Season preview and August news

We take a look forward to the season – starting tomorrow! – and a look back at our predictions last time around.

First off, a few tournament results:

Mike Meadows (Downend) won the Downend Summer Rapid tournament with a great last night to pull ahead of clubmate Oli Stubbs and David Painter-Kooiman – congratulations! A thorough – totally unbiased – report is on Downend’s site.

The Steve Boniface Memorial was missing GM Arkell, and the heavy favourite IM Alan Merry could not repeat his Spring victory – instead Graham Moore won it with a perfect 5/5! Tim Woodward took another victory in the major, and Jonathon Gould scooped the minor.

No joint winners this time in any section! Results available on chessit.co.uk, and an annotated game by Toby Kan here.

2018/19 season predictions

It’s scary to think its almost 2019 – so let’s have a quick review of our predictions from last year:

Division 1: Clifton A – WRONG (Actual winners: Horfield A – our ‘Dark Horses’ pick)

Division 2: South Bristol B – WRONG (Actual winners: Clevedon B)

Division 3: Yate A – WRONG (Actual winners: Keynsham – our ‘runners-up’ pick)

Division 4: Downend F – WRONG (Actual winners: North Bristol B – our ‘runners-up’ pick)

So, let’s try to beat that score shall we? Here are all the competitors:

tables
A fresh start – what surprises are in store this season?

Division 1

Champions: Horfield A

We are going for a successful defence of the title for Horfield (again, totally unbiased). They have lost star player Aaron Guthrie, but they remain strong and are hungry for more.

Dark Horses: Bath A

Bath are always knocking around the top of the table and it is tough to play them away – can they step up this year?

Division 2

Champions: Clevedon B

A great season last time around for the club and a strong junior presence – surely they’ll be ruffling a few feathers.

Dark Horses: North Bristol A

Can they consolidate their squad and put out a regular mean team? We think maybe!

Division 3

Champions: Cabot A

With Yate A and Keynsham A stepping up, division 3 is surely wide open – come on the Cabot!

Dark Horses: South Bristol B

The strength of the team is unknown as yet but South Bristol have always been able to produce strength in depth.

Division 4

Champions: Clevedon C

I’m running with the confidence theory with all those fresh trophies in the cabinet.

Dark Horses: Congresbury

Welcome back to the league! An unknown quantity this season so certainly worth a punt.

Well let’s see if I can do better than Jon with 8 predictions rather than 12. Right, season begins tomorrow – time for some preparation!


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of BCT and plays regular league and tournament chess

Game of the Season 2017/18 – the winners!

It’s officially the start of a new season, so we better get the prizes for last year wrapped up.

Newsflash: BCT reaches 100 articles! Thanks to all contributors – we have had 13 authors from 7 different clubs, and lots of engagement from readers. What’s next for BCT? Well I’m sure we’ll write an article on it! Meanwhile its (digital) founder, Jon Fisher, welcomes his second son into the world earlier this very day – congrats buddy! Well, on with the chess and two other fine specimens to admire in wonder:

We gave you ten ‘Games of the Month‘ last season – you have picked your winner and so have we. Prizes will be awarded at a convenient time (i.e. when I next play against the winners’ club in a match), so without further ado…

GotS

People’s vote

The deluge of votes from the great chess public went for…

Aron Saunders! (Downend) – “Beware 3 Greeks bearing gifts”

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.d3 Ng4 6.h3 Nxf2

This is a common tempt in the opening – a bishop and knight for a rook and a pawn. As Aron ruthlessly demonstrates, the extra minor pieces can be immediately useful whereas the extra rook takes a while to get going, so this trade is often not advised for the offender.

7.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 O-O 9.Nc3 d6 10.Bg5 Qd7 11.Nd5 h6 12.Bf6

Bf6!! This is the first of 3 minor piece ‘offerings’ which earns this game its name. The first one can’t be taken because of the knight fork.

12..Na5 13.Qd2 Nxc4 14.dxc4 c6 15.Ne7+ Kh7 16.Nf5 g5 17.Nxg5+

Nxg5+! can’t be taken because of the impending queen invasion.

