat agreed a draw, but the second bit went sadly awry, as Jones not only failed to win, but came within a whisker of losing. So Brian Gosling got the £100 1st prize, while Neat and Jones, the only undefeated players, shared 2nd & 3rd.

All agreed it had been a splendid day, blessed by cloudless skies and a most agreeable venue.

No. Name Grd 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tot. Pos.
1 I. S. Annetts 143* X 1 0 1 ½ ½ 0 1 4 4th
2 M. Belt 136 0 X 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 8th
3 B. G. Gosling 154 1 1 X 1 0 ½ 1 1 1st
4 F. R. Hodge 123* 0 0 0 X ½ ½ 1 0 2 7th
5 R. H. Jones 149* ½ 1 1 ½ X ½ ½ 1 5 2nd=
6 R. Neat 136e ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ X 1 1 5 2nd=
7 G. Pond 126e 1 1 0 0 ½ 0 X 0 ½ 6th
8 N. F. Tidy 105* 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 X 3 5th


Bd Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7
1 5v8 8v2 6v8 8v3 7v8 8v4 8v1
2 4v6 1v3 5v7 2v4 6v1 3v5 7v2
3 3v7 7v4 4v1 1v5 5v2 2v6 6v3
4 2v1 6v5 3v2 7v6 4v3 1v7 5v4

 Winners in bold 

Rd. 2 gets under way: Tidy-Belt (nearest) & Annetts - Gosling.

Rd. 3: The desired Neat & Tidy game.

Rd. 3: Hodge v Annetts (nearest) & Gosling v Belt.

Break for lunch

Spoilt for choice

Jones & Neat congratulate each other and share 2nd & 3rd


Brian Gosling - clear 1st and £100 winner

Devon’s Div. 1 (Bremridge Cup) Exmouth vs Exeter.

The 5 teams in Devon’s 1st Division, play each other once, giving a total of 4 matches. Both Exeter and Exmouth have been a little slow off the mark this season, for one reason or another, and this was the third match for each, with Exeter having won their 1st two matches, while Exmouth had won one and drawn one. So there was everything to play for.

Luck played a part in the team selection for both sides. Exmouth were lucky in that former player, Ken Derrick, had decided to play a more active part in Devon chess, playing both for the county and his old club of Exmouth. This, combined with Dr. Underwood’s recent return from a two year stint in Connecticut, enabled the home team to be at full strength. On the other hand, one Exeter player found himself in another country and had to be substituted at short notice. 

The first game to finish was on Bd. 4 where Kevin Hurst gained the upper hand against Simon Waters in a Petroff Defence, and it was all over in 21 moves. This was balanced by a win for Dr. Paulden who broke through Dr. Underwood’s king’s position, utilising long open lines for his pieces, queen, rook and bishops. Then Exeter took the lead as Andy Boyne got a knight established on the 6th rank, and kept all his other pieces working harmoniously. At this point, 2-1 down, and two players a pawn down, for little obvious compensation, even a drawn match looked optimistic. 

It was, in fact, like a match of two halves, with the first 3 games finishing in 21, 28 and 32 moves respectively, while the other three all went right down to the wire; in 59, 63 & 64 moves. The 6 free players and non-playing captain all looked on nervously as the games went into extra time and fortunes gradually swung around. 

Mark Abbott had looked the only one with a superior position, but this was gradually whittled away until an ending was reached where he only had 3 pawns against a rook. Fortunately, his king was able to protect them as they shuffled forward, like a shepherd coralling his last 3 sheep. The rook alone could do little as his king was trying to catch up with the action. Abbott finished prettily, underpromoting a pawn to a knight with check, allowing a 2nd pawn to queen.

Now 2-all, and the other two games, in which both Exmouth players had been a pawn down, were gradually turning around. The Stephens/Regis game had been positionally congested with 13 pawns still on the board late on, but Stephens was able to grab an open file for his rook, before invading Black’s position to winning effect.  The Pope/Shaw game came down to a N + B each with a scattering of pawns, when Shaw opted to swap his bad bishop for Pope’s good knight, after which he was able to grab a few pawns and ran his h-pawn forward to queen, which Pope was unable to prevent.

