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Quarter Final Results of Devon & Cornwall (19.06.2018.) 986

The West of England’s 2 teams that went forward to the National Stages were Devon & Cornwall, and they played their quarter-final matches on Saturday. Devon faced Worcestershire in the Minor Counties section, and cruised through 9½-6½. Devon won the toss and had white on the odd-numbered boards. Devon names 1st in each pairing: 1. D. Mackle 0 – 1  K. Hurney. 2. J. Underwood ½ – ½ Z. Koneki. 3. J. Stephens 1 – 0 E. Osbourne. 4. T. Paulden ½ – ½ D. Lambourne. 5. J. F. Wheeler ½ – ½ L. Davis. 6. S. Martin 0 – 1 P.Kitson. 7. G. Ross-Andrews ½ – ½ G. Jackson. 8. B. W. Hewson. 1 – 0 I. I Clarke. 9. C. Lowe ½ – ½ P. Barker. 10. J. Haynes 1 – 0 S. Mellor. 11. P. Hampton 1 – 0 N. Towers. 12. D.Cowley 1 – 0 S. Woodhouse.  13. T. F. Thynne 0 – 1 J. Welch. 14. P. Brooks 1 – 0 G. Dyett. 15. J. Duckham 1 – 0 M. Hadley. 16.  Y. Wang 0 – 1 B. Fuller.

Meanwhile, Cornwall faced a sterner examination, losing 4-12 to a Surrey team that was at maximum strength. Cornish players 2nd in each pairing. 1. C. Briscoe ½ – ½ J.Menadue. 2. R. Granat 1 – 0 J. Hooker. 3. R. Haldane 1 – 0 L. Retallick. 4. D. Rosen 1 – 0 M. Hassall. 5. D.Young. 0 – 1 G.Healey. 6. J. Shepley 1 – 0 T.Manton. 7. I. Heppell 1 – 0 C. Sellwood. 8. S. Galer ½ – ½ R. Smith. 9. P. Stimpson 0 – 1 A. Hussain.  10. O. Phillips ½ – ½  T. Willis. 11. N. Faulks 1 – 0 G. Trudeau. 12. I.McLeod ½ – ½ J. Morgan. 13. H. Jones 1 – 0 M. Hill . 14. J. Eckert 1 – 0  J. Henderson 15. J. Fox 1 – 0 D. R. Jenkin. 16. N. Grey 1 – 0. (def.)

No game scores have yet emerged from either match. Surrey will now play Suffolk, while Devon face last year’s champions, Lincolnshire, in the semi-finals

In last week’s position, Spassky lost out to 1.Qg3+ Kh8 2.Rf7! 1-0 Play might have continued 2… Rg2 3.Rxf7+ Kh6 4.Qh3+ Kg6. 5.Qhf+ etc.

This week’s 2-mover is the starter problem for the Winton British Chess Solving Championship 2018-19. White is playing up the board, has the move and must mate in 2 against any Black defence. There is no entry fee and is open only to British residents. Competitors need only send White’s first move, known as the key move, to either Nigel Dennis, Boundary House, 230 Greys Rd., Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1QY, or by e-mail to  Don’t forget to mention that you saw the problem in the Western Morning News.

All entries must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than 31st July 2018 and must give the entrant’s name & home address. Juniors U-18 on 31st July 2018 must also give their date of birth.

After the closing date, all competitors will be sent (a) the answer to the starter problem and (b) those who got it right will receive the Postal Round, consisting of 8 more difficult and varied positions.

In due course the best competitors and 5 best juniors will be invited to the Final at Eton College on Saturday 23rd February 2019. The ultimate winner will win the right to represent Great Britain at the World Solving Championships 2019.

White to mate in 2.

Chess – The Musical – is back!

Among his many skills and interests, Sir Tim Rice is a keen chessplayer. After his early successes as a lyricist teaming up with Andrew Lloyd Webber for musicals like Evita, he drew up plans for an old idea of his in which the Cold War was acted out over a chessboard, much as the Fischer-Spassky match of 1972 had been. In 1982 he approached his regular tunesmith partner with the idea, but by then Lloyd Webber was unable to help, being fully committed with his own project, Cats. It was suggested to him that as Abba was at that moment in the act of breaking up, the two Bs in that particular partnership, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, might be looking for fresh opportunities. They jumped at the chance, and Chess -The Musical was born.

