Monday, 31 October 2011

An all hallows gambit!

I couldn't possibly let Halloween pass by without taking the opportunity to publish another game in the Halloween Gambit. This one comes with as many horror-ridden cliches in the commentary as I could muster. It was played at a recent edition of the Victoria Gardens Blitz Tournament in Leeds where one can justify and get away with playing such bilge. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Brave 'B's hold their own

Martin Syrett and his team donned their best war paint
for Monday's match with Hebden Bridge 'A'
On Monday night the Trades Club hosted the first derby clash of the season as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ played against Hebden Bridge ‘B’ in Calderdale League 1. In the past these ties have been the first to take place in the fixture list in order to avoid any suggestion of collusion later in the season. This season the sides met in round 3. If there had been any sceptics invigilating this fixture they can rest assured that the ‘B’ team gave their comrades no quarter and were rewarded for their trouble as they ended up stealing a hard earned point.
Both sides fielded changed lines ups from their previous fixtures. The ‘A’ team have been handed a blow to their title hopes by the withdrawal from league competition of their top board, Matthew Parsons. The side still have a strong line up but it looks very different from the team that finished runners-up last season. Dave Wedge, Matthew Wedge-Roberts, Alastair Wright and now Matthew Parsons have all gone. As a result of this new set-back ‘A’ team Captain has drafted in Dave Sugden from the ‘B’ team to play on board 5 and everyone else has moved up the board order.

Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team thus had to deal with the loss of Dave Sugden and, furthermore, the unavailability of several regular selections due to the fixture being played in half-term week. In the end Martin recruited three ‘C’ team stalwarts in the form of Josh Blinkhorn, Steve Priest and Neil Bamford. They repaid his faith in them by performing admirably on the night.

An early warning shot was fired across the bows of the ‘A’ team has Dave Sugden perished at the hands of Neil Bamford after barely half an hour’s play. Playing a Vienna Gambit, Dave made an uncharacteristic tactical oversight and was dispatched instantaneously by Neil, who is having a wonderful start to this season.

This surprise result left the ‘A’s needing to win 3 out of the last 4 boards to take the match. They weren’t able to do this. First of all in the battle of the team Captains on board 2 Dave Shapland and Martin Syrett agreed to a draw in a lifeless pawn ending. Dave and acceded to the exchange of all the heavy pieces on the basis that he felt the resultant ending was winning for him. He was wrong and Martin held the draw easily.

The remaining three fixtures went right to wire at the end of the evening and could have gone either way. At one point it even seemed that the ‘B’ team would clinch an astounding victory. On board one Darwin Ursal was held to a draw by Andy Leatherbarrow who defended himself stoutly and took advantage of Darwin’s exposed king by giving him perpetual check. Shortly afterwards Pete Leonard and Josh Blinkhorn also agreed to share their point in fascinating, fluctuating battle. The endgame of this encounter is worthy of study as it contains lots of interesting points. Both players had to play very accurately in order to maintain their chances and a draw was a fair result.

This meant that the ‘A’ team had to win the final game of the tie in order to draw level. On board 4 Nick Sykes kept hold of a strong initiative throughout his game against Steve Priest. He developed a raging attack in the middle game and, although he missed a couple of quicker kills, the result was never really in doubt and he duly collected the point at the end of the evening.

The final match score card looked like this then:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Ursal ½-½ A.Leatherbarrow
D.Shapland ½-½ M.Syrett
P.Leonard ½-½ J.Blinkhorn
N.Sykes 1-0 S.Priest
D.Sugden 0-1 N.Bamford

Congratulations to the ‘B’ team for this excellent result. All their players were all out-graded by 20 points or more so this really is a tremendous achievement.

At the end of the evening the next question to ask was “how much has this draw hurt the ‘A’ team’s title challenge?” The answer was, “not as much as it might have”!

