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The Essential Role of a County Captain (04.03.2017.)

The role of county captain is not recommended to those of a nervous disposition, but it is a vital job if competitive teams are to be fielded in important matches. The all-conquering Somerset team has lost its captain of recent years, and with no replacement coming forward, it shows. Devon have had the excellent services of Brian Hewson as captain for many years, but he also retired after this match, with no replacement yet identified. How will this affect future Devon teams? On this occasion Devon beat Somerset by 12½-3½ in the 1st team and 11-1 in the 2nd team, and his game follows. Somerset names 1st in each pairing: 1.B. Edgell (200) 1-0 D. Mackle (208). 2.A. Footner (175) 0-1 J. Stephens (193). 3.A. Gregory (164) 0-1 O’Neill (185). 4.J. Lobley (160e) 0-1 S. Homer (190). 5.G. N. Jepps (159) 0-1 T. Paulden (187). 6. L. Bedialauneta (149) ½-½ J. Underwood (183). 7.N. Senior (156) 0-1 B. Hewson (187). 8. C. Purry (149) ½-½ S. Martin (182). 9.C. Fewtrell (143) 0-1 J. Wheeler (174). 10.T. Wallis (144) 0-1 C. Lowe (175). 11.O. Isaac (117) 0-1 P. Sivrev (175). 12. T. Alsop (130) 0-1 D. Regis(175). 13.C. McKinley 0-1 (127) 0-1 P. Hampton (161). 14.M. Baker (137) ½-½ T. Thynne (170).15. A. Byrne (127) 0-1 O. Wensley (168). 16. S. Pickard(129) 0-1 W. Ingham (162).

2nd teams: 1.M. Willis (126) ½-½ B.Gosling (159) 2.A. Stonebridge (121) 0-1 V. Ramesh (154). 3.G. Greenland (113) 0-1 C. Scott (151). 4.J. Beviss (110e) ½-½ L. Hafstad (142). 5. K. Kyriacou (97) 0-1 N. Butland (150). 6. R. Fenton (111) 0-1 M. Quinn (146). 7. R. Harris  (112) 0-1 C. Keen (150). 8.B. Thornley (111) 0-1 M. Stinton-Brownbridge (145). 9.D/f 0-1 I.Annetts. 10.M. Cooper (97) 0-1 R. Whittington (137). 11.D. Smith (91) 0-1 W. Taylor (137). 12.d/f 0-1 R. Wilby.

White: N. Senior. Black: B. W. Hewson.

Queen’s Pawn Game D05

1.d4 Nf6 2.e3 c5 3.Nf3 e6 4.Bd3 d5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nbd2 Qc7 7.0–0 Bd6 8.Re1 0–0 9.e4 Threatening e5 forking bishop & knight 9…cxd4 10.cxd4 10…dxe4 11.Nxe4 Nxe4 12.Bxe4 f5 13.Bc2! h6 14.Bb3 Threatening Black’s pinned e-pawn. 14…Nd8 15.Bd2 Bd7 16.Rc1 Bc6 Black has little choice but to lose his e-pawn, or play much of the game on the back foot. 17.Bxe6+ Nxe6 18.Rxe6 Qd7 19.Qb3? The threat of a discovered check looks attractive but is a mistake.  Black missed the best move 19…Bd5! as the queen cannot take the bishop because of Bxh2+ and the queen is lost. 20.Rce1? Having missed it earlier, he now gets a second chance. 20…Bd5! 21.Re8+ 21…Rxe8 22.Rxe8+ Qxe8 23.Qxd5 White emerges the exchange down. 23…Qc6 24.Qb3 Kf8 25.d5 25…Qe8 26.Nd4 Qe4 Threatening both the unprotected knight and mate on b1. 27.Ne6+ Kg8 28.g3 b6 29.Qb5 29…Re7! 30.Qc6? Probably realising his mistake, White hopefully offered a draw here but Black had also noticed that the d-pawn was now pinned and the knight can taken with impunity. 30…Rxe6! 0–1

Here is a hitherto unpublished 2-mover by Dave Howard of Somerset.

White to mate in 2

Gloucestershire’s Varying Fortunes (24.12.2016.)