17..Kg6 18.Nh7

Nh7! An accurate finish. The knight gets out the way for the queen and doesn’t mind sacrificing itself, but elegantly defends the f6 bishop in the process.

18..Qxf5+ 19.exf5+ Kxh7 20.Be7 Rg8 21.f6 Rg5 22.Qxd6 Be6 23.b3 h5 24.Re1 Rf5+ 25.Kg1 Rg8 26.Rxe5 Rfg5 27.Rxg5 Rxg5 28.Qd3+ Bf5 29.Qd2 Rg6 30.Kh2 Be4 31.Qe2 Bxg2 32.Qxh5+ Kg8 33.Qxg6+ fxg6 34.Kxg2 1-0

The queen was given up in the hope of defence but it was all over – replay below. Nice one, Aron!

Editors pick

We agonised long and hard over a few different games; it was a close call but we went for an original game where both sides played with plenty of adventure and spirit. And the winner is…

Ethan Luc! (University) – “I’d rather be Luc(ky) than good”

Comments are from both Ethan (EL) and us (BCT):

Well done Ethan and great stuff everyone!

More games this season please!

This season (18-19) we are hoping for more games to showcase not just for Game of the Month but as educational articles like this one on the Hippo. So don’t be shy! Games will not be analysed to within an inch of their lives – just enjoyed by chess-lovers alike. Here are some ideas:

  • Send in other people’s games – (there are no rights issues here!)
  • Send fragments of games (e.g. just an endgame is fine!)
  • Send games from tournaments (often longer time-controls make for better games)
  • Send in puzzle-like variations of games
  • If you’re that way inclined – send in computer analysis (maybe you played a ‘perfect’ middlegame?)

We’ll do our best to publish all games and will be continuing Game of the Month – so always appreciate more fodder.

Have a great season everyone!


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess, sometimes underwater.

The Preview – Steve Boniface Memorial

We take a quick look back at the spring congress to see what’s in store this weekend – and an update on my training for the diving chess world champs.

The last bit of tournament chess before the season begins! Bristol will once again battle for five intense rounds in three sections – in honour of legendary arbiter Steve Boniface.

It’s yet to be confirmed whether regular GM Keith Arkell will return to seek revenge on IM Alan Merry for the final round defeat in the Spring – the 26-move French is shown below. Alan won the tournament along with FM Mike Waddington. The top of the player lists for all three sections is shown below – watch out for the return of the irrepressible Frank Palm, now resident in Germany.

entrants

Here is the miniature from Alan (or is a miniature less than 25 moves? I forget, but its a nice handling of the French defence anyway).

All three sections are packed with past champions so it should be a bloody weekend! Sadly neither of your editors will be playing. Jon is currently nursing multiple injuries (not chess-sustained) and expecting a second child imminently, whilst I am (perhaps more importantly) playing in the world championships of diving chess. If you don’t know what that is, watch this video on YouTube. But it’s basically chess – underwater. The clock is your ability to keep breathing.

Here is me on a recent intensive training camp in Tuscany:

chess1

Wish me luck, won’t you?


mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess

 

 

 

 

 

Game of the Season 2017-18! Votes please…

All 10 Games of the Month from last season in Bristol&Bath. Please submit votes for your favourite! We have made our choice just in case, but there is a people’s vote as well as an editor’s pick, so get choosing! Comments, emails, and Facebook votes all welcome.

This season was the first full one for the Bristol Chess Times – one of our initiatives was a ‘Game of the Month’ (GotM). This relied on submissions from players, or captains, but also on us to look around at tournaments or on other websites where games are published. This is a known bias – one month we were so starved of games that we had to go with one of mine – but hopefully this will only spur on more game suggestions for next year!