Notoriously difficult to stage, especially trying to cater for different audiences as it toured the world, but the songs quickly became all-time classics. Its latest incarnation opened recently at the London Coliseum to excellent reviews.

While the sociopathic Fischer-based  character was largely retained, Spassky was just too nice a gentleman to be a sparky on-stage persona, and it was thought to be loosely based on someone like Victor Korchnoi.

In this latest production, this character is played by Michael Ball, former pupil at Plymouth College.

Here’s a game from that epic 1972 encounter. Fischer had virtually given his opponent a 2 point start, but Spassky hadn’t won any of the next 8 games and was 6½– 3½ down. Here is Game 11, in which the Russian knows he has to come up with something special.

White: B. V. Spassky. Black R. J. Fischer Sicilian Defence [B97]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 Fischer went for the Poisoned Pawn variation for a second time in the match, but Spassky had done some homework on it.  9.Nb3 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 This was one “improvement”, as it breaks up Black’s kingside pawns and makes it difficult for him to castle there. 11.Be2 h5 Denying White’s bishop that square.  12.0–0 Nc6 13.Kh1 Avoiding a possible check later. 13…Bd7 14.Nb1! A remarkable idea, intended to keep Black’s queen trapped in a cage of her own making. 14…Qb4 If 14…Qb2 15.a3 followed by Nc3 & Ra2 trapping the queen. 15.Qe3 Denying b6 as an escape route. 15…d5 16.exd5 Ne7 17.c4 Nf5 18.Qd3 h4? 19.Bg4! Nd6? 20.N1d2 f5 21.a3 Qb6 22.c5 Qb5? 23.Qc3! Now White has threats to rook & knight while a4 wins the queen. There’s no way out., but Fischer plays on anyway 23…fxg4 24.a4 h3 25.axb5 hxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rh3 27.Qf6 Nf5 28.c6 Bc8 29.dxe6 fxe6 30.Rfe1 Be7 31.Rxe6 Rh8 1-0. Spassky’s best game so far played, but it was not enough in the long run.

The answer to last week’s position was 1.Qxf5+ KxQ 2. Bd3 mate, as the king has nowhere to go.

Here is your chance to beat Spassky. He is all set to mate with Qxa3#, but it’s not his move. Is there anything you, as, White, can do about it?

White to play against Spassky

End of Season matches (05.05.2018.) 984

Devon’s last match in Division 1 was played out on Saturday between Exmouth and Newton Abbot. As both teams had already lost home and away to Exeter, there wasn’t much to play for, except to avoid the wooden spoon. In this, Exmouth succeeded narrowly, but there were wins for both teams.

At quickplay Paul Hampton has few equals on the local circuit. He won this game, but missed a mating combination.

White: P. D. Hampton (172). Black: C. V.  Howard (154).

Bird’s Opening  [A03]

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.b3 Be7 5.Bb2 c5 6.Be2 Nc6 7.0–0 b6 8.Qe1 Bb7 9.d3 Qc7 10.Ne5 Bf8 11.Nd2 0–0–0 12.Ndf3 Ne8 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.c4 Now knowing which side Black has castled, White wastes no time in launching an attack against it. 14…Nd6 15.b4 Nf5 16.cxd5 exd5 17.bxc5 Bxc5 18.d4 Bd6 19.Rc1 threatening Bb5. White can ignore the threat to his e3 pawn as the knight would be needed to defend the white-square bishop, especially with Black’s king & queen are in line. 19…Kb7 20.Ne5 Bxe5 21.fxe5 Nxe3 White gifts the e-pawn as it frees up all his pieces.  22.Ba6+ Kxa6 23.Qxe3 Qd7 24.Rf3 Rc8 25.Rcf1 f6 26.exf6 gxf6 27.Rxf6 Rc7 28.Ba3 Qg7 29.Bd6 Bb5 30.R1f2 Rc4 31.Be5 Re8 Welcome to the game. Now Black has options. 32.Qa3+ Ra4 33.Qd6 Qg4 34.h3 Qe4 35.Kh2 Rc8 36.Rf7 Bd3 The killer move. 37.Rxa7+! The killer move. 37…Kxa7 38.Qd7+ Check and forking both rooks. 38…Ka6 39.Qxc8+? Wrong rook; White missed a mate in 4 by taking the other rook viz 39.Qxa4+ Kb7 40.Rf7+ Rc7 41.Rxc7+ Kb8 42.Qe8# 39…Ka5 40.Qc3+ Ka6 41.Rd2 1-0

A rapidly-improving junior, Ramesh showed his growing class with this win over a more experienced opponent.

