UK Blitz Final (Dec 1st) – and interview with qualifier Fiona Steil-Antoni

We caught up with WIM and popular chess broadcaster Fiona Steil-Antoni and talked about chess in the modern world.

Last month I participated in the Bristol qualifier of the UK Open Blitz tournament, and came agonisingly close to the top two qualifying spots (around joint 13th… ahem).

However, I had the dubious honour of getting mated-in-one against Fiona Steil-Antoni, whose interview with us is below. Alice Lampard from Bristol Uni also qualified for the final – after a notable draw against me in which we both blundered queens – and is the only Bristol League representative (GM Nick Pert and Krystof Sneiberg also made it; full list below).

UK Blitz
The participants for December 1st in Birmingham

Interview

BCT: Thanks for speaking with us – and for choosing Bristol! How’s it going?

Fiona: Great thanks; I had a last-minute decision of which qualifier to go to, I’m glad I chose Bristol!

BCT: I saw you recently played a game for North Bristol as well – how did that come about?

Fiona: Yes I had a tough game against an FM [Tyson Mordue – he annotates the game here]. I had met a player from North Bristol at a weekender in Dublin; and they invited me to play so I said sure! Glad to get my debut here, shame it was a loss..

BCT: Best of luck next time! So you are quite a personality on the chess scene – seems like there has been lots of great stuff in professional chess recently – what’s your view on it all?

Fiona: It’s all great – streaming has been such a big improvement, people are enjoying watching chess online – and it is a big range of grades as well. It is something for everyone, and its enjoyable – really makes chess fun and accessible.

BCT: Are there any specifically you have enjoyed?

Fiona: Some really successful ones like ‘My Teacher Sam’, and the ChessBrahs come to mind, but there are many others. The Pro-Chess League has been particularly fun – obviously I have been involved in the broadcast of it for a while but there are others showing it as well. You get a team of 4 players and they could be a big range of grades. If you’re drawn against a big team you could end up playing one of the best – even Hikaru or Magnus – so it’s really exciting and players are getting their bit of fame so that was great to be a part of. Of course Ginger GM as well!

BCT: Of course. Do you think all this online growth is helping chess in general?

Fiona: It is growing definitely – the general public know more now. Magnus has done extremely well as world champion, it definitely helps that he is young, and attractive – I think chess today has a way to go to match the hype that it had in the 70’s, but its different now and who knows where it will go. All the online platforms have done a great job.

Thinking about today – faster games are good to increase viewers; at the final one thing I hope is that they get digital boards [DGT boards can relay the moves played]; it’s like 8 boards in each section, so 16 digital boards needed to enable everyone to watch the games live – seems like an easy way to make it much more exciting and attract viewers.

BCT: Yes let’s talk about today – who was your toughest opponent so far?

Fiona: Nick. [GM Pert – just the 400 rating points clear of the field]

BCT: Ah, of course. Second?

Fiona: Hmm. Hard to say – also can’t remember the names! [We hadn’t played our match at this point, but safe to say it wasn’t me].

BCT: You’re in pole position right now for the women’s final, so assuming you make it, who are you looking out for at the finals?

Fiona: Lots of great players I expect will be there, but Sophie Milliet (France) is very original and has been having good results, she will be very tough.

BCT: Again the very best of luck for that! One last thing – you’ve been following the Bristol Chess Times a little – what advice can you give us?

Fiona: Vlogging is very effective. Blogs are great but videos are just easier and people like to see behind the scenes nowadays. It’s also more instant, more present. Keep the blog going – that’s great too, but it’s mostly about streaming and vlogging now.

[Well Fiona, we took your advice and have done what we can – starting a YouTube channel – if we get the time then we’ll start vlogging too!]

BCT: Great, thanks – well I’ll let you actually take a break and recharge before the last 5 rounds!

Fiona: My pleasure, best of luck yourself

[I needed it. I’ll be back next year for what was a pretty intense and fun day, and will try to avoid mates in one, queen-blundering, and failing to convert games a rook up. Meanwhile I’ll be relaxing and watching the final]

Congratulations also to Bristolian Tom Thorpe who ran the qualifying event – he has since been awarded the title of FIDE International Arbiter!


