Thursday, 28 January 2021


That's the Kenilworth Chess Club Online Speed Chess Grand Prix, in case you hadn't worked it out. Which you surely had. I mean, how much easier could it be?

Anyway, as we have now had three of our monthly Lichess Arena Club Tournaments, and stand on the thresh-hold of a fourth (Thursday, February 4th) - and as we seem set to be stuck with online chess for the foreseeable future - I thought we should make things more interesting by having a season long competition to supplement the individual monthly tournaments. And as the only sporting event I could think of that matched our competition for thrills, spills, glory, drama and danger was Formula 1, I decided to model the season long Grand Prix on the same scoring system. So the top 10 finishers each month, will score points ranging from 25 for 1st place, down to 1 point for 10th. Which is quite a good fit, seeing how the numbers for the first three events have been 10, 9 and 11! Points for (almost) everyone!

Now one big problem with this idea, is that no-one has a clue how long the current state of affairs might last. But we don't let inconvenient facts like that get in the way of a good idea, especially when the current Grand Prix table shows the Club Organiser in first place, after winning two of the three events held so far.

(The shading is supposed to indicate Gold, Silver and Bronze placings, by the way. It helps if you are a bit colour blind!  Already, no-one has been on the podium every month.)

Now it may be a good idea to adjust the scoring so that people can drop their (one, two, three?) worst scores, but until we know what system optimises my winning chances, correction - how many months this is going on for, its difficult to make a mathematically sound decision about this. (For which I will of course be relying on the input of our resident mathematical genius, Doctor Pink.)

Stand by for an updated table after next Thursday's event, which will see the first Blitz tournament in the speed chess series. I predict a surge towards the top of the table for Jude!

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Lockdown Learning Maths: A > B (Just!)

The new online season - now branded as a joint Coventry & Leamington League event - got underway last night, with the now mandatory week 1 pairing of Kenilworth A v Kenilworth B. For once again, and despite operating with a smaller pool of players than in the pre-Xmas season, little Kenilworth (population c 25,000) has managed to field two Division 1 teams to take on our considerably bigger neighbours' A teams.

While I decided, Achilles style, to stay in my tent for this match (hope you appreciate the classical reference, Mike!) two highly combative teams still took to the field, and they produced a stirring encounter that managed to encompass every dramatic genre known, from high speed slapstick to gut-wrenching tragedy. At the end, the A team had won by 4.5-3.5, but there wasn't a dry eye in the house after a heart stopping, emotional roller-coaster of a match. To the action!

Billy took on ex-Capitalist Bernard (though I suspect he will always be a Capitalist at heart!) on Board 4, and seemed to have an edge in Game 1. He got a White knight to d6, but Bernard defended well and liquidated down to a draw. Game 2 passed me by in a blur, but when I finally checked in they had reached a king and pawn ending, and the engine immediately told me Billy was winning. Until Billy's next move, which turned it into a draw. And his next but one move, which turned it into a win for Bernard. At the end of the game, after 50+ moves, both clocks showed more than 18 minutes, making the average time per move for each player somewhere around 6 seconds. Ah, the impetuosity of youth! But at least they gave me the idea for this week's song .......

So with Bernard really making his height and weight advantage count, it was 1.5-0.5 to the B team, but the pendulum swung back to the A team on Board 3, where Artistic Bernard proved too strong for Will. Game 1 was headed for a draw, after Bernard made no impression with White, and even after he finally managed to win a pawn the resultant rook ending looked for all the world a draw. Bernard had 4v3 on the queenside, but this included a doubled pawn, so his winning prospects looked supermodel slim. But after a very strong game Will suddenly collapsed, and after first damaging his pawn formation, he then swapped off rooks to leave Bernard with a winning K&P ending. Perhaps unsettled by this, Will self-destructed in Game 2, mis-calculating after a pawn grab and losing lots of material. So 2.5-1.5 to the A team, and it had been a good night for the Bernards!

On Board 3, Mike and Dave had two relatively swift draws. Mike's best move in each game seems to have been to offer a draw, as the engine gave Dave plus one point something in both! Not sure if both players were affected, by Mike at least experienced strange happenings, including a complete outage of several seconds when the game and board disappeared completely! Anyway, honours even, so 3.5-2.5 to the A team.