White: V. Ramesh (164). Black: S. Martin (186)

Sicilian Defence – Dragon Variation [B72]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 Nf6 8.f3 Bd7 9.Qd2 a6 10.h4 h5 11.0–0–0 b5 White having committed to castling long, Black moves to launch a pawn storm, but it takes a lot of moves to get the a & b pawns onto really threatening squares, which perhaps could be better used completing piece development  12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.Kb1 Qc7 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Bd7 16.Rhe1 a5 17.Bd3 b4 18.Qf2 Rb8 19.Bd4 Bxd4 20.Qxd4 Black has left castling too late 20…Rg8 If 20…0–0 21.Rxe7. 21.Re2 e6 22.dxe6 Bxe6 23.Rde1 Kd7 24.Re5 Ke7 25.R5e4 Qc5 26.Qxc5 dxc5 27.Re5 Rgc8 28.Bxg6! Not difficult to see; just the fruit of everything that’s gone before. 28…Kf6 29.Bxh5 Re8 30.b3 Rbc8 31.Bg4 Rc6 32.Bxe6 fxe6 It’s now a pure R&P endgame, except that Black doesn’t have enough of the latter. 33.Kc1 a4 34.g4 axb3 35.axb3 c4 36.bxc4 Rxc4 37.R5e4 Rc3 38.R1e3 Rec8 39.Rxe6+ Kf7

The solution to last week’s ancient teaser was 1.Rhg7! Wherever the king or knight move will allow one of the rooks to mate on the back rank.

In this level-looking position from 1995 White noticed a breakthrough move.

What did he play?

Two Games from the Champion. (14.04.2018.) 981

In the recent WECU Championship, the absence of the 2017 winner, Keith Arkell, opened up the way for about 10 other players to seize their opportunity. Of these, it was Dominic Mackle who led the charge. In this Rd. 4 game he pounces of an early error by one of the Scandinavian juniors and quickly takes full advantage.

White: D. Mackle. Black: Leif Halfstad.

King’s Indian Defence.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Nf3 Bb7 5.Nbd2 c5 6.Nc4 d5 7.Nce5 a6? Necessary was 7…Nfd7 to counter the twin knight threat. 8.Ng5 Rg8 9.Ngxf7 Qe7 10.c3 b5 11.Bd3 Nc6 12.Nxc6 Qxf7 13.Ne5 Qe7 14.Bg5 g6 15.dxc5 Bg7 16.c6 Bc8 17.0–0 Qc7 18.Bf4 Qd6 19.a4 b4 20.a5 Qc5 21.cxb4 Qxb4 22.Qc2 Qe7 23.Rac1 Ra7 24.c7 with the twin threats of Nc6 forking Q & N or Qc6+ 1-0

In the penultimate round he faced the experienced FIDE Master, Mike Waddington, so couldn’t expect any blunders to help him.

White: M. Waddington. Black: D. Mackle.

French Defence.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 The Burn Variation, played regularly by the Yorkshireman Amos Burn (1848–1925) and later taken up by World Champion, Tigran Petrosian. 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6 Black doesn’t mind opening up the g-file and later exploits it with fatal results. 7.Nf3 a6 8.Bd3 f5 9.Ned2 c5 10.c3 cxd4 11.cxd4 Nc6 12.Nb3 Bb4+ 13.Ke2 White could block the check but decides to castle the long way round, which takes up valuable time. 13…0–0 14.a3 Be7 15.Re1 Bf6 16.Bc2 a5 17.a4 Nb4 18.Kf1 b6 19.Ne5 Ba6+ 20.Kg1 Rc8 21.Bb1 Kh8 22.Qh5 Threatening to fork K&Q. 22…Rc7 23.Re3 Bxe5 24.dxe5 f6 25.h3 Bc4 26.Qf3 Rg8 27.g3 f4 28.Rc3 Nd5 29.Rc2 White has 4 pieces stuck in the corner while Black is opening lines against the white king. How does he retain the initiative? 29…fxg3 30.fxg3 f5 31.Kh2 Nb4 Attacking a rook while vacating d5 for his bishop to further pressure to bear on the white king’s corner. 32.Rd2 Bd5 33.Qe3 Rcg7 34.g4 fxg4 35.Be4 Black’s bishop is well enough protected which gives Black the chance to further strip away the castle walls. gxh3 36.Rf1 Qh4 37.Bxd5 Nxd5 38.Qe1 Rg2+ 39.Kh1 Qg5 40.Rdf2 h2 41.Qe4 Rg1+ There’s no escape as there are several other mates. e.g. 41…Rxf2 42.Rc1 Qg1+ 43.Rxg1 42.Kxh2 Qg3#.