Champions Huddersfield ‘A’ have had a terrible start to the year with consecutive loses to Brighouse and Courier ‘A’. They needed to win to have any chance of fighting their way back into contention and they did just that in a heavy-weight encounter away to Todmorden ‘A’. Both sides fielded phenomenally strong line-ups but it was the visitors who took the spoils. Wins for Chris Booth against Andrew Clarkson, Mitchell Burke against Alastair Wright and Richard Boylan against Chris Edwards were enough for Huddersfield to win 3½-1½.

The season’s early leaders, Courier ‘A’ and Brighouse, both pinched their third successive wins to maintain their 100% records. Courier beat Belgrave 3½-1½ at home and Brighouse, also at home, beat Huddersfield ‘B’ 3-2. Courier and Brighouse now share a 2 point lead at the top of the table although both sides are still to play Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Todmorden ‘A’. The two race leaders play each other next Monday for the rights to sole leadership.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ climb over Todmorden ‘A’ into third place in the league. The ‘A’ team must next face Huddersfield ‘A’ away and could therefore soon be caught again. Already this next match is set to be crucial to Hebden’s title challenge. Win, or even draw, and they will be right in the battle. Lose and the champions will draw level with them. If Huddersfield turn up with the same side that won this week it will be an uphill struggle.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ occupy the lower reaches of the table but should take heart from the fact that they have now played Courier, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and can look forward to an easier run of fixtures before Christmas. The fact that they have taken a point from these first matches should be a source of some consolation to Captain Syrett. Their next match is away to Huddersfield ‘B’ and they should be optimistic about getting a result against one of their fellow strugglers.

Tune in again next week for further updates as both leagues are in action next week. Our division 2 teams play on Monday and our division 1 teams are in action on Thursday.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The playful side of Bobby Fischer

"Bobby felt very at ease with animals and children,
but not adults", Harry Benson
Like many chess enthusiasts I was fascinated by the prospect of seeing the recent biopic about the greatest of all chess enigmas, Bobby Fischer.

I am a member of the post-Fischer generation in that I started playing long after he had disappeared from public life. Of course I've heard so many of my elders talk in rapt terms about his genius and one can get a feeling for this by playing through his legacy of great games.

Unfortunately, what you can't do is get any kind of impression of the man himself or the astounding impact he made on the world (not just the chess world) in 1972 when he played Boris Spassky for the World title in Iceland. It was this aspect of Fischer, as a man, and a global phenomena that I found so enthralling about the film.

The Director, Liz Garbus, had gone to great lengths to pull together as much archive interview footage of Fischer as she could and this really gave you a feel for the kind of man he was. Quite a lot was made of his lonely and damaged child-hood. This was put forward as the predominant reason why the stubborn, self-reliant streak that helped him become so successful also transformed him into a rampant paranoid delusional in later life.

Many of the photos taken by Benson in Iceland give a real feeling for the
"loneliness and isolation of the position he was in".
Probably the aspect of the film that captivated me the most was the photography of Harry Benson. He was chosen to shoot Fischer for LIFE magazine at the Buenos Aires Candidates Tournament the year before Reykjavik and became, if not a friend, then at least a companion to Fischer during that period of his life. Evidently Garbus had approached Benson during her preparations for the film and had been amazed to find that he had a large collection of photographs that had never been published. They are amazing, a real window into Fischer's soul. Much more than the interview footage, in which Fischer always seems so guarded and defensive. After I'd watched the film I was delighted to find out that Benson had subsequently published a book of his Fischer photographs and I immediately rushed to Amazon to buy it.

I'd certainly urge anyone who has an interest in chess to see the film when you get the chance. Just don't expect lots of involved chess content. There is plenty about the 1972 match in Reykjavik but it is covered mostly from a personal and political angle. All-in-all it's a really superbly made glimpse into the life of this brilliant, complicated and damaged man.

All of this thinking about Bobby Fischer put me back in a frame of mind to look at some of his games and then I remembered the game and comments published by Walter Polhill in The Independent on Sunday back in the late 1990's. Polhill selects a very unusual Fischer game that has a real splash of humour in it. Playing against Ulf Andersson, who had a reputation for labarinthine strategic and manoeuvring play, Fischer chooses to adopt the style himself and delivers a masterpiece. Enjoy!

