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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

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

Castle With A Twist (10.02.2018.) 972

Cornwall’s championship and general congress will be held on the weekend of 9th – 11th March at Carnon Downs. The winner of the top section, the Emigrant Cup, will be declared the Cornish Champion, while the Falmouth Cup is for players graded 145 or below in the January list. Full details may be found on the website

Devon’s Division 1, the Bremridge Cup, is a limited affair with only three clubs involved this year, playing a double round. Division 2, the Mamhead Cup, is more interesting with seven teams competing. The holders are Exmouth who have had to survive several close encounters as they try to retain the cup. At the weekend they travelled to Dartmouth in order to play the burgeoning South Hams Club. The venue was the magnificent house called The Keep built in 1856 like a castle with tower and turrets, in order to blend in with its situation overlooking the even more historic Dartmouth Castle and the whole estuary.

This match looked like going to the South Hams team until an unlikely late twist turned the tide. It was ironic that it should be a castle that administered the coup de grace.

White: P. McConnell (128). Black: M. Belt (119). King’s Indian Defence [A47]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Nf3 Bb7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Be7 7.Nbd2 Nh5 8.Bg3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 h6 10.Qc2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Nc6 12.a3 Rc8 13.Qa4 0–0 14.Ke2? White ultimately pays the price for keeping his king in the centre. Better was 0-0. 14…d6 15.Rh2 Qc7 16.d5 exd5 17.Qg4 with 3 pieces bearing down on Black’s rather lonely king 17…f5! The best reply, though it loses material in the short term. 18.Bxf5 Rxf5 19.Qxf5 Black’s exchange sacrifice not only staves off the immediate threats but also allows his knight & white-square bishop a chance to work in concert, which they do to great effect. 19…Ba6+ 20.Kd1 Ne5 21.Nd4 Bd3 22.Qe6+ Kh7 23.f4 Bc2+ 24.Ke1 Nd3+ 25.Ke2 Nc5 26.Qxd5 Bd3+ 27.Kf2 Bf6 28.Kg1 Ne4 Threatening a back rank mate. 29.Nxe4 Removing the immediate threat, but it’s not enough. 29…Qc1+ 30.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 31.Kf2 Rf1# 0–1

The 43rd East Devon Congress starts a week on Friday at the Corn Hall, Exeter, details of which may be found on a new website called Chess Hawk. The site’s front page via the calendar has links to the congress brochure and means of paying to enter, plus a list of current entries. The Open Section looks like being a strong tournament with 17 players graded above 170, and more entering all the time as Rd, 1 approaches.

Hopefully, solvers will have realised that the queen in last week’s position should have been white.

This position arose last year between a Cornish and Devon player, Jeremy Menadue (Truro) and Matthew Wilson (Teignmouth). Black’s pieces are somewhat cramped which allows White (Menadue) to reap material benefit. How did he do this?

White to play

1st Simon Bartlett Memorial Results (03.02.2018.) 971

A new event took place last weekend at the Livermead Hotel, Torquay – a specially organised congress in memory of the late Simon Bartlett who passed away a year ago. The winners were as follows:- Open Section: 1st= Keith Arkell (Torquay ) & Steve Berry (Wimbledon) 4/5 pts. 3rd Walter Braun (Exmouth) 3½.   Major (U-170) 1st= Robert Taylor (Bristol); Bill Ingham (Teignmouth) & Yasser Tello (Hastings) 4 pts. 4th= Russell Goodfellow (Tunbridge Wells) & Alan Brusey (Newton Abbot) 3½. Intermediate (U-140) 1st Eddie Hurst (Salisbury) 4 pts. 2nd= David Gilbert (DHSS) & Dave Rogers (Exmouth) 3½. Minor (U-120): 1st E. McMullan (Newton Abbot) 4½. 2nd= Mark Huba (Kings Head) & Tony Tatam (Plymouth) 4.        Simon was always noted for wearing a highly-coloured and patterned shirt at all events and so as not to miss out on this aspect of his presence, a prize was offered for the most decorative and eye-catching creation. This was awarded to fellow Cornishman Ian Rescorla, whose splendid creation had the look of two halves of garish curtain material sewn together.                                              Top seed in the Open was local GM Keith Arkell, who would normally reckon to finish with a maximum 5/5 in an event of this nature, but a bit of a stir was created when he lost to a player, little-known locally, Peter Anderson from Leeds with a grade of 174.

