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Inter-County Union Stages – Final Positions (31.03.2012.)

At the West of England Chess Union’s executive meeting on Saturday, their Competitions Secretary, Phil Meade of Cheltenham, was able to give the full results of the inter-county tournament. In Division 1 (the Harold Meek Cup) the overall winners were Somerset who now go on compete in the National Stages, namely the quarter-final of the Open Section, probably against Yorkshire. Second equal were Devon and Hampshire with 2 wins and 2 losses each. Devon have elected to play in the U-180 section of the National Stages and will meet the runner-up of the SCCU.

Hampshire qualified for both the Minor Counties and U-140 sections. 4th= were Cornwall and Gloucestershire with a win and a draw each. Cornwall always choose not to go forward into the National Stages, while Glos have also qualified for the Minor Counties section.

In Division 2, Devon retained the Wayling Cup with a maximum 6 points, followed by Hants on 4, Somerset on 2 and Dorset bringing up the rear.

Here is a game from the recent Devon v Glos. match in which White sacrifices three pieces in order to press home his attack. The winner is 17 years old while his opponent is just 12.

White: Jeff Leung (165). Black: Michael Ashworth (149).

Sicilian Defence – Dragon Variation. [B76]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 Nc6 8.Qd2 0–0 9.f3 Bd7 10.0–0–0 White castles long before launching a fierce attack against the Black king in its strong fortress. 10…a6 11.h4 h5 11…Nh5 would both threaten Ng3 and allow Black to try and draw the sting of White’s attack by exchanging off some pieces. 12.Rdg1 Ne5 13.Nd5 Rc8 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.g4 Kh7 16.gxh5 gxh5 The open g-file is the key to White’s victory. 17.f4 Ng4 18.f5 Nxe3 19.Qxe3 Qb6 20.Qf3 Bg7 21.Rxg7+ the first of White’s exchange sacrifices. If 21.Qxh5+ Bh6+ 22.Kb1 Qxd4 leaving the Black pieces with enough space to both attack and defend. 21…Kxg7 22.f6+ exf6. If 22…Kh6 23.Qxh5#; or 22…Kg8 23.Rg1+ Bg4 24.Rxg4+ Kh8 25.Rg8+ Kxg8 26.Qg3+ Kh7 27.Qg7#. 23.Rg1+ Bg4 and now the 2nd  sacrifice. 24.Rxg4+ 24.Nf5+ would leave the rook unprotected. 24…hxg4 25.Qxg4+ Kh8 26.Nf5 There is no defence – just a bravado check. 26…Rxc2+ 27.Kxc2 Rc8+ 27…Qc5+ makes no difference. 28.Kb1 1–0 resigned in view of  28…Rg8 29.Qh5#.

In last week’s position, White plays Nf6! After which Black can move only his bishop or rook. If the bishop moves White has QxR mate, and if the rook moves he has Qxg7 mate. Any Black move only makes things worse, so he is in “Zugzwang”.

Here is another example from the game Sämisch vs Nimzowitch (1923). Black is making no specific threat at this point, but it is White’s move and he can only worsen his own position whatever he does, so Sämisch resigned. Could you have done any better?

Samisch vs Nimzowitsch - is White truly in zugzwang?

WECU’s British Championship Qualifying Place

The English Chess Federation annually reserves four places in the British Championship for players nominated by the West of England Chess Union. WECU passes on three of these to events in its area that meet certain criteria, like the Torbay and Frome Congresses, while retaining one place for its own Easter Congress. This place is offered to the highest-placed, eligible player in the Open section. Eligibility depends on the player being either born or currently resident in, or attending a school or college in one of the seven counties comprising the Union, and not already qualified by some other route.

This year, the winner of the Open, Steve Berry was ineligible on all counts. Equal 2nd were M. Turner and D. Mackle, but the former is pre-qualified by virtue of being a GM and Mackle could not spare the time off, so the offer was made to Patryk Krzyzanowski who has lived in Yeovil for about three years. He seems likely to accept, once he has worked out the details.

