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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Adams’

British Championships Approaching

The British Championships start in a fortnight in Kingston-Upon-Hull’s City Hall, as part of their UK City of Culture activities (2017-2020).  Generous support and sponsorship has attracted a healthy entry of 750+ and rising every day. The Championship section of 57 includes 15 GMs and 25 others with a Masters title, and there are 20 other sections available to enter. Check out the ECF website for latest developments.

Cornishman Michael Adams has returned to the fray after missing out last year. At Bournemouth in 2016 he became Champion with the unsurpassed score of 10/11, and in this company will need to be at his very best again to repeat that.

At Bournemouth, the last round pairing was most unusual, almost bizarre. For the final round, Adams should have been paired against one of his closest rivals, but he’d already played all of them, whereas another player, almost 500 rating points lower, had done exceedingly well up to that point and was the only realistic opponent. However, the almost surreal nature of the situation may have got to him, as Adams showed what he can do, given half a chance.

White: M. Brown (2252). Black: M. Adams (2727)

Scotch Game  [C45]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 White decides to go for the open Scotch Game, which can lead to complicated positions with lots of activity. exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 White is bound to want to be as aggressive as possible Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 10.Qe4? White’s queen now plays little significant part in the game. g6 11.Bd3 Bg7 12.f4 0–0 13.0–0 f5 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Bd2 d5 16.Qe2 If 16.cxd5 Bf5 17.Qf3 Qd4+ and White would be under severe pressure. 16…Ba6 17.Rae1 Bxc4 18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Bc1 a5 20.Qc2 Rae8 Black’s development is now complete, but White’s queen seems to want to run away and hide. 21.Qa4 Qd4+ 22.Kh1 Rxe1 23.Rxe1 Qf2 24.Rg1 It’s too late for the queen to be effective. e.g. 24.Qd1 Nxb2 25.Bxb2 Qxb2 26.Ne2. 24…Bd4 25.Rd1 Re8 26.h3 Re1+ 27.Kh2 Qg1+ 28.Kg3 Ne3 0-1. If 29.Rd2, Black has the choice of 29…h5 or Nf1+ winning more material. A ruthless display by Adams.

Last week’s game was finished off even more ruthlessly by 13 year old Nadia Jaufarally, thus:-

16.Nh6+ Sacrificing a piece with check in order to retain the initiative 16…gxh6 17.Bc4+ Kh8 Now throw in the queen & rook for good measure. 18.Qxe8+ Nxe8 19.Rxe8+ Bf8 Blocking the check with a piece already under attack – feels like a good idea. 20.Rxf8+ Nxf8 21.Be5# Oh dear – the bishops apply the coup de grace. 1–0

In 1910 Alain White published The White Rooks, a collection of 100 positions in which White had only rooks to help administer a swift mate, from which I’ve selected several in recent weeks. The year before, he’d published Knights & Bishops, a collection in which White has no queen or rook, but only the minor pieces in which to finish Black off in short time. This is a 2-mover from that book.

White to mate in 2

Success For Torquay Schoolboys (14.10.2017.) 955

Last weekend saw an International Schools Team Tournament at Millfield School, Somerset, in which the Devon representative was Torquay Boys’ Grammar School. The format involved all schools playing 2 preliminary rounds, on the basis of which teams were allocated to the Championship or Major Section for the 5 subsequent rounds.

Having lost their older and more experienced players to tertiary education, Torquay had a younger team than usual and just failed to qualify for the top section, but were well-placed in the Major. Their team comprised the following players, with their final scores out of 7.

Bd. 1: Vignesh Ramesh (3). 2. Ben Sturt (3½). 3. Jakub Kubiac (3½). 4. Ben Sanders-Watt (3½). 5. Luke Glasson (6½). 6. Isaac Kennedy-Bruyneels (6). 7. Toby O’Donoghue (3½). 8.Oliver Mortimer (2½). 9. Evan McMullan (5½). 10 Kiernan Raine (6). 11. James Gibbs (4½) & 12. Surinder Virdee (5½).

Luke, Isaac, Evan, Kieran and Surinder all won prizes for the Best Board performance.

The final school positions in the Major were as follows: 1st TBGS. 2nd Chepstow School. 3rd St. Benildus College, Dublin. 4th St. Andrews College, Dublin. 5th Colaiste Eanna (Dublin ‘A’). 6th Colaiste Eanna (Dublin) ‘B’.