Last month, Gloucestershire beat a Somerset side, weakened by defaults, by 9½-6½ points, the details being as follows:- (Glos. names 1st in each pairing). 1.P. Townsend (200) 0-1 J. Rudd (213). 2.J. Stewart (191) 1-0 P. Krzyzanowski (183). 3.N. Hosken (187) 0-1 M. Stanforth (179). 4.M. Ashworth (186) 1-0 A. F. Footner (175). 5.J. Jenkins (181) ½ -½ M. French (170). 6. P. Masters (179) 1-0 Default. 7.J. Jones (176) ½ -½ D. Freeman (163). 8.C. Mattos (174) 1-0 G. N. Jepps (159). 9.P. Kirby (171) 0-1 A. A. Champion (153). 10.P. J. Meade (163) 1-0 R. Knight (150). 11.J. Fowler (158) ½ -½ C. Purry (149). 12.R. Dixon (155) ½ -½  J. E. Fewkes (142). 13.R. Ashworth (153) ½ -½ T. Wallis (142). 14.P. Baker (146) 0-1 C. Strong (133). 15. A. Killey (138) 1-0 Default. 16.I. Blencowe (129) 1-0 d/f.

It was a different story when they subsequently met a strong Devon side. The top half of the match was competitive with Gloucestershire sharing the points 5 – 3, but from board 9 down Devon were able to field a raft of 170+ players, too strong for their opponents to cope with. The details as follows:- (Glos. names first). 1.N. Hosken (187) 0-1 D. Mackle (208). 2.M. Ashworth (186) ½-½ J. K. Stephens (192). 3.J. Jenkins (181) 1-0 Dr. T. J. Paulden (187). 4.P. Masters (179) 0-1 P. O’Neill (185). 5.C. Mattos (174) ½-½ S. Homer (190). 6.D. Dugdale (172) 0-1 Dr. J. Underwood (183). 7.P. Kirby ½-½ B. W. R. Hewson (182). 8.P. J. Meade (163) ½-½ S. Martin (182). 9.J. Fowler (158) 1-0 Dr. D. Regis (175). 10.R. Ashworth (153) ½-½  P. Sivrev (175). 11. P. Baker (146) 0-1 C. Lowe (175). 12.A. Papier (143) 0-1 J.  F. Wheeler (174). 13.A. Killey (136) ½-½ T. F. Thynne (170). 14.I. Blencowe (129) 0-1 P. Hampton (161). 15.A. Richards (123) ½-½  O. E. Wensley (168). 16.P. Bending (115) 0-1 M. O. Marshall (166).

This was the complex game from Bd. 4 in which both players became very short of time.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 d6 5.Bg5 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Be2 c5 8.d5 a6 9.0–0 Rb8 10.Qc2 Qa5 11.a4 Re8 12.h3 Nf8 13.Rfd1 Bd7 14.Bf4 Qb4 15.Ne1 Qb6 16.Ra3 Rbd8 17.a5 Qc7 18.Bf3 Bc8 19.Qd2 N8d7 20.Nd3 b6 21.axb6 Nxb6 22.b3 Nfd7 23.Ne4 Bb7 24.Ra2 h6 25.g4 e5 26.dxe6 26.Bh2 Might have been better in the longer term. 26…Rxe6 27.Nxd6 Bxf3 28.Nxf7 attacking queen & rook. 28…Ne5 Better might have been 28…Qc8 29.Nxd8 Qxd8 30.Rc1 29.Nxd8 Rd6 Not 29…Qxd8? 30.Nxe5 Qxd2 31.Rdxd2 leaving Black the exchange & 2 pawns down. 30.Nxe5 Bxd1? Better would be 30…Rxd2 31.Rdxd2 Bxe5 31.Nd3 Bxb3 An alternative continuation might be 31…Qxd8 32.Bxd6 Bxb3 33.Nxc5 Bxa2 34.Ne6 leaving Black with a bishop for 2 pawns. 32.Ne6! Qc6 33.Bxd6 Bxa2 Black also had 33…Nxc4 34.Qe2 Qxd6 35.Nexc5 Bxa2 but White has threats after 36.Qxa2. 34.Ndxc5 Bxc4 35.Nxg7 Kxg7 35…Nc8 36.Be5 Qxc5 37.Qd8+ Qf8 38.Ne8. 36.Qd4+ Kh7 37.Bf4? 37.Qf6 would have threatened mate after 38.Qe7+ K moves, 39.Qe8. 37…Qd5? 38.Qxd5? 38.Qf6 followed by 39.Be5 would threaten mate. 38…Nxd5 39.Bd6 Kg7 40.e4 Nc3?? 41.Be5+ Kf7 42.Bxc3 1–0

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.Qe4!

This new 3-mover is a little more difficult than usual, so you might need to find a quiet spot somewhere after the Christmas dinner.

