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Arkell Sets The Pace at Paignton. (08.10.2018.) 1002

The 68th Paignton Congress finishes this afternoon after 7 strenuous rounds. In the early stages, local Grandmaster Keith Arkell with 4 wins out of 4, looked to be well on course to repeat his achievements of numerous previous years in coming clear 1st in the Premier Section. The full prizelist will appear next week.

This game of his from Rd. 2 was his favourite of the 4 played so far.

White: K. C. Arkell. Black. D. B. Rosen.

1.d4 f5 the Dutch Defence, an opening that has retained its popularity since the 19th century. 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.g3 d5 5.Bg2 c6 6.0–0 Bd6 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bb2 0–0 9.Nbd2 Ne4 10.Qc2 Nd7 11.e3 Ndf6 12.Ne5 Both players have developed quickly and without bloodshed – so far. 12…Nxd2 13.Qxd2 Bd7 14.a4 Rab8 15.Qc1 Rfc8 16.Ba3 c5 17.Qb2 cxd4 18.exd4 dxc4 19.bxc4 Bxa3 20.Rxa3 Bc6 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Nxc6! Cleverly spotting the fact that Black’s rook on c1 is overloaded; If, for example, 22…Rxb2?? 23.Nxe7+ wins a rook; and if 22…Rxc6?? 23.Qxb8+ also wins a rook. 22.Qb7 Qxb7 Rxb7 24.Ne5 Nd7 25.Nf3 Rxc4 26.Re1 Nf8 27.Re5 h6 28.d5 exd5 29.Rxd5 f4 30.Rd8 fxg3 31.hxg3 Rc1+ 32.Kg2 Kf7 33.Re3 Ng6 34.Rd6 Rcc7 35.Ree6 Nf8 36.Ne5+ Kg8 37.Rd8 Re7 38.Rxe7 Rxe7 39.Ng6 Rf7 40.f4 Rf6 41.f5 Rf7 Not 41…Rxf5?? as 42.Ne7+ wins the rook. So Black’s rook is now reduced to moving back and forth one square, and its king cannot even do that. Meanwhile, White’s other pieces can creep up the board to add their own weight to the proceedings, unafraid of being attacked themselves. 42.g4 Rf6 43.Kg3 Rf7 44.a5 Rf6 45.Kf4 Rf7 46.Ke5 Rf6 47.a6 1-0

Two pieces of news hot off the presses. Firstly, the 2019 British Championships are returning to the Riviera Centre, Torquay next July. The two previous occasions were 2013 and 2009, when David Howell was the winner each time. Is this an omen?

Also, a number of changes are afoot for next year’s Cornish Championship Congress. (a) It’s moving from winter to summer, i.e. the weekend of 3rd – 5th May. (b) It’s moving to the Terrace Rooms of the prestigious Falmouth Hotel; (c) the new organisers will be Colin & Rebecca Gardiner, who have organised similar events in other parts of the country, and (d) Instead of being a “closed” event, it will be open to any player in the country. The caveat is that while any player is eligible to win the cash prizes, the Cornish championship trophy itself, the Emigrant Cup, may only be won by someone resident in, born in, working in or attending an educational establishment within the county borderline.

In this position, Black has 4 pieces in attack in contrast to White’s pair of knights which don’t look to have much threat beyond a possible check. Anyway, it’s Black to move, so should he protect against the knights or simply ignore them and go for it?

Black to play and win in 2

Paignton is here!….. in Torquay, that is. (01.09.2018) 1,001

The 68th Paignton Congress starts at 1.45 p.m. tomorrow at the Livermead House Hotel. At the time of going to print there were 33 entries for the 5 round morning sections and 68 for the 7 round afternoon sections, but more will be coming in every day. The Premier Section has 16 entries of whom Paignton resident, Grandmaster Keith Arkell, is by some margin the favourite to win, though strong challengers may yet emerge from the shadows.

Here is one of Keith’s games from the recent British Championship.