The Championship Section finished as follows: 1st Gonzaga College (Dublin) ‘A’. 2nd Royal GS. Guildford. 3rd Millfield. 4th Winchester. 5th Q.E. School, Barnet & Gonzaga College ‘B’.

The very strong Isle of Man tournament ended a few days ago, with a victory for World Champion, Carlsen. The draw for Rd. 1 was done randomly, which was lucky for some, like Carlsen and Adams who were drawn against much weaker opponents, while the much closer seeds, Caruana and Kramnik were paired together. Here is Adams’ first game.

White: M. Adams (2738). Black:  V. Bianco (2086).

Caro-Kann – Arkell-Khenkin Variation [B12]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 The Arkell-Khenkin Variation, pioneered by our local player and Russian ex-pat Igor Khenkin. Although a 2nd move by the same piece in the opening would seem to be bad, both had successes with it and pioneered its use. 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 Ba6 8.e6 fxe6 9.0–0 Bxd3 10.cxd3 g6 11.Bf4 Bg7 12.Qe2 Nf6 13.Nd2 Nh5 14.Be5 0–0 15.Nf3 Bxe5 16.Nxe5 An excellent outpost for the knight. 16…c5 17.g3 Qd6 18.Rac1 Rac8 19.Rfe1 Ng7 20.h4 Rf5 21.b4 Rc7 22.bxc5 Rxc5 23.d4 Rc7 24.Qd2 Rf8 25.Rxc7 Qxc7 26.Rc1 Qb7 27.g4 Ne8 28.Qe3 Nc7 29.h5 Kg7 30.hxg6 hxg6 31.Nd7 Rc8 Completing the desertion of their king by Black’s pieces. 32.Qg5 Threatening e5 and e7. 0–1 Analysis shows that 1…Rf8, although losing the rook is the only move to avoid a quicker forced mate. 1–0

In last week’s position played out in Manchester in 1929, after 1.RxB QxR there followed 2.Ng5 threatening both the queen and Rxh7 mate, so 2…Qg6 is forced, but White continues with 3.RxP+ QxR and 4.Nf7+ is what is called a smothered mate – probably the move that Black overlooked when he originally accepted the “gift”.

In this position White has a move that wins significant material.

White to play

50th Torbay Congress 2016 – A Short History.

The 1st Torbay Congress took place in November 1966 at the Raleigh Hotel, Dartmouth. Numerate readers will immediately spot that this should then be the 51st Congress, but about a decade ago the planned venue, the Riviera Centre in Torquay, pulled out at the last minute and no suitable alternative venue could be found at short notice, so the 40th Congress had to held over for a year. It was a feature of the Riviera management at that time that although they were happy to pencil in the dates of the Congress, they would delay confirming it until quite late on, in the hope that they might get a better offer. Usually they didn’t, but on this one occasion they did. This policy, coupled with the ever-rising charges for room hire, meant that eventually they lost the Congress for ever.

But to go back to the beginning, how did it all start? The Torbay League had been created by J. E. Jones and started activities on October 5th 1957. The Paignton Congress and Exeter & District League had both been started in 1953, and this was deemed sufficient to cater for players’ needs at the time. Jones would, in time, almost certainly have got around to the idea of Torbay having its own congress, but by 1963, with the prospect of his school, King Edward’s G. S., Totnes, becoming a comprehensive school, he decided to climb further up the promotional ladder, taking a Master’s degree at Birmingham University before joining the staff at Didsbury Training College in Manchester which was eventually absorbed into Manchester University.

So, without Jones’s authoritarian leadership, how did the idea of a Torbay Congress get off the ground? The owner of the Raleigh Hotel at the time was Henry Baguley, but who contacted who? Those of us who were around at the time (and still are) are fairly sure that it was Baguley who originally had the idea and suggested it to the League management. That year, 1966, he was the newly-appointed President of the Dartmouth Rotary club and would have been looking to do something new to help put Dartmouth on the map. Secondly, his hotel was in need of something to boost bookings at the lowest point of the year – between the end of the holiday season and Christmas, and thirdly, his son, John, was a promising junior chessplayer who had enjoyed successes in the Torbay Schools Chess League and was then the current Devon U-18 Champion, so Henry was keen to provide another arena in which his son could shine.

