Our proposal for the World Chess Championships

Carlsen defends his title later in 2020 – we turn our thoughts to avoiding another 12 draws.

There has been a lot of talk about how to ‘fix’ chess – due to preparation with computer assistance being so advanced and the quality of play in general producing many draws. I for one am not concerned – the top tournaments in the world still produce incredibly exciting games – chess romanticism is clearly alive and well. Even in games that end in draws – it is clear that players are fighting. However that is tournaments – where you will have to win games in order to do well. This is different to head-to-head.

Whether the ‘draw problem’ in chess is a real concern or not, it is clear that when it comes to the classical world championships – it is being increasingly settled by rapid chess – not classical – because players are ending up at 6-6. Last time around, Carlsen and Caruana drew all 12 games, but Carlsen-Karjakin and Anand-Gelfand were also decided by rapid after just one win each.

Our proposal for this is a simple and small tweak – and it may well have been suggested before – but I cannot find it:

1. Play the rapid games beforehand

This is best explained by example. Let’s say for arguments’ sake that the chinese number 1 Ding Liren wins the candidates and is set to play Magnus. Whilst Ding is an exciting player the chess world would still be anxious that the match would be yet another draw-fest.

So, a few months before the championship, Ding and Magnus play a mini rapid match. Let’s say it is 4 games over two days, and if it is 2-2 then they play 2 games of slightly faster rapid, then 4 blitz, then finally ‘Armageddon’ (a single game that guarantees a winner – the player with the black pieces gets a minute less on the clock, but if they draw then this counts as a win).

2. The winner gets the ‘draw odds’ for the real match

Fast-forward to the real classical match and the winner of this mini-match gets a slight advantage – similar to the ‘Armageddon’ rule, where they would actually win the match if it ended 6-6.

In past decades this rule was used – but it was the existing world champion who held these draw odds. In effect that meant you had to actually beat the champion to take the throne, which makes metaphorical sense but perhaps not as fair as it can be. Instead, a mini-match to decide this beforehand would be completely fair between the two players.

Clearly this provides a winner after 12 games at most. As players approach the 12th game they will have different goals. Whereas currently both players have the same goal of 6.5, with 6 as a back-up goal, now one player will need 6.5 and one player will need 6. There cannot be a truce.

Other thoughts

This will have an effect on the games leading up to the 12th game of course – as players look ahead to the ‘endgame’ of the match. The exact effects of this would be speculation – but in my view this will be a net positive effect on the excitement as well as the efficacy of the match.

A second benefit of this approach is that the mini-match will be an exciting spectacle in itself – a chance to see how the two best players in the world are performing (and get any trash talk out of the way) and, well-marketed, could be a great addition to the chess calendar and an accessible introduction to world championship chess for new players or burgeoning fans.

What do you think? Let us know if this has been proposed before – we could not find where if so.

Mike Harris – current editor of Bristol Chess Times

Mickey Adams relives a memorable tournament – BCT exclusive

We are back with a one-off exclusive – the legend that is Mickey Adams shares a famous tournament win from 1995. Here at BCT we have been on a hiatus of late – but chess never sleeps and high quality tournaments have been raging all summer long – including the UK Blitz qualifiers attracting many GMs and IMs to the South West.

As for your editors we have been getting used to new babies, new jobs (and even new bones) and are often finding ourselves in ‘time-trouble’ these days. You might be able to see the effects in our chess next season… however it is not every day you get the chance to share some exclusive memories from England’s no. 1 player – a while ago we asked several pro’s to share thoughts on a memorable game from the past and GM Michael Adams has sent in his take on the PCA rapid tournament in London 1995 – in which he outlasted the top players in the world including the one and only Vishy Anand. Huge thanks to him for spending the time to share his thoughts – take it away Mickey…

Mickey in Kingpin Magazine

Mickey Adams:

I wasn’t sure what to write about when Jon asked me to annotate a memorable game. I’ve mentioned Ivanchuk-Adams Terrassa 1991 [http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1014135] as one I’ve liked in the past, but instead I thought I would write something different – about a memorable tournament victory: winning the Intel PCA rapid in London back in 1995. It’s a bit worrying my favourite moments seem to be in the distant past; some may remember that weekend as the one when Frank Bruno won the WBC heavyweight title against Oliver McCall on the other side of London at Wembley Stadium.

