The 71st Bristol Chess Championships: March 2nd to 4th 2018

In the thriving Bristol chess scene we typically have four weekend congresses a year (in line with the four seasons). What a lot of people don’t realise is that the Spring congress is also the occurrence of the Bristol Championships when the highest placed Bristol & District League player can claim the crown of Bristol Champion.  The championships are 71 years old this year so the Bristol Chess Times decided to find out more.

 

playinghall

The perennial Congress question: “Do I take the Friday night bye?”. Perhaps the hardest task facing the 2018 Bristol Champion

On the weekend of March 2nd-4th the 71st Bristol Chess Championships takes place at the Sixth Form Centre at Bristol Grammar School in the heart of Bristol. Grandmaster Keith Arkell (2411) is already signed up as is Bristol based International Master Chris Beaumont (2259).  In addition, Downend’s Attila Reznak (2280) adds to a strong field in the Open.  The Open carries Prize money of £260 for first, £130 for second and £65 for third.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.28.49

CEO of UK startup Chessable, David Kramaley will also be in attendance.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.29.10

The university will also be contributing a number of strong contenders

However, the beauty of the Bristol Championships is that its not just about who wins the Open.  A Major section (U160 ECF) and Minor section (U120 ECF) also enable two further champions to be crowned (which also carries first place prise money of £180 and £140 respectively).

It should be pointed out that anyone can enter the Bristol Championships (and are encouraged to from other leagues, counties and cities!) but the titles of Bristol Champion in the Open, Major and Minor categories are only awarded to the highest placed Bristol & District league players.  This makes the Bristol Championships an excellent choice for any league players who want a cracking weekend of competition, with a shot at winning something but might be unnerved by the presence of all those titled players!

Here are the last five years of Bristol Champions:

Open

  • 2016/17 – Carl Bicknell
  • 2015/16 – Stephen Meek
  • 2014/15 – Richard Savory
  • 2013/14 – James Cobb
  • 2012/13 – David Buckley

Major

  • 2016/17 – Andrew Borkowski
  • 2015/16 – James Hennefeld
  • 2014/15 – Alan Papier
  • 2013/14 – Alex Rossiter
  • 2012/13 – Harvey Atkinson

Minor

  • 2016/17 – Grant Daly
  • 2015/16 – Jason Blaxill
  • 2014/15 – Kevin Langmaid
  • 2013/14 – Richard Porter
  • 2012/13 – Alastair Marsten

The Bristol Congress Website contains the full Hall of Fame of Bristol Champions going back to the inaugural competition in 1947/48! In a subsequent article I fully intend to explore the history of Chess in Bristol.

All three champions receive trophies but even if you can’t win one (because you are not a Bristol & District league player), the congress still promises to offer an excellent weekend of chess in the centre of one of the UK’s best cities just as Spring starts to break and the sun starts to shine (editors note – ok I’m bias, I know).  Whats not to like?!

Here is a PDF download to the entry form:

71stBristolChampionshipsCongress (PDF)

Alternatively, contact Igor Doklestic (Congress Secretary) on chessinbristol@gmail.com.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.20.26

Igor Doklestic, the Bristol & District Chess League Congress Secretary and all around top bloke!


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.

January 2018 Review

Yes, January has been and gone and for the South West it meant club derby’s, new grades, individual runs coming to an end, and a bumper edition of game of the month!

Division 1

All three club derby’s took place this month – with 6 fighting draws at the cricket club (Downend), Clifton B overcoming their A team, and Horfield A restoring the balance in the universe with a last-minute win. It was a big win for Clifton B who separate themselves further from Clevedon in the relegation zone – the Uni are just above them so we’ll have to see if the students can repeat last year’s late winning streak.

div1

Division 2

Horfield C and North Bristol A split their matchpoints for the title race, so South Bristol B have taken a bit of control at the top for now; in the mid-table Thornbury scored a crucial 4-pointer against Downend C, whilst the latter’s D team struggle in last place.