Cornwall qualified for the National Stages of the Inter-County Competition and entered the Minor Counties Section, where they have been drawn against Surrey, the match to be played on Sat. May 12th at East Huntspill TA9 4RA.

In last week’s position, White played 1.Qd3 which threatens mate on one side of the board and wins a knight on the other.

Imagine you were playing Bobby Fischer in a simultaneous match in which he’s given all his opponents the White pieces. Even so, they’ve all lost and it’s up to you to salvage some collective pride, but he’s attacking your rook. Where should it go?

White to play.

WECU Championship Shared (07.04.2018.) 980

At the end of the wettest, coldest March in living memory, the West of England Championship and Congress took place at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth over the Easter weekend. The absence of last year’s winner, GM Keith Arkell and Jack Rudd cast a small shadow over the proceedings, though it opened up the prospect of possible victory to almost half the Open section, so in that sense it was less of a procession and more of a real dogfight for every half point.

The final outcome was as follows: Open Section 1st Richard McMichael (King’s Head) 5½/7 pts. 2nd= Dominic Mackle (Torquay) & Lewis Martin (Brown Jack – Wiltshire) 5 pts. Although McMichael took the cheque for £400, as a Londoner he was not eligible for the title of WECU Champion which was shared by Mackle and Martin. The Grading Prize was a 6-way split between Alan Crombleholme (Walsall); John Stephens (Exmouth); Dave Littlejohns (Taunton); Roger de Coverley (Bourne End); Chris James (Dunbar) & James Forster (Southbourne) all on 3½.

Major Section: 1st Geoffrey Brown (Folkestone) 5½. 2nd Yasser Tello (Wimbledon). 3rd= Ronnie Burton (Weymouth);  Yuyang Wang (Plymouth); Jamie Morgan (Cornwall); Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh) & Paul G. Jackson (Coulsdon) all 4½.

Minor Section: 1st= Eddie Fuerek (Glos) & Gerald Parfett (Athenaeum). 3rd= Ray Hunt (E. Devon); Ken Alexander (E. Budleigh) & Andy Proudfoot (Plymouth) all 4½. Grading Prize: Kevin Markey (Stroud).

Here is a game from Rd. 1 between a local player and a Turkish Cypriot.

White: A. Gorgun (1619) – Black: J. Stephens. (1991)

Sicilian Defence [B52]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0–0 Nc6 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1 e6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 Often regarded as Black’s freeing move in this opening. 10.e5 Ne4 11.a3 Be7 12.Nbd2 Nxd2 13.Bxd2 0–0 14.b4 White should be thinking about an early king-side attack, but his knight doesn’t have a single move on the board, so he tries on the opposite wing, which is  traditionally where Black will be aiming for activity. 14…b5 15.Qb1 a5 16.Qb2 axb4 17.axb4 Qb7 18.Rec1 Rxa1 19.Rxa1 Ra8 20.Rxa8+ Qxa8 21.Ne1 Qa4 22.Nc2 Nxd4 23.Qxd4 Qxc2 24.g3 h6 25.Qa7 Bxb4! 26.Qb8+ Kh7 27.Bxb4 Qb1+ 28.Kg2 Qe4+ 29.f3 Qxb4 This skirmish leaves Black 2 passed pawns up. 30.Qe8 Qb2+ 31.Kh3 b4 32.f4 Qc2 33.g4 Kg6 34.f5+ exf5 35.e6 White’s first question – should Black defend f7 or attack? 35…fxg4+ 36.Kg3 Qd3+ 37.Kxg4 h5+ 38.Kh4 Qe4+ 39.Kg3 Qxe6 0-1 Question answered.

Last week’s 2-mover by John Brown of Bridport, taken from Brian Gosling’s excellent biography of the near-forgotten 19th century composer, was solved by 1. Qe7! Black has 7 attempts to escape the inevitable, but each is met by either White’s queen, bishop or knight.

In this position Brian Gosling (W) found a combination that gave him a small but significant material gain.

