White punishes Black’s slow development in the French defence (YouTube)

In our latest episode we look at a 19 move demolition of Black in a rare sideline of the French advance variation.  The game comes from the North Bristol Chess Club Championship held over the summer and is an excellent example of the impact of losing too much time in the opening.

White launches a lovely attack (after getting their king safe) and is quickly rewarded by jumping on blacks underdevelopment.  One things for sure, Black will be going back to the drawing board after this one…

White punishes Black’s slow development in the French Defence (17 minutes)

As always please do share with your chess friends and subscribe to the YouTube channel.  If you would like one of your games featured on The Bristol Chess Times then please send them in to bristolchesstimes@gmail.com.

Until next time.


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.

A knight on the rim is…great?! (YouTube)

In the latest episode we look at a Division 1 game between Horfield and Downend chess clubs.  Black places a knight on the edge of the board and it turns out to be the best piece in a series of tactical exchanges!  Rules are there to be broken!

We also look at a nice checkmate at the Batumi 2018 Olympiad where Bristol league player Peter Kirby is representing Guernsey.

A knight on the rim is…great?! (19 minutes)

If you are enjoying the YouTube channel then there a number of key actions you can take:

  • Please like and share the videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whichever social media takes your fancy;
  • Please subscribe to the channel on YouTube to receive alerts of when we publish new videos;
  • Send any exciting games from your local league to bristolchesstimes@gmail.com and we will do our best to get them on the channel.

Until next time.


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.

Bristol embraces Blitz chess

Longtime readers will remember a cracking night of blitz chess hosted last Christmas at the Cross Hands pub in Fishponds.  Well Blitzit Bristol is back and this time its becoming a monthly evening night complete with discount prices on drinks for players.  In addition, in November the Bristol & District chess league is pleased to launch the first Open Blitz Chess Championship! Lets get some more details on both of these events.

 

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Last Christmas, I gave you my rook. But the very next day…etc etc

Blitzit Bristol

Hosted by Elmira Walker of Downend & Fishponds chess club, Blitzit Bristol will be on the first Sunday of every month starting on the 7th October. Kicking off at 18:30, it offers five double rounds of blitz at 3 minutes +2 seconds increment.  Such a time control leaves plenty of time to get to the bar where Elmira and the Cross Hands pub are generously offering a 10% discount on drinks for all chess players!

But beware, such a great offer is limited to 32 places so if you want to send plastic horses flying across the room in a drunken haze then get in touch now! Its £3 to enter and the event poster is below:

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The address is The Cross Hands, 1 Stable Hill, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 5AA.

1st Bristol League Open Blitz Chess Championship

Organised by Congress Secretary, Igor Doklestic, November 25th sees the launch of the 1st ever Bristol Blitz championship.  Eleven rounds of Blitz at 5 minutes +3 second increment offers plenty of blunder opportunities for established league players or newcomers alike.

Hosted at Bristol Grammar School, tickets are £12 and first prize of £50 is guaranteed.  Doors open at 10:00.  We will post up more details on this exciting addition to the tournament calendar as we get them.

Having successfully hosted the ECF Blitz qualifier earlier in the month it seems the local chess scene is really firing up for faster chess in the coming months.  If you need to practice your over the board speed skills (as opposed to blitzing on your phone) then don’t forget the weekly chess night at the King Bill pub on Kings Street.  An excellent training ground to discover exactly how many pints are detrimental to your calculating abilities. More details for The Bristol Pub Chess Knight (that never gets old) can be found on our Getting Started page.

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Always ready to take on a fresh face, The Bristol Pub Chess Knight has been running in the King William pub since 2006

Until next time


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.

 

Whose attack is faster in a tactical Semi-Slav? (YouTube)

In the latest episode, we showcase a tactical explosion in the Semi-Slav from a recent Division 1 clash between Horfield A and Horfield B. We look at the idea of a bad plan is better than no plan and how the speed of a players attack can be deceptive.

 

Whose attack is faster in a tactical Semi-Slav? – (23 minutes long)

If you are enjoying our game reviews and would like to nominate one of your games for the channel then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Please do remember to subscribe on YouTube and share with your chess friends!

Until next time.


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.

Practical decisions in the Symmetrical English (YouTube)

In episode 1 of the newly launched Bristol Chess Times YouTube channel we look at a game from the recent Division 1 clash between Clifton B and Horfield C.  A quiet opening sees both sides manoeuvring before white finds a way to disrupt the pawns in front of blacks king but he loses the e-file in the process.  We start our analysis in the middle game where several key positions arise in quick succession that present white with a number of tricky decisions. Lets pick up the action…

 

Practical decisions in the Symmetrical English – (20 minutes long)

If you enjoyed the video please remember to Subscribe on YouTube and share with all your chess friends!  We aim to produce a range of monthly videos and articles on the Bristol Chess Times so please get in touch if you feel there is an interesting game we can cover.

