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.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 2)

Following our theme from yesterday, let us discuss the fortunes of our 4 teams:

Team Sprog

Billy makes his appearance today, scoring 4/6 in the U8 tournament, with 4 wins balanced out by two defeats against the number 1 and 3 seeds (Billy was number 6 himself). David also enters the fray and gets off to a winning start in the U16 event, but a much more challening game awaits tomorrow against the number 1 seed.


Just two games for this grouping today. Andy started his tournanment with what looked like a very correctly played draw, whilst for the second game in a row I managed to be around +8 at some point in the middlegmae and only come out with a draw. Note to self - try and give mate in good positions since clearly, if it lasts until an endgame, I'm not capable of converting the position. That leaves both Andy and myself on 50% after two rounds, and an all Kenilworth pairing may thus not be too far away.

Team Charlemagne

Roy remains the only member of his team to have competed thus far, with Bernard and Mark both making their bows romorrow. A very convincing win (see below) was followed with a draw, to give Roy a final score of 3.5/5 for his first event. Perfectly decent, but more effort needed if any prizes are to be taken home.

Team Eclectic

Vassily comes out with 3/6 from the same U8 tournament that Billy was playing in, beating all the players graded beneath him and losing to those graded above. If only more of our members could show such mathematically appropriate consistency. David Howell however lets the team down by only managing a draw on the black side of as Samisch King's Indian/Benoni against Richard Palliser. Not to fear though, for Bruce will enter the fray tomorrow to show him how it is done.

Current standings:

Team Sprog: 77% (10/13)
Team PAYE: 50% (1.5/3)
Team Charlemagne: 70% (3.5/5)
Team Eclectic: 42% (5.5/13)

For today's game, it only seems fair to have a look at something impressive Roy produced in his win today. I should emphasise I haven't seen the scoresheet for this game, so it represents my recollection of Paul's recollection of what happened. If it is therefore entirely nonsense and the game was in fact an exchange French, I apologise now.

I think we can all agree black's king is not long for this world.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Joshua fails to qualify for the British Championship (part 1)

Since no one else has yet provided me with a game to share, I will start with one of my own for this first day of our sojourn in Torquay. Until more competent or interesting players start to do so, I'm afraid that is the level we are stuck with. The relevant background is that to qualify for the main championship next year, I need to finish in the top 10 of the Major Open, a task made harder by the fact there are many more than 10 players better than me in the tournament. I've also decided for this entire tournament I shall only be playing the Bird, Dutch and Caro-Kann openings, and I'm putting this on the record now so there is no way for me to back out (such as when I get catastrophic positions out of every opening).

Fortunately, I got a nice gentle start, only playing against the second highest rated player in the competition. The game isn't exciting enough to merit full notes, but I will draw your attention to two moments where my desire to play needlessly flashy moves worked out well, and one (unfortunately the last one) where it did not. White's 23rd move is a fine one (if I do say so myself, having not checked it with an engine), ignoring the en prise piece since white can win it back with an advantageous position. Similarly, move 38 is good, relying on a fork to win back the rook and improve the position of the white knight. Sadly, on move 39 I should have just taken the rook rather than continuing to leave it, since we would have arrived at the same position but with the black knight on a worse square. It might still be a draw, but certainly harder to hold than the game, which fizzled out very quickly. I'm therefore already outside the top 10 with that result, so improvement needed for the rest of the tournament.

What about the less handsome members of the club I hear you cry. Well, I think a bit of age defined rivalry is always in order, so over the championship we will be charting people's progress in one of four categories (complaints about who people have been paired with are not welcome and will be ignored):

Team Sprog - composed of Billy, David and Jude. Currently on 83%, courtesy of Jude's fine score of 5/6 in the U9 competition (I'm sure Paul will have more to add on this point.

Team PAYE - composed of Andy, Ben and Joshua. Currently on 50%, the single draw shown above, with my two teammates yet to begin.

Team Charlemagne (in honour of the most important European ruler in power at the time they first played chess against each other)  - composed of Mark, Bernard and Roy. At the time of writing on 67%, with Roy scoring 2/3 in the weekend tournament.