White to play and mate in 3

Somerset & Devon Meet Varying Fortunes. (28.05.2016.)

Westcountry teams met with varying fortunes on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the National Stages of the Inter-County Championships. Devon had entered the grade-limited U-180 section and were paired against Middlesex, to whom they lost in the Final last year. This time, however, fate intervened on Devon’s behalf, as a third of the Middlesex team were held up in heavy traffic and while most arrived late, two didn’t make it at all, thus gifting Devon a close win by 8½-7½ in a match they might otherwise have lost.

The details were as follows (Devon names 1st in each pairing). 1.Meyrick Shaw (177) 0-1 W. Taylor (170). 2.Mark Abbott (178) ½-½ M. Dydak (170). 3.John Wheeler (177) 1-0 G. Batchelor (176). 4.Trefor Thynne (167) 0-1 A. Hayler (170). 5.M. Gosling ½-½ R. Harper (172) 6.Paul Hampton 1-0 A. Fulton (170). 7.Dennis Cowley (160) 1-0 R. Kane (164). 8.G. Body (163) 1-0 def. 9.Bill Ingham (158) ½-½ W. Phillips (162). 10.P. Brooks (158) 1-0    J. Kay (162). 11.Brian Gosling (154) 1-0 def. 12.Martin Quinn (159) ½-½ P. Morton (160). 13.Mike Stinton-Brownbridge (158) 0-1 L. Fincham (160). 14.Nick Butland (155) ½-½ L. Boy (153). 15.Kevin Hindom (155) 0-1 A. McGuinness (151). 16.Ivor Annetts (151) 0-1 J. Sargent (152).

Devon thus avenged their 2015 final defeat, and now go on to meet Essex in the semi-final.

Meanwhile, it was a different story for Somerset who had entered the Minor Counties section, which, despite its title, is a much stronger tournament, as there is no grade limit. They were paired against Suffolk who turned up with a 16 man team whose average grade was 182 compared to Somerset’s 145, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Somerset lost the match, but nevertheless 14½-1½ is a crushing defeat. Gerry Jepps was their only winner and Chris Purry got the solitary draw.

Last week’s Frome Congress also incorporated the Somerset individual championships, which go to the highest-placed Somerset player in each section.

These went as follows:  Open: David Buckley (Bath) who received the Denys Bonner Trophy.  Major: Tim Woodward (Trowbridge) got the Leon York Trophy.

Intermediate: Hugo Fowler, (Millfield School) got the Roy Hossell Cup.

Minor: Alastair Drummond (Bristol Cabot) got the Cyril Chapman trophy, and Robert Skeen (Churchill Academy) was awarded the Jean Mackereth Cup for the best ungraded player in the Minor.

The Cotswold Congress starts this morning at the King’s School, Gloucester and continues for 6 rounds until Monday evening. Results next week.

In last week’s position White simply played 1.Rd1! and Black’s forward rook is pinned in two diections, so must fall.

This week’s position is another world premier by Dave Howard. White can clearly spend time chasing the Black king with a series of checks, but how can he mate in just 3 moves?

White to mate in 3

East Devon Congress 2016 – Day 2

Rd. 2 started with Keith Arkell down among the pack, after his draw against John Wheeler, and due to face Stephen Appleby. Steve knew this in advance and collared me to ensure that when Keith came in, a little late as per usual, I would be present to take a commemorative snap. This was duly done (see below). Several new faces appeared, those who’d taken a Friday evening bye.

However, several byes were taken in the afternoon, mainly by the Cornish players involved, plus Jack Rudd, as Cornwall were due to play Somerset at Exminster, a couple of miles outside Exeter. This displayed an admirable loyalty to both their county team and the Congress, but did little for their form, as all three, Saqui, Sellwood and Constable, all lost, in a heavy defeat.

1 Jack Rudd 215 1 0 Jeremy Menadue 187
2 Ben P Edgell 200 1 0 James Hooker 178
3 Patryk Krzyzanowski 199 0 1 Robin Kneebone 177
4 Stephen AJ  Whatley 195 1 0 David Saqui 175
5 James Byrne 178 1 0 Gary Trudeau 160
6 Andrew F Footner 174 1 0 Colin Sellwood 155
7 Andrew M Gregory 165 1 0 Richard Stephens 147
8 Darren Freeman 165 1 0 John Wilman 141
9 Barry Morris 163 1 0 Adam Hussain 130
10 Chris S Purry 154 ½ ½ David R Jenkins 119
11 Roger D Knight 153 1 0 John Constable 119
12 Lander Bedialauneta U/G 1 0 Barry Childs 112
13 Mark R Baker 151 0 1 Jason Henderson UG
14 Neville N Senior 151 1 0 Hugh Brown 94
15 Adrian W Champion 134 1 0 Gabriel Rusalowitz UG
16 Chris TJ McKinley 129 1 0 Chris Hussain UG