div2

Division 3

Surely its another two-horse race between Yate and Keynsham this year; both close to 100% – their own crunch match is postponed till April. Bath B continue their winning streak with 2 for 2 in January, whilst Hanham A have climbed out of last place, leaving Downend E in their wake.

div3

Division 4

Its all about the resurgent North Bristol – they lie 1st and 3rd; the B team with a commanding lead at the top, whilst one of our games of the month comes from a crucial C-team encounter. The division has started to separate – still very close in the middle but with a few teams in the promotion and relegation zone (assuming there’s Division 5 on the way in 2018-19?! There have been a fair number of default points across all divisions this season but membership in general is growing).

div4

Statistics

The long harsh month of January also saw some individual runs come to an end, so we thought we would give some shout-outs. Jerry ‘unstoppable force’ Humphries was on 10/10 which is a remarkable feat in division 1 – but on his 11th game faced Andrew ‘immovable object’ Cooper – who stopped Jerry by continuing his 100% drawing record. In the same match Andrew Munn finally had to split a point peacefully – ending his run of zero draws from 13 games. A combative style is what we like to see!

Finally, the out-performers – players who are on a plus performance score compared with their grade. Congratulations to the following who are a whopping 30 points or more above their grade:

  • Elmira Walker (Downend, +30),
  • Yuvraj Kumar (Downend, +31)
  • Christian Brown (Bath, +35, also no draws),
  • Kwame Benin (Harambee, +35),
  • Pete Marks (Horfield, +38),
  • Max Walker (Clevedon, +39, also no draws),
  • Jonathon Long (University, +44)
  • Oleksii Novakov (Clifton, +45).

Game of the Month

We have several games to showcase this month all following a theme of defensive wins with Black. At the excellent Somerset congress in Clevedon there was two such games. Coincidentally a win with Black was exactly what I needed in the major section, but instead I got a little bit crushed by tournament specialist Chris Timmins. In the intermediate and minor however, players rose to the challenge and managed to resist White’s attack before clearing up the debris:

Check and mate

Rich Wiltshir forced resignation from his opponent with this very pretty finish.

Both wins allowed the victors to win (or jointly win) the congress – well done!

In the league Waleed Khan’s game was instrumental in North Bristol C’s rise to the top; with a calm response to an attacking battery and then some swift pressure on a bishop pinned on c2 and it was all over.

waleed

In his first season in the league, Waleed Khan posted a statement of intent with this strong victory in Division 4.  The bishop on c2 is hopelessly lost

But our game of the month come from the 4NCL (4 Nations Chess League) where Bristol regular Steve Woolgar played a blinding Najdorf and dismantled his opponent in 25 moves (editors note – did anyone win with white in January?!).

WOOLGAR

MVL would be proud indeed!  Congratulations to Steve Woolgar for the Bristol Chess Times  Game of the Month

What’s in store for February? Well its a startling lack of title race crunch matches, but that means plenty of room for upsets! More importantly its the KO cup semi-finals, watch this space..


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.

December 2017 Review – Cup Special!

The cup is here! Brutal knockouts and underdog dreams reign supreme over the chessboard whilst clubs salivate over the prospect of silverware in the new year.

This month’s review will be a little different – sadly no game of the month (don’t despair, there’s plenty of tournament and league action in January so we’ll have to make up for it then) and little to no movement in the league.

South Bristol A climbed up to mid-table in div 1, Horfield C have relinquished their clutches on div 2, whilst North Bristol B extend their lead in div 4, but other than that it’s all ticking along nicely.

So on to the bloodbath that is the KO cup!

The major saw just a single quarter-final, but packed with enough tension for four! Horfield were totally on the back foot but mounted a heroic (well…) comeback and again won by the smallest margin leaving Clifton wondering where the wins even came from.

Semi-final predictions

Horfield vs. Downend. We’re going with Horfield for this one (editors intervention – bias much Mike?!). They’ve been consistent in the league, have the home advantage, are on a lucky streak, and crucially yours truly is not available to put the team in peril.

Bath vs. South Bristol. Again going with the home odds, we’ll take Bath to give South Bristol an early bath… But that’s ages away in February, many things can change.