But that is only three teams, I hear you cry, and where is Bruce. Well, unfortunately there were 11 relevant people on Mark's previous message; a number which, after spending 8 years studying maths at university, I can confidently tell you is not divisible by 3. Thus, I needed to bring in a ringer to complete the set, and who better than England's number 1 players, David Howell. I therefore give you:

Team eclectic - composed of Bruce, Vassily and David Howell. Currently on 43%, with a creditable 2/6 in the U9s (and still the U8s to come), and a first round win in the championship for Mr Howell.

My team may not be in first place, but I can console myself with the thought that we are the only team not giving Sajid Javid nightmares, and actually making a positive contribution to the human race (though not this week obviously).

Friday, 26 July 2019

Bumper KCC Presence at the British Championships

The British Championships kick off in Torquay today, with what must surely be a record participation by KCC members - beating the numbers who played when the Championships were on our doorstep at Warwick University in 2015. Anyone would think we were enthusiastic about chess! Check back with me when we have an away match at Banbury in December to see if that still holds true!

We aren't represented in the British Champion ship itself, but we are just about everywhere else! As far as I can tell, the list of current, past and almost KCC members playing at times over the next ten days comprises:-

Current Members

Roy - U1750 (5 rds) + U120 (5 rds) + Weekend Yates (5 rds)
Joshua - Major Open (9 rds) + Morning Open (5 rds)
Bruce - U100 (5 rds) + Rapidplay (9 rds)
Ben - U2050 (5 rds) + U1900 (5 rds)
Andy W - Major Open (9 rds)
The Club Organiser - 65+ Champs (7 rds)
Bernard C - 65+ Champs (7 rds)
Jude - U9 Champs (6 rds)
Billy - U8 Champs (6 rds)

Watching Brief

Paul - coach extraordinaire

Thursday Nighters

Vassily Sagyaman - U8 Champs (6 rds) + U9 Champs (6 rds)
David Phillips - U16 Champs (7 rds)


Nigel Morris -  U1750 (5 rds) + U120 (5 rds) + Weekend Yates (5 rds)
Ed Goodwin - 65+ Champs (7 rds)

Apologies for any errors/omissions from this list.

Roy wins the misplaced enthusiasm prize, with an intended 15 games in three separate tournaments, though this is of course rather pathetic compared to the 43 games Joshua managed in 2015, albeit with a very different tournament schedule which extended over nearly two weeks. As a consequence, no-one is going to match the 23 points he notched up. No pressure on Jude or Billy, but I can't help feel they are the only KCC members who stand any chance of a high placing. I hope I am wrong and that a few others might cause a pleasant surprise - but I'm not holding my breath!

There could well be some KCC head to heads, but I'm sure we'll all still be friends whatever happens in those encounters! Unless I lose to Bernard, in which case he will be off my Xmas Card list before he even gets on it.

Pressure is being brought to bear on the Webmaster to repeat his daily blogging marathon of 2015, so hopefully you will be reading of our many (small) triumphs here over the next ten days.  Torquay here we come!

Monday, 15 July 2019

From the Archives - Part 10, 1993-96

Kenilworth's answer to War and Peace continues.

October 1993 - KCC has a grip on the reins of power in the Leamington League. Tony Russell is the Treasurer; Roy (no kidding!) is not only Secretary, but also the BCF delegate; Bruce is the representative to Warwickshire Chess Association; Bernard is Grader; Ed is the Congress Organiser; Alistair is the Fixtures Secretary and Joe is one of the 2 Vice-Presidents. So 8 positions for us - and 4 for everybody else in the League.

Important information is to hand regarding the Michael Adams simultaneous display. It was indeed organised by the LDCL, with more than 40 participants. The GM's fee was £330 and it had cost another £166.50 to hire the venue. Which may have been the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The League made a loss of £209.42 on the event, which suggests that the board fee was set way too low!

Looking at the list of venues for the 1993-94 season, not a single club was playing in its current location. Of the 10 member clubs, 3 (Chipping Campden, National Grid and Alcester) have subsequently bit the dust.

November 1993 - Very sad news. Our former Chairman, Geoff Temple, who was also one of the club's original members, has died.