One thing began to emerge during the day was the burgeoning strength of the Exeter University players. There were two University teams of 4 in for the Team Prize, and there were other players not included. Since the demise of the University Chess Club some decades ago, after an illustrious history, the number of notable players emerging from the campus to participate in local matches and tournaments, have been few and far between. Past efforts by Exmouth and Exeter club members to revive things on site have met with little positive response. These days, however, players are coming out of the University in significant numbers. Some are joining the local City Club to augment their teams, but there are surely enough to form their own University teams to particiapte in DCCA and Exeter & Dist. Leagues. It just needs a good student organiser to get a grip on things.

A special moment in the chess career of Stephen Appleby, though ultimately it didn't end well for him.


Rd. 2: Rudd vs Littlejohns & Regis vs the Russian Andrei Rozanov


Rd. 2 - Bd. 1 in the Major - Devon elder, Ivor Annetts vs Exeter School pupil, Leif Hafstad.

Dwvon Beat Somerset (13.02.2016.)

After a number of losses to Somerset in recent years, Devon managed to pull one back last weekend in their match at Chedzoy Village Hall, by winning 8½-7½. It was a close but fair result as Devon outgraded their opponents, often significantly, on 11 of the 16 boards. Somerset were a couple of top players light, while Devon had two new strong players, which tipped the balance. The details were: (Devon names first in each pairing). 1.D. Mackle (207) 1-0 J. Rudd (216). 2.J. Stephens (196) 0-1 D. Buckley (205). 3.J. Underwood (186) ½-½ B. Edgell (199). 4.S. Homer (181) 0-1 P. Krzyzanowski (197). 5.S. Martin (184) 0-1 D. Littlejohns (182) 6.A. Brusey (184) ½-½ J. Byrne (173). 7.B. Hewson (176) 1-0 A. Gregory (166). 8.C. Lowe (179) ½-½ D. Freeman (165). 9.D. Regis (180) 1-0 B. Morris (174). 10.J. Wheeler (177) ½-½ G. N. Jepps (167). 11.P. Hampton (175e) 1-0 C. Purry (160). 12.O. Wensley (170) 0-1 R. D. Knight (157). 13.T. Thynne (167) 1-0 L. Bedialauneta (151e). 14.G. Body (163) ½-½ M. Baker (150). 15.W. Ingham (158) 1-0 J. E. Fewkes (147). 16.V. Ramesh (143) 0-1 A. Bellingham (152).

The 2nd team match was a one-sided affair with the more highly-graded Devon team in the ascendant, winning 9½-2½. The details were as follows:- 1.P. Brooks (158) 1-0 J. Lee (141). 2.B. Gosling (154) 1-0 M. Worrall (147). 3.M. Stinton-Brownbridge (158) 1-0 T. Wallis (137). 4. M. Quinn (159) ½-½ (131). 5.N. Butland (155) ½-½ A. Champion (128). 6.K. Hindom (155) 1-0 S. Pickard (138). 7.I. S. Annetts (151) 0-1 C. Strong (155). 8.A. Frangleton (147) 1-0  C. McKinley (142). 9.A. Hart-Davis (151) ½-½ N. Mills (129). 10.C. Scott (149) 1-0 P. Wojcik (119).  11.M. Best (155) 1-0 R. Fenton (104). 12.R. Wilby (142) 1-0 B. Lee (112).

Here is the Devon captain’s win.

White: Brian Hewson (179). Black: Andrew Gregory (165).

Sicilian Defence [B27]

1.d4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.c3 c5 4.e4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.h3 Nc6 7.Be3 Nf6 8.Nc3 a6 9.Rc1 0–0 10.Bd3 e5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.0–0 Qa5 13.Qa4 Re8 14.Rfd1 b5 15.Qxa5 Nxa5 16.b4 Nb7?! 16…Nc4 17.Bxc4 bxc4 18.Nd5 (18.Bg5 Be6 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Nd5 Bxd5 21.Rxd5 Rac8 22.Rc5 Be7 23.R5xc4 Rxc4 24.Rxc4) 18…Nxd5 19.exd5 Bd7 20.Rxc4 Ba4 21.Rd2. 17.a4! bxa4 18.Nxa4 with the threat of Nb6. 18…Nd7? Better might have been 18…Nd6 19.Nb6 Rb8 20.Nxc8 Nxc8 21.Bxa6 Black cannot retake on b4 and that pawn can then make significant progress up the board under the protection of bishops and rooks. 19.Bc4 Nd8 20.Bd5 Rb8 21.Ba7! Rxb4 22.Rxc8 1–0. 22…Rf8 If 22…Rxa4 23.Bb3 White’s rooks and bishops are cutting swathes across the queenside, and Black must lose material. Slightly better would be 22…Rf8, but Black is lost anyway.

