From the Front Line: Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay Oct 17

It was a beautifully sunny Autumn day in Chipping Sodbury town, full of chess players old and young. Organiser John Stubbs drummed up a lot of interest outside of the league and from juniors – many of whom played blitz and bullet chess all throughout lunch!

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Courtyard Kibitzing in the Autumn sunshine

There was even an exhibition challenge where juniors would square off against top seed Attila Reznak. Nobody managed to topple him but it clearly tired him out!

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Different approaches to mental preparation. Recalling theory, or a headache from too much blitz?!

Back to the tournament – there were three sections according to grade boundaries, with junior and/or grading prizes for all. All sections were a swiss format, 6 rounds, with 20-minute games plus an increment per move.

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No smoking – but plenty of fire on the board in the minor section

We start with the minor which was destroyed by the juniors – three of them tying for first!

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Youth vs experience. Toby was too quick for his opponent in this game, winning on time

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The winners of the minor section – John Skeen, Yuvraj Kumar and Toby Kan

On to the major section, which also featured many new players in amongst the tournament veterans, and was hotly contested as one would expect. The juniors were the stars once again – clearly not fazed by playing all day – or by facing their coaches across the board!

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Dave still clearly in opening theory! He was outfoxed this time though

There were no outcries of tournament fixing as Oli Stubbs took down the major undefeated – very well deserved and no doubt a future threat to the open section.

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Oli playing right to the bitter end against Adrian Champion. Oli won the major section convincingly with 5 / 6

The open featured more newcomers, with three clear top seeds plus many eager challengers.

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Games get underway in the Open section

One of these challengers played yours truly in the first round…

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*may not be the exact position* After a long pressing game I had 20 seconds left and missed the simple block Rf6; first spotting a prettier (but much worse) move Rd1?! Which looks like it works, save for Rd5! which Remi spotted – and thereon went on to win the tournament. Oh how it could have been!

As for me, I went on to get 0.5 out of 3 and was contemplating an even worse score than my previous two rapidplays, but I was saved by a bye and then by actually playing decent moves to creep up to 3.5/6 – enough for joint third and the grading prize! (The exciting final game against Lewis can be found here, featuring three exchange sacrifices). By contrast, Remi hadn’t played a rapid tournament for decades – so it was doubly impressive that he took down the top seeds and quickly took control of the event. He actually won with a round to spare as his progressive score would have won a tie-break situation.

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Remi coolly converts against Mike from a pawn ahead to win the tournament.

It was a day for newcomers as well as juniors – as new Downend star Attila shared third place with Adam (and myself) and Chris Smith – who also recently returned to the game.

Chess doesn’t stop after the handshake – plenty of different perspectives on the game were discussed after the dust had settled.

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Post-mortem between two top players from Downend. Lewis (right) finished 2nd in the tournament with 4/6.

All in all a splendid return of Chipping Sodbury – many thanks once again to arbiter Geoff Gammon, and organiser John Stubbs. The next one is set for April 2018 – and could even be FIDE rated! We will keep you posted.

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Oli graciously accepting his prize!


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Mike Harris

Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.

Reflections from Downend

Today we welcome yet another new columnist to the Bristol Chess Times, Ian Pickup from Downend & Fishponds CC. Sparked from a conversation over email, Ian has been collating and writing up amusing anecdotes from his 53yrs spent playing for the club. You couldn’t make some of this stuff up…

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Downend play an annual match against Pentrych CC, this shot is from 1999.  A host of excellent images and historical references for the club can be found on Downends website (editors note – ECF 2017 Website of the year) 

In 1950 the Downend club, as it then was, in its very first year of existence, decided it needed a motto and “Fortiter et Recte” came into being. The minute book shows that it was conceived by a Dr A M Maiden and, browsing the internet out of curiosity, I found that he was none other than the author of “A system of judging flavour in bread” for the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology in 1936. Fame indeed! Beat that if you can!

