Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Billy Blitzes Belarus!

What a fantastic international debut from the one and only Billy Fellowes in the World Cadet Rapid and Blitz Under 8 Championships last weekend in Minsk, Belarus. In massive fields of over 140 players in each event (including more than 80 Russians!), Billy finished right towards the top of the scoreboard:- 18th= in the Rapid (6/9) and 27th= in the Blitz (5.5/9). In the process Billy earned himself FIDE ratings - at the age of 7! - of 1484 (Rapid) and 1314 (Blitz) and - more importantly - finished both events as not just the highest placed English player, but also the joint highest placed West European!

Billy in Belarus

And he had very tough pairings, too, having to play against Russian opponents in more than half his games. But far from being intimidated by their reputation, he cut a swathe through the most respected chess nation on the planet, scoring a quite phenomenal 7.5/10 against them, with only two losses and seven wins! The only other games he lost over the course of 18 games across the two tournaments, were against players from Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Incredible stuff!!

Both Billy and Jude have performed superbly on the international stage in the last couple of weeks and they should be massively proud of their achievements. The sky really is the limit for them on the chess board. And their coach, the one and only Paul Lam, has every reason to feel more than slightly chuffed with himself, too! A truly great effort, guys. This has been simply sensational stuff.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

EYCC Slovakia Round Up and WCRB Belarus Preview

The European Youth Chess Championships are over and Jude is already back home from Slovakia, where he finished with 5/9 (+3, -2, =4) for 45th= in a field of 149, having started as the number 63 seed. (And amongst the West Europeans, he finished 15th.) Jude gained a phenomenal 93.6 ELO points (did he have to declare them at Customs on the way back, I wonder?), which takes some doing when you are playing against a seemingly endless supply of under-graded opponents. (And in view of this, massive kudos to young Lukas Dotzer of Austria, who managed to gain 211 points from his low starting rating of 1070. In a single tournament! Mind you, it can go the other way, as Bosnia's Borna Pehar unfortunately discovered, losing 188 points!)

That was a really great effort from Jude, who is, of course, technically an Under 9, so was giving away a whole year to most of the field. Kenilworth is massively proud of your achievements, Jude! As before, even more details of the event, complete with action shots of Jude, can be found on the Coventry Chess Academy news page.  (But be careful, as otherwise you might inadvertently read some positive reports about Roy, which could come as a massive shock to the unwary!)

The attention now switches to Billy who is jetting off to Minsk this week to play in what is bound to be an enormously strong World Cadets Rapid and Blitz (August 16-18) where around 170 players are due to start in the Under-8 tournaments - including more than 80 Russians!

(I don't suppose there will be much/any time for sight-seeing, as the action looks set to be fast and furious - so Charlotte is excused from being sent off around the cemeteries of Minsk as official KCC photographer to search for the grave of almost-World Champion, David Bronstein. Which would be a bit unnecessary, anyway, as there is a perfectly good photo on Bronstein's Wikipedia entry!)

The top seed in both tournaments (which are 9 rounds each) is from Ukraine, and boasts a Rapid ELO of 1696 and a Blitz ELO of an astonishing 1825 (equivalent to an ECF grade of 153). At the age of 8! But I have no doubt that Billy is going to put in a great effort and notch quite a few scalps along the way. And Billy is technically an Under-7 so like Jude he will also be giving away a year to most of the field. Good luck from everyone at KCC to Billy, and I hope he has an amazing time on this fantastic adventure.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

News from Slovakia

Not sure where Joshua's day 9 report from the British Championships has gone - surely there can't have been any happenings which he doesn't want to write about? Anyway, I'm sure he'll get round to it soon. His public expects!

But in the meantime, here's a quick update on Jude's progress as part of the England team at the European Youth Chess Championships in Bratislava. And great news it is, too, as after 6 rounds Jude has the terrific score of 4 points, achieved against opposition which in each of the last five rounds has been rated more than 200 points higher than him. He has so far won against opponents from Greece, Hungary and Poland; shared the points with a Russian and a Turk, and only lost the one game to a lad from Serbia. He currently sits in joint 23rd place in a field of 149, from his starting ranking of 63rd - absolutely sensational stuff against the very best juniors in Europe.