The passing of time tends to aid nostalgia, and put a more pleasant tinge on your memories, but fortunately in most cases they aren’t also subject to analysis by Stockfish. As a result of this I added light notes to 3 games including both from the final, back then it was ‘real’ rapid and blitz – no increment to help you out as the seconds ticked down.

My tournament almost hit the rails before it started:

Speelman missed Rf4! here to win the game

BCT: It always takes time to find your feet in a rapid tournament – did Speelman see ghosts and decide not to play Rf4? Or did he simply not look for anything other than the queen trade? Mickey held his nerve and eventually won a knight ending. Full game below:

A dodgy draw then qualified me for the next round.

The quarterfinals were also none too smooth for me, only the second game showed serious composure when I evened the score against Jeroen Piket, before surviving a chaotic Armageddon.

BCT: Watch that nail-biting game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3_DvCdIsqI

That round was also memorable for Tony Miles defeat of Vladimir Kramnik, and I still recall him punching the air in triumph.

The finals were all held on the same day, and my play was on the up – I played Tony the next morning and performed more solidly to win 1.5-0.5.

Alexei Dreev was my opponent in the final, after he won a decider against Viswanathan Anand where in a mad time scramble he proved just the quicker as the seconds ticked down.

After we both missed some tactical possibilities, I scored first.

I was originally intending to just annotate the last game, but it was not quite as I impressive as I remembered, it’s still a happy memory though!

BCT: Thanks Mickey – great show. And to think that was almost a quarter-century ago. You can still find Mickey in the top tournaments in the world and putting in appearances at the British championships every summer – winning a total of 7 times.

Your memorable games

Do you want your memorable games showcased here? Write to us at bristolchesstimes@gmail.com and let us know – don’t worry we won’t run it through an engine!

Till next time everyone and remember – keep playing chess.

May problems with GM Jones

Chris is back with another mating puzzle – enjoy!

The late Tony Lewis, from Cheltenham, who had been a strong Gloucestershire player in his early days, later devoted himself entirely to chess problems. The British Chess Problem Society benefited enormously from his input, especially as Treasurer, in which capacity he was instrumental in getting a lot of the Society’s business, not just the financial business, done. He did still find time for composing chess problems, mostly traditional mate-in-2 problems, and was a leading expert in a particular category of problem, the mutate. You may like to have a go at solving this mate in 2, which was published in British Chess Magazine in 1993:


This is (among other things) an example of a mutate (as will be explained later), but (typically of Tony’s problems) it is first and foremost an engaging problem, one that is enjoyable to solve. The solver’s eye is drawn to the position of the white Queen, lurking behind the white King. At the moment, there is no move of the wK that would give mate – the only legal move, 1.Ke3+, blocks the line f2-c5 and so allows 1…Kxc5. But if Black played 1…Nc2 or 1…Pb3 (or if Black played 1…dxc5, after which 2.Ke3 would indeed work) then there would be a mating move by the wK. Given that moves of the h6N allow mate by Bf7 we see that Black is in zugzwang.

However, White doesn’t have a good waiting move. We might think of 1.Be3?!, especially because there is then a nice new wK mate, 1…f2 2.Ke2, but Black can defend with 1…Bxc5 since 2.Ke3 is no longer available.


The key in fact takes us off in a wholly different direction – 1.Qa4!. (Well done if you spotted this!) Now we have a new zugzwang. If 1…dxc5 2.Qd7; if 1…b3 2.Qc4; if any move of the a1N then 2.Qb3. In a mutate White lacks a waiting move and so has to give up a mate set for at least one defence, for which a new mate is prepared in a new zugzwang. I find this idea inherently attractive. Considerable skill is required to do what Tony did and make such problems work soundly – you may like to have a go at composing one. If you do, don’t hesitate to send your problem to Bristol ChessTimes!


Chris is a GM problem composer and regular player for Horfield C.C.

Season’s end: Trophies for 5 different clubs

It’s all come to an end for 2018-19, and 5 separate clubs will have silverware to show off next season.

Final scores

Division 1

Bath were looking strong all season but couldn’t keep up the same pace – whereas Clifton were always lurking in the background and stormed through at the end to take division one with 29 points.

