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!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Will This Thing Never End? Day 8 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

For those of us having to play every day, this is now beginning to resemble an endurance test rather than a chess tournament. Especially as the temperature is once again somewhere in the stratosphere. Somehow my personal dynamo just about had enough energy to propel me to another win this morning - my first with Black. It was a close run thing, and my play was far from  perfect (no surprise there, of course) but my Algerian opponent mistakenly swapped off into a bishops of the same colour ending in which his pawns were sitting ducks. Even my technique was up to the task. England 2 won the match 3-1 and find ourselves on Table 6 in the final round, where we have a very tough pairing against Germany 2. Don't expect too much in this match!

Bernard's search for his first win goes on after a doughty burgher from Ittersbach (where??) refused to play the good host, but a solid draw continues his surprisingly resilient performance - five draws from seven games is definitely not to be sneezed at, given he'd only played one game in the previous 5 years or so! A drawn match for his England 4 team leaves them in 65th= position, and tomorrow they have a wooden spoon showdown against 67th placed SG Priestewitz/Riesa. (Again, where????) To the winner the glory, to the loser, a shed load of abuse from their friends!

Four quick draws may be on the cards for Andy's 65+ England 2 team tomorrow, when they face Sachsen Anhalt in  a relatively low key final round. Today Andy drew after being much better early on, but the team edged home 2.5-1.5 against another German team, Stortebeker. (No, I have no idea where that is, either.)

At the sharp end of the tournaments, England 1 played themselves in to first place in the 50+ section with a 4-0 thrashing of Shachfreunde Leipzig 1, while co-leaders Lasker Schachstiftung GK were going down 3.5-0.5 to the USA. So England 1 take a 1 match point lead over the USA into the final round, but have by far the tougher pairing - number 2 seeds, Germany 1, while the USA face Canada. A draw for England will probably see the Gold medal decided on game points, which will favour the USA. We need Germany 1 to play like their hapless footie team at the World Cup!

In the 65+ tournament, Russia notched up their 8th consecutive win over Germany 1 today and are already champions. Sveshnikov - Hort was a heavyweight encounter between two former super-GMs, which Sveshnikov made look almost easy. He is still one hell of a player. England 1 kept their hopes alive with a narrow victory, but probably need to win again tomorrow against St Petersburg to get a medal.

Not too much to report on the cultural front, but I did have the pleasure of chatting to GM John Emms at breakfast this morning, and can vouch for the fact that he is a very pleasant chap indeed. If you want to hob-nob with such stars, though, you have to get up early. I am in the restaurant for breakfast at about 7.15 everyday, well before the likes of Messrs Rogers and Baruch are ever sighted. You know what they say, the early bird gets to chat to the GM!

Friday, 13 July 2018

Turning up the Heat - Day 7 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

Yesterday was cold and wet, but today its like an oven here - and one turned up to Gas Mark 10, to boot. Still, the air conditioning in the playing hall is holding up nicely, and a pleasant ambient temperature helped me play my best game so far this morning against a 2200 from Leipzig Chessfriends 1. Unfortunately, none of my team mates was able to replicate my win, and we went down 2.5-1.5 after a heroic defence on Board 4 came up just short. Our opponents reward for beating us is to take on joint leaders England 1 on Table 2 tomorrow. Meanwhile my team, England 2, has an exotic pairing against Algeria, when I will have my fourth chance to win a game with the black pieces.

Bernard played a solid game for England 4 in their match against German club team TSG Markkleeberg 2, with his draw helping the team to a 2-2 tie, their best result so far - with the possible exception  of the 4-0 bye in an earlier round! This stemmed the bleeding from two consecutive losses for Bernard, but time is running out for that elusive first win - just 2 rounds to go, and more German club opposition up tomorrow.

Andy's England 2 65+ team got well beaten 3-1 by a strong German team (yes, there are a few of them around!) Stiftung BSW/DBAG 1. Any (intelligent) suggestions as to what all those initials stand for would be much appreciated. Yet another German team awaits in the morning.

