Friday, 14 June 2019

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

A jolly time was had by all at the Thai Kitchen on Wednesday evening, as we celebrated KCC's two trophy winning performances (Open KO Cup and the B team's Division 2 title) from the 2018-19 season. As usual, it proved much easier to get people to a social occasion than to an away match at Nuneaton on a winter's evening!

Happy campers! - (l to r) Paul, Andy, Phil, Bruce, Joshua, Roy, Bernard, Algis, Mark, Ben and Dave

Many thanks to Phil for organising the event, and instantly becoming the best Social Secretary we've had for many a long year. (Ever?) A few hardy sorts continued the celebrations with a  post-prandial visit to the newly opened Ale Rooms, where most of us seemed to be having a good time.

Spot the Grump! And yes I do mean you, Josh! Anyone would think you were desperate for an early night because you had a train to catch at 6.00 the next morning.

Amazing how the photo makes Kenilworth (almost) look like Manhattan!

Anyway, let's all sing along with Kool and the Gang. One, two, three, four.... "Celebrate good times.....

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

From the Archives - Part 4, 1982-83

Hope you aren't finding this too boring. Bad news if you are, as it now transpires that there are still several more articles' worth of material in folder number 2! I'm actually finding it all great fun, which probably says quite a lot about me. None of it particularly favourable!

March 1982 - KCC are fighting for the Division 1 and 2 titles, and the town is agog with excitement!

Kenilworth Weekly News, March 12, 1982 - before it went tabloid!

You may be interested to know that this was a week when you could have bought a 4 bedroomed house in Windy Arbour for £59,950, or in Malthouse Lane for £49,500!!

Results went our way and we won both Division 1 and Division 2, and also the KO Cup - truly a Golden Year for the club! So we will have two teams in Division 1 in the 1982-83 season. Top A team scorer had been Miles Dunn (a new one on me) with an unbeaten 6.5/9. Bernard had contributed 4/4, but missed many games while away at University.

1982 AGM - 11 people attend. The only ones I know are - surprise, surprise - Bruce, Bernard and Ed Goodwin. Chris is presumably at Coventry Police Station arranging bail for a valued client!? The meeting learns that the club made a profit on the year of 19 pence! Talk about running a balanced budget. Despite previous reports, the Club had not gone cash-only, but had actually replaced the bank account with a building society account (the Coventry) which showed a balance of £37. Affiliation costs to the BCF had gone up from 5p per player to 50p per player. Crikey - that's Venezuelan rates of inflation. Despite this, Bernard recommends no change to club subs or weekly board fees. Another clock was to be purchased. (That makes 5 by my count!) Then as now, the Club is at the centre of the Leamington League power nexus, with Bernard as League Treasurer and Bruce as Assistant Secretary. Whatever happened to that latter role? Should we have one??

1982-83 - The Leamington League Division 1 consists of Banbury A, Evesham, Stratford A, Kenilworth A, Kenilworth B, Leamington A and Leamington B. Division 2 consists of Alcester,  Barford, Stratford B, AP A, and Banbury B, and in Division 3 are AP B, AP C, Kenilworth C, Leamington C and Stratford C.

September 17th 1982 - Geoff Temple is unable to play in the first two Kenilworth B league matches of the season, and actually writes a letter to Bruce to tell him! Imagine that, a club member taking the trouble to inform a match captain about his availability. I predict this will never catch on.

September 23rd 1982 - Do you know what you were doing on this day in history? Probably not, but I can tell you that Bernard was available to play (if selected) for Kenilworth B against Kenilworth A! Maybe history is about to repeat itself in September 2019?

Nov 29 1982 - A match is held between the Leamington League and Worcestershire League at Alcester. We lose. (We also lose an inter-league match against Coventry.)

May 1983 - Kenilworth A have won Division 1 for the second successive year, with 19 pts from 12 games, two points ahead of Leamington A. Ed Top scores with a Pink-esque 11/12. The B team, for which Bernard scores 6.5/10, finish in a very respectable 5th, while Banbury A come last with just 5 points. Not a scenario that is likely to be repeated in 2019-20! Meanwhile our C team finish 2nd (of 5) in Division 3, losing out to Leamington C by 1 game point after both finish on 10/16. We had been forced to default one match due to transport problems, which cost us the title. Nevertheless, the LDCL subsequently promotes us to Div 2 anyway.