Our prediction? A big fail here with our pick of Horfield to retain the title went south, and dark horses pick Bath falling at the last hurdle.

League 1 – BCT 0

Division 2

North Bristol A went from strength to strength all season and kept up their enthusiasm and dominance – winning the league way before the end and finishing on a huge 34 points.

Our top pick Clevedon B came a close 3rd – but our dark horse pick came up trumps!

League 1 – BCT 1

Division 3

Huge congratulations to Downend D who win division 3 after a close struggle – and have the chance to become that rare breed, a D team in division 2 – a great testament to Downend’s growth and focus on junior chess over many years.

Unfortunately, one of our picks Cabot A were on the losing end of that title race.

League 2 – BCT 1

Division 4

Harambee led at the half-way point but other clubs came up strong – it was a close-call and the best chance for my own club Horfield to win a trophy, but it was Clevedon C who reigned supreme – to add to their impressive silverware cabinet from last season.

Luckily for BCT, Clevedon C level our own prediction score against the league!

League 2 – BCT 2!

It’s a small victory – but I’ll take it!


We made no prediction here – but congratulations nevertheless to Downend (major) and South Bristol (minor) for their cup triumphs. Match reports are here and here.


Mike is co-editor of BCT, plays regularly in the Bristol league, and occasionally makes fairly mediocre predictions.

Improvements: How hard work pays off

One of the key aspects of being a great world chess champion is the ability to learn from their mistakes and correcting them.

Warning – both old and new notation used in this article!

Anatoly Karpov  proved Capablanca’s quote to be true when after he had lost to Yasser Seirawan in London 1982. He soon got his revenge in the World Cup 1982 in Hamburg Germany.

This is a wonderful example of how we can self examine our mistakes and search out what went wrong and how to make sure we get it right in that same situation next time we meet it over the board.

I have been so guilty of this personally in the past where after a loss I just put the score sheet in a drawer and never wanted to see it again.


I do not do that anymore after watching Karpov get his revenge on Seirawan in the World Cup 82 Hamburg dvd that I happen own, and listening to the thoughts of the two players when they arrived at the same point where Karpov went wrong and lost – this time though Karpov was ready – and boy did he make Seirawan suffer.

Here is the account of this match  from the New York Times at the time time of the event. Have a play through it first, and it is also repeated later when we look at some variations:

Revenge for Karpov

In the necessary final playoff, which was contested at the even faster rate of 15 minutes each for all moves, Karpov decided the tournament with a victory and a draw.

The first of Karpov’s two victories over Seirawan gave him sweet revenge. The game followed their encounter in the Phillips & Drew International Tournament in London up to the point where Karpov had played the faulty 13 … PQB4?; 14 R-K3, B-K3; 15 QxN, which did not produce enough of an attack to compensate for the lost piece. The 13 … P-QN4! of the present game was suggested in the tournament book, but apparently only Karpov took it seriously.

In the first game Karpov played c5, which lost after Re3 Be6, QxN
In the second game he followed a different path and played b5!

Accepting the pawn was prohibited: for example, 14 QxP?, R-N1; 15 Q-R4, RxP;

After the natural recapture of the b-pawn by the rook, black’s pieces are more active and mate threats will help him win

After White tries 16 R-K3, B-K3; 17 QxN?, Q-N5ch Black forces mate:

White’s undeveloped kingside really shows here!

(Seirawan should have retreated with 14 Q-Q1, although Black gets a good game with 14 … P-QB4!, since 15 PxP?!, NxP; 16 QxP?, N-K5!; 17 QxR, NxR; 18 PxN, Q-R6; 19 Q-Q5, B-N2!; 20 QQ2, BxN; 21 R-N1, R-K3 yields Black a winning attack.)

So, back to the game; After 14 Q-R5?!, Q-K5!, something had to be done about 15 … Q-N8ch, and 15 RQ3?, QxR was impossible. Thus, Seirawan tried 15 K-Q2:

Kd2 looks odd but it is a creative attempt to both defend and eventually develop the kingside! There followed Re6 16.b3 b4 17.Re3 Qb1 18.Rxe6 Qb2+ 19.Kd1
How would you recapture the rook?