At the business end of the pairings, both England 1 teams won, with the 50+ boys giving Canada a 4-0 spanking (despite resting Jon Speelman) to remain joint leaders. With fierce rivals Lasker Schach-Stiftung GK facing the very strong USA team tomorrow, there is every chance that England may be able to take a lead into the final round. In the 65+ section, England 1 are still in with a medal chance, having seen off the challenge of Eppingen 3-1 today. Russia won again, though, to maintain their 100% record, and are nailed-on certainties for Gold.

Not much in the way of high culture to report today, but Bernard and I did indulge in a pleasant narrow gauge steam train ride to the nearby town of Moritzburg. Not a lot to see there - except for this!

Schloss Moritzburg - just your average German palace!
Still, it has to be said the coffee and cake consumed in the village was exceedingly pleasant. This is a very civilised country, indeed.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

When the Going Gets Tough.... Day 6 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

So here we all are in Radebeul, still putting in a hard shift in the service of our country.

Bernard putting in a hard shift in the service of his country, together with our friendly waitress at the Boxenstop Bar, before the World Cup semi-final. 

Occasionally this hard shift sometimes takes place at the chess board, though not always with the desired results. Since my last report, we've each played three games and between us we've chalked up exactly 50%. However, while I have been Mr Average with two draws, Andy has gone slightly berserk and scored consecutive wins. So if you are any good at maths you will be ahead of me in knowing that Bernard's impressive start is now nothing but a distant memory. Add in the footie defeat and he's not such a happy bunny as he was earlier in the week. In fact we've just come back from visiting the former Stasi and NKVD Prison Museum in Dresden, which was most appropriate for his current mood. I aim to point him at food and drink this evening though, and I reckon that will do the trick.

I have had two roller coaster games in the last two days. Against Germany Women 2 I got a rather poor opening, but my opponent then went mad and sacrificed a piece to open up my king. I thought it was unsound, and indeed it was. But after finding the first few moves to refute it, I then made a terrible oversight and promptly lost the piece back and was staring at a virtual forced mate. Thankfully the crunch move was not played, and with my opponent losing the thread completely I went from 2 pawns down to 1 pawn up. The dreaded opposite bishops then intervened to deprive me of a most undeserved win!

Today was less blunderful, but equally tense, as I eventually drew against a German IM, whose rating has fallen by nearly 200 points since his 2435 peak. I stood firm under growing pressure and then cheapoed my way to an extra pawn from nowhere at the time control. However, I then missed a tactical shot (spotted by Andy, curse him!) which would have netted a second pawn and given me winning chances. Instead I lost my extra pawn and was staring at an ending of two bishops against my two knights, in which there was only one passed pawn - and I didn't have it. And it was a long way from my king! I tried to set up a blockade with my knights, but instead of testing whether this would hold, my opponent swapped off one knight and tried to combine a king invasion with the threat to trap my knight. Thankfully, though, the knight always had just one square and I was able to hold a very hard earned draw (and secure a drawn match).

I can't tell you anything of Andy's or Bernard's games except the result. They might as well have been taking place in another room. (Which in Andy's case they were!)

What I can tell you is that England 1 are currently joint first in the 50+ section with a German club team. As this German club team has Arthur Yusupov on Board 2, you can tell they are a tad stronger than Olton A! Canada, Austria and the USA are one point behind. All still to play for over the next three rounds. In the 65+ section, the gold medal has probably been decided, as Russia have a two point lead and have already beaten their nearest rivals. A pairing with Germany 3 tomorrow probably doesn't have them quaking in their boots!

To finish, some art. Or at least what passes for art in this part of the world. There is a rather startling statue in our hotel grounds, which I have to pass every time I leave my room. I can assure readers that no KCC member posed for this!

A fine figure of a man! Personally I prefer The Three Graces. 
But if this statue is a tad unsettling, let's end with one of the greatest paintings in the world, which is on display in the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.  Don't say these reports don't bring you a bit of culture as well as some chess!