White to play and win material

You-Tube Student (24.03.2018.) 977

Cornwall’s Championship and general congress took place last weekend at Carnon Downs Village Hall. James Hooker was unable to defend his title due to illness which left ten players to fight it out over 5 rounds. Going into the final game, the clear leader was Mark Watkins who faced top seed Jeremy Menadue, the latter emerging triumphant and winning the Emigrant Cup for the 5th time. Rodrigo continued his recent improvement by winning the U-150 Grading Prize in his first appearance in this section.

Details kindly supplied by Ian George: 1st Jeremy Menadue (185 – Carrick) 4/5. 2nd= David Saqui (170 – Penwith); Gary Trudeau (151 – Liskeard) & Mark Watkins (172 – Penwith) 3½. 5th Jan Rodrigo (140 – Penwith) 2. 6th= Percy Gill (143 – Penwith); Grant Healey (Carrick) & Colin Sellwood (149 – Camborne) 2. 9th Adam Hussain (150 – Carrick) 1½. 10th David J. Jenkins (144 – Penwith) 1.

The Falmouth Cup for those graded U-146 was contested by 18 players one of whom was a complete novice, Toby Willis, who made the most interesting story of the day. Toby is a 1st Year student at the Penryn Campus of Exeter University, and before the weekend had never played before in public, having taught himself the game entirely via the chess materials on YouTube. However, far from being an innocent thrown to the wild beasts, he won every game and came clear 1st. Definitely one to watch.

Details: 1st T. Willis (UG – Carrick) 5. 2nd= Keith Brewer (UG – Liskeard); Jason Henderson (124 – Lerryn) & Bryan Jones (103 – Carrick). Here is one of the games from the top section involving 3 queens on the board at the same time.

White: G. Trudeau. Black: J. Rodrigo.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Be3 e5 5.d5 Be7 6.Be2 c6 7.f4 Qa5 threatening 8…Nxe4 8.Qd2 Qb4 9.Bf3 This time ignoring the threat. 9…Qxb2 Black’s acceptance of the b-pawn is double-edged: on the one hand he later gets a 2nd queen in that corner, but on the other he is neglecting normal piece development. 10.Rb1 Qa3 11.Nge2 Qa5 12.0–0 a6 13.Ng3 g6 14.Kh1 c5 15.f5 b5 16.Bh6 Bf8 17.Be3 Bg7 18.h4 Nb6 19.Be2 b4 20.Nd1 gxf5 21.Bh6 Rg8 22.exf5 Nbxd5 23.Bc4 Bb7 24.Bg5 Qc7 25.h5 h6 26.Bh4 Qc6 27.Be2 Qa4 28.Bf3 b3 29.Bxf6 Bxf6 30.Ne4 bxa2 31.Rxb7 a1Q 32.Qxd5 Taking stock, Black has a queen & 2 pawns for 2 knights, but his king is trapped in the centre and his rooks are disconnected, whereas White has queen, rook & knight in threatening positions. 32…Q1a2 33.Qxf7+? The obvious move is 33.Nxf6+! and if 33…Kd8 34.Qxd6+ Kc8 35.Qc7#; or 33…Kf8 34.Rxf7# 33…Qxf7 34.Nxd6+ Kd8 35.Nxf7+ Kc8 36.Nd6+ Kd8 37.Ne4 Rg7 38.Ndc3 Qc6 39.Rd1+ Kc8 1-0 Resigned in view of 40.Rxg7 Bxg7 41.Nd6+ winning the queen.

Last week’s problem was solved by 1.QxP+ PxQ 2.Bishop moves = mate.

This position is taken from the 6 nation international Clare Benedict Tournament of 1963, where, in Rd. 2, Owen Hindle (W) was the only winner, enabling England to beat Spain 2½-1½. How did he do that from this position?

White to play and win.

The Bird Has Flown: (10.03.2018.) 976

After Jack Rudd’s apparently easy progress through the recent E. Devon Congress, it was found that not all games were quite that straightforward. This one from Round 1, for example, could have been an upset.

