Thursday, 30 December 2021

Photo of the Year!

No, its not the answers to the Christmas Quiz. You'll have to wait a day or two longer for those. Instead we have a clear winner in the Photo of the Year competition. What? You didn't know there was such a thing? Well, neither did I until a few moments ago, when I dreamed up the idea while desperate for a title for this article.  Never mind, because we have a truly iconic image which is right up there with other great snaps featured here previously. Such as:-

  • Roy standing next to Anish Giri
  • Me in play - and about to win - against GM Mark Hebden
  • Me sitting in a chair that Bobby Fischer had sat in
  • A car with a funny number plate in Prague
And here it is!

Jude putting up a mighty fight in a clock simul against legendary GM, Boris Gelfand, at the London Chess Classic, 10/12/21. A man who came agonisingly close to becoming World Champion in 2012, when he lost to Vishy Anand in a rapid play off after a 6-6 draw.

Jude gave it a terrific go, and as late as move 29, my chess engine says that Jude was slightly better - despite ending up in a line where Boris has a score of 6.5/7 against GM opposition! But as the number of participants/survivors reduced, Jude had the near full focus of Boris' genius turned against him, and he eventually went down in a knight v bishop ending after 55 moves. A really great effort against one of the giants of the modern game.
And if you are at a loose end, why not have a look at the documentary on that 2012 World Championship match? Though if I recall correctly, it isn't exactly a barrel of laughs!

Friday, 24 December 2021

2021 Christmas Quiz

Hello again, guys and gals, and welcome to the 2021 edition of the KCC Christmas Quiz. The fifth in an epic series of mind games created exclusively for the discerning readership of this website. This year we again have a straightforward chess general knowledge quiz. The questions range from the obvious to the obscure - with more of the latter than the former!. It is a matter for your own conscience whether you use reference sources or not, but I can guarantee that you won't find all the answers on Wikipedia. Hopefully Joshua will take rather longer to submit his entry than he did last year - there were just 6 hrs 18 minutes between me posting the questions and him posting his answers. In one respect I've already scuppered him, as by delaying this article he can't possibly submit his response before 23.21 on December 22nd, as he did last year.

There are 50 questions, and a maximum of 150 points to be won. I will be truly amazed if anyone scores over 75 without using outside assistance. and in fact that could well be a reasonable score even if you do feel inclined to phone a friend or surf the net. And I am pretty confident that even Chessy McChessbrain would be unable to score maximum points - and I'm pretty sure that no-one in KCC qualifies for that particular soubriquet!

So off you go, and good luck. You'll need it! And take your time. There's never anything good on TV these days, so you'll be glad of something to do over Christmas. Answers will be posted here ........ when I get around to it!



In which country did Bobby Fischer play his first competitive chess game outside the USA (in 1956)? (1 pt)


Which American future GM won the 1957 World Junior Championship with a score of 11/11? (The only player ever to score 100% in this event.) (1 pt)


What connection with the chess world do the following have:-

 a) Stephen Dwyer and Victoria Sheppard

b) Petronella Hajny

c) Ponchik

d) Paul Nemenyi

e) Joan Targ

f) Klara Shagenovna

(6 pts total)


Which nation won the men’s Olympiad title 4 times in the 1930s, but has only won it twice since? (1 pt)


In the 1970 Match of the Century, who replaced Spassky in the USSR team on Board 1 for the final round? (1 pt)


Prior to 2021, who was the last person other than Jovanka Houska to be British Women’s Champion? (1 pt)


Which super-GM got attacked by a horde of mosquitoes during an online tournament in 2021? (1 pt)


Only 2 women players born in Western Europe currently hold the full Grand Master title. Who are they?

And which two other female full GMs are currently registered with West European federations?

 (4 pts total)


How many women, both active and inactive, currently hold the full GM title?

(2 pts for the right answer; 1 pt within 5 either way)


Which British GM undertook a 3 week search for the Giant Octopus off the coast of Bermuda in 1999? (1 pt)


Which British Champions (all since 1970) have had the following middle names:-

 a) Roland

b) Ratcliffe

c) Edwin

d) Wei Liang

(4 pts total)


Which Grand Master, a fellow participant in the tournament, hit Bobby Fischer during an argument at the 1962 Curacao Interzonal? ( 1 pt)


Who was crowned British Champion on the 4 occasions that the event was held in Warwickshire/West Midlands?

 a) Stratford 1925

b) Leamington 1958

c) Coventry 1970

d) Coventry 2015

(4 pts total)


In which countries were the following players born:-

 a) Jim Plaskett

b) Hikaru Nakamura

c) Wesley So

d) Vera Menchik

e) Miguel Najdorf

f) Yasser Seirawan

g) Leinier Dominguez

h) Irina Krush

 i) And in which country was Bobby Fischer’s sister born?