"By far the greatest player the world has ever seen, Bobby Fischer was also a superb parodist. The following victory of his is often dismissed as a mere display of attacking imagination. Yet making such an assessment would be to overlook one of the finest acheivements of the parodic art this century."

I'll finish this post on another light note by re-telling the famous Fischer anecdote of Hungarian Grandmaster, Laszlo Szabo. At the Buenos Aires international tournament of 1960, he and Fischer had adjacent hotel rooms. One night, someone brought a young woman to Bobby's room. The following morning it happened that both Fischer and Szabo left their rooms at the same time and Szabo shot an enquiring glance at Fischer who responded by simply saying: "Chess is better."

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Round up

There’s a lot going on across the Calderdale and Yorkshire chess circuit at the moment. Today I’d like to take a short pause for breath to round up some of the news and results you may have missed.

Calderdale Individual Championship 2011-12

This year’s championship is being hosted by the Belgrave and Courier Chess Clubs at the Belgrave Social Club on Claremount Road in Halifax. As always there are 5 rounds and these take place on the first or second Monday of the month from November through to March. This year’s schedule is as follows:
  • Round 1: 7th of November, 2011
  • Round 2: 12th of December, 2011
  • Round 3: 9th of January, 2012
  • Round 4: 13th of February, 2012
  • Round 5: 12th of March, 2012

Pairings for each round will be posted at 19.30 and play will begin promptly at 19.45. Entry for this year’s competition costs £3.50 and £2.50 for juniors.
Anyone interested in registering to play in this event should contact this year’s organiser, Paul Edwards, by e-mailing him at:
Entry fees can be paid on the night of the first round but you must pay before the start of play.
As an aside from the details of the competition I must say that it’s great to see another club other than our own hosting this year’s competition and I’d like to wish Paul the very best with the organisation. Here’s hoping that Hebden Bridge players will continue to support the championship just as enthusiastically as we have done in recent years. I am hoping to once again provide extensive coverage of the competition as it progresses right here. Get yourselves signed up.

Yorkshire Chess Association website

Hot off the press is this new website that acts as a hub for chess players across the county and, in particular, the Yorkshire League. YCA President, Ihor Lewyk and his assistant website editor, Matthew Webb, have done a fantastic job to get this up and running. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months.

Yorkshire League Results

Adrian Dawson has once again been swift in furnishing me with the latest efforts from our two Calderdale teams.
“A mixed day for the Calderdale teams on Saturday. A great result for the ‘A’ team who thrashed Bradford ‘A’. It has to be said that Bradford had to split their side in an effort to keep their ‘B’ team in the First Division but it was still a very strong team as the grades prove.”

Bradford ‘A’ vs. Calderdale ‘A’
W.Williams (190) ½-½ P.Watson (189)
I.Lewyk (178) 0–1 R.Newton (181)
D.Barlow (176) 0-1 M.Hamer (177)
C.Wright (170) ½-½ M.Whitehead (173)
M.Bramson (170) 0-1 J.Morgan (173)
I.Hunter (165) ½-½ D.Ursal (166)
M.Ashdown (158) 0-1 D.Patrick (165)
J.Holliday (126) 0-1 M.Corbett (138)

“Calderdale ‘B’ were out-gunned on all boards and suffered a severe defeat. If they continue to play teams of the strength of the first two in this season’s campaign, they will struggle for sure.”

