November Review and Game of the Month

Three months down and clubs are staking claim to the Christmas #1 spots – always a good place to be! So far Horfield are rocking it but there’s plenty of chasing packs lurking.

Division 1

Just last week saw Horfield just edge out Clifton in their much anticipated mega-match (read all about it here) to sit pretty on 16pts/9. The other ‘big three’ A teams are predictably in the chasing pack, with Bath joining Clifton and Downend after a long winning streak. At the other end, the University have been unlucky not to jump out of the relegation battle, joining South Bristol, Clifton B and Clevedon in what will be an interesting battle after the Christmas break.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 20.25.06

Division 2

Another mega-match saw Horfield on the losing end this time – the fearless South Bristol B pipped them to draw level at the top of the table – with Clevedon B in hot pursuit. Another club to watch are former division 1 team Grendel, now in a new venue and lurking with a few games in hand. They beat Downend C to propel up the league and leave their opponents staring at the relegation zone with their counterparts Downend D and Cabot A.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 20.25.16

Division 3

Hats off to Yate! They remain the only team in the land on 100% – let’s see how long they can keep it up. Looks like a three-horse race at the moment between them, Keynsham and Clifton C. Downend E are seeing the benefit of the club’s strong junior academy, the young guns winning their first match for them against Bath B – it’s all a bit too close to call at the bottom of the table.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 20.25.27.png

Division 4

Newcomers North Bristol B are sailing this ship steady – a game in hand and still top of the league. Their C team not faring too badly either; and it’s also great to see the University C team and Clevedon C team turning out regular sides – again seeing the benefits of coaching juniors. Quite ridiculously, there is only a 6 point gap between 1st and 12th in division 4! Literally anything could happen after Christmas!

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 20.25.37

Game of the Month

With the recent Winter Congress and the usual league action, we were spoilt for choice. Steve’s positional squeeze to win the Horfield-Clifton match mentioned above was a contender, as was Kandara’s 10-mover in the minor section of the congress (with 3/3 in the first three rounds, she surely had her much older opposition quaking with fear!). But we have to go for the sheer fun of the following game from the open section. Lewis Martin vs. Oliver Howell. – Play through full game. (game 3.3)

It started with an advance French; with early pawn advances on both wings and with 11.Kf2 by white you know you’re in for a lively game…



f6 in the above diagram is a typical move for Black in these sorts of structures; without it White gets to play a pressuring attack with a lot more space. With it, White has to find something more dynamic as it allows Black some dynamic play of his own. The game continued until this tactical position was reached below…


Talk about a dynamic position! Both kings are looking fairly open here. A few pieces come off in the middle and it’s a case of who can get to the king or spot the big tactics!

The game continued until white found the lovely defensive retreat 28. Nf3! in the diagram below. A cool retreat that covers the checks. A knight next to a king is a remarkable defender!


Here follows a long line where the queens come off: after 28..Nxd4! distracting the f3 knight, so forcing white to swap queens with 29. Nxg5.

Even though the knight has just taken the queen, the black rook on h7 was under threat so instead came rh2+ and rook takes queen.


However, in the final diagram below, Lewis had a final trick of Rxa6 Bxa6 and Nb4! Forking two pieces and there was no real way out.

Lewis wrapped up the game and went on to 4/5 – drawing with GM Keith Arkell in the process – a fantastic result. Join us next time for December where the fun of the KO cup begins and the Christmas #1 spots are finalised.


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.

From the Front Line: Bristol Winter Congress

The juniors steal the limelight again! 22 junior players out of 98 total descended upon Bristol grammar school and played some scintillating chess. It was the return of the Bristol Winter Congress, now under new directorship from Clifton regular Igor Doklestic.


GM Keith Arkell returned alongside IM Chris Beaumont – setting the bar high in the open to say the least. In all three sections there were tough fights for the prizes and juniors were certainly at the forefront.

Max French and Vorobyev Svyatoslav were both lucky enough (or unlucky enough!) to be paired against Arkell – and were narrowly edged out by the endgame specialist GM, but despite that both finished on 3.5/5. Lewis Martin (not a junior anymore!) was the only one to take half a point off Arkell and finished overall second with 4/5. His exciting 3rd round game will feature in Game of the Month.