Until next time.


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.

Welcome to The Bristol Chess Times YouTube Channel

Today we are delighted to announce the launch of The Bristol Chess Times YouTube channel! We feel video is the perfect format for talking through the cut and thrust of your typical amateur league chess match and have worked hard to present a clean and professional looking approach. We hope you subscribe, share and most importantly enjoy!

Our first video is simply a short introduction (three minutes) to the YouTube channel outlining mine and Mike’s ambitions for pushing The Bristol Chess Times and the Bristol & District Chess League forward.

Until next time!


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.

GM Nicholas Pert wins Bristol Qualifer of UK Open Blitz 2018

A disappointing level of stress was caused by the UK Open Blitz Bristol qualifier held last week. In my previous advert for the event, I assumed 15 rounds of blitz chess would be hell for the poor arbiter having to control the event; this was not the case! In the most anti-climactic event of the year (for the arbiters), the arbiting team even felt calm during the event!

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The playing hall at Bristol Grammar School with live scoreboard! Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe

At 11am, all 42 players had arrived and were ready to do battle with barely enough time on the clock to remember how the horsey and the castle move. Leading the seedings was England’s number 9 and part of the England Olympiad team, Grandmaster Nicholas Pert. It was also great to see the return of Bristol League veteran and Fischer slayer IM James Sherwin who took the 2nd seed spot.

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Bristol legend IM James Sherwin (right) was seeded 2nd for the event. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe.

It was also nice to see a cohort from the “Noisy Neighbours” of North Bristol, including chess celebrity Fiona Steil-Antoni who made her Bristol League debut against South Bristol this season.

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Top board clash! GM Nicholas Pert and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni battling it out. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe

It only took until Round 3 for the first “upset” when Jim Sherwin lost to the Czech player Krystof Sneiberg. By the Round 5 break, Nick Pert was on 5/5, with a chasing pack on 4/5 including Sherwin, Steil-Antoni, Sneiberg, Lewis Martin and Paul Hampton. A well-deserved lunch break was given to the players at this time before the remaining 10 rounds started.

In the next 5 games, Nick Pert continued his dominance; only dropping a draw to Steven Jones put him 2 points ahead of the field on 9.5/10. Sneiberg and Martin trailed on 7.5 and Jones on 7 were the chasing pack vying for the second qualification place. For the female qualification places Fiona led on 6.5, with Alice Lampard and Erika Orsagova on 4.5 and Dorota Pacion on 4 fighting for the second spot. The Bristol juniors were also faring well – Ollie Stubbs on 6 and Chirag Hosdurga on 5.5.

Whilst Nick Pert continued to dominate the field to win the event on 14.5, the battle for 2nd became very tense as Sneiberg held a half point lead heading into the final few rounds. Despite blundering a rook in the penultimate round, Sneiberg managed to hang on to his lead and finished on 12.5 with Jones finishing on 12 and Martin on 11.

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Plenty of space for pacing although blitz tends not to lend itself to meandering long walks between moves. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe
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Blitzing in full swing. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe.

The female qualification places were equally tense. Fiona confirmed her place in the Women’s Final finishing on a valiant 8.5, but once again 2nd place became a tight affair. Both Lampard and Orsagova finished on 7 points, but the Bristol University student Lampard won out on tiebreaks to take her to the Women’s Final on 1st December.

Rating prizes were also awarded to the best scorers in a given rating band. Steven Jones won the A group band with 12, Michael Ashworth winning the B group with 9 points and Chirag Hosdurga taking the C group prize on 8 points beating Oliver Stubbs and Martin Quinn by being the lowest rated player.

Overall, the event was a pleasure to control and many congratulations to the winners! Hopefully this is an event that will grow and continue to be a staple in the calendar – however if you can’t wait till then, the Bristol Open Blitz Championships are being held on the 25th November. Entry form found here.


TomThorpe

Tom Thorpe

Tom is an International Arbiter and used to play for North Bristol in the Bristol League. Now based in Exeter, he still pretends to play chess in-between organising events.