And so it was that 20 players met at the Raleigh Hotel on Dartmouth’s picturesque waterfront in November 1966. The League’s Secretary at this point was Alan B. Cole, of the Teignmouth Club, so their members got full notice of the new up-coming event, and Ivor Annetts was among that small band of 20 for the first Congress. However, no record of this first event can be found in the official records of the time. Ken Bloodworth, Eddy Jones’s successor as the Western Morning News chess columnist, would certainly have covered it, but the black bin-liners of unsorted cut-out columns that he bequeathed to me did not contain any from this period.

From this small beginning, the event was considered a success and continued year on year, although the contact with the Baguleys did not survive long. The Raleigh Hotel went into receivership a few years later and John Baguley was not seen again on the Westcountry chess scene. The Congress ticked along quietly for a few years, mostly unreported nationally, as the congress scene in Devon was dominated by Paignton and Peter Clarke’s Hexagon-organised events in North Devon, the latter attracting up to 200 players. But the post-Fischer-Spassky explosion of 1972 led to a vast increase in the number of weekend congresses nationally and the young generation of prospective GMs.

By the 1980s the Torbay Congress got an occasional mention in the Forthcoming Events column of Chess, where it was recorded in 1986 that the 21st event would be held on November 21st – 23rd at the Templestow Hotel with Bob Liggitt as Entry Secretary. The BCM of 1980 actually had a brief winners’ list showing that some big name title-hunters were showing up. Open: 1st= Murray Chandler (GM in ‘83) & Craig Pritchett (IM in ‘76). 3rd= Mark Hebden (IM in ‘82) & Michael Franklin. Major: 1st= Ken Bloodworth & A. Chapman. 3rd= Brian Boomsma, Robin Cotton & Ken Gunnell. Minor: 1st= Paul Foster (still a prizewinner 36 years later), A. Robins & N. P. Williams.

Also playing that year, though not appearing in the prizelist, was a youngster celebrating his 9th birthday – a lad with a shining future ahead of him, by the name of Michael Adams.

The congress was a rung on his ladder to grandmasterdom, with a record as follows:-

year   age           section performance

1979    9               Minor       105     15th=

1980   10       Challengers     166     8th=

1981   11       Challengers     155     16th=

1982   12             Open         166      2nd

1983   13             Open          212     1st=

1984   14            Open          199

1985   15            Open           212     2nd

1986   16            Open           238     1st=

Today, that generation of title-hungry aspirants has largely moved on to higher things and the event is left to local players and congress regulars from around the country. It’s now settled at the Livermore House Hotel on Torquay sea-front, the same venue as the Paignton Congress since it was ousted from Oldway Mansion. It hosts both events within weeks of each other, and it suits the players very well as it offers plentiful parking and accommodation, proximity to the town’s railway station and local bus routes, top class service, a bar and restaurant, sea views, spacious playing room etc. For all its grandeur, Oldway Mansion had none of these things.

Anyway, getting back to the point, the 50th Congress, under the leadership of Ken Alexander, a relatively new Congress Organiser, went very well at the Livermead House Hotel. Entries up to 138, but no IMs or GMs among them to scoop the top prizes, which made it more competitive, as witnessed by the prizelist below. Never have more prizes been handed out, whether in cash or kind.

Torbay Congress 2016 – Prizelist.
Prize Winner Club Pts/5 wins
1st W. McDougall Chichester £225
2nd J. Edge Halesown 4 £130
3rd= C. Lowe Exeter £40
J. Menadue Truro £40
U-185 M. Waddington Dorchester 3 £15
R. J. Webster Calderdale 3 £15
U-175 O. E. Wensley Exmouth £15
R. G. Taylor Wales £15
0/2 W. G. Adaway Dorchester £30
1st= R. Sayers 4 £85
R, Burton Weymouth 4 £85
M. O’Brien Plymouth 4 £85
U-159 A. M. Hibbitt Banbury 3 £6
M. R. Wilson Teignmouh 3 £6
Y. Tello Wimbledon 3 £6
R. J. Gamble Derby 3 £6
I. S. Annetts Tiverton 3 £6
U-148 P. Neatherway 3 £15
P. E. Halmkin Teignmouth 3 £15
0/2 N. Mills Teignmouth 2 £30
1st D. J. Jenkins Penwith £120
2nd= S. Williams Cwmbran 4 £65
P. Foster Medway 4 £65
U-132 M. A. Roberts Holmes Chapel 3 £15
R. K. Hunt Seaton 3 £15
U-125 T. J. Crouch Kings Head £15
C. B. Peach S. Hams £15
0/2 M. J. Cuggy Brixham 2 £30
1st= H. Archer-Lock Abbey School 4 £40
J. D. Madden Leamington 4 £40
I. Farrow 4 £40
A. R. Fraser Beckenham 4 £40
G. Daly Downend 4 £40
O. Stubbs Downend 4 £40
R. Greenhalgh S. Hams 4 £40
U-112 M. R. Pope Salisbury 3 £10
A. H. Davies S. Hams 3 £10
P. Saunders 3 £10
U-106 M. Maber Taunton 3 £8
D. F. Burt Bournemouth 3 £8
J. W. Carr Portsmouth 3 £8
H. Welch Seaton 3 £8
U-95 J. Tye Downend 3 £30
U-76 A. Moorhouse Teignmouth £8
K. Hayden Teignmouth £8
Mrs. W. Carr Portsmouth £8
P. Tournier Hastings £8
0/2 E. Prenton £30

