Category Archives: Tournament

Richmond Junior Chess Club 1975-2006: Part 3

By 1986 I’d developed some strong views about education and how they related to chess.

Something else happened as well. I was sitting in my London office one Feburary day wondering how I was ever going to be able to leave a job with no prospects of promotion or doing anything else when the phone rang.

It was my old friend Mike Fox, calling from Birmingham. “This phone call will change your life”, he said. And it did.

He’d been commissioned by Faber & Faber to write a book about chess trivia and invited me to join him as co-author. This would become The Complete Chess Addict (1987) and later The Even More Complete Chess Addict (1993), as well as the Addicts’ Corner column in CHESS which ran for 14 years. I decided that I could make as much money in less time by working freelance, while having time to help Mike with researching and writing the book and having more time to develop RJCC.

In order to improve Richmond Junior Club the first thing I wanted was to be able to find out everything I could about how every member of the club played chess, so that I could provide individual advice to all children and parents.

My view also was that, when teaching younger children and, more generally, less experienced players, everything we did had to happen for a very specific reason. I didn’t want to provide random lessons demonstrating random brilliant games to a random collection of children. Nor did I want to push children into doing too much too soon: using clocks and scoresheets and taking part in external tournaments before they were ready.

What I did (some of this was explained last time) was this:

  • I split the club into two sections: a morning group lasting two hours for primary school children, and an afternoon group lasting three hours for secondary school children, to which stronger primary school players would also be invited.
  • I introduced an internal grading system which was revised every few weeks, including all internal games (excluding blitz) so that I could select teams objectively in order of strength and identify when morning group players were ready to move up to the afternoon group. This included a very crude but reasonably effective measure to avoid grading deflation, based on the principle that, at any point, our members will either be improving or stationary.
  • Although I’d been collecting scoresheets of games played in our tournaments and training days for almost a decade, I now collected all afternoon group games (excluding blitz again) and played through them myself at home. There was no need to collect games played in the morning group as they were played at a lower level and usually decided by the number of pieces left en prise.

Beyond that, I wanted to ensure that our members would be able to try out a wide range of different openings, play games at different time controls, and play different opponents every week.

The primary school age children in our morning group were divided into divisions according to their internal grade. When new members joined we’d do a quick assessment. If they were obviously beginners they’d start in the lowest division. If we already knew about them because they’d played in one of our tournaments we’d already have given them a grade so would be able to put them in the correct division. Otherwise, we’d give them a quick friendly game against a player in a middle division and see how they got on.

I also used the same divisional system in schools for many years to ensure that children played different opponents of a similar strength to themselves every week (until the divisions were changed). This system also catered for the fact that some children played fast and would get through several games in one session while others played slowly and would only play one game. I found this worked much better than a Swiss tournament where everyone played one game a week and children who had finished their games would sometimes interfere with the games still in progress.

Every few weeks, by which time some of the faster and more regular attenders would have played most of the other players in their division, we ran the results through the grading program and restarted the divisions, with the most successful players gaining promotion.

We knew that if we taught children opening principles and then left them to their own devices many games would start with boring Giuoco Pianissimos or Spanish Four Knights, which, because they led to closed positions with few opportunities for pawn breaks, were only superficially good for less experienced players.

So we developed a system which would enable children in this group to experience a range of different openings and position types. Our first rule was that all games in the morning group would start with the moves 1. e4 e5. Over the course of the year (September to July) we’d  work through the major open games, starting with simple Four Knights type positions and gradually moving through to the King’s Gambit and (the favourite of many of our members) the Danish Gambit. We’d give a short introductory talk before the games started and expect players to start the game with the moves displayed on the demonstration board.

Ray Keene’s column in the Times always provided a simple tactical puzzle on Saturdays to encourage readers to compete for a prize, and we’d display this on the demo board so that children could attempt to solve it as they arrived. We’d go through the solution in front of the whole class before introducing them to the opening of the week.