Around that time a veteran player from Clifton joined Downend. According to Ken Cleak’s history for the League’s 75th year anniversary, W J Matthews was “our king pin who taught us all the rudiments of strategy, the strength of the pieces, what the ‘opposition’ was all about and much else.” Michael Wood recounted many anecdotes from the 1950s, one of which told of Mr Matthews’ trip to Charfield to play Mr A I H Weaver in an individual tournament. Henry Weaver had been the prime mover of Charfield Chess Club, “The largest rural chess club in the Empire” for decades. WJM arrived in Charfield one bleak Saturday afternoon to find he was unexpected. “Oh dear, I am not ready to play you.” said Henry. “But I’ve come all this way, surely we can play?” “Oh, very well but I shall have to change into my chess playing attire.” An hour or two later, with the host in his tweed jacket with the leather patches, WJM was clearly winning when Henry announced it was time for tea. “But I must catch the last train back to Bristol.” “No, it must be tea first.” The written word cannot adequately convey the humour in Michael’s re-telling but I do believe that WJM got his win. In the 1960s, several D&F members and some from other Bristol clubs used to join the festivities at the Charfield Christmas Party. Who can forget the fun and games and the singing with resident accompanist, B K Booty at the piano? WJM’s widow was our much loved Vice President for many years after he passed away.

It was “Downend and Fishponds” by the time I joined in 1964, when still at BGS. I managed to persuade Michael and Mike Passmore to come one evening for a tandem simultaneous. The results are lost in the mists of time but what is never to be forgotten is the suggestion, in front of the master in charge, that I should join them at the pub afterwards!

Peter Millener, our Treasurer for several years in the sixties and seventies, worked for a firm of ships agents and when a Russian freighter was stranded in the Royal Portbury Dock because of some administrative hitch, he arranged for us to play the crew, home and away. The trip on board was memorable for the hospitality and the quality of the Napoleon brandy chasers in the Captain’s cabin meant that not much of the chess remains on record. The following week we welcomed them to the Portcullis and amused ourselves trying to figure out which members of the team were in reality KGB minders.

Those were the days!


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Ian Pickup

After leaving school Ian trained as an accountant, therefore missing his true vocation, to take over from John Arlott as the BBC cricket correspondent.

Little King Moves

In the second of our historical features from the Bristol Chess Times of old, Horfield CC’s Bob Radford shares an article from “sometime in the 1980’s” entitled Little King Moves. League historians may be able to accurately date the game as it occurred the same year that Yatton won the minor cup against Downend. Answers on a postcard for the answer to that question? “Little King Moves” was originally analysed and reported in the Bristol Chess Times by Mick Cook, sometime in the 1980’s…

EDITORS NOTE – I valiantly tried to transcribe the game from the images below but being born in the 1980’s my head started to explode with Descriptive notation! As an act of posterity I have included the original images supplied by Bob Radford. Bob subsequently sent me on the Algebraic Notation of the game and I have added it as a playable game after the original Bristol Chess Times article below. John Richards of Horfield CC has also estimated the date at round 1982 when Yatton and Clevedon A won Division 2. Whichever format is your preferred choice I hope people enjoy the game below – Thanks Bob and John!

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Bob Radford vs. W. Meakin (circa 1982 est.)

Play through full game – Radford vs. Meakin

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11 king moves in a game that lasted 27 moves in total cannot be desirable from Blacks perspective.  Indeed, little king moves are not always the best defensive measure.


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Bob Radford

A long term stalwart in the Bristol & District Chess league, Bob currently plays for Horfield Chess Club and regularly competes in the local tournament calendar.

 

September 2017 Review

Winter is soon upon us, but at least that means chess is kicking off all over Bristol! The first month has already seen 50+ league matches full of blunders, brilliancies, a swindle here and there and a few shock results. We bring you a league recap, an update on our own predictions and our very first Game of the Month.

Division 1

All teams are now out of the blocks, even the students are back in town and began with the first drawn match of div 1 (they’ve always been a very drawish team…). Meanwhile Horfield B have been so keen to take themselves out of potential relegation talks that they have climbed all the way to the top of the table (6pts/4). However, lurking on 100% are Downend B and Bristol Chess Times’ favourites for the title, Clifton A. Some top clashes coming in October…

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Division 2

Again soundly on target for our prediction, South Bristol B are sitting on top with 6pts/3 and a consistent 4 gamepoints per match, thanks to a great start by Neville Senior and the rapidly improving Dorota Pacion. Grendel and Horfield C are also on 100% so far, and still very early days for the whole table – with A, B, C and D teams present division 2 never rests!