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess

Horfield win over ‘Rest of league’ in 75th anniversary celebration

Founded by air-raid wardens in 1942 and still going strong – strong enough to beat the rest of the league in their anniversary match!

Miraculously or not, two even-handed teams of 11 chess warriors rocked up for battle on Saturday morning, supplied with coffee, cake and biscuits and 45 minutes on the clock. It was Horfield’s 75th – playing against a mixed team representing 7 different league clubs. The captains were Bristol league legends John and John (Richards and Curtis), organised and arbitrated by yours truly.

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The top boards in round 2

A history of the club (also found on Horfield’s website) was on display, along with famous games past and present.

history
A long history

The pleasant and spacious playing hall was just upstairs from the usual dinky Horfield rooms – unfortunately reserved for Pilates on Tuesday evenings.

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Plenty of mental gymnastics going on in the fitness room

Geoff Gammon got to play instead of arbitrate, and brought along a number of puzzles to add to the collection – one of the beauties is below:

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White to play and win (solution at the end of this article)

Though a friendly match, chess players are always up for a fight and Horfield will be rejoicing at the convincing scoreline, 15 – 7! Only two players won both their games – Derek Pugh and Phil Nendick of Horfield A.

result
Horfield won 7-4 with all players playing Black, and bettered that by 1 in round two with the White pieces to total 15-7

Memorabilia was also on display – including the charming ‘h-file’ leaflet/magazine:

hfile
Classic photos from yonderyear

Thanks to Horfield for putting on a friendly event for the league, and to all those who travelled to play and show support for a long-standing club.

In other news

I couldn’t stand to organise chess and not play for much longer, so I saddled on down to the Cross-Hands pub for some blitz on the Sunday night.

Through a combination of dubious sacrifices, grovelling for draws against people half my age, winning on time whilst literally getting checkmated and all-around time-scrappery, I managed to win a tournament outright for the first time in at least 5 years. So thanks to Downend, Derek and Elmira for organising and Geoff for arbitrating.

Come along next time on December 2nd (especially if you live in Downend – no excuse really!) Details will be on Downend’s website.

Puzzle Solution

After the ridiculous Kg5!! Black has a couple of waiting moves (c5 is met with d5!, and f4 is met with f3!) before fatal zugzwang, where the Black queen is lost with every move.


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times, is now a feared blitz superstar across the land, and plays regular league and tournament chess

The November Problem with GM Jones

I think that chess problem solving tournaments can be quite fun, although it must be admitted that I say this from the perspective of someone who is usually involved in helping to run them, not actually competing!

Part of the skill in running such a competition is in selecting problems of the right level of difficulty. On August 26th I ran the problem solving event at the MindSports Olympiad in London. Only five competitors turned up, but they all took the event seriously, and as lively discussions broke out at the end of each round about problems they’d solved correctly and problems they hadn’t I think they found it a stimulating experience. All five were more familiar with chess-playing events, though some had at least a passing interest in problems. The event took the form of two one-hour ‘papers’, each comprising six problems, nearly all of them orthodox, and as the scores, out of 60, ranged from 47.5 to 14.5 I was pleased that no competitor found the problems either too easy or hopelessly difficult.

Of the problems, my own favourite, which was solved I think by two of the five competitors, was one that I managed to solve when looking for problems to set:

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 14.59.58

It’s mate in 4. Composed by one Walter I. Kennard, it was published in American Chess Bulletin in 1915.

Solution Below

In this case, Black has only two legal moves, so the obvious approach to solving is to see what happens if White ‘passes’ and Black plays either of these moves. Well, White isn’t worried about 1…c5. This move, losing control over d5, allows 2.Rd1 b5 3.Rd5 and 4.Rxc5#. But as matters stand White doesn’t have a mate after 1…b5; the only way then in which you might hope to mate within the 4-move time-frame is 2.c5, but then after 2…b4 what happens? If 3.cxb4+ Kb5 and there is no mate.

But of course it is White to play in the initial position, and can we finagle it so that in that line there is a mate after 3…Kb5? If so, the mate would have to be 4.c4. So the Rook must guard c4. The natural way to do this is to play 1.Rf4 – but the drawback then is that 1…c5 now defends successfully! (If 2.Rd4 then of course 2…cxd4.) So the ‘lightbulb moment’ is when one sees that the key has to be 1.Rc1! It is very attractive that this move, which of all the moves on the board seems to give the Rook the least influence, does have the well-concealed potential to guard the c2P when it administers mate on move 4. And of course the Rook at c1 can still play the mating line, beginning 2.Rd1, if Black plays 1…c5.