Bradford Central vs. Calderdale ‘B’
P.D.Rooney (203) ½-½ M.I.Connor (154)
M.D.Crowther (174) 1-0 N.Suttie (148)
J.D.H.Milnes (169) 1-0 D.Colledge (143)
D.Breen (167) 1-0 A.Leatherbarrow (140)
N.J.Edwards (163) 1-0 M.Syrett (139)
P.G.Day (153) 1-0 D.Sugden (137)
DEFAULT 0-1 D.Milton (132)
G.Laszlo (130) ½-½ S.Priest (121)

Calderdale League 2 Results

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were the only side in action in Calderdale League 2 on Monday night. Calderdale ‘D’ had a walk over as a result of Wheatley’s withdrawal from the league earlier this season. The ‘C’ team faced up to Courier ‘B’ and were unusually depleted for the match with regular Captain, John Kerrane, being away on holiday. As a result, stand Captain, Neil Bamford, led the side to a superb victory under the circumstances. After the match he was moved to remark, “The good guys came out on top thanks to some inspired performances from the ‘D’ team refugees”.
Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Courier ‘B’
J.Blinkhorn 1-0 P.Hughes
S.Priest 0-1 D.Colledge
N.Bamford 0-1 J.Smith
C.Greaves 1-0 J.Whitehead
D.Crampton 1-0 R.Bottomley

Hebden Bridge Chess Club database

Last, but by no means least I would like to draw members’ attention to Nick Sykes’ blog on which you will now be able to find the latest version of this year’s games database. This is up to date to the 17th of October.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The French, fried (again!)

On the 15th of October last year I reminded readers of an anniversary that any good Englishman should cherish - the anniversary of Henry V's victory over the French at Agincourt in 1418.

Well, this year I didn't quite manage to post on the 15th (which was on Saturday), but I did think it was appropriate to mention the anniversary (the 596th) again this year. On Saturday morning, as the brave men of Wales went down in a tight battle against the French in the Rubgy World Cup in New Zealand I couldn't help thinking how ironic it was that this fixture should have been played on the 15th of October. In 1418 it was the renowned longbow men of Wales who were instrumental in helping good king Harry defeat the French knights on away soil.

So, today, in tribute to the brave men of Wales who fought the French on two battle fields nearly 500 years apart, I would like to offer another thrashing of the French Defence. Something to warm the heart.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Special delivery from Courier

Huddersfield 'A's title defence now looks even more fragile
than this parcel thanks to Courier's win on Monday night
On Monday night it was the turn of Calderdale's Division 1 teams to wade into action for round 2 of this year's competition. But, before we turn to our own teams' results, I should first relate the seismic result that has reached our ears from Halifax where Courier 'A' overwhelmed the reigning league champions Huddersfield 'A' by a score of 3½-1½.

In itself this would not necessarily mean all that much (Courier also beat Huddersfield in the second round last season) but, coming on the back of the champion's defeat away to Brighouse in round 1, this result leaves them bereft and cut adrift from this year's title race after only two matches! Last year they recovered from a draw and a loss to claim their victory with an perfect run of 12 won matches. This year they will have to do that again and it still may not be enough to save them.

Courier's excellent win deservedly leaves them top of the table with two wins from two matches. Brighouse join them on 4 points (they are second on board score) after they saw off Belgrave away in a tight match. The other two fixtures both featured Hebden Bridge teams and so, without further ado, over to John Kerrane who reports on the action from the Trades Club.

Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s A team confirmed their status as contenders for the Calderdale Chess League first division championships on Monday evening at the Trades Club, Holme Street, when they hosted newly-promoted Huddersfield B, and beat them 4½-½.
The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ – Huddersfield ‘B’
M. Parsons 1-0 N. Hepworth
D. Ursal 1-0 N. Hepworth
D. Shapland 1-0 B. Corner
N. Sykes ½-½ E. Mellor
D. Sugden 1-0 M. Rojinsky

Meanwhile, one of their rivals, Todmorden ‘A’, was dealing out similar harsh treatment to Hebden Bridge ‘B’ at the same venue. The 4-1 score line does not reflect the closeness of the match, as several of the Hebden players came close to causing an upset, but only Steve Priest on board five could win a point for the home side.