Outside the playing hall, looking into the morning sun over Torbay towards Brixham and Berry Head.

Torbay Palms almost masking the playing venue.

Congress Organiser, Ken Alexander, welcomes everyone before the start of Rd. 1

Marian Cox wins one of the first lottery prizes, Brian Gosling's biography of the problemist John Brown, nicely colour-coordinated with her outfit.

General view of the playing room at the start of Rd. 1

Chairman of the Torbay Council, Mr Ray Hill, formally opens the Congress on Saturday morning.

Meyrick Shaw (W) prepares to play Steve Dilleigh.

Ken Alexander introduces former congress secretary, Ray Chubb (left) and chessdevon webmaster Bill Frost with his daughter Debbie.

Chris Archer-Lock (W) plays Graham Bolt, a game that ended with just the 2 kings on the board.

Adams Sprints Home (13.08.2016.)

So, Michael Adams won the British Championship for the 5th time with a record score of 10/11 points, comprising 9 wins and 2 draws. The only other player to achieve this was Julian Hodgson at Plymouth in 1993, but the field then was not as strong as this year, as sponsorship had attracted most of the active grandmasters.

In the final round, as he had already played all his main rivals, Adams was paired against someone far lower in the pecking order. Doubtless it was a great thrill for the 22 yr old Brown to be playing Adams on top board, and he had nothing to lose, except the game itself; everything else was a bonus.

White: Andrew Brown (222). Black: Michael Adams (269).

Scotch Game [C45]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 The Scotch Game  3…exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 8.Nd2 would constitute the Cochrane Attack, but White prefers to develop his knight to c3. 8…Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 Freeing up his constricted kingside position. 10.Qe4 g6 11.Bd3 The bishop might have had more scope on  e2, rather then lining up against Black’s solid fianchetto position. 11…Bg7 12.f4 0–0 13.0–0 White may be shaping up to occupy f5, but Adams decides to get there first, although in itself an unusual move in this position. 13…f5 14.exf6? In the majority of games reaching this position, White usually plays 14.Qe2, as taking en passant gives Black a good open position. 14…Qxf6 15.Bd2 d5 16.Qe2 If 16.cxd5 Bf5 17.Qf3 Qd4+ picking up the bishop. 16…Ba6 17.Rae1 Bxc4 18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Bc1 a5 20.Qc2 Rae8 21.Qa4? The queen departs the battlefield, with no threats of her own, which gives Adams the green light for an immediate all-out attack. 21…Qd4+ 22.Kh1 Rxe1 23.Rxe1 Qf2 Threatening mate. 24.Rg1 Bd4 25.Rd1 Re8 Another piece joins the fray to threaten another mate. 26.h3 Re1+ 27.Kh2 Qg1+ 28.Kg3 Ne3 Threatening mate on g2, but White calls it a day anyway 0–1. If 29.Rd2 h5 etc.

The tournament result demonstrated Adams’ continuing supremacy on the British chess scene, and he shows no sign of slowing down or relaxing his grip. On the other hand, Brown has no cause to feel down-hearted; much will be heard of him in future.

If the British Championship marks the climactic end of the old season, the Paignton Congress marks the start of the new. It begins 3 weeks tomorrow at the Livermore House Hotel on the Torbay seafront. Entry forms may be downloaded from or obtained from Alan Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail It’s his last year as Secretary and a successor is actively being sought.

Last week’s 2-mover was solved by 1.R6a6! when Black has only 2 possible moves. If 1…d3 2.Bg7 mate, or 1…Kxe4 2.Re6 mate.

In this position, both sides have long-ranging pieces, and it could be a case of Who moves wins. In fact it’s White’s move, so is this true? Can he win by

force or be mated himself.

