Problems in September with GM Jones

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

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

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

 

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

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Chris Jones

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

2017 / 18 Review & Predictions

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

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

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

Division 1

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

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

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

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

Division 2

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

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

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

Division 3

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

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

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

Division 4

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

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

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

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

Good luck to everyone playing this year!


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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.

From the Front Line: Steve Boniface Memorial Congress 2017

Eighty eight contestants battled it out across three days and hundreds of games at this years Steve Boniface Memorial Congress. Fresh off the bank holiday weekend, we report on the winners as well as look at some strange goings on with 170 move games…

This years Steve Boniface Memorial Congress was an enjoyable affair. The fantastic weather meant that even those who crashed early on in their games could still walk around with a smile on their faces whilst they waited for the next round (well I did at least). But enough about the weather, lets crack on to the winners.

The FIDE Open (28 entrants) was won by 4th seed Koby Kalavannan (213 ECF, Coulsden Chess Federation).  After taking a bye in round 1, Koby took no prisoners and won four games on the bounce to finish clear top with 4.5 out of 5.  His impressive victory included the scalps of two titled players, WCM Lynda Smith and IM Chris Beaumont. A full link to the cross tables for the Open can be found here.

Koby V Ashley

The final round battle for the Open title.  Koby Kalvannan (right) took the win against Ashley Stewart to score an impressive 4.5 / 5.

With so many top level games in flight its difficult to pull out highlights, although I’m sure many players will find it hard to forget the 170 move marathon in round 2 between Adam Musson (white) and Ashley Stewart (black) which (thanks to the increment) actually carried on into the start of the next round! Remarkable stamina from both players but Ashley eventually won out.

Attila and rest

Top seeds in action!

A score of 4 out of 5 was enough to leave three players tied in first place in the Major section (29 entrants) – Stephen Williams (152 ECF, Essex), Devan Patel (146 ECF, Rushall) and Mathew Wilson (142 ECF, Cardiff). In general the Major was very tightly packed in with the top 14 players all within a point of each other.  A full link to the cross tables for the Major can be found here.

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Participants in the fiercely contested Major section.

Finally the Minor section (31 entrants) was solely won by Tomas Jankowski (122 ECF, Bristol & Clifton CC). The sole representative from a Bristol & District League club to make it to the winners podium! A full link to the cross tables for the Minor can be found here.

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Tomas Jankowski (in green t-shirt), sole winner of the Minor section on 4.5 / 5

This years Steve Boniface Memorial Congress was also the last to be organised by Alan Papier, a loyal and hard working servant of the league for many years.  In true appreciative fashion, a whip round was had in the tournament hall (when Alan wasn’t looking) and a generous presentation and round of applause made prior to the start of the last round.  Im sure many local players will wish Alan all the best and thank him for his organisational duties over the years.

Nick Cunliffe

Alan Papier (second from left) focused on his game in between running the event!

He is being ably replaced by Igor Doklestic of Bristol & Clifton Chess Club who will be working with myself and the League Management Committee to ensure our local tournaments go from strength to strength.

Another great aspect of this years congress was the high attendance by juniors (thanks in  no small measure I’m sure to the excellent Chess in Schools initiative). Twenty juniors (23% of the total entrants) took part with 13 from Somerset and five actually competing in the Major section (editors note – my thanks to John Stubbs for these statistics).

Finally, Im sure all of you (ok, so a small bunch from Horfield CC maybe) are desperately wondering how my venture into the FIDE Open panned out.  I like to think…respectable.

I finished on 2.0 out of 5.0 with 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses.  Ranked 25th out of the starting 28, my score was enough to give me a creditable joint 19th place finish.  I thoroughly enjoyed every game and can honestly say I wasn’t blown off the board at any time.  As a final teaser, I have included a position from a hard loss I experienced in Round 1 against Gareth Morris of Clifton Chess Club.  Gareth had just launched a vicious hacking attack at me resulting in a naked king with material unbalances abounding. The question is, what is blacks correct move? How to protect the king after whites last move Qh6 check. The question is one of correct strategy (that I did not adopt). I have included a link to my annotated game underneath the board.