Next up in tomorrow's 7th Round is the 34th seed from Denmark. Let's hope that the Thursday vibe which usually helps Jude take numerous scalps at the Gauntlet each week will work in Slovakia!

Good luck, Jude. You are doing great and we can't wait to hear all about it on your return.

For even more details, and some photos of Jude in action in Bratislava, take a look at Paul's regular reports on the news page at the Coventry Chess Academy website.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 8)

Only one medal placing to report on today, a disappointing halving of the club's achievements from yesterday's heights.

Team Sprog

As discussed yesterday, David started today in third place 1 point behind the tournament leader, and was playing him with black. A tough assignment on paper, but in what looked to me like a very well played game David managed to grind out a win and move level with him on points. Unfortunately the person in second place also managed to win so David only finished in second place, but still an excellent result that means we deserve one more of these - 🥈


With Ben having departed to return to the dubious delights of the West Midlands, we and Andy were left to hold the team together, and both ended the day with draws. The similarity ends at that point though, with Andy holding a very impressive draw in a queen endgame a pawn down, whilst I managed to swindle a perpetual check draw in a completely lost position, save only by my opponent's lack of time. Still, the scoresheets say the same thing so in the long-term no-one will remember that difference.

Team Charlemagne

Roy wisely decided not to play any more chess after yesterday's zero move triumph, so the only interest today was in the senior event. Bernard's opponent attempted some what appeared to me to be very unsound hacking against his king in the opening, which I presumed meant Bernard must have at least a small advantage. However, it may never have been anything substantial, since the next time I looked the position had changed to something that looked incredibly drawish, and so it ultimately finished.

Mark on the other hand finally decided to play a sensible opening (see below), so unsurprisingly to me it appeared he had an excellent position. His opponent decided to never capture the lurching g pawn and thus consequently it remained on g5 for a large proportion of the game, seemingly putting an unpleasant cramp pon black's position. Apparently Mark feels the game was decide by blunders in the endgame, but a more strategic player like me can see it was essentially already over from move 5.

Team Eclectic

With Bruce's tournament over, it was left to David Howell to carry the flag alone, and he could only manage a draw with the black pieces against Ravi Haria. This means he goes in to the final round half a point behind Michael Adams, but he does have the white pieces so it should be an exciting conclusion to the championship.

Current standings:

Team Sprog: 74% (14/19)
Team PAYE: 59% (17/29)
Team Charlemagne: 67% (18/27)
Team Eclectic: 48% (11.5/24)

Obviously we need to look at Mark's excellent opening. I confess I'm not sure the move order is completely correct, but the position is the important thing. I'm convinced if I'd come up with moves like this there would be some unkind commentary about it's soundness.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 7)

We are moving towards the end of the tournament, and we have some silverware to report on in this edition.

Team Sprog

Another draw for David today means he is one point off the lead in the U16 event with one round remaining. However, a good draw means he is playing the person in 1st place, so a win still gives him a chance of shared first place (there is one annoying person half a point behind the lead who can still spoil that ending).


I managed to acquire some kind of illness today, I assume a result of too much fresh air and not enough time spent in a still, airless office in my job. Consequently fighting spirit was at a Very low level, so I was very happy to achieve two of the world's most boring draws today. I guess it is positive I still have the ability to kill all the excitement out of a game when desired, but not perhaps the most exciting talent to have. On a more exciting note, another fine win for Andy means he is currently on track to make a gain of over 50 rating points in one tournament, something which I haven't seen happen too often for anyone older than about 11.