Top mentions also to go to Chirag Hosdurga and Oli Stubbs who scored 3 and 2.5 out of five in their very first opens! Chirag showed much determination to convert advantages in the early rounds and stay at the top in the hope of being paired against Arkell, but the computer pairings went against him – there’s always the next tournament.

The major saw exactly the sort of chess the major is famous for! Tactical games and advantages swinging back and forth. For Max Walker it was the tale of two Steven Williams’ as he played both namesakes – finally succumbing to the eventual winner in the last round; but here is his third round game which propelled him to the top!


Max wins the exchange early on, but an exchange is only worth it if the rooks are actually better than minor pieces! The fight continues with Max defending against a pawn storm with everyone except the queen – who stirs up trouble on the other side of the board. The rooks get tangled up defending but with a bit of manoeuvring the queens were traded, leaving the rooks to untangle freely!


The endgame injected more chances for Steven, who manages to promote at the same time as Max, despite being on the back foot – but Max had it all under control, swapping queens again. This left him with one pawn to queen again – winning the game – which originally was stuck on g6 facing an onslaught of white pawns – funny how things work out!

In the minor section there were also fireworks – for example young Kandara Acharya winning in 10 moves with a delightful discovered attack.

Kandara Acharya

Kandara 10 move win


Lovely stuff!

Congratulations to Alastair Drummond who edged out clubmate Alastair Marston (though they didn’t play against each other) by half a point.

Player photos can be found in this report, and full crosstables and playback of games in the open section can be found here.

A great congress again – many thanks to Igor Doklestic and to Geoff Gammon (arbiter) and all who contributed to the write-ups. Let’s hope the next tournament breaks the 100 mark! I certainly hope to make it and try not to get thoroughly outplayed by someone half my age!


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.

A positional squeeze in the Hippopotamus Defence

This week saw the hotly anticipated Division 1 clash between current league leaders Horfield A and second placed Clifton A.  In the end the match was decided by a single solitary win on Board 4.  Horfield’s Steve Dilleigh talks us through his game against Duncan Grossett, a lovely positional squeeze.  

Dilleigh, S (188)  – Grossett, D (178) [A42]

1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.e4 Nd7 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be2 Ne7!?


So its to be a Hippo System. I remember playing the Hippopotamus in a crucial schools match. One of the opposing team came up to me and accused me of getting my Kings Indian and Queens Indian mixed up. I still won and so did the team. Since then I have maintained a fair amount or respect for the Hippopotamus even though it’s not good enough to be a universal weapon. I rarely try to blast it off the board. I now prefer a wait and see strategy.

7.0–0 b6 8.Be3 Bb7 9.Qc2 h6 10.Rad1 0–0 11.Rfe1 a6


Here we have the Hippopotamus in all its glory but the trouble for Black is that none of the pawn breaks tends to be that convincing if White keeps his pieces on reasonably sensible squares. If White starts messing around, misplacing his pieces in search of active play that can be a completely different matter.

12.h3 What is Black to do now? I tend to take the attitude that White has more space and more flexibility and the onus is on Black to try to improve his position.

12…Qe8 Black continues to wait. This might have been one of the better points to play 12…f5 13.d5 (13.e5!? and 13.Bc1 were other options.) 13…e5 14.b4 which would be rather like the way the game ended up going.

13.Bc1 The Computer wants some more action here (e.g.13.d5, which may well be right) but I stick to my tactics which are gaining me time on the clock.

13…Rc8 14.b4 Preparing something a bit more active.

14…e5?! Finally Black is induced into doing something but it doesn’t work out too well. A more flexible course could have led to 14…g5 15.a4 c5 16.bxc5 bxc5 17.d5 Ng6 18.a5 which is only slightly better for White.

15.d5 I had the strong feeling that I should be capturing on e5. That gives certain chances but in the end I decided to close the position. I have lots of experience with closed positions and my intuition that this was the right way to go for practical purposes.

15…f5 16.Bd3 Trying to provoke my opponent’s next move.


16…f4? Black was no doubt intending to create attacking chances on the kingside by advancing his pawns but this is not so easy to achieve here. Black should stay more flexible with for instance 16…Qf7 17.Ba3 Rcd8 18.c5 Nf6 A complex battle ensues but since Black has maintained his pressure against e4 this is not all one sided.