In last week’s position Black won decisively with a queen sacrifice. 1…QxR 2.NxQ Nd2+ forcing 3.Ka1 or a2 Ra8 mate.

Here is another new 2-mover from Dave Howard of East Harptree.

White to play and win in 2

East Devon Congress Approaches.

County captains are having to beef up their teams these days if they are to keep up with their opponents, and that means getting their very best players out at weekends. In the Somerset vs Gloucestershire match earlier in the season, this was the game from Board 1.

White: GM Matthew Turner (238) – Black: Joey Stewart (200).

Semi-Slav Defence [D46]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nbd2 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0–0 0–0 8.e4 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nf6 11.Bc2 Re8 12.b3 Bf8 13.Ne5 h6 14.Qd3 g6 15.Re1 Qe7 16.Qh3 Nd7 17.Bxh6 Nxe5 18.Rxe5 Bxh6 Black’s queen has some scope to probe the queenside, but mustn’t neglect queenside development e.g. 18…Qa3 19.Rae1 Rd8 20.Bxf8 Qxf8 21.Rd1. 19.Qxh6 Bd7 20.Rg5 From now on, White conducts a relentless kingside attack. 20…Qf8 21.Qh5 Re7 22.Qf3 How carefully did White check out the possibilities after 22.Bxg6 fxg6 23.Rxg6+ Rg7 24.Rh6 threatening 25.Rh8 mate 24…Re7 25.Rh8+ Kg7 26.Rxf8 Rxf8 27.Qg5+ and Black has R+B for the queen, though they are both somewhat hemmed in and Black will find it hard to shake off the shackles. 27…Kf7 28.Re1 Rg8 29.Qf4+. Clearly he decided not to risk it. 22…Qg7 23.h4 Be8 24.h5 f6 25.Rg3 g5 26.h6 Qxh6 27.Rh3 Qf8 28.g4 Rg7 29.Rh6 Rd8 30.Rxf6 Rf7 31.Qe4 Qe7 If 31…Rxf6?? 32.Qh7 mate. 32.Rxe6 Qd7 33.Re1 Rf8 34.Re7 threatening 35.Qh7 mate 34…Qxe7 35.Qxe7 Rd7 36.Bh7+ 1-0. There would follow 36…Kh8 37.Qxf8+ Kxh7 38.Rxe8 etc.

The 41st East Devon Congress starts 4 weeks on Friday at the Exeter Corn Exchange. The new January grades were published last week, so potential entrants can now be sure of which sections they are eligible for, and need not delay their entries further. These should go to the Entry Secretary, Tim Paulden (e-mail If needed, entry forms are downloadable from the chessdevon website. The available sections are the Open; the Major for under-155 grades and the Minor for under-125 grades.

Here is a game from last year’s congress by one of the joint winners.

White: Dominic Mackle (208). Black: Stephen Dilleigh (185)

Queen’s Gambit [D30]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.e3 Be7 5.Nbd2 0–0 6.Bd3 b6 7.0–0 Bb7 8.b3 Nbd7 9.Bb2 Ne4 10.Qc2 Black is now faced with either losing a key central pawn or weakening his pawn structure in order to defend his knight. 10…f5 11.Rad1 Rc8 12.a3 Ndf6 13.Ne5 Nxd2 14.Qxd2 Nd7 15.f4 Nxe5 16.fxe5 Bg5 17.Qe2 Qe7 18.Ra1 a5 19.a4 dxc4 20.bxc4 Qd7 21.Kh1 c5 22.Rad1 Qxa4 23.d5 Qe8 24.e4 The weakness of Black’s pawns now becomes apparent as White’s queen cuts loose. 24…fxe4 25.Rxf8+ Qxf8 26.Qxe4 g6 27.Qg4 Qh6 28.Qxe6+ Kh8 29.Qxb6 Ba8 30.Rf1 Rf8 31.Qxc5 Rxf1+ 32.Bxf1 Bf4 33.Qc8+ winning the bishop. 1–0

Taken from a recent game, this position is materially level, but Black has a knockout blow available. Can you see it?