And so to Board 1, where Jude took on Ben, who immediately showed that its better to be on the Black side of London System set ups than the White one. Perhaps he will apply this message to his own games?! Ben neutralised Jude's pawn storm on the kingside, and then started to develop some counter play on the queenside. But immediately after Ben offered a draw, Jude went wrong and got into big trouble as Ben's pieces started hopping into the White half of the board and taking things. 0-1 and a big scalp for Ben. And the match score is now 3.5-3.5 if you are counting!

Game 2, and Jude came out fighting and clearly after revenge. He got a very promising position after breaking up the White kingside, but then took me totally by surprise when he exchanged queens rather than continuing to attack the White king. He won a pawn, but immediately had to give it back, and it took some co-operation from Ben for Black to get back any advantage. But after breaking through with a rook to the seventh, Jude failed to grab an extra pawn and Ben countered to get a passed f pawn. It didn't look as though White was worse and then .......... nothing happened. And suddenly I spotted the connection indicator for Ben had gone red! He had disconnected, and the wi-fi didn't come back on until he had been timed out by A tragedy for Ben. So 1-1 in the Board 1 mini-match, and 4.5-3.5 to the A team. Bernard R seemingly cures his connection issues, and Ben inherits the problem. As I told him afterwards - he either needs more bandwidth or fewer kids on-line while he's playing!

So what an exciting (make that agonising!) evening, especially as the actual chronology of the games meant that the B team were 3.5-2.5 up, with just the Board 1 and Board 3 games remaining.  They really should give spectators a warning before starting these matches. Because after all ........ anything can happen in the next half hour!!

 (I used to love this programme. They don't make 'em like this anymore!)

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

2 BOCCs for KCC

Fear not, the Club Organiser has not started speaking total gibberish - well, no more that usual, at any rate -  but has merely used an abbreviation or two for (mildly!) comic effect. Hopefully everyone who is reading this knows what KCC stands for, but you may be less familiar with BOCC. This is the British Online Chess Championships, which were held in late December/early January on the platform. And which produced two new British Champions for Kenilworth!

So many congratulations to Jude Shearsby, the new British Under-12 Rapid Champion and - pause for incredulity - Joshua Pink, the new British Under-2000 Rapid Champion.

Despite a first round loss, and giving away up to 2 years against older opponents, Jude made a mockery of his 7th seed status to emerge victorious on 5.5/7. Not only did this secure a British title, it also got him a place in the actual British Online Championship, where he got to compete with the likes of Mickey Adams, Mark Hebden and Matthew Turner over 9 rounds of 60 minutes + 15 secs. A fantastic achievement for one so young. 

Meanwhile Joshua went half a point better than Jude, by scoring 6/7 (no draws, of course!) to annex first place in the U-2000 tournament. (Which was rather bizarrely played at the rate of only 1 game of 10 mins + 5 secs per day, with a break for several days over Xmas. Whoever thought that was a good idea?) A last round win for number one seed Josh was coupled with a last round loss for the previous leader (Josh's conqueror in Round 5), and this catapulted him from half a point down, to half a point clear. Ben was also in action in this event, and scored a respectable 4/7 to finish in 8th place.

No intra-KCC encounter occurred in the U-2000 Rapid, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the two such games which were played in the various Blitz Championship Qualifiers between myself and Joshua. Purely for the record books, I have to report that I won both. Well, Blitz is a young man's game isn't it?!

I briefly caught up with Jude while he was playing in the British Online Bullet Championship, and in the space of a couple of minutes I watched him absolutely destroy IM Matthew Wadsworth and then win a whole rook off GM Nick Pert! But a couple of moves later he tragically blundered his own queen and missed out on a very famous scalp. Despite that unfortunate reverse, Jude scored an incredible 10/15 in this event, taking out a lot of very highly rated opponents, and not losing to anyone rated under 2370. He added around 30 points to his bullet rating, so he was clearly playing very well. Ben rashly tried to keep up with the kids by playing in this painfully fast event, and came out with a 50% score, while Josh managed half a point more (8/15). Really, they are both old enough to know better than to torture themselves like this! 

It would have been nice to report on a third BOCC for KCC, but regretfully I failed to deliver when it mattered in the 65+ Rapid Final and finished 4th, although in my eyes I was actually 2nd=. Those tie breaks can be very annoying. I made the mistake of peaking too soon and winning the qualifier the previous day, but against an almost identical field I played one terrible game in the final which booted me off the podium. Ed was also in action in this event, and qualified comfortably for the final, only to discover that Sunday play didn't agree with him! More successful had been his participation in the 65+ Classical Championship, where he made an excellent 4/7 to finish in a tie for 5th.