GotS

*Rest assured as co-editor my effort in October is exempt from winning Game of the Season (GotS) but let’s have a recap of the 10 ‘Games of the month’ and we’ll let you decide the rest:

September

Remember September? Perhaps this swift ‘Greek Gift’ win from Aron will jog your memory:

October

This lively game was a crucial part of Horfield B’s surprise win over Downend A early in the season:

November

Perhaps this all-out war between Lewis and Oliver, who clearly agreed to a ‘no castling’ rule before the game, will get your pick:

(December had no GotM)

January

We went with a bumper edition in January, to pull out 4 defensive/counterattacking  wins with Black. First up was Rich Wiltshir’s cool defence to claim joint first in the Clevedon Congress major:

Next was tournament organiser Graham Mill-Wilson showing disregard for a knight settling next to his king for most of the game and getting the job done to win the minor section:

League newcomer Waleed Khan played a classical game here from a Sicilian position, developing and centralising until a deadly pin was enough to force resignation:

And finally for January, a deadly and accurate finish emerging from another seemingly normal Sicilian by Steve Woolgar:

February

Devon didn’t know what hit it when Thornbury’s Lynda Smith won the day with a smooth and controlled attack:

March

Back to the league and the ever-enterprising Mike Meadows was elegantly unhinged here by university’s Ethan Luc:

(April had no GotM)

May

Finally, Jerry Hendy was under some pressure in this league game but gives up three pawns for a resignation:

Phew! 10 is a lot of chess games. But we have picked a winner! We’ll announce both the ‘people’s vote’ and the ‘editor’s pick’ soon.

One thing I notice is that all of these games are wins. A draw can often be an epic struggle and worthy of any prize, so maybe next season we’ll have of few more of those.

 


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess

Two Latvian Gambit games from the Bristol Open 2018

Avid readers will recall that on June 15th I gave this advice for a must-win tournament situation against 1.e4: Play the Latvian Gambit – “…2.f5… Bd6, sack a rook and win the tournament in a blaze of glory”. That very night the Bristol Spring Congress commenced and as if I had scripted it – a player called Mike played the Latvian twice, won twice, and (jointly) won the tournament in a blaze of glory.

Unfortunately for me it was FM Mike Waddington – who in a cruel twist of fate also beat me with White after I played an ambitious f5, miscalculating after arriving 27 minutes late. But that’s another story.

Mike appears to also have a soft spot for the Latvian Gambit (and a better understanding of it). Here are his two wins which helped him on the way to 4.5/5 in a very competitive open field:

Gambit accepted: the exf5 line

“The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it”. After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 White can play 3.exf5 – and the game is on.

latvian1

Mike appears to have read my advice (scroll to 3. exf5) and goes for e4, Qe7, Nc6 and rapid bishop development:

After Nxc6 dxc6, d3 and Bxf5 Black has some control and is not any material down – the engine gives it -0.44 (small advantage for Black). After a few more moves (play through the game below) the queens come off and Black is fine with the pieces on good squares and White’s d-pawn isolated.

The middlegame was not a typical Latvian tactics fest – but Mike eventually wins the endgame after a favourable exchange of the last piece.

Main Line

Mike got a second chance to play the Latvian and got the main line where the queen enjoys an early outing to g6: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe5 Qf6 4.d4 d6 5.Nc4 fxe4 6.Nc3 Qg6

The engine gives it around +1 here, but as I discuss in the original article it is often officially good for White but actually difficult to play. For example in our game here, it becomes a dangerous prospect for White to castle on either side of the board.

Mike manages to get in d5 and gets the classic Latvian bishop to d6 after: 7.Ne3 c6 8.Bc4 d5 9.Bb3 Nf6 10.Ne2 Bd6. Looks comfortable enough:

And it gets uncomfortable for White after some pretty natural moves – f4 was played here to try to avoid the oncoming assault on the king:

After f4 we have Bg4 and the pressure switches to the centre and White’s queen is quickly needing some space. Lewis gives up the exchange instead but there is no real compensation. Mike ends up three pawns up after giving back the exchange to get a comfortable ending:

Well done to Mike who also won against 4th seed Graham Moore (and against me, but that’s less impressive), to tie 1st place with IM Alan Merry.

We hope to see some more Latvians played at the top level soon!