May 1994 - We now have 3 internal club tournaments, though this was never even mentioned at the previous AGM.  D. McKenzie is the first winner of the new Kenilworth Trophy with Tony King 2nd and Mike Whatson 3rd. Joe Soesan wins the Tilley Trophy yet again (Bernard 3rd =), while the Soesan Trophy is a great triumph for Bruce who scores an unbeaten 5/6 to finish a full point clear. Chris scores 2.5 and Roy 1.5.

September 1994 - Its AGM time - but we have no record of the meeting! There is clearly a Secretarial vacuum. At least the accounts for the 1993-94 season have survived, and they show a return to profitability, as Geoff King is able to report a surplus of £7.86, even after we have made a £20 donation. To someone. It transpires that the previous year, the club had spent £10 on the President's Evening. This is confusing, as we don't have a President. Anyway, this year it cost us nothing. Our accumulated surplus now stands at £138.56.

May 1995 - The LDCL AGM is held on May 11th at the Sports and Social Club. Nine current Kenilworth members are in attendance, while there is also an appearance by the founder (in 1945)  of our predecessor, the Kenilworth Chess and Draughts Club, Mr Stanley Gibbins together with his wife Hilary. (It subsequently emerges that Olton CC was also formed in 1945. I wonder what the significance of that year could have been?) Mr Gibbins was also the prime mover in the establishment of the LDCL in 1949, and at least one of our current members (Mr Pink) knows that the award for the best percentage score by an LDCL player each season is the Gibbins Trophy.

While the Committee continues to be dominated by KCC members, our influence is on the wane, since Bernard resigns as League Grader due to pressure of work. I always thought they said, "If you want something doing, ask a busy man"? Anyway, Bernard is succeeded by John Naylor. I wonder how that went? The fact that Bruce soon takes over the role may give us an answer.

The first edition of The History of the Leamington League had been produced by Colin Searle, and each club had received a copy. Where is ours now, I wonder. It's not in the files, and I've never even seen it! The League has ambitions to host the British Championships in 2000, to mark 75 years since the event was held in Leamington Spa. I confidently predict that nothing will come of this!

A Fourth Division is to be introduced to the League in the 1995-96 season.

The prizes were presented by Mr Gibbins who then gave an address to the meeting.  He had started playing chess at work in 1942, when he would play his colleague Mr Butt every day. He then started playing twice a week against a Mr Altey of Bertie Road, who recommended him to join Leamington Chess Club (several of us have made that mistake!) where he met a Mr Wallace, another Kenilworthian. who he played at home every Thursday. These 4 men formed the nucleus of the newly formed Lockheed Chess Club. When running the Leamington League, he reported results to 7 local papers! He sent results to his future wife in Barnsley, where she typed them up and returned them in time to be in the papers each Wednesday.  His own departure from the League had been due to work commitments with Lockheed as a draughtsman. He had then moved to Liverpool and Derby to work in the defence industry. His last chess appearance had been at the British Lightning Championships, held in Leamington in 1963. The Kenilworth Chess and Draughts Club had folded after the death of Tom Lee. (The Coventry League at one time played for the Tom Lee Memorial Cup.)

Congratulations to Roy on a really splendid record of the meeting in his role as Secretary - but its very frustrating that we learn of the founding of Lockheed Chess Club, but not the Kenilworth Chess and Draughts Club!

August 1996 - Bruce is now the League Grader, although he is seemingly confused about the date, as he sends out a letter dated August 15th 1995, which from the content must have been August 15th, 1996! The highest graded player in the League is Paul Johnstone of Stratford at 202, followed by Phil Holt (Olton) 190 and Russell James (Rugby) 188.

Here we take a small break for a game played five years earlier between myself and the League's highest graded player, when we were both resident in south London.

I'm rather impressed with how good I was in those days!

In the KCC list we find the first mention of one Andrew JD Baruch(184) who managed to play 1 game for the club that season. Not much changes then! The other active club members are:-

Steve Burnell          160
Joe Soesan              160
George Richards     149
Alistair Dawson      148
Matthew Collinson 142
Steve Booth            139
Tony Russell           139
Peter Bartlett           138
Bernard Rogers       136
Jamie Williams       131
P Baker                    119
Tom Swallow          105
Anthony Hitchins    101
Roy Watson             101
Bruce Holland         100
Tom Dobedoe           98
Chris Aldridge          96
D McKenzie             92
Robert Meteyard       92
Geoff King               87
Tony King                85
Mike Whatson          82
Paul Marsh               54
Simon Whatson        50

Caspar Hitchins
Simon Kermode
Tim Ranger

Well, we've now stuttered up to 1996, but it might be quite difficult to get much further (try not to cry, please), as the club records have already started to fall into a state of disarray. So it's quite possible that the next instalment will have to be the last. Still, at least this will leave a massive "information black hole" for the club's next historian to research!