He recently won the Teignmouth RapidPlay and here scored 4 points and is clearly very strong for his grade which is sure to rise when the new grading list comes out. Here is his game against the current Devon Champion.

White: P. Krzyzanowski (177). Black: M. V. Abbott (177).

Benko Gambit  [A57]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 3…b5 The signature move of the Benko Gambit. 4.cxb5 4a6 5.b6 5.bxa6 is more usual, but White does not wish to play into Black’s hands, as he correctly assumes Black will know well all the common lines. 5…g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.e4 d6 8.Qb3 Bb7 9.a4 a5 10.Bb5+ Nbd7 11.Bc6 Bxc6 12.dxc6 Nxb6 13.Nd5 Nbxd5 14.exd5 White’s two advanced pawns now look well-entrenched. 14…Rb8 15.Qf3 0–0 16.Ne2 e6 17.Bg5 h6 18.c7! The Black Queen is now compromised and cannot defend both c7 and f6 at the same time. 18…Qxc7 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Qxf6 exd5 Black comes out of this skirmish having lost a piece for 2 pawns. 21.0–0 d4 22.Rae1 Qd8 23.Qf4 Rxb2 24.Qxh6 Qf6 25.Nf4 Qg7 26.Qg5 c4 Black’s 3 passed pawns must shuffle forward as and when they can if he is to stand any chance. White must generate his own threats, possibly using his extra piece rather than being solely defensive as the advancing pawns with soon become increasingly powerful. 27.Re7 d3 28.Nd5 Qd4 The threat is 29.Nf6+ Kh8 30.Qh4+ etc. 29.Re4 Qc5 If 29…Qxe4 30.Nf6+. 30.Ne7+ Kg7 31.Nd5 Kg8 32.Rh4 Rxf2 33.Rxf2 Rb8 34.Rh8+ and Black resigned in view of  34…Kxh8 35.Qh6+ Kg8 36.Nf6 mate or 34…Kg7 35.Qf6 mate 1–0

Last week’s problem by G. F. Anderson was solved by 1.Rb4-b6! If that was tricky, try this easier one. Black is about to queen but doesn’t get the chance as White mates next move.

White to play and mate immediately.

West of England Championship & Congress (30.04.2011.)

Eighty players enjoyed the most beautiful weather over the Easter weekend for the WECU Congress held on the Beacon, high above Exmouth’s busy sea-front. The prizewinners were as follows:-

Open Section: 1st  Stephen Berry (214) Wimbledon 6/7 pts. 2nd= Matthew Turner (233) Glastonbury & Dominic Mackle (194) Newton Abbot both 5. Grading prizes (188-170) Patryk Krzyzanowski (177) Yeovil    4.

(U-170) 1st = David Stephenson (168) Hull & David Littlejohns (167) Taunton both 3½.

The West of England Championship was awarded jointly to M. Turner & D. Mackle, and the Qualifying Place for the British Championship in August was offered to Krzyzanowski.

Major Section (U-175): 1st Robert Thompson (173) Newton Abbot 6½. 2nd = Adam Clarke (164) Torquay & Brian Gosling (159) Exmouth both 5. Grading prizes (156-149) John Gorodi (150) Teignmouth 4. (U-149 Martin Worrall (138) Taunton 4.

Minor Section (U-140): 1st A. Wright (128) Plymouth 5½. 2nd= Dinah Norman (139) & Malcolm Roberts (138) both 5. Grading prizes (130–115): Roger Waters (124) Taunton & Paul Foster (121) both 4½. (U-115) Alan Fraser (113) 4.

Probably the best game of the tournament came in the final round when Mackle was drawn to play Turner who was joint leader. Notes based on those by the winner.

White: D. Mackle (191). Black: M. Turner (233).