The individual scores were:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ – Todmorden ‘A’
A.Leatherbarrow 0-1 M.Hamer
M.Syrett 0-1 A.Clarkson
J.Blinkhorn 0-1 A.Wright
J.Kerrane 0-1 R.Tokeley
S.Priest 1-0 C.Edwards

On the same evening, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ was playing away against Halifax ‘A’ in one of the semi-finals of the Calderdale Summer Team Knock-Out Competition. In this time–handicap competition, lowly Hebden Bridge ‘C’ had a genuine chance, but the Halifax side won the match in the end. The match featured the debut for the Hebden Bridge league teams of 9-year-old Kyle Sharpe, who came away with a creditable draw against old campaigner John Nicholson.

The individual results were:

Halifax ‘A’ – Hebden Bridge ‘C’
C.Velosa 1-0 T.Sullivan
R.Cully 0-1 N. Bamford
H.Wood 1-0 T.Wilton-Davies
J.Aldridge 1-0 D.Crampton
J.Nicholson ½-½ K.Sharpe

Halifax ‘A’ will now play Hebden Bridge ‘A’ in the final of this competition.

Hebden Bridge 'A's assured victory has left them in third place in the table hot on the heals of Courier and Brighouse and with Todmorden for company. These four sides have already pulled clear of the rest of the division and poor old Hebden 'B' find themselves rock bottom and with the unappetising prospect of facing their colleagues in the 'A' team in the next round of fixtures. Anyone interested in seeing the current league table can do so at the league website.

This just leaves me to introduce a few more of the games from Monday night. These ones all come with a little commentary. First up is another combative victory for Darwin Ursal on board 2 for Hebden Bridge 'A'. He showed his young opponent no mercy has he brushed him aside early on in the evening. I've used the "Show/Hide" function on Chess Flash here to try and ensure this post loads as quickly as possible. Just click below for the second and third game viewers to be revealed!

Next up, and also a board 2 clash, here is Andrew Clarkson's victory of 'B' team captain, Martin Syrett. My thanks go to Andrew for taking the time to send us this game.

Finally, here is 'A' team captain Dave Shapland's effort against Brian Corner.

Thanks to all the players who took the time to send me their games by e-mail this week.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Yorkshire League under way

Today’s post comes from Adrian Dawson who reports on the first round fixtures from the Yorkshire League which began last Saturday with two tough away fixtures for Calderdale’s two teams.

"In this article it is time to give grateful mention to some of Calderdale's heroes for their out-standing work in, not only representing our League, but in the way they have shown out-standing fortitude by organising teams that can not just compete at the highest level but can compete at all! People such as David Patrick, who for years has kept a team in the Woodhouse Cup by consistently finding strong players who are happy to represent us and is also the Fixtures Secretary to the League; Dave Colledge who does a sterling job as the League's Secretary and also captain's the Calderdale 'B' team, who also perform admirably in the I.M.Brown (Yorkshire's Second Division). Both 'A' & 'B' teams finished mid-table last season and promise to improve this term. Finally, Dave Milton, a former Yorkshire Secretary, who has done what no chess player has done for many a year in organising, not just one Todmorden team but a thriving club that now boasts 3 teams, all of which are showing great promise in the local league.

The Calderdale teams had perhaps the toughest matches they will face in their campaign in the first round of the Yorkshire Saturday League. The 'A' team travelled to face the champions for the past 3 years, York, and it has to be said, gave a very good account of them selves, especially in the middle order. Being out-graded on all boards bar one the 'A' team battled hard and the score, although looking like a heavy defeat, does not give a true reflection of how the match went.