Friday, 12 July 2019

From the Archives - Part 9, 1992-93 - Pootling Along

Its time for another gripping instalment in the history of Kenilworth Chess Club...…..

May 1992 - Joe Soesan wins the Tilley Trophy yet again, but there is an outstanding play off in the Soesan Trophy, to be played between Simon Kermode and George Richards. This had still not been played by the AGM!

September 1992 - Bernard has acquired a printer! For the first time since he became Secretary, the AGM minutes are typed and legible! So now I can clearly see that on September 10th a couple more familiar names finally make a first appearance - both Tony King and Mike Whatson appear on the scene, as 17 people attend the AGM and three more apologise for their absence, including former Chairman Geoff Temple, who has resigned from the club.

The meeting hears that the A team finished 3rd and the B team 8th (or last as it is also known) in Division 1; the C team 5th of 6 in Division 2; and the D team - where else? - 3rd of 7 in Division 3. Two new clubs had joined the League, Olton (in retrospect, allowing this was an historic mistake of considerable magnitude!!) and National Grid, but AP had folded. Joe Soesan successfully defended his British Veterans title.

It was a different time, and in an outburst of pro-European charitable spirit, the club had donated a chess clock to a blind girls' school in Romania. In another example of community outreach, the Secretary reported that he was trying to arrange an open morning at Kenilworth Library. And there is no limit to our generosity, as we also decide to let National Grid players into our internal tournaments free of charge.

For the first time ever there is an official mention of the Chairman's social evening, about the lack of which I have been berated many times in recent years. (Even though I have never been Chairman!) Maybe Chris instituted this concept in 1992? It had certainly died by the time I joined in 2012.

For the first time since he took over as Treasurer, Geoff King's accounts show a loss - £8.03. But with an accumulated surplus of £151.68, subs are - yet again - left unchanged at £6.50/£3.00.

The Committee is re-elected en bloc, though Chris is already angling to escape the Chairmanship, saying he won't do it for more than 2-3 years. Bruce is to be B Team Captain; Roy in charge of the C team; and Tony will lead the D team. We will also have an E team Captain, but apparently the Secretary didn't think it worth mentioning that we were expanding to 5 teams!

May 1993 - the Tilley Trophy was shared by serial winners Steve Burnell and Joe Soesan, and the Soesan Trophy also saw a tie between Chris and Anthony Hitchins. After the experience of the previous season, the Secretary is clearly having no truck with play offs from now on.

September 1993 - 15 people attend the AGM on September 2nd, and 8 send apologies.

For some unexplained reason, the 1991-92 Soesan Trophy play-off has still not taken place, even though the 92-93 competition has now been finished. Neither Simon Kermode nor George Richards is in attendance to explain matters.

The A team had finished 2nd in the league, while the B team bounced back from its relegation to Division 2 by coming first and getting promoted back to the top division. The C team came 5th in Division 2, and in Division 3 the D team for once did not come third (finishing fifth) - but the E team did. An excellent debut (?) season. Alcester were reportedly returning to the league in the coming season.

And massive kudos to Tony Russell, who had defeated Mickey Adams in a simultaneous (possibly organised by the Leamington League, but the Secretary can't be bothered to tell us).

The open morning at the Library had attracted some publicity, but had not produced any new members. (So we won't bother trying that again!)

On the financial front it looked like the club was reliving the Rogers years of spend, spend, spend, as the Treasurer reported another loss, this time of £20.98. The club's reserves were now down to £130.70, but for the umpteenth year in a row the subs were kept at the same level.

