Thursday, 15 November 2018

'Johnson Polish'es his Team

Solihull F faced the might of Kenilworth D last night. As I write I await a game report on his win from first to finish on bottom board Matt. Watch this space.

My game  on board one was a fairly straightforward one helped with the classic 1.d4 d5, 2.c4 Nf6, 3.pxp Nxp, 4.e4 Nf6 giving me a massive space advantage and control of the centre. Pile up down the c-file and a minority attack was then the simple plan. However, Black overlooked some tactical nuances and after my central push Black's position collapsed.

Last to finish, on board two was William, who writes " The match started with my standard d4 e6 and just after four moves our queens were off the board. Due to my lack of development my opponent gained an advantage in the middle game. I was, however, able to turn this around and my opponent fell for a trap which led to the loss of his bishop for a pawn. Poor play on his behalf allowed me to claim another piece and he was unable to stop my pawn due to a nice knight sac'.

Excellent team selection by non-playing Mike - it is three clubs? - Johnson. Well done Mike.

Final result 0-3.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Home and Away

Last night, thanks to the good offices of Drago, Ken B played both Home and Away. Our 'away' match against Cov Uni was played at 'home' in order to accommodate our juniors.

Once again my eternal optimism was confounded.

First to finish was Algis. It looked like a pretty standard Ruy Lopez but I did not see much of it and can only report that Algis lost on bottom board.

Next to finish was Jude playing a London System in which he played his trademark delayed Nf3 move in combination with a devastating h-pawn push - all against a double fianchetto - and winning the exchange before Black decided to try his luck on the Queenside. Sadly for Black this only resulted in dropping his h-pawn, then his rook, then the b-pawn then the c-pawn and the game a couple of moves later.

Ben also played a London System but this time I think an early Nf3 was played.  Ben reports that essentially 'we played out a very complex doubled edged opening. In a tension filled position I miscalculated and simply made the wrong choice. The game was still very tense and tactical for a while, but when my counter-play was eventually extinguished it was game over. Good play from my opponent. Clearly, being at Carlsen-Cajurana the day before did not rub off on me!'

Last to finish was yours truly, needing a win to draw the match. Probably with inadequate preparation I played a Nimzo, got outplayed, dropped two pawns and was only saved from disaster by a blunder by White who, forgetting queen's can move sideways, dropped a bishop for a pawn.  Material equality, my four isolated pawns, my king exposed, rooks and queens flying all over the show - this was too much for me to overcome and a draw was offered by my opponent and accepted - with great reluctance but to press on would almost certainly have resulted in a loss.

Having gloated last week about my Captaincy and claiming unwarranted credit, I must, in the interest of balance, claim at least some discredit for my Captaincy in this match. Must do better!

Final score 2.5 v 1.5 loss.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Pictures at an Exhibition

Our Arts Correspondent Reports:-

We are a multi-talented lot in KCC (myself excluded - I am strictly a one-trick pony, and not a very good one of those) and in the creative arts, Bernard C is our standard bearer.  An exhibition of his work was recently on display at Rugby Art Gallery, and as regrettably few of his club colleagues could seemingly be stirred to make the short trip to view his work, I thought I would give you a brief taste of what you missed.

I won't pretend to be the most sensitive when it comes to appreciating art, but I know what I like, and like isn't exactly the word that springs to mind where Bernard's work is concerned. If you want fluffy kittens, or waiters dancing on the beach, look away now, because Bernard's vision is concerned with rather darker matters. No wait, make that considerably darker matters.  The exhibition was presented under the title "Colour Radicals", and Bernard's accompanying Artist's Statement gives a clear signpost that we can expect to be both unsettled and challenged. (I know I was!)

"The selection of paintings is from a current series of work exploring an imagined collapse of the normal with unexpected results. Each image can be likened to a theatrical event, where the props are caught in a moment of destruction or drama. Yet that same moment yields a surprising contrast. Colour emerges from, ignites or lights this virtual stage. These visual metaphors touch on ideas of dystopia, while at the same time releasing the beauty of colour as an emancipatory radical energy."

So if you are sitting comfortably, prepare to be shaken out of that complacency.

I am immensely impressed by Bernard's work, but I can't say I would want to have any of it on my living room wall. I find it far too disturbing for that.  This is powerful stuff, and those like me who in our advancing years have retreated to a smaller, largely self-contained/private world, will naturally shy away from confronting the dramatic/cataclysmic events presented in Bernard's art. But thank goodness there is one amongst us who, at an age when he could be excused for resorting to jigsaw puzzles or daytime TV, has the energy and vision to produce such striking images. I think I would call these paintings loud, not just because of their striking colours, but because they demand your attention so forcefully it almost seems as though they are shouting at you.

Whatever's happening here, it is not going to end well!
But behind that forceful element, and the accompanying sense of motion/change/drama, Bernard also captures a still/precise moment amongst the chaos - and it is that which I find particularly disturbing, because its a moment when bad things are happening, but which heralds even worse to come. Cheerful stuff, eh?

Apologies to Bernard if I have massively misrepresented his vision. But after all, the views expressed here are those of the reviewer not the artist!!

Portrait of the Artist as a not so Young Man

And to see more of Bernard's work, visit his website.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Blog Inserts

Does anyone out there know how to insert a position diagram into a Blogg?

WUC Whacked!

For reasons which should not be allowed to deflect the reader from the substance of this report a team of six turned up for the home match on Tuesday against Warwick University C.  So, with apologies to Rod - who was left on the bench - I can only take my hat off to the Captain whose managerial and man-management skills were fully revealed for the first time. Watching from the side-line I can reveal that:-

First to finish was Mr Shurrock who as White on board two was "playing Ben Lee for the second time this season. A different variation of c3 Sicilian allowed White to establish a knight on e5 and cramp Black's position. Black pressed too hard to equalise and allowed an attack against f7 which lost him an exchange. A queen foray into the white queenside only served to pull the queen away from defending the king and White subsequently won the h-pawn. A long drawn out ending was avoided when Black allowed an undefended piece to be taken".

Hurrah! One Nil

Second was Mr Shearsby as White on board four and facing a Dutch. Mr Shurrock comments "the black-squared bishop exchanged immediately. Out of the opening Black had the bishop pair but doubled kingside pawns. White was allowed to advance his queenside pawns and created space and restricted the bishop. The resulting pressure placed on Black's position allowed him to win material and ultimately the game". A very mature performance from Mr Shearsrby.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Two Nil.

Next, on board three, Black, was Mr Morris. A London System was played and the middle game position looked almost losing. BUT, as, Mr Shurrock advises that 'Black traded dark square bishop but this allowed the opening of the rook's file against the black kingside castled position. However, White was too slow to launch a kingside attack and this allowed Black to force weakness in the White camp on the queenside. The exchange of a knight on e5 proved the turning point and it allowed the black queen into White's position via c3. Further exchanges left White with a difficult ending, Black's passed h-pawns allowed him to get his king amongst the white queenside pawns and winning'.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Three Nil

And in the final few minutes Mr Graff  'done us proud'. He writes that 'After a near symmetrical flank opening I managed to get my pawn break in first and took a slight initiative. My bishops ended up with a little bit extra room to manoeuvre and my pawn structure was slightly more robust than my opponents. Essentially, it was all more or less still equal but White needed to find the right moves and under pressure on the board and on the clock seemed to lose the thread a bit. I was on the brink of winning a pawn when in a desperate attempt to hold on to it White miscalculated and I was able to win both his bishops for my rook with the queens coming off. In the resulting endgame my bishops had terrific diagonals and my remaining rook was well placed whereas his rooks had no open lines to work with. It took a while but my bishops, rook and pawns built a fantastic net completely controlling all the squares. White resigned when it was clear I was going to mop up'.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Four Nil!

'Clean Sheet'! Job Done!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Small Earthquake in Chile

Nothing too dramatic to report from last night's fairly routine 3-1 win for the A team over Leamington. The players of the white pieces, Andrew and Joshua, annexed the full point, while the players of the black pieces, myself and Mike D, contented themselves with draws.