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Mate in four after: 1.Rc1 b5 2.c5 b4 3. cxb4 + kb5 4. c4# (editors note – Lovely stuff!)

Although you may feel under pressure in a solving event if you’re competitively minded it’s still possible to enjoy ‘lightbulb moments’ when you spot a nice paradoxical key move like this. And even if, competitive-minded, you find a solving tourney as stressful as a game in the Bristol League, it’s like a League game in which you’re guaranteed that you’re going to have the opportunity to play a brilliant winning move!

If you’re interested in solving events don’t hesitate to contact me.


chriscircle

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).

Chess events in Oct/Nov

Winter is threatening to unleash itself on Bristol, so we thought we’d remind you of some all-weather chess events before Christmas

Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay – Sunday 21st October

Everyone’s favourite Sodbury – the Bristol league will once again proudly host some rapid wood-pushers in this charming town. Lunchtime visits to the antique/craft/charity shops and several pubs are recommended/obligatory. Details here.

7_Major Dave

Horfield vs. The League – Saturday 3rd of November

Still spaces left for Bristol league players of any playing strength to enter this friendly anniversary match. There will be two medium-length games, as well as puzzles with a difference, free refreshments, some history of Horfield & Redland club and perhaps a speech from their humble chairman.

Crosshands Blitz – Sunday 4th of November

More blitz action organised by Downend’s Elmira Walker – see their site for details – we hope to make this one!

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Remember places are limited on a first come first serve basis

…Nothing else happening in the chess world in November, right? 😉


mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess

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.

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:

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 07.59.19

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.

 

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.

The Preview – Steve Boniface Memorial

We take a quick look back at the spring congress to see what’s in store this weekend – and an update on my training for the diving chess world champs.

The last bit of tournament chess before the season begins! Bristol will once again battle for five intense rounds in three sections – in honour of legendary arbiter Steve Boniface.

It’s yet to be confirmed whether regular GM Keith Arkell will return to seek revenge on IM Alan Merry for the final round defeat in the Spring – the 26-move French is shown below. Alan won the tournament along with FM Mike Waddington. The top of the player lists for all three sections is shown below – watch out for the return of the irrepressible Frank Palm, now resident in Germany.

entrants

Here is the miniature from Alan (or is a miniature less than 25 moves? I forget, but its a nice handling of the French defence anyway).

All three sections are packed with past champions so it should be a bloody weekend! Sadly neither of your editors will be playing. Jon is currently nursing multiple injuries (not chess-sustained) and expecting a second child imminently, whilst I am (perhaps more importantly) playing in the world championships of diving chess. If you don’t know what that is, watch this video on YouTube. But it’s basically chess – underwater. The clock is your ability to keep breathing.

Here is me on a recent intensive training camp in Tuscany:

chess1

Wish me luck, won’t you?


mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess

 

 

 

 

 

Two Latvian Gambit games from the Bristol Open 2018

Avid readers will recall that on June 15th I gave this advice for a must-win tournament situation against 1.e4: Play the Latvian Gambit – “…2.f5… Bd6, sack a rook and win the tournament in a blaze of glory”. That very night the Bristol Spring Congress commenced and as if I had scripted it – a player called Mike played the Latvian twice, won twice, and (jointly) won the tournament in a blaze of glory.

Unfortunately for me it was FM Mike Waddington – who in a cruel twist of fate also beat me with White after I played an ambitious f5, miscalculating after arriving 27 minutes late. But that’s another story.

Mike appears to also have a soft spot for the Latvian Gambit (and a better understanding of it). Here are his two wins which helped him on the way to 4.5/5 in a very competitive open field:

Gambit accepted: the exf5 line

“The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it”. After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 White can play 3.exf5 – and the game is on.

latvian1

Mike appears to have read my advice (scroll to 3. exf5) and goes for e4, Qe7, Nc6 and rapid bishop development:

After Nxc6 dxc6, d3 and Bxf5 Black has some control and is not any material down – the engine gives it -0.44 (small advantage for Black). After a few more moves (play through the game below) the queens come off and Black is fine with the pieces on good squares and White’s d-pawn isolated.