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Division 3

If division 1 and 2 have been making it look like we know what we are talking about at the Bristol Chess Times, Div 3 has been very accommodating, with Yate and Keynsham taking the early lead. However, our ‘Dark Horse’ prediction of Hanham is looking less good with an unfortunate 0pts/3 but still early days in the season.

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Division 4

It might be a stretch to say this one is going to plan – but the revamped North Bristol B (2pts/1 and our pick for runner-up) are the only team on 100%… just saying… Nevertheless it is wide open already, and more importantly bursting at the seams with 12 teams this year. A possible resurgence of division 5 on the way soon? October should bring a bit of clarity to the tables – or perhaps more complications – you never know with chess.

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September 2017 Game of the Month

Our first ever Game of the Month goes to… [drumroll]… young Aron Saunders from Downend – in his debut game!

Aron Saunders vs. Peter Strong – Play through full game

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A swarming kingside attack earns the first Bristol Chess Times Game of the Month Award for September.

No doubt the (slightly older) more experienced members of the club looked on thinking ‘slow down!’ but secretly harked back to a time when they could attack with the speed and finesse that Aron showed in this game. Junior chess in general at both Downend and Clevedon in particular has some fantastic support from club members and it will be great to see its future influence on the league, including more battles like this one. It starts with Peter’s bishop+knight taking on f2, winning a rook+pawn for the trouble – a typical exchange in which material is equal but creates imbalance on the board. Spotting the resulting weakness in the opponent’s kingside, Aron launches an attack and offers a series of no less than four ‘Greek gifts’ – I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a flourishing sequence:

Firstly, 12. Bf6! can’t be taken because of the well-placed knight ready to jump in and fork king and queen. A good example of tactics supporting strategy. Secondly, the knight sortie via a check on e7 settles on f5 for more attacking potential – the bishop still can’t be taken because of the new threat of Qxh6+ and mate on g7.

Third, the other knight sacrifices itself the next move – again granting the queen access to h6 or g5 is much more important than a minor piece. And finally the odd-looking but in fact very swift 18.Nh7! which finally defends the bishop, and whether the knight is taken or not, the Queen has a clear path to h6. This forced a last-ditch queen sacrifice but it wasn’t enough this time. Downend F won the match 2.5-1.5 , well played to all!

If you would like to see a game or part of a game featured here, please get in touch with us. Great attacks, stoic defences, double-edged draws or just amusing positions – whatever makes a good read.

(editors note – Our thanks to Ian Pickup of Downend & Fishponds Chess Club for submitting Aron’s game.  Good luck to everyone in the league in October!)


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Mike Harris

Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.

Problems in October with GM Jones

One of the pleasures of composing problems is to send them to overseas magazines and websites and then to receive feedback both from solvers and, in due course, from judges. Generally, an expert judge assesses all the problems in a particular genre published in a particular period and then produces his award. For instance the helpmates published in 2015-16 in the Danish problem magazine were recently judged, and you might like to look at a couple of the successful problems.

First, a word about helpmates. In many ways of all the problem genres they are at the furthest extreme from over-the-board play; and yet anecdotally I gather that they are the problems that most often entice players into an interest in problems. (I was a case in point.) In a helpmate, the ‘players’ conspire together to reach a position in which Black is mated. If you are already familiar with helpmates you may like to have a go at solving these two, though the second one would tax even an experienced solver!

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Steffen Slumstrup Nielsen (a strong player and composer of studies, I believe)
Helpmate in 3
2nd Honourable Mention, Problem-skak 2015-16

We are looking for a BWBWBW sequence landing Black in mate. There’s only one way to do it. Composers generally have in mind a theme for their problems (puzzle element on its own isn’t enough for a good helpmate), and in this case the composer set himself the task of having five consecutive line openings, as follows (remember, Black plays first): 1.Qxf5 d4 2.Bc1 Rb3 3.Bd1 Bxf5#.