The Woodhouse Cup, Round 1
York 'A' – Calderdale 'A'
C.Ross (189) 1-0 P.Watson (189)
J.Weller (192) 1-0 R.Newton (181)
D.Adams (198) ½-½ M.Hamer (177)
J.Nicholson (183) ½-½ M.Whitehead (173)
A.Combie (185) ½-½ J.Morgan (173)
M.Carpenter (177) 1-0 D.Patrick (165)
R.Mounce (160) 1-0 M.Corbett (138)
R.Cowan (164) 1-0 M.Huett (123)

Although the 'B' team's result was the same this match showed the 'B' team can do battle with the strongest. Hull used to be the largest club in Yorkshire and won the Woodhouse Cup 13 years in succession, from 1987 to 2000. They soon after had some internal problems and withdrew from playing in Yorkshire. The present team is now fighting to try and replicate those glory days. Our 'B' team were heavily out-graded on all boards and had to default on bottom board. In the match Neil Suttie and Dave Sugden both had their opponents on the rack but couldn’t convert. Dave Milton was much better against his opponent but lost on time. Last to finish was Steve Priest who turned down a draw offer and tried to squeeze out a win but in the end had to give a perpetual check to avoid defeat. The rest of the side were outplayed by a much stronger team that seems to be on its way back to Division 1."

The I.M.Brown Shield, Round 1
Hull D.C.A. – Calderdale 'B'
E.Gardner (179) 1-0 M.Connor (154)
D.Stephenson (175) ½-½ N.Suttie (148)
J.Thackray (172) 1-0 D.Colledge (143)
I.Bell (163) 1-0 M.Syrett (139)
B.Hesler (157) ½-½D.Sugden (137)
R.Callis (162) 1-0 D.Milton (132)
A.Grice (133) ½-½ S.Priest (121)
D.Mills (153) 1- 0 Default

Thanks to Adrian for sending us this report. I hope to continue to update readers on the progress of both Calderdale teams as the season progresses. Both team Captains are always on the lookout for new recruits so if you are interested in representing Calderdale in the Yorkshire League leave a comment here or e-mail me at and I'll send your contact details on to them.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Notice anything?

One of the 40 or so chess boards on each
 Grand Central train
On the way back from London to Halifax aboard a Grand Central train last Sunday night I was pleased to see that all the table tops had chess boards printed on them. “A great idea,” I thought, “to help bored travellers while away the interminable delays: a nice game of chess”. Then I looked more closely and laughed out loud. The boards were printed the wrong way round thus rendering them completely useless – unless you like playing at a 90° angle. Hilarious!

It wasn’t all that long ago that John Kerrane told me he’d had a similar problem with boards printed on table tops at a school he teaches chess at. It’s ironic isn’t it that when an organisation spends a little money on creating facilities for our great game they fail so miserably with the practicalities of getting the board the right way round.

Over at the “Chess Curiosities” website this was a favourite subject of Tim KrabbĂ© who collected many instances of the work of a group he conspiratorially called the “dark-right-hand-corner-square-mafia”. See “Open Chess Diary” entries 259, 83, 51 and 30 for many more tragic-comic tales of chess boards displayed incorrectly. Perhaps we should revert back to the board that was used for “Shatranj”, the precursor to our modern game, in the Middle-East, which had no coloured squares on it at all.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

League 2 Champions take control

Neil Bamford: Strong start to the
John Kerrane has filed us this report on Monday night’s league 2 fixture.

"The players of Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s D team set off on Monday evening to play away against the current Calderdale Chess League second division champions, Todmorden B, knowing they had a tough task ahead of them. Their own senior colleagues in the C team had only managed a draw against them in a home match a fortnight before.

The games all followed a similar pattern – after getting into difficulties in unfamiliar openings, the D team players fought back, but only Neil Bamford, on board 2, managed to overcome his initial disadvantage and won a complex rook-and-pawn endgame against his highly-rated opponent, Paul Logan. Finally, Todmorden emerged winners by a score of 4-1, which reflected the much greater experience of the Todmorden side."

The individual results were:

Todmorden ‘B’ – Hebden Bridge ‘D’
P.Edwards 1 – 0 J.Blinkhorn
P.Logan 0 – 1 N.Bamford
M.Huett 1 – 0 C.Greaves
R.Stoelman 1 – 0 M.Levy
R.Pratt 1 – 0 P.Dearden
4 – 1

I should add that both Josh Blinkhorn and Neil Bamford on the top two boards would normally have expected to play for the ‘C’ team. Unfortunately, Wheatley’s late withdrawal from League 2 has left only 7 teams in the competition and so Hebden Bridge ‘C’ had a walkover this week as their scheduled fixture was against Wheatley. I understand they will be awarded a 5-0 win.