17.Nh2 Rd8 18.Be2!

This is one of the problems with playing ..f4 prematurely. White may be able to activate his bad bishop via g4.

18…Bc8 Black can stop Bg4 but he then loses flexibility. After 18…h5 19.Nf3 Bf6 20.Na4 Kg7 (Or 20…g5 21.c5 bxc5 22.bxc5 dxc5 23.Nxc5 Nxc5 24.Qxc5 g4 25.hxg4 hxg4 26.Nh2 and Black’s unsupported pawn advances prove ineffective.) 21.c5 White gets his attack in first.

19.Bg4 g5?! Another pawn on a dark square. The cage is forming around the g7 bishop.

20.Qe2 Nf6 21.Bxc8 Rxc8 22.g4 White is well on his way to a strategic advantage but Black still has time to counter.



Here Black misses a big chance. Before White consolidates he can play. 22…c5! 23.bxc5 (23.dxc6 Qxc6 is double-edged and probably balanced.) 23…bxc5 24.Bd2 Rb8 25.Rb1 Qd7 26.Qf1 Rb4 27.a3 Rbb8 28.Rxb8 Rxb8 29.Rb1 White is still heading for a slightly better ending but Black has a lot more space and more activity than in the game.

23.f3 Rfd8 Play is always likely to gravitate towards the queenside so perhaps this isn’t a bad idea. Instead 23…h5 24.c5 hxg4 25.hxg4 Ra8 26.cxd6 cxd6 27.Bd2 Nd7 28.Rc1 is not too bad. White’s advantage looks manageable for Black. This is more or less a normal Kings Indian type position.

24.Ba3 This should be an unnecessary precaution but I was a bit wary of Black’s possible counterplay and indeed after the immediate 24.c5 c6!? (an inspired move in an otherwise bad position) 25.cxb6 cxd5 26.Nxd5 Nexd5 27.exd5 Qf7 (or 27…Rc2 28.Qxa6 e4 with counterplay)) 28.Qxa6 Ra8 29.Qc4 Rdc8 30.Qb3 Qb7 things are suddenly rather unclear and Komodo even prefers Black.

24…Qe8 25.c5 Now this is more playable.


25…b5?? Surely a very bad decision. Black needs to keep fighting chances for his pieces with 25…dxc5 26.bxc5 Bf8 27.Nb1 Qa4 28.Rc1 Ng6 when there is not much in it.



Now the Black bishop is caged in behind its pawns and the knights are not doing much better. White simple has to open up the queenside and exchange Black’s better pieces. Black can try to engineer a sacrificial counter but this is will probably only be speculative or sit back and wait. 26…Rb8 Black may have been counting on the plan of getting a knight to b6 but this is easily parried.

27.Rb1 Nc8 28.Bc1 Nb6 29.a4! White gives up a pawn temporarily. Black’s lack of activity means he cannot stop White regaining it and the open line will come in handy.

29…Nxa4 30.Nxa4 bxa4 31.Bd2 Rb5 32.Ra1 Ra8 33.Rxa4 Qb8 34.Rea1 Qb6+ 35.Qf2 Not the computer’s first choice but an exchange of queens just makes things increasingly easy for White.

35…Kf7 36.Qxb6 Rxb6 37.Nf1 Ne8 38.Bc3 Ke7 39.Nd2 Ready to chase the rook from b6 and win a pawn.

39…Rab8 40.Rxa6


Black doesn’t want to see any more. With his minor pieces virtually dead White can win at his leisure. 1–0

(Editors note – my thanks to both players for contributing their game).

steve circle

Steve Dilleigh

Probably the most active player in Horfield chess club, playing ten or more tournaments a year in addition to league chess.

Christmas Blitz at the Cross Hands Pub, 10th December

Fresh off the back of running the successful Bristol Winter Congress (full report to follow) at the weekend, Igor Doklestic is pleased to announce a fun evening of blitz chess at the Cross Hands pub in Fishponds (not far from Downend & Fishponds CC).


The idea is to be an informal evening of festive chess and drinks that will be finished in a couple of hours but will include some small prizes.  Details below:

  • Five rounds of Blitz starting at 19:00
  • The time controls are 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment.
  • £3 entry fee and entrances are accepted from 18:30 onwards
  • Places are limited to 32 places so first come first serve.