The Sistine Madonna, by Raphael (including two very cheesed off cherubs).
Message to Bernard C - this is what a proper painting looks like!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

That Really Hurt - Day 4 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

I am writing this in a darkened room in a state of some distress, after an agonizing loss by me cost England 2 victory in our match against Post SV Ulm - and yes that is the Ulm Post Office/Mail Sports Club. Pretty strong those Ulm posties, I can tell you. It was an epic game where I chanced my arm in the opening; got away with it; and after finally equalizing (or so I think, the silicon beast has not yet been unleashed to shatter my illusions), I then seemed to gain the advantage in a rook and same bishop ending. My opponent had connected passed g and h pawns, and I had connected passed d and e pawns. Regrettably the outside pawns won the day after around 5 hours of suffering. So only 2-2 in our match, where my loss was balanced by a crushing win for us on top board.

Andy's day was much less eventful, as he drew against 87 year old (!!) IM Edwin Bhend of Switzerland in 12 moves - or was it 12 minutes? Possibly both. This is a man who once beat Tal (with Black!), drew with Fischer and played in 12 Olympiads for Switzerland. Andy has done none of these things, but he used his 20 years advantage remorselessly to get a draw. The England 2 o-65s drew the match 2-2 thanks to 4 draws against higher rated opposition. But Andy's was by far the quickest, so at least KCC has something to be proud of today. Tomorrow Andy's team play against Leipzig Chess Friends, which is a nice name for a club, don't you think? Kenilworth Chess Friends, anybody?!

Meanwhile Bernard has kept his 50% score by taking another day off. In fact his entire England 4 team took the day off as they had the bye. The 4-0 win they got for this has propelled them up the table and, rumour has it, Bernard is actually going to have to play a game of chess tomorrow rather than go shopping (!) - which is what he has done today.

In the massive Board 1 encounters for the two England 1 teams, there was good news and bad news today. The o-50 boys upset the top seeded USA team thanks to a solitary win by John Emms on Board 2 over Joel Benjamin. Jon Speelman very nearly beat Shabalov with Black, so this was a pretty emphatic win even if the margin was ultimately the smallest possible. Not such good news in the o-65s, where unsurprisingly England went down to number 1 seeds and defending champions Russia. A win for Nigel Povah on Board 3 was more than offset by losses on Boards 1 and 4, for a narrow defeat.

That's a pretty comprehensive round up of today's action, only made possible by the fact that its raining (bet you can't say the same!) and I've decided to have a rest from sightseeing and take it easy this afternoon. But of course, I still have to report on last night's Blitz tournament, where it seems I had too little faith in our brave boys. Despite playing atrociously to begin with (including a loss to Shveshnikov, who he didn't even recognise!), Andy recovered in  the last few rounds to end on 4.5/9 (52nd place). When you sink low enough in the tournament, you will eventually get some friendly pairings. Like this!

Bernard defied all my expectations by scoring an excellent 4/9 for 61st place and got to play a couple of titled players. He was generally playing much tougher opposition than Andy, but while he may lack in recent standard play practice, he is the veteran of a zillion Thursday evening blitz games. Just goes to prove - you can take the man out of The Gauntlet, but you can't take The Gauntlet out of the man!

A few minutes later, Bernard had his first ever international victory!

A few minutes after this, Andy had another loss to add to his tally!

The overall event was won jointly by Keith Arkell and a Leipzig Chess Friend with 8/9. 5 GMs, 5 IMs and oodles of FMs took part in a total field of exactly 100.

The crucial top board Round 9 encounter between Keith Arkell and Jim Plaskett about to start. Meanwhile a Leipzig Chess Friend adjusts the pieces on Board 2, and Mark Hebden looks longingly towards the bar on Board 4!

Monday, 9 July 2018

Three Happy Campers - Day 3 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

Today, anyway - yesterday, not so much!

I was pitched in at the deep end in Round 2 when England 2 got paired against England 1. While two of my team mates secured excellent draws with the White pieces against GMs Speelman and Hebden, England 1 were simply too strong on the boards where they had White. I was well beaten by Jim Plaskett on Board 2. After my opening went slightly wrong I tried to liberate my position with a tactical pawn break, but not for the first time my calculation contained a hole, and the GM went straight for it, winning an exchange and then cleverly giving it back almost immediately to nullify my activity. He planted a monster bishop on e5 and I simply ran out of time trying to find a way to neutralise his passed a pawn while also defending my very vulnerable king.