If things had turned out slightly differently for me in the 65+ Rapid, this would of course have been the lead story in this report. Instead, let's just reflect again on the amazing fact that we have two more British Champions in the club. That is pretty good going!

Other than the 5 names mentioned above, I don't think anybody else from the club participated, but if these championships come around again, I would urge more people to give it a go. You can get as much or as little ECF online rated chess as you want for a very modest outlay, and can select whatever time limit and strength of opposition you want. And admit it - you haven't got that much else to do have you?!

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Strength in Depth!

The latest in our irregular series of "exotic" friendly matches took place on Tuesday, when KCC emerged victorious against Wotton Hall, the reigning North Gloucestershire League champions. In a 9 board, double round, rapid (15 mins + 10 secs) encounter played on Lichess, we edged the first round 5-4, and the second 5.5-3.5, for an overall winning score of 10.5-7.5.

Many thanks to my ex-Coventry/Whoberley team-mate - and former Warwickshire captain - Joey Stewart, for making the initial approach and for helping to make the match happen. We were rather out-gunned on the highest boards by a very powerful Wotton Hall top three, but thankfully we batted a long way down the order. So while we lost over the first 4 boards, and only drew over the top 6, we carried the day thereafter.

Our heroes on the night were Joshua and Bernard C, who each scored 2-0 wins, though Bernard's was the rather more assured performance - hardly surprising as he found himself well below his normal position on Board 8! Joshua had to perform an amazing unravelling manoeuvre with his queen to make his extra material count in Game 1, when it looked for all the world as though he would have to take a draw. True grit!

Lionel had a tough night against Ian Robson - who I last played in a London League match in1986, but the score hardly tells the full story. Ian won a convincing Game 1, but made an unsound sac in Game 2 and Lionel was totally winning for a long period until, I suspect, time trouble played a decisive role. Jude also went down heavily in the first round, as Joey finished with a nice queen sac to force mate in possibly the best game of the evening, but Game 2 could easily have gone the other way, as Jude was pressing and on top in the middle game. But the advantage slipped away, and Jude was then forced to dig in to secure the draw, as Joey tried in vain for many moves to find a way to break the White set-up. More true grit and a splendid effort against a very strong opponent! I exchanged wins with Mike Ashworth on top board - but we each won the wrong game, as we took it in turns to blunder away winning advantages.

Mike was his normal solid self in scoring an excellent 75% on Board 5, while Bernard R was his normal totally unsound self on Board 6, where he exchanged wins with Sid Venkatanaranyan. There were rather too many pieces left en prise in these two encounters to satisfy the chess purist! Not that we have any of those in Kenilworth, of course. Ben also scored a splendid 75%, but - manager speak alert - Solomon will have been rather disappointed to only score 50%, as he was a piece up for nothing - and probably mating - in his Round 2 game, and after blundering it all away and more, before re-establishing a probably drawn position, he then blundered that away as well. Surely he can't have been indulging in  another of his notorious brandy sessions during play??

As with all these friendly matches, it was good fun and really nice to play against some different clubs and different opponents. The only problem with the Lichess platform, of course, is that you can't easily see what the score is during a team match, but maybe ignorance really is bliss in this respect. At least for the perpetually nervous match captain. And on Lichess, no-one seems to suffer the disconnection problems that seem to be a constant issue on

For many of us its now time to start thinking about the next online league event (now jointly branded as CDCL/LDCL) which begins at the end of the month, but with the pandemic continuing to make OTB chess a very distant prospect, I don't doubt that we will be in online friendly action again in the coming months.

Monday, 4 January 2021

2020 Christmas Quiz - the Answers

It wouldn't be fair to keep you all in suspense any longer, so here are the answers to the latest KCC Christmas Quiz. How did you get on? Better than  Joshua, I hope.


Name Bobby Fischer’s wife. (Mrs Fischer is not an acceptable answer!) And just for interest (no points!), what is her current FIDE rating?

Miyoko Watai (2032)


Which Grandmaster lost 28 consecutive games, over 2 tournaments, in 1969, all of them on time?

Friedrich Saemisch


Who is the highest rated player in the world who consistently wears an earring? (Clue – its not a woman!)