Queen’s Gambit – Slav Defence

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 initiating a pawn sacrifice in order to gain space. 5.a4 is usual. 5…b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 e6 8.axb5 Bb4 9.Bd2?! possibly dubious as Black will be forced to lose this important bishop. 9…Bxc3 10.bxc3 cxb5 11.Ng5 White now launches an early attack – a critical decision. There now follows a mighty struggle. 11…Qd7 12.Qh5 Nc6 13.Be2 Bb7 14.0–0 Kf8 If 14…h6 15.Ne4 a6 16.Nd6+ the supreme position for any knight. 15.f4 f5 16.exf6 Nxf6 17.Qh3 Re8 18.f5 exf5 19.Rxf5 Bc8 20.Bg4 Qd6 21.Rxf6+ gxf6 Not 21…Qxf6 22.Rf1 Bxg4 23.Qxg4 Qxf1+ 24.Kxf1. 22.Qh6+ Kg8 23.Bh5 Rf8 24.Rf1 Qe7 25.Bf3! This bishop manoeuvre is the key to paralysing Black’s defence. Qd7 26.Be4 Nd8 27.Rf3 Ne6 28.Nxe6 Qxe6 29.Rg3+ Kf7 30.Bxh7 Qd6 31.Bf4 Qd5 32.Qg7+ Ke8 33.Re3+? missing a mate in 2 e.g. 33.Bg6+ Kd8 34.Bc7# but the end is near anyway. 33…Be6 34.Bc7 Rhg8 35.Bg6+ 1–0

A fine game, enabling Mackle to catch his opponent on 5 points and thus share the Championship. Pictures and reports may be found on the keverelchess website and games on chessdevon.

Last week’s problem by D. Howard was solved by 1.Bd6! which cuts off a3 as an escape square for the King when White plays 2.b3 mate.

This 2-mover was composed by Gerald Francis Anderson and was first published in this paper in 1922.

White to mate in 2 moves

WECU Congress – 7th & Final Round

The Open Section started with joint leaders on 5/6, Matthew Turner and Steve Berry. In ideal circumstances they would have to play each other at this stage, but they had already met, so altrenatives had to be found, and to some extent this favoured Berry. He was White and was paired against Stephenson, graded 168 and on 3.5, whereas Turner had Black facing Mackle, graded 194 on 4 pts.

In the event, Mackle stormed out of the blocks and was pressuring Turner from the opening moves, eventually forcing resignation on move 35 after a cracking game, that drew a ring of spectators for much of the later stages. Berry, meanwhile, had little trouble in getting the full point from his opponent and was clear winner, taking the winner’s cheque.

He was ineligible for the title of WECU Champion and the Union’s British Championship Qualifying Place, as eligibility is based on (a) Birth in the 7 constituent counties, (b) residence in same and (c) attendance at a school or other educational establishment in the area. As Mackle had caught up Turner, both on 5 points, it was decided they should share the trophy for the year. Mackle had it first and would pass it on. This left the question of the QP, as Turner was pre-qualified by virtue of his GM title, and Mackle declined the offer as he was unable to get the time off to play for two weeks in Sheffield. Rudd was next in line but was already qualified, so the offer was made to Patryk Krzyzanowski, a Pole who has lived in Yeovil for at least 3 years. He was unfamiliar with what was being asked of him and was initially unsure as to how he would respond, but is happily a clubmate of the event Secretary, Andrew Footner and would keep in touch with him on the matter. He is the likely Qualifier.

Megan Owens, meanwhile, was declared the West of England Ladies Champion, by virtue of being the highest scoring lady in the highest section where lady players are involved. See pictures below.

A full list of prizewinners may be found at the end of this report.

GM Turner is soon on the back foot after these opening moves.