Andy also contrived to lose (even more quickly than me) against the splendidly named Swede, Bengt Hammar. As Andy's team are still marooned in the annexe, at least I was spared having to witness any of his debacle.

Which leads us on to our reluctant hero Bernard, who followed up his highly creditable opening draw with another against a near-2000 rated German in Round 2. Regrettably it didn't do his team any good, and England 4 remained on nil points. Which is where they stayed today, as an implosion in Round 3 saw them transform a winning match position into a third consecutive loss, this time against Finnish opposition. But our man maintained his 50% record by ……… being rested. Consequently he was very happy at being allowed a late breakfast and a leisurely morning, while Andy and I put ourselves through the mill. As we will have to do every day, since neither of our teams has a reserve!

But sometimes the effort is rewarded, and Andy chalked up his first win by despatching his German opponent, though apparently not without some inevitable alarms and travails. England 2 (over-65s) duly chalked up a 3-1 win, and my team, England 2 (over-50s) did exactly the same against Liechtenstein.  My game was rather dubious in the opening, but once I got into the middle game I started to outplay my opponent as a strong passed d pawn and control of the e-file saw Black pushed back into an untidy and unstable heap. It was only a matter of time before something fell off and a d7 pawn fork of rook and queen eventually did the business.

So it was three happy campers who took the tram up to the old town for a leisurely lunch. Only one KCC player drank beer - can you possibly guess who?!

Bernard has another day off tomorrow, as his hapless bunch have the bye - doubtless another late breakfast beckons in the morning - which is guaranteed to send them shooting up the table come Wednesday's round, when our man is scheduled to play on Board 2. Whereas Andy and I have tough opposition to worry about tomorrow - me against a strong German team from Ulm, and Andy against mighty Switzerland. It will be a big day in both the over-50 and over-65 sections tomorrow, as England 1 have been drawn against the top seeds (USA and Russia, respectively) for a couple of mouth-watering showdowns. But probably England 1 v Croatia 1 on Wednesday is even more important!

While I have been writing this report up, Bernard and Andy, for reasons known only to themselves, have signed up for a 9 round Blitz tournament, and should have finished round 1 by now. Lucky them - only 8 more to go! I almost got talked into playing, but came to my senses just in time. I have not seen who has entered this event, but with a Euro250 first prize, I expect a few penurious GMs will be looking to supplement their modest incomes. Consequently I am predicting scores of 3.5/9 for Andy and 2.5/9 for Bernard. I hope I've underestimated their Blitz prowess - but only time will tell. I guess it will be my job to rebuild their egos (and maybe their ELOs) after what I expect to be an inevitable pummelling. Just another area of responsibility for the Club Organiser!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

And They're Off!

So here I am again, in Radebeul near Dresden , for the 2018 World Seniors Team Championship. Two years after my debut, I am once again playing for England 2 in the over-50s championship - though despite my incompetence I have somehow risen to Board 2 - but this time around things are very different. Because I have been joined by both Bernard R and Andy B, in a three pronged attack on the World title. Andy finds himself playing for England 2 in the O-65s section, while Bernard is in the England 4 team in the O-50s.

Play got under way at 16.00 today (the same time as England v Sweden kicked off over here), and after all 3 of us were thrown into the heat of the Round 1 battle, the KCC contingent ended the day undefeated, with at least two of us highly chuffed by our performances.

The less chuffed Andy B finished first. I saw nothing of his game as he had been consigned to the annexe where all but the top 6 or 7 over-65s matches had been consigned. Faced with a London System as Black, Andy managed to blunder a pawn relatively quickly - at which point his opponent (from the German club team Freibauer Niedersachsen) promptly offered a draw. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Andy wisely accepted.

Next to finish was Bernard. Quite what he's doing here is a matter for some discussion, as we all know he's only played one serious game in the last six years and - to put it mildly - that hadn't gone well. Today, though, he was inspired, and played very sensibly against a 2114 rated opponent from Dresden, and was never worse. Indeed, he agreed a draw from what was probably a position of strength. An excellent performance, which doubtless owed much to the pre-match beer he felt obliged to consume at lunchtime!