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Henry Tanner
Helpmate in 6 and 1/2 moves – two solutions
Prize, Problem-skak 2015-16

Most of the time Black moves first in helpmates, but sometimes the composer’s idea works best if he starts with a white move – hence in this case “6 and 1/2”: we begin with a white move and thereafter Black and White alternate moves six times to reach the mate position. What’s more, this time there are two solutions. Composers like to spice up their problems by having two solutions which either are strongly complementary or radically different. (Whichever, it’s important to minimize the same moves cropping up in both solutions.)

In this case, it’s two radically different solutions. And you might think that the composer fails my test of showing a theme. On the other hand though, solutions as long as these can show a lot of interesting play in themselves (remember: the move orders have to be absolutely forced) and here we get two interesting solutions for the price of one! Also, as the judge commented, “the opening moves to b3 and h8 … add a welcome unifying factor”. So, here goes:

1…Kb3 2.Bh8 Kc4 3.Kg7 Kxd4 4.Kf6 Kxe3 5.Ke5 Kd2 6.Kd4 e4 7.Be5 Nb3# and
1…Nb3 2.Kh8 Nd2 3.exd2 e4 4.d1R e5 5.Rg1 exf6 6.Rg7 f7 7.Rh7 f8Q#.

Well, OK, the move …e4 did crop up both times, but for different reasons… I especially like the first solution, but the second, with its intricate precision, also has its charms.

If you are interested to look at other problems in this genre, or in any others (some traditional, some very non-traditional), you may like to visit the website of the British Chess Problem Society.


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Chris Jones

Chris holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).

Revisiting the Bristol Chess Times 25 years on

Twenty five years after he became editor, Horfield’s John Richards digs up his first copy of the Bristol Chess Times from 1992.

Twenty five years ago this month, I was the new editor of the Bristol Chess Times. I switched the production to being totally computer-based for the first time, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Layout was done in Microsoft Word on a PC running Windows 3.1, then printed on a laser printer. The pages were taken to an agency for photocopying, picked up a few days later, folded and collated, stapled and put in envelopes for posting. It was a lot of work to produce about 100 copies of a 16 page issue every two months.

Now we are used to having results and tables on tap, but back then, the website was still 4 or 5 years away. I would drop in on Chris Carter, the Match Secretary, and copy the results and tables by hand, then take them back home and type them in.

Here is my first issue, number 89, September 1992. It has articles on the debate about the introduction of a game fee, the controversy over introducing quickplay finishes, Alan Ashby’s Memorable Games, and a lot more. I hope you enjoy it.

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John Richards

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. 

 

Bristol represents at the English Rapidplay Championship in Liverpool

Here is little report from The English Rapidplay Championship at the weekend of the 23rd September. It was held at the Cunard Building on Liverpool waterfront. This inaugural event was sponsored by Signature Living with an overall prize fund of £10,000!

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If you needed somebody then Help was on hand throughout the weekend… (ahem)

There were several Fide sections and other Junior events over the weekend. With over 230 entrants it was a busy schedule. In the Open section there were several G.M’s and I.M’s, with a strong field of over 50 players. The main Rapidplay Championships were held over Saturday and Sunday with 9 rounds in all sections. (25mins plus 10 sec increments).

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A beautiful venue with a remarkable prize fund!

From Bristol and Bath we were represented by four juniors Oliver Stubbs (Standard 1600 section), Kandara Archarya and Samir Khan (under 12 section), Dwiti Kandara (Under 8’section).

  • Oliver Stubbs 8/9 – English Rapidplay ‘Standard’ Champion (Well Done! – editors note)
  • Samir Khan 4/5 – Joint 2nd Under 12’s
  • Kandara Archarya 2/5
  • Dwiti Archarya – 4/9 Under 8’s

It was a great event, held in a majestic venue, with fantastic surroundings.