White to play - who wins?

Beer & Blitz – A Celebration In Memoriam (23.04.2016.)

A number of leading chess players have died in recent months, among them England Olympiad veteran Peter Clarke (81) from north Cornwall; financier Jim Slater (86) who called Bobby Fischer a “chicken” in the run-up to his famous 1972 world championship match with Spassky, which, together with a £5,000 bonus from Slater, stung the American into actually turning up; Jeremy James (79) who presented chess tournaments on BBC TV in the 1970s under the title “The Master Game”; writer Dr. Colin Crouch (58) and problemist Sir Jeremy Morse (87), former Chairman of Lloyd’s Bank.

A good advert, incidentally, for the longevity of chessplayers.

David Norwood, a grandmaster who abandoned a career in chess to amass a fortune in commodity trading, took it upon himself to commemorate their lives and achievements in the game by organising and underwriting a very strong blitz chess tournament at the King’s Head pub in Bayswater on 27th February. Sixty four of England’s strongest players played in 8 All-Play-All leagues in the early rounds, changing to knockout when it was down to the last 16 players.

The rate of moves was 3 minutes per player for all moves, but with the digital clocks being used, 2 seconds were added each time a move was made. Unfortunately, electronic boards were not available to record the moves automatically, being played at almost lightning speed, but the later games were videoed and may be seen on-line; just visit and search for “Beer and blitz – Celebration in Memoriam”.

Four grandmasters made the semi-finals, in which Michael Adams beat Luke McShane and Mark Hebden beat Simon Williams. In the final, Cornishman Adams beat Hebden in Game 1 with Black against a Ruy Lopez, and drew Game 2, netting him the £700 first prize. It was another example, if ever one was needed, of Adams’ supreme chess skill – speed of thought and deep knowledge of the game.

Last week’s position was an illustration of the “power of the check”. Whatever else is possible, a check must be dealt with first, which allows White to win a piece with 1.QxB+ KxQ 2.RxQ.

Sir Jeremy Morse, was something of a polymath. After Winchester, he took a Double First at Oxford, and was elected a fellow of All Souls. Not only one of the finest minds of his generation in the City, he was, amongst other things, a classics scholar, a pianist, a lover of poetry and a solver and composer of cryptic crosswords. He was an international chess judge, and in retirement published Chess Problems: Tasks and Records, (Faber & Faber 1995) a collection of some 837 problems, about 50 of them of his own devising. His speciality was the 2-mover, the “purest of all chess exercises”. Here is one of his own compositions from that book.

White to move and mate in 2.

White mates in 2

Big Bucks Bring Bonus? (17.10.2015.)

As reported last week, I came 2nd= in the Minor section of the Bude Rapidplay and received £10 for my efforts, an event as rare as it was pleasing. After all, that’s as much as the great English player J. H. Blackburne won at the super-strong Hastings tournament in 1895. Yet the vast majority of chessplayers don’t play for money, but for the adrenalin rush as an unexpected win comes into view.

Bobby Fischer went some way to correcting this amateur outlook as he fought for vastly increased prize-money and public recognition and consideration for chessplayers. At the time it was, in some quarters, considered somewhat vulgar, but by 1972 he had certainly succeeded in his aims.

Now another American is pushing the cause even further. This is Maurice Ashley, the first African-American Grandmaster, with the support of Amy Lee, an entrepreneur from Vancouver, whose PokerStars company ran its first tournament with a $1,000,000 prizefund in Las Vegas last year, where probably the only UK participant was Exeter’s Tim Paulden who won £1,000 for his efforts. However, his entry fee, or “buy-in”, as they call it, was $1,000.

Last week, they launched into Britain when the prizefund of £35,000 attracted many of Europe’s top players to the PokerStars Isle of Man Tournament, making it probably the UK’s strongest-ever Open International. It finished last weekend in a 3-way tie on 7/11 points between Pentala Harikrishna (India), Laurent Fressinet, (France) and Gabriel  Sargissian, (Armenia). After various tie-rules were invoked and win-bonuses added in, Harikrisha got the title and £16,000, while Fressinet got £11,000 and Sargissian £9,000.

Ashley’s argument is that only big money prizes in chess will grab the world-wide general public’s attention. Bude still has some way to go – not that anyone’s worried about that.

In last week’s position White could have won by 1.Rxh7+ Kxh7 2.Rf7+ Kh8 2. Qg6 and Qh7mate cannot be prevented. But he missed it and eventually lost.