Notes by Hampton and Tim Paulden

White: Paul Hampton (175). Black: J. Rudd (225)

Bird’s Opening [A03]

1.f4 Much favoured by Henry Edward Bird (1830-1908) who, after a lengthy absence from the game, found “it led to highly interesting games out of the usual groove and I became partial to it.” Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.d3 d5 4.e3 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.0–0 c5 7.Qe1 Nc6 8.c3 d4 9.cxd4 cxd4 10.e4 Black has planned to exploit the weak d3 pawn, but now White has a solid centre on which to base a kingside attack, which will be all out for mate, giving little regard for any queenside activity. 10…b6 11.Na3 a5 12.Bd2 Ba6 13.Rc1 Rc8 14.Nc4 Nd7 Black brings more pieces to pressurise the d3 pawn, but the knight on f6 is a key defensive piece so h7 is now White’s target. 15.Qh4 Nc5 16.f5 Nb4 17.Bh6 f6 Black is finally forced to weaken his position to counter the threat of Ng5. 18.Nce5! Turning the game in White’s favour. 18…Nbxd3 If 18…fxe5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Rxc5 bxc5 21.Ng5 and Black has to give up his queen to avoid mate e.g. 21…gxf5 19.fxg6 hxg6 20.Nxg6 Nxc1 21.Bxa6 Nxa6 22.Nfe5? White missed the subtlety of Black’s knight check putting his king in the corner. Also, post-congress analysis has uncovered the continuation… 22.Bxg7! Kxg7 23.Qg4! From this point on, all lines are winning for White, and although with best play Black can avoid any forced mates, White will hoover up material.  Ne2+ 24.Kh1 Kh7 25.Nfh4 d3 26.Nf5 Rc7 27.Nf4 threatening mate on g7. 27…Ng3+ 28.hxg3 e5 29.Qh5+ Kg8 30.Nh6+ Kg7 31.Ne6+ forking K, Q & 2 rooks. 31…Kh8 32.Nf7+ double check. 32…Kg8 33.Qg6 mate But it’s a highly complex position and difficult to see every possibility in the heat of battle. 22…Ne2+ 23.Kh1 fxe5 24.Nxf8 Qxf8 25.Rxf8+ Rxf8 Now the importance of the N-check is clear: if Black did not threaten mate then White could exchange bishops and fork K & N. But the chance of an upset has gone, as the lone queen is not enough to combat a rook & 2 knights. 26.g4 Bxh6 27.Qxh6 Rf6 28.Qg5+ Kf7 29.Qxe5 Nc5 30.Qh5+ Kg7 31.Qg5+ Kf8 32.e5 Ne4 33.Qh4 Rf1+ 34.Kg2 Rf2+ 35.Kh1 Nf4 36.Qh8+ Kf7 37.Kg1 Rg2+ 38.Kf1 Nd2+ 39.Ke1 Nf3+ 40.Kf1 Nxh2+ 41.Ke1 Nxg4 42.Qh7+ Ke6 43.Qg8+ Kxe5 44.Qg5+ Ke4 45.Qxe7+ Kf3 46.Qb7+ Kg3 47.b4 Nd3+ 0–1

Last week’s position by Sam Loyd was taken from the collection entitled Roi acculé aux angles (Paris – 1905), White could play 1.Qa8! and if the Black queen moves there will be mate on a8 or if Black’s pawn moves 2.Rh6 mate. Here is another from that book, composed by Lilian Baird (1881 – 1977), the young daughter of Edith (née Winter-Wood), the queen of the problem world. Lilian was indeed a prodigy, with compositions published at the age of 8 but didn’t keep it up to the extent her mother did.

A prodigy's problem: White to move & mate in 2

Cornwall vs Devon Results (31.03.2018.) 979

The delayed Devon vs Cornwall match took place on Sunday at the Plymouth Bridge Club and resulted in a win for Devon by 12 points to 4. The details were as follows: (Devon names 1st in each pairing. 1.Dominic Mackle (196) 1-0 Jeremy Menadue (191). 2. Jonathan Underwood (191) ½-½ James Hooker (178). 3.John Stephens (189) 1-0 Lloyd Retallick (174). 4.Graham Bolt (188) 1-0 David Saqui (169). 5.John Wheeler (187) ½-½ Mark Hassall (168). 6.David Twine (182) 0-1 Robin Kneebone (164). 7. Brian Hewson (179) 1-0 Richard Stephens (160). 8. Chris Lowe (179) 1-0 Colin Sellwood (155). 9. Jos Haynes (176) 1-0 Richard Smith (153). 10.Paul Hampton (175) 1-0 Adam Hussain (145). 11.Dennis Cowley (175) 0-1 Gary Trudeau (148). 12. Trefor Thynne (174) ½-½  Jamie Morgan (146). 13           Vignesh Ramesh (164) 1-0 Jan Rodrigo (141). 14. Leif Hafstad (164) 1-0 Mick Hill (139) 15. Brian Gosling (160) ½-½ Toby Willis (135). 16. Mike Stinton-Brownbridge (158) 1-0 David Jenkins (121).