Now Karpov’s incisive knight sacrifice with 19 … BxR! comes – based on the vulnerability of the white king and the calculation that the black rook and bishop could be quickly mobilized for the mating attack.

And the rest is history – Black builds an overwhelming attack, a piece down but much more active. Note how it isn’t even the passed pawn’s queening potential that makes the difference, but still the mating attack:

Other variations

On 25 … R-QB3, running with 26 K-K2 would have led to 26 … B-N5ch; 27 P-B3, Q-N7ch; 28 K-Q1, R-B8mate. Thus, Seirawan had to plug the dike with 26 B-B4.

After 27 … Q-N7ch, Seirawan could not escape by 28 K-B3, B-K5ch; 29 K-N4, RN3ch; 30 K-R3, QxBP with a mating net. Moreover, 28 K-B1 permits 28 … B-R6ch; 29 K-N1, PxB; 30 Q-R8ch, K-R2; 31 QxR, Q-K7!; 32 N-N2, Q-Q8ch; 33 N-K1, QxNmate.

Therefore, the white king drifted reluctantly back with 28 K-Q1, but on the rook sacrifice with 28 … PxB!; 29 Q-R8ch, K-R2; 30 QxR, P-B6!, there was no way out, since 31 N-B3 ends in 31 … Q-N8ch; 32 K-K2, B-Q6mate. Thus, Seirawan gave up.

Here are the thoughts of Seirawan when they were following the move order up to the crucial point where Karpov produced his improvement on his mistake he had made previously:

Seirawan- “Oh Geez, 14. Qe4, so simple oh no! “Then after some further analysis he says “My game is now awful and I have fallen in to his preparation, just as he did mine before”


There you have it folks, when we go back to the drawing board like Karpov did and prepare for next time it happens where we can right our wrong then the hard work pays off and it’s worth the time and effort to rid those painful defeats with glorious victories.

Thank you Mr.Capablanca and Thank you Mr.Karpov for this vital advice and demonstration of how to improve ourselves at chess.


Bob is a regular league and tournament player and contributor to BCT

Problems in April with GM Jones

We take a look at another mind-bending puzzle – this time back to good old-fashioned checkmate!

On the weekend 3rd to 5th May, a British team will be in Athens for the European Chess Solving Championships (‘ECSC’). In such events it’s rare for even the very best solvers to score 100%, and, as in over-the-board chess, the clock is a significant factor. Even mate-in-2 problems (in principle the easiest genre competitors are called upon to solve) are hazardous when you have to solve three of them in twenty minutes. And the competition organizers will have looked for mate-in-2 problems with many potential pitfalls in the form of tempting but inadequate ‘tries’. Here is a typical example, which was used in the 2017 ECSC:

White to mate in 2 (Jan Hannelius; 1st prize, Suomen Shakki 1950)

Often the best tool for solving such problems is looking for the most dangerous black moves and providing a mate against them. David Hodge, one of the British team, pointed out (writing in the magazine of the British Chess Problem Society, The Problemist) that he spotted 1…Nxc4 as a dangerous move. Although this move removes the guard on c6, it (more importantly) makes b5 a flight square. So David looked for moves by the b5N. At first glance it looks as though the threat created by a move of the b5N will be 2.Qa5, but interestingly it turns out upon closer inspection that all the various moves of the b5N have different threats. 1.Na3 does indeed threaten 2.Qa5, but 1…Be1 (which in the diagram position would have been met by 2.Qxd4#) refutes. 1.Nbc3 instead threatens 2.Na4 but 1…Nc7 (which in the diagram would have failed to 2.Qb4#; White’s first move has again stymied himself) unpins the c6B and refutes this try.

But can White be clever and move his own Knight to c7? This looks very plausible. The threat is now 2.Nxa6#, and any move by the black Na6 allows 2.Q(x)b4#. However, because the threat is a move by the white Knight away from c7 we go back to being thwarted by 1…Nxc4!

White to mate in 2 (Jan Hannelius; 1st prize, Suomen Shakki 1950)

So – what else? Well, the b5N can capture bPd6 or bPd4. Neither of these threatens 2.Qa5 (because of 2…KxN), but we do have new threats (respectively 2.Nb7 and Nxb3). The former of these fails to 1…d3 (which in the diagram would have allowed 2.Qxf2#); which leaves 1.Nxd4 – which is indeed the key!