Except that in my case, I didn't. I was completely winning against Andy Collins, but my disastrous clock situation led - once again - to a total meltdown where I frittered away my two extra pawns and overwhelming attack through gross incompetence. Mike's game featured the inevitable Tom Darling sacrifice (only a pawn, but its the thought that counts!) which he neutralised easily enough, but at the expense of a rather balanced position that did not induce either player to persevere for long.

However short that game, though, it looked like War and Peace next to Joshua's. Once again the British rail network conspired to make him arrive late, but that didn't seem to matter one iota. In no time at all he was simultaneously threatening mate on h7 and the Black queen on d7 after a nice, but rather obvious, exchange sac on f6.

Andrew's win was more of a technical effort against Rob Gill. He put his pieces on good squares to attack Black's horribly weak queenside pawns, which eventually fell off. Rob managed to generate some counter-play but Andrew played precisely to defuse the threats, and secure the victory.

Match over. Move along. Nothing much to see here.

Monday, 5 November 2018

High Apple Pie In The Sky Hopes

Like Frank Sinatra I had high hopes for this one with Bernard on top board. But also like Frank, they turned out to be apple pie in the sky hopes.
First to finish was Jude. I did not see the opening but early on Jude established a powerful attack on Mike [Two-Clubs] Johnson's King position, winning  a pawn. Jude missed some possible middle game chances. In the endgame he felt Mike Two-Clubs was threatening to win the pawn back in a four v five pawn endgame and offered a draw which was duly accepted by Two-Clubs.
Next finish was me. Lazy thinking on my part - once again - resulted in me playing like a lemon mixing up two King's Indian Systems. My opponent, Nigel, played his usual mechanical opening stuff and completely annihilated me. Our pie was now in desperate need of some cream to pour over our troubled waters! I do love a mixed metaphor.
Could this be poured on by Matt? No. In his own words " I played a Scandinavian as Black and received a lot of early pressure on the e6 pawn. Avoiding the threat of a scary looking sacrifice around and uncastled King cast me my favourite pawn and White more than maintained the advantage through the middle game, with my rooks unable to move to the second rank. There was still some hope going into the endgame but then I lost'. In fact the last move was a simple king/rook fork, costing Matt the rook at which point he resigned after what looked to me a well-fought game.
With all hope of a victory now revealed for the pie in the sky it perhaps always had been all pressure was off Bernard who in any case had slightly the better of it on board one at this stage - better pawn structure and the opponent King slightly exposed. I only saw the final, exciting, stages of the game in which Bernard's opponent made a - not obviously - unsound sacrifice. Bernard, as is his custom 'saw all' and won a knight. To be fair if Black had not gone for the sac he would probably have been ground down in the endgame anyway. I understand this was Bernard's first competitive win since 2011.

Friday, 2 November 2018

A beer festival that doesn't get much more local than this

The church hall next to our venue is holding a small beer festival on Saturday 17th November at 6.30pm to raise funds for the church.

It might not be a festival to set the world of CAMRA alight but it's a good cause.

All the beers are local.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Nick of Time

Phew! Last night's crazy, topsy-turvy match against Solihull B ended in a dramatic 2.5-1.5 victory for the A team, but only one man was able to walk away from The Blossomfield Club with his head held high. Step forward our peripatetic hero, Joshua Pink. What a glorious day that was when he walked back into KCC to become our commuting saviour. And how amazing that a man who nominally lives in Manchester can be a more regular player for us than most of those who live in Kenilworth!

He cut it rather fine last night, having been delayed on his return from London by the inevitable train problems. The clock ticked on to past 8.00 pm when he finally made his dramatic entry  - well, what else would you expect from a noted amateur thespian? But thank goodness he made it in the nick of time - which gives me an excellent excuse to present a great song by the absolutely magnificent Bonnie Raitt.

For most of the game he seemed to be about to crash through with an attack down the a file against Ray Carpenter's queenside casted king, but Ray defended cleverly and when I took my last look at the position, I feared any hopes of victory were gone. But in trying to force a draw, Ray apparently sacrificed a rook, only to discover it wasn't perpetual check after all.

This was a massive boost, as we were reeling from the sad ending of the Board 4 encounter, where Bernard C had played an exemplary game with Black against Ian Brodie, winning a pawn, then a second, then an exchange before discovering that his remaining pieces were all being dominated by White's small, but perfectly co-ordinated army. Bernard returned the exchange, but to no avail, as this was one game that did end in perpetual. So a point I had mentally chalked up for most of the evening, ended up as just a draw.

Another draw was then concluded on Board 2 where Andrew P's attempt to hang on to the c4 pawn ultimately failed and left him in a slightly dubious position. At one point in the late opening/early middle-game he still had every piece still on  the back rank, but found it necessary to play the move f6. You know something is not quite right when that happens! Somehow, though, he then marshalled his forces rather cleverly to not only avoid disaster, but to establish a slight edge thanks to two superbly centralised knights. But it wasn't enough to gain any decisive advantage and a rook ending was eventually agreed drawn.

Which left me to wrap up the match on Board 1 against Neil Clarke. Which I did, but not in a way which reflects any credit on me whatsoever. After an offbeat French Defence, Neil enterprisingly sacrificed a pawn for the two bishops and some initiative, and steadfastly refused to win back the pawn in favour of keeping the bishops.  However, I gradually unravelled, took over the only open file and blotted the bishops out with my 3-1 queenside majority Or at least that was what I thought was happening, but as both clocks ticked under 5 minutes I snatched a second pawn (leaving me with 3 connected passers!) but crucially gave Black the opportunity to free his pieces which he did to marvellous effect as I completely collapsed. A piece fell off (in my shock I failed to see I could have given up my queen for a rook and minor piece instead) and I must have been totally lost. But Neil possibly misjudged how much time he had left and took a perpetual check (yes another one!) when in what must have been a completely winning position.

So a very close shave, and a less than convincing performance. Memo to self - and rest of team - buck your ideas up!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Big Mo

That's momentum, in case you are wondering, and nothing to do with either a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or a bartender from The Simpsons.  And we've got it, as the A team notched up its second consecutive win in the Coventry League last night, with a resounding 3-1 win over Coventry A.  Indeed, if we hadn't missed those two Ronnie Rosenthals against University A and I hadn't lost a drawn ending against Rugby, we'd now be top of the table!

Mike was first to finish last night after a rather unexciting encounter with Dave Ireland, and I followed shortly after with a scarcely more interesting game against Coventry's new addition, Henrik Stepanyan. Yes, as if having 300,000 people to choose from wasn't enough, Coventry now need to recruit from distant Sutton Coldfield to take on the mighty resources of Kenilworth's 22,000.

Which left the evening's adrenaline quota all riding on Boards 3 and 4. Luckily, they each provided far more in the way of dramatic content. I was on hand to witness the dramatic climax of Dave's win over Ed Goodwin, where an apparent infiltration/attack by Black's queen to g4 rebounded in the most horrible way, as the queen found itself with no escape squares and about to be rounded up by a White rook. In trying to avert this catastrophe, Ed instead walked into the loss of a rook.

Ben, meanwhile was a pawn up against Bernard C (unlike Joshua, our dual-loyalty member had not absented himself from the opposition for the evening - and I bet he's applied for an Irish passport, too!) after a very enterprising opening with Black, and with Bernard's rook almost stranded on a5 things were looking very good for us. Even so, I was surprised at the speed with which matters concluded, but full marks to Ben on an energetic game. Some welcome compensation for the pain he suffered against Bernard last season!

So two valuable points for us, and since there are only 6 teams/10 matches in the first division this season, every point is especially precious.  And when you are out-graded on every board, even if not by all that much, then its particularly satisfying.