As reported, Toby Willis created great interest at the Cornish Congress recently by winning the Falmouth Cup with 5/5, only ever having learned to play via videos on YouTube. This was his first county match and he got a creditable draw against a highly experienced opponent.

Devon now go one to compete in the Minor Counties section of the National Stages and await to learn of their quarter-final opponents.

Here is one of the Cornish wins, with notes based on those by the winner. This and another game may be found on

White: G. Trudeau. Black: D. Cowley.    Alekhine’s Defence [B02]

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.dxc3 Pawns usually seek to take towards the centre, but in this case after 4.bxc3 Black gets a comfortable game viz. 4…d6 5.Nf3 Bg4. 4…e6 More usual here is 4…d6 as it immediately asks a question. 5.Be3 b6 6.Nf3 Bb7 7.Be2 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Qd2 d5 10.Rad1 c5 11.Ne1 preparing a kingside charge. 11…Qc7 12.f4 Nd7 13.Nf3 Rad8 14.Qe1 c4 15.Nd4 Nc5 16.Bf3 Qc8? 17.g4 f5? Black really needed to challenge White’s centre with 17…f6 18.gxf5 exf5 19.Qg3 Ne4 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Rd2 g6 22.Rfd1 Playable was 22.Rg2 in keeping with his plan for a kingside attack, but White preferred to watch and wait. 22…Bc5 23.h4 Kf7? 24.Qg5 Be7 25.Qh6 Rg8 setting a trap. e.g. 26.Qxh7+ Rg7 27.Qh6 Rh8 winning White’s queen. Easily seen, so 26.e6+ Kf6 27.Qg5+ Kg7 28.Qxe7+ Kh6 29.Qf6 Rdf8 30.Nxf5+ 1–0 It’s mate next move.

This weekend the West of England Championships are being held at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth, EX8 2AG, with rounds 3 and 4 taking place today, 5 & 6 are on Sunday and the final round is on Monday morning.

In last week’s position, Black could offer a pseudo sacrifice with 1…QxP+! And if 2.RxQ then Rc1+ is mate as the rook is pinned.

Here is a 2-mover by the pioneering composer and Westcountryman, John Brown (1827 – 1876), taken from Brian Gosling’s excellent biography.

White to mate in 2 moves

Exeter Retain Top Prize (24.02.2018.) 974

Devon’s Premiership club competition was decided on Saturday when Exeter travelled all the way to Exmouth for the final showdown. Both 6-player teams’ grade total were almost 1,100 which made it a very strong event, but the result was the same as in recent encounters, a 3½-2½ win to Exeter.

Details: Exmouth names first in each pairing. 1. J. Stephens (189) 1-0 G. Bolt (188). 2. W. Braun (197) 0-1 L. Hartmann (183). 3. Dr. J. Underwood (191) ½-½ Dr. T. Paulden (189). 4. S. Martin (184)  ½-½ P. O’Neill (187). 5. O. E. Wensley (175) ½-½ C. Lowe (179). 6. B. Gosling (160) 0-1 Dr. D. Regis (165).

Here is the game from Board 1.

White: J. Stephens. Black: G. Bolt.

Sicilian Defence – Maroczy Bind [B38].

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be3 c5 Transposing into a Sicilian Defence. 5.c4 The Maroczy Bind, the idea of which is to discourage Black from playing …d5 which would free up his position. 5…cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Be2 0–0 9.Rc1 Bd7 10.f3 a6 11.Qd2 Rc8 12.b3 Re8 13.0–0 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Qa5 15.Qe3 Qh5 16.Qf2 e6 17.Rfd1 Bc6 18.Bb6 Nd7 19.f4 Qh6 20.Be3 Bf8 21.b4 b5 Allowing White to obtain 2 passed pawns, which become more important as the game goes on, and White takes every chance to make equal exchanges 22.cxb5 axb5 23.Nxb5 Bxe4 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Nxd6 Bxd6 26.Rxd6 Nf6 27.Rd4 Qf8 28.Qh4 Qg7 29.Rc4 Rxc4 30.Bxc4 Nd5 31.Qd8+ Qf8 32.Qxf8+ Kxf8 and now those pawns can spring to life. 33.Bc5+ Ke8 34.g3 Kd7 35.a4 Nc3 36.a5 Kc7 37.Kf2 Bc6 38.Ke3 Nd5+ 39.Kd4 f6 40.b5 Bd7 41.Bf8 Kd8 42.b6 Resigned 1–0.