White: David Zakarian (213). Black: Keith Arkell (235)

1.e4 e6 Black tries for the French Defence, but White has no intention of  getting sucked into the usual lines, so goes for something quite different. 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4 A most unusual response. 4…cxb4 5.a3 bxa3 6.c3 Nc6 7.d4 White has given up pawns in order to establish a strong central pawn formation. 7…Nh6 8.Bd3 Nf5 9.0–0 h5 10.Nxa3 Be7 11.Re1 a6 12.Bb2 g6 13.Nc2 Na5 14.Ne3 b5 15.Bxf5 gxf5 16.Nd2 Bb7 17.Qf3 Rb8 18.Qg3 Looking to invade on g7 18…Kf8 19.Ba3 Bxa3 20.Rxa3 Nc4 21.Ra2 Rg8 22.Qf4 Qg5 23.Qxg5 Rxg5 24.f4 Rg8 25.Nb3 Ke7 26.Nc5 Rgc8 27.Kf2 h4 28.Rb1 Nxe3 29.Kxe3 Rc6 Both kings now set off on an odyssey across the board to where the game will ultimately be decided. 30.Kd3 Bc8 31.Kc2 Kd8 32.Kb3 Kc7 33.Kb4 Kb6 There now follows some jousting as both sides look for an opening. 34.Rf1 Ra8 35.Ra5 Bb7 36.Rf3 Rh8 37.Ra2 Rc7 38.Rff2 Ra8 39.Ra5 Rac8 40.Rfa2 The position is now blocked and neither player can make much headway. Time, perhaps, for something radical. 40…Rxc5! A sacrifice, which subsequent computer analysis shows is the best move. 41.dxc5+ Rxc5 Black now has a bishop and 2 pawns for the rook, so it’s relatively risk-free. 42.g3 Rc4+ 43.Kb3 d4 44.cxd4 Rxd4 45.Kc3 Rc4+ 46.Kd3 hxg3 47.hxg3 Rc8 48.Ra1 Rg8 White can’t defend this pawn as his rooks are locked together. 49.Kd4 Rxg3

Black has now broken through, with free-moving pieces and a menacing pair of united passed pawns. 50.R5a3 Rg4 51.Rf1 b4 52.Ra2 a5 53.Rb2 Bd5 54.Rh2 Rg3 55.Rh8 Rc3 56.Rb8+ Bb7 57.Rf8 Rc7 58.Rb1 Rd7+ 59.Ke3 Kb5 0-1 Resigns, as it’s just a matter of time now. Black’s 2 pieces have the run of the board; White’s rooks are disconnected and ineffective, and the passed pawns will rumble forward with the full support of Black’s king and heavy artillery.

The solution to last week’s M-shaped 2-mover was 1.Be5! and if 1…KxN 2.Bb4#; or 1…PxN 2.Re7# or 1…PxB 2.Nf4#.

This is the starter problem to the British Solving Championship, given earlier. Two readers got it right, so for the rest, here is the correct solution.

1. Qf7! with the threat of 2. Qf1 mate.

Black had 4 unsuccessful tries to avoid this fate, namely:-

1…Qb8+     2. a x b8 = Q mate.

1…Qb2       2. Rc1 mate.

1…Q x c2   2. Qb7 mate.

1…c x d3    2. Q x b3 mate.

White to mate in 2

50th Cotswold Congress Results (09.06.2018.) 989

The 50th Cotswold Congress took place over the Whitsun weekend at the King’s School, Gloucester, with the following results: (all points out of 6). Open Section; 1st Keith Arkell (237) 5. 2nd Peter Cusick (169-Grantham) 4½. 3rd= Dom Mackle (196-Torquay); Tim Headlong (188-Brown Jack) & Tim Spanton (163) all 4. Grading prize Andrew Waters. (158 – Kent).

Major: 1st Andrew Munn (150-Bristol) 5½. 2nd Jamie Morgan (149-Penzance); 3rd= Rich Weston (153-Cowley) & Andrew Price (151-Leamington) 4. Grading Prize(a) Dave Rogers (131-Exmouth). Grading prize(b) Ethan Gardiner (106-Manchester).