(9 pts total)


Where comes next in this sequence:-


Khanty Mansiysk



(1 pt)


What was Bobby Fischer’s first ever published chess rating (USCF - 4 digits)?

(2 points if within 20 of the correct answer. 1 point if within 100)


In which major sport was the splendidly named Belgian, Benoni Beheyt, the 1963 World Champion? (1 pt)


a) In 2021, which Australian Grand Master introduced the Fighting Chess Index, to measure the combative spirit of the world’s top players? (1 pt)

b) Amongst the World’s top 50 (average ELO 2015-2020), which two super-GMs were ranked first and last on the Index? (2 pts)

c) And from the World’s top 100, which two English GMs were ranked in the top 6 for fighting spirit? (2 pts)

d) And when the sample was widened to include everyone averaging over 2400, which England-based GM was one of only three for whom more than 50% of games ended in a short draw (under 30 moves)? And which former FIDE World Champion was also in this group? (2 pts)

e) And who had the highest Fighting Chess Index figure amongst women? (Clue: in the 2021 Gibraltar Women’s GP she had ten successive decisive games before drawing in the last round after 135 moves!) (1 pt)

(Total 8 pts)


Name the 8 players who appeared at least once when England came second at three consecutive men’s Olympiads in the 1980s (1984/86/88)

(8 pts total)


To which Grand Masters are the following GMs/WGMs currently married?

 a) Antoaneta Stefanova

b) Victorija Cmiylte

c) Alina Kashlinskaya

d) Kateryna Lagno

e) Anna Zatonski

f) Alexandra Kosteniuk

g) Jovana Vojinovic

(6 pts total)

 And name the GM first husbands of:-

g) Victorija Cmiylte

h) Kateryna Lagno

(2 pts total)

 i) Aside from chess, what do Stefanova and Cmiylte have in common, career-wise?

(1 pt)


A literary/cinematic interlude!

 a) Who wrote the 1983 novel, “The Queen’s Gambit”, on which the recent Netflix series was based?

b) What was the title of this author’s 1959 novel, later made into a classic Hollywood film starring Paul Newman?

c) What was his 1963 novel, later made into a British film, starring David Bowie?

d) And what was his 1984 novel, a sequel to (b), later made into a Hollywood film starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise?

e) Which all-time great Hollywood actor drew a 1956 simultaneous game (with Black) against Samuel Reshevsky? Clue – in his most famous/iconic role, he is seen studying a chess position while dressed in a white dinner jacket.

(5 pts total)


When Bobby Fischer played his only ever competitive game in the UK in 1960 (a consultation game for a radio programme), what was his fee from the BBC?

(Exact amount required for a point!)

 And for another point, in which London street, synonymous with high quality in its specialist field, did he spend it?

(2 pts total)


Jovanka Houska has won 9 British Women’s Championships. But who holds the record with 11? (1 pt)


And now one for all you artists out there.

a) Which world famous artist played in the 1930 Olympiad

b) Name the reigning World Champion who played in the same team.

c) And what country were they both representing?

(3 pts total)


And let’s not forget the music fans:-

a) On what instrument was Mark Taimanov a virtuoso?

b) Which future World Champion failed an opera singing audition at The Bolshoi Theatre in 1950?

c) Which mega-famous singer-songwriter, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, played in the 1972 American Open in Santa Monica? Hope she looked at the possibilities from both sides before making a move!

d) Which famous rock star sang old pop, R&B and soul hits all night with Bobby Fischer at the Hotel Borg in Reykjavik in 2005? Clue - sometimes known as the grandmother of punk or the punk poet laureate, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Second clue – her most famous album is named after chess pieces. Well, sort of!

(4 pts total)


Which super-GM, often called the nicest person in chess, shares his name with a model of Nissan pick-up truck? (1 pt)


Who won the 1994 Lloyd’s Bank Open in London, with a score of 9.5/10, at the age of just 17? (1 pt)


Identify the following famous chess players:-

a) Born The Hague 1927, Died Amsterdam 1988

b) Born Sydney 1949, Died Las Vegas 2015

c) Born Riga 1886, Died Copenhagen 1935

d) Born Prague 1836; Died New York 1900

e) Born Tbilisi 1929; Died Moscow 1984

f) Born Baku 1986; Died Heidelberg 2014

(6 pts total)


Which two players jointly hold the record for most appearances (23) in the Soviet Championships?

(2 pts total)


What did the following have in common for most of 2021:-

Ian Nepomniatchi

Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid and France footballer)

Orlando Bloom (Hollywood actor)

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid and Wales footballer)

(1 pt)


Since 1950, eleven people have held the record as the youngest Grand Master ever.  Name them!


3 x USSR; 2 x Hungary; 2 x Ukraine; 2 x USA; 1 x France; 1 x China

(11 pts total)


The son of which 2 time British Champion (himself more famous for his wartime non-chess achievements!) won a silver medal for fencing at the 1960 Olympics, and also became the UK ambassador to NATO?