The best result of the day though was definitely Ben. A win and a draw would be good results in any circumstances, but the win in the morning means he finished joint third in that event. A first piece of silverware for the club means for the first time in the event I get to dig out the official "Third Place Medal" emoji - 🥉

Team Charlemagne

Very much a mixed bag of results today. Bernard picked up a very creditable draw with the black pieces against a player rated of 200 points higher. Mark unfortunately was not able to match this result, and his defeat means he is one point off the lead with two rounds to go, so the same position as David found himself in this morning.

Roy as usual though managed to result to rescue the day for his team. His afternoon draw was nothing to write home about, coming against a player I'm sure must have been stronger than her rating of 1040. The more important result though was in the morning, where a victory means he finished joint second, meaning a second relevant emoji can be brought in to play - 🥈. We now just need someone to win an event and I'll have the full set.

Team Eclectic

Two draws for our dynamic duo today, though I guess objectively David Howell's draw with Michael Adams must be ranked very slightly higher than Bruce's with a very welcoming Frenchman.

Current standings

Team Sprog: 72% (13/18)
Team PAYE: 57% (16/28)
Team Charlemagne: 66% (16.5/25)
Team Eclectic: 48% (11/23)

There is no doubt that for today's featured game we should look at the flawlessly played win that took Roy to the podium in his event:

Friday, 2 August 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 6)

Team Sprog

The Phillips juggernaut slightly slowed down today, with David only picking up a draw, to leave him one point off the lead with two games left. Still just about within striking distance, but two wins probably required from his text two games.


Andy continues his excellent performance, with another comfortable looking draw against a player rated well in excess of 2000. Ben had an equally solid day, with two draws, including yet another game in that dodgy version of the London System he can't bring himself not to play. That means there was only one person remaining to let the team down, which I duly managed to do. I matched my teammates with a draw in the morning, albeit in considerably less convincing style than they had managed, but the afternoon was something of an opening catastrophe. It is the first one I've had, which I guess isn't too bad given the whole set of new openings I've been playing, but it still isn't fun to be completely lost after around 15 moves. Perhaps these openings won't survive the end of this tournament.

Team Charlemagne

After yesterday's excellent 4/4 performance, surely the team would come crashing back down to earth, unable to rescale those heady heights. At least this was my initial thought, and I couldn't have been more wrong, with an identical result being achieved again. Bernard slowly ground down his opponent; Mark was slightly more exciting with a pawn sacrifice in the opening to leave his opponent with a chronically weak king, and Roy was undoubtedly the best of the lot with two wins, including an extremely impressive trapping of his opponent's queen in the centre of the board. He assures me this was planned in advance, and I will leave it with our readers to decide if we believe him.

Team Eclectic

A slight improvement over yesterday's performance, with David Howell this time managing a win as black in some slightly drab looking symmetrical English, where the computer interestingly thinks he is better from quite early in the game. Bruce unfortunately could not join his teammate in improving on yesterday's result, so 50% for the team today it was.

Current standings:

Team Sprog: 74% (12.5/17)
Team PAYE: 54% (12.5/23)
Team Charlemagne: 69% (14.5/21)
Team Eclectic: 48% (10/21)

For those of us not in good form, we can at least take solace in the fact that even GMs sometimes have disasters. The game below from the main championship would be a good illustration of this point, where a grandmaster sacrifices a piece (seemingly unsoundly) on move 9, and never really gets in to the game, with white avoiding all the tactics and continuing to grab all the extra material on offer.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 5)

We've passed the halfway point of the championships now, so competition for the final places is heating up.

Team Sprog

David continued his fightback from his earlier loss with a fine victory over 179 graded Ifan Rathbone-Jones. That now puts him up to 3/4 with 4 rounds remaining, so hopes for the title are certainly well and truly alive.


A slightly drab day for me this one, with two draws; both games in which I was pressing for large sections of the game, and apparently had wins which I failed to spot. However, given that one of them involved letting my opponent queen and then giving checkmate with a pawn, I don't feel too bad about not spotting that. I am, however, rather less impressed that my reward for only being on 50% after 5 rounds is a game against an FM - life can be cruel.