It should be a lovely night of festive cheer and an opportunity to play with your league mates in a more informal manner.  I will also take this opportunity to highlight that if you enjoy a pint and a bit of Blitz then register yourself and two friend for the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League. Our new initiative to help promote and grow the league.


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.

Introducing the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League

The (re) establishment of the Bristol Chess Times was the first action I took as the new Publicity and Recruitment Officer for the Bristol & District Chess League.  Today I would like to unveil a second initiative aimed at helping grow our great historic league. Introducing the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League.  Or BPBCL for short…

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 11.18.13

One way for us to create greater visibility of the historic clubs that live in our great South West city is to to be seen playing more. Whenever myself, Mike Harris and Rob Attar kibbitz in our local pub we are almost always observed or even approached by keen amateurs or ex-club players who wistfully gaze at the board or say things like “Im not very good but I wish I could play more“.   Lets make it clear to these players that the league exists and that it caters for all standards of play.

Therefore, I am proposing today the formation of a friendly blitz chess competition whose aim is twofold:

  1. To promote and attract more players of all ability, ages, sex, and ethnicity to the league;
  2. To create a fun, informal competition that encourages participation and sociability across the league.

Rules of the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League

The following are the rules of the competition.  Any problems or questions then give me a shout but as editor of the Bristol Chess Times I reserve the right to adjust and amend them as required:

  1. There are no teams in the BPBCL.  Instead we use squads.  Small fast moving groups of woodpushers who can spring up in any drinking hole across the city;
  2. Squads consist of three players drawn from any mixture of clubs in the league.  There are no traditional club alliances in the BPBCL.
  3. The average ECF longplay grade of the three squad members cannot exceed 175. I have chosen longplay because the majority of league players have one of these.
  4. A match consists of two squads playing 18 blitz games.  Each squad member plays two games against each member of the opposing squad – one with black and one with white. Thus each player gets 6 blitz games a match.
  5. The time control for all games is 3 minutes + 2 seconds.  This ensures that all matches should be complete within 2 hrs. It doesn’t matter what is used for the clocks.  Actual digital clocks or simply Apps on a smartphone will do.  What ever is easiest for the squad.
  6. All matches must be played in a pub of your choosing.
  7. When playing a match, the squads must somehow display a call to action to passing members of the public that advertises the Bristol & District Chess League. For example, a small chalk board at the foot of the table you are sat at.  The more creative advertising the better!
  8. Organisation of matches is left up to squads.  Challenges can be issued at any time and there is no formal number, time or location that a match can occur.  However, active participation will result in more points for a squad, irrespective of their match results.
  9. In its inaugural season the BPBCL will run until June when prizes (to be determined) will be awarded.
  10. Squads should not be named after conventional chess clubs within Bristol. Squad names should be inventive, funny, creative or just plain stupid.
  11. Match results should be emailed to  All results must be submitted with atleast one photo of the match and pub.  Ridiculous poses are encouraged.  Failure to submit a photo will lose match points.
  12. The BPBCL league table will be hosted from the Bristol Chess Times website.

So there are my initial set of rules.  Hopefully readers can tell that the primary purpose of this initiative is to get chess visible across the city in the eyes of the general public whilst ensuring we have some fun at the same time.  It might work, it might not.  Lets see!

I will be producing some business cards that all squads can carry with them them and hand out to any interested members of the public.

Scoring for the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League

The following scoring will apply:

  1. A team gets 200pts for playing a match
  2. They gain 10pts for every blitz game they win in the match.
  3. They lose 10pts for every blitz game they lose in the match.
  4. Therefore, there is a minimum of 20pts and a maximum of 380pts on offer per match
  5. Failure to submit a photo with your match report loses your squad 50pts
  6. For every three different pubs (or part of) that a squad plays in they gain a bonus 100pts.
  7. Breaching the 175 ECF longplay average rating loses your team 200pts

How can I enter?

Easy!  Form your squad and then email me at  Once I have a suitable number of entries then I will announce that the BPBCL is officially open and I will get things like business cards and chalk boards set up.

I hope everyone see’s what a fun initiative this could be. Ive felt for a while that it would be nice to have an easy going, informal blitz initiative that we can also use to advertise the league.

Right!  Im off to find some recruits for my squad…


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.