And so to me, as always the last to finish, but when the game ends in mate it isn't such a hardship. Having almost 200 points advantage over my Finnish opponent, I fairly quickly and easily built up a big advantage on the white side of a 3 Bb5+ Sicilian. But with the win in sight, I faltered and allowed an exchange which should have led to an immediate draw. However, the quality of the play from both players then deteriorated markedly, and after a few rather nervous moments, my opponent kindly self-destructed in spectacular fashion to allow me to force mate with queen and knight.

We have celebrated in appropriate fashion tonight at a truly excellent pub, which has so far not been discovered by anyone else at the tournament! Its not haute cuisine, more substantial grub, and we'll be back there again tomorrow evening. It has the added advantage of being right next to a narrow gauge steam railway. And when I say right next, I mean right next!

Bernard relives his train-spotting youth! Luckily we have remembered to look both ways when leaving this pub.

I may not be so up-beat with my next report, as I already know that I am playing GM Jim Plaskett tomorrow, when England 2 go head to head with England 1. Bernard is up against a 2000 rated player from the German club team Horst-Emscher 1931, while Andy is playing ….someone! The draw is not yet up for the really oldies section.

I know that the results are only half the story - you really want to know the celeb gossip. Well, on that point I can tell you that yesterday we shared a taxi from Dresden Airport with Jon Speelman (of course we let him have the front seat!) while less creditably Bernard almost trod on legendary GM Vlastimil Hort. As he has a bad foot (Hort not Bernard!) that could have caused an international incident, but thankfully actual contact was avoided by an inch or so. Yesterday evening we found ourselves dining in an Italian restaurant where we were definitely not sitting at the strongest table - GMs Speelman, Emms, Plaskett, Hebden, Benjamin and Kudrin just edged us.

Most important of all, though, Bernard has proved himself an absolute star on the linguistic front - Anglo-German relations are consequently much better at our level than between May and Merkel. Long may it continue!

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Taking a Week Off

Because of an unfortunate clash with the England v Belgium World Cup match on Thursday June 28th, there will be no club meeting at The Gauntlet on that night. Normal service should be resumed the following week on July 5th - at least the World Cup won't get in the way, as its a blank day in the schedule. For those of you frustrated or disturbed by the loss of your weekly chess fix, and who are not interested in football, you need to calm down, relax and enjoy the break. This should help you chill out for a few hours.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Game of the Month, June 2018

Alright, alright! I know its been a long time since the last Game of the Month, but this feature has exacting standards, and just any old rubbish will not do. But when a victory by a (future) KCC member over a (future) GM falls into my hands, I just know that the wait has been worthwhile.

In this encounter, we are transported back to a simpler time, some 35 (!!) years ago, when Kenilworth's invisible man, Andy Baruch, was actually an active chess player who was more than a bit useful. Here he takes on a young whipper-snapper in the shape of a 15 year old David Norwood, who would get his IM title just 2 years later and his GM title a further 4 years after that (age 21). In this battle between Innocence and Experience, though, its the old codger who comes out decisively on top.

A small selection of further games by Andy from his golden years has come into my possession, so I think you can reasonably assume that some other big names will be biting the dust on these pages in the not too distant future. Sigh, if only he could still do it today!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Worst AGM EVER!

Brexit, Trump and then just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, along comes the 2018 Leamington League AGM. Any thoughts you had of turning up on September the whenever to play another season under the rules and conditions that you are used to can go straight out the window.

First, the AGM voted to adopt a registration system to try and stop sharp/questionable practices in the selection of stronger players in weaker teams, or of ringers being brought in to strengthen teams at the end of the season. Laudable aims both, but potentially at a considerable cost in terms of selection flexibility and yet more work for club and league volunteers alike. I do not doubt for a second that the same result could have been achieved by less onerous methods. Watch this space to see how this develops, since the actual rules of the registration system are yet to be finalised, but rest assured there will doubtless be issues for us and every other club as a consequence.