Minor: 1st Nigel Morris (123-Leamington) 5. 2nd= C. Costeloe (122-London); Rob Furseman (120-Newmarket), Georgina Headlong (116-Brown Jack) & Rohan Palet (85-Glos). Grading prizes: Christine Constable (105-Bude) & Paul Munroe.

Top grade was GM Keith Arkell and he duly won after conceding a couple of late draws. In this game he showed what he is more than capable of doing.

White: J. Jenkins (180). Black: K. Arkell.

Nimzo-Indian Defence – Rubinstein Variation.  [E41]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Signature moves of the Nimzo-Indian Defence, one of Black’s most potent weapons against the Queen’s Gambit. 4.e3 A quiet move developed by the Polish GM, Akiba Rubinstein, against which Black must strike quickly before White can develop his centre. c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3 d6 7.0–0 Now that the bishop has served its purpose it can go, leaving Black free to concentrate on the enemy king’s position. Bxc3 8.bxc3 e5 9.e4 Bg4 10.d5 Ne7 11.h3 Bd7 12.Nh4 h6 Both white bishops are now severely restricted in scope. 13.Qe2 g5 14.Nf5 Nxf5 15.exf5 Qe7 16.Re1 0–0–0 17.a4 Rdg8 18.g4 h5 19.a5 hxg4 20.hxg4 Rh4 21.f3 e4! Giving up a pawn to allow his queen access to the attack without interfering with his rooks’ open h-file – cheap at the price. 22.Bxe4 Qe5 23.Qg2 Rgh8 24.Re2 Rh3 Threatening Rg3 winning the queen. 25.Bc2 Qxc3 26.Ra3 Qxc4 27.Rd3 Nxg4 Continuing the break-up of White’s kingside, but equally effective is 27…Bxf5 28.gxf5 Qh4 and the triple attack down the h-file will again quickly exact heavy gains. 28.Qxg4 Rh1+ 29.Kf2 R8h2+ 0-1. Further resistance was hopeless. All 60 games from the Open Section may be found on Dave Tipper’s website, chessit.co.uk.

The last Westcountry team left in the National Stages is Devon who play on Saturday against Lincolnshire, the holders, at Kemerton, Worcestershire in the semi-final of the Minor Counties section. No Westcountry team has ever held this particular title, and Lincs are the current holders, so a tough battle is guaranteed.

The solution to last week’s problem was 1.f3+! forcing 1…Kf4, then 2.Pxg7+ a discovered check from which there is no escape.

This week’s position is taken from David Howard’s 2005 book, My 100 Best Two-Movers. It looks fearsomely complicated but there are patterns to be discerned which should lead you to the solution.

White to mate in 2

Hastings Winners (13.01.2018.) 968

Wise Men from the East arrived in Bethlehem shortly after Christmas bringing a gift of gold, so perhaps it was appropriate that they did well at the Hastings Christmas Congress, not bringing but taking much gold back with them in the form of prize money.

Indian GM Deep Sengupta and Chinese IM Yiping Lou, tied for 1st prize on 7 points, each receiving £1,600 and being jointly awarded the Golombek Trophy.  Third prize was shared between Uzbek GM Jahongir Vakhidov and two Indian IMs Stany and Das on 6½ points. Then came the English brigade in 6th place, Danny Gormally, Mark Hebden, Keith Arkell and Steve Mannion, with Iranian Borna Derakhshani and Norwegian Pal Royset all on 6 points.

A bright spot came with the award of the Best Game prize to Danny Gormally for his Rd. 6 game against Alexandr Fier, the tournament 2nd seed from Brazil.