September 1st 1983 - Another very late Club AGM. 12 people attend including Bruce, Bernard, Ed Goodwin and …… a first ever mention of Roy Watson! Chris is sorry he can't attend. Shock news is given to the meeting - Bruce has mislaid the minutes from the previous year's AGM. (Luckily, they are subsequently found, as otherwise there would be a big blank space above in this report!) On an income of £138.91 we have made a surplus of £11.25 for the year, taking our positive balance to £48.66. Even so, the Treasurer is planning for a rainy day, and argues successfully for subs to rise to £2, plus 40p per night board fee, but with this to rise to 50p (students and juniors half price) from Jan 1 1984, because the church hall rent is going up again. Bernard is obviously viewed as slightly dodgy, as apparently for the first time ever the accounts have been independently reviewed. I don't like the sound of this, so let's not have any ideas about auditing the books while I'm looking after club finances!

Friday, 7 June 2019

From the Archives - Part 3, 1977-81

The KCC saga continues...……

October 1977 - Sir John Cornforth gives a simul for the Leamington League on Oct 13th.

November 1977 - The Club holds a Thursday evening Duplicate Endgame Swiss Tournament. All boards set with the same endgame position; 5 mins preliminary study; 10 mins on each clock. 4 rounds. I do not propose to resurrect this idea!

May 1978 - The club AGM is held on May 4th, with 13 people attending. The usual suspects (Bernard, Bruce and Chris) are there. We had successfully taken on all comers at Kenilworth Carnival until (future IM) Chris Baker turned up! There had been problems during the season with teams not turning up; noise; and with the refreshment arrangements. Nothing changes! We had £25.40 in the bank, but for some reason still owed Sir John Cornforth £2.50. I wonder if he sent the heavies round to collect? The meeting decides to voluntarily offer to pay a higher rent, and the nightly attendance charge is consequently to be raised to 25p for adults, but stay at 10p for students. Bruce is elected Chairman, and Chris Secretary.

May 1979 - Its AGM time again, and 11 attend including the usual suspects! Bizarrely we had played with A and C teams in Division 1, and our B team in Division 2. The club now owns 3 clocks. Our stint at Kenilworth Carnival raised about £5. Membership was claimed to be around 30 (this does not ring true!), although at least 8 of these were likely to leave. The cash in hand is down to only £1.73, and to address this precarious position the club needs to make changes. An annual sub of £1.00 is introduced with nightly fees raised to 30p and 15, but the idea of charging for playing in away matches is voted down. The club bank account (at the Midland) is to be closed and we will in future run on a pure cash basis. Annual turnover was reported at £132.29, with the biggest outlay being rent at £92.00. The club would close for the summer months. It was reported that "we didn't always get our strongest teams out." All these years later, nothing has changed!

May 1980 - The AGM is held on May 22nd, with only 9 turning up. Bruce is there, but Chris and Bernard have better things to do. It is reported that the A team won the League by 3 points, with Paul Benson (who I remember well from Coventry League days in the 1970s) scoring 10/12. (Watch out Joshua!) Graham Brightwell is off to King's College, Cambridge. (A well known hot-bed for Soviet spies!!) The Treasurer reported a surplus for the year of £22.02, despite expenditure of £1 on a photographer and £1.38 on tea and milk, and reduced turnover of £99.50. Our rent was going up to £3.75 for a 3 hour session. 13 people had paid the annual sub and the average attendance at club nights was 8.5. Subs to go up to £2.00 pa, and attendance fee to 40p/20p. Anyone attending 5 times would be asked to cough up the £2. Are there problems below the surface, I wonder, given the comment in the minutes that "we should attempt to foster club spirit"?