…And in fairness to Mike’s other victims, here is my game:


mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular Bristol chess

GT Rapidplay report and Bristol tournament news

One of the hottest days of the year and a massive cycling event blocking a lot of roads in the centre of Bristol wasn’t the best day for chess – but the hardiest fans still arrived ready for a different kind of heat over the board (and the actual heat).

If you’re ever having a bad day, then my performance in this tournament may cheer you up. Casually late for round 1 I was lucky to get a half-point bye, then an undeserved win with White in round 2 gave way to four straight losses. From the benign to the blunderous and then the classic ‘forget your own surprise opening and burn a rook’.

But there was also some good chess happening – first of all in the Open there were many Cliftonites (Cliftonians?) setting the pace but one newcomer Antony Stannard from North Bristol managed to work his way through the pack to get to board 1 for the final round – a win over IM James Cobb would steal the title. Sadly no heroic tale this time, as James calmly took the title ahead of the other IM Cobb (Charlie, looking on from board two in the final round).

open
Anthony a pawn down in an ending – close but no cigar

In the major it was a cleaner sweep for North Bristol with Graham Iwi pipping Gareth Cullen to the post. Here is Graham surviving some pressure from Steve:

major
I assume that the next move was Rd8+, forcing the rook trade and then retreating the queen to cover the c3 pawn.

More North Bristol success came in the form of Waleed Khan who came third and also took the grading prize. We bring you one of his games against the top seed in the major. After some solid opening play, Gareth is on the attack – but Waleed finds the shuffling manoeuvre of Kh8, then back to g8, and Kh8 again to dodge the various attacking ideas – and he ends up a rook ahead with no danger left:

Well done to Clifton (particularly Igor and Dave) for organising, Geoff for arbitrating, and for North Bristol for a resounding success!

As for me I’ll hit the books.

News about upcoming tournaments

South Bristol Rapidplay (message from Roy Day):

To all our past entrants, friends and anyone that intended playing in the annual South Bristol chess clubs open tournament this year; I have been organising this tournament now for several years and thought I would give it a rest this year.
I apologise to all who may have intended playing but maybe this year with the present hot climate it may be for the best and we do not have air conditioning
All the best to all chess players

Downend Summer Tournament:

If you’re up for something a bit different then this may be up your street – a well-structured innovation from Downend to fit around busy summer calendars. Four nights of blitz chess but only your best three results count towards the total. So if you missed round 1, not to worry! The next round, conveniently after all the football and tennis excitement, is the 17th of July at Downend. You also play opponents with White and Black, so you can claim immediate revenge for that cheeky swindle…

Bristol Summer Congress:

Same place, similar huge field (probably) and cooler weather (probably) on the 24th-26th August.


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess in Bristol

Chess Myths – Creativity

The hidden inventiveness of chess

I used to think GM’s were all the same. They were all at least 50 years old, they played only the most mainstream openings, they never sacrificed anything and they won games by grabbing a pawn and hanging on to it.

This was when I was still at school and before the internet boom. Kasparov and Short were on TV when I was 6; I had learnt to play a year before that but I don’t think I watched it or knew what it was – and I didn’t find out they were both aggressive, highly creative players until much later (just think of Kasparov’s immortal game and Short’s infamous king-walk).

In 2018 we have an abundance of creative players, not least the exciting junior Richard Rapport. Check out any of his games for some fresh ideas, but meanwhile here’s a finishing attack against none other than Levon Aronian from 2016:

rapport

Here Rapport unleashes Rh1+! Whichever way White takes it there is devastation to follow (Nxh1 and Nf3+ or Kxh1 and Bxd4 followed by Qh4+ and mate soon) – but the more important point is that Rapport had to imagine this idea before he played the rook manoeuvre over to h5, as if the attack fails then it is really out of place there.

That’s how these young GM’s do it! But no, I thought GM’s had to be super patient, super restrained, super technical and super ruthless. And this is how I think many people outside chess still see it. Imagine for a second you don’t know the rules. You see on TV someone studying for 25 minutes and moving a pawn forward one square – you see the crowd going wild. What the…? As an observer you are hardly going to appreciate creativity here – because you won’t be seeing everything they are – chess is not naturally a spectator sport in this way.