(1 pt)


a) Who beat Garry Kasparov in 7 moves in the Croatia Grand Chess Tour Blitz Tournament in 2021?

b) Who beat Anatoly Karpov in 11 moves at the 1993 Wijk aan Zee tournament?

c) And who beat Vishy Anand in 6 moves at Biel in 1988?

(3 pts total)


a) Which hobbling GM, now registered for Germany, almost had his plastered foot trodden on by the KCC Chairman at Radebeul in 2018? Clue: he played in the 1970 USSR v World Match of the Century.

b) And, also at Radebeul in 2018, which 3 time Candidates Semi-Finalist, also now registered with Germany, did the KCC Chairman describe as – and he should know! – “a big unit”.

(2 pts total)


a) After which legendary GM is the annual FIDE Fairplay Award named?

b) And who won it in 2021 for conceding an online tournament game against Ding Liren to offset an unfortunate disconnect by his opponent in the previous game?

(2 pts total )


a) Which of the following has never been World Blitz Champion:-

Levon Aronian; Lenier Dominguez; Hikaru Nakamura; Vassily Ivanchuk? (1 pt)

 b) And which of the following has never been World Rapid Champion:-

Levon Aronian; Vishy Anand; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov;  Vassily Ivanchuk? (1 pt)


Which famous annual tournament, now discontinued, was sponsored by Luis Rentero and held at the Hotel Anibal.

And who won the 1994 edition with an undefeated 11/13, which was assessed at the time as the best tournament performance ever?

(2 pts total)


In which city would you find the John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection – described as “the largest chess library in the world”? (1 pt)


Which GM, born 2004, shares a name with the nerve gas used in the Tokyo subway terrorist attack in 1995? (1 pt)


Some very easy points on offer here. Name the 14 players who have ever had a published FIDE rating of 2800 or more.

Anyone scoring less than 6 as an absolute minimum should not be doing this quiz!

 (14 pts)


Who is the oldest living Grand Master? Clue; He was a 1 time Champion of the USSR and his daughter married Mark Taimanov. (1 pt)


Which East European GM (1937-2000) lost against Korchnoi at the 1972 Moscow Olympiad after putting his score sheet, with his sealed move, into his pocket, rather than into the adjournment envelope! (1 pt)


Which West European GM (1925-2006), a legal professional, was described by Anatoly Karpov as “the undisputed World Champion amongst amateurs”? Clue - he played 12 times in Olympiads for his country, 10 of them on top board. (1 pt)


Which Yugoslav GM (1944-2008) was the subject of the 2021 book, “Forgotten Genius”? (1 pt)


As at December 9th, who was the only GM registered under the FIDE, as opposed to a national, flag. Clue – it wasn’t Alireza Firouzja! (1 pt)


Prior to Ravi Haria, who were the last three English players to gain the GM title? (3 pts)


Four of these names from the December FIDE rating list  are Grand Masters, and four are rated  under 2000. Can you identify the 4 GMs?

Batbileg Ganbold

Orest Gritsak

Yue Hu

Vasil Kochev

Samput Mallick

Zbigniew Pakleza

Mishra Swayams

Henry Urday

(4 pts)


Who has been a second for the winning player in no less than 8 world championships (7 matches and 1 tournament)? (1 pt)


Name the top 5 boards (correct order not required!) for the Rest of the World team in the second “Match of the Century” against the USSR (London, 1984) (5pts)


Who won the 2021 European Blitz Championship, despite losing 28 rating points in the process? (1 pt)

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Half Time

We've reached the mid-point of the season in both the Leamington and Coventry Leagues ..... assuming we don't find ourselves suspended again in the New Year. That would be a great pity, as KCC has had a stellar first half of the season, as can be seen by a summary of our performances

Leamington League

Division 1
Kenilworth A - Played 5, Won 4, Drawn 1, Lost 0 - Points 9, Position 1st
Kenilworth B - Played 5, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 2 - Points 5, Position 2nd

Division 2
Kenilworth C - Played 6, Won 3, Drawn 2, Lost 1 - Points 8, Position 2nd

Division 4
Kenilworth D - Played 4, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 1 - Points 5, Position 2nd

Coventry League

Division 1
Kenilworth - Played 5, Won 4, Drawn 1, Lost 0 - Points 9, Position 1st

And if that isn't enough, we're also through to the semi-finals of all three Leamington League KO Cups, which has never happened before in my time with the club, as far as I can remember. And we didn't get a Round 1 bye in any of them. The same again in the second half of the season will do very nicely, because at the moment we are only half way to paradise!