Black to play and win by force.

Somerset Lose To Essex In Close Match (27.06.2015.)

Of the Westcountry teams that qualified for the various sections of the National Stages of the Inter-County Championship, only one remains. In the Minor Counties section, Somerset lost narrowly to Essex by 8½-7½ in the semi-final, while in the Under-140 section Hampshire lost 9-7 to Nottinghamshire. On the other hand Devon drew with Lancashire 8-all in the semi-final of the Under-180 section, but won on the tie-break rule, in which  the numbers of the boards on which each team won, are added together and the team with the lower total goes through. Thus wins by the better players are given greater weighting. The Finals will be played next Saturday at Trident College, Warwick, where Devon are due to play Middlesex who beat Warwickshire 11½-4½ in the other semi.

Although losing to a stronger Essex team, Somerset’s match was only decided by the last game to finish. Here are the individual results, with Essex names 1st in each pairing: 1. J. Rogers (216) ½-½ J. Rudd (221). 2. A. P. Lewis (207) 0-1 T. Goldie (208). 3. D. Sands (205) ½-½       B. Edgell (197). 4. J. H. Hodgson (187) ½-½  A. Footner (182). 5. T. Hebbes (193) 1-0 B. Morris (178). 6. D. Spearman (188) 0-1 D. Littlejohns (177). 7. I. Reynolds (186) 0-1 S. Whatley (172). 8. J. Goldberg (185)       0-1 G. N. Jepps (171). 9. I. Myall (185) 1- 0 D. Peters (171). 10.K. White (181) ½-½ P. Cusick (167). 11. S. Rix (178) 1-0  C. Purry (159) 12. J. White (177) ½-½ A. Gregory (157) 13.        N. Twitchell (161) 1 R. D. Knight (157). 14. M. Murrell (158)    1-0 C. Strong, (155). 15. D. Smith (148) 0-1 M. French (154). 16. E. Cocks (144) 1-0 M. Baker (148). (Essex average grade 181 :: Somerset average grade 173).

This was the game won by Max French, a pupil at Millfield School.

White: D. Smith (148). Black: M. French (154).

Caro-Kann Defence – Exchange Variation.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.c3 e6 6.Bf4 Bd6 7.Bxd6 Qxd6 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Re1 a6 11.Nbd2 b5 12.Ne5 Bd7 13.Ndf3 b4 14.Qe2 bxc3 15.bxc3 a5 16.Rab1 Rab8 17.Ng5 h6 18.Rxb8 Qxb8 Black now has to tread carefully, but it’s White who loses his way. 19.Nxd7 Nxd7 20.Nxe6? An idea that loses a piece. Alternatively  20.Nxf7 Rxf7 21.Qxe6 Qf4 22.Rf1 Qf6 23.Qxd5 at least leaves White with 3 pawns for his piece deficit. 20…Re8 If now 20…fxe6 21.Qxe6+ Rf7 22.Bg6 Qf4 23.Bxf7+ Qxf7 24.Qxc6 21.Qg4 fxe6 22.Rxe6 Nf8 23.Rxe8 Of course, not 23.Rxc6?? Re1+. 23…Qxe8 24.Qf5 Qe1+ 25.Bf1 Ne7 26.Qf3 Nd7 27.Qe2 Qxe2 28.Bxe2 Nb6 29.f3 Nf5 30.Kf2 Na4 31.g4 Nd6 32.Bd1 Nxc3 33.Bb3 a4 and White must lose his a-pawn and his bishop can’t cover the queening square of a1. 0–1

The solution to last week’s 2-mover was 1.d6! and if 1…KxN 2. Qh8# ; or 1…RxN 2.Qd5#.

This week you are in the shoes of World Champion Alexander Alekhine in the 1920s, looking for a sharp finish against Black. Can you help him?

White to play

Somerset Retain Top Trophy (14.03.2015.)

The Devon vs Somerset match at the weekend was always likely to be a championship decider, and so it proved. The 1st teams were closely matched on paper for the most part, except for the top 4 boards, all of which went Somerset’s way, making their winning total 10-6, thus retaining the Harold Meek trophy for another year. The details were:- (Somerset names first in each pairing).