In 1996 Michael Adams was invited to take part in the New York Chess-In-The-Schools Tournament, which he won easily. He reported it in British Chess Magazine, noting (a) that the commentary room was full of inner-city children before whom each player had to go through their game afterwards and (b) all players had to wear a suit and tie throughout; (now there’s an idea). He didn’t mention this Rd. 8 game, but the sharp finish does appear in chess literature.

White: M. Adams (2660). Black: Joel Benjamin (2570).

Sicilian Defence – Alapin Variation. [B22]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 b6 7.Bc4 Ba6 8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.0–0 Be7 10.Nbd2 0–0 11.Ne4 Nac7 12.Bg5 f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Rc1 d5 16.Ng3 Qd7 17.Nh4 Bd6 18.f4 f5 19.Nh5 Qf7 20.Rf3 Kh8 21.Rh3 Rg8 22.Nf3 Qe7 23.Qe2 Ne8 24.Rc6 Qd7 25.Ne5 Qe7 which brings us to this week’s position. How did Adams now demolish the American Grandmaster?

White to play and win.

Adams Stars at Olympiad (23.08.2014.)

The recent 41st Olympiad at Tromsø was won by China, who at the outset were seeded 7th of the 177 participating teams of 4, based on the rating of their players. Second were Hungary (5th seed) and 3rd were India (18th seed). This serves to illustrate how the balance of power is moving from west to east. England came a disappointing 28th (10th seed), Ireland were 66th (62nd seed), Scotland were 83rd (65th seed) and Wales were 105th (98th seed).

One bright spot for England was the outstanding performance of Michael Adams, who scored 6½ points from the 9 games he played. Only a split on tie-break denied him the gold medal for the best individual performance on Board 1, and he had to settle for silver. This game from Rd. 5 against Vietnam was probably his best.

White: Le Quang Liem (2710). M. Adams (2740).

Catalan Opening.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 White goes in for the Catalan Opening, a system named by Tartakover after he tried it in Barcelona in 1929. 3…d5 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Nf3 c6 7.Qb3 0–0 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Rc1 a5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Na3 Qe7 13.e3 Rd8 14.Rab1 g6 15.Qc2 Bg7 16.Rd1 Nf6 17.Ne5 Bd7 18.Nxd7 Rxd7 19.Rd2 e5 Breaking open the centre to create space for his pieces. However it also allows White’s knight to join the fray. 20.dxe5 Qxe5 21.Rbd1 Rad8 22.cxd5 Nxd5 23.Nc4 Qe6 24.Bxd5 cxd5 25.Nxa5 d4 26.exd4 Qxa2 27.Nb3 Qa4 28.Ra1 Qb4 29.Qc3 Qb6 30.Ra4 Qe6 31.Nc5 Forking queen and rook, but Black has a vital check available. 31…Qe1+ 32.Kg2 Rc7 33.Rc2 Qe8! Hitting the undefended rook and threatening …b6 winning the pinned knight. 34.Rc4 b5 35.Rb4 Black may be a pawn down, but this is the beginning of the end for White as Adams launches a powerful attack. 35…Rxc5 36.Qxc5 Forced, as the defending pawn was pinned. 36…Bf8 The point of Black’s sacrifice, as becomes clear. 37.Qxb5 Qe4+ Now both rooks are attacked. 38.Kg1 Qxc2 39.Ra4 Qb1+ 40.Kg2 Qe4+ 41.f3 Qc2+ 42.Kh3 Qd1 43.f4 h5 44.Qc4 Rxd4! 0–1 If now 45.Qxd4 Qf1+ forcing 46.Kh4 Be7+. Or if 45.Ra1 Qg4+ 46.Kg2 Rxc4 In fact, White is mated in every variation. Match drawn 2-2.

Vietnam eventually finished level with England on match points but came 27th on tie-break.

The Paignton Congress starts a week tomorrow at the Livermead Hotel. Enquiries about last minute entries should go to Alan and Linda Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail

The solution to last week’s problem was 1. Bb8! Here is another 2-mover by Lt. Col. George Kirkpatrick Ansell, who was killed in action exactly 100 years ago next week.

Hants Beat Dorset (21.12.2013.)