Solution: 1. Nxd4! (threatens Nxb3 mate)

This strikes me as not only an excellent test of a solver’s mental agility (especially when an ECSC competitor has to unravel all the possibilities in 6 or 7 minutes) but also a fine example of the composer’s art. The way in which Hannelius has provided so many ‘set mates’ (white responses that in the diagram would give mate after particular black moves) one (and one only) of which is forgone by so many of the white tries attests to the skill that earned the great Finnish composer the Grandmaster title. This is the sort of problem that can be enjoyed equally by the aesthetically-minded aficionado and the competitive solver.


Chris is a GM problem composer and long-time member of the Bristol League

Improvements: learning from losses

It was my last match of the season last night, so I thought I would show a loss of mine from earlier this season to demonstrate how to learn from your losses. It was generously written up in Downend’s match report as both players ‘taking risks’ but really it was me getting thrown in the opening and subsequently trodden down – lots of lessons learnt from my imaginary GM coach…

Why look at losses? Why not chuck the score-sheet in the bin?

Well – you can chuck them away if you want. I’m pretty sure we all play this game for fun – even if it is slightly masochistic fun at times. But I guess the point of looking back through painful losses depends on whether you see fun and improvement as dependent on each other (or at least natural co-habitors), or you see improvement as an optional thing which doesn’t impact on fun. Either is okay, but if you fit the former right now, critiquing your own play is among the best ways to improve. So do it.

The GM coach on your shoulder

I am going to analyse this game using this technique – imagining a GM peering at your moves and telling you what they think – honestly – about your moves. Clearly I don’t need my coach to be as good as a GM, but I find it easier to imagine a GM being ruthlessly honest about each move – Gordon Ramsey style if need be. So, here we go.

Mike Harris vs Chirag Hosdurga (Horfield B vs. Downend B – 23/10/18)

Full game re-playable here: https://www.downendchess.com/game/1106

Opening: A Sicilian with an early Qb6 – and White trying to play like Karpov with Be2 and Nf3-d4-b3… but Black equalises easily.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Qb6 5. Nb3 Nf6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Be3 Qc7 8. Be2 a6 9. a4 Bb4 10. f3 d5


So Black gets in that key Sicilian move d5 with no issues. Something clearly went wrong – I ‘learnt’ this Nb3 idea from a book about Karpov called ‘Slay the Sicilian’, with some beautiful games by the world champ. Over to the coach:

GM coach: “Mike, you are not Karpov. He won a lot of games with Nb3 which you admire, but here’s the thing – he is a better chess player and more importantly he is a very different player to you. He wins games dictating positional subtleties from a distance – whereas you win most games with a sledgehammer. D5 is the key move for Black – and preventing it is an art, you do it sometimes with tactics and sometimes with strategy. But you don’t just let it happen and hope for the best… Yes, you may have won a few decent games which included the move Nb3, but it’s more of a coincidence – this system is not for you. Stop playing it.”

Me: Harsh. But true. And I will. Promise. Okay, on with the game:

Early middlegame: White’s h-pawn is under fire and the kingside lacks pieces. White tries to hold the pawn by threatening a bishop-trap – which fails.

11. O-O Bd6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nxd5 exd5


GM coach: “Hmm.. I thought the point of Nb3 was to direct attention to the queenside, where you can make use of your control of it from the two bishops and your a4 prod. Now look at it! The knight and the pawn on a4 look quite useless – and the attention is all on the kingside. Again, this is why you prevent d5 – the centre stays closed then.

Okay, so we’re in a mess, let’s try to get out. First off, watch out for your h-pawn. You know the one protecting your king – it’s important… No, the opposing bishop will not be trapped on h2. It’s about the least trapped bishop ever. Just defend it or move it and move on – chess is a long game, you will get some chances again.”

Me: Yup. Sound advice. But that seems like too much effort, maybe I’ll just spend three moves not defending my h-pawn:

14. Kh1 O-O 15. Qd2 Re8 16. c3 Bxh2


GM coach: “(sigh) Ok, that’s bad. c3 was a waste – I know you were worried about the move d4, but trust me, you have bigger things to worry about. The h-file is now open for the queen or a rook.