White: P. Anderson. Black: K. Arkell.

Nimzo-Indian Defence [E41]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Signature move of the Nimzo-Indian Defence, one of the sharpest tools in Black’s repertoire 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 6.Nf3 is more usual, which prevents Blacks next move. 6…e5 Black is encouraged to come on… but it allows White to establish a central pawn wedge. 7.d5 Ne7 8.Qc2 d6 9.Ng3 b5 10.b3 bxc4 11.bxc4 0–0 12.0–0 Bxc3 13.Qxc3 Rb8 14.f4 exf4 15.exf4 Ng6 16.Bb2 Re8 17.Qd2 Ng4 18.h3 Ne3 19.Rfe1 Nh4 20.Qc3 The 1st mating threat. 20…Qf6? Black might have tried 20…Rxb2 21.Qxb2 Nhxg2 22.Qf2 Bxh3 with advantage to Black. 21.Qxf6 gxf6 22.Bc1 Nhxg2 23.Bxe3 Nxe1 24.Rxe1 Rb2 25.Nh5 Re7 26.Nxf6+ Kg7 27.Nh5+ Kh6 28.Ng3 Bxh3 29.f5+ Kg7 29…Rxe3 30.Rxe3 Rg2+ 31.Kh1 Rxa2 30.f6+ Kxf6 31.Nh5+ Ke5 32.Bg5+? White missed a mate in 2, viz 32.Bxc5+! Re2 33.Rxe2# every one of White’s pieces cooperating to form an inescapable net. 32…Kd4 33.Bxe7 Kxd3 34.Bxd6 Rg2+ 35.Kh1 Rg5 36.Nf4+ Kd2 37.Nxh3 Rh5 38.Bg3 Rxh3+ 39.Kg2 1–0 Black could win a piece back to reduce the position to pawns-only, but the d-pawn is free to queen.

It’s perhaps no surprise that after a few games this Autumn Anderson’s grade has rocketed to 192 in the January list with a rapidplay grade of 200. He’ll be one to watch at the East Devon Congress in 3 weeks time.

In last week’s position, Black could play 1…b5 asking questions of White’s queen. e.g. If 2.Qb3 BxN wins a piece; or similarly 2.NxP PxN.

This week, White mates in 2.

White to move and mate in 2

Devon vs Gloucestershire – The Result. (27.01.2018.)

The West of England Chess Union covers an area from Penzance c. 230 miles east to Portsmouth and c. 230 miles north-east to Tewkesbury, and because of the return mileages involved in an inter-county match it takes a good captain to get out a maximum strength team. For example, in their recent match against Cornwall held near Exeter, Gloucestershire arrived 4 players short for a 16 board match and lost 12-4.

On Saturday they were 2 players short for their match against Devon at Chedzoy Village Hall near Bridgwater, and although their top 8 boards did score 5-3, this was offset by losing 1-7 in the lower half, giving Devon a 10-6 win.

Devon names 1st in each pairing:-

1.D. Mackle (198) 0-1 J. Stewart (199). 2.J. Underwood (192) 1-0 M. Ashworth (192). 3.J. Stephens (189) 1-0 C. Mattos (190). 4.P. O’Neill (188) 0-1 J. Jenkins (185). 5.J. Wheeler (185) 0-1 P. Meade (178. 6.B. Hewson (184) ½-½ P. Kirby (177). 7.L. Hartmann 0-1 P. Masters (175). 8.T. Paulden ½-½ N. Bond (175). 9.M. Abbott (183) 1-0 R. Ashworth (161). 10.S. Homer (181) 1-0 M. Taylor (160). 11.P. Hampton (172) 1-0 A. Richards (133). 12.C. Lowe (176) 0-1 I. Blencowe (131). 13.J. Haynes (171) 1-0 P. Bending (112). 14.T. Thynne (170) 1-0 D. Walton (109). 15.S. Martin (186) 1-0 d/f. 16.D. Regis (166) 1-0 d/f.

