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!!