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White has just captured blacks rook on h6.  How should black defend? (full annotated game here)

The next tournament on the Calendar is the Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay on the 28th October.  But before then we have the return of the league season! Stay tuned to the Bristol Chess Times for our upcoming review of the season featuring predicted winners and losers.


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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.

From the Front Line: Gambit Night Review

What would chess be without gambits? Good question! Not half as fun is your answer; as 20 or so swashbucklers proved on Thursday night – battling on new ground over the board as well as new actual ground in North Bristol’s new venue in Filton.

Lifelong gambiteer Steve Woolgar resurrected the tournament this year and prepared 28 gambits – dished out at random before each game began.

1

Gambits on cards often forced players into unknown territory – for example here followed e3, Bb4+ Bd2 and pawn takes e3! The bishop can’t be taken so white has to play with very messed-up pawns.

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For some it was a daring expedition outside of their super-solid repertoire; for others it was welcome respite – where for once they will be just as prepared for the opening as their opponents.

The setting was an active night at Filton sports centre – the ironically unsound chess being played in a noisy former squash court, which was between a swimming pool and a snooker room – but more importantly next to the bar, which would feature more as the night progressed.

3

Nothing but water (I assume its water, might be sprite, who knows) for the two eventual champions Henry Duncansson (left) and Alex Rositter who squared off in round 4 – settling on a draw and winning all their other matches.

4

“Really, I’m supposed to defend this with ten minutes?” Clevedon’s own Stuart Iles (right) bagged the grading prize with 3/5.

The play of the day has to go to the one and only opening theoretician Dave Tipper, who delivered – wait for it – a smothered mate on the board, afterwards explaining to the crowd that the particular gambit line inevitably led to a smooth kingside attack.

Personally, I practice the 5-move smothered mate combination before every chess game (it’s just that satisfying) but as yet have not been able to use it. Dave beat me to it in heroic fashion…

5

The inimitable Nh6 double-check, followed up by the lunge Qg8+!! And the knight returns to f7 to ‘smothermate’ the king.

6

Huzzah!

Thanks to Steve Woolgar for a great effort getting this tournament back on the calendar and a great night of gambiteering – let’s hope some of them work their way into league repertoires this season.


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Mike Harris

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

Problems in August with GM Chris Jones

There has always been some overlap between the world of chess playing and the world of solving chess problems. John Nunn and Jonathan Mestel hold the GM title for each. International chess problem solving competitions these days are organized in much the same way as international playing tournaments, with ELO solving grades, title norms, etc.. The G.B. team, headed by those two GMs, tend to do well and, with sponsorship from Winton Capital, are competing in the World Championships in Dresden from 7th to 9th August.

If you want to get a flavour of the sort of problems you face in such solving contests try your hand at this one. Composed by Yves Cheyan in 1992, it’s mate in 2 – i.e., find the only move that forces mate next move. It was used in a solving competition organized by the British Chess Problem Society (BCPS) in Nottingham earlier this year.

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One’s eye is drawn to the potential for moves by the c5R, but problems rarely have a checking key, and all the moves by the c5R fail to force mate next move.

A subtler approach is 1.Rhh5. Now, with a new guard provided for d5, moves by the c5R on the c-file are threatened. But 1…Qb7! successfully defends.

The key is 1.e4! (Could be the title for an openings book…) After this key (threat 2.Rc3), the defences and their refutations show the potential scope of most of the pieces in a different light – 1…Bd3+ 2.Rcc2; 1…fxe e.p. 2.Nb3; 1…Nd3 2.Nc2; 1…Bc4 2.Rd5; 1…Kd3 or c3 2.Rc3.

One more problem, also from that solving event in Nottingham. This time it’s a selfmate in 2 – i.e., White has to find the only move after which every black reply enables White to force Black to mate him on his second move. (By G. Thomas, it was published in 1980.)