The Open Section’s two stand out players were G.M Daniel Gormally, and I.M Ahmeet Ghasi. Both were unbeaten over their 9 rounds. Thankfully nobody was wearing shorts, and in the end D. Gormally came through to secure the Open Championship with a fine score of 8/9.

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Prize giving to GM Gormally.

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Top boards pondering (its a technical term)

In the Standard Section Oliver Stubbs had a great weekend remaining unbeaten over the weekend and winning his section with also of 8/9. It was a real test of endurance for Oli, and there were a few nervy moments. However, he won his last round to finish a clear winner by 1.5 points.

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Oli collecting his prize (photo credit to Liverpool Chess Club)

Samir Khan had a great tournament, and his section came down to the last round where he was just pipped to the post for first place

I really recommend the event for next year. A great location, and significant prize money! All sections were very exciting with many many games coming down just to increment play…. and blunders galore !

John and Geoff

John and Geoff enjoy a friendly on a beautiful chess set.


 

John Stubbs

John plays for Downend & Fishponds Chess Club.  He is also responsible for reporting on junior chess for the league, running the Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay and is a regular contributor to the Bristol Chess Times.

Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay – 28th October 2017

With the season well underway, it is always a refreshing break to play some shorter rapid games, take on new opponents from outside of the league, and have fun kibitzing between rounds. The Chipping Sodbury rapidplay is a one-day event in traditional Swiss format (each round you play opponents on similar scores to you) with 3 grading sections (Open, U155 and U125 ecf grade).

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Graham Mill-Wilson received much praise for running so many Bristol tournaments over many years, and recently moved away from Bristol, leaving everyone wondering what would happen to the Bristol tournament scene. (Read Graham’s fitting report from his last ever ‘CS Rap’ here).

Thankfully Downend’s John Stubbs has volunteered to take this one on – and there are some welcome plans for the future:

  • Firstly, the event will be catered for the first time! I think it’s fair to say that Chipping Sodbury is a quaint and charming town, but lacks the breadth of lunch options Bristolians may be accustomed to – or that a chess player needs to refuel after 3 intense rounds of rapidplay. There will be homemade sandwiches, cakes, and other snacks, as well as tea and coffee available.
  • Secondly, following the league’s footsteps, the timing will include increments. 20 minutes for the whole game, plus 5 seconds per move – in an effort to avoid ‘time scrambles’. No doubt this may cause a bit of a headache for arbiter Geoff Gammon when that awkward 100+ move game arises, encroaching on the next round.
  • Thirdly, there is a £100 top prize guaranteed in the open section, without any change to the other prizes (runners up, grading, and junior).

These 3 changes should make a big difference in participation – it is great to see more new players, including many juniors, entering tournaments and should ensure their continued presence on the calendar. The plan is that the rapidplay can be run consistently twice a year (as it was until a few years back) and will be FIDE rated pretty soon (n.b. on this October edition, it is ECF rated only).

For those partaking – points also count towards the Bristol Grand Prix (we should really explain what the Bristol Grand Prix is at some point – editors note) of which the current standings will be available on the day.

I will be official photographer for the day – as well as playing in the open section. I expect the competition to be very tough, and given that my rapid rating qualifies me for the major as well I will not be one of the favourites… possibly even the bottom seed! Nevertheless let’s hope for good weather and great games in all 3 sections.

You can find the download the entry form, or contact John (07876 326935 / email jcdstubbs@yahoo.co.uk) for any queries.

See you there!


mikecircle

Mike Harris

Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.

Problems in September with GM Jones

As I mentioned last time, in early August the British solving team were competing in the World Solving Championships in Dresden. They did very well, but were ‘pipped at the post’.

In the individual event, John Nunn, a GM both as a player and as a solver, was narrowly beaten by many-times-World-Champion Piotr Murdzia of Poland. And there was a similar story in the ‘main event’, the team championships, with the Poland team pushing GB (three playing GMs, John Nunn, Jonathan Mestel and Colin McNab, with Ian Watson as captain and reserve solver) into second place. Still, GB finished ahead of many strong teams; it was a highly creditable performance. Since acquiring some years ago sponsorship from Winton Capital Management we’ve been able to send our strongest team to such events and it’s nice to know that we have a good chance of at least being in a medal position in them.

