Sunday, 21 June 2015

British Chess Championships, July 25 - August 8

Just a reminder to anyone thinking of joining Paul, Joshua and myself at this year's British Championships at Warwick University, that the deadline for entries without incurring a late fee is looming. After July 1 it will cost you more, and knowing what a tight fisted bunch chess players generally are, that's something to be avoided if possible.

This will be the first time since 1970 (also Warwick University) that the Championships have come right to our doorstep, and if it's another 45 year's before they come so close to home then most of us had better make use of what is likely to be our last such opportunity. (Sad but true!!)

Full details of all the events are here.

This will be the third time I have played at the British (first time ever in the Championship proper, of course), and my debut was half a life time ago at Southport in 1983. This was my highly enjoyable last round game in the Major Open (which was rather strong in those days), which is as far removed from my current turgid style as it's possible to get. The win took my score to 7/11 - and I will gladly settle for that this time around, too!

When I play through a game like that I sometimes get the weirdest feeling that I used to be a rather dynamic player - but I'm sure that's just false memory syndrome at work!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Kenilworth Player Profile: Part 1 - Paul Lam

Evening all. It gives me great pleasure to be making my first contribution to this site, a mere year and a half after it was created, thus proving that there is life in the club beyond Mark and Josh! It is with their encouragement that, from now on, I will be posting a regular series of Kenilworth player profiles consisting of Q & As which aim to shed light on the many colourful characters that make up our club. I for one am looking forward to conducting Roy Watson's interview! Upon their suggestion though, our series will kick off on a tamer note with none other than myself. I hope you will find the series interesting, entertaining and, dare I say, educational (in the sense of 'what not to do during a chess game'). Without further ado, let's move onto the questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and how long you have been playing chess for Kenilworth
I grew up and live in Coventry and work as a university administrator and chess coach. I joined Kenilworth Chess Club at the age of eleven in 2000 and currently play on board 1 for their A team in the Leamington & District Chess League.

How did you start playing chess?
My parents taught me the moves when I was 7 or 8, but I only started playing seriously in secondary school. I joined the school chess club, caught the bug, and soon found myself representing the school team. When I started regularly beating my peers and chess teacher I decided to join a club. I came down for a Kenilworth club night, really enjoyed myself and have been a member ever since.

What is the appeal of chess for you?
I enjoy the combative aspect of the game; for me there’s nothing better than the feeling of going ‘mano a mano’ and emerging victorious! As well as cultivating fighting spirit, chess has definitely helped me to develop other valuable 'life skills' such as concentration, problem-solving and resilience under pressure. One of the side benefits is that it has also enabled me to travel to some interesting places, meet new people and make many good friends.

What is your best chess feat/memory/moment?
There are a few which come to mind, such as representing England from under 14 to under 18 level, winning the LDCL division 1 title with Kenilworth A and my sacrificial win against International Master Richard Palliser in the 4NCL this season. My proudest achievement though is establishing the Coventry Chess Academy; a social enterprise providing chess tuition for children. I owe a great deal to the many people who helped me as a junior player, and it feels nice to be able to give back something to those in a similar position today.

What is your worst chess memory/moment?
One which still gives me nightmares is my game against Sam Williams in a vital 4NCL match during the 12/13 season. I outplayed my higher-rated opponent with the Black pieces and gained a completely winning position. I had one move to reach time control and a minute on my clock to do so. I had the option of checking the White king without fear of threefold repetition. Instead, I idiotically decided to try and calculate the quickest winning line. The next thing I knew, I checked my clock to see I had only three seconds left, panicked and put a piece en prise, forcing my resignation on the next move. Our team drew a match we should have won and were subsequently relegated. The whole painful reversal is available to view at for anyone who wishes to share in my sorrow or, alternatively, laugh at my stupidity!

What is your favourite chess game?
Bobby Fischer’s 1963 miniature against Robert Byrne ( A clinical, logical game from beginning to end and what should have been one of the great finishes to a chess game, if it were not for Byrne resigning before it could be played!

Do you have a chess claim to fame?
I once shared the junior prize with Grandmaster David Howell, now one of the world’s top players, in a tournament and was almost the sole winner, as they initially missed out his name on the prize winners list!

Do you have a chess hero or inspiration?
Tony Miles, the UK’s first chess grandmaster of the modern era, who I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times and playing once. I wrote an article about him for Ceasefire Magazine a few years ago which can be found at and which I feel adequately sums up my admiration for his style of play and accomplishments.

Do you have any funny chess stories?
One time I was playing in my school’s house chess competition. I won my game rather quickly and my chess teacher, Mr Jenkins, challenged me to a friendly game. I won, so we played another. And another. Fast forward two hours and everyone has gone home bar myself, Mr Jenkins, another teacher and my mum who is getting rather fed of waiting for me. I’ve lost count of the number of games we’ve played at this stage, but Mr Jenkins is still desperately seeking his first win. Eventually, I give in to tiredness and Mr Jenkins pounces like a leopard at the opportunity, finally securing victory. And I can finally go home much to the relief of my mum. It was worth the wait though to see the look of pure happiness on Mr Jenkins’ face after that final game!

What is the best piece of chess advice you’ve heard or were given?
Be pragmatic. Chess is a results-oriented game and the long but certain path to victory is preferable to the short but potentially hazardous one.

What are your interests outside of chess?
I’m a keen powerlifter and was the middleweight silver medallist in the 2014 British Bench Press Championship. I have qualified for the national Bench Press Championship on three separate occasions, all in different weight categories. Funnily enough, I qualified for the British Chess Championship for the first time only this year and don't have a chance in hell of winning, so I suppose my powerlifting achievements surpass those in chess!

Why would you recommend Kenilworth Chess Club?
It might not be the biggest club, but it’s definitely one of the friendliest. New members can expect a very warm welcome. Club nights are relaxed, highly sociable and terrific fun, even if the chess can be of questionable quality! As Mark Page once said, we all leave our grades at the door of the Royal Oak! 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Trophy Time

C Team captain Mike Johnson pictured with the Leamington League Division 3 Trophy at the League AGM which was held on June 1. Regrettably your roving reporter was not paying attention at the moment the Trophy was actually presented to Mike by the League Chairman, our very own Joshua Pink, so this will have to do!

Many congratulations once again to all those who contributed to the C team's success in the 2014-15 season.