But that was by no means the low point of the evening, since in the space of about 10 minutes the proposal from Banbury to change the League's time limit to 90 minutes for the entire game, with no intermediate time control, was tabled, discussed and voted through. No substantive argument was made in favour by the proposers and when I spoke against the change and asked about the reason for the proposal, the only answer given - and I kid you not - was that some people at Banbury found it difficult to set the clocks. (I have played with digital clocks at Banbury for at least two seasons, and the clocks were set correctly every time on all boards - but hey, what do I know?) Rob Reynolds of Olton  said a few words against the proposal and then Dave Thomas, one of England's most senior Arbiters, also spoke and recommended that the proposed change should not be approved. As far as I recall, no-one spoke in favour, though there were a couple of oblique references to some apparently well-known Birmingham League incidents - of minimal/dubious relevance as far as I could tell.

So then we voted. And quite bizarrely the AGM was in favour of a new time limit for which not one coherent argument had been advanced. Utterly mystifying. A time limit I have never heard a single complaint about is replaced on an apparently perverse whim. If I have in any way misrepresented the Banbury proposal or the discussion on the subject that took place, I am happy to be corrected, but the above is certainly my honest recollection. Ben, Mike J and Dave were all in attendance, and they can put me right if necessary.

Anyway, I'm bloody depressed, and to make matters worse, I now have to immerse myself in the accursed registration system proposals and find out what that does to my rapidly diminishing sanity. Happy days.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Bobby Fischer; a Personal Pilgrimage - Part 5, Postscript

The story of my pilgrimage has basically already concluded, but never one to report in four articles what can be strung out to five, there are still a couple of loose ends for me to wrap up:-

1 Suggestions for Further Reading

Only a day or so ago I discovered the existence of a book called "Bobby Fischer Comes Home", written by Icelandic GM (and leading player in the establishment of the Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss) Helgi Olafsson.   Before I went to Iceland, I really should not only have known about this, but also read it. Still, it's never too late, so the book is hopefully winging its way to me even as I write. I am expecting both a rattling good read and a few tears before bedtime. How could this ultimately be anything other than very sad?

But there is an even sadder book out there. Bobby's greatest friend and supporter in his final years in Iceland was Gardar Sverrison. In 2015 he published a book entitled, "Bobby Fischer's Final Years." Or more accurately, "Yfir farinn veg meĆ° Bobby Fischer", because the book is not available in English - even though there is a full translation in existence. This translation needs to be published - and soon!  A flavour of the book - and its a quite disturbing and distressing flavour in truth - can be found in a long extract that was published on the Chessbase site on January 17th, 2018 - exactly ten years after Fischer's death. It's harrowing stuff, but compulsory reading and can be found here.

2 Some More Photos

There is one specific image of Bobby which carries - possibly unintentionally - enormous symbolic power. You can see it in the Chessbase article referenced above, and it also adorns the cover of Helgi Olafsson's book. I reproduce it here, duly acknowledged as far as possible, and hopefully not exposing myself to copyright issues, but it is so integral to my own interpretation of Bobby's story that I can't resist.

Main photographer unknown. The inset portrait is by Einar S Einarsson.

The location of this shot is the Thingvellir National Park, about 45 minutes drive outside Reykjavik, and a must see tourist stop on the Golden Circle itinerary undertaken by virtually every visitor to Iceland. As well as being the original site (in around 930) of (one of?) the world's oldest parliament, the Althing, this area is of enormous geological significance. (Bad news for me as I failed my Geology O Level!) It is here that Iceland is split by the Mid Atlantic Rift, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are gradually moving apart - fortunately at only 2.5 cms a year. As Bobby walked down the gorge, the rock face on his left was formed by the edge of the North American tectonic plate. Reykjavik lies firmly to the west of the Rift, so that for the last few years of his life, Bobby was actually back in North America, although only in a geological sense. The image is full of symbolism - a man caught between two continents/worlds; a man geologically home in North America , but politically forever stranded in Iceland; and a man turning his back once and for all on the rest of the world.

I wouldn't be the pathetic wannabe you know me to be, if I hadn't stood in almost exactly the same place as Bobby, albeit looking the other way!