We also wanted to ensure that children were introduced to clocks and scoresheets at the appropriate time in their chess development to prepare them for promotion to the afternoon group. As each of these adds a level of complexity to an already difficult game we wanted to do them one at a time, so players in the second division were asked to play their games on clocks (30 minutes per player per game) and, when they reached the top division they were required to notate their games (down to the last five minutes) as well.

For some of our members, the Morning Group was all they wanted and they’d drop out after a year or two. But others would be ambitious to play competitively and move up to the Afternoon Group, which was designed, in the first instance, for players of round about 1000 to 1500 strength. We assumed that, at that point, they’d move on to bigger and better things, but, as our system developed, we were attracting players up to getting on for 2000 strength.

In order to give our Afternoon Group members the chance to try out a wide range of different openings we developed a system involving games using set openings.

It took a few years for this to be fully implemented, but what we did was to divide all the major openings into ten groups, featuring one group every half term. We built a three-year cycle, with some groups happening every year, some twice in three years and some once in three years.

We also wanted to provide a range of different time limits. For younger players up to about 1500 who tend to play fast there’s no real need for slower games, while we also decided that anything less than 10 minutes per player would lead to too many blunders. So our main termly structure eventually looked like this:

  1. Freestyle 30 minute games (3 games in the 3 hour session)
  2. Coach and play – introductory lesson on the openings to be played over the next few weeks followed by two 45 minute games, consulting the opening books
  3. 10 minute blitz tournament (in groups with promotion/relegation) with opening variation picked out of the ‘hat’)
  4. 30 minute games (3 games in the 3 hour session) using the set openings
  5. Freestyle 10 minute blitz tournament (in groups with promotion/relegation)

Over the year we’d run 12 sessions with 3 30-minute games (at first in groups of 4 (quad tournaments) or 6 (Scheveningen system tournaments) – six freestyle and 6 with set openings. All games would be recorded down to the last five minutes and all scoresheets would be handed it. We used duplicate scoresheets for this purpose so that they all had a copy of their games to take home. I’d then play through all the games again at home, and, once ChessBase became available I’d enter them all into a database.

We’d also run 11 sessions with 10-minute games (as many as they could play in the time available), five freestyle and six with set openings.

We’d run 6 Coach and Play sessions to introduce the openings to be played in the next rapid and blitz sessions.

We also ran one simultaneous display a term. Sometimes we’d use visiting masters, sometimes our own coaches, members of our parent chess club or former RJCC members. We considered these a vital part of our programme for several reasons:

  • They promoted chess as an adult game, not just a game for young children
  • They gave our members the chance to meet and play against titled players
  • They forced our members to slow down and think while the simul giver was going round the room moving on the other boards

Other weeks were filled up with activities such as training games at slower time limits, endgame practice and puzzle solving, while the last week of each term gave our members the chance to enjoy chess variants such as Exchange (Bughouse) and Kriegspiel.

The idea was that each week would have one activity, which would vary from week to week. Very different from the way most junior clubs run, with two activities (lesson and game) a week and the same structure most weeks.

If you want to use our methods, our stationery (now rebranded as Chess Heroes rather than RJCC) is available to download here and here while our opening books (recently updated slightly to include the currently popular London System) can be downloaded here.

Coincidentally, several other important things happened at about this time.

A local primary school, Sheen Mount, appointed a new Headteacher, Jane Lawrence, who was passionate about introducing all her pupils to chess, teaching them the moves and giving them the chance to play competitively at school every day. Many of her pupils joined Richmond Junior Club, and, as you’ll see, two of them, Richard Bates and Tom Hinks-Edwards, went on to become International Masters.

Ray Cannon, whom I vaguely knew from the London chess circuit, brought his young son Richard along to the club. Ray was (and still is) an excellent chess coach and his views on chess teaching were (and still are) very similar to mine, and he soon started to play a vital role in the club, helping with the Afternoon Group as well as spending his Sundays visiting tournaments and passing on the results of our members so that I could incorporate them in our internal grading list.