Last season, the Hampshire and Dorset teams didn’t get together because of a misunderstanding over the start time. This season they got it right and Dorset fell to their opponents by 5–11. Hants names first:-  1.D. Thompson 0-1 M. Littleton. 2.B. Cooke 1-0 G. Searing. 3.S. Smith 1-0 J. Cherryson. 4.C. Priest 1-0 D. Aldwinckle. 5.Miss G. Moore 1-0 J. Balem. 6.B. Kocan ½-½ P. Brackner. 7.S. LeFevre ½-½ I. Willis. 8.J. Young ½-½ P. Errington. 9.R. Devonport ½-½ P. Bland. 10.T. Chapman ½-½ P. Jackson. 11.J. Watts 0-1 F. Fallon. 12. R. Ashman 1-0 J. Kelly. 13.A. Syed 1-0 K. Spooner. 14.K. Steele ½-½ M. Rogan. 15.P. Gething 1-0 M. Kaye. 16.S. Murphy 1-0 Mrs. M. Cox.

NB: Marian Cox had only turned up with her husband, Reg, to watch the match, but as Dorset turned up a player short, she was asked to put in a guest appearance for them.

The premier tournament of the 5th London Classic, the Super Sixteen Rapidplay Knockout was won by the American Hiraku Nakamura. The best British performance was by Michael Adams who reached the Semi-Final by beating Peter Svidler 2-0.

White: M. Adams. Black: P. Svidler.

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 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 Adding pressure to the d-file. In this opening, Black usually hopes to get in …d4 thus freeing up his position. Here he fails to do so and pays the price. 15…Rab8 16.a5 Nc5 17.Nxf6+ Bxf6 Allowing White to win the d-pawn and control of the d-file. 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 Be7 20.Rd2 Bg5 21.Bxg5 hxg5 22.Bg4 b5 23.axb6 Rxb6 24.Nd5! The bishop is pinned. 24…Rb7 25.f3 Rcb8 26.b4 1-0. If 26…Bxd5 27.Rxd5 Ne6 28.Bxe6 fxe6 Black would have 2 sets of doubled pawns, which in a rook ending is not worth wasting energy on when there is a return game to be played soon after. Play might continue 29.Rd6 Rxb4 30.Raxa6 Rc4 31.Rxe6 g4 32.hxg4 Rxc2 33.Rxe5 Rbb2 34.Kh2 Rxg2+ 35.Kh3 and White is 2 pawns up.

The solution to last week’s world premier problem was 1.Nde6! Black’s tries are answered thus: 1…Nxc4 2.Qa8#; 1…Qxc4 2.Qd7# and either 1…Qxg5 or 1…Qxh1 are both answered by 2.Nc7#.

Anyone with more than a few spare minutes over Christmas may like to try this one by Devon’s own “Genius of the Two-Mover”, Comins Mansfield (1896 – 1984). He composed this one in 1930 as a 50th birthday present to his mentor, the American philanthropist, Alain White. It was included in a collection of 185 problems from around the world published under the title Problems By My Friends.

White to mate in 2

Adams’ Fine Performance in Europe.

The European Team Championship was held recently in Porto Carras, Greece. After a dramatic final round, Germany, 10th seeds, came 1st, ahead of Azerbaijan (2nd) and Hungary (3rd). England were 8th seeds but came a disappointing 22nd. The only bright spot was the performance of Taunton resident Michael Adams, whose score of 6½/9 was the best of all the Board 1 players and gave him a tournament rating of 2841.

His best game was his win against former World No. 2 Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine.

White: M. Adams (2734). Black: V. Ivanchuk (2775).

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation.  [B85]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 7.0–0 Be7 8.Be3 0–0 9.f4 characteristic of the thematic early King-side attack against the Sicilian Defence. 9…Nc6 10.Kh1 Bd7 11.a4 Rc8 12.Qe1 d5 13.e5 Ne4 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.c3 Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bc5 17.Bxc5 Rxc5 18.b4 In spite of his earlier 9.f4 White mobilises his Q-side pawns. 18…Rc8 19.Rd1 Qc7 20.b5 axb5 21.axb5 Rfd8 22.c4 Be8 23.Qf2 f6 24.exf6 gxf6 25.Rxd8 Rxd8 26.c5 f5 27.Bc4 Bf7 28.h3 Rc8 29.c6 bxc6 30.b6 Qe7 31.Qb2 Adams was also tempted by 31.Qg3+ Kh8 32.Qc3+. 31…Rb8 32.Ra1 Qc5 After 32…Qd8 33.Qe5 Rxb6 34.Bxe6 and Black’s defences are collapsing. 33.b7 Adams had planned this sacrifice, perhaps thinking it would be more decisive than it is. 33…Qxc4 34.Qe5 Rxb7 35.Ra8+ Be8 36.Rxe8+ Kf7 37.Rh8 Qb5 38.Qd6 threatening Qf8+. Not so good is 38.Rxh7+? Kg6 39.Rxb7 Qxb7 40.Qxe6+ Kg7 41.Qxf5 Qe7 42.Qg5+ Qxg5 43.fxg5 c5 44.Kg1 c4 45.Kf1 c3 46.Ke1 e3 47.Kd1 Kg6 48.h4 Kf5 49.g3 Ke4 etc. 38…Qb4 Better might have been 38…Qb2. 39.Qd8 Qb2 40.Rf8+ Kg7 41.Rg8+ 1-0. Black cannot avoid mate, for if 41…Kf7 42.Qf8# and if 41…Kh6 42.Qg5#.