The team championships are spread over two days and comprise six rounds, each focussed on a different type of chess composition, sat in exam conditions. Solvers are challenged to solve quickly but accurately – the problems selected are ones that are far from straightforward. The first round is devoted to ‘mate in 2’ problems. Here is one of the problems:

 

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Arthur F. Mackenzie, 1st Prize, Sydney Morning Herald 1905
The bK is well hemmed in, but immediate battery checks fail – if the Nc3 moves then Black can play 1…Kxd5, and after 1.c6+ he has 1…Bc5. So it’s a safe bet that White will make a threat that isn’t related to these batteries and that in defending against that threat it will become possible to play a battery mate. The key is 1.Na3!, threatening 2.Nc2. Now Black has various checking defences. If he plays 1…Rxd5+ he’ll no longer have the resource 2…Kxd5, so the cross-check 2.Ncb5 is mate. If he plays the d7R to d6 or e7 he’ll no longer have 2…Bc5, so the cross-check 2.c6 mates. The key not only leaves the e3R en prise, it leaves it en prise with check, but then the cross-check 2.Ne4! (an indirect use of the a1B’s battery) is mate. Finally, there’s 1…Rh2 2.Re4.
The second round features 3-movers. Here solvers have to be particularly careful because unlike the 2-mover round (in which they only have to give the key move) they have to spot all Black’s defences and give the second moves by White that refute these defences. Consider this one:
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Jan Hlineny, 1st Prize, Cesky spolek sachovni v Praze 1891
If you take up solving seriously I think that there is more work to do familiarizing yourself with the approach to mates in more than 2 than to mates in 2 (where possibilities for mate are immediately apparent). Here, the key is I think difficult to spot because it has a quiet, non-spectacular threat (the spectacular comes later!). That’s not to deny though that the key is attractive because 1.Ra7! creates two flights for the bK. The threat is the mundane 2.Rxd7 – if Black allows this then he is simply cornered and unable to prevent mate next move.
So one defence is 1…d6. The response to this is again hard to find if you’re expecting sparkling tactics: after the prosaic 2.Ke3! Black simply can’t prevent mate next move. But what about 1…d5, after which 2.Ke3 can be met by 2…d4+? Well, now 2.Nec6+! works; with d5 occupied, 2…Ke4 is met by 3.Qxh7. Finally, the spectacular bit – if 1…Kd6 then with a flourish you can play 2.Qe6!. For full marks solvers had to see all this. They weren’t required to say that after 1…Kd4 or 1…Kf6 the threat 2.Rxd7(+) still works, though they will have had to reassure themselves that this is indeed the case after the new possibilities for Black’s second move.
And after solving the 2-movers and 3-movers, solvers will have still had the daunting prospect of helpmates, selfmates, studies, etc., ahead of them… Rather them than me!

chriscircle

Chris Jones

Chris holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).

2017 / 18 Review & Predictions

Blink and the summer is gone and yet another Bristol & District Chess League season is upon us. Ahead of all the excitement kicking off next week, Bristol Chess Times looks ahead and offers our thoughts on the coming battles…

Four divisions, 41 teams and over 300 players will soon collide in a maelstrom of broken pawns and splintered boards (ok I might be over egging it somewhat but there are some very competitive Bristolians’ out there).  Thats right its the start of the 2017/18 Bristol & District Chess League!

Last season Downend & Fishponds Chess Club walked to three of the four available titles so it remains to be seen whether they can continue to hold on to all the silverware.  Here are my top picks for the coming season.

Division 1

Last year Downend cantered into Christmas on the back of eight straight wins which meant that even when they took their foot of the gas in the second half of the season they could still cruise to the title.  However, putting last year to one side, in recent times the top division has been very close and its interesting to note the lesser teams are also getting stronger, meaning dropped points away to Bath, University, Clevedon and the B teams is a distinct possibility.