Here is one of Devon’s wins.

White: Robert Ashworth. Black: Mark Abbott.

Sicilian Defence – Maroczy Bind [B36]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 The Hungarian’s plan to deter Black from playing the freeing d5, but here it’s White who becomes positionally tied up. Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.Qd3 Be6 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Rc1 Rfc8 13.b3 Nd7 14.0–0 a6 15.Bd4 Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 Rc7 17.f4 Qb6 18.Rcd1 Qxd4+ 19.Rxd4 f6 20.Rf3 Rac8 21.Nd5 Bxd5 22.exd5 a5 23.Re3 Kf8 24.Bg4 f5 25.Bf3 Nf6 26.h3 h5 27.Kf2 h4 28.Re6 Kf7 29.Ke3 White’s rooks are disconnected, he’s running out of time and has already twice offered a draw, but Black, having denied White any opportunities for a quick king-side attack, is now set on exercising Black’s theme in the Sicilian of attacking the queenside. 29…a4 30.Kd2 b5 31.Kd3 Nd7 32.Re3 b4 33.Bd1 Nc5+ 34.Ke2 Ne4 Compare and contrast the roles of the bishop and knight. 35.Kf3 Nc3 36.Rd2 Ra8 37.Red3 Ne4 38.Rb2 Kf6 39.Rd4 Nc3 40.Bc2 a3 41.Rb1 Taking the rook may be superficially tempting but the text is better as it opens up the a-file, and in any case the knight is stronger than the rook. 41…Nxa2 42.Rd2 Nc3 43.Ra1 Rc5 44.Rd3 Rca5 45.Re3 a2 White is hamstrung. 46.Re6+ Kf7 47.Re3 Rc8 48.Re6 Nxd5 49.Bxf5 gxf5 50.cxd5 Rxd5 51.Rh6 Rd2 52.Rxh4 Rc3# 0–1

In last week’s position, Black played 1…Bd8! both attacking the queen and opening up the e-file with the threat of 2…Qe4+ 3.Kb1 and RxB mate. White can avoid this but would have to give up a rook in the process.

In this position from a recent tournament, it’s Black to play and he discovered a piece-winning move. Can you see what that was?

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree 2018 Results (20.01.2018.) 969

On Sunday, Devon’s annual jamboree took place at the Isca Centre in Exeter, involving teams of 12 players from three areas of the county. The East comprised players from clubs in the Exeter & District League, though not all clubs were represented. Similarly, the South team was made up of players from clubs involved in the Torbay League, while the West team drew from a solitary club, Plymouth, but a larger population base.

The team grade limit of 1,650 made it an average of 137 per player. The East succeeded in getting closest to that maximum, with the South & West both c.35 points lower. However, the South team emerged clear winners with 7½ points, ahead of East (5½) and West (4½). Full details of all players’ scores and photographs of the event may be found on

Here is a win by a member of the Bacon family of the Sidmouth Club; father and 3 sons, of whom 15 year old Nicholas is the eldest. The whole family entered as a team of 4 in a recent rapidplay tournament

White: Nick Bacon (124). Black: Tony Tatam (114).