But not to worry – try something else and then complicate things. Try to stay positive and look for your strengths in the position, there is still that isolated d-pawn… its not much but its something. Just don’t panic and play anything totally anti-positional like f4.”

17. f4

GM coach: “(winces) Oh dear oh dear. What was that? Do you still think you are trapping that bishop? You are now completely lost and you should resign.”

Me: Yeah… I’ll take my chances.

Mid-Middlegame: Black builds up more of an attack with the strong bishop on g3 while White has to deal awkwardly with a few attacks such as Qh6, threatening Qh2 – very difficult to stop.

17… Bg3 18. Kg1 Bf5 19. Nd4 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 Qd6


GM coach: “It’s still over – resign.”

Me: Okay, I’ll just try some random moves first.

21. Rf3 Qg6 22. Raf1 Be4 23. Re3 Bxf4


GM coach: “…”

24. Rxe4 Bxd2 25. Rg4 Rxe2 0-1

Me: Okay I resign.


Very well played to my opponent in this game – who took advantage of the above mistakes with great efficiency.

Silver lining

So, what’s the point of analysing losses? Well, fairly serendipitously I played another game about a month later – and won by snapping up an a-pawn with a bishop, recognising that trapping the bishop was harder than it looked, and in fact it because a nuisance for my opponent and I ended up with an ending of 5 pawns vs. a lone bishop.

The rewards for studying losses will not always come this quickly – but we should recognise that there are many lessons from one game – like me and my attachment to the Nb3 move in the Sicilian. If you blundered in a game then it’s unlikely that was the only lesson there, or that the blunder came about all of a sudden. Look at the lead up to the blunder – what were your thinking patterns? What didn’t you understand about the position?

Sharing games on BCT and elsewhere

I am publishing this game for two related reasons:

  • To encourage others to analyse their losses
  • To encourage others to share their games to help others learn.

We have always asserted that in amateur chess we should all be sharing games (yes – including those cherished opening secrets) if we want to improve. After all, we are not grandmasters preparing novelties on move 27 for the upcoming world champs. We are all chess players on the same path – and looking honestly at our own mistakes must be the truest way to improve.

So share your games. It could be with a friend or clubmate, with your whole team (at Horfield there are frequently email threads going round discussing the match gone by) or on the internet for all to see.

As far as BCT goes, we will not continue just with our own games – that might get a bit repetitive. So without more contributions, we will eventually stop. If you want to see a friendly culture of improvement, then be the change that you want to see!

If you would like to take up the challenge of finding your worst game of the season – or any game you can learn from – email us at bristolchesstimes@gmail.com


Mike is a regular league player and co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times

Ratings – possible issues with monthly grading

Quick league update – congratulations to North Bristol CC for the div 2 title! Now for something completely different – some thoughts about grading:

I read with interest Bob Radford’s and the BCT’s comments on the ECF’s proposals for using FIDE ratings. It’s handy to have a quick conversion check list and it’s interesting to see the BCT’s questions about the conversion process. To quote them: “Here at the BCT we are quite confused about all this K-factor and RO and algorithms going on”

But I see from the link to the ECF proposals that these are headed “Monthly grading proposal” and the change from ECF to ELO is a secondary detail to facilitate the introduction of monthly grading. The change to monthly grading seems to be a done deal, while the switch from ECF to ELO is a supplementary matter which is explained (or not, depending on your point of view!) in great detail. So, really, there are two separate issues: monthly grading and the switch to ELO.

I suspect that the introduction of monthly grading has rather gone under the radar and in fact opens an enormous can of worms. There is a major issue concerning how monthly league results would be communicated to the ECF. At present the results are sent twice-yearly and the increase in administrative hassle to do it monthly must be a major concern. I don’t want our league’s administrators to be caught up with feeding monthly data to the ECF if this will in any way affect the excellent reporting of results that we currently enjoy. Chessit reporting is actually quite sophisticated in the way that it handles not only match scores and updating of tables but also detailed club statistics including grading thresholds and play ups and downs. We are extremely lucky to have all this.