Peter Svidler (2723) Unless there’s a rival claimant I don’t know about!)


In 1971 Bobby Fischer won 3 Candidates Matches to qualify for the 1972 World Championship match against Spassky. Where were these 3 matches played? (1 pt each)

Vancouver (QF v Taimanov)

Denver (SF v Larsen)

Buenos Aires (F v Petrosian)


Who is the youngest ever world chess champion (a) Male and (b) Female (1 pt each)

a) Garry Kasparov (22)

b) Hou Yifan (16)


Who won 7 classical World Championships in tournaments and 2 more in matches, running up a combined game score of +90 = 9 -4

Vera Menchik


Magnus Carlsen first became World number 1 by rating in 2010, since which time only one other player has held that position. Who?

Vishy Anand


Which KCC member fell asleep during a tournament game and still won?

Bruce Holland (at the Shropshire Congress, Telford)


Which famous chess player once lived at 117 Landsdowne Rd, Notting Hill, London W11? It is now commemorated by a Blue Plaque.

Howard Staunton


What have Garry Kasparov, Teimour Radjabov and Emil Sutovsky got in common? (Besides all being GMs!)

All born in Baku


In Rd 14 of the 1955 Gothenburg Interzonal, 3 Argentinians lost against 3 Soviets after each playing the same opening novelty. Name the 3 Soviet players (1 point each) and the 3 Argentinians (2 pts each). And take a bonus point if you can guess, within 5 either way, the total number of moves played in the 3 games. And a further point if you get the exact number! Clue: None of them lasted very long!!

Boris Spassky; Paul Keres; Efim Geller (1 pt each)

Hermann Pilnik; Miguel Najdorf; Oscar Panno (2 pts each)

79 moves (2 pts)

(74-78 and 80-84 moves = 1 pt)


Which group of people did Bobby Fischer describe as ”petty; mean minded; small minded and stupid”?

Chess Players (yes, us!)


Identify these 5 Russian Super GMs from their usernames (1 pt each):








Dmitry Andreikin

Vladislav Artemiev

Daniil Dubov

Ian Nepomniatchi

Vladimir Fedoseev


How many times have the following been British Champion? Including any shared titles. (1 pt for each correct answer)

Michael Adams

Nigel Short

David Howell

John Nunn



Adams = 7

Short = 3

Howell = 3

Nunn = 1


As of December 20th 2020, 2 players had bullet ratings of over 3400 (!!) on Name them for 1 pt each.

Hikaru Nakamura

Daniel Naroditsky


Name the husband and wife who make up the world’s highest rated married couple (classical chess, December 2020 FIDE list). (1 pt each)

Alexander Grischuk 2777 (7th in world)

Kateryna Lagno 2546 (5th in world)


When Phil Wood made his immortal illegal knight move in a Leamington League match, who was his opponent?

Ben Graff (playing for Leamington)


The Chess Olympiad has been held twice in England. Name the two host cities/towns. (1 pt each)

London (1927)

Folkestone (1933)


Who is the only man to have been both World Champion and World Senior Champion? And who is the only woman to have done the same? (1 pt each)

Man – Vassily Smyslov

Woman – Nona Gaprindashvili


!n 2011 the 79 year old Viktor Korchnoi defeated a player rated 2721 who was 61 years his junior. Who was it?

Fabiano Caruana (at Gibraltar)


In the BBC Master Game programmes, which GM – whose English was otherwise impeccable – always referred to the long “dionagal”? Clue – he was once believed to have the largest private chess library in the world!

Lothar Schmid


What is the first name of Magnus Carlsen’s father? (1 pt) And of his mother (2 pts) And of Magnus himself? (3 pts – Clue, its not Magnus!)

Henrik (1 pt)

Sigrun (2 pts)

Sven (3 pts)


Who is the world’s youngest ever Grand Master?

Sergey Karjakin (12 yrs 7 mos)


Who ended Magnus Carlsen’s record run of 125 classical games unbeaten at the 2020 Norway Chess tournament?

Jan-Krzysztof Duda


Who were Adolf Anderssen’s opponents in the Immortal Game (1851) and in the Evergreen Game? (1852)

(1 pt each)

Lionel Kieseritzky

Jean Dufresne


Which GM did Andy Baruch once play in a blitz game, without having a clue who his opponent was? (Clue – a major opening variation is named after him)

Evgeny Sveshnikov (at Radebeul 2018 - the birth-place of Lothar Schmid!)