The Aldridge/Rogers/King triumvirate maintained their vice-like grip on power, but the meeting now turned ugly as attention shifted to the election of captains and team formation issues. At stake was a place in the B team. Bruce had been a member of the Division 2 winning team, but had had a "disappointing season" (manager-speak was alive and well, even in those days) and his grade was now 12 points below Vince Mulholland (a new name on me). So, in the apparent absence of a 10 point rule, the club had to decide who should be in the B team next season. The answer now would be both, as someone in the A team wouldn't play very often, but then it seems as though people were happy to commit to play in more or less every match! So the meeting had a vote and by 9-0, with 3 abstentions, it was decided that Vince would be in the B team.

But to bring him down to earth the meeting then did the dirty and voted him in as B team captain. That'll teach him! As befits a future Clubman of the Year, Roy carried on as C team captain. While Alastair Dawson was a familiar name as the A Team Captain, who on earth were Robert Meteyard and David McKenzie, who took over the D and E teams??

And if this was not enough chess for the club, we had organised a 20 board (!!) friendly against Stratford. Presumably, to get that many people to the board, no excuses for absence would be entertained! Was this the first three line whip in KCC history?

We will never find out what happened at the Chairman's social evening in 1992, but it was obviously a success, as there is going to be another one on December 9th. Mine's a pint!

So the last two years were not too exciting, but full credit to the club for fielding 5 teams - something that we are unable to do today, even with more members. But there is no doubt the excitement of the early and then the glory years has died down. The club is already slipping into comfortable middle age. What it needs is a wake-up call and some new blood! But there's still the best part of 20 years before I arrive on the scene, so we'll have to wait for that.

Monday, 8 July 2019

From the Archives - Part 8, 1990-91 - The Glory Days Are Over

The story continues...…

May 1990 - The results are in for both the Tilley and Soesan Trophies, and these were won by, respectively, Steve Burnell and Geoff King after 7 and 8 player all-play-alls. Possibly for the first time ever, all games were scheduled for specific club nights, when a no-show presumably meant a loss by default. The admin effort obviously affected the Secretary's playing ability, though, as Bernard could only score 3.5/6 to finish third equal with Joe Soesan. Bruce only manages 1 point in the Tilley Trophy, but this still leaves him clear of Roy, who has a solitary draw to his name!

September 1990 - On September 13th 12 people (including Bernard, Bruce, Chris and Roy) attend the latest club AGM at Kenilworth Sports and Social Club (yes, a name change for our venue!), with 6 apologies for absence. How nice that people remembered such courtesies in those days. I bet our members still gave up their seat on the bus to old ladies, too. The meeting hears that the delayed 1988-89 KO Cup final was lost to Rugby, and that Roy had won the 88-89 Soesan Trophy. Much good it did him given his performance in the 1989-90 Tilley Trophy!

Adam Collinson had increased his grade to 210; Joe had again finished second in the British Veterans Championship; and Steve Burnell had beaten Ed Goodwin in the LDCL Individual Cup. But it seems as though the good news ended there. The A team had come second in Division 1, but the club's glory days seem to be over, as the B team finished last of the seven teams and the C team repeated this performance in Division 2. The D team was third of 6 in Division 3. And the KO Cup - where we had reached the final against Leamington - was again running late (the League didn't run a very tight ship in those days, did they?). Though this minuted information looks highly suspect, given that the name of Rugby is engraved on the Cup itself (currently on my mantelpiece) for 1990!

Financially, we seem to have recovered from the spend, spend, spend years of the previous Treasurer, and another surplus (£14.36) was reported, taking our balance to £144.37. This enabled subs to stay unchanged yet again, at £6.50 for adults and £3.00 for juniors, while also making provision to buy two new clocks. That's the way it should have been done, Bernard!

The Club Officers were all re-elected, but there were some changes to the match captains. Most conspicuously, Roy was back as C team supremo!

May 1991 - Joe Soesan wins the Tilley Trophy with 6/7. Bernard is second on 5 points, while Bruce scores his traditional 1 point (a win v Roy!), and Roy doubles his score of the previous year, and might have done even better if he could have been bothered to play all the games! The Soesan Trophy is a massive triumph for Chris who scores an amazing 6.5/7! And only two of those were wins by default! One A.Weeks is less successful with 0/7 - mind you, he only actually played his round one game.

September 1991 - 15 people attend the AGM on September 5th, but one of them is Steve Rumsby from Banbury! Who let him in? And why? There are 2 apologies for absence. Bruce arrives late, but nowhere near as late as he subsequently took to arriving for our Thursday evening sessions, as the meeting closes at 9.35.