 

Three challenges facing Chess960: A fan perspective

So I recently suffered a serious accident resulting in me spending a lot of time in bed watching chess videos (everything in life has a silver lining). In the past week I have been enjoying the excellent coverage of the Sinquefield Cup being broadcast by the St Louis Chess Club during which the topic of Chess960 has cropped up on multiple occasions amongst the commentary team and the worlds elite players.  Indeed on the 10th – 14th September the chess club will be hosting five matches of Chess960 between 10 elite players (including the 960 debut of Gary Kasparov) with a total prize fund of $250,000. With interest in Chess960 supposedly growing (especially at the top levels of chess) I thought I would take a moment to highlight three challenges facing this variant of chess from my own personal perspective as an “average” chess fan. 

What is Chess960?

Very briefly, Chess960 is a variant of classic chess first proposed by Bobby Fischer in 1996 in Buenos Aires.  It involves the randomisation of the home rank pieces for each player therefore rendering each players home preparation moot.  There are 960 possible combinations for randomising the starting positions of the home rank pieces, hence the name Chess960.  The classical setup of pieces (you know the one which can take a lifetime to master) would be considered position 1 of 960.

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One of 960 starting position for a game of Chess960. Guess we aren’t playing a Berlin then…

Routinely Chesss960 is often referred to as the ultimate test of pure chess skill.  Whilst I recognise that this can appeal and be an interesting variant for some fans and players, in my opinion there are a number of challenges from an entertainment perspective that need to be resolved if Chess960 is to garner a large following and interest in the established chess community.

Challenge 1: Identity

The number of chess fans tuning in to watch the Sinquefield Cup has been impressive with the show broadcast in over 200 countries and daily YouTube videos racking up views in excess of 100,000 in 24 hour periods.  Indeed the St Louis Chess Club broadcasts are easily setting the bar for the pinnacle in chess broadcasting.

In round 8 of the Sinquefield Cup Alexander Grischuk played 1.f4 (Birds Opening) to an explosion of delight to the fans in the YouTube chat, on Twitter and around the globe. Several people phoned into the live studio to ask excited questions of Jen Shahade, Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley about the Birds Opening.

Why?

Because, putting chess ability to one side for a moment, many chess fans love to construct their identities and styles of play (“I’m Karpovian, quiet and positional” or “I attack like Tal“) and openings (“You just can’t beat my London“).  To the average club player, identifying with a particular opening helps anchor them in the exceedingly complex game that we all love.  They know that they will never be a GM (or hit 2000 ELO for that matter) but in some spheres and realms it is enough to dream that we understand a little of this great game.  Hence when Sasha Grishchuk casually tosses the f-pawn forward on move 1, amateur fans around the word rejoice because they feel a connection, they relate and (whisper it) connect with it.

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Even Chess Arbiter Chris Bird enjoyed seeing 1.f4 on the board. Photo credit to @LennartOotes

Chess960 kills an amateur players identity dead.

There is nothing to hold onto. Nothing that is recognisable or relatable. Those openings that I’ve worked so hard on and are the reason we follow certain GMs results is suddenly gone and the amateur is set adrift in the sea of “pure chess skill”.  Leading us nicely to the second challenge in my view.

Challenge 2: Complexity

Chess is hard. Thats why we love it.

But the consistency of the starting position atleast helps give some level of understanding (even if often we are only just holding on with our fingernails) to the average chess fan.  A chess fan rated 1800 would be considered a strong club player. But when those players watch classical chess we are already starting with a 1000 point deficit compared to a Super GM.  By randomising the starting position to one of 960 possible variations, as a spectator, my ability and understanding plummets even more.

Now for a game that already suffers from an accessibility issue in terms of new people learning the game, do we really want to be making it harder for people to engage?

Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand why elite players would be interested in Chess960 as they have already mastered the classical position.  But if elite players find 960 more challenging then it is especially so for your average chess fan and infinitely so for newbies to the game.

From an entertainment perspective, in what other sport would organisers say: “Hey you know what?  Lets make it more complicated for the viewers“.

Challenge 3: History & Commentary

Chess players love history.  They love the mystique of famous matches and clashes. They love the cool names of variations and places.  They love the great stories that Yasser Seirawan casually drops into conversation when commentating about the time he was blitzing with Boris Spassky or some other such legend of chess.

Again Chess960 eliminates this aspect to the entertainment side of the game.  Admittedly, Chess960 is very young in comparison to classical chess so does not have such a rich history.  However, by reducing (a deliberate choice of word) the game to one of 960 possible starting positions it makes it very difficult to commentate on or make accessible to the casual chess fan.

At no point can someone say, “Ah yes this reminds me of the 2017 match between Carlsen and Nakamura using starting position 758“. Even if they could it will take decades for comparisons and useful commentary to start to appear.

Also, how do you name variations when a variation very very very rarely ever appears again? The short answer is you don’t.