In the truncated season 2019-20, we had 24 different players turn out for us at least once. Inevitably things have changed a bit since then, with people like Algis and Drago departing for pastures new - and very distant - and some long standing members not returning post-lockdown. To compensate for that, though, we have had a renewed surge of enthusiasm from some former members, and the online chess explosion (or was it The Queen's Gambit?) has sent several new members our way. So in the first half of the season we have had 19 different players make at least one competitive start - from a much reduced fixture list - and I would hope that four more (Andy, Andy, Ed and Vincent - I daren't even dream about Paul playing!) ) might be cajoled to the board in the second half of the season.

But that's quite enough about our teams, club spirit or any other of that soft emotional malarkey - chess is an individual game, and what we all really want to know is how are we doing in the Player of the Year competition. Now normally, you would need to play a minimum of 10 games to qualify, but with a reduced fixture list for all our teams (except in the Coventry League) that won't do this season. I think maybe 6 is an appropriate minimum requirement, so at half-time, really anyone and everyone has a chance of meeting this thresh-hold. (Assuming we don't get stopped in our tracks again!) The top 10 - containing some surprising names, and some surprising omissions, currently looks like this:-

1= Billy, Lionel and Toby 100%
4  Roy 90%
5  Andrew 88.9%
6 Hector 83.3%
7 Will 75%
8 Mark 72.7%
9 Ben 70.8%
10 Bernard R 66.7%

Where, oh where, I hear you cry, is the only ever double winner of the POTY award, J. Pink, Esq? Languishing with the also rans, is the answer after losing 2 games in the first half of the season. (Though it should be noted that he did do the decent thing and lose to me in the Coventry League!)

So, its all to play for - as long as we are allowed to play. We may well have a new name on the cup - from the current top ten, only Roy (2015) and Andrew (2016) have previously held the POTY. One thing I can definitely predict, though, is that no -one will play as many games as Mike when he won the trophy in 2018 - an amazing 42!!

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

KCC Road Trips - Number 3 - The US Midwest

Yeehah! Line up the wagons; hitch up the horses and off we head into the west on the third KCC road trip. On our 1,194 mile journey, which will take us 17 hours and 35 minutes - plus comfort stops! - we're going to call in at another seven places named after KCC members. After which we will certainly have earned a cuppa followed by a long lie down.

We start our trip in Rogers, Ohio. You'd think one of our founder members deserved a more impressive town to be named after him than this village in Columbiana County, which has a population of just 237. Mind you, it is home to one of the biggest flea-markets in Ohio, so that at least shows a bit more respect.

In 3 hours 2 minutes we should have covered the 181 miles west, slicing between Akron and Cleveland and turning off the I-90 at Fremont and making our way to Lake Mottram, in the town of Fostoria. This is actually a bit of a cheat by me, as it's not much of a lake - more a large pool actually - but any town that has a purpose built viewing platform for train-spotters (I kid you not!) deserves a mention in my book.

But, mention over, its on for another 147 miles/2 hrs 19 mins to the small town of Eaton. I say small, but its positively gigantic compared to little Rogers, with a population of 8,407. Eaton is obviously a bit of a cultural oasis as its the birthplace of both Victor J Banis ("the godfather of modern popular gay fiction") and Jane LeCompte who, under the name of Jane Ashford, has written over 20 romantic novels. Good luck trying to borrow either author's works from Kenilworth Library!

After more than 5 hours of driving, we're still in Ohio, having travelled across virtually the whole state from east to west, but the next leg of our journey - a comparative sprint of 67 miles/ 1hr 18 mins - takes us over the border into Indiana, to the town of Eaton. What the ....?? Yes, we're in a second place named after one of our post-pandemic new members. We like to be welcoming, but don't you think its a bit pushy to get two mentions in one article, Patrick?! Anyway, this is a much smaller Eaton, mustering just 1,805 inhabitants. But still miles bigger than tiny, wee Rogers.

Regrettably, there's not even a flea market to detain us any longer, so we press on west for 133 miles/2 hrs 10 mins to Seymour, Indiana. Having already got a name check in Part 2 of this series, I might also think that Noah is being a bit pushy, too, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt on that.  Anyway, we are now in a serious metropolis, as Seymour is a city of over 17,500 folks. Supposedly named after the then head of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, Seymour is home to the second largest high school gym in the USA. which I'm guessing makes it pretty big! It is also the site of the world's first ever (moving) train robbery in 1866, by the Reno gang. For whom it didn't end well - they were lynched at Hangman's Crossing, the name of which maybe should have given them a warning about local justice practices! All this, and the birthplace of John Cougar Mellencamp, too! And I haven't even mentioned the 2009 Miss America, Katie Stam. Eat your heart out, Rogers!