1980-81 - The Leamington League Division 1 consists of Banbury, Stratford, Kenilworth and Leamington. Teams play each other 4 times a season! Division 2 consists of Alcester, Fire Service, Kenilworth II, Stratford II, Automotive Products, Leamington II, Banbury II and Daventry. We have asked for no matches on the last Thursday of each month, which will be a pure club night.

Sept 1981 - The club AGM is held very late, on September 10th. 9 people definitely turn up (the usual suspects are all present and correct, plus Ed Goodwin) and one other may have, but the Secretary is not sure and marks him with a question mark! How difficult could it have been to identify the attendees?? We hadn't been that successful in the league after losing some strong players, and we lost in the KO Cup Final. Mike Johnson appears for the first time as a player. But we (including Bernard and Ed) had helped Warwick District Council win the Warwickshire Olympics! Notably, during the season Ed had drawn against IM Paul Littlewood. Financial stability for once, as subs are to remain unchanged. Average take per club night was £2.70 with average attendance down to 6.75. The Church had helped us out by not always taking the full rent! Turnover is up at £126.81 and the club makes a profit of £12.96. Rent accounts for £101 of our £113.85 expenditure. There must have been a lot of tea drinking, as that cost has risen to £3.30.  Another clock is to be bought - finally we have enough for a match!

For the first time, the future Mr Kenilworth Chess Club (Bernard, of course!) is elected to office as Treasurer. Bruce remains Chairman, but Chris stands down as Secretary to return to the backbenches. Ed Goodwin is Club Captain. This year participation in the Carnival had raised £6 or £7. Good luck to the new Treasurer on inheriting that sort of financial control.

Bruce, who has moved from Windy Arbour to Bertie Road, is mandated by the AGM to try to recruit some junior members by writing to the Headmaster of Kenilworth School.

An undated club membership list reveals our geographic spread around this time. Our 23 listed members reside in:-

Kenilworth             14
Leamington              3
Coventry                  2
Radford Semele       2 (Who'd have guessed it was such a chess hot-spot?)
Balsall Common      1
Leek Wootton          1

I trust the Secretary was GDPR compliant with this information!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

From the Archives - Part 2, 1976-77

And back we go for a further delve into KCC in days of yore...…

September 1976 - at the LDCL AGM we propose the adoption of sudden death play-offs after 30 moves, to avoid adjournments/adjudications. Did our oratory sway the assembled multitude? Almost certainly not, as the topic is back for discussion the following year! What we do know is that there are to be 8 teams in Division 1,  and after Rugby C seemingly withdraw, there are 7 teams in Division 2.  Additionally, we have arranged a Centenary Match (theirs not ours, I guess!) against Rugby for May 1977.

October 1976 - The LDCL is charging us £1.25 for our team in Division 1; £1.00 for Division 2; and £1.00 for the KO Cup. Additionally, we will be charged 5p per member for registration with the Warwickshire Chess Association. Glad I wasn't Treasurer in those high stakes days! Grading news - Bernard is 125J, Bruce 119 and Chris is 115. The club's highest graded player is John Rowley at 151. The highest graded player in the league is A Whitbread of Stratford (190) ahead of Rugby's John Turner (187).

May 1977 - In our second league season, the A team finishes 4th in Division 1 with 50%. Banbury win easily with 21 pts from 14 games. The B team is third in Division 2 with … 50%! Bizarrely, the Club is trying to organise a friendly match against Leeds University. It never happens.

June 1977 - it is KCC AGM time. 12 members attend, but 5 don't. And they couldn't be bothered to send their apologies either. A mystery is solved - the previous AGM was not able to pass the proposed Constitution because of insufficient attendance. But there is no indication that the subject is revisited this year. Bruce reports that membership is static and the Club is not proving attractive to casual players. John Rowley had been the winner of the Club's internal KO cup. The Treasurer reported that the majority of expenditure had been on room hire, but we had managed to buy our first chess clock! (I am now confused - how had we been able to play a full league season? Maybe people brought their own clocks? How very American!) Bruce vacates the Secretary's role, seemingly not very happy at having been lumbered with this the previous year when he was not present! Chris succeeds him. Bernard offers to organise club events. How quaint - a volunteer! I predict that idea did not catch on.