And - not that anybody's counting - I hope you've all noticed that this report went on-line just after 11.00 on the morning after the match. A full hour earlier than Roy managed last week with his B Team report. And where is he this week? I'll tell you, where he is - nowhere to be seen! He'll have to up his game another notch or two if he thinks he can steal my blogging crown!

A visit from Shirley and Joshua

Our home game against Shirley B saw our guest player Joshua breeze through our club once again en route back to the north.

Mike was playing Dave Thomas with the black pieces. White allowed the exchange of dark squared bishop early on and allowed black to push his queen side pawns to advanced squares. With his pieces uncoordinated and pushed back, white then allowed black to get his queen to f2 which forced the win of material.

Gordon Christie chose an irregular defence against Joshua but unfortunately went wrong at about move 9, fought to save a piece and ended up trapped in the centre with whites pawns on d6 and e5 against blacks unmoved d pawn. In such a cramped position, defence was almost impossible and white won in 20 moves.

Phil was playing his 5th black for the team as he has to move down a board to allow us to play Joshua in grade order. A little bit of reverse development saw him emerge out of the Scandinavian opening at a slight disadvantage. However, white had developed his queen and knights onto unfavourable squares and this allowed black to get back into the game. A double rooks and double knights against double bishops and rooks proved favourable. White resigned when he lost a rook.

Dave's game was also a Scandinavian defence. Black's unusual line allowed white to emerge from the opening with more space and a tempo ahead. Unfortunately, white was unable to convert this advantage into anything tangible and reached an queen, even rooks and bishop ending. To make matters worse white then lost control of the d file and couldn't stop black getting into his position and winning material.

So another 3 - 1 victory with an excellent team performance.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Good result against Stratford

A evening out at the new Stratford venue and it was first against second. Initial fears of not being able to find the new Stratford venue in the dark proved unfounded.

Mike had white against Richard Mcnally. Richard played a sharp pawn sacrifice line straight out of chess history. Mike was able to return the material and retain the initiative. Careful play enabled Mike to neutralise black's possible sacrificial attacks and to get to an advantageous ending.

Phil's game was a marathon struggle against Colin Searle. Careful attack and defence by both sides resulted in an ending where white has better pawns but black had more space. White opted to try and play for a win and avoided repetition of moves. However, he overstretched himself and allowed his pieces to become trapped on the kingside. Black took advantage of this to push a passed queenside pawn. White failed to take the opportunity to give up his pieces for blacks remaining pawns which would have left a complicated piece ending that probably couldn't be won in the time available. White resigned when he was unable to stop blacks passed pawn.

Dave was playing David Gardiner. A line of the c3 sicilian left white with control of the c file and black pieces marooned on the queen side. White managed to open up black kingside with a piece sacrifice and then took advantage of inaccurate defence to mate black.

Ben had black against Richard Dobedoe. After a passive opening Black miscalculated when trying to simplify and reached an ending where his bishop was very short of squares and had lost control of the b file. White consolidated his advantage and won the ending.

Another good result for the B team, 1 - 3 on the night.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

One Year Later......

This time last season, we went down to a crushing 4-1 defeat against Banbury in the first round of the Leamington League Open KO Cup. Wind forward one year and the boot was firmly on the other foot, as this year it was Kenilworth who had bragging rights, with the scoreline reversed.

Shorn of their top player, James Jackson, who is playing in the ridiculously strong Isle of Man Open this week, Banbury must have feared the worst when they found themselves up against our top four and a half players. (Joshua and Mike have identical grades, so its just pot luck that Joshua got the nod for board 5 on the evening!) As usual with us, though, the evening was anything but straightforward.

At about 7.33, nine players were in residence and ready to play. But where was our Board 4? I decided to call him up and find out. "I'll be there about 8.00," I was told. "I'm just on my way from Banbury." Yes, our man had gone to the wrong venue. (Carl did the same not long ago for a home match against Olton, also arriving at the Abbey Club just before the default time. Clearly some of our players have been over-heavily sprinkled with wanderlust.)  Its enough to make a match captain weep.

Anyway, the match started, and just after 8.00 Andrew P (for it was he) duly arrived, to sundry hoots of derision and laughter. I explained the time limit to him. " We're playing 1 hour 30 minutes for all the moves. Or in your case, 1 hour 5 minutes for all the moves."

By that time Paul was already a piece up on board 1, as right from the opening Georgs Vikanis had sacrificed a piece for two pawns. It looked massively optimistic to me and I assumed Paul would simply bring home the point. How wrong can you be? Although he had started playing at a good tempo, Paul's play became slower and slower and disaster duly ensued, though fortunately my gaze was averted when the final moves were played out. A very uncharacteristic performance by Paul. (Except for the abysmal clock management, of course!)

I was quite surprised to be the one to equal the score on Board 3, with a win over Dan Rowan, after what had started off as a very boring game. From the opening (a Trompowsky) the position was dead level and plenty of pieces had been swapped off. Then I found a cheapo which won a pawn but allowed a white rook to the seventh. For a few moves it looked awkward, but after Dan missed a momentary chance to force a draw, I took control and hoovered up almost all his pawns. He just had a passed h pawn left in a rook and knight ending, but by that time I had woven a very nice mating net using my king and two advanced pawns in the middle of the board, and faced with the loss of a rook (the only way to stop mate) Dan resigned.

Andrew then put us in the lead, despite his massive (self-imposed!) time handicap, by finding some nice tactics (after a very irregular opening) which won the Black queen for rook and knight. White just had to avoid some tactics associated with the back rank and then his queen took control to secure the full point against Arthur Hibbitt.

I then adjourned to the bar for a post mortem, where news of two further Kenilworth wins filtered through. Joshua won on Board 5 after a rather hair-raising game against Mal Waddell where his king had to go walkabout to g6 in the early middle game. This is probably the inevitable consequence when you play a dubious opening, dubiously. I failed to see where the axe finally landed, but the White kingside pieces were finding it hard to get into the game, whereas Black had every piece in play - including his king!

I had been sat next to Andy B most of the evening, where he seemed to be making all the running against Arran Gundry in a sort of English v King's Indian/Benoni position. Although Black seemed to lose a lot of time with his knights in the opening, and be in a bit of a bind, he did eventually manage to engineer some counterplay, and after massive complications and confusion, a Black pawn emerged on e3 looking very dangerous. But Andy had seen everything (unlikely, now I think about what I've just written) and somehow engineered a rook ending where Black's e pawn was just falling off. Some White queenside pawns were in danger, but with two connected kingside passers the ending had to be winning for Andy. Especially when he was apparently gifted the Black rook!

So that's us into the semi-final against Shirley at the end of January.

But really, all this is a mere sideshow to the real issue to emerge from last night's events. Which is that I have been usurped as the club's pre-eminent blogger by Roy! Showing a speed and efficiency with which he has seldom previously been identified, he managed to get a report of last night's D team match (in which he wasn't even playing!) onto the club website by 12.21 this lunchtime, thus making me look like a complete laggard in comparison. I tell you all frankly, I am reeling under the pressure of this new competition.  However, I still know a few tricks that he doesn't, so when you are voting for Blogger of the Year just remember who it was who gave you a reason to laugh out loud with this!

Matt Finish

I was in attendance at the Abbey Club last night to support a protégé of Paul's. So with apologies to Captain Mike (who was not playing) I have taken the opportunity to offer this report.

Kenilworth's Billy Fellowes - turned seven years old last month  - made his league debut last night at the Abbey Club on bottom board against Adrian Grimes (Stratford C). Billy is almost certainly the youngest player ever in the League and possibly even in the whole of Warwickshire. He made a very good show with Adrian (and myself) of the view that Billy had the better of him in the opening. Sadly a simple error left Adrian with an extra pawn - supported and passed on the a-file. A flustered Billy then quickly lost a whole rook and the game ran away from him. After taking a moment to compose himself, Billy displayed bags of character and threw himself back into the game with gusto making Adrian work hard for his win.  A fine debut performance and Paul will be proud.