But take IM Danny Rensch’s analysis of Gelfand’s extraordinary queen sacrifice here, saying he fell off his chair. This is more like the reaction you want for chess – seeing moves that are unexpected and intuitively creative – like a cheeky drop-shot in tennis. But creativity takes many forms and it is difficult for chess commentators to bring it all out.

From watching a lot of mainstream TV interviews with chess players over the years, the non-chess-playing interviewer often seems fascinated that the chess elite ‘spend their whole lives within 64 squares’ – they ask how a person can do it, they ask if it ever gets boring, they ask if they miss out on normal life. They are both in awe and also a little condescending towards the GM who is often attempting to debunk the myths of calculating 30 moves ahead, seeing every possibility, or of an inevitable descent into paranoia. What they never ask about is creativity.

The fact is that in chess, like in art, there are principles. To be good at art, you can learn the principles, but to be a great artist, you need to break them. Great chess players know when to break the rules – and they do it surprisingly often.

Every game is different. And to improve at chess it’s not just about openings, and not just endgame technique or tactics. You have to adjust how to approach your own thinking about chess positions.

And yes – part of this is your own brain – your own ideas and imagination. You will have many previous learnings about chess (doctrines like “passed pawns must be pushed!” or certain styles like Nimzowich’s ‘overprotection’). Let them advise you but don’t let them control you. The real fight is happening in your own mind – balancing impulses against logic, the innovative against the tried-and-tested, the right brain against the left brain if you will. Just let your creativity have influence – and have trust in your own moves.
See this video (or the game below) by Ronen Har-Zvi called ‘Trust your calculations’ where he focuses on a wild game from Dr. John Nunn. Notably Vishy Anand also said that the first time he beat a GM he learned to “believe in his own moves”.

I have a very different view of GM’s now – in fact almost the opposite from my 10-year old self. Sure they are technically very good, and sometimes win games by grabbing a pawn and hanging on to it. But to get there they had to hone their own style, and their own personal take on the game. They had to create something.

Here’s the game between Nunn and Anthony – played in Bristol in 1981!


mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular Bristol chess

From the Front Line – Bristol Spring Congress

A massive field and many new players this year – the Spring Congress was as tough as ever.

The Bristol tournament scene continues to go from strength to strength with a whopping 117 entrants to the Spring Congress – including a GM, two IM’s and a host of other masters in a very competitive Open field.

The British weather was compliant also – not taunting dedicated chess fans with too much sun streaming through the windows.

I entered the Open but I also had clubmates from Horfield in every section to cheer on, and a good excuse to loiter around the top boards and try to ‘improve by osmosis’.

The Open was more than twice the size of some previous tournaments which meant that drawn games were likely to cost you at the top. After 3 rounds nobody had a perfect score – though plenty on 2.5.

Before the final round there were three on 3.5 and GM Arkell lurking on 3. The Merry-Arkell match-up (seed 1 vs. 2) was the final round everyone wanted to see – this time Merry sealing the deal – he couldn’t take the prize outright though as Mike Waddington beat Graham Moore to also finish on 4.5.

Another dream final match-up was for the title of Bristol League champion – between league players only. Patryk Kryzyzanowski was leading on 3, whilst a host of others (including myself) were on 2.5. Steve Dilleigh got the honour of trying to leapfrog Patryk – and was doing well in a rook ending, up a pawn and with a slightly easier king position – could Steve emulate Carlsen and squeeze it to steal the title? After some calculated risks to keep his rook active, Patryk did enough to hold it and is now Bristol champion!

Over the last year the juniors have been threatening a takeover, this time the prize was shared between one of them (Yuyang Wang) and 3 ‘non-juniors’ (Bob Radford, winner on tiebreak; Brendan O’Gorman; and Chris Strong) with 4/5 each.