December was all about the minor cup action. Downend’s strength in depth overcame the re-branded North Bristol, and will now face South Bristol in the semi’s who made it through with a stonking 6-0 win against Hanham. For this reason we’ll have to pick South Bristol for the win in February.

Horfield proved too strong for Yate and will meet Clevedon in the semis; who upset Clifton in a tough battle. That means giants Clifton are absent from both semi-finals, so it’s wide open! Horfield have the home odds for the semi, but who doesn’t love a cup run from a small town?! Clevedon it is.

We’ll be back in January with maybe a bumper edition of Game of the Month, and check back in February with the results of the KO semi-finals and a final preview.


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.

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).

crosshands

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.


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.

Gambit night is back!

Its a well known fact that Gambit Night is one of the crazier nights in the Bristol chess calendar. This fun night from North Bristol Chess Club is rapidly becoming a summer tradition so the Bristol Chess Times endeavoured to find out some more.

Im ashamed to say that Gambit Night is the only Bristol Tournament I have never played in after 13yrs in the league.  Its not a deliberate thing, more a timing issue over the summer months as I’ve often been away or unavailable. So what is Gambit night?

Gambit Night is an evening of blitz with a twist.  At the start of every game the players choose a card with a random gambit written on it. The players are forced to set up the board from the position on the card and then the clocks are started (10 minutes)! Im told that much crazy crazy play follows and it is especially a great leveller between players of different skill. For a league that prides itself on a very high standard of serious chess, the North Bristol CC Gambit Night provides a well established tradition of tongue in cheek chess with a healthy dose of fun (and swearing).  To top it all off the North Bristol crew only charge a modest £3 charge for a full evening of gambit mayhem. Bargain!

To honour this upcoming crazy night in the Bristol chess calendar I decided to look at some dubious gambits with a Bristol twist.  Lets start with “The Clifton Gambit” which stems from a correspondence match between Clifton and Dublin chess clubs in the 19th century.  It took me a while to translate this gambit from the old style notation recorded on the Clifton website and to be honest was left a little cold with its lack of immediate craziness.

The Clifton Gambit

  1. e4 e5 2. f4 pxp 3. Be2?!

cliftongambit

Just what exactly is white gaining from this move?  A quick scan of the statistics shows white scores 51% whilst the computer shows  a score of -1.2 so quite frankly I’m unimpressed.  If you are going to gambit then atleast lets get some dynamic compensation going.  Maybe I’m missing something…

In my quest for a crazy dynamic gambit I was reminded of Horfield’s Mike Harris (Bristol Chess Times first correspondent who will be attending Gambit night and reporting back on his findings) love of the Latvian.  Mike will literally play anything in the Latvian so I’ve just chosen the best gambit I could find with the stupidest name.  Ladies and Gentlemen I give you The Lobster Gambit.

The Lobster Gambit

  1. e4 e5 2.nf3 f5 3. g4?!

lobstergambit

Lovely stuff! Now thats a gambit I can get behind! What a lovely claw shape! Heres hoping North Bristol CC are paying attention and add this crustacean to their deck of gambit cards in the next couple of days.

Ill be honest that my knowledge of Bristolian themed gambits is limited so I welcome any thoughts from longer serving league members than myself.  The final (tenuous) Bristolian connection I could find was the Wing Gambit of the Bishops opening, purely based on Bristol’s proud aeronautical heritage with Conchord. Like I said tenuous.

The Wing Gambit

  1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 b4

winggambit

This remarkable move scores a nice healthy 60% with white (from 94 games) and only scores -0.52 with computer analysis.  Dare I say that in the context of a standard club player, then this might actually be sound?! Heres hoping for picking this card at Gambit Night!

So that ends our tour of Bristol themed gambits.  Im sure more knowledgable heads than me may have other crazy lines with a west country twist so feel free to leave a comment below!

Gambit Night is on the 3rd August this year at the Ratepayers Arms, Filton.  The first round starts at 19:45 and entries are accepted on the night. Any questions (and special thanks) can be directed to Steve Woolgar: knightskies@sky.com.

Lets go burn some pawns!


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.