On board two Tony played in SPECTACULAR fashion with a Bishop check on about move five - but overlooking that he had just placed this Bishop en prise. No compensation - just a crap position. Not satisfied with just one piece down Tony dropped another in short order. Game over. A veil to be pulled over this one.

I did not see the opening of top gun Matt but whatever it was, it was 'irregular' - by about move six Matt faced his opponent's huge lead in development and total control of the centre with nothing in the centre and a Queen on a5. Perhaps it was super dooper hyper modern! Matt outplayed his opponent in the middle game and won a pawn but struggled to make something of it. After Matt missed an endgame skewer to win a rook a draw was quickly agreed.

So, Kenilworth D 0.5 Stratford C 2.5

I also witnessed a very strong Kenilworth play in the Open KO Cup against Banbury. Whilst the bottom four of the five boards seemed to be doing fine when I left, sadly, I saw Mr Lam lose on top board in his match - but as they say, that is another story.....

Sunday, 21 October 2018

A Tale of Two Londons

Kenilworth ‘B’ was in action last night against Coventry C. Here is what each of our players had to say.

First Stuart on board One. He is a little miffed at the strength of his opponents!

“I see Ed played on board 3 last year for Cov A!!! I opened with a very modern London system, and got good development of my pieces, eventually I ended up blocked and retreated backwards. Losing a rook for a Bishop was my one mistake while obsessively protecting an isolated pawn. Came close to a draw as he was running out of time with only 2.5 mins left to my 12mins, but alas it wasn’t to be. Quote of the year 2018 by Watson.R. “Cov B division is easy!! Mainly low graded players!!! Played two games against 169 and 154 so far.....!!!”

Moving on to yours truly on board two:-

I played a Scheveningen Sicilian but played the correct moves in the wrong order against Bava. I ended up with much less space, got squashed but had endgame chances with two bishops v Knight and Bishop on an open board – but two pawns down. But in the event I could not prevent Bava exchanging his knight for my Bishop – game over. And I have to show this to Mr Lam tomorrow and justify myself! Hmm.

Edit – post lesson analysis.  I got a good position from the opening but then played too passively (of course the Sicilian is a counter ATTACKING opening) and, with limited tactical awareness blundered my first pawn – then my second. THEN game over.

Jude was on board three. Told by Jude what to write, here is what his mum, Leanne, writes:-

“Jude’s game against Howard Jones – Jude played the London system and later in the game did a pawn sacrifice to make his opponents pawns doubled and isolated and he went on to win a pawn. Jude took advantage with the bishop pair but his opponent forced him to trade bishops and his opponent centralised his knight meaning he was forced to win the exchange. Jude traded a rook for a bishop and the position was blockaded. Jude could have put his knight in an outpost but stopped his opponents king from entering and winning pawns. Jude accepted his opponents offer of a draw and was happy with this in the position.”

And finally on bottom board, Algis who writes:-“Algis had a tedious game with a breakthrough and victory in the very last seconds.  The opponent played a standard Queen’s Gambit opening with a fairly boring development from both sides. After a number of exchanges and a deviation of the ‘d’ pawn, Algis’ opponent had to defend 2-against-1 pawns on the ‘g’ and ‘h’ lanes. However there were only 3 minutes left for Algis (and 40 minutes for the opponent…). The breakthrough came after Algis switched the attack with the knight on pawns on the other side, opponents’ knight, a pawn and the king trying to stop those 2 pawns. Soon, there were 3 pawns marching for the queen on different parts of the board and one finally made it. The opponent resigned with a whole 35 seconds left on Algis’ clock.”

Captain Roy suspects the board order may very well be different in the New Year.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Through Gritted Teeth

Excellent news! The A team hauled itself off the foot of the Coventry League Division 1 table last night by picking up its first points of the season, thanks to a 2.5-1.5 win over Warwick University B. It was almost the perfect match - two wins with White and two draws with Black. Except that I lost to spoil things. Rats.

Ben finished first with a draw on Board 3 against Victoria Sit, after a fairly tortuous struggle where he was suffering for the entire game. Stalwart defence saved the day!  The same could not be said of my performance, as I went down rather horribly to  Louise Head on  Board 1. I rather burned my bridges by going all in with a kingside attack while my queenside fell to pieces. Several more bad decisions led to a total rout.

Which left the match situation looking pretty precarious. But Dave had been winning on Board 4 against Ben Lee almost straight out of the opening, and duly pocketed the full point to level the match. Mike was better and pressing against Andy Pollock on Board 2, but I thought Black was defending well enough to hold the draw. However, while I was busy analysing my game in the bar, things clearly happened as the next thing I knew was that Mike had won. The word "blunder" was uttered by Mike's opponent, but that's all the light I can shed on proceedings.

So never mind my own painful loss, the team won. And that's the important thing isn't it?

Meanwhile the B team went down by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5 against  a strong Coventry C who fielded two players who were virtual ever presents in Division 1 last season.  Our junior participation was halved last night, so well done to Roy for getting a full team out. Jude notched another draw (he's a points machine!), while Algis weighed in with another win, taking him to 2/2 for the season in the Coventry League. Keep up the good work guys - that first match win is just around the corner!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Two Ronny Rosenthals in One Match!!

Not that obscure a title for me, but I guess it might need some explaining for the younger members of the club.....

So when we managed two misses of such proportions in last night's match against Warwick University A, you'll understand why it was so galling to end up as 2.5-1.5 losers. The match was there for the taking, and we blew it. Indeed, this was the weakest Warwick Uni A side we've encountered for several seasons, with their monstrously strong Board 1, Dimitar Daskalov (228!), backed up by 3 x 150 players - a far  cry from the juggernauts we have been crushed by in recent years.

I was the first to finish on Board 1, and was responsible for the first Ronny Rosenthal moment of the evening. After resolutely neutralising my super-strong opponent's attempts to complicate the game,  he let his guard drop for a moment and I flashed out a Qxh6+ pawn grab, when Kxh6 would have been answered by Nxf7+ and Nxd6 (Black queen!), leaving me two pawns up in an overwhelming position. He didn't take the queen, but instead allowed me to make an immediately winning knight sac on g6 … except that I didn't win. I couldn't find the right sequence of moves, which should have won back the piece leaving me 3 pawns up, and instead had to settle for perpetual check. So what would normally have been an excellent result, turned out to be a massive missed opportunity.

Mike drew almost immediately afterwards on Board 2, after a tense struggle where he was seemingly perpetually on the verge of making a breakthrough against a very draughty White king, but was never able to get in the killing blow. But if that was a half point lost, Ben's draw on Board 3 against his female opponent from Turkey felt like a half point gained, as he had a very ropey looking position from the opening, which hardly got much better all the way into the ending. Resolute defence kept the material balance, though, and when he was finally able to bring his king over to the queenside to shore up his vulnerable b2 pawn, the draw was agreed.

And so to Dave, just back from New York, and hopefully full of American get up and go! Unfortunately not. His opponent seemed to play the opening rather well, as in typical Catalan style, Dave just couldn't get his light squared bishop into the game satisfactorily. After some time I looked back and it had become a rook and knight ending where Kenilworth were 2 pawns down. Our only hope was that Dave was a couple of minutes up on the clock with play well into the final 10 minutes. But in trying to capitalise on his time edge, Dave blundered his knight and was totally lost. His opponent then gave a seemingly killing check which drove Dave's king to h6 right into the path of the white g and  pawns which were set to give forced mate.  Except that the Black king - for one crucial move - was in stalemate. Rook takes pawn check would have been an instant draw if the rook was captured, and if it wasn't White's extra piece was going to fall off with a stone cold drawn rook and pawn ending - especially given White's time situation. But instead it was Ronny Rosenthal moment number two, the fleeting opportunity passed, and the game and the match were lost.

That Ronny's got a lot to answer for! Not least that KCC are now bottom of Division 1 with no points from two matches. Its a hard life in Division 1.