It is all very well for the ECF to lay down that results must be sent in monthly but I seriously wonder whether they have really thought it through properly and understand the problems they may be causing bigger leagues like ours. They state in their proposal that “At least in the early stages, there should be tolerance of delayed reporting, particularly for leagues and internal club results.” I wonder if this could be the thin end of the wedge.

As regards how monthly grading will affect the individual player, I suspect that anyone who is desperate to know how his/her grade is progressing from game to game is able to do this quite easily on the back of an envelope or, if they are so inclined, on a simple computer spreadsheet. And indeed they probably already do! How many will feel the necessity to log on to an ECF file to see their monthly grade? Nice to have, maybe, but hardly essential for most players. We have around 320 players in the league, of whom typically 60-ish play in weekend congresses which means that over 70% only ever play league chess for grading purposes. They can already see their grade not monthly, but weekly, on Chessit, so the ECF’s publishing of monthly updates will add nothing of great value for them.  And, after all, “they”, the silent majority, are the League.

I am fairly sure that we all play league chess for the enjoyment, fun and competitive spirit that the league gives us. And I suggest we look out for the results and league tables on Chessit in much the same way that we check the football results in the Sunday paper or on the internet. I would not want that to be put at risk because of issues to do with sending results to the ECF.

Perhaps it will be argued that monthly grading can be implemented with no adverse effect on Chessit. However, until I see convincing proof of that, I shall remain very cautious about the potential administrative problems. If push came to shove and the ECF were to try to force the League to send monthly results against our better judgement, I would hope we would have the determination to stand up to them. Incidentally, these are all purely my personal views.

And my personal view on changing from ECF to ELO is that I suppose it is “progress” and I can’t get too excited about it one way or the other. Of greater concern seems to me to be how the webmasters will cope with it.

BCT: If anyone else has any thoughts about current proposals, or proposals of their own around grading, please comment and share them with the league. Many thanks to Ian for his.

Author:  Ian Pickup is a regular Bristol League player in division 1

New rating system for the Bristol league?

We now know that the ECF may switch the grading system from a three digit grade to a more modern Fide ELO style four digit rating system from January 2020.

I have compiled a rating chart that converts ECF grade to Elo for the benefit of those that may wish to know what their new rating would be if it were implicated at this time.

It’s based on ratings starting at 100 ECF and rising 10 ECF points at a time to 220.

I hope it helps some to have an idea of what these new ratings might be for players in the Bristol & District Chess League that are not fully understanding of the difference between the two:


100 – 1450

110 – 1525

120 – 1600

130 – 1675

140 – 1740

150 – 1825

160 – 1900

170 – 1975

180 – 2050

190 – 2125

200 – 2200

210 – 2275

220 – 2340

BCT: The details of the proposal are here: https://www.englishchess.org.uk/monthly-grading-proposal/

Here at the BCT we are quite confused about all this K-factor and RO and algorithms going on and have some simple questions for the Bristol league:

  • What are the pros and cons for you as a club player of using ECF and FIDE ELO ratings?
  • Is it a pain for anyone using both? (e.g. in Bristol FIDE rated congresses?)
  • For those that play online chess, how does your ECF grade compare with your unofficial ELO rating online?



Bob is a regular Bristol league and tournament player

BCT Archives: September 1993

Originally a bi-monthly publication in the 80’s and 90’s the Bristol Chess Times delivered the latest league updates and news in a pre-Internet era. Here is another BCT from September 1993 when Michael Hennigan won the British Championships!

This issue features a report of the British Chess Championship won by Michael Hennigan – once a Bristol University Student. Fun fact – he is the only champion in the last 35 years not to have a Wikipedia entry… so if anyone out there is in the know please submit one!

Another baffling story is that of current Division 1 logger-heads Bath and Clifton got themselves into a total mess with a player forgetting to seal their move in the cup final – the whole match rested on how this incident was judged. Read more in the PDF below – and for those who aren’t old enough to remember sealed moves, read all about that here.

Open the PDFhere: BCTsep93


John has been playing for Horfield for longer than anyone else cares to remember (but was actually 1983). Never quite managing to get to a 180 grade, he is resigned to the fact that he probably never will. He set up the original Bristol League website and has been, at various times League General Secretary, Recruitment and Publicity, Chess Times Editor, Bristol 4NCL Manager and an ECF Arbiter.