But even all these interesting facts can't make us stay, because our sixth destination is calling. Its a long drive too - 381 miles that will take us 5 hrs 47 minutes. And so we arrive in .... Seymour, Illinois?! Good grief! And I thought Patrick was being greedy! I'm not sure why we've come here, though, as the population is Rogers-like at just 303. Its not even a town or a village either, just a census-designated place. Which makes it all the more impressive that it should have been the birthplace of a seriously good baseball player, the marvellously named Jeff Pfeffer, who was a major league pitcher, mainly for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the early 20th century.

The final leg of our journey is another major trek - 381 miles and 5 hrs 47 minutes - which takes us across the Mississippi at the new world capital of chess, St Louis. But we have no time to pop in at the Chess Club or the World Chess Hall of Fame, or stop for a blitz game or two with Fabi and Levon, as we only have eyes for our final destination at .......?!?! I don't believe it - Seymour, Missouri! You might think there were a lot of people around called Seymour in the 19th century when all these Midwest towns were being established, but rather derivatively this one was simply named after the city in Indiana that we've already visited. As the name was chosen by a Mr Crabbe, everyone is probably quite pleased he made that choice! With a population of 1,921, this Seymour is a modest size, but close by is an Amish community of over 3,000 people, making it one of the 12 largest Amish settlements in the world.

That's quite enough road tripping for one day, I think - and quite enough places called Eaton and - especially - Seymour. But just be patient, as I haven't finished yet. If you haven't had a name check so far, there's still every chance you will. Unless your name's Smiglarski. When your chances are zero. Sorry, Matt!

Wednesday, 17 November 2021


How uncanny. After the very last post recorded the loss of my unbeaten record, I now have to do exactly the same for Andrew. And in his case the shock is considerably greater, as it wasn't just an unbeaten seasonal record that came to an end, but a 100% one. However, just as with my loss against Solihull, I'm pleased to report that the rest of the team rallied round, and another KCC win was recorded.

Our opponents this time were Warwick University R, who we saw off by 3-1 in this week's Coventry League match - a result that guarantees we will be top of the table at Christmas in both the Coventry and Leamington Leagues. I can safely say that this was the first time I have ever played against an R team, but don't go thinking that this is Warwick Uni's 18th best team! The team was only inserted into Division 1 after the commencement of the season, and so they were christened the R for Replacement team, as there was already a Uni C team on the fixture list in Division 2.

I have to say that Jonathan Fowler played an excellent game to end Andy's winning run. You know that when Black plays Nh3+ and this has to be taken by a fianchettoed bishop, something has gone wrong with White's opening play. Jonathan went on to sacrifice an exchange for strong pressure against the White king, and when Andy was obliged to return the exchange an ending was reached with an extra pawn for Black. I thought that with bishop v knight (plus a rook each) the position might be holdable, but in time pressure (and with no increment) Andy's bishop was lost. And so was the game!

But not to worry, as by that stage we were 2-0 up. I was first to finish again - for the third successive match! My opponent played very, very solidly with the White pieces, and I feared that I wouldn't be able to get anywhere, but then from what was still an eminently defensible position, she blundered an exchange and a pawn - and found that a knight which had been forced to retreat to h1 could also not be saved. Mike won very efficiently, using his c file control to invade the seventh rank and deliver mate. Hopefully this presages the London Bus syndrome, and that after his first win of the season last week yet more will follow in quick succession.

And so all eyes were turned to Ben's game on Board 4 where - in his 8th successive Black game - he was under some pressure after playing his infamous rubbish defence that leaves his c8 bishop stuck behind pawns on e6, d5 and c6! Probably in the absence of any better plan he decided to grab a couple of pawns, at the cost of an exchange, but this actually turned out to be a very favourable transaction for him, as the White attack ground to a halt, and the extra pawns - now ably supported by that once pathetic light squared bishop - yomped down the board to win first an exchange and then a rook. Game and match won, and we are now set to top the table until at least January 25th - yes it is 10 weeks until our next Coventry League Division 1 game!

But what song do we have this week? I can hardly recycle last week's Jackson Browne offering, even though it would be highly appropriate, so I've gone a bit left field. I'd forgotten all about this song until I heard it at The Gauntlet last Thursday  - where the music selection is almost as good as the beer! Consider it a tribute to the lifetime efforts of club stalwart Bernard R - not because it's one of his favourite songs, but because it must be one of very few that gives a name check to that rare breed of super-hero: - accountants!! Happy listening, Bernard. To what is is surely one of the most amusing rock songs ever written.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

All Good Things Gotta' Come to an End

Its been Kenilworth v Solihull week in the Leamington League. On Monday, our C team edged out Solihull B 2.5-1.5 in a Division 2 encounter, and last night there was a double header at the Blossomfield Club, when it was A v A in Division 1 and Solihull E v Kenilworth D in Division 4. The indomitable Roy led the D team to a 2-1 win, (taking his own seasonal tally to 3/3), ably supported by new kid on the block Hector, who took his competitive record to 2/2 with a convincing victory. It could so easily have been 3-0 as well, since fellow newcomer Patrick was well on top, only to blunder the game away. But it's great to see two of our new members playing successfully in the League only a couple of months after first turning up at The Gauntlet. Thank you lockdown/The Queen's Gambit/online chess for giving us a shot of new blood! Toby should be the  next off the KCC talent conveyor belt to make his competitive debut for us.