1.J. Rudd (221) 1-0   D. Mackle (209). 2.D. Buckley (205) 1-0 J. Stephens (196). 3.A. Wong (199) 1-0 S. Homer (184). 4.B. Edgell (197) 1-0 J. F. Wheeler (184). 5.M. Payne (189) 0-1 P. Sivrev (175). 6.P. Krzyzanowski (187) 1-0 J. Fraser (178). 7.M. Blocinski(185) 0-1 J. Underwood (180). 8.P. Chaplin (182) 1-0 D. Regis (181). 9.A. Footner (182) 0-1 A. Brusey (181). 10.B. Morris (178) ½-½ B. Hewson (176). 11.D. Littlejohns (177) ½-½ M. Abbott (173). 12. D. Painter-Kooiman (175) 1-0 S. Martin (171). 13.J. Byrne (172) ½-½ M. Shaw (173). 14.D. Peters (171) 0-1 W. Ingham (168). 15.G. Jepps (171) ½-½ T. Thynne (168). 16. F. Felício (162) 1-0 M. Stinton-Brownbridge (168).

Devon fared better in the 2nd team match, played over 12 boards. They led by 6½-3½ but Somerset won the last 2 games to finish losing by a single point.

1. D. Freeman (163) ½-½ K. Atkins (160). 2. C. Purry (159) 1-0 N. Butland (158). 3. M. Staniforth (158) 0-1 D. A. Toms (159). 4. A. Gregory (157) 1-0 C. J. Scott (154). 5. C. Strong (155) 0-1 M. Hui (150e). 6. M. French (154) ½-½ B. Gosling (148). 7. M. Worrall (151) 1-0 P. Brooks (152). 8. C. McKinley (149) 0-1 O. Wensley (151). 9. M. Baker (148) 0-1 A. Frangleton (151). 10. C. Fewtrell (148) ½-½ A. Kinder (147). 11. J. Fewkes (145) 1-0 W. Taylor (142). 12. A. Champion (143) 0-1 V. Ramesh (138).

The West of England Championship starts a fortnight on Friday, 3rd April, at the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth. With its relatively limited accommodation already nearing maximum, there’s little time left for late entries, so don’t delay. Enquiries to Meyrick Shaw on 01395-275494 or e-mail

This last round miniature gave White 1st prize in the recent Bristol Congress.

White: P. Krzyzanowski. Black: M. Lewis

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.cxd5 Nxg5 7.Nxg5 e6 8.Nf3 exd5 9.e3 0–0 10.Be2 c6 11.0–0 Bf5 12.Bd3 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 Nd7 14.b4 a6 15.a4 Qe7 16.b5 axb5 17.axb5 f5 18.bxc6 bxc6 19.Ra6 Rxa6 20.Qxa6 Rf6 21.Qc8+ Bf8 22.Rb1 Black now abandons his defences with fatal consequences. 22…Qa3?? 23.Qxd7 Qxc3 24.Ng5 and mate on h7 is unavoidable. 1–0

In last week’s position Rudd played 1.Rxd4! threatening both f2 and e5. 1…Nd2 (If 1…exd4 2.Bxd4 R2f7 3.Nb6+ Kb8 4.Be5 winning). 2.Rxd2 Rxd2 3.Rc4 Qxc4 4.Bxc4 Rxg2 5.Nb6+ and mate will follow after Qxe5+.

Here is another world premier 2-mover from reader Dave Howard of East Harptree.

White to mate in 2

Wins for Devon and Somerset (31.01.2015.)

Devon beat  Hampshire 12½-3½ at Ilchester Town Hall, a margin that belies the toughness of the encounter. However, it was Devon’s strength in depth that made the difference, demonstrated by the fact that Devon’s lower half scored 7-1. The details were: (Devon names first in each pairing).

1.D. Mackle (203) 1-0 I. Thompson (213). 2.J. Stephens (194) 1-0 D. Tunks (197). 3.S. Homer (188) 1-0 C. Bellers (185). 4.P. Sivrev (187) 1-0 P. Cooper (177). 5.T, Paulden (185) ½-½ R. Marsh (176). 6.J. Fraser (182) 0-1 A. Cooper (174). 7.J. Wheeler (181) 0-1 D. Fowler (173). 8.J. Underwood (179) 1-0 S. Knox (170). 9.D. Regis (176) 1-0 T. Davis (167). 10.A. Brusey (176) 0-1 S. Smith (160). 11.B. Hewson 1-0 C. Priest (158). 12.W. Ingham (176) 1-0 D. Thompson (156). 13.M. Abbott (173) 1-0 R. Ashmore (147). 14.M. Shaw (170) 1-0 T. Chapman (144). 15.G. Body (169) 1-0 Miss G. Moore (142). 16. M. Stinton-Brownbridge (164) 1-0 D. Culliford (133).