Revisiting the Bristol Chess Times: November 1992

Our monthly time machine resets itself to November 1992 today with another old printed edition of Bristol Chess Times. John Richards (formed editor) has pulled out some notable highlights and provided the full PDF for the Bristol Chess Historians amongst our readership.

Some of the things that were going on:

  • Mikhail Tal had recently died, and I managed to get an article from an ordinary American player through an Internet newsgroup, who happened to meet and play him. IMHO, a rather good read.
  • a new chess club for junior players opened.
  • a national chess league was being set up and we wanted to make sure Bristol was included. But it was thought it would cost big bucks.
  • new prodigy 13 year old Jack Rudd was playing in the league
  • we were still debating the virtues and evils of quickplay finishes
  • note the grading supplement. Subscribers liked this because the alternative was to find the copy on the club noticeboard or buy your own.

(editors note – Look how many players were registered in the league! I tried to count but gave up. Luckily Jerry Humphreys of Downend & Fishponds CC records indicate league players in 1992 at 476 across 6 Divisions!)

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.57.59

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.58.15

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.58.24

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.58.34

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.58.42

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.03

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.10

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.21

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.29

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.39

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.46

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 08.59.55

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.00.04

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.00.21

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.00.30

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.00.42

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.00.51

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.01.02

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.01.12

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 09.01.29


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.

Five traits of successful chess clubs

On todays edition of the Bristol Chess Times we look at common traits that successful chess clubs share.  In a world where ‘over the board’ chess has had a topsy turvy time of late, what is it that some clubs are doing to thrive within the digital online chess age?

Regular readers will know that over the summer (from June to September) I ran a number of “Chess Profiles” on the Chess Journal Blog.  The idea of these profiles was to give clubs (all British unfortunately, no international chess clubs ever took me up on my offer of an interview) an opportunity to talk about how they run and what works and doesn’t work.  In total I spoke to 11 clubs across the UK and an enjoyable and insightful read each of them was.  However, I also started to notice very consistent patterns from these clubs that I was sure contributed to their burgeoning memberships.  Lets have a look at some of these themes.

Supporting all levels of chess ability

7_Major Dave

Astonishingly 10 out of 11 chess clubs interviewed stated this as imperative to the growth of their memberships.  All these clubs recognised how important it was to offer a level of chess across the spectrum with most boasting members ranging in ability from 23 to 200 ECF (850 – 2200 ELO).  These clubs were strategically ensuring that they had enough teams registered across different divisions and leagues so that any new membership enquiry could be supported, irrespective of ability.

Creating a welcoming atmosphere

We all know how inaccessible chess can appear to an outsider or novice and therefore all of these clubs were making active strides in breaking down these barriers and encouraging attendance of non-chess players.

A common theme from my interviews and anecdotally with chess friends is how unwelcoming (!!!) some chess clubs can be when they just focus on chess.  A room full of established club members who “just want to play their game” and are unwilling to engage unless the new person happens to be of a similar standard to them.

Fortunately, a significant proportion of the clubs I talked to had actively gone out of their way to create a welcoming atmosphere.  For example, always ensuring that there is a member of the club on hand to welcome new people who arrive on the night and offer a friendly game.  Or the organisation of less serious tournaments where new, less confident players can try their hand at club chess without being smashed off the board on their first night.  Even the inclusion of a bar seemed to go a long way to helping these clubs (although it must be said only 50% had a bar – I’m looking at you Horfield CC!) where members who valued a cheeky pint over the mainline borefest of the Berlin Defence could indulge and make friends.

Running tutorials, lectures and club nights

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 12.51.18

Another common trait of growing successful clubs was the provision of training nights or lectures for all club members.  These were often held by the strongest members of the club (in some instances titled players) and encouraged the participation of all members to come along and learn and improve.  I feel this theme goes deeper than just personal improvement as the tutorials and lectures were often sited by my interviewees as a lovely social aspect of the club that contributed to the camaraderie.

Entering multiple leagues and cups


A surprising addition to our list but one that consistently came up!  Just over half of the clubs I interviewed registered teams in multiple leagues.  This appeared to give them a greater reach to get players but also ensured a large number of games available.  When you consider the first trait of supporting all levels of ability, this starts to make sense as the more games and competitions the club is registered for then the greater the demand and offer of competition.  It also highlights, how forward thinking some of these clubs are being when they look at their local domestic league and notice that it is shrinking (as was happening in several cases).