But I digress. What about the big match between the two A teams, I hear you ask? Well, I've been putting this off as long as I can, but now I have to bite the bullet and admit that I very nearly sank the team by playing a pretty poor game with White against Ray Carpenter on top board. I failed to notice when my initiative had been blunted, and with the game having turned against me I went downhill quickly - walking straight into a knight fork to end my miserable evening. So 0-1, and things looked pretty bleak. Our human points machine Andrew was decidedly on the back foot against Neil Clarke on Board 2, while things were at best unclear in the other two games. I departed to the bar for a post mortem with Ray but before you could say Jack Robinson, in sauntered Andrew and Lionel to report that they had both won! Not sure how Andrew pulled off that trick, but this latest win now puts him on 8/8 for the season, while Lionel was delighted to announce that he had gone to 2/2 for the season by winning on time! And - are you reading this, Phil? - he had noticed! To be fair to Lionel, he had apparently taken over the position and was making life very difficult for Julian Summerfield, and even the increment was not enough for him to be able to handle Lionel's pressure.

Which left Joshua to decide the match on Board 3 against Tony Sadler. After a very exciting opening, the game settled down somewhat, but just when Joshua seemed to be winning a very important pawn, he decided he couldn't take it and the game - helped by opposite bishops - settled down towards a draw. Which both players seemed reasonably happy about, even though it confirmed our match victory - and a clean sweep of the three KCC v Solihull encounters this week. We now need the B team to make it 4/4 when they play Solihull A at the end of the month.

So thankfully, my wonderful team-mates got me off the hook and saved the day. Chapeau, mes amis! But, of course, while Andrew, Lionel, Roy and Hector were all keeping up their 100% scores, I had to accept that after 9 unbeaten games my run of invincibility was over. Oh well, it was good while it lasted, but all good things have to come to an end, Take it away, Jackson!

Surprise, Surprise!

Guess who's leading Division 1 of the Coventry League at the moment!? Yes, amazingly it's little old Kenilworth with 7 points from 4 matches. And if that's not surprising enough, considering we only had 3 confirmed players a couple of weeks before the start of the season, we confirmed our table topping position this week with a surprising, and surprisingly convincing, win over hot title favourites (6/4 on at MarkBet, the bookie you can trust) Warwick University A. But as all match captains around the world know, its not how many strong players you've got that matters, its how many of them you can get to the board! So perhaps our 3-1 win was not so surprising after all, but hey - having thought of a good song for this week's video, I'm not going to let the truth get in the way, am I?

For one of the first times ever, I finished first, refuting a piece sac straight out of the opening, and then adding an exchange to leave me a whole rook up. This early win was counterbalanced by Bernard's subsequent loss on Board Four when his opponent's sac/loss of the exchange proved to be virtually winning on the spot, as a pair of connected centre pawns yomped down the board towards unstoppable touchdown.

So it was 1-1 when I departed the scene, and the match was still in the balance. Mike had just pushed a monster passed pawn to d7 in his game, and although he was a pawn down, it looked as though he was winning, but converting won positions has not been easy for Mike so far this season, so I was certainly not counting any chickens just yet. Earlier in the game I very nearly interrupted the players to point out that they had set up the board wrongly. On move 10, Mike's opponent (Black) had a knight on a8 and a rook on b8 - surely this was a mistake? But on sneaking a look at Mike's scoresheet I discovered it was all above board! And that knight was still there on a8 when I left!

Meanwhile on top board, Andrew was having a terrific battle against Joe Varley. Andrew's bishop on g5 was attacked by a pawn to h6 prod. To which he responded by attacking a Black knight on g4 with an h3 prod. But when his bishop was immediately taken, Andrew did not recapture a Black piece. Instead he threatened a monster knight fork. Then he re-threatened the monster knight fork. Then he attacked the Black queen. And he still hadn't recaptured the knight when I left!

Anyway, news later reached me that both our players had finished off their games favourably - Mike notching his first win of the season to get himself to 50% (with a lot of draws!) and Andrew an incredible 7th consecutive victory to keep his 100% record for the season!

Over to you, Bruce.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

An Unlikely Hero!

Another night, another match! Fresh from the previous evening's Kenilworth A v Kenilworth B match, three of the combatants were back at the Abbey Club as part of our Coventry League team for a Division 1 encounter against a strong Nuneaton A team. But it was the 4th person - not considered good enough for either A or B the previous day - who would prove to be the hero!