But better news from Division 2 where our youthful B team scored their first point of the season with a 2-2 draw against Coventry D. Heroes on the night were the mighty Jude and Coventry League debutant Algis. Well done chaps!

And news has also reached me of another Cup success for the club in the Leamington League competitions. After our ground-breaking win in the U-120 tournament last week, this time round we have progressed through to the semi-final of the U-700 Cup after a nail biting 2.5-2.5 draw against Shirley went our way on board elimination. In this respect, Ben's win on Board 2 counted for more than Shirley's win on Board 3. Special mention also to Jude (yet again!) for his draw against 126 rated Jon Asbury, and Bernard for finally getting on the scorecard in his comeback campaign. The first win cannot be far away!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes......

…….. 24 little hours etc etc.

On Monday the A team was in Leamington League action away at Shirley, and came away with a  thumping 3.5-0.5 win. Andrew finished first by virtually forcing Keith Ingram to make a piece sacrifice on g6 which resulted in immediate perpetual check. Keith didn't need a second invitation and so Andrew was on his way home for an early night with a half point in the bag. Then the wins started coming in. First Mike D crashed through against Frank Jimenez's Maginot Line defensive strategy, via a knight sac to get his pieces flooding into the passive White position, and soon after Joshua's extra pawn and bishop v knight saw him comfortably home against Jonathan Dale in an ending. I wrapped up the evening by beating Phil Purcell in an interesting game where I ended up with 3 extra pawns - which he decided was about 3 too many.

So it was with confidence sky high that two of those players set off for our Coventry League season opener against Rugby the next night. Regrettably that confidence was somewhat misplaced. With Dave swanning around in New York, and Carl also somewhere in the States, seemingly keeping the global economy going single handedly, Rod stepped into the breach to supplement our normal team. He held an interesting game with Black against Simon Turner on board 4, and Ben also drew, after appearing to be making the running, on 3 against Jonathan Cox.  Mike then followed with another draw against Bob Wildig, leaving me to decide the match against Rugby's newcomer Paul Colburn on Board 1. Regrettably I was not up to the task, and after being equal or slightly worse the whole game, I gave the match away by failing to hold a difficult rook and knight v rook and bishop endgame, even though the draw was within reach until very near the end. So a loss by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5, and a disappointing start to the season.

Meanwhile, on the same night at the Abbey Club our B team was making its debut in Division 2 of the Coventry League against a very strong Nuneaton B team, which was 75% comprised of regular Division 1 players. While our team's grey beards (literally in one case!) Roy and Stuart went down on the top boards, our two juniors, Will and Jude, distinguished themselves with fighting draws on Boards 3 and 4. Will's draw against 148-graded Bob Buckler was especially impressive. Not every league match will be this tough, for sure!

And while I'm wrapping up the week's results, mention must be made of the U-120 Cup team which scored a 2.5-1.5 win over Leamington - our first win in this competition for many a year! Jude and Matt scored wins and together with Tony's draw saw us through to a semi-final against either Daventry or Stratford 2 in the New Year. Well done team, and especially well done Jude, on becoming possibly/probably Kenilworth's youngest ever match winner!!

Friday, 28 September 2018

It's not all chess

The Shirley & Wythall chess club venue is holding a beer festival.

They hold it every year and by all accounts, it is quite good. Details below provided by Gordon Christie.

Friday Oct 5th 18.30 - 23.30
Saturday Oct 6th 12.00 - 23.30

Britannia Room, Wythall House, 52 Silver Street, Wythall, B47 6LZ

This year there'll be 20+ Ales and 4 ciders, hand picked from 16+ brewers, including local breweries.  We'll have live music from the Old Companions Jazz Band on Friday and Karmelyte a 60s, 70s, 80s Duo on Saturday. There's also local food available (whatever that means!?).

Gordon may well be there and so you may need your sunglasses !

If there is any blood on the carpet don't panic - it's not a sign of disorderly behaviour, but a result of the A team's 3.5-0.5 win over Shirley this week!

Stuck in the traffic

There was a slightly auspicious start to our match against Olton before we have even left Kenilworth en route to Tyseley. Ben phoned to tell us that he was stuck in traffic on the M40 and wasn't going anywhere (sounds like the story of the B team).

Upon arriving at Olton there was still no sign of the normally very early Ben. Luckily, Olton were in no particular hurry to start and answered our question about the railway museum. Rob explained his preferred method for gaining entrance - it involved fences and climbing.

All worked out well. Just as we started the clocks, Ben arrived.

Mike had the white pieces against Richard Liszewski. Richard defended Mike's King side and queen side attacks very solidly but fell badly behind on time in doing so. White took advantage of black time position and kept the game complicated enough to consume his remaining time. When black's flag fell white already has a winning position.

Phil was playing Trevor Holt in another scandinavian defence. Is there a Scandinavian defence declined, well there is now. It didn't seem to yield white any sort of advantage and Phil emerged out of the opening with a good position. Unfortunately white subsequently lost a piece accidently and resigned. Phil just didn't seem to appreciate winning quickly as he then had tp spend the next hour and half having to watch the other games. Some people are never happy.

Ben's game against Robert Wallman was the most interesting of the evening with each side attacking on opposite wings. Ben's attack was slightly more advanced but he had to sacrifice his knight for two pawns to open up the white position. Unfortunately, he couldn't find a clear way to break through. However, it was enough to get white to agree a draw rather than risk trying to pursue his own attack.

Dave had the white pieces against Richard Reynolds. Unfortunately he got stuck between two different plans and so his king side attack was too slow and allowed black to get his pieces in good defending squares. black's counter attack allowed him back into the game. With both side down to their last five minutes, black got the upper hand and some excellent sacrificial play proved decisive.

A good result for the B team and against a strong team just relegated from the top division.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Promising start to the season

It never rains unless it pours. The opponents for the first game against a different club turned out to be our promotion chasing friends from Banbury. With both clubs having two teams in division two, we are regular visitors to each other's clubs.

Our new look board order now features Mike on board one and he was playing Gary Jackson. Gary played the opening very quickly and Mike didn't. In a subtle manoeuvring game where both sides establish knights on c4 and c5 respectively, Mike gained a slight but lasting positional plus. Black's 30 minute time advantage ultimately disappeared leaving him short of time in the new time control world of all moves in 75 mins. In a few hurriedly played moves, black sacrificed an exchange to trap a rook. Unfortunately this activity allowed white to sacrifice the rook and promote a pawn on the other side of the board giving him a winning position.

On board two, Phil played a Scandinavian defence against Paul Rowan. Black gained a pawn in the opening but then had difficulty with his development. Ultimately, white regained the pawn and then another. The exchange of major pieces led to an opposite colour bishop ending with Phil was able to hold on for a draw.

Board three was Dave playing Dan Rowan. An Open Sicilain led to a complex position in the cnetre with black having an isolated pawn. Initial exchanges left black a pawn up but then allowed white to regain the pawn and enter a bishop and rook ending where he had a queen side majority. When the oppertunity arose white traded rooks and exchanged his queenside for a kingside one leaving a drawn ending.

Our new grade driven board order leaves Ben as a player floating between the B and C teams. On board four he was playing Francesco Poderico xxxn with the black pieces. White's over aggressive played allowed black to win a pawn and gain the bishop pair. White continued to attack relentlessly on the king side whilst black created threats on the queen side. An exchange sacrifice by white didn't quite work leaving black an easier tactical win.

All in all, it was quite an impressive result against strong opposition.

Classical Chess is Dead!

A dramatic claim I know, but what other explanation can there be for the A team's experience in our first match of the season away against Banbury A last night? All four games drawn - its obvious to me that when players of this strength (?) face off, its impossible for there to be a decisive outcome to any game. We just see everything; there are not even any slight errors; and certainly not any blunders!

And in fact, the writing was on the wall from the moment the team sheets were exchanged, and (I subsequently discovered) the two sides had exactly the same average grade. And when I say exactly, I mean exactly!