Andy also had a day to forget, blundering a tactic in a level position to end his run of fine form. It was left up to Ben therefore to keep the team on track which he duly did, a win in the morning followed up with a draw against the brother of a player I had already drawn against earlier this week. Clearly a family prone to playing unexciting chess.

Team Charlemagne

Roy recovered from yesterday's two defeats with two victories today, though both against players rated considerably lower than himself, so it was only to be expected. Mark was deeply distressed at missing an opportunity to gain a positionally crushing advantage early in his game, when the opportunity arose and was squandered to leave his opponent with a queen on d1, knight on b1 and rook on a1 all trapped and unable to develop. It didn't change the result in the end though, with a double rook endgame proving slightly advantageous for Mark, mainly due to both his rooks being on the seventh rank. A clean sweep has completed by Bernard, who also ground his opponent down in a long game to make it 4/4 for the team today.

Team Eclectic

A day to forget for this grouping today. David Howell failed to win, Brice failed to draw, and so better things are needed going forwards, even if my appalling form means competition for bottom place in the table is likely to be intense.

Current standings:

Team Sprog: 75% (12/16)
Team PAYE: 58% (10.5/18)
Team Charlemagne: 62% (10.5/17)
Team Eclectic: 47% (9/19)

A slightly strange position to share from one of my games today. Even if the whole game isn't interesting enough to be worthy of repeating, and it essentially looks like someone has just heard a set of pieces randomly at the board, I do always enjoy positions where both sides manage to have passed pawns on the same file. I'm sure we all know the famous Tarrasch quote:

"In complicated rook endings the most important rule is one paid down by the author: The Rook's place is behind the passed pawn; behind the enemy pawn in order to hold it up, behind one's own in order to support its advance."

If he was around today I would be showing him to position below and pointing out the sheer impossibility of following that rule in this situation.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 4)

And so we continue ...

Team Sprog

David recovered from yesterday's defeat, with a victory putting him back on plus 1. His opponent was only rated 1120, though with the erratic nature of junior ratings it's hard to be sure how much notice we should take of that. He'll definitely be back in the big leagues tomorrow though.


I rather let the team down today, conspiring to lose both of my games. At least in the afternoon I just got outplayed so don't really have anything to complain about, but in the morning I was better out of the opening and for a considerable part of the game, before conspiring to lose by putting my king on the wrong square in the endgame. I remember thinking at the tie: "Kg1 or Kg2 - how much difference can it make?". Turns out a lot.

Fortunately my teammates made up for my incompetence, with Andy winning a fine game to move to 3/4 in the Major Open, playing well above his seeding. Ben also managed a win and a draw, with the won most notable for the fact he had a completely winning position after his opponents fifth move (see below).

Team Charlemagne

Roy has something of an off day today, going down in both his games, and for a long time it looked like both his teammates were going down with them. Bernard seemed to be down the exchange for absolutely nothing in his game, and Mark was hardly faring better, with only a solitary rook for his opponents two pieces. Experience came through in the end though, with both of them managing to hold on for draws, with Mark even managing to be up the exchange instead by the time it finally finished.

Team Eclectic

Bruce was in fine form today, outperforming all the remained of out club (Andy aside), with a 100% winning record (from the one game he played). David Howell also did his part, so a clean sweep means the backmarkers in the event have moved up to joint third place.

Current standings:

Team Sprog: 73% (11/15)
Team PAYE: 62% (8/13)
Team Charlemagne: 50% (6.5/13)
Team Eclectic: 50% (8.5/17)

There isn't much background necessary for Ben's game, other than to say he somehow managed to be one of the last games to finish, despite his opponent's best efforts to lose as quickly as possible.

Railway Stations Named After Grandmasters

Sorry to interrupt Joshua's daily British Championship reports, but this can't wait a moment longer!