Queen’s Gambit Accepted [D26]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bxc4 e6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 0–0 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 c5 10.Rfd1 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Bb3 a6 13.Nc4 Nxc4 14.Bxc4 b5 Intending to push the bishop back, but overlooking White’s next move, which wins a pawn. 15.Nxb5 Qb6 16.Nd4 Bb7 17.Rac1 Qa5 18.Rc3 Rfd8 19.Ra3 Qb6 20.Rb3 Qa7 21.Nf3 Bxf3 22.Qxf3 Qc7 A second attack on the bishop, which doesn’t quite work. 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 If 23…Rxd8 24.Rc3 and Black’s pawns are again in danger. 24.h3 The possibilities of back rank mates are tying down the pieces on both sides, so a flight square for the kings is in order.  24…h6 25.Qe2 a5 26.Qd3 Qc7 27.Rc3 Rd8 28.Qc2 Best. 28…Qb7 29.Bd3 Nd5 30.Be4 Qb8 White continues with his plan to keep it simple. 31.Bxd5 exd5 32.Rc5 Qa8 33.Qd2 a4 34.Qa5 Winning a 2nd pawn. 34…Qb8 35.Rb5 Qc8 36.Qxa4 Qc1+ 37.Kh2 Qc7+ 38.Qf4 Qd7 This time, an exchange of queens might have worked in Black’s favour as his unopposed d-pawn could become a problem. e.g. 38…Qxf4+ 39.exf4 d4 40.Rc5 d3 41.Rc1 Switching to White’s undefended pawns – Rb8 42.b3 Ra8 43.a4 Rb8 44.Rb1 d2 45.Rd1 Rxb3 46.Rxd2 Ra3 47.Rd8+ Kh7 48.Rd4 so White could probably hang on to his extra pawns, but only with best play. 39.Rc5 g5 40.Qf6 Kh7 41.Rc6 Kg8 42.Qxh6 Qf5 43.Qf6 1-0

In last week’s position, Keith Arkell noticed that Black’s queen was close to becoming trapped, so he played 1.Nb3xN which allows his queen to defend his other knight. 1…NxN and the simple 2.a3 attacks the trapped and powerless queen.

Hastings Winners (13.01.2018.) 968

Wise Men from the East arrived in Bethlehem shortly after Christmas bringing a gift of gold, so perhaps it was appropriate that they did well at the Hastings Christmas Congress, not bringing but taking much gold back with them in the form of prize money.

Indian GM Deep Sengupta and Chinese IM Yiping Lou, tied for 1st prize on 7 points, each receiving £1,600 and being jointly awarded the Golombek Trophy.  Third prize was shared between Uzbek GM Jahongir Vakhidov and two Indian IMs Stany and Das on 6½ points. Then came the English brigade in 6th place, Danny Gormally, Mark Hebden, Keith Arkell and Steve Mannion, with Iranian Borna Derakhshani and Norwegian Pal Royset all on 6 points.

A bright spot came with the award of the Best Game prize to Danny Gormally for his Rd. 6 game against Alexandr Fier, the tournament 2nd seed from Brazil.

White: D. Gormally (2477). Black: A. Fier (2576)

Torre Attack [A48]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 The signature move of the Torre Attack, named after the Mexican player Carlos Torre (1905-78) Bg7 4.Nbd2 0–0 5.e4 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.Nb3 a5 8.a4 h6 9.Bd2 Nc6 10.Bb5 Ncb4 11.c3 c6 12.Be2 Na6 13.0–0 b6 14.Re1 c5 15.Bd3 cxd4 16.Nbxd4 Nc5 17.Bc2 Bb7 18.Ne5 All White’s minor pieces are bearing down on the enemy king’s position, with the queen able to support, leaving Black with choices to make. 18…Rc8 18…e6 would have given his queen a route out, eg 19.Ng4 Qh4. 19.Ng4! hitting h6. 19…Kh7 Not good enough is 19…h5 20.Nh6+ Kh8 21.Nxf7+ Rxf7 22.Bxg6 Rf6 23.Qxh5+ Kg8 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Bh6 Bxh6 26.Qxh6+ Kg8 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Qh8#. 20.Nxh6 Nf6 If 20…Bxh6 21.Qh5 winning the bishop. 21.Nhf5 21.Ng4 was also good for White. e.g. 21…Qd5 22.Nxf6+ Bxf6 23.Qg4 Qd7 24.Qf4 Qc7 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.Bg5 Bxg5 27.Qxg5 e6. 21…gxf5 22.Nxf5 e6 23.Nxg7+ Kxg7 24.Bh6+ Kg8 24…Kxh6 25.Qc1+ Kg7 26.Qg5+ Kh8 27.Qh6+ Kg8 28.Re3; If 24…Kxh6? 25.Qc1+ and White has several mating lines. 25.Qc1 Qd5 Black has his own mating threat, but it’s easily dealt with. 26.f3 Nh5 If Black tries to save his rook with 26…Rfd8 there would follow 27.Qf4 and Black’s king is quite trapped and vulnerable. 27.Bxf8 Kxf8 28.Qh6+ Ng7 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qxg7 Qd2 31.Rac1 Rd8 32.Qg3 Rd5 33.Qf2 Qh6 34.Rcd1 Rh5 35.Qd2 1-0 forcing off the queens, otherwise there might follow 35…Rxh2 36.Qd6+ Kf6 37.Qd4+ Kg5 38.Qd8+ and White has a number of mating lines.