The first half point of the season was chalked up by the seldom-seen (except at curries and booze-ups) Andy after an interesting struggle against Carl Portman on Board 2. I was rather annoyed, as I thought Andy was clearly better with his bishops raking across the board and the white king looking rather draughty. Shows how much I know, though, as our man assured me afterwards that he was worse and glad to get out with a half point!

The return of Joshua to the Leamington League promises to generate some interesting chess - but it seems as though he used up too much of his creative juices last week in checkmating Bernard in the B v C team match, as here his best efforts to stir up a battle were resolutely defused by Neil Staples. Eventually the potential weakness of Josh's IQP were such that he felt he had to liquidate into an obviously drawn position.

Still, two draws with Black can't be all bad but in fact the omens were not that favourable, as Andrew seemed to be having a bit of an off day on Board 3 (maybe because he's become so used to the rarified atmosphere on Board 1 in recent seasons?) Arran Gundry snaffled a pawn with a fairly obvious cheapo, and the few times I went to check on progress, the material count was still not in our favour. But then I became rather fixated with my own game, and I lost track of Andrew's. Things must have happened, though, because I then heard him decline a draw offer. Either he was wildly optimistic or the pendulum had swung in our direction. Whatever, the potential of a precious victory didn't last long, because in two shakes of a lamb's tail, the third draw of the evening had been agreed.

Which normally would have been curtains for us, as I was in play against James Jackson on Board 1. Fortunately, though, I had made the game sufficiently turgid that he felt forced to sac a pawn to liven things up. He got a great knight established on c5 which dominated my rather pitiful bishop on c2, which was hemmed in by my collection of pawns all on white squares. Still, I had control of the open b file and we seemed to be on the verge of repeating moves, when at the last minute he deviated and on we went. It came down to queen and bishop v queen and knight, but I still had my extra pawn. As we both came under time pressure I took my chance to open up the Black kingside, and just in time my bishop liberated itself onto the h3-c8 diagonal and helped me force perpetual check. And for the record, I was still a pawn up!

So our hopes for a 100% season didn't even survive match one, but on the bright side we won't be scoring 0% either. Which for a glass half empty man like me, is a success in itself!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

I've been thinking

They say that the devil makes works for idle hands.

You know that when footballers are interviewed on tv about away games , they always refer back to the fixture at their home ground. However, they never just say their home ground name, they always some descriptive title for their venue - The Bridge, The Emirates, Anfield, Camp Nou or San Siro etc.

The grounds are always set out to be overtly unfriendly towards the visiting team and their supporters.

Well I've been thinking. Shouldn't we have a name for our venue. We could just use 'The Abbey' although I'm sure that other names are available.

We've already got a hostile home crowd - the snooker players. We are half way there!

Just a thought. Hopefully the chess fixtures will pick up a bit soon. Answers on a postcard please!

Chess Boxing?! Is He Completely Mad??

News reaches me of a dangerous venture into the unknown by our very own Paul Lam, as he is going to bravely go where no KCC member has ever gone before - into the boxing ring with the number one contender for the British heavyweight title! But there is method in his madness, which is best explained in Paul's own words:-

The big match is coming up! No, not Carlsen-Caruana…. On 26th September, I will be lacing up the gloves and stepping into the boxing ring with heavyweight pro and British boxing cult hero, Dave ‘The White Rhino’ Allen.

[This is where I thought about posting a picture of Dave 'The White Rhino' Allen, but just in case he might think it doesn't show his good side, I decided to be cautious. This way he can focus all his fighting instincts on Paul. Google him at your own risk!]

Why in God's name would I be doing such a thing?

Six-year-old Ben Crowther, the son of my good friend Scott, was recently diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. For those of you involved with the Coventry Chess Academy, Ben's name might ring a bell. That’s because Ben’s older brothers James and Harry have been members of our club and Ben enjoys a game or two as well, going back to when he used to play with the chess pieces on the floor as a baby in the pokey little room where it all began in 2013.Their whole family have been fantastic supporters of the CCA from the start, even before we opened.

You can only imagine the tough times Ben and his family are going through right now, but the strength and positivity they’re showing is awe-inspiring. I'm just doing my bit in support.

All funds raised from the boxing event with Dave will go towards the charities supporting Ben as he undergoes treatment, which are CLIC Sargent, Birmingham Children's Hospital and Charity, Molly Olly's Wishes, Children with Cancer UK and the Chris Lucas Trust Rhabdomyosarcoma Appeal.

In addition to doing rounds with Dave, we will also be having a chess match (he’s seriously motivated!).

You can read the full story and make a donation online here.
Any amount donated, whether large or small, will go towards making a big difference, but please don't feel under any pressure to do so. Simply sharing the link, spreading the word or passing on a message of support would also make a difference. In the words of Ben's family:

‘During Ben’s long road to recovery, we know that smiles, laughter and general silliness is helping him through, so we are raising money, generating pledges and increasing awareness so we can all do something to ‘Pass The Smile’ to others.

Paul's fund-raising effort is already making impressive progress, and hopefully KCC members can help push him above and beyond his target. With any luck, there will be enough left over to buy some smelling salts, which I fear will be needed - for Dave Allen, of course, after Paul has floored him with a swift kingside attack!

Good luck, Paul - and make sure the headguard is on nice and tight.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Off we go again

A new season dawns for all the Kenilworth teams. Not too much has happened during the transfer window, only a small amount of shuffling due to changing grades and a new registration system and time control. The only exception to this is that Joshua Pink continues his tale of three cities and has found that he can slot in a few KCC games into his busy schedule - a welcome return. Also fantastic to see Bernard Rogers playing again as he continues his retirement planning by playing some games for the C team.

 The first match of the division 2 season is traditionally B versus C. However, last night's game looked more like Ken B versus Ken B with most players being from last season's B team.

 On board 1 Mike played Bernard Charnley. An uneventful closed Sicilian led to a draw. Even Mike's tactical innovation failed to generate no more than a rapid exchange of pieces and an even position.

 Board 2 saw the most exciting game of the match with Joshua playing Bernard Rogers. Clearly Joshua has been mixing with some chess undesirables whilst away and has picked up some adventurous attacking habits and obviously forgot that this type of chess just simply isn't played by the B team generally. This was a game straight out of the nineteenth century with an Evans Gambit being played. I managed to lose at least five minutes on my clock whilst trying to work out what was going on and not paying attention to my own opponent. Games like this are horrendously complicated and can go either way so easily. With most of his pieces on prix Joshua mated Black's exposed king.

 Board 3 saw Phil playing Ben. Out of the opening Ben seemed to have a slight advantage with an open h file against Phil's castled king side position. However Phil consolidated his position very well and a draw was agreed fairly early.

 Dave was playing Rod on board 4 with the white pieces. An irregular line of a Closed Sicilian position left neither side with an advantage out of the opening. A very early draw in 16 moves was agreed as white took advantage of his time position to offer a draw and seal the match result of 2.5 - 1.5.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

New Grades - Results of the Recount

I'm pleased to report that the August update to the new grading list has been generally positive for KCC members, as 4 of us have seen our standard-play grades revised upwards, but only by a paltry 6 points in  total.

Most importantly, three of the points I lost down the back of the ECF grader's sofa have been retrieved, and instead of standing in the corner with my dunce's hat on at -2, I am now +1. I still can't square that with my own estimate of +7, but it looks like I'm stuck with what I've got.

Andy B has been given a one point boost, which reduces his loss to a still distressing 9 points, and Ben has similarly been given an extra point, which reduces his fall to a still scarier 12 points. Spookily, Tony is the third of us to gain a single point, which means his new grade represents a +1 performance.

The only person to have been adversely affected by the revisions is Matt, whose debut on the Rapid Grading List has been reduced by a rather vicious 6 points from the originally published grade. How did they manage to get it so wrong, I wonder?

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A Very Friendly Friendly!