The A team finished 3rd of 8 in Division 1, and we now we learn that, despite their woeful efforts the season before, neither the B or C teams were relegated. The B team had come 6th in Division 1 and the C team 6th of 7 in Division 2. A massive improvement for both! The D team seemingly likes coming third in Division 3 and had done so again. We lost again in the KO Cup Final, this time against Rugby. (Who we may or may not have lost to the year before!)

Joe had won the League Individual for the umpteenth time, and had also triumphed in the British Veterans' Championship! A national title for Kenilworth!! He also won the League Best Game prize. Tony Russell is the League u-125 Champion, while it is noted that Bernard came second in both the League's QP tournaments. That's one more than I ever knew there were!

Another surplus is reported (£19.00) even after buying two clocks, and the subs are unchanged yet again.  Apparently some club members had not paid their Sports & Social Club dues. Nothing changes.

Unfortunately, Geoff Temple has to stand down as Chair because of ill health, having overseen the KCC Glory Years. The meeting gives a massive vote of thanks. Chris is voted in as successor, with the rest of the Committee unchanged. Bernard takes over as A team captain (for the first time I think) and Roy is C team Captain once again.

How exciting! There is a vote over the formation of the A team! Joe proposes the 4 best players should be in the A team and so on for the other teams (obviously a revolutionary concept!), but the meeting votes this down by 6-4. A rival proposal by Bernard (seconded by Roy) that varies the first by excluding Alastair Dawson from the A team is approved by 7-3. As Alastair is then elected/appointed B team captain, I presume it would have been rather inconvenient to put him in the A team! Fancy that, though, team selection by democracy!? Let's hope this crazy idea doesn't catch on.

So that brings us up to just 28 years ago, and there are still only four current (2019) members in the club. When will all the newbies start turning up, I wonder?

Sunday, 7 July 2019

The Dynamic Duo Strike Again!

Just one day after Jude and Billy were hogging the KCC website headlines with news of their imminent international adventures, there is more tremendous news to report of our Dynamic Duo. At yesterday's Midlands Gigafinal of the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge in Solihull, both Jude and Billy won their age group tournaments and qualified to the Terafinals, the ultimate stage of the world's biggest junior chess tournament.

Billy was in scintillating form in the Boys u-7 and chalked up a fantastic 6/6 performance to secure the Terafinal qualifying place by a whole point in a field of 47. Watch out Minsk! Meanwhile Jude, last year's u-8 Terafinal champion, had to show all his fighting qualities after a loss in Round 3. But in winning all his remaining games he found himself in a 4-way tie for first on 5/6 in the Boys u-9 event (43 players), but crucially first alone when the tie breaks were applied. Phew!!

Paul's more detailed report of the event can be found here where you will also find a picture of a very happy Terrific Trio (Paul plus the Dynamic Duo, of course!)

So its even more congratulations to both of our KCC champions, who now have another mega-event to look forward to in September. Which gives them plenty of time to warm up by giving some of the more senior members of the club a few good Thursday whoopings before the Terafinals!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Taking on Europe and the World!

Great news! Our two youngest members, Jude Shearsby and Billy Fellowes, will both be in international action for England next month.

Jude, of course, is something of an old hand at this, having already represented England in the 2018 European Youth Chess Championships in Riga (Latvia), the birthplace of former World Champion, Mikhail Tal. And in August he will be heading to Bratislava (Slovakia), the birthplace of multiple Czechoslovakian champion, Lubomir Ftacnik, to play in the 2019 event. He should be in good spirits, having just won the season long under 9 section of the English Chess Youth Grand Prix. (Though the photo dates from Jude's hippy phase - he's much more streamlined now!)

Billy, meanwhile, will be making his international debut in an even more exotic location, when he takes part in the World Cadets Rapid and Blitz Championship in Minsk (Belarus) - the birthplace of World Championship finalist, Boris Gelfand. Billy is no stranger to success, having already claimed the London and Northern Junior Championships in his age group this year. For more background on Billy's upcoming Belarus adventure click here.