  WECU Open       Round 7  
Bd. White       Black  
1 Mackle, D. 4 1 0 Turner, M. J. 5
2 Berry, S. J. 5 1 0 Stephenson, D. W. 3½
3 Rudd, J. 3½ 1 0 Krzyzanowski. 4
4 Smith, A. P. 3½ 1 0 Bolt, G. 3
5 McMichael, R. J. 3 1 0 Abbott M. V. 3
6 Littlejohns, D. P. 3 ½ ½ Cumming, R. 3
7 Bartlett, S. ½ ½ Bass, J. W. 3
8 Brusey, A. W. 1 ½ ½ Dilleigh, S. P. 2½
9 Hamilton, S. L. 1½ ½ ½ Owens, M. R. 2

Meanwhile, in the Major, some of the tension was removed as Thompson had already got 1st prize in the bag the previous evening. Brian Gosling was drawn to play his clubmate, Oliver Wensley, for 2nd place, and the more experienced Gosling won that one, tieing with A. Clarke. John Gorodi of Teignnmouth won the 1st grading prize while Martin Worral of Taunton got the lower one. One feature of this section was the closeness of it all, with the two bottom grades (Wensley & Worrall) were involved in the top 3 games in the final round, and their were no really low scores.

The flame-haired Thompson plays Martin Worral on Bd. 1

Wensley (in blue) plays his clubmate Brian Gosling.

Andrew Wright led the Minor overnight, and there was some interest as to whether his swashbuckling style, which had got him to 5.5/6, would hold out for one more game. It soon became clear that it would, as he threatened to sweep away the in-form Paul Errington. In a very strong position, Wright offered a draw in order to clinch 1st prize and Errington had little choice but to accept, as post-game analysis showed that Wright would have won within a few moves. Dinah Norman and Malcolm Roberts both won to put them half a point behind in 2nd place.

Andrew Wright stormed to a win in the Minor Section.

Joint West of England Champions - Turner & Mackle.

Megan looking radiant as WECU Ladies Champion.

Andrew Footner starts the presentations - ladies first.

Stephen Berry with the overall winner's cheque for £340

Patryk Krzyzanowski, currently has the British QP offer.

Brian Gosling, Exmouth's only prize-winner

Dinah Norman, former 3X British Ladies Champion, won a prize in the Minor.

Section   Name Grd Club Pts
Open 1st Stephen Berry 214 Wimbledon 6
  2nd = Matthew Turner 233 Glasonbury 5
    Dominic Mackle 194 Newton Abbot 5
Grading (188-170)   Patryk Krzyzanowski 177 Yeovil 4
(U-170)   David Stephenson 168 Hull
    David Littlejohns 167 Taunton
WECU Champions   M. Turner & D. Mackle      
British QP   P. Krzyzanowski      
MAJOR (U-175) 1st Robert Thompson 173 Newton Abbot
  2nd = Adam Clarke 164 Torquay 5
    Brian Gosling 159 Exmouth 5
Grading (156-149)   John Gorodi 150 Teignmouth 4
Grading (U-149   Martin Worrall 138 Taunton 4
MINOR (U-140) 1st Andrew Wright 128 Plymouth
  2nd = Dinah Norman 139 Berkshire 5
    Malcolm Roberts 138 Holmes Chapel 5
Grading (130 – 115)   Roger Waters 124 Taunton
    Paul Foster 121 Medway
(U-115)   Alan Fraser 113 Beckenham 4

WECU Congress Rd. 6

Now getting to the sharp end – the penultimate round.

  WECU Open       Round 6  
  White       Black  
1 Krzyzanowski, P. 4 0 1 Berry, S. H. 4
2 Turner M. J. 4 1 0 Rudd, J. 3½
3 Abbott M. V. 3 0 1 Mackle, D. 3
4 Cumming, R. 3 0 1 Smith, A. P.
5 Stephenson, D. W. 2½ 1 0 Bartlett, S. 2½
6 Dilliegh S. P. 2½ ½ ½ McMichael, R. J. 2½
7 Bolt, G. 2 1 0 Owens, M. R. 2
8 Bass, J. W. 2 1 0 Hamilton, S. 1½
9 Brusey, A. W. 1 0 1 Littlejohns, D. P. 2


At the end of the penultimate round, the Championship Section looked like this:

Bd. 1 players get acquainted. Krzyzanowski (rt) ended his run of 4 wins.

Rudd races to a loss against joint leader Turner.

Thompson (rt) won the Major with a round to spare.

WECU Congress Rd. 5

Easter Morning dawned with overcast skies, but by mid-morning the sun had burned off the cloud cover and it was soon back up to a very pleasant 20 degrees. 