July 1977 - The KWN reports that the club's two teams finished mid-table in Div 1 and Div 2, and that a third team is planned for the following season. Just like now, it seems that they will print anything you send them! Membership entails a "small subscription" plus 40p (20p for those in full time education) per evening. We do something for the Kenilworth Carnival. Quite what, I have no idea!

Now, don't get your hopes up and think this is the end - there are at least two more instalments worth of material in the files. And quite possibly even more. You have been warned!

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

From the Archives - Part 1, 1975/76

At the recent club AGM, Chris turned up with a bucket load of chess-related stuff (books; sets; clocks; scoresheets; computers; files) that had been gathering dust in his garage/shed for many years. While some of this was so past its sell-by date that no takers could be found, a surprising amount found a new home, and as current Club Organiser, I felt it was my duty to take possession of two folders worth of old Club records/correspondence (we are pre-email here, of course). And when I started to look through it a couple of days ago, I found a veritable treasure trove of information, of which all but the longest standing club members (Bruce and Bernard) will be blissfully unaware - and even they will have forgotten most of it! So I thought I should share some of the more interesting fragments of club history with you.

January 1975 - KCC has just been formed (only 3 years after the Fischer chess boom!) and the club is looking for friendly matches ahead of joining the Leamington League in the 75-76 season. Bruce is leading the admin effort, and makes sure to enclose a stamped addressed envelope in communications! Leamington, Automotive Products and Barford are identified as the most likely opponents. The Club meets on Thursday at St Francis of Assisi Church on Warwick Road.

March 1975 - Ouch! In possibly the first ever KCC match, on March 20th, the club gets thrashed 0-7 at home by Leamington in a friendly.

June 1975 -  The club bounces back to see off Automotive Products 5-2 in an away friendly on June 9th, and one week later gives Barford a good whooping by 6.5-0.5. A major expenditure of £4.16 is made on 8 roll-up boards.

July 1975  - We enjoyed beating Barford so much, we did it again! This time at home by 4-2 on July 3rd. There is a managerial casualty as the Treasurer (Brian Daniels of Windy Arbour) resigns, due to a clash with his singing rehearsals.

August 1975 - On the 27th of the month, we formally apply for membership of the LDCL. Were we accepted? The records don't say, but I'm assuming the answer was yes!

September 1975 - At the LDCL AGM on September 15th, our A team is placed in Division 1 (with Banbury, Daventry, Leamington, Rugby, Stratford and Warwickshire Constabulary) and our B team in Division 2 (with AP A, AP B, Banbury B, Banbury C, Barford, Daventry B, Daventry C, Leamington B, Rugby B, Rugby C, Rugby D and Stratford B. Three days later KCC holds an EGM to prepare for its debut competitive season.

October 1975 - In what may be the first ever KCC league matches, the A team goes down 1.5-3.5 in a Div 1 match at home to Stratford A, and the B team loses 1-2 to Stratford B. Colin Searle wins on top board for Stratford A, while Kenilworth A's sole victor is Barry Rowe on Board 3. The only winner for the B team is ….. Bernard Rogers. Did Barry or Bernard score our first ever win, I wonder? One week later the B team beat Automotive Products B 2-1 at home, with Bernard winning again on Board 1.

November 1975 - Chess must be booming in Kenilworth as another 8 roll up boards are purchased. But the price has already increased to £4.80. If only they'd bought 16 in June, the Club would be 64 pence better off, Probably the upheaval of finding a new Treasurer was to blame for this monumental inefficiency. On November 20th a Club "Lightening (sic) Tournament" is held with 14 players. The winner is Graham Brightwell with 7/7. Bernard scores 3.5 and Bruce 3.

December 1975 - And now £9.80 is spent on 4 chess sets. I cannot understand how Tournament Chess Supplies is no longer trading 44 years later given the vast sums being spent by KCC.

May 1976 - The first season is over, and the A team scored 7/24 in Div 1, while the B team finished with 15/24. Bruce proved difficult to get to the board, managing only two appearances all season, while Bernard chalked up 5/6 for the B team, and 1/2 for the A team. At the AGM (May 6th) the draft club Constitution is up for adoption. If it was agreed and never amended, we have been unconstitutional for many, many years!