Supporting juniors

2_lunchtime bullet

Not everyone I spoke was able to support juniors due to the constraints of week night chess. However, 7 of the 11 clubs I interviewed did offer some level of junior support and most stated that it was a target area for them in the future.  It seems that supporting junior chess was seen as a real positive for these clubs as it not only welcomed in the youngsters but their parents also.  This again contributed to the social space of the club where juniors could be seen bashing out some blitz (much to the disgust of the coaches nearby) whilst the parents sat in the bar and wondered how they had missed their own two move mate.


My journey around chess clubs in the UK finished in September (who knows I might resurrect it next summer) but the above five traits all appeared to be consistently benefiting those I spoke to.  Having reviewed the above list I was astonished to come to one simple conclusion – All of the above traits are about creating a social space first and a chess club second.

Lets be honest, if you are willing to contact a chess club in the first instance then chances are you like chess to some degree.  Successful, growing, chess clubs are not necessarily worried about creating brilliant chess players.  First and foremost they are focused on creating welcoming social places where people can make friends, trade stories of near misses, have a pint and engage in the right level of competition.  Those of us held in the sway of caissa will probably play it to some degree anyway so the club has to become about the place I can go to chat to others like me.  It was noticeable how many of the clubs I spoke to mentioned adopting the above practices and then noticing an increase in cups and leagues won in recent years.

In short, in order for your chess club to grow, focus on making friends.  The chess will look after it self.


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.

Bristol Winter Congress on 24th – 26th November 2017

Christmas is rapidly approaching but before the festive season truly begins there is one last opportunity in 2017 to lock swords across the board in the last of the big Bristol tournaments. The Bristol Winter Congress is always an ultra competitive and very well run congress, and this edition features not one but two titled players.

A selection of images from the Steve Boniface Congress in August.  Expect the usual high level of competition this Friday. 

GM Keith Arkell and IM Chris Beaumont are the top seeds in the FIDE rated open event but a spring of tough players are also competing from the Bristol league and surrounding districts. Anyone on social media will have noticed Chessable’s CEO David Kramaley will be in attendance and is training hard for the event. I’ve met David a few times and he’s always available to chat about the benefits of Chessable to boosting a players chess, so if nothing else, grab a coffee with him.

There is also two other sections.  The U155 Major and U125, which in recent times is seeing an explosion in the talented junior ranks of the Bristol area punching though.

To this day the Bristol Winter Congress remains my only Major win of a congress, joint first with Roger Hardy and Jerry Hendy back in 2012. I also finished a memorable second in 2015 so I am disappointed not to be in attendance this year. Anecdotally I’ve always felt like the level of play is high in the Bristol Winter Congress because the league season is a few months old and players have generally sharpened their repertoires and dusted off any cobwebs from the summer.

This is the first congress with Clifton CC’s Igor Doklestic running the ship and his first major initiative has been to overhaul the Bristol Congress website.  Whilst he is still working on it, it now contains lots of nice information such as places to stay, entries received, detailed venue information (especially parking) and dates for all competitions in 2018.

Depending on which section you are entering the price varies from £20 – £28, which is cracking considering its a full weekend of high standard chess.

The entry details for the congress can be found here – entry form.

Good luck to everyone taking part!


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.

Games to be proud of, featuring Max Poolake and Roy Day

This week we welcome another guest columnist to the Bristol Chess Times, Roy Day of South Bristol Chess Club fame.  Roy showcases a prestigious Estonian talent from the leagues past whilst also sharing one of his own master pieces.

I was looking through my Bristol chesstime editions and came across an interesting entry from Andrew Borkowski in the 1982 magazine concerning Max Poolake. Max was born in Estonia in 1914 and learned to play chess at an early age , he joined the army during the 2nd world war and eventually finished up in Hannover in a displaced camp .

Later Max settled in England {after marrying Daphne an ex captain of the Nailsea Team } playing chess in London then Glocester chess club and after that Lysaghts, Hanham, Clifton and finally it seems Nailsea chess club.

Max had played top class chess being the West of England champion and playing top board for the Bristol & Clifton club , Max died on Oct 2nd 1987. Here is one of his games played in 1963 he played as white against R Martin .