Tomorrow, 3 teams of 12, from the East, West & South of Devon compete in a Jamboree at the Isca Centre, Exeter. Full details next week.

In last week’s position, it wasn’t hard for White to see 1.QxR! and if 1…QxQ 2.Re8+. The power of the e7 pawn was unanswerable.

This position arose recently in which Keith Arkell was White, who could doubtless see that his pieces had greater mobility than his opponent’s. How did he quickly profit from this slight advantage?

White to Play

Poor Blackburne (06.01.2018.) 967

The 93rd Hastings Congress finished yesterday evening, too late to report on today, but after 7 of the scheduled 9 rounds Keith Arkell was well placed at 3rd=. There was a prize fund of £5,250 to be shared between the top 7 players.

Meanwhile, the World RapidPlay Championship was taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where a 1st prize of £186,000 awaited the winner, who proved to be Vishi Anand of India. The World Blitz Championship also took place there, won by Magnus Carlsen (Norway), 2nd Sergey Karjakin (Russia) and 3rd Vishi Anand, with similar rewards.

All of which would suggest that the world’s top players today can make a reasonable living out of chess. But it was not always so. For example, Britain’s top player for decades was Joseph H. Blackburne (1841 – 1924). He became a chess professional in 1862 after having decided a career in a Manchester office was not for him.

He won the 2nd British Championship in 1869 after a tie-break against the holder, Cecil De Vere, and played all over Europe, 53 major tournaments in as many years, getting many prizes and winning so many games he was nicknamed “The Black Death”.

To keep up his income, in winter months he participated in long series of simultaneous matches all over the country – there can hardly have been a club in the kingdom not to have been visited by him at some point. On tours of the Westcountry, for example, he visited Plymouth in 1888 where he played members simultaneously and blindfold. He returned in 1891 playing 8 club members blindfold one evening and 37 members simultaneously the next. Later, he visited Redruth (10 opponents) and Truro. It was a precarious living for one so talented, and he never enjoyed the best of health throughout his life, so in 1911 the BCF launched a testimonial appeal, which raised £800 and suitably invested guaranteed Blackburne an income of £2 per week, which doubtless helped keep a roof over his head.

What would he think of today’s rewards?

Here is a game he played at Bristol in 1875 against an opponent who went on to become a Ladies World Champion. Blackburne was without sight of the board and playing nine others at the same time.

White: Blackburne. Black: Mary Rudge.

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Nf3 h6 6.0–0 d6 7.Nxc3 Nf6 8.Bf4 Be7 9.Qd2 Ng4 10.Rad1 Nge5 11.Bxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 dxe5 13.Qe2 Bd6 14.f4 0–0 15.f5 Qg5 16.Rf3 Qh5 17.Nd5 Kh7 18.Qd3 f6 19.Rg3 Miss Rudge has played very carefully, and though her game is cramped she here makes an ingenious attempt to win. 19…Bxf5 20.exf5 e4 21.Rh3 Qxf5 22.Qe2 Qe5 23.Ne3 c6 24.Ng4 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 Qg5 26.Rh5 Qxh5 27.Nxf6+ winning the queen. 1–0

The solution to last week’s NF letter problem was 1.Nc3! If 1…KxR 2.b7 discovered mate. If 1…e2 2. Qf2 mate or any other move 2.Rc4 mate.

This position arose during last year’s Hastings. White to play and win by force.

White to play