The middlegame was not a typical Latvian tactics fest – but Mike eventually wins the endgame after a favourable exchange of the last piece.

Main Line

Mike got a second chance to play the Latvian and got the main line where the queen enjoys an early outing to g6: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe5 Qf6 4.d4 d6 5.Nc4 fxe4 6.Nc3 Qg6

The engine gives it around +1 here, but as I discuss in the original article it is often officially good for White but actually difficult to play. For example in our game here, it becomes a dangerous prospect for White to castle on either side of the board.

Mike manages to get in d5 and gets the classic Latvian bishop to d6 after: 7.Ne3 c6 8.Bc4 d5 9.Bb3 Nf6 10.Ne2 Bd6. Looks comfortable enough:

And it gets uncomfortable for White after some pretty natural moves – f4 was played here to try to avoid the oncoming assault on the king:

After f4 we have Bg4 and the pressure switches to the centre and White’s queen is quickly needing some space. Lewis gives up the exchange instead but there is no real compensation. Mike ends up three pawns up after giving back the exchange to get a comfortable ending:

Well done to Mike who also won against 4th seed Graham Moore (and against me, but that’s less impressive), to tie 1st place with IM Alan Merry.

We hope to see some more Latvians played at the top level soon!

…And in fairness to Mike’s other victims, here is my game:


mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular Bristol chess

GT Rapidplay report and Bristol tournament news

One of the hottest days of the year and a massive cycling event blocking a lot of roads in the centre of Bristol wasn’t the best day for chess – but the hardiest fans still arrived ready for a different kind of heat over the board (and the actual heat).

If you’re ever having a bad day, then my performance in this tournament may cheer you up. Casually late for round 1 I was lucky to get a half-point bye, then an undeserved win with White in round 2 gave way to four straight losses. From the benign to the blunderous and then the classic ‘forget your own surprise opening and burn a rook’.

But there was also some good chess happening – first of all in the Open there were many Cliftonites (Cliftonians?) setting the pace but one newcomer Antony Stannard from North Bristol managed to work his way through the pack to get to board 1 for the final round – a win over IM James Cobb would steal the title. Sadly no heroic tale this time, as James calmly took the title ahead of the other IM Cobb (Charlie, looking on from board two in the final round).

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Anthony a pawn down in an ending – close but no cigar

In the major it was a cleaner sweep for North Bristol with Graham Iwi pipping Gareth Cullen to the post. Here is Graham surviving some pressure from Steve:

major
I assume that the next move was Rd8+, forcing the rook trade and then retreating the queen to cover the c3 pawn.

More North Bristol success came in the form of Waleed Khan who came third and also took the grading prize. We bring you one of his games against the top seed in the major. After some solid opening play, Gareth is on the attack – but Waleed finds the shuffling manoeuvre of Kh8, then back to g8, and Kh8 again to dodge the various attacking ideas – and he ends up a rook ahead with no danger left:

Well done to Clifton (particularly Igor and Dave) for organising, Geoff for arbitrating, and for North Bristol for a resounding success!

As for me I’ll hit the books.

News about upcoming tournaments

South Bristol Rapidplay (message from Roy Day):

To all our past entrants, friends and anyone that intended playing in the annual South Bristol chess clubs open tournament this year; I have been organising this tournament now for several years and thought I would give it a rest this year.
I apologise to all who may have intended playing but maybe this year with the present hot climate it may be for the best and we do not have air conditioning
All the best to all chess players

Downend Summer Tournament:

If you’re up for something a bit different then this may be up your street – a well-structured innovation from Downend to fit around busy summer calendars. Four nights of blitz chess but only your best three results count towards the total. So if you missed round 1, not to worry! The next round, conveniently after all the football and tennis excitement, is the 17th of July at Downend. You also play opponents with White and Black, so you can claim immediate revenge for that cheeky swindle…

Bristol Summer Congress:

Same place, similar huge field (probably) and cooler weather (probably) on the 24th-26th August.


 

mikecircle

Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess in Bristol