White: D. Gormally (2477). Black: A. Fier (2576)

Torre Attack [A48]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 The signature move of the Torre Attack, named after the Mexican player Carlos Torre (1905-78) Bg7 4.Nbd2 0–0 5.e4 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.Nb3 a5 8.a4 h6 9.Bd2 Nc6 10.Bb5 Ncb4 11.c3 c6 12.Be2 Na6 13.0–0 b6 14.Re1 c5 15.Bd3 cxd4 16.Nbxd4 Nc5 17.Bc2 Bb7 18.Ne5 All White’s minor pieces are bearing down on the enemy king’s position, with the queen able to support, leaving Black with choices to make. 18…Rc8 18…e6 would have given his queen a route out, eg 19.Ng4 Qh4. 19.Ng4! hitting h6. 19…Kh7 Not good enough is 19…h5 20.Nh6+ Kh8 21.Nxf7+ Rxf7 22.Bxg6 Rf6 23.Qxh5+ Kg8 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Bh6 Bxh6 26.Qxh6+ Kg8 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Qh8#. 20.Nxh6 Nf6 If 20…Bxh6 21.Qh5 winning the bishop. 21.Nhf5 21.Ng4 was also good for White. e.g. 21…Qd5 22.Nxf6+ Bxf6 23.Qg4 Qd7 24.Qf4 Qc7 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.Bg5 Bxg5 27.Qxg5 e6. 21…gxf5 22.Nxf5 e6 23.Nxg7+ Kxg7 24.Bh6+ Kg8 24…Kxh6 25.Qc1+ Kg7 26.Qg5+ Kh8 27.Qh6+ Kg8 28.Re3; If 24…Kxh6? 25.Qc1+ and White has several mating lines. 25.Qc1 Qd5 Black has his own mating threat, but it’s easily dealt with. 26.f3 Nh5 If Black tries to save his rook with 26…Rfd8 there would follow 27.Qf4 and Black’s king is quite trapped and vulnerable. 27.Bxf8 Kxf8 28.Qh6+ Ng7 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qxg7 Qd2 31.Rac1 Rd8 32.Qg3 Rd5 33.Qf2 Qh6 34.Rcd1 Rh5 35.Qd2 1-0 forcing off the queens, otherwise there might follow 35…Rxh2 36.Qd6+ Kf6 37.Qd4+ Kg5 38.Qd8+ and White has a number of mating lines.

Tomorrow, 3 teams of 12, from the East, West & South of Devon compete in a Jamboree at the Isca Centre, Exeter. Full details next week.

In last week’s position, it wasn’t hard for White to see 1.QxR! and if 1…QxQ 2.Re8+. The power of the e7 pawn was unanswerable.

This position arose recently in which Keith Arkell was White, who could doubtless see that his pieces had greater mobility than his opponent’s. How did he quickly profit from this slight advantage?

White to Play

Paignton Congress Hits The Road Again (06.09.2017.)

The venerable Paignton Congress got off to another start, but this time amid foul weather; a howling gale sweeping in from over Tor Bay bringing drenching rain – not your typical start to Paignton, it has to be said. It’s usually a fine week weatherwise, with the hotel gounds full of players soaking up the last rays of summer sun,  earnestly analysing or just chatting with friends. There won’t be much of that this week, but fortunately the hotel has room and facilities enough to cope with that.

The entry lists have a familiar look about them; players know what they like and come back year after year, but with a liberal enough sprinkling of  newcomers to maintain interest. Keith Arkell’s here, of course, defending his impressive 25 year record; familiar ground for him as he only lives down the road, and quite a change from his having just become the World’s Bughouse Chess Champion in Dubai, with his Bughouse partner and fellow Devonian, Jack Rudd. That must be some kind of record. If you don’t know what Bughouse Chess is, don’t ask – I’ll come back to it later.

Keith has Richard Bates as his nearest rival, who may be taking heart from the struggles Arkell has had in his early games. In round 1 his game lasted 102 moves and nearly filled 2 complete scoresheets, while his next game took a mere 70 moves to wear down Graham Bolt. On the other hand, these marathons seem to be meat & drink to him; he’s content to sit at the board, motionless and fully focussed for hour after hour, and that’s an important quality in a top player – they all have it. No fidgets, fussing, watching other games – just the occasional break to get a breath of fresh air to clear his head, then back to the board.

DCCA President, Paul Brooks, welcomes everyone before Rd. 1 begins.

Arkell & Daniel Rosen get their 102 move marathon under way. Next to Arkell is David Anderton, making a rare appearance at the event.