Which leaves the commentary team just talking about the “pure test of chess skill” on the boards in front of them.  Maybe I’m old fashioned but I personally feel the chess viewing experience is lessened when the rich tapestry of chess history is removed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, It is not my intent to attack Chess960 itself. Im sure a great many players around the world enjoy the variant.  My intent was to raise question marks over how this version of chess can be marketed and promoted to the masses.

The St Louis Chess Club and others such as Chess.com are doing sterling efforts to promote chess and raise participation levels globally.  But with so much effort and research gone into making chess exciting and engaging to watch, is Chess960 really a step forward or is it a niche sub-variant for players of a certain high standard?

With $250,000 prize fund it certainly looks like Chess960 is starting to be taken seriously.

My question is by making it harder to follow, removing any sense of chess identity and eliminating chess history from the commentary are the chess masses going to as easily engage? Is the ultimate test of pure chess skill really what your average chess fan is really looking for?

Until next time.


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.

 

 

 

UK Open Blitz Championship comes to Bristol

The UK Open Blitz Championships is an innovation by the ECF, with 8 qualifying tournaments across the UK. Qualifiers range from Belfast to London, Edinburgh to Cardiff, but perhaps the most important qualifier being Bristol! Each qualifier will provide 2 main qualifying places to the Grand Finals as well as 2 female qualifiers to the Women’s Final held later in the year.

9_open

“Blitz chess kills your ideas. ~ Bobby Fischer”

“Like dogs who sniff each other when meeting, chess players have a ritual at first acquaintance: they sit down to play speed chess. ~ Anatoly Karpov”

On the 8th September, we will be making a usual return to Bristol Grammar School but instead playing in the newly built 1532 theatre rather than the 6th form centre. Starting at 11am, strap in tight for a whopping 15 rounds of FIDE-rated blitz chess to find out who will qualify for the Finals! There will be several grading prizes on offer as well to everyone playing, so players of all ages and abilities can come and compete for a prize. Also prepare for one stressed out arbiter trying to keep everyone under control, including regular writer for the Bristol Chess Times, Mike Harris!

“In blitz, the knight is stronger than the bishop. ~ Vlastmil Hort”

The Grand Finals will then take place on the 1st December in Birmingham with a prize pool of over £5000, with 1st prize in the Grand Final being £1000 and the Women’s Champion taking home £500; not bad for one day of Blitz chess! Everyone who qualifies to the Finals Day will receive a prize, so qualifying is not only honourable, but profitable!

“He who analyses blitz is stupid. ~ Rashid Nezhmetdinov”

For full details, rules and to enter the tournament, visit:
https://www.englishchess.org.uk/uk-open-blitz-championship/


TomThorpe

Tom Thorpe

Tom is an International Arbiter and used to play for North Bristol in the Bristol League. Now based in Exeter, he still pretends to play chess in-between organising events.

Attacking chess then and now – Mike Wood commemorated

Mike Wood will be remembered as someone who always preferred risky and exciting lines of play. The Evans Gambit and the Milner-Barry were among his favourites as White and here are some examples of his style of play.

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“An Evans crushing” administered by Mike Wood in 1961

Robert Wildig was probably Bristol’s best chess prodigy (after David Wells) in the early 1960s. He played for Horfield in those days and in this game he succumbed to a crushing in the Evans.

W.A. Oddy (was it Bill?) was in the middle of the Bath top three between Bob Northage and Ron Gregory for many years. Here Mike throws the kitchen sink at him.

And here is a game annotated by Tyson Mordue for the D&F magazine “Versus” back in 1985. “Who needs Tal?” indeed!

Mike generously left money to both the Bristol League and Downend and Fishponds and the D&F committee have been pondering how best to commemorate this. Part of it is being used to provide a trophy for the best attacking play in games on our website and this year there were 23 from which to choose. Committee members and team captains were asked to rank the three games which best reflected Mike’s style of play.

In third place is this wild game between two of our club members in the Pentyrch match. Neil and Richard certainly entered into the spirit of this always friendly occasion.

Second is a fine example of attacking play by Henry Duncanson, soon, sadly, to be lost to Bristol chess.

And first place goes to Aron Saunders for a game that is notable especially for the maturity of an eleven year old’s play. He was the clear winner, nominated by five of the ten voters and with three first choices. It should also come as no surprise that this game featured as the first Game of the Month on the re-vitalized BCT last September.

Incidentally, fourth, fifth and sixth places were filled by Toby Kan, Jack Tye and Oli Stubbs, showing that the senior players had all better watch out next year


ianpickup

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.