The very best of luck from everyone at KCC to our two very popular members, as they make these hugely exciting, but challenging, trips to cross swords (metaphorically speaking!) with the very best players in their age groups from Europe and the World. Go Jude! And go Billy! We'll all be cheering you on.

And many congratulations to their coach, our own Paul Lam, who can be massively proud of his role in helping to develop the special talents of these two remarkable youngsters.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

The Worst Game of Chess Ever Played?

I realise that it's been rather heavy going on the Club website recently - all this historical stuff and reports of League AGMs can get more than a bit turgid. So how about a little light relief, in the shape of what could be one of the worst games of chess ever played?!

I was, of course, one of the participants and my partner in crime on this night of shame was Dave Thomas of Shirley. Now Dave, as most of you will know, is one of the nicest guys around and also one of England's leading arbiters and administrators, so it pains me to show him in a slightly less favourable light like this. But this was clearly not his usual standard of play, and I hope that Dave would agree that the publication of the game should be of great value to English chess if it prevents even one person from playing so badly in future!

I had better get my own excuse in now, before anyone actually sees the game. I had arrived back from a business trip to Singapore earlier the same day, so I am claiming that I was badly affected by jet-lag. And I guess Dave had travelled all the way from Birmingham to Leamington (yes, I was still playing for our neighbours in those days!) by train, so he was probably suffering from much the same issue as me!

Anyway, here it is - the Immortal Jet-Lag Game

So, the gauntlet has been thrown down - anyone who thinks they have played a worse game than this must now accept the challenge and reveal all!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

From the Archives - Part 7, 1988-89 - Too Successful?

Once again, we open the back files of KCC, but this time with some trepidation. The Bruce years had been characterised by immaculate record keeping, but what will happen now that Bernard has taken over the secretarial duties? I have my fingers crossed that standards will be maintained...…

May 1988 - its business as usual on the board, as the A team romps to a third successive Division 1 title after an undefeated season - finishing a massive ten points ahead of runners-up Banbury A and Stratford A. The B team finishes a creditable 6th of 9 (also in Division 1) while the C team come joint 3rd (of 6) in Division 2, but only escape relegation on game points, as the bottom four teams all finish with 9 pts! Joe Soesan won the League Individual title; Tony Russell the u125; and Bernard the League Quickplay (presumably actually Lightning or Blitz), to provide even more excuses for an end of season celebration. But lacking a Social Secretary, there was presumably no-one to organise it.

September 1988 - The AGM is held on the 8th of the month at the Working Men's Club. Already things have taken a turn for the worse on the Secretarial front, as Bernard's Luddite tendencies have seen him resort to quill and ink (aright, actually a biro) to record the Minutes. Oh for Bruce's printed versions!

What may be a record turn-out of 15 is in attendance, though 4 people are only present for part of the meeting. Chris is one of them - doubtless summoned to Little Park Street at short notice by a desperate client. There are 3 apologies - Roy, Joe Soesan and Geoff King (the Treasurer). Despite his absence, Geoff is able to present an altogether more acceptable set of accounts than Bernard had managed the previous year. We had made a surplus of £46.50 on an income of only £88.60. Now that's what I call running a tight ship! Our cash balance is now at the heady heights of £61.66, and subs are pegged at £6.50 for adults and £3 for juniors. Despite the turnout of 15 at the AGM, the meeting is told that membership had fallen from 18 to 14. I get easily confused.

The meeting is told that Anthony Kelly had triumphed in the Tilley Trophy, with Matthew Collinson winning the Soesan Trophy - though Bernard's records indicate that an awful lot of games were never played, especially in the Tilley competition, and the offending participants were duly admonished (though possibly not named and shamed) by the Secretary. We had lost to Chelmsley Wood in Rd 1 of the National Club - though it is anyone's guess which section we played in. Imprecision is already apparent in the Minute taking! Congratulations are offered to Adam Collinson for his tournament achievements during the year.

In the wider world, the LDCL beat both the Worcester League and the Coventry League in friendlies - though defaults by the opposition in the latter spoiled the match. Another local club bit the dust, as Alcester went under.

While most of the Committee and officers are re-elected, Roy is replaced as C team captain by Geoff King. Surely not a reflection on his organisational abilities?