Rd. 2 and another mini-marathon ensues, this time involving Graham Bolt.

Arthur Hibbert vs former Paigntonian Chris Lowe on top board of the Challengers.

General view of the playing area #1

General view from a different angle at the same moment.

Arkell Loses! (29.04.2017.)

As reported last week, Keith Arkell retained his West of England Championship over the Easter weekend by winning his first 6 games. However, in the 7th and final round he met his nearest rival and lost for the first time in the 21 games he’s played here in the past 3 years. It was a Dutch Defence, not dissimilar to the one being played at the same time, and given last week.

White: K. C. Arkell Black: R. McMichael

Dutch Defence [A90]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 Here we go with another Dutch Defence. 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 c6 5.Nf3 d5 6.0–0 Bd6 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bb2 0–0 9.Nbd2 Bd7 10.Ne5 Be8 11.a4 Nbd7 12.a5 White may be aware that Black intends the thematic king-side attack, and before that happens needs to create some space for himself on the other wing. 12…a6 13.Ndf3 Bh5 14.Qc2 Rad8 15.cxd5 Bxf3 16.exf3 Nxd5 17.Nc4 Bb4 18.f4 N7f6 19.Ne5 Nc7 20.Bxc6! Ncd5 The preferred move of computer analysis. If 20…bxc6 21.Nxc6 forking 3 pieces. 21…Qd6 22.Nxb4 (or if 22.Nxd8 Rxd8 23.Rfc1 leaving White with a rook & 2 pawns for 2 knights, but it’s unclear who has the better  chances, especially if Black’s 3 minor pieces start to get really active.) 22…Qxb4 23.Qxc7 Qxb3 24.Ba3 Rfe8 25.Bc5. 21.Bxd5 Nxd5 22.Nd3 Bd6 23.Nc5 Rf6 Black’s backward e-pawn needs reinforcement in view of White’s next move. 24.Rae1 Rh6 25.f3 Rg6 26.Kh1 h5 Now follows the kingside pawn storm that we saw in last week’s example of the Dutch. 27.Rg1 h4 28.Bc1 hxg3 29.hxg3 Kf7 30.Rg2 Rh8+ 31.Kg1 If 31.Rh2 Rxh2+ 32.Kxh2 (Of course, not 32.Qxh2?? Rh6 33.Qxh6 gxh6 34.Nxe6) 31…Rh3 32.Qf2 Rgh6 33.Kf1 Rh1+ 34.Ke2 Bxc5 35.dxc5 Qd7 36.Qd4 Nxf4+ 37.Qxf4 Rxe1+ 38.Kxe1 Rh1+ 39.Kf2 Qd1 Threatening mate on e1 40.Bd2 Qf1+ winning a piece back. 41.Ke3 Qxg2 42.Qc7+ Kg6 43.Bc3 Now Black has to tread carefully to counter the threat to g7. 43…Qg1+ 44.Kd3 The game went on for another 20 moves but unfortunately both scoresheets are indecipherable as the tension got to both players. However, Black remained the exchange ahead and with that advantage managed to keep threatening White’s king to the point of resignation.

Photographs of this, and many other games being played throughout the tournament, and the prizewinners receiving their trophies may be found on keverelchess.co.uk/blog.

There are two Westcountry congresses next month. Firstly, one at Frome, to be held Fri. 12th – 14th May  at Selwood Academy, Frome, BA11 2EF (website somersetchess.org/frome_congress). This is followed by the Cotswold Congress over the Bank Holiday Weekend Sat. 27th – Mon. 29th May at King’s School, Gloucester, GL1 2BG.

website:(http://dmshome.co.uk/CotswoldCongress/.

In last week’s position (above) Black could play …1.Qg2+ and depending which piece takes it, Black has either …2.Nh3# or Ne2# as the White king is smothered by his own defenders.

Here is a 2 mover by Dave Howard.

