The West of England Junior Championships start in Swindon three weeks today, just enough time to get late entries in.
This venerable event started way back in 1948 when it was held as a special section of the traditional West of England Easter Congress. It was held in Bristol that year and the first winner was P. T. Burnett. The following year there was a tie between G. Allin (Plymouth) and D. S. Reed (Bath) and in 1950 it was won by a 14 year old Exeter School pupil, Denis Gray with a 100% score of 8/8. He retained this title for several years and was a leading westcountry player until his role as a GP in his family practice took over, eventually being knighted for his services to the medical profession.
As more and more juniors took up the game in the 1970s, following the inspiration provided by the exploits of Bobby Fischer, it was hived off as a stand-alone event with its own Organiser, the last one being Ralph Maishman of Burnham-On-Sea.
It was then felt appropriate to combine it with the increasingly successful Wiltshire Junior Championships, and this formula has proved successful for several years.
This year’s congress takes place on 26th & 27th February at St. Joseph’s Catholic College, Swindon, SN3 3LR, and there will be prizes for boys and girls in both the West of England and Wiltshire Championship in the following age groups: U-18; U-16; U-14; U-12; U-12; U-10; U-9 and U-8. There are also other non-championship sections, so there is something for everyone.
Full details may be obtained from the Entry Secretary, Bev Schofield, on 01793-487575 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is an instructive game of Gray’s from the 1952 WECU Junior Championship in which he demonstrates how to maintain the initiative after a bold piece sacrifice. His opponent was the runner-up.
White: D. J. P. Gray. Black: N. Ashbee.
King’s Gambit Accepted [C39]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 Black aims to defend his extra pawn even before it’s attacked. 4.h4 White’s aim is to undermine that defence and attack quickly on the Kingside. 4…g4 5.Ng5 White is preparing a piece sacrifice. 5…h6 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 Note how, rather than grabbing the g-pawn, White seeks to develop all his pieces in order to try and retain the initiative. 7.d4 d6 8.Bc4+ Ke8 9.Bxf4 Nf6 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.Qd2 Qe7 12.0–0–0 Bg7 White has succeeded in his primary aim – now to attack the king stuck in the centre. 13.e5 breaking open the centre Nd7 14.exd6 Qf6 15.Rde1+ Kf8 16.Rhf1 Nxd4 17.Be5 Nf3 18.Rxf3 gxf3 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Qd5 Black resigned as mate is inevitable. 1–0
Last week’s position was solved by 1.Kc4! which forces 1…Ka4 allowing 2.Qa2 mate. Here is another of a similar standard, suitable for juniors. White to mate in 2.