Does Donald know you can walk up a path from Eurasia into North America. Build a wall, quick!!

But the final image of this account shouldn't be of me. And it shouldn't be of the altogether reclusive and diminished Bobby of his later years. Let's remember him in his prime.

Bobby as we need to remember him - a Chess God
(This autographed photo hangs on the wall of the Bobby Fischer Center, Selfoss)

3 Another Game

And so the journey really does end here, but I can't go without one more game. This must surely be one of the greatest fighting games of chess ever played.* It is truly epic, particularly in the late middlegame/endgame phases where both men play out of their skin, Fischer trying to win, and Spassky trying to save the game. While a modern engine is remorseless in its identification of some mistakes, this hardly diminishes the drama or lessens one's respect and admiration for the two players. In the end, Fischer's incessant pressure, fuelled by an incredible will to win, forces Spassky into a tragic blunder when he was within touching distance of a draw. This was indeed a game that Fischer deserved to win, but Spassky surely deserved to draw.  

Monday, 21 May 2018

A new taxonomy for the Blog!

As another chess season draws to a close we (the club organiser and webmaster) have found some time away from playing chess and enjoying the sunny weather to introduce a taxonomy to the club blog.

This exciting new feature is called 'Blog Categories' and one of these categories (otherwise called 'labels' by Google Blogger) can now be found at the end of each blog article. If you click on the category it will take you to a new blog page listing all the articles under that category, enabling you to browse at your leisure and read all the related articles.

The blog categories currently include:
  • Match Reports - Leamington League
  • Match Reports - Coventry League
  • Club Information
  • Tournament Reports
  • Quizzes
  • Game of the Month
  • Obituaries
  • Interesting Stuff
Also, if you scroll down the home page you can find the 'Blog Categories' listed under the ‘Follow by email’ box in the right hand column. The order they’re shown in is based on the total number of blog posts in each category.

So, now's the time to catch up on your KCC blog reading in preparation for the new season...

Sunday, 13 May 2018


More KCC successes to report, with Ben and myself both recently claiming LDCL individual honours.

Ben won the League Individual Open KO Cup, beating Peter Drury of Stratford 2-0 in the final, after earlier 1-0 wins over Andy Johnson (Daventry) and Paul Rowan (Banbury).  This is the first Kenilworth triumph in the League's most prestigious individual event since Carl was victorious in 2007. (I won three times (once shared) in 2008/09/10, but am ashamed to say I was playing for Leamington at the time, despite being a Kenilworth resident. What was I thinking of??)

My success came in the League Individual Quickplay Championship (5 mins Blitz) , held at Solihull on April 25th. I scored 8.5/9, winning by a point from Rob Reynolds of Olton, with Mark Cundy (also Olton, and the man who spoiled my 100%) in third. I'm pleased to report that my score included 7/7 against Solihull players. A conspicuous absentee, for the second season running, was perennial champion Phil Holt.

We had a very good turn out of KCC members on the evening with Roy, Ben, Bernard R (continuing his unexpected chess renaissance!), Dave and Mike J all in attendance, and mostly scoring very well. In a disturbing echo of Ben's success, my victory was the first by a Kenilworth player since 2008 when Carl (he was good once upon a time, obviously!!) picked up the trophy. (I won in 2010 when - sorry if this is getting repetitive - I was playing for Leamington.) If we go back far enough, Bernard R apparently won this event back in the late 80s!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Things That Really Annoy Me - Number 1 in a Probably Never-Ending Series

One thing (amongst many, I must admit) that really bugs me is how, in depictions of chess - whether on TV, in films, in adverts or in art - the board nearly always seems to be the wrong way around. Despite it being a 50/50 call, they seem to get it wrong far more often than they get it right.

And strolling around the Accademia gallery in Venice last week, I bumped into another example. It turns out that this is not a new phenomenon - they've been getting it wrong for hundreds of years.

Black seems to be winning - but the female arbiter is about to intervene and tell them to start again because they've got the board the WRONG WAY ROUND!!
On this evidence, I don't think the Venetian School would stand much chance of passing its Ofsted!