Bob won a crucial game in round 3 vs. Max Walker, where he showed tremendous resolve to come back a piece down – making use of a few tempi and some useful central pawns and eventually forcing a rook to drop – winning this game gave him the best progressive scores overall and the title of major champion!

More good news for my own club (Horfield) with Mike Jennings sharing first place along with three others: Daoyi Wang, William Taplin and John Harris.

It was a fantastic weekend for Bristol chess – the organisers have done a great job raising interest and ensuring everything runs smoothly; more players, more newcomers, more non-Bristolians and more prizes.

We’ll be back soon with analysis of a few games from the Open section.

Look out for the Steve Boniface memorial on the 24-26 August for more high quality chess bouts!


mikecircle

Mike Harris is co-editor of Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess in Bristol

Attack against e4 – The Latvian Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5!

This aggressive opening with Black could be your next surprise weapon – highly recommended for a must win game.

The Latvian is one of the most aggressive sound openings out there, but it is underused and largely unknown. If you’ve ever considered it before – you may have run it past an engine. They give it roughly a +1 after 3.Nxe5 (my engine lands on 1.17, meaning that it thinks White is even more than a pawn up, for nothing).

This alone may put you off reading any further – and if it does please do stop now. This opening is not for the faint-hearted. 2…f5 is basically an unmistakable statement that you intend to sack a lot of pieces for checkmate. If its stats you want, I’ve played this in Bristol league and tournament games about once a season for the last 4 years and I’ve won all 4 games – admittedly three against slightly lower rated opponents but one of them against a top coach.

It’s not played at the top level but there are a few masters and even world champions who dabble – even the great Bobby Fischer lost to it. Okay so Fischer was 11 at the time – but this game does show important attacking themes. Black benefits from the f-file being open quickly, and the bishop on d6 (staring at h2) is very typical for Latvian attacks. Because Black played f5 so early, White had no chance to calmly claim or block the centre, which means those nice diagonals are open for bishops.

Let’s see how the bishops can quickly triumph if White is greedy:

Aside: What’s a pawn worth?

Is an extra pawn going to win you the game? For Grandmasters maybe yes. It also may be the case in simple positions – one open file, obvious squares to contest, the player a pawn up can comfortably force trades and win with a pawn breakthrough. Again, simple positions. But if you are a long way off an endgame, forget about the material. It’s never just about the material, and in the Latvian gambit material is pretty much out the window.

move2

Back to move 2 – why f5?

First of all we must see the method behind the madness of f5. You should have a reason for every move you make, and it turns out f5 has many.
With e4 and Nf3 White is saying: “I’m going to castle kingside as soon as possible, distract you with defending e5, and have a comfortable life”
So what do we say in return? “Don’t get too comfy. Take my e-pawn, by all means; I’ll take yours. Or take my f-pawn and I’ll attack your only developed piece (with pawn e4 to e5). Castle kingside if you like, but I’ll quickly get a rook on the open f-file”

More strategically – you are opening the f-file for your own rook and threaten quick development by castling kingside. White can’t just let you do this, they must find something else to call an advantage.

After 2…f5!? we have several continuations. I’m not going to go into huge detail – I want to make you aware of the types of positions you get, and if you like what you see you can learn more about it on thechesswebsite.com, buy the book by Tony Kosten, or get a board out and try it yourself.

The main thing I want to tell you is that the engines have this one wrong. Well not totally wrong, but despite the evaluations a human playing White will have some major difficulty against the Latvian – unless of course they know it in great depth, which I would suggest is unlikely.

More to the point – the natural 3.Nxe5 is nothing to be scared of. The move to be mildly concerned about is 3.d4. But I will recommend a solid way to play in that case. Most of the time players will not play 3.d4 – and I’m talking about everyone below say 1900.

Why is this not played a lot?

There are some very simple answers here. It is sharp, a little bit wacky, difficult to play for both sides, and computers don’t think much of it. But the main reason I think is more psychological: Amateur players shy away from openings where they could lose quickly. Maybe it is fear of embarrassment, maybe it is the sunk cost of travelling to a venue to play a game of chess. But I’m here to convince you that is exactly the reason why you should consider these sorts of openings; because your opponent will have those same tendencies, and often will choose the safer (worse) option.