For the first time in many a year, KCC found themselves involved in a pre-season friendly last night, thanks to a kind invitation from Stratford to help them inaugurate their impressive new venue at the Home Guard Club in Tiddington. After much to-ing and fro-ing we managed to assemble 9 players, and with Stratford lending us two more, the match took place over 11 boards.

The KCC Massive! - left to right Mike J, Matt, Dave, Mike D, Bernard R, Tony, Chris, Bernard C and Algis

Most boards were contested over 1 x 60 minutes game, but a few intrepid souls (Attention Deficit Disorder?) preferred to play 2 x 30 minutes, though for match score purposes each board still counted as one point per winner.

We ended up as convincing winners by the score of 8-3, with even our loanees from Stratford doing us proud by contributing 1.5 points.  I missed much of the action, but there were quick wins from Bernard R and Bernard C - in fact two quick wins from the latter, whose creative juices are clearly in full flow ahead of his forthcoming art show at Rugby!

An away win!

The points continued to flow but not necessarily where they deserved to. Mike J blundered a queen away in a winning position, to only draw his 2 game match, while Chris contrived to lose on time when a piece up. But to balance that, Matt somehow turned a lost position into a win. After losing the exchange, he found himself with rook and bishop against two rooks, with a two pawn deficit to boot. I came back a few minutes later and while Matt still had a bishop, the other three rooks (and a couple of black pawns) had disappeared. A remarkable turn-around!

Algis contributed a nice win and Dave won his mini-match by winning game two from a very dubious position after a game one draw, and suddenly the only game remaining was the board one match up. This was a very wild affair with Mike D being material up, but under strong pressure from Richard McNally. Calm defence and consolidation eventually led to a counter attack by Mike where he had two pieces and several pawns against a rook. Mike pushed his queen side pawns against the rather exposed Black king, and with both clocks ticking down Mike kept his calm and wove a beautiful mating net with his minor pieces. The coup de grace was the move Bc8 mate - not something you get to play too often!

Mike D setting up his mating net in the Board 1 encounter

So a good time was had by all, and many thanks to Stratford for the invitation and their excellent hospitality - the buffet was much appreciated! We might even consider arranging such an event ourselves in future? But right now, I'm just hoping that we haven't used up too much of our good luck before the season has even started!

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Boring, But Essential, Reading!

The countdown to the new season is firmly underway, with next week's friendly at Stratford starting us off, and the first competitive game - the inevitable Kenilworth B v Kenilworth C inter-necine bloodbath - scheduled for September 10th.

Which prompts me to mention two issues:-

1  Those of you who were ECF members last season should have received a reminder to renew for 2018-19, unless you have a multi-year membership extending beyond 2018. You can do this at the ECF website. If you weren't an ECF member last year, and you expect/want to be playing league matches this season, then you need to join. You can do this here.There's no immediate deadline, but for the sake of the Club Organiser's well-being, the sooner the better, please!

Everyone needs to be an ECF member to play in league matches for us, at Bronze level (£16 pa) or above. If not, we have to charge you £2.50 per game, as that is the fee levied on the Cub by the ECF for grading the games of non-members.

2  The full fixtures are now out for both the Leamington and Coventry Leagues, and our inimitable Webmaster has already posted these on this website at the respective/appropriate pages. Please try to keep as many dates as possible free for matches in which you might expect to be needed.

Hopefully the next post on this Blog will be more interesting. But I can't give any guarantees. Still, in an attempt to give you some reward for reading this far, click this link to see an extensive article about Paul, with two of his games annotated by GM Jonathan Speelman.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Graves of Famous Chess Players: No 9 in a Series of .....

Whatever happened to instalment Number 8, I hear you say? Well it was there within my Bobby Fischer retrospective, it just never made it into the title. But how do you follow a star turn like Bobby? Clearly, some random Victorian English pawn-pusher wouldn't do, so it has to be another big hitter to warrant resurrecting this series. And it is!

But this time, it's not me who has been grave watching. So famous, though, is this series, that without even asking I now apparently have agents out scouting the world's cemeteries for more chess memorials. Consequently, I shouldn't have been that surprised when an e-mail from my sister landed in my inbox complete with photos of the grave of none other than the 4th World Champion, Alexander Alekhine. It was a bit serendipitous, as she was actually strolling round Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, looking for the grave of Samuel Beckett (well, it takes all types) and chanced upon Alekhine as a bonus. (And also Susan Sontag, for what it's worth.)

The headstone is apparently surmounted by a stone relief portrait.
Alekhine's 4th wife is also interred with him.

I wonder who left the toy car? And why??

Alekhine died in Lisbon in 1946 (possibly murdered by the Soviets) and is the only World Champion to have died while still in possession of the title. His remains were only moved to Paris in 1956, after a long campaign by his widow, as his apparent complicity with the occupying Germans during WW2 had made him, even in death, persona non grata in France for many years.

On the board, Alekhine was, of course, one of the greatest players of all time, and he created many brilliant games that stand comparison with any in chess history. This is possibly his greatest masterpiece, of which he himself wrote, " One of the most beautiful games I have ever played." No kidding!! I am not even going to attempt to provide any annotations - this level of chess is way beyond my pay grade! - but if you are interested, then the works of either Alekhine or Kasparov could reasonably be consulted for some fittingly high-powered commentary.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Game of the Month, August 2018

Well, I did warn you that a number of wins by Andy against big-name opposition had come into my possession, so it can't be a surprise that the latest Game of the Month should come from this source. And it really is a big name, even though its also Short. Yes, back in 1978, Andy came up against a rather useful 13-y-o from Lancashire, who had already played in the British Championship at the age of 12 (where he defeated 10 times champion Jonathan Penrose!), and who would go on to become England's most famous chess player and to challenge for the World Championship.

The following encounter is razor sharp, and understandably the complications are a bit much for both players (says the man using Deep Fritz!), but it is Andy who keeps his cool and stands firm against an avalanche of White pieces, when lesser men (eg the Club Organiser) would have wilted in the face of a frightening onslaught.

This is a very nice scalp to have on one's CV, and one that most of us could only dream about. Kind of makes you want to treat the old geezer with a bit more respect, doesn't it!?

Monday, 30 July 2018

Another Day, Another British Champion!

Paul must be in dreamland.

Yesterday one of his CCA students, Elis Dicen was the sole winner of the British Girls' U-8 title with a fantastic score of 4.5/6, losing only to the new Champion, Harry Zheng, who scored 6/6. So on consecutive days, Elis won two British girls' titles, having tied for the U-9 prize on Saturday. And she'll still be eligible for the U-8s next year!! She certainly knows how to play, as poor Roy will confirm after his chastening experience in a training game last Wednesday. Though the less said about that particular evening the better for all of us.....

Jude had another terrific event, and was on top board in the last round, though having dropped a half point previously, he had to win to claim the U-8 title. It wasn't to be and he finished in a tie for 4th place, which was still a terrific achievement - like Elis, he lost only to the new title holder.

Somewhat further up the age bands, Ben was seemingly inspired by the success of the CCA raiding party, and finished unbeaten in the Weekend Open, despite being out-graded in every round. TPRs of 176 ECF and 2021 ELO are just what the doctor ordered after a below-par season.  Now, after 5 draws over the weekend, all he needs to do is remember how to win a game and his rehabilitation will be complete!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Golden Day for the CCA!

What a day at the British Championships in Hull for Paul's junior stars from the Coventry Chess Academy on Saturday! When the smoke cleared after a frantic couple of days activity, CCA members had won two national age group titles (U-9, Rohan Pal and U-9 Girls, Elis Dicen), finished second in another (U-11, Manvith Sandhu) and come within a whisker of another second place in the U-9s, with our very own Jude Shearsby.

Paul's achievements in developing chess in Coventry and Warwickshire have already defied belief, but these stunning successes on the national stage are a massive payback for all his selfless devotion to the cause. If he is not the proudest man in England today, and rightly so, I'll be very surprised. And in turn, Kenilworth Chess Club can be very proud of him.