Thrilling stuff, eh? Almost makes you feel you were there.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Game of the Month, May 2019

Its been rather a long wait since the previous article in this series, but I hope you'll agree that all good things are worth waiting for. Here we come within an ace of witnessing a KCC Grand Master scalp - even if it is a GM that none of you have ever heard of!

The game was played in Rhodes at the recent World Seniors' Team Championships, on Board 1 in the match between Finland and England 3, and features, as White, GM Yrjo Rantanen, against our own Andy Baruch. Despite falling some way below his lifetime peak of 2465, Rantanen still had a near 250 rating point edge over Andy, so the odds were very much stacked against our brave warrior. But in a very tense and exciting game, in which both sides launched the kitchen sink at their opponent's kings, Andy had the chance to land a killer blow. Unfortunately the moment passed, and although he was still better, there was no obvious breakthrough. Andy should have reconciled himself to a draw, but after several hours of knife edge chess, he went and spoiled everything, probably through tiredness and lack of match practice, by a one move blunder. I can speak from experience when I say its very tough to put these GMs away. They don't like losing, however ancient they may now be!

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Ee Aye Addio, We've Won the Cup!

I don't know why all those Scousers were getting so excited last night at winning a mere Semi-Final in kickball or whatever it's called. The real excitement was to be found at Tyseley Working Men's Club where the mighty KCC were triumphant in the Final of the Leamington League Knock-Out Cup on a night of high drama. Regrettably not even our most avid supporters (Dave and Ben Bonkers) were able to make the long trip to see us beat Olton 3.5-1.5 and pick up the Cup for the third time in four years and the seventh in all.

I sensed that it might be our night when I caught sight of a road-sign on the way to the match. With amazing speed and dexterity, fellow passenger Mike was able to grab a quick photo.

The uncannily accurate Predict-a-score road sign. (My attempts to find a matching one saying Kenilworth 3.5 have sadly failed!)
We had our strongest side out (given the small matter of Paul's unavailability and ineligibility!) for the battle against our perennial rivals Olton, but we did face an especially tough task on the top two boards where Olton are especially strong. I was hopeful, though, that our powerful engine room on Boards 3, 4 and 5 would pull us through. If any extra motivation were needed, Olton had just pipped us by a single point to the league title, despite us taking 3 points out of 4 against them this season.

Enough of this waffle - to the match!

Such is Joshua's style and tempo of play that he nearly always finishes first, and this match was no exception. He played one of his pet unsound openings as Black against Richard Reynolds on Board 4. Almost inevitably, though, Joshua got plenty of play for his pawn sacrifice and a sufficiently unbalanced, dynamic position to pose major problems on the board and on the clock. He won his pawn back and provoked a major weakening of White's kingside, all the time building up a massive time advantage. I missed the conclusion, but I imagine time pressure induced a serious mistake from Richard and we had our first point.

This was followed soon after by a second win for us, as Andy despatched Mark Cundy on Board 3 in a highly entertaining game. Andy lurched forwards with his pawns on both sides of the board against Mark's Leningrad Dutch and gained a shed-load of space. But there were a few holes in Andy's position, and he needed to be careful. However, we needn't have worried as Andy played the crucial phase of the game splendidly, and made decisive inroads into the Black centre and kingside - a knight on g5 proving especially dangerous to the Black king, which suddenly found itself threatened with the move Rh7 mate. This could only be averted at significant material cost and so Mark resigned.

Meanwhile on Board 5, Mike had been nursing an edge against Rob Reynolds from a very early stage of a Catalan structure, where Black failed to solve the eternal problem of such lines, his light squared bishop. But Rob is devilishly difficult to beat, and he dug in and defended his worse position defiantly, right into a bishops of the same coloured ending where there was no way for Mike to get his king into the Black position.

So 2.5-0.5 to us, but we could still lose the match on Board Elimination if Olton won the top two boards. But there seemed no danger of this, as although Andrew was struggling against Alan Lloyd on Board 2, I had got a completely winning position against Phil Holt on top board. So what could possibly go wrong? Read on....