At the same time, Somerset were facing Gloucestershire, and emerged winners by 10-6. Glos names first.

1.J.Stewart (207) ½-½ J. Rudd (224). 2.P. Meade (182) 0-1 D. Buckley (207). 3.N. Hosken (181) ½-½ B. Edgell (198). 4.C. McLaren (181) ½-½ P. Chaplin (189). 5.M. Ashworth (179) 0-1 M. Payne (186). 6.J. Jenkins (176) 0-1 P. Krzyzanowski (182). 7.P. Kirby (173) 1-0 R. Hearne (181). 8.P. Masters (166) ½-½ D. Littlejohns (178). 9.P. Dodwell (163). ½-½ D. Painter-Kooiman (178). 10.B. Whitelaw (159) 0-1 B. Morris (175). 11.R. Ashworth (151) ½-½ P. Cusick (169). 12.C. Haynes (146) ½-½ D. Peters (164). 13.A. Walker (134) 0-1 G. N Jepps (163). 14.P. Baker (132) ½-½ R. Knight (152). 15.T. Chinnick (128) 1-0 C. Purry (152). 16.P. Bending (122) 0-1 M. Blocinski (U/G).

Here is Devon’s win on Bd. 2.

White: P. Meade. Black: J. Stephens.

Sicilian Defence – Moscow Var. [B51]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Qd1 Ngf6 8.Nc3 h6 9.0–0 Nc5 10.Bd3 Be7 11.Re1 Be6 12.Qe2 Rc8 13.Be3 Qc7 14.Bxc5 Qxc5 15.h3 0–0 16.Na4 Qc6 17.b3 b5 18.Nb2 Qc3 19.Rab1 Nh5 At the cost of a pawn White prevents the knight coming to f5. 20.g3 Bxh3 21.Nd1 Qc5 22.Ne3 Nf6 23.c4 b4 24.Rbd1 a5 25.Bc2 Rfd8 26.Rd2 Qc6 27.Qd3 g6 28.Nd5 Nxd5 29.Qxd5 a4 30.bxa4 Qxc4 31.Bb3 Qxd5 32.Rxd5 Rc3 33.Nd2 White is looking for an outpost for his knight on c4, though it does cramp his forward rook, at least temporarily. 33…Bd7 The warning lights should be flashing. 34.a5?? …. but they’re not. 34…Bc6 0–1 White’s rook is trapped.

The solution to Dave Howard’s “really easy” problem last week was 1.Qa2! If 1…Rh7 2.Be7 mate or 1…Ka7 2.Bc5 mate.

This position arose near the end of a recent game in the Devon Individual Championship – Paulden vs Ingham. How did White win quickly?

White to play and win.

Somerset beat Hants (29.11.2014.)

The Somerset captain reports on their match against Hampshire at Mere on Saturday. The final score of 12 – 4 to Somerset looks like a crushing defeat for Hants, but it was far from that, apparently, as many games were keenly contested until late on. However, the fact that Somerset out-graded their opponents by, on average, 11 points on every board, made it likely that the stronger team on paper would pull through.

The details were as follows: 

1 Jack Rudd 224 1 0 Tunks, Dominic R 197
2 Peter E Chaplin 189 ½ ½ McDougall, William M 189
3 Andrew F Footner 187 ½ ½ Bellers, Chris J 185
4 Matthew J Payne 186 1 0 Marsh, Roger DW 176
5 Mike Richardt 184 1 0 Fowler, David W 173
6 Patryk Krzyzanowski 182 ½ ½ Knox, Stuart W 170
7 David P Littlejohns 178 1 0 Davis, Timothy 167
8 David Painter-Kooiman 178 0 1 McLeod, Fraser N 166
9 Barry Morris 175 1 0 Jones, Gareth Aneurin 158
10 James Byrne 165 1 0 Priest, Christopher PA 158
11 David Peters 164 0 1 Thompson, David F 156
12 Gerry N Jepps 163 1 0 Ashmore, Roy E 147
13 Andrew M Gregory 158 ½ ½ Chapman, Timothy J 144
14 Darren Freeman 158 1 0 Chilton, James I 143
15 Chris S Purry 152 1 0 Moore, Gillian A 142
16 Maciej Blocinski U/G 1 0 LeFevre, Stephen D 142
  totals 2785 12 4   2613