In the period 1993-2006, when there was a schism in the chess world, which 6 players held the title of FIDE World Champion? (1 pt each)

Anatoly Karpov

Alexander Khalifman

Vishy Anand

Ruslan Ponomariov

Rustam Kasimdzhanov

Veselin Topalov


Which current member of the Shadow Cabinet was a British U-14 chess champion?

Rachel Reeves (Though this may not be 100% correct! I'm told she never actually won the official BCF - U14 Girls title) Minus 1 point to the question master.


The 1934 World Championship Match between Alekhine and Bogolyubov was held in Germany in 12 different cities/towns. Name them! (1 pt each)


Warning for cheats – the list in Wikipedia is incomplete!!


Everyone should be able to get at least 4 of these by pure guesswork!

Baden Baden (3)

Villingen (2)

Freiburg (3)

Pforzheim (2)

Stuttgart (2)

Munich (3)

Bayreuth (1)

Bad Kissingen (2)

Nuremburg* (2)

Karlsruhe* (1)

Mannheim (3)

Berlin (2)


Since 2000, 2 KCC members have won the Leamington League Blitz/Lightning Tournament. Name them (1 pt each)

Carl Pickering (2008)

Mark Page (2018)


The ten youngest GMs ever have come from only 5 different countries. Name the countries (1 pt each)


No points for the players, but feel free to amuse yourselves by guessing!

India – 4 (Gukesh, Praggnanandha, Negi, Sadhwani)

China – 2 (Wei Yi, Bu Xiangzhi)

Uzbekistan – 2 (Sindarov, Abdusattorov)

Ukraine – 1 (Karjakin)

Norway – 1 (Carlsen)


Who is the highest rated English player who is not a Grand Master? (December 2020, FIDE Classical Chess List)

Ameet Ghasi (2485)


And who is the highest rated English player born in the year 2000 or later? (December 2020, FIDE Classical Chess List)

Matthew Wadsworth (2416)

(Born 2000) – but recently beaten by a certain Jude Shearsby in the British Online Bullet Championship!


Since 2000, who is the only KCC member to have won the Stanley Gibbins Trophy, for the highest percentage score in a Leamington League season?

Joshua Pink (2014)


Which English Grand Master and one time British Champion was born in Baghdad in 1962? And which World Champion described this person’s play as that of “a drunk machine gunner”? (1 pt each)

William Watson


Boris Spassky


Which English GM is married to the actress Tara MacGowran?

Mickey Adams


When the 2020 Candidates Tournament was suspended, which two players were tied for the lead? (1 pt each)

Ian Nepomniatchi

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave


How much money did GM Jim Plaskett win on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in 2006? (Exact amount required!)



What nationality are the following 5 GMs (all rated over 2600!):-

Illya Nyzhnyk

Nijat Abasov

Bogdan-Daniel Deac

Eduardo Iturrizaga

David Baramidze

(1 pt each)



Ukraine (2679)

Azerbaijan (2668)

Romania (2625)

Venezuela (2607)

Germany (2601)


Which Grand Master and 4 time Candidate is the highest rated active player aged 70 or more (ie born 1950 or earlier). Clue – he lost one Candidates Match on the spin of a roulette wheel; and forfeited two others when the matches were still undecided!

(December 2020, FIDE Classical Chess List)

Robert Huebner, 2574

(Age 72; born Nov 1948)


What unique place in chess rankings (December 2020 FIDE Classical Chess List) is currently held by the Russian, Vassily Malinin?

World’s lowest rated active GM at 2100. (And 1861/1911 in rapid/blitz.)


To whom did Gary Kasparov lose in the last round of Linares 2005, his last classical chess game before he retired?

Veselin Topalov


Which player has the monstrously improbable score of +4 =3 -0 against the Club Organiser, with all games having been played in Leamington League matches?

Alan Lloyd of Olton. But I will beat him one day!  Won’t I?

Now you could all have got one point at least on question 25, if you had been given the same sweatshirt for your last birthday as I was! (Amazingly, the birthday present came after I had thought of the question for the quiz, not before.)

Who needs a supermodel, when the Club Organiser can do such a splendid job?

But I can't leave you without one more question. What designer brand of sweater has been made famous in the chess world by the one and only Daniil Dubov?