You can read Paul's first hand report of the CCA achievements here. If we are lucky, when he comes down to earth, we may even get some first hand reflections on all this from the man himself. And congratulations to Roy as well, for all the hours he puts in coaching and supporting the Academy kids, and taking some of the workload off Paul's shoulders. 

Fingers crossed for more good news today, as Jude and Elis are both in action again, in the U-8s - yes, their achievements yesterday were against older kids!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

July 2018 Grades - KCC Report Card

The July 2018 ECF grading list has just been published and despite the fact that I have seemingly been cheated out of 8 grading points, casting the accuracy of the list into serious question, here is a summary of how club members have supposedly fared over the last six months.

Top of the Form

Dave +11
Mike D +6
William +6
Nick M +6
Mike J +4
Carl +2
Phil +1

As You Were

Tony =
Steve =

See Me After Class

Nick F -1
Rod -1
Jude -2
The Club Organiser -2
Andrew P -2
Stuart -3
Bernard C -3
Paul -3
Chris -4
Roy -4
Andy B -10
Ben -13

New Kid in School

Matt 81 (and 118 Rapidplay!)

For the first time I am able to include our two new junior members, William and Jude, in this analysis, which means we now have 21 members with active grades - Bruce having slipped off the list. This time round we had 7 risers, 12 fallers and 2 non-movers. Collectively we gained 36 grading points and lost 48, for a modest net club loss of 12 points. I think William and Jude will be a major help in correcting this going forwards!

Strong gains were registered for the third successive list by Mike D and Carl, and for the second successive list by Mike J. However, the star of the show was our Clubman of the Year Dave, with a splendid 11 point gain. Well done, too, to Nick M, William and Phil.

Regrettably though, there were absolute disasters for Andy and Ben, each shedding a shed load of points - I can't shed any light on the cause though maybe they've been spending too much time in their sheds?  I see our fondly remembered escapee to the North, Joshua, has also been afflicted by the same malaise, as he has mislaid 9 points in the last 6 months. Has he persisted in playing The Grob, I wonder?

Paul is clear as our highest graded player again, though if I hadn't been cheated out of 8 points (have I mentioned that?) his lead would have been much slimmer.  Still, the days when we were within a nano-inch of having 4 x 190+ players seem somewhat distant now. Matt makes his first appearance on the list, with an especially respectable rapidplay grade (those Thursday night encounters do have their benefits!) Still, after the explosive initial appearance of Nick F a year or more back, anything under 160 seems like a bit of a damp squib! (Not to be confused with a damp squid, which is something you might find on the menu at Loch Fyne.)

Now, excuse me while I go and have a look down the back of my sofa to see if my missing grading points are there.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Fame! I'm Gonna Live Forever!

Would you credit it?! Two KCC members have their photos in the August edition of Chess magazine. I have to admit that the one of Ben is rather more impressive, especially as it accompanies a two page article he has written about his debut book, "Find Another Place". Meanwhile, in a quite different photo, I can be found skulking in the background, as I take on Jim Plaskett in the recent England 1 v England 2 encounter at the World 50+ Team Championships. You need to look closely, but I am there - honest!

And if this was not enough, this very same August edition of Chess also includes a photo of Leamington's Jason Madden in  chess action, together with a letter from Phil Wood's brother Chris, who has occasionally been along to the club when visiting from Germany.

I am going to try not to let this new celebrity change my life, and I hope the others will also just carry on as before. Now, form an orderly queue for autographs. And most importantly, "Remember my name!"

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

KCC Website (Almost) Wins ECF Award

Wow, that was close. I just discovered from the ECF website that our very own KCC Blog was runner up in the 2018 Website of the Year competition. Makes you proud to be a Kenilworthian, don't you think? The summary of the judging committee is immediately below, while details of all the award winners can be found here.

Website of the Year
There were seven entries in this section. Five of them were what one might describe as ‘ordinary websites’, but two, the Bristol Chess Times and Matthew Sadler’s chess blog, were two quite different and distinct animals. The committee voted for the ordinary and Broadstairs Chess Club won narrowly ahead of Kenilworth. All these websites are well worth visiting — | | |

Mind you, if a mouth-wateringly expensive trip to the Icelandic boon-docks doesn't get us the award, I don't think we've got much chance of going one place better in the future.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Punch Drunk - Day 9 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

If it had been a boxing match the ref would have stepped in and stopped the contest a few days ago. Because its chess, though, we were all allowed to go on taking heavy punches to the head until finally, after 9 consecutive days of ferocious mental effort - at least for those of us playing in a team with no reserve - the World Seniors' Team Championships came to an end.

In my case, though, it was about 10 minutes too late, as I managed to lose a totally drawn rook and pawn ending against a very strong IM that would have clinched an excellent 2-2 draw for 50+ England 2 v Germany 2 and secured a final placing well above our 21st seeding. Instead we finished ….. 21st! It would also have got me a lifetime best ELO rating, but unfortunately my brain just went into complete meltdown after more than 5 hours of at times desperate defence. A great shame to finish on such a downer, but a +1 score over 9 gruelling rounds was still just about OK.

Andy sensibly took a relatively quick draw as his 65+ England 2 team finished 2-2 against Sachsen Anhalt, which nevertheless put them into 24th position against a seeding of 25th. Andy also finished at a quite respectable +1 for 9 rounds.

Meanwhile, Bernard was hard at work against a 1614 rated opponent called Adolf in the 50+ wooden spoon deciding match. Despite facing his weakest opponent of the entire tournament, brain fatigue had also clearly got to him as well, as he lost. Fortunately, though, his team mates made up for this calamity and secured a narrow 2.5-1.5 win that boosted England 4 to 60th - an impressive 4 places above their start ranking. However, it has to be admitted that these ELO ratings do seem to be rather accurate given how close each of our teams performed relative to their seeding.

England 1 get their silver medals in the 50+ section. From extreme left to right, GMs Arkell, Hebden, Plaskett, Emms and Speelman. To the right are the bronze medal winning Lasker Chess Foundation team. The great Arthur Yusupov is the one with the impressive beard. He is a "big unit" in all senses!
And that was also true at the top of the tournaments, where number 1 seeds USA (50+) and Russia (65+) both emerged victorious. USA came from behind in the last round to pip our brave England 1 boys, who went down 2.5-1.5 to Germany 1. England 1 were second (seeded 4th) for an excellent result.

The 65+ medal podium. Russia (back row) line up (l-r), GMs Pushkov, Sveshnikov, Rashkovsky, Balashov and IM Zhelnin
The England 1 65+ team finished with a 2-2 draw against St Petersburg to end in 5th position, one place higher than their seeding, but the stars of the show were Russia who won all 9 matches to leave the St Petersburg and Germany 2 teams well adrift in silver and bronze positions.

England 1 65+ team collect their 5th prize. Left to right, Roger Emerson, FM Steve Berry, FM Tony Stebbings, IM Robert Bellin and IM Nigel Povah.
Success of sorts for the 50+ England Women's team, as they picked up Bronze medals behind Russia and Germany - though there were only 5 teams eligible for the prizes!

The 50+ Ladies medal podium. Russia (Gold, back row); Germany 1 (Silver, left front) and England (Bronze, right front). The England team is (right to left) WGM Sheila Jackson, WFM Petra Nunn, WIM Ingrid Lauterbach and Helen Frostick.
Still, that was rather more than in the 65+ tournament, where there was only one women's team. So the new 65+ Ladies World Team Champions are …….. Mongolia!!

And so the KCC Radebeul adventure is over and, despite an at times frustrating journey back via Frankfurt, we are all safely home. For Andy and me today has largely consisted of doing virtually nothing, I imagine, but for poor old Bernard it was straight back into the vicious commercial jungle that is the Kenilworth accountancy world. Its a hard life being a capitalist. Still. another day, another dollar!