Max Poolake vs. R. Martin (1963)

Play through game

max game

A lovely early attack in the Spanish game from Max Poolake

1 P-K4 P-K4 2 N-KB3 N-QB3 3 B-N5 P-QR3 4 B-R4 N-B3 5 O-O NxP 6 R-K1 N-B4 7 N–B3 NxB
8 NxP N3xN 9 RxNch B-K2 10 N-Q5 O-O 11 NxBch K-R1 12 Q-R5 P-KN3 13 Q-R6
{this threatens 14 R-R5 PxR 15 Q-B6 mate} 13 P-KB3 14 NxPch K-N1 15 R-K7 Resigns.

R Day v J Will (1987)

Finally I guess we are all proud of one particular game , mine is this against Jim Will graded 161
on 3.12.1987

Play through game


Lovely sacrificial attack from Roy…

roy 2

…culminating in a crushing attack!

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bd3 Bb4 5 e5 Ne4 6 Ng1-e2 f5 7 a3 Bxc3 8 Nxc3 o-o 9 Qh5 c5 10 Bxe4 dxe4 11 dxc Nc6 12 Bf4 Qd4 13 Rd1 Qxc5 14 o-o Nxe5 15 Nxe4 Qxc2 16 Ng5 h3 17 Bxe5 Qc5 18 Bd6 Qb5 19 Bxf8 hxg5 20 Rd8 Resigns.

roy day circle

Roy Day

Roy is a long term member of South Bristol Chess Club and until very recently the club treasurer. He organises most of the club tournaments and is the club President at 85 years of age!

Fascinating endgame study for November with GM Jones

I hope you won’t mind if this month I present not a problem but a rather remarkable endgame study, composed only a few months ago by two of today’s foremost study composers, Karen Sumbatyan and Oleg Pervakov, as a birthday tribute to another top study composer, Yuri Baslov.


In this fairly game-like position White can’t win by immediately pushing his bP, as then 1…Qf5+ would draw. So instead he plays 1.Qf3. Now Black wants to clear b1 for his own bP and to be able to play …Qe5, so 1…Qe1. So far so mundane. Now the pyrotechnics begin…2.Qf6! (more prosaic moves fail, e.g. 2.Qf5 Qf2). After 2…gxf6 3.g6 Black has …Qe6+! 4.Kxe6 b2.

november prob 2

The critical position with white to play…

This is a key position. If we continue with the obvious 4.Kf7 b1Q then although we can promote at g8 with check Black is OK because his Qb1 is guarding against Qg6# while also observing the potential route of the b6P. In fact if in that position it were Black to play then he’d be in greater difficulty. Any move off the b1-g6 diagonal, or either of his two available pawn moves, would allow Qg6#. So Black may be in zugzwang, needing to move his Queen off the b-file and so no longer observing the b6P. All of which goes to explain the otherwise unbelievable tempo move 5.Ke7!!. (If you were down to ten-second increments in a League match, you might be forgiven for missing this resource.)

So: now if 5…b1Q 6.g7+ Kh7 7.g8Q+ Kh6 reaches the position in which the bQ must leave the b-file. Better is 5…Kg7 6.h8Q+ Kxh8 and now – you guessed it – instead of playing 7.Kf7 straight away White again temporizes – 7.Kf8! b1Q 8.Kf7 – and Black has problems. His best is 8…Qf5! and now we have 9.g7+ Kh7 10.g8Q+ Kh6 11.Qg7+ (not 11.b7, when 11…Qd7+ is good enough for a draw) Kh5 12.b7 Qd7+ 13.Kxf6 Qxg7+ 14.Kxg7 c2 15.b8Q c1Q – and now with yet another new pair of Queens on the board the win eventually becomes clear – 16.Qh8+ Kg4 17.Qh3+ and 18.Qh6+, winning the black Queen.

november prob 3

After Qh3+ no matter where the black monarch goes he is lost after Qh6+ winning the black queen

A remarkable study! And although there are no problems in the column this month there is a good problem theme – those positions in which the apparently powerful bQ is stuck at b1 because it needs to control both b7 and g6 exemplify the sort of ‘focal control’ which is often seen in ‘White to play and mate in x moves’ problems.


Christopher Jones

Christopher 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).