  • ChampionsClifton A: Out of the mix in the last couple of seasons but still a very strong side with strength across their top 12 boards. Consistency could drive them to the top.
  • Runners UpDownend & Fishponds A: The summer has not been kind and they are not the powerhouse of last year with lots of big money transfers to the London leagues. Whilst always dangerous, I can’t see them bringing their top game every week.
  • Dark HorsesHorfield A: Have been sniffing around the title and I often feel are the Bristol chess equivalent of Liverpool FC.  They were great in the 80’s, beat the big clubs all the time and then lose to Barnsley.  But one of these years…

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Will International Master Chris Beaumont help Clifton steal the title back of Downend? 

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Or will the sassy, free flowing attacking style of Horfield finally deliver a first league title since 2001?

Division 2

Perhaps the bloodiest of the Divisions with high quality chess littered with late night blunders.  I love Division 2, quirks and all! Notoriously hard to call each year unless a big name club dropped out of Division 1 the year before, here are my predictions:

  • ChampionsSouth Bristol B: A strong squad that can turn out week in, week out will ensure that South Bristol B will compete in every match this year.  You won’t see many default points and that can be the difference in the long bloody slog that the quest for the Division 2 title can become.  South Bristol B by a whisker!
  • Runner UpNorth Bristol A: A club on the up, North Bristol have a new name and a raft of new players.  Think Manchester City FC circa 2008. I don’t believe they will have the ability to sculpt a title winning squad in their first season since big change arrived at the club but they will hound their neighbours from South of the river all the way and might just get rewarded with a place at the top table in 2018/19.
  • Dark HorsesCabot: Simply because Bedminster is surely the sleeping giant of the Bristol Chess scene?! With the rest of the division taking lumps out of each other, Cabot could easily cruise along in the chasing pack until the closing days of the season.  Ones to watch, mark my words!

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With a new stadium this year, will Cabot CC rise up to be the powerhouse of chess Bedminster has needed for so long?

Division 3

The trickiest Division to predict in my opinion given the almost yearly injection of fresh blood as clubs promote from their junior ranks and new starters typically add to the element of the unknown. Anyway here we go…

  • ChampionsYate A: Maybe its just me but I struggle playing Yate A.  Well drilled, strength from Board 1 to 6, never give up.  All the attributes of a side that can have the stamina and grit to dig out a title push.  They are nearly always in the top 3 of the division and its about time they sealed the silverware.
  • Runners UpKeynsham: Relegated from Division 2 last year, Im predicting an instant return for this little club to the South East of the city. Experienced league players who will likely be unfazed against any juniors or  newcomers to the league means I predict Keynsham will tick over the points nicely.  Only strength in depth makes me question whether they can claim the Division 3 title.
  • Dark HorsesHanham: There are atleast four other clubs in the Division who on their day could string a run of results together but I’m going to plumb for Hanham based on their experience in the Division.  They have been in the Division for a while without threatening so maybe this could be their year.

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With only 9 teams and a raft of equally matched teams, Division 3 could be a very hard league to predict this year.

Division 4

A massive 12 teams are competing this year in Division 4 which is encouraging signs for the strength of the league and the clubs more junior / newcomer ranks.

  • ChampionsDownend F: Simply because Downend & Fishponds have one of the best setups in the league for junior chess, I have to go for the team that will be coached and watched over by the talented folk at Downend.  Im thinking Alan Hansen “you win nothing with kids” era Manchester United FC. Go for it!
  • Runners UpNorth Bristol B: As already stated, they have a raft of new players and grand ambitions.  Expect them (or their C team) to push all the way.
  • Dark HorsesUniversity B: Always an unknown quantity depending on freshers week so it would be daft not to consider the University B team from throwing a spanner into the works of the Division 4 title.

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North Bristol Chess Club could well prove to be the “elephant in the room” in this years chess season (Ahem)

So there we go! We will check back at the end of the year to see how many of my 12 predictions came true.  I hope you have enjoyed our (slightly tongue in cheek) review of the upcoming season and are feeling as excited as I am about your clubs and your own chances. If you have any predictions of your own then please leave them in the comments below.

Good luck to everyone playing this year!


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.