As players got their games under way, there were a few vacant spaces left by the late-comers. In the Open, there were two players in particular, on opposite sides of the room, waiting for their opponent to turn up – both had started their clocks and the one with White having made his move. It was some minutes before the Controller realised they should actually be playing each other – one had sat at the wrong table. No names – no pack drill. 

Just before the start of play, I managed (eventually) to gather together the four lady players together for a special group photograph. I had notified them of my intentions the previous afternoon, but one had had a bye and was not in the building, so I would try again in the morning. But getting them together in one place and to stay in one place, while I went off to find the fourth missing member, and having got her, only to find one of the other three had also gone missing. The phrase ” like herding cats” may sound cruel but it did cross my mind. However, success was achieved with a minute to spare. It was certainly worth the trouble. 

A Special Group Photograph


Standing: Megan Owens – a pupil at Millfield School, with numerous titles already to her name: already a veteran Wales Junior International, Wiltshire and WECU Girls titles, with many more surely to follow. 

Seated (l-r): Hazel Welch – current WECU Ladies Championship. 

Dinah Norman – former British Ladies Champion several times in a former existence as Dinah Dobson. 

Marian Cox – former Kilkenny Ladies Champion. 

I’m sworn not to mention which years. 

  WECU Open       Round 5  
  White       Black  
1 Berry, S. H. ½ ½ Turner, M. J.
2 McMichael R. J. 0 1 Krzyzanowski, P. 3
3 Bartlett, S. 2 0 1 Rudd, J.
4 Mackle, D. 2 1 0 Smith, A. P.
5 Owens, M. 2 0 1 Cumming, R. 2
6 Abbott M. V. 2 1 0 Bass, J. W. 2
7 Littlejohns, D. P. ½ ½ Dilleigh, S.
8 Stephenson, D. W. 1 0 Brusey, A. W. 1
bye Bolt, G. & Hamilton          

WECU Congress Rd. 4

One tragi-comic incident took place this afternoon. A local player, who shall be nameless, remembered to switch off his mobile phone before sitting down to play, taking care to press the “off button”. However, as with most computers, one has to hold down the button for several seconds before it actually does what you want it to do. A quick jab on the button is not necessarily enough to de-activate said device. Now, this person had a married friend who was going to come down to the hotel with his wife and child, and was going to take photographs of him in play. To double check the arrangements, he phoned his chess-playing friend up. The phone goes off in his pocket and on losing the game this way, he goes off somewhere to be alone and curse his fortune. After he’s gone, the friend and his family turn up, wanting to know where Joe Bloggs is playing, blissfully unaware of what he had done. 

The results in the Open near the end of Rd. 4 are shown after these pictures:- 

Rd. 3: Meg Owens vs Alan Brusey.

Blind player, Stan Lovell and his patient guide-dog.

Rd. 4: Smith vs Berry.

Andrew Wright with his electronic cigarette.

Rd 4: Turner vs McMichael.

  WECU Open     Round 4
  White     Black
1 Turner, M. J. 1 0 McMichael, R.
2 Smith, A. 0 1 Berry, S
3 Krzyzanowski, P. 1 0 Abbott, M. V.
4 Rudd, J. ½ ½ Littlejohns, D.
5 Cumming, R. Unf. unf. Mackle, D.
6 Bass, J. ½ ½ Owens, M.
7 Bartlett, S. 1 0 Hamilton, S.
8 Dilleigh, S. ½ ½ Stephenson,
9 Brusey, A. W. ½ ½ Bolt, G.

WECU Congress Rd. 3

Saturday, and another glorious morning dawns by the seaside – the Daily Express headlines the “Hottest Easter for 100 Years“, yet a gentle seas breeze keeps the temperature down to a very pleasant 20 degrees. Cloudless skies, the tide’s in and there are crowds on the beach below the Hotel. What could be better!