Yes, step forward club living legend Bernard R, who scored an excellent win on Board 4 over Nuneaton stalwart Colin Green. I say excellent, because it was a win, and really that's all that matters. In fact, Bernard had offered a draw not long before, but Colin was trying to annex Bernard's isolated a pawn and decided to play on. And then, apparently with plenty of time to spare, just walked into a humungous knight fork which cost a whole rook. And unlike Phil's notorious winninbg knight move of years' back, this one was actually quite legal. Tricky things, knights!

We consolidated soon after when Mike drew against Tony Green. I could possibly have forecast this result, though not the way it would have arisen, as things were very unbalanced for a number of moves, as Mike advanced a pawn to d6 where it would likely be a game winner or just fall off. It definitely wasn't the former, but even if the second option came true (which I have no idea about), it wasn't enough to derail the draw.

I then drew against Phil Briggs on top board after a very tense and exciting game, where I thought way too long at some crucial stages of the game, and fully confirmed Bent Larsen's aphorism, "long variation, wrong variation". I missed playing a great shot in the opening, after which my position looked very dodgy for a good few moves, before I was able to get my two bishops into the game. I then came within a whisker of winning a piece, and then of winning a pawn and establishing a rook on the seventh. But Phil just managed to counter my threats in time and we agreed a draw when an opposite bishops ending was about to appear on the board.

Unfortunately, though, Ben had been struggling against Paul Davies on Board 3 all night. You know things are not going well when you see a Black rook on f8, with the Black king still on e8. Paul was pressing on the kingside and the queenside. Oh yes, and in the centre as well. I didn't see the denouement, but its not surprising that something had to give eventually.

Never mind, a drawn match was very respectable in the circumstances, and leaves us on 5/6 as we head for two more matches against Warwick University to round out the pre-Xmas fixtures. Next week it's the potentially super-strong Uni A team, followed by the mysteriously named Uni R team. All will be revealed, team-name wise, in due course!

I'm afraid that this is the only suitably titled song I've been able to find. Sounds pretty dreadful to me, but hopefully at least one reader will like it! Though they may need to be tone deaf.

It's a Family Affair

The first of this season's two intra-club punch ups (Kenilworth A v Kenilworth B) took place on Monday when the B team did the A team no favours at all and became the first side to take a point off them this year.  Although quite how this happened is beyond my ken. (That's partly a pun, and partly a nod to my recently discovered Scottish ancestry! Just brilliant, though I say so myself. How do I do it??))

Let battle commence! Joshua and Mike already trying to hide their identities.
Left to right: (B team) Ben, Phil, Bernard, Jude; (A team) Mark, Andrew, Joshua, Mike

As always, Joshua was the first to finish, but this time it was because he lost to Phil. Fresh from failing to claim a mobile phone win against Olton, and failing to claim a win on time against Leamington, Phil made it a hat-trick of KCC-self harming incidents in a matter of weeks, by this time playing a thoroughly excellent game to notch up a key point for the B team on Board 3. The end came after a nicely played king and pawn ending, but the truth is that Joshua's position had been dire for most of the game.

This was balanced shortly afterwards when Andrew continued his 100% start to the season (Player of the Year looks to be sewn up already!) by scoring a very convincing win over Bernard C on Board 2. In a game which had strange echoes of his win last week against Warwick University, Andrew's pieces all jumped onto monster squares while Bernard's king was stranded in the centre and his queen side pieces locked in by a monster White bishop on d6. Bernard's quest for creativity can sometimes see him push the boundaries too far. And I'm not talking about his paintings!

My encounter on top board with Jude ended shortly after in a draw. One strange opening move apart, Jude played a very controlled game. Not a lot happened, but he was the one with the more active play, but my position was sound and a crisis was never reached for either party. I wonder if this is the last time I'll ever be able to get a draw off Jude?!

Which left the Mike v Ben encounter on Board 4, where Mike seemed sure to notch his first win of the year after 6 draws in his first 7 games. He was outplaying Ben for most of the game, and while I was busy analysing with Jude next door, reports reached me that he was 2 pawns up with a dominant position in the ending. But then the players emerged and somehow Ben had managed a draw to halve the match and ruin the A team's 100% record. Chess truly is a mysterious game at times!

Thursday, 28 October 2021


No, not on the board, but off it! There was an organisational meltdown by Warwick Uni this week, as we took on their B team in our second Coventry League Division 1 match of the season. Having been given a dispensation to drop the incremental time limit, because they supposedly had to vacate the venue by 10.30 prompt, the Uni B team managed to delay the start of our match by 20 minutes. But when the final game eventually finished - at around 10.45 - no one had tried to kick us out, so we could have played with an increment anyway. Except that we couldn't, because only one digital clock was available when we got off to our belated start! So three far from pristine analogue clocks had to be used. That shiny digital clocks then turned up about 5 minutes later only rubbed salt into the wound. And there were no score sheets available, either. Though scraps of paper were kindly provided.