White to Play

E. Devon Congress 2017 – The Endgame

Nunn's quick draw guaranteed him at least a share of 1st prize, but none could catch him. He has now entered the event twice - in 1979 and 2017, a mere 38 years apart, and each time he won with 4.5/5 ahead of a competitive field. He was happy to be photographed with the Steve Boniface Cup, but as his trophy cabinet at home is already full to overflowing, he regretfully had to leave it with the Committee.

Arthur Hibbert (W) in action against 7th seed, David Archer (S. Hams), the winner to take the trophy.

.... and David Archer came out on top, clear 1st in the Major Section.

Grant Daly of the Bristol Club, Downend & Fishponds, and 19th seed in his section, won the Minor, with a handsome trophy to go with it.

E. Devon Congress 2017 – Final Day (12.03.2017.)

By the end of Rd. 4, the Open Section had developed into a mini tournament between the titled players just playing among themselves. Top seed, Arkell had had a dodgy game against his former pupil, Rudd and dropped a half point, but Nunn’s scorecard was unblemished, while, the Spanish IM, Simon, the Austrian FM, Braun, and Tournament Secretary,Tim Paulden himself, were never far away.

A few scenes from the end of Rd. 4: Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh & Exmouth) plays Stephen Homer (Newton Abbot), while next door, Dave Littlejohns (Taunton) plays Adam Woodruff, formerly of Exmouth.

Jamie Morgan (Exeter) in action against Meyrick Shaw (Exmouth)

At the top of the Minor Section, Paul Errington faces Joy, one of the Fursman sisters, in front of Martin Maber against Ken Alexander

The 5th & final round gets under way with a handshake between John Nunn (4/4) and Jack Rudd. The prospect of a bright and breezy game in the usual Rudd style pleased the neutrals, but the game ended with a quick & quiet draw in 10 moves. There might have been an element of disappointment in the hall, but then, if John Nunn offered you a draw, wouldn't you accept?! It guaranteed Nunn at least a share of 1st prize.

David Pardo Simon kicks off against Keith Arkell. Both knew from early on that a win would catch Nunn in 1st place, but they could only manage a draw, Arkell having to draw on all his endgame powers to achieve that.

Walter Braun kicks off against Tim Paulden, who, in spite of the heavy organisational load in this his first year in charge, had an excellent tournament. The game finished as a draw, with only a knight and less than a handful of pawns each. It was good to have a fresh face featuring among the regulars, and he hopes to be on the local scene for the foreseeable future.

Bristol Spring Congress Results (11.03.2017.)

Bristol’s Spring Congress took place on the last weekend of February. Keith Arkell (240 – Paignton) won the Open Section with a maximum 5 points, as there was no-one anywhere near him in rating. The nearest was Thomas Villiers (204 – Barnet), who duly came 2nd.

The other sections were more closely contested with a quadruple tie in the Major (U-155), between George Georgiou (Swindon); Sam Jukes (Barry); Robert Radford (Keynsham) and Alan Papier (Bristol & Clifton), all on 4 pts.

The Minor (U-125) was won by James Rosseinsky (Horfield) on 4½ pts followed by Grant Daly (Downend), on 4.

This was Arkell’s final game that clinched his 1st place.

White: Keith Arkell (2406). Black: Joseph Turner (1936).

King’s Indian Defence – Fianchetto Variation [E62].

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0–0 5.g3 d6 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0–0 e5 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Nd5 Bxd5 11.cxd5 Qxd5 12.Qxd5 Nxd5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 If 13…Bxe5 14.Bxd5 Nd4 15.e3. 14.Bxd5 c6 15.Bb3 a5 16.a4 Nd7 17.Rab1 Nc5 18.Bc2 Rfe8 19.Be3 Ne4 20.Rfd1 Re7 21.Rd3 Rae8 22.Bb6 Chasing after pawns on the edge of the board may not appear significant at this stage of the game, but at the end winning this pawn is the difference between the two sides.  22…h5 23.e3 Re5 24.Rd7 Rd5 25.Rxd5 cxd5 26.Bxa5 d4 After the next skirmish. White has a 2–1 pawn majority, which he is adept at exploiting to his advantage. 27.exd4 Bxd4 28.Bxe4 Rxe4 29.Kf1 h4 30.Bd2 Be5 Now the road is clear to push those pawns a.s.a.p. 31.b4 Bd6 32.a5 Rd4 It’s also time for the king to step forward and play his part …. providing it’s safe to do so. 33.Ke2 f5 34.Bc3 Re4+ 35.Kd3 hxg3 36.hxg3 Rg4 37.Bd4 Bb8 38.b5 Kf7 39.a6 Ke6 No better is 39…bxa6 40.bxa6. 40.axb7 Kd5 41.Be3 g5 42.Rc1 f4 43.gxf4 gxf4 44.Bd4 f3 45.Rc5+ Kd6 46.Rc8 Black’s bishop must fall. 46…Rxd4+ 47.Kxd4 Ba7+ 48.Ke4 1–0.