Andrew did indeed fall to defeat against Alan, after White played an exemplary game against the Dutch - not a good night for that opening! When Andrew had to make the double retreat Nc6-b8 and Be6-c8 in the first 10 moves or so, it seemed clear that something had gone badly wrong. He never managed to free himself against Alan's pressure, with the White bishops particularly dominant. So now it was 2.5-1.5, and all to play for in the final game.

I had not played a great opening after Phil surprised me with an unusual variation of the Alekhine, but with the position about level he went wrong and almost accidentally I was suddenly threatening a queen sac to win a piece due to Black's weak back rank. To escape this Phil had to allow me to get a knight into d6 followed by Rxb7 winning a pawn and reducing the Black position to total passivity. Indeed his rook had to go to f8, and his two knights on a6 and c7 were completely useless. In true Phil style, though, he managed to get his queen active and threatened perpetual. I could have let him, as it would have won the match for us, but this would have been wimpish in the extreme - and I'm desperately in need of the grading points after a disastrous few months. (Moreover, as Phil famously turned down Paul's draw offer when it would have won the match for Olton in a previous cup final against us, I guess he wouldn't have taken the draw anyway.) So we played on and my position got even better. I was completely winning and then …. as time ticked away - one good move would seal the deal but ...… instead a blunder and from nowhere Phil uncorked Ra8 which contained a killing threat of Ra1 with what looked like unstoppable mate on f1, g1 or h1. I played a move to stop it and he then uncorked a tremendous knight sac to force the move anyway. I broke out into a cold sweat. It felt as though I had cost us the Cup. I had to give my queen up for a rook and knight, and hope that my passed b pawn could pose enough of a threat to stop his queen running amok. Instead of grabbing a pawn to give himself a passed d pawn and a guaranteed perpetual at worst, Phil tried to win my b pawn which constituted my only active play. But he couldn't do it and I succeeded in establishing a kind of fortress where my rook, knight and b pawn had his queen incarcerated on b7 and b8. Even now it should still have been a draw I suspect, but in a desperate attempt to win Phil flashed out a g5 push only to recoil in horror when I played Rc7+, as his queen was on b7 and he'd walked into a skewer. Talk about drama! All we needed was a fat lady singing, to bring down the curtain on an epic night. Why can KCC never do anything the easy way?

Four of the triumphant/self-satisfied five: (l to r) Joshua, The Club Organiser, Andy, Mike
(Andrew having already departed with his tail between his legs)
So this means double success for the club this season, with the KO Cup victory to put alongside the B team's Division 2 Championship. (And we were within 1 point of the Division 1 title, too!) Now we have two reasons for an end of season celebration. If only we had a Social Secretary...….. well, hopefully after next Monday's AGM we will!!

A disappointing promotion

With the league already won, the final game was was just another match. The only matter of interest was to see if we could avoid losing and therefore finish the season without a loss.

Ben was away on business and Bernard R kindly agreed again to play on board 4 for the B team. Other than that, we fielded the team that has pretty much been the norm since September.

Bernard won fairly quickly against Abbie Stevens. A temporary knight sacrifice saw him reach an ending with two extra pawns. So far so good.

Phil didn't have a good game against Kevin Bowman and lost a piece during the middle game. Faced with the prospect of losing further material, Phil resigned.

Dave was playing Andy Johnson in a fairly sharp game. Having sacrificed a pawn to open up some lines against the black position, Andy faltered in the middle game allowing back to give back the pawn and reach an level ending. However, when Andy exchanged off minor pieces to get into a Queen and rooks ending, black stood very slightly better. Andy offered a draw and Dave had to decide if to play on or agree and hope that Mike could draw his game against Steve Willetts. Mike's position didn't look too bad and so Dave took the captain's decision to agree the draw and see what happened.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there! Steve, just had a lot more time than Mike and managed to win his ending leaving the B team with only one and a half points on the night.

A disappointing end for the team as it had done so well over the course of a long season. We have used just four regular players and two exemplary guest player, Joshua and Bernard, finishing four points clear of Banbury B.

