Introducing the Philidor constellation at the Batumi Olympiad (YouTube)

Two Bristol League Players recently competed in the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.  On the latest episode we showcase two games from Lewis Martin who was competing for the International Chess Committee of the Deaf (ICCD). Lewis scored a remarkable 72% across 11 games of stiff competition and rumour has it has qualified for the FM title.  Lets take a look.

The first game is a lovely Sicilian Najdorf where both players decide to ignore the concept of defence.  The second game is a tricky “Black to play and win” in a tactical finale.

Introducing the Philidor constellation at the Batumi Olympiad (20 minutes)

Please remember to subscribe to the YouTube channel to receive regular updates and share with all 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.

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;
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  • 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.

A refined anti-London system for club players (YouTube)

In the last year we have published several articles on an anti-London system based on an early queenside development by black. In our latest YouTube episode we look at how this has been evolving given most London system club players refusal to play 3.c4 and an adherence to the “classic” London structure. One things for sure, it ain’t going to be a draw!

 

An anti-London system for club players (16 minutes)

Leave us comments, suggestions and refutations below!  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.

Why don’t amateurs play mainline openings?

I will confess that I had an alternative name for this blog post that went something along the lines of “Wading into the Sicilian swamplands”. However I decided that sounded more like a pulp fiction thriller than a conversation on amateur chess player habits.  In addition I feared it would put too much emphasis on the Sicilian rather than the wider aversion of amateur chess players to tackle openings more usually employed by the professionals.  Across the amateur chess scene you are more likely to see Owens Defence (1…b6) than a Berlin but why is that and what are we so afraid of?

 

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What shall we play today? Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

So unfortunately I fall into the category of amateur chess club player.  To give you an idea of the kind of club player I am I’ve broken down some facts about my play for you:

  • My OTB grade has hovered between 145 – 155 ECF (1788 – 1863 ELO) for the last 10 years.
  • I tend to play in Majors at weekend congresses where I occasionally win a prize
  • Recently i’ve played at the bottom of several Open tournaments where I claim the odd scalp and end up dining out on that far more than the three games I lost in the endgame (of which with best play I should probably have drawn two)
  • The type of openings I play include the Nimzo-Larsen Attack (1.b3), the Scandinavian (1…d5) and the Clarendon Court (1.d4 c5 2. d5 f5?!)

Like a lot of club players, I console my lack of progress (and justify my opening choices) by saying things like “I don’t have time” (note – I really don’t, my children are 2.5yrs and 13 days old) or “My openings drag my opponents out of book“.

But heres the thing.

The entire amateur chess scene says this.  The choice of obscure / semi-sound / non-mainline openings for time poor amateurs is further reinforced by a huge range of system style books and DVDs. As a result it is not unusual to watch a game in a Minor or Major section of a tournament involve 10 opening moves of system style openings where both players are overlooking obvious opportunities on the board in the name of getting to “their desired set up” (as dictated by whichever latest book or DVD you have studied this month).

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing overly wrong with this approach and indeed works well for a large number of club players.

Earlier in the year I wrote several pieces on reviewing your opening repertoire but also how, in my opinion in the amateur world sidelines are the new mainline.

However, is it ultimately limiting the growth of many players? This question is based on a recent eye opening experience that has challenged my belief in this approach.

Time to kill with a stale repertoire

As regular readers will know, I recently suffered a serious accident which has left me convalescing in bed for the last five weeks. As a result i’ve played a lot of rapid chess (10 minutes, no increment) online.

Forced to rest with a lot of time to kill and a growing believe that my repertoire needed updating I started playing anything in order to spice things up.  This radical approach led me to start playing…whisper it…the Sicilian.

1…c5

I know.

Take a moment.

If you were to ask my partner in crime at the Bristol Chess Times, co-editor Mike Harris, my personal opinion of the Sicilian he would probably tell you that its not safe for work and should be broadcast after 9pm in the evening. I hate the Sicilian.

Its complicated, it has entire libraries of theory and literature and every player has a special anti-Sicilian sideline (I’m looking at you 2.b3 weirdos) which makes studying it a nightmare.  Of all the possible opening moves available, I have never played 1…c5.

Well I guess circumstances eventually forced my hand and it turns out that i really like the Sicilian!

Its fun, its tactical and at no point have I bothered to learn any names of any variations.

That last point is key to my message today.  When I first started throwing the C-pawn forward I just started applying sound opening principles to see what happened.  I was just playing chess rather than starting from the position of looking for a new book or DVD involving the words “Crush”, “Win” or “Beat”.

I started winning.  I started winning cool exciting games. Beating 1900’s and 2000’s become the norm rather than the exception. My online rapid play grade went from 1840 to 1950 ELO, a personal best.