Let’s get down to some moves; so Black has two pawns en-prise – but the problem for White is they only have one move, not two. Either capture is okay for Black:

3. exf5

exf5

3…e4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Nd4 Nc6

and if they take our knight we take with the d-pawn, so that we recapture the f-pawn eventually and the other bishop settles on d6. They may try to hang on to the pawn but it’s not worth it.

6. Qh5+ Kd8

messy

and you can easily attack that pawn with d5, Qf6, Ne7 etc. G4 will lead to interesting games but Black should be better with the big centre and chances to make White’s queen look foolish.

3. Nxe5

Nxe5

3…Qf6
An alternative – for the real gambiteers, which I play on occasion – is 3…Nc6! 4.Qh5+ g6 5.Nxg6 Nf6! 6.Qh4 Rg8 7.Nxf8 Rg4! The engine still doesn’t love it but just look at the position below. Is White going to be loving life if they haven’t seen this before? We have rook takes e4 check coming (how many openings can say that?) with some awkward defence in store for White.

g6 line

Incidentally, Paul Keres dealt with 5.Nxc6 beautifully in this miniature.

After the main line 3..Qf6 we have 4. d4 d6 5.Nc4 and we recapture the pawn with fxe4; White stops us playing d5 with Nc3, but here’s one key move you’ll have to get comfortable with: Qg6. It seems strange to move the queen again, but we are okay – the knight comes to f6, we renew the threat of d5, and we can develop with Bd6, Bf5 or Bg4, castle and if needed tuck the queen back again with Qf7 and we are sitting pretty.

So after 6..Qg6 it is the start of the ‘main line proper’ – which is way too much to go into now, but Tony Kosten covers pretty much all the possible 7th moves for White:

mainline

Instead of capturing, White can of course ignore both pawns and develop:

3. Bc4

fxe4! 4.Nxe5 and either d5 or Qg5. Again things are going to get messy here. D5 is the most natural – but we do have to be comfortable with this line: 5. Qh5+ g6 6. Nxg6 Nf6! 7. Qe5+ Be7 8. Nxh8 dxc4 – and we are an exchange down but the knight is looking trapped – if White isn’t active then we can even walk the king over and take it.

Nxh8line

I don’t actually see Bc4 very often – but I’ll give a line that tempts White even more: 4..Nf6! Let these two games from Joseph Blackburne sway you. It’s the same opponent, who first tries to land a knight on f7, and then tries with the bishop – and gets pretty well crushed both times!

As I say, Bc4 is not too common. Among players who are unfamiliar with the Latvian, I believe the most common response will be:

3. d3

And this is just a different game. White tries to ignore the gambit and decides to save the light-squared bishop for defence. As Black we just continue with normal moves (Nf6, d6, Be7, 0-0) and plan on meeting exf5 with Bxf5.

The real test for you is when White decides to fight fire with fire, and opens up an attack on your e-pawn, with:

3. d4!

It’s a fairly decent move for White – but you’ll be okay if you memorise a few things:

  • Take the pawn that you threatened: 3..fxe4.
  • If they play Nxe5 and Bg5 then you’ll have to hold tight with Nf6 and Be7
  • Play either d5 or if you can’t then play d6 and kick the knight.
  • Remember the Latvian bishop – Bd6. For example in this game from Keres he plays d5 in response to Bc4, and his own bishop lands on d6. You don’t mind the knight staying on e5 – but you may have to get creative like Keres’ Kf8 and Kg7 to avoid tricks.

Conclusion

So – if you’ve read this far you hopefully view this opening as being worth a shot. With a bit of study, this is an awesome surprise weapon in your arsenal against 1.e4 and is a lot of fun to play.

Round 5 of a congress against the tournament leader who is half a point ahead of you? My advice is f5, Bd6, sack a rook and win the tournament in a blaze of glory.