Next season, it will probably be all change as new grades and players may distribute the squad around the B and C teams.

Everyone deserves a rest except for Dave who has to go back to Captaincy school.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Postscript - 2019 World Seniors Team Championships

I left a few loose ends in my last round report from Rhodes last week, so having just about got over the jet-lag and the cultural re-orientation I'm now able to wrap things up. I rather (completely?) ignored the 50+ results , as the winners had been a foregone conclusion for most of the tournament. The USA duly retained their title, using 4 of the 5 GMs who had won in Germany last year, with Igor Novikov replacing Sergey Kudrin.

The victorious USA team. (L to |R) Dignitary, Shabalov (born Riga), Benjamin (born Brooklyn - who let him in the team?), Novikov (born Kharkov), Ehlvest (born Tallinn), Yermolinsky (born Leningrad), Dignitary

On the shuttle bus back to Rhodes airport, Andy had the privilege of sitting opposite GM Ehlvest and, flushed from a recent analysis session with Jon Speelman, thought he would make contact with another former superstar (Olympiad gold medal winner in 1988 as part of the Soviet team.) Andy: "Hope you've remembered the most important thing - your gold medal?" Ehlvest: silence. Andy (not deterred): "So did you have a good time in Rhodes?" Ehlvest: grunt.  At which point Andy got the message and made do with talking to me! Seems that not all GMs are approachable.

The England 1 performance in the 50+ event was rather disappointing, finishing sixth on tie-break, though level on match points with Bronze medal winners Israel. A surprise loss to Silver medallists Italy in Round 7 was their undoing, and they finished with a fairly uninspiring draw in the last round against Germany. There were two great individual successes, though, as captain John Emms won the individual Gold medal on Board 3, and Keith Arkell the Silver on Board 2.

The Board 3 prize winners (l to r): Igor Novikov (USA - Bronze); John Emms (England - Gold); Karen Movsziszian (Armenia - Silver) 

The Board 2 prize winners (l to r): Joel Benjamin (USA - Bronze); Artashes Minasian (Armenia - Gold); Keith Arkell (England, Silver)

But this is all very well, I hear you say, what about a photo of our very own Club Organiser. Well, faced with such a popular clamour, what can I do but concede?

The England 2 65+ team (l to r); Mick Stokes (captain); The Club Organiser; Bobby Fischer!! (on t-shirt); Brian Hewson (Bronze medal winner, Board 5); Geoff James; David Bray

And working on the principle that you can never have too much of a good thing.....

In play (and later to lose) against IM Renman (Sweden 1). One point if you can identify the opening.

In play (and much later to draw) against FM Herzog (Austria). Ten points if you can identify the opening!

So that more or less wraps things up. Overall it was an enjoyable event, with good team spirit and a pretty good location/hotel, though the travel was slightly awkward due to limited flight options. I would have preferred the 09.30 starts as in Dresden, but I accept I am in a minority there. I felt the standard was decidedly less vicious in the 65+ section than I encountered in my two tries in the 50+ event. This year I felt I could give anyone a decent game and have some chance of a result - mind you, I didn't have to play Sveshnikov or Balashov, which might well have changed my opinion significantly!

Before I sign off, how about a bit of schoolboy humour, in the shape of a composite team that could have been put together from the various participants? This would actually be a pretty useful team at chess, but in the funny names competition they would have won the gold medal in a canter. 1 WGM Tatiana Grabuzova (2323 - Russia Women 50+); 2 FM Bengt Hammar (2206 - Sweden 1 65+); 3 WIM Natalia Titorenko (2153 - Russia Women 50+); 4 Herman Van de Wynkele (2129 - Belgium 65+); 5 FM Heimo Titz (2096 Vienna 65+).

But I can't finish on such a low brow note, so here are a couple of snaps from the Acropolis at Lindos, especially for our classicist, Mike D. Its hard going to get up there, but as you can see, its well worth the effort - even for a philistine like me!

Admit it, you can't get much more kultural than this, kan you?!?

Sunday, 28 April 2019

My last league game as promised in match write up.