The players seem lulled into a soporific state of mind as they gather in the playing hall, up to the point where they settle down and push the first pawn. Humour and goodwill to fellow men, especially the one sitting on the other side of the board, are instantly evaporated – and that goes for the women, too. Dinah Norman was bewailing how, even in the Minor section, everyone presses for a win – not even the top seeds get an easy ride. Having just been pushed to the very last minute of extra time by Hazel Welch (115), I can vouch for that. I was staring defeat in the face for much of the time, but managed to pull off an outrageous swindle with seconds remaining.

Results of the morning’s bloodletting were as follows:-

  WECU Open     Round 3
  White     Black
1 Smith, A. ½ ½ Turner, M. J.
2 Berry, S. 1 0 Rudd, J.
3 McMichael, R. 1 0 Cumming, R.
4 Abbott, M. V. ½ ½ Littlejohns, D.
5 Mackle, D. ½ ½ Bartlett, S.
6 Bolt, G 0 1 Krzyzanowski, P.
7 Hamilton, S. ½ ½ Dilleigh, S.
8 Owens, M. 1 0 Brusey, A. W.
9 Price, C. R. 0 1 Bass,
bye Stephenson      

WECU Congress Rd. 2

The second round got under way after a few announcements.

(a) There was a general round of applause for the recent achievements of two of the juniors present: Theo Slade (recently selected for the English U-11 Squad) and Meg Owens who became the WECU U-18 Girls Champion at Swindon in February.

(b) Reference was made to the plight of Alf Bullock of Dorset who is terminally ill in a nursing home. He had played in every WECU Congress and Seniors Congress held at the Hotel since 1999, 20 events in total. His friend Dave Burt had provided a card for anyone to sign, which he would take to Alf early next week.

The pairings in the Open were as follows: (results will be filled in a.s.a.p.)

  WECU Open     Round 2
  White     Black
1 Turner, M. J. 1 0 Bolt, G.
2 Cumming, R. ½ ½ Berry, S.
3 Dilleigh, S 0 1 Smith, A.
4 Rudd, J. 1 0 Owens, Meg.
5 Bass, J. W. 0 1 McMichael, R.
6 Littlejohns, D. ½ ½ Mackle, D.
7 Stephenson, D. 0 1 Krzyzanowski, P.
8 Brusey, A. W. ½ ½ Hamilton, S.
9 Bartlett, S. 1 0 Price, C. R.
bye Abbott      

 By the end of Rd. 2, of the 80+ players in total, only 4 were left of 2/2. These were Turner & Smith inthe Open, and P. Errington and P. Dimond in the Minor.

Matthew Turner on his way to a Rd. 2 win against Bolt.

Rudd vs Meg Owens, with Smith considering his 1st move.

Top 3 boards in the Minor - Theo Slade, Hazel Welch & Dave Burt all with White..

Top 3 boards in the Major.

WECU Championship Preparations

Thursday is Preparation Day for the 64th WECU Championship and Congress, due to start tomorrow at the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth.

Hotel staff have been putting out the tables and cloths all afternoon (I’m assured); John & Christine Constable, of CCF MindGames, will be arriving in town any time now, bringing all the playing equipment and bookstall. A few helpers will arive c. 6 p.m. to start setting out the sets etc. The Mayor of Exmouth, Cllr. Darryl Nicholas, has been booked to arrive in time for the Opening at 10 a.m. The weather is set to be near-perfect, so the show is almost ready to roll.

At the last count, top seeds in the Open were Jack Rudd (208); Stephen Berry (215); Rhys Cumming, a 16 yr. old pupil at Millfield with a grade of 191; former Devon Champions Dominic Mackle (191) and Alan Brusey (175) and the current Champion, Mark Abbott of the local club. Martyn Simons has expressed an intention to play, but no entry form has yet been seen. Of these, all but Stephen Berry are eligible for the Championship Cup and British Championship Qualifying Place. Berry will, of course, take, in full, any cash prize due to him. However, there may be other very late entries with an eye on the big prize. If so, they are unlikely to be denied a place, as entries are down a little this year, in common with most other local events of this nature.

The scene of impending hostilities.