I’ll leave you with none other than Boris Spassky employing the main line with great effect:


 

mikecircle

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

Bristol juniors march on in UK Chess Challenge

The Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge is the biggest junior chess tournament in the world. Over the last two weekends 10 Bristol League Juniors took part in the 2nd stage regional Megafinals. They all qualified! Congratulations to all the Young guns.

This year there were over 40,000 children, from over 1,000 schools and chess clubs participating across the UK in The Delancey Chess Challenge.

The stages of the UK Chess Challenge

From the initial school/club stage the best players go through to the regional Megafinals. These are held during April and May, and each Megafinal is divided into different age groups for both boys and girls, from under 7 to under 18. This year there were over 40 regional Megafinals taking place across the UK. This stage is a six round rapidplay, with a qualification score of 3.5/6.

Those that qualify from these Megafinals move onto the Gigafinal stage, when we are down to the best 1000 Players. There are three Gigafinal events; Manchester, Birmingham and London, all held in July.

image2
The coveted invitation to the Gigafinals

The Gigafinals are extremely competitive, with most top juniors across the UK playing (some graded over 200 ECF). Only the first couple of players from each age group will qualify from each Gigafinal, to the final Terafinal stage.

In the Terafinal there are no age group divisions, all players enter one big section. This is held in Daventry over the weekend of 15th/16th September. There will be approximately 150 players though to this final, standard play event (played over 6 rounds). There will be live boards in operation, GM’s in the commentary room, and various other activities.

To reach the Terafinal is a definite milestone in a youngster’s chess career. It highlights that they are one of the best (top 20 ish) players in their age group across the UK. The first prize of £2,000 is awarded for the final title of Strat champion.

Some of you adults out there will have previously played in the Terafinal. Don’t be shy of letting your club members know exactly who you are!

Results

The Bristol Megafinal, BGS – Saturday 5th May

There were six Bristol League Juniors (BLJ’s) playing in this Megafinal (6 round rapidplay event) and all of them qualified for the Gigafinal ! (to qualify for the Gigafinal you need to score 3.5/6).

Under 16 Supremo – Oliver Stubbs (Downend & Fishponds) 4.5/6

Under 14 Supremo – Max Walker (Clevedon) 5.5/6 !

Under 13 Supremo – Chirag Hosdurga (North Bristol) 4.5/6

Under 13 Suprema – Maria Eze (South Bristol) 3.5/6

Under 10 Suprema – Kandara Acharya (North Bristol) 5.5/6 !

Under 10 Qualifier – Jonathan Zeng (Horfield & Redland) 4.5/6

(Supremo/Suprema means 1st place in your age section)

A special mention has to go to Kandara’s sister Dwiti (not playing league chess yet) who won the combined under 8 section (both boys and girls) with an amazing 100% score of 6/6 !!

Also a special mention goes to Max Walker who came overall 1st in the combined under 12-16 age group. Max did this with an unbeaten score of 5.5/6

 

The Gloucestershire Megafinal, The King’s School Gloucester – Saturday 12th May

There were 3 BLJ’s playing, and all of them qualified for the Gigafinal!

Under 14 Supremo – Jack Tye (Downend & Fishponds) 6/6 !

Under 12 Supremo – Toby Kan ( Downend & Fishponds) 6/6 !

Under 12 Qualifier – Aron Saunders (Downend & Fishponds) 4.5/6

Fantastic full house scores from Jack and Toby, very impressive!

image1
Aron, Jack and Toby with their prizes and medals!

 

The Somerset Megafinal, Millfield school – Sunday May 13th

Only one BLJ playing in this Megafinal, but another qualification!

Under 12 Supremo – Samir Khan (Bath) 4/6

Fantastic result Samir.

 

Fixtures

Next, the Gigafinals:

Southern Gigafinal – June 30th

Midland Gigafinal – July 7th

Northern Gigafinal – July 14th

 

Last year we managed to have 4 qualify for the final Terafinal stage… This was a most impressive achievement.

Will any of our juniors qualify for the Terafinal this year? Watch this space!


 

john

John is a member of Downend & Fishponds Chess Club and the organiser of Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay and Junior Chess events