Meanwhile, Devon’s Grandmaster, Keith Arkell, has won his 5th tournament of the Autumn, following 1sts at the Paignton (6/7) and Torbay Congresses (4/5), Coulsdon (8/9) and the 4NCL Rapidplay (6/7) with clear 1st on 4½/5 at the latest e2e4 event at Brighton on Sunday.

Today the 3rd London Chess Classic starts at Olympia, with the top section featuring Englishmen Adams, Short, Howell and McShane due to face five of the world’s best; Anand, Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik and Nakamura.

In last week’s position White finished quickly after 1.Qxf5! Black cannot retake because of 2.Re8 mate and faces 2.Qf7+ if she doesn’t.

In this game from this year’s British Championship, White is poised to strike, but what is his quickest winning continuation?

White to win quickly

Adams Retains the British Champiobship (13.08.2011.)

The British Championship title has remained in the Westcountry after Michael Adams beat Nigel Short in a dramatic 2 game play-off last Saturday, after tying on 8½ points at the end of the scheduled eleven rounds. The prizemoney was shared £6,000 each but the title could only go to one player, so a rapidplay tie-break was necessary. Adams had black in the first game which was drawn and this was the deciding game.

White: M. Adams (262). Black: N. D. Short (267).

Caro-Kann Defence. [B16]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Unusual. Nc3 is much more common, but Adams will want to put his opponent on the back foot as early as possible. 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 Ruining Black’s kingside pawn structure. 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 e6 8.0–0 Nd7 9.c4 Having castled quickly White wastes no time in attacking White’s queenside where Black will presumably need to castle into later. 9…Qc7 10.Nh4 The knight will be safe here for a while, both defending g2 should the need arise and blocking the advance of Black’s h-pawn. 10…h5 11.h3 Bxe2 12.Qxe2 0–0–0 13.Rd1 Bd6 14.d5 White seeks to break open the centre. 14…Rde8 15.Be3 Bc5 allowing White a vital tempo in his queenside attack. 16.Bxc5 Nxc5 17.b4 Nd7 18.dxc6 Qxc6 19.c5 When time is short it is generally better to attack and be asking the questions. 19…f5 20.Rd4 Qc7 21.Rc1 Kb8 22.Nf3 Rd8 23.c6 Nf6 If 23…bxc6? 24.Rdc4 and the doubled rooks would spell serious trouble. 24.b5 Rxd4 25.Nxd4 b6 26.Qb2 Rh6 27.Nf3 Rg6 28.Ne5 Rg8 29.Rd1 Nd5 30.Nd7+ Ka8 The knight is beautifully placed on d7 but there is a greater need to eliminate Black’s knight. 31.Nf6 Nxf6 32.Qxf6 White now commands the d-file. 32…a6 33.Rd7 Qf4 34.Rd8+! 1-0. The fact that it’s check makes all the difference – not allowing Black a last hurrah. For example, 34.Qxf7? would allow Black counterplay e.g. 34…Qc1+ 35.Kh2 Qf4+ 36.g3?? would give Black a mate in 4. Anything else would probably force a draw by repetition.

So congratulations are due to Michael Adams, Cornish-born Taunton resident who thus retained the title he won at Canterbury last year.

Last week’s position by Lane was solved by 1. Rxf4! threatening 2.Rd4 mate. Black has three tries but White can deal with each one.

This position shows the end of a game from the West of England Championship in 1968 between the former champion H. V. Trevenen (Penzance) and B. A. Heath. The Cornishman was past his best by this stage in his career but was still capable of some sharp finishes. Can you spot White’s 3 move knockout combination?

Trevenen (W) to mate in 3.