April 28th 1989 - An extra-ordinary event requires the club to hold an Extra-ordinary General Meeting! How exciting!! The C team has only gone and won Division 2, so the club has to decide in advance of the League AGM whether to accept promotion and run 3 teams in Division 1 next season. Clearly there is a lot of interest, as the WMC is packed (I exaggerate) with 12 people attending (including Bernard, Chris and Roy), with another 4 apologies. Amongst C team players, Matthew Collinson and Geoff King want promotion, but Bruce and Tony Russell don't.

It seems that everyone has something to say on the subject - except Bruce who isn't present! - and Bernard records the opinions for posterity. But they are rather boring, so they are staying in the file. (For example, note the following entry - "Roy Watson confirmed the team's right to be promoted." Thanks Roy we know that - it's why we're having an EGM!!)

A vote is held - unbelievably this is also tied at 5-5. The Chairman asks Bernard how the absentees might have voted, and Bernard has in fact already canvassed their opinion and puts it at 3 against promotion and 1 for. So the Chairman (Geoff Temple) votes to maintain the status quo, and the C team will not go up to Division 1. Like me, you have probably done the maths and spotted that 12 people present; less the Chairman comes to 11. So who didn't vote at this pivotal moment in the Club's history?? Unless Bernard spills the beans, we will probably never know. In the selfless style he is known for, Bernard ends the meeting by offering to stand down from the A or B teams to become a reserve, so as to enable Geoff King to play in Division 1. The lengths that man will go to for Kenilworth Chess Club makes me want to cry.

August 1989 - its Grading List time and there is no doubt who is top dog in the Club:-

1   Adam Collinson      204

followed somewhere in the distance by

2   Ed Goodwin             167
3   Joe Soesan              166
4   Alistair Dawson       151
5   Bernard Rogers       150
6   Steve Burnell           142
7   Anthony Kelly          141
8   John Skinner            138
9   Matthew Collinson   134
10 Tony Russell            122

Lower down we find:-

Roy Watson                 104
Bruce Holland              103

But Chris has been careless and has lost his grade. (There you go, Stuart, you are not the first!)

September 1989 - 14 attend the latest AGM, and 5 more are sorry they can't. Bernard, Chris, Roy and Bruce are all there as are the likes of Ed Goodwin, Steve Burnell and Matthew Collinson.

With no League Tables on file (shame, Mr Secretary!) only now do I learn that the A team had been judged by the League to have defaulted its final match of the season against Rugby, and had only finished 3rd. A 4-timer was not to be. The B team had finished in their usual position of 6th, while as we know the C team had won Division 2 ……..  and apparently we also had a D team, though this is the first I have heard about this, too! It finished 3rd in Division 4. For some reason the KO Cup was still in progress.

There were many individual performances of note during the previous year. Adam Collinson had scored 5/11 in the British Championship (played at Plymouth, with Michael Adams winning for the first time), while Joe Soesan had come 2nd in the Veterans and Matthew Collinson had scored 2.5/7 in the u-16 event. (I actually went to spectate at this one afternoon on a visit from Truro,, where I was on holiday!) While we can't boast of anyone in the Championship itself this year, we'll have many more than 3 club participants at Torquay in a few weeks time! Adam had also come 2nd in the Warwickshire Championship (winning the u21 title in the process) and had scored 4/5 for England in the Glorney Cup. Barry Ades had come 2nd in the Police Championships, and Tony Russell had won the LDCL u125 Cup for the second successive year. And it would be churlish of me to omit the fact that Bernard had won the Tilley Trophy. But the Soesan Trophy had still not been completed, so the Secretary's censures of the previous year, had clearly fallen on deaf ears.

The Treasurer had produced another great set of accounts for the club, with a surplus of £68.35, and an overall balance of £130.01. The club is now so awash with cash that Chris proposes we give the WMC £10 for use as a raffle prize, by way of thanks. Subs remain unaltered.

The main officers of the club remained in place, but there was clearly some spirited discussion about the following season's teams as these were only decided "after much debate". But it seems as though interest was much less in the National Club Championships, as no-one wanted to play in  it.

Well that brings us up to just 30 years ago. How long is this series going to be?? I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew - but in the words of that great poet Shania Twain, "I ain't no quitter". So I'll see you here again soon, for Part 8. We might even be half way if we're lucky.