The East Devon Congress started last evening in Exeter’s Corn Hall, and continues until tomorrow evening. With 3 days to go, there were no late Grandmaster entries; no John Nunn, as last year, acting as a magnet attracting enough players to make it a record entry for recent years. Total entries at this point are 137.

Future events include the following:

(a) West of England Championship & general Congress at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth over Easter weekend i.e. from Fri. 30th March – Mon. 2nd April.

(b) Fri. 18th May.29th Frome Congress

(c  Sat. 26th May. 50th Frome Congress.

A report was received this week of the death of a regular and popular player in Westcountry congresses, Robert Everson of Dartford, Kent. Like Simon Bartlett, who passed away last year, Robert also worked in the chemical industry and developed an inoperative brain tumour. A fuller obituary and photograph may be found on

In last week’s position, Black’s queen was overloaded trying to protect both c6 and f7, enabling White to play 1.Bc6 and if 1…QxB 2.Qxf7 mate.

Leafing through an old copy of Chess Life this week, I found a page of positions entitled Find The Zingers! (It’s an American magazine) and this is one from their Intermediate section. White to play.

Find The Zinger! White to play

Gambit Crazy (17.02.2018.) 973

On Friday evening the East Devon Congress starts in Exeter’s Corn Hall. At the time of writing, a total of 119 entries had been received: 41 in the Open, 31 in the Major, and 47 in the Minor Section. Currently, the top seed in the Open is IM Jack Rudd (226 grade) followed by a pack of 190s, led by Russell Granat (197), a member of the Wimbledon Club for almost half a century, but not often seen in Devon events. Also relatively new on the local scene is Viennese Master, Walter Braun (197) and Peter Anderson (192) who is making a   successful return to active chess after a long lay-off. However, a late entry from Grandmaster Keith Arkell would put a different perspective on things.

The Camborne Club has recently acquired some digital chess clocks and will be trying them out in a Rapidplay Gambit Tournament on Friday 23rd March. Open to all. At the start of each round, the name of a gambit opening will be drawn out of a hat, and that must be played; e.g. the Latvian; Goring; Englund and Blackmar-Diemer gambits. Details are on the Cornwall chess website.

Here is a game played in the 4 Nations Chess League in 2000.

White: Martin Simons. Black: Robert Noyce.

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 An immediate 3.f3 would constitute the Blackmar Gambit, named after its advocate, the US music publisher and chess Master Armand Blackmar (1826-88). Long after its initial popularity died out as improvements to Black’s defences were developed, in 1932 Emil Josef Diemer advised a preliminary 3rd move before playing f3, and this has been called the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, of uncertain soundness but beloved of gambiteers. At the time of this game, Martin’s clubmate at the Southbourne club, Alan Dommett, was preparing a book on the life and games of Diemer (1908-1990), eventually published in 2003, and the two facts were doubtless related. The book contains 126 annotated games, in which the gambit is either accepted, declined or sidestepped altogether. 3…Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 At this point, White can deploy all his pieces almost anywhere, whereas Black has only a solitary knight in play, and it’s vital he develops rapidly. 5…Bg4 The Teichmann Defence, as played by the Anglo-German Richard Teichmann, (1868–1925). 6.h3 Bh5 Black tends to play 6…Bxf3 in this position. 7.g4 Bg6 8.Bc4 e6 9.Ne5 Bb4 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qf3 Nb6 13.Bd3 Qxd4+ Grabbing another pawn at the cost of losing a tempo. 14.Be3 Qd7 15.Rad1 Bxc3 16.Ba6 Nfd5 17.Bxb7 Rd8 Which brings us to this week’s position. Will Black’s temptation in winning a 2nd pawn prove his undoing? Richard Palliser, the Editor of Chess magazine, included this position in his book The Complete Chess Workout in the first chapter entitled Warming Up.

In last week’s position, White played 1.Nb5 threatening to win Black’s queen after 2.Bc7, but taking the knight merely allows White’s queen to support 2.Bc7