Alighting at the station near my self catering apartment in Torquay on Saturday, I was struck by the fact that it was named after not just one, but two famous chess players. While the locals pronounce it Tor, there's no doubt in my mind that it should be pronounced as though it has an e acute at the end, as - for sure - it was clearly named after the legendary Mexican player Carlos Torre, and also Asia's first ever grandmaster, Eugenio Torre of the Philippines. Is it any wonder that the British Championships come to Torquay so often?!

Regrettably, though, its not clear where number two in this series is going to come from, which is why this isn't even described as number one. The KCC Brains Trust did come up with the possibility of Wells, but unfortunately there is no station there anymore! I once travelled to and from Norwood Junction station every day, but I never thought to take a picture of the station sign. Silly me! I doubt I'll be back there in the near future (ever?) to remedy this omission. Any other suggestions would be most gratefully received.

Eugenio Torre was Asia's top player for many years after becoming a GM in 1974, until overtaken by the hordes of Chinese and Indian GMs who eventually followed his trailblazing path. Here is a game where he absolutely slaughtered a young Ian Rogers.

Carlos Torre, after whom the Torre Attack is named was a tragic figure. Although he died as recently as 1978, he was hospitalised for much of the last 50 years of his life after suffering a mental breakdown in 1926. His last tournament games date from that year. At his peak (1925/26), the Chessmetrics website ranked him 8th in the world. As well as leaving a chess opening as a legacy, he also left the world a truly spectacular game - featuring the famous Windmill combination - in which he destroyed former world champion Emanuel Lasker, with a queen sacrifice, which was followed by the immortal windmill sequence in which a rook mopped up almost the entire Black army with a series of discovered checks.

How lucky I came to Torquay by train, as otherwise we wouldn't have enjoyed this immortal game.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 3)

Today was really the day the championship started properly, with the two main events (the over 50 and over 65 championships) playing their first round. Results throughout were as follows:

Team Sprog

With both Jude and Billy having completed their appearances, David is now left to fly the flag for this team singlehanded. Unfortunately, he may now have learnt just how heavy flagpoles can be, going down to the top seed in the U16 tournament to move back to 50% after 2 games.


A fine day all around for those in the prime of life, I guess to be expected given these are the first rounds to take place on a working day, when you would expect our minds to be at peak efficiency. Ben makes his first appearances, with a win a draw a fine result on the opening day; indeed a result I felt was so impressive I decided to match it, even if my games were slightly less impressive, with a draw from an entirely lost position, and a win from a completely level rook and pawn endgame. Pride of place here though must go to Andy, who achieved a comprehensive victory against someone 150 rating points higher (see below).

Team Charlemagne

A decidedly mixed bag of results today, with Mark scoring a win with a slightly dubious looking piece sacrifice, Bernard being ground down to a very tedious looking loss, and Roy once again showing he is as good as both of his teammates put together, managing to score both of their results himself in a single day. Half points might not look bad in isolation, but its going to take decidedly more than that to win this tournament.

Team Eclectic

Bruce becomes the very final one of out gladiators to enter the fray, and whilst it was not quite the opening result he might have hoped for, David Howell at least managed to pull his finger out and recover from yesterday's disastrous draw with a win over Lorin D'Costa to mean this team also comes out with a 50% record for the day.

Current standings:

Team Sprog: 71% (10/14)
Team PAYE: 69% (5.5/8)
Team Charlemagne: 61% (5.5/9)
Team Eclectic: 43% (6.5/15)

It's tight at the top, and the adults are coming. A brief mention of ex-Kenilworth star Ed Goodwin is also in order here, who held on in a long and difficult rook and pawn endgame for a very creditable draw against a higher rated player in his opening game. The fact his opponent offered a draw in a position where he had a forced win in no way detracts from that achievement.

Pride of place for our featured game must go to Andy today though. Not only do we have a very impressive mate at the end, but Andy also tells us he was in theory for the first 22 moves of the game, a number beyond my comprehension to reach. it may also explain why we had more time than he started with at that point, after a serious of moves that essentially looked completely random to me. It serves his opponent right for being so predictable with his openings, since he played down exactly the line Andy predicted would occur in our conversation before the game.