So it finished 4 – 2, which sounds a healthy margin, but the result was in doubt to the very end. It was unusual at this level to have all six games ending decisively, with no draws, indicative of how all 12 players were committed to the cause.

  Bremridge Cup       04.05.2013  
Bd. Exmouth Grd     Exeter  Grd
1 K. W. Derrick 207 0 1 A. Boyne 195
2 J. K. F. Stephens 192 1 0 D. Regis 179
3 J. Underwood 177 0 1 T. Paulden 177
4 K. J. Hurst 176 1 0 S. R. Waters 168
5 M. Shaw 166 1 0 S. Pope 158
6 M. V. Abbott 167 1 0 P. Dobber 142
  Totals 1,085 4 2   1,019


General view - Bd. 1 nearest.

Bds. 1 - 3 in early action.

Bds 4 - 6 in action.

12th Beacon Seniors Day 4

The draw for Rd. 4 was as follows:-

  Seniors Rd. 4          
  White       Black  
1 Dodgson, J (2½) 1 0 Carr, C (2½)
2 Openshaw, D (2½) ½ ½ Page, M (2½)
3 Everson, R (2½) 1 0 Wiltshire, M (2½)
4 Footner, J (2) 1 0 Roberts, M (2)
5 Norman, Dinah (2) 1 0 Footner, A (2)
6 Elwood, D (2) ½ ½ Velker, W (2)
7 Wiggins, A (2) 0 1 Gamble, R (2)
8 Dicker, N (2) 0 1 Gosling, B (2)
9 Adams, M (1½) ½ ½ Sandercock, B (2)
10 Annetts, I. S (1½) 1 0 Kaye, M (1½)
11 Tidy, N. F (1½) 0 1 Price, A (1½)
12 Sherriff, A (1½) ½ ½ Cranmer, S (1½)
13 O’Grady, J (1½) ½ ½ Jones R. H. (1½)
14 Hurn, R (1½) ½ ½ Dean, J (1½)
15 Purry, N (1) 0 1 Ross, B (1)
16 Cox, R. E. (1) 0 1 Lucas, P (1)
17 Parfett, G. (1) 1 0 Ryan, R. A (1)
18 Burt, D (1) ½ ½ Jones, S (1)
19 Waters, R (1) 1 0 Jenkins, G. J. (1)
20 O’Rourke, K (½) 1 0 Cox, Marian (½)
21 Herschmann, H (1) ½ ½ Carrick, P (1)
22 Welch, Hazel (1) 1 0 Patching, G (1)
23 Gordon, P (1) ½ ½ Naldrett, G (1½)


  “Juniors” Rd. 4          
1 Heppell, I (2)  1  0 Wells, J (3)
2 Dean, S (1½)  1 Orr, D (2)
3 Rogers, D. R. (1½) ½ ½ McAllan, I (1½)
4 Burton, R (1½)  1  0 Ariss, J (1)
5 Sellwood, C (½) 1   bye  

 Of the 6 players on 2.5, only Dodgson and Everson won, making them joint leaders and due to meet in the final round. A number of others have a mathematical chance of becoming joint winners on 4 pts if the top 2 draw, including Openshaw, Page, John Footner, Dinah Norman, Gamble and Gosling.

The top game in the “Juniors” was between Wells on a maximum 3/3 and Heppell, a point behind having drawn 2 games. However, Heppell rediscovered his form and levelled the scores. 

Rd. 4 games here:

Pt. 1:

Pt. 2:

All “Junior” gms:

Tomorrow is the 11th day of the 11th month, 2011, and there has been talk about whether it would be appropriate to have a 2 minute pause at 11 o’clock – clocks stopped to allow folk thoughts to go where they will. The idea was explained at the start of play on Wednesday, and a show of hands to be taken today. When asked, it was clear the mark of respect was wanted.

Top 2 games in the Seniors: Dodgson v Carr: Openshaw v Page

Hazel Welch helps visually-challenged Patching, and a blind player plays Naldrett.

Top game in the Juniors was Heppell v Wells (won by White) and Dean v Orr.