The ECF’s Chess Book of the Year 2016 was Chess for Life by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan (Gambit – £15.99). The subtitle describes the book: “Understanding how a player’s chess skills develop and change with the passage of time”. To this end they interviewed a number of older players, and Keith Arkell contributed a section on rook & pawn endings, described by the judges as “masterly”, and “a mini textbook in itself”. His endgame mastery was on show at Bristol, as in the above game, making early exchanges of material in order to simplify and get to the endgame, where he could better exercise his skill.

The solution to last week’s problem by  Dave Howard was 1.Qe8! threatening 2.Qa4 mate. Black’s rooks have several tries, but 2.Nc5++ is also mate. The week before’s was solved by 1.Qa3! and not 1.Qxe3 which had inadvertently been left in from the previous week. Apologies for that.

This position arose in a recent game in the Devon leagues. Black has just played Qa6, so why did he resign next move?

White to move and Black resign

E. Devon Congress 2017 – Exeter – Rd. 1 (10.03.2017.)

This event started back in 1976 in a relatively small way, but 3 years later, with the benefit of local sponsorship, the entries shot up to 219. That year it was won by John Nunn ahead of a chasing pack that included Dave Rumens, Plaskett, Blackstock, Franklin and Peter Sowray – quite an array of up-and coming players of the time.

Since those heady days, the numbers have slipped, especially in recent years, but this year, for no obvious reason, the entry went right back up to the 150s, with a late influx of titled players. Devon residents Keith Arkell and Jack Rudd, were present, as one might expect, of course, but there were new names like IM David Pardo Simon, a Spanish student at the University, and an Austrian FM, Walter Braun, who had turned up to live in Exmouth only a few days earlier. Oh, and someone called John Nunn, making his first appearance here since 1979. His appearance could be a factor in the increased interest this year, but also there was an unparalelled entry of 12 from the University.

This year’s 42nd East Devon Congress got under way this evening in Exeter’s commodious Corn Hall, with words of welcome from Congress Secretary, Dr. Tim Paulden, whose energy in creating a new website for the event, with facilities for easy on-line entry, could be a 3rd factor.

The pictures set the scene and tell the story:-

Petra & John Nunn after checking the pairings for Rd. 1

Roger Hutchings (W), formerly of Barnstaple, takes on Keith Arkell on top board, but gets his queen trapped after 16 moves. David Pardo Simon, a Spanish student currently studying at Exeter University, looks on.

Austrian FM, Walter Braun (W) enjoyed a quick win against John Bass. Braun won their game in 8 moves, one of the shortest games in the Open in its 42 year history.

Former Scottish Junior International, Paul Hampton, faces Graham Bolt, and wins in c. 28 moves. Next to Bolt is Bill Adaway, who once got a draw against Portisch in a big London Open.

The diminutive figure that looks, at first glance across a crowded room, like a primary school pupil, is in fact Miss Ang from Singapore, currently a student at Exeter University.

... and she's giving congress regular, Brendan O'Gorman, quite a lot to think about.

Top board in the Minor: Christine Constable vs Ken Alexander. Christine's husband, John, is helping out as an arbiter in the absence through illness of Tony Tatam, while Ken is Secretary of the Torbay Congress and delivered the new, multi-coloured entry forms.