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If it were Black to move then after moves of the black bishop White would capture it and then Black would have to play 2…Ra1#. Note particularly 1…Be4 2.Nxe4 and 1…Bxe6 2.Qxe6, because inspection reveals that there isn’t any way in which White, to play, can fully preserve the status quo, and we’re going to have to change those two responses. The key is in fact 1.Ne2!, which has a threat, 2.Qc4+, after which 2…Kxc4 would now be mate (since 1.Ne2 has neutralized the guards of both the c3N and the h2R). It would be 2.Qc4+ that White would now have to play after 1…Be4. All but one of the other captures of the bB are as before, but the shining exception is 1…Bxe6 2.Qc2+!!. Two ‘!’s because I particularly like the fact that after 2…bxc2 the black bishop now guards the a2R! It’s this sort of imagination-stretching feature that can make solving such a pleasure.

Final Position Below (editors note – Very nice!)

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If you want to try your hand at solving, there are always problems on the BCPS website – www.theproblemist.org.


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Chris Jones

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

Bristol juniors compete on the national chess stage

The UK Chess Challenge is a National competition for school children across the country. Starting back in September with over 40,000 participants, we are pleased to report a number of talented juniors from the Bristol league have made it to the finals. The Bristol Chess Times spoke to John Stubbs from Downend & Fishponds chess club to learn about the striking performance from our local juniors.

Beginning in local school tournaments and then moving onto a series of regional and national finals the UK Chess Challenge is the largest chess competition for juniors in the UK.  From a field of 40,000 children, no less than four juniors from the Bristol & District league have qualified for the final top 200 places in the upcoming national Terafinal weekend competition, the culmination of the UK chess challenge! Across a range of age categories these daring youngsters have succeeded at the local heats, regional Megafinals and finally the Northern and Southern Gigafinals. The Gigafinals were recently held on the 16th and 23rd of July.

We are pleased to pass on our congratulations to:

  • Kandara Acharya (U9) of North Bristol CC for finishing first in her section of the Northern Gigafinal;
  • Toby Kan (U11) of Downend & Fishponds CC for finishing third in his section in the Northern Gigafinal;
  • Chirag Hosdurga (U12) of North Bristol CC for finishing second in his section in the Southern Gigafinal;
  • Oliver Stubbs (U15) of Downend & Fishponds CC for finishing second in his section of the Southern Gigafinal.

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I have included some photos from the finals including one of Oliver drawing with a 178 graded opponent and then analysing with International Master Mike Basman. A great showing but also perhaps a stark warning for those daring to cross swords with these young chess players in the upcoming new season.  Under estimate them at your peril!

Photo one,Mike Basman

The Terafinal Final is being held on the 12th and 13th August at Daventry and we wish all the Bristol players good luck!


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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.

South Bristol Rapidplay

A wonderful day long chess tournament that will tide over serious players whilst we wait for the new league season to begin. A healthy 25 minutes each ensures a high standard of chess is possible but then so are horrific blunders…

Although still relatively young in terms of years on the circuit, the South Bristol CC Rapidplay is a really enjoyable local tournament that sprung up a few years a go.  I’ve always thought it came at exactly the right place in the chess calendar when most league players are starting to turn their gaze towards the upcoming new season at the beginning of September.

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It is a six round rapidplay with the first round beginning at 10am.  Its £15 to enter (£12 for under 16s) and one the day entries are accepted.  South Bristol CC are always welcoming so if your are thinking about joining the Bristol & District chess league then this tournament is a nice stepping stone and welcome insight to competitive league chess.  The competition will be fierce and fun but perhaps most importantly the tea and coffee is free!

The South Bristol Rapidplay is at Whitchurch Folk House, East Dundry Road, Bristol, BS14 0LN on Saturday 12th August. Entry forms are on the main chessit.co.uk website. Contact Roy Day for any questions or applications: royday39@yahoo.co.uk.

Hopefully see you there!

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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.