Elsewhere in League 2: Courier B put an early dent in Halifax ‘A’s plans to return to League 1, after relegation from the top flight last season, by beating them 3½-1½. Courier won on all of the top 3 boards to seal the match.

Todmorden ‘C’ won their match at home against Halifax ‘B’ by an impressive 4-1 margin with Tom Webster, Dave Milton, Geoff Bowker and JP Ellis all winning their games. This win carries Tod ‘C’ to the top of the table as the only side in the league to have managed 2 wins from their opening fixtures. Their next match is away at Halifax ‘A’ in a tie one suspects Halifax are already under pressure to win.

I’ll end this post by saying “Well done” to Neil Bamford who has started the new season strongly with 2 wins from 2 games. He also won with White against Bob Pratt on board 5 in Hebden Bridge ‘C’s draw at home with Todmorden ‘B’ in the opening match of the season. As I don’t have his game from this Monday and didn’t publish that win at the time I will publish it now.

Neil has a straight-forward and uncomplicated style with an eye for exploiting a tactical opportunity which makes him particular dangerous with the White pieces. In this game he plays sensible developing moves in the opening and gives himself the best chance of capitalising on his opponents mistakes. The nice sacrifice 26.Bxf7+! wins at least the exchange and is the kind of combination some players of higher grade would easily overlook.

Keep up the good work Neil!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Jorvik Chess Congress Diary

Pete Leonard reveals the secret of his early successes
for HBCC: an ice cream sundae before every match!
 Today’s post comes courtesy of “T.M.W.D.W.M.T” (a.k.a. Pete Leonard). Who took part in the Jorvik Chess Congress in York back at the beginning of this month. Pete has been through all his games and annotated them so my thanks go to him for taking the time to prepare this report for us.

"Intermezzo was not the only person to have entered a chess tournament this summer, though my choice was a much less prestigious affair than the British Championships. However, I followed similar reasoning to his, when I saw the flyers for this event at the HBCC. We have friends who live in York, so I could stay with them and have a pleasant walk to and from the hotel each day.

This congress is in its second year. According to the organiser, Peter Cloudsdale, he had just ten entries last year; this time there were 34, which is a healthy increase. We were divided into two sections: A for those graded above 130 and B for those on 130 or below. A five round Swiss would suffice for such numbers, but I didn’t have his problems of managing the draw, so could simply enjoy an extra game for my entry fee.

Unlike the British Championships, the time allowance was quite short: just an hour apiece for the entire game. As my first game lasted over 60 moves, that was quicker than a minute a move! My target was to achieve a 50% score overall; not unreasonable, as my grade placed me pretty well in the middle, between a highest of 187 and a lowest of 131. I should be disappointed with less than 3/6 and pleased with more.

Everyone else was a stranger to me; in the first round, I drew White against Eric Key. A pleasant chap, I think we both had similar ambitions: to play as well as we could but chiefly to enjoy the experience. He confessed to not having touched a piece in anger for four months; together with my lack of match practice, this probably accounts for the less than perfect, though close, game.

So, I won each morning with White and lost each afternoon with Black. It must be my age; I’m missing my afternoon nap! Still, I can take satisfaction from the fact that I achieved my target and could even have had 3½ or 4/6.

It was a friendly, informal, tournament, held in a pleasant atmosphere; my thanks and congratulations to Peter and Claire Cloudsdale for their excellent organisation. Also to the various winners: of course Alexander Combie won Section A, with Adam Ismail joint second, so it’s no disgrace to have lost to him, either. Section B had joint winners and a five-way tie for third; there would probably have been a clearer result, from 16 players, if there had only been five, or even four, rounds. However, I can understand why six rounds were played; I certainly plan to enter the Jorvik Congress again."