Anyone hoping to see the first ever usage of this word here, will have to be disappointed, I'm afraid, as it has failed the KCC Acceptability Test. Well, we do have our younger readers to think about! But if you are determined to explore further you won't have much trouble finding the clip on YouTube. Just don't play it at work. Or at school. Or with other people in the room!

Thankfully things proceeded more smoothly on the board - at least for us. Andrew, playing his first ever Coventry League game for Kenilworth, continued his 100% start to the KCC season with a very convincing refutation on Board 1 of Black's optimistic opening set up. The way he dismantled the Black position was almost surgical - in the same way that Jack the Ripper's methods were! Ben finished next, chalking up the full point on Board 4 after a very expansive piece of play by his opponent who advanced his pawns to h4, g4, f4 and e5 - leaving rather a lot of space in behind them. When Ben was allowed to open a kingside file, the White position collapsed.

I continued the good work by winning a rather dull game on Board 2 - no sarcastic comments, please. After equalising from the opening, I managed to swap most of the pieces off and win a pawn. In a double rook ending I then won another pawn, and eventually I was able to get my queenside connected passers rolling to victory. For much of the evening it looked like Mike would win on Board 3 to complete a clean sweep, but despite him pressing hard, his opponent stood firm, and when Mike finally won a pawn it was at a cost of disco-ordinating his pieces. Even so, getting a piece trapped in the middle of the board was hardly forced, but when it happened he quickly offered a draw which turned out to be the best move of the game. His opponent was very low on time - yes, even lower than Mike - and with no increment (am I the only won noticing the irony, here?) he decided he had no alternative but to accept.

That makes it 2/2 so far, but the two Division 1 heavyweights, University A and Nuneaton A now await us, so that perfect record is not likely to continue much longer!

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Odds and Sods

A good name for a post about KCC, don't you think? In fact. so good I've almost certainly used it before. But so what? If it was originality you were after, you'd hardly be visiting this site, would you?

As I'm writing this, we've been back in OTB action for just over 6 weeks, and more or less everything has been going swimmingly, results wise. All 3 Cup teams have progressed to the semi-finals, while the A and C teams are on 100% league scores, and the D team has drawn its only game so far. The B team are obviously in deep water, mixing it with a teams in Division 1, but having already scalped Banbury A, and been moral victors over Olton A (did anyone hear a mobile phone ring?), Ben's lads can also be well proud of their performances to date. And our Coventry League team is - for the moment - on 1/1. But don't anyone think this over the board success has been achieved easily. It took considerable strategical and logistical planning to put the club in such a healthy situation - as evidenced by this exclusive, and hitherto top secret, photo of the KCC Planning Summit which was held during the summer, and where the season's strategy was formulated by the club's greatest brains. We decided to call our 2021-22 plan, "Operation Barbarossa." What could possibly go wrong?

It's a miracle we've even managed to get any players to the board on this evidence! Presumably, our success must be down to the KCC mega-brain who - for security reasons - does not appear in this photo.

Due to pandemic related quirks, I now find myself in proud possession - on the club's behalf, of course - of both the Leamington League Division 1 and KO Cup trophies. The last time they both adorned my sideboard (poetic licence - I don't actually have a sideboard) was in the glorious season of 2013-14 when, superbly led by Paul on top board, we did the double. Now we (by which I really mean I) have the two trophies again - but without doing the double at all! We won the KO Cup in 2018-19, and I still have it - the 2019-20 season competition was abandoned at the semi-final stage (I am confident we would have won it anyway!) and 2020-21 was a complete washout due to Covid. By contrast, we were awarded the Division 1 title for 2019-20 on a points per game basis, when play was stopped by the first lock-down. Anyway, here they both are, with the KO Cup looking especially resplendent having just been giving a long overdue clean by yours truly!

In fact, somewhere there's a third trophy we should have, as the C team won Division 2 in 2019-20. And in fact maybe we do already have it, as the B team won it in 2018-19!! 

You'll probably have gathered by now, that the sole reason for this post is for me to use up some photos I've taken in recent months. So while I'm at it, and a propos of absolutely nothing else, here is this year's must-have fashion accessory for any self respecting chess player. Get your significant other to treat you for Christmas, or even put your hand in your own pocket and do the decent thing! Either way, make sure you mention it in your letter to Santa.

The Immortal Game, as modelled by an Immortal Body!

Well, there's only one way to finish up this meandering, and that's obviously by presenting the Immortal Game itself. Observant readers will have noticed that we have had to switch to another player to feature games here, due to technical factors beyond my understanding. Please refer to the Webmaster if by some remote chance you want more information!

In the final position Black is a mere 21 points to the good, materially speaking, but if I had to choose, I think I'd pick White! A truly awesome game. Certainly deserving to be remembered by a sweat-shirt