Lets look at the numbers taken from my rapid games on Lichess:

  • Scandinavian Defence – Won 38% / Drew 4% /  58% (24 games)
  • Sicilian Defence – Won 59% / Drew 0% / 41% (29 games)

Obviously being 10 minute games amongst amateurs the number of draws is very low. However, the difference is stark!

Noticing my general happiness in my chess improving following the adoption of the C-pawn, I decided to look up the variation I had naturally been playing.  Turns out its called the Scheveningen Variation and has been championed by none other than Gary Kasparov in the past.

Hold on.  This doesn’t compute. Im an amateur player. Every book, DVD and YouTube video  tells me I should be playing a system style opening that crushes all before me and yet I seem to be having fun and winning using a mainline opening played by possibly the greatest world champion of all time.

I shouldn’t be having fun. I certainly shouldn’t be winning because I haven’t learnt any theory in this behemoth opening that has always terrified me. Whats happening?

Style beats theory

Turns out that there is something about the Sicilian that resonates with me.  I genuinely don’t know whether that is that the plans make sense to me, I like the types of tactics or it dissolves into endgames that make sense to me? It could be all three to be fair.

Whatever it is, my personal style seems to connect with the Sicilian and it has really reinvigorated both me personally and my results. Ive learned a valuable lesson.

How much are amateur chess players holding themselves back by not playing mainline openings due to a fear of a lack of time and an intimidation of theory?  How much are club players short changing or even stunting their chess development by burying their heads in their hands because mainline openings are scary?

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“Curses! A mainline opening…(sigh)” Photo by taha ajmi on Unsplash

Ask someone else what your style is

Amateur chess players are famous for telling themselves stories about how they play (“Im a tactical wizard” or “Im a positional master“) but often the reality is far different.  Today I have spoken about how I have accidentally found a love for a mainline opening after shunning it for years.

Remember my point is not to go into realms of time consuming study. I have no more time in my daily life now than before and have still not studied any Sicilian Scheveningen theory (although somebody did mumble something about the Keres Attack, g4, blah blah something something).

Therefore, in my opinion, perhaps the most important challenge for amateur players is identifying their actual personal style rather than starting from the position of which time saving system shall I play? Given we often tell ourselves stories my best recommendation would be to ask your club mates, friends or coach about how they think you play.  Work through several of your games and look at the raw data, even if that data is from blitz games online. You might just surprise yourself over what you learn whilst saving yourself both time and money on that next “Beat everyone with this system” DVD you were eyeing up.


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 (Yes. I know its not a mainline…).

The Forgotten Lady Champion who defeated Emanuel Lasker

Here on the Bristol Chess Times we have previously written about the often over looked Mary Rudge who could be considered the unofficial first womens’ world champion. Not many of her games survive but one of note is her adjourned victory against Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous display in 1898.  Even in a simultaneous display, defeating the reigning men’s world champion in the 19th century was no mean feat. Lets take a look.

Before continuing if you are wondering “Who is Mary Rudge?” then I strongly recommend you read John Richard’s excellent thesis on her life and times as a pioneering female chess player in the 19th century.

Very little is known about this particular simul other than it was held in the Imperial Hotel but whether that is Bristol, London or elsewhere is unknown.  It is understood that Lasker was running out of time in general and a number of games went to adjournment. He graciously conceding defeat due to best play resulting in a win for black (modern computer analysis of the final adjourned position indeed shows a sizeable advantage to black of -3.23).

The combatants, Emanuel Lasker and Mary Rudge

With little more historical context available, lets look at how one of the finest female players of the 19th century handled the second world chess champion.

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The final position shows whites sacrificial play has come to nothing and as soon as blacks king gets safe, then the world champion is lost

So a calm defensive approach from Mary seals her a famous win against the second world chess champion.  At no point in the game does she really probe the world champions defences but she comes away with the full point through solid defence and tempting her romantic era opponent into some profoundly unsound sacrifices.  Indeed, one of the common observations of modern GM’s is their super defensive powers compared to their predecessors.  Its interesting to note how disruptive a good defender would have been in the 19th century when swash buckling sacrifices were the expectation of the day.

Our previous article on Mary Rudge was very warmly received so I am pleased to finally get an annotated game of hers on The Bristol Chess Times. I hope you enjoyed this historic game, especially if you are interested in the history and development of the womens’ game.


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.

Season preview and August news

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

First off, a few tournament results:

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

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

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

2018/19 season predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Division 1

Champions: Horfield A

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

Dark Horses: Bath A

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

Division 2

Champions: Clevedon B

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

Dark Horses: North Bristol A

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

Division 3

Champions: Cabot A

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

Dark Horses: South Bristol B

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

Division 4

Champions: Clevedon C

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

Dark Horses: Congresbury

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

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


 

mikecircle

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