The other player who played an invaluable part in our successes for many years was Gavin Wall, later an IM, one of our early members who, on returning from University joined our coaching team, working mostly in the Morning Group. Gavin and Ray were both integral to the club for many years: I can’t thank them enough.

Over the next few years we again became very strong, and the system we used in the Afternoon Group undoubtedly played its part.

As it happened, the summer of 1986 witnessed our first ever British Champion when Irfan Nathoo took the national Under 9 title.

Richmond Informer 14 August 1986

Here’s a game from later in the year. To play through this or any other game in this article click on any move and a pop-up window will appear.

With our new system in place we were able to promote the club in the local press, announcing an exciting season ahead.

Middlesex Chronicle 04 September 1986

We were actively looking for sponsorship at this point. We received donations from two local charities at various times, and here we found sponsorship from the Richmond branch of Midland Bank.

Richmond Informer 04 June 1987

We were also competing successfully in team competitions against other London junior clubs. Barnet Knights, of course, are still going strong today.

 

Richmond Informer 13 August 1987

One of our new members was a talented Scottish junior, Jonathan Rowson, who had moved from Aberdeen into the same road as me. He used to come round to my house for a game after school, but sadly for us he didn’t stay in the area very long.

In this game from one of our monthly quad tournaments, he demonstrated his class by outplaying Richard Bates in a pawn ending.

During this period I was doing a lot of private tuition. Jonathan was by no means the only one of our members who would visit my house for lessons, either on a regular or an occasional basis. Judging from both individual and team results it must have had some effect on them.

By 1989 Sheen Mount players were making names for themselves on the national stage. Here are future IM Richard Bates and Tom Davey playing for England’s Primary Schools team in a match against Scotland.

Richmond Informer 16 June 1989

 

Also in June 1989 we were invited to play a match against a visiting team from Arizona. As we had so many strong players by now we split our players into three teams and played a four-way match.

Here’s Richard Cannon’s game against the American board 1.

By the summer of 1989 it was time to move. The church in central Richmond where we met was being redeveloped so we had to find new premises. Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club moved to London Welsh Rugby Club, while Richmond Junior Club found a new home in a large Victorian house in East Twickenham, where we’d meet for more than 15 years.

Richmond Informer 29 September 1989

We also set up a separate group for older children enabling us to enter teams in the Thames Valley League. We played our home matches in Friday evening sessions and scheduled our away matches, as far as possible, during the school holidays.

Jane Lawrence was now running Richmond teams in the English Primary Schools Chess Association inter-area competitions, with players from schools around the Borough taking part. Andrew Bamford, like many of the players in these teams, was a member of Richmond Junior Club.

Richmond Informer 20 April 1990

In this game from our 1990 Under 11 Championship a speculative sacrifice proved successful.

Wanting to provide top level coaching for our strongest players, we appointed GM Daniel King as our club professional in 1990. We were also able to enter a third team in the Thames Valley League.

Richmond Informer 14 September 1990

 

In just a few years since 1986 the club had made tremendous progress, and we were able to bill ourselves, without fear of contradiction, as ‘England’s leading club for young players’. This is Chris A Baker, who hasn’t played competitively for a long time, not to be confused with long-standing Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club member Chris B Baker, who was also a pupil at Hampton School, or indeed IM Chris W Baker.

Middlesex Chronicle 20 June 1991

In this game Tom had the chance to play a Greek Gift sacrifice against an opponent with insufficient experience of the French Defence.

And here’s Chris Baker, beating one of his regular rivals in a club game.

Every summer during this period the parents of our stronger players got together to book accommodation for the British Championships. From 1991 onwards we were rewarded with successes like these:

1991 Richard Bates U14 shared, Luke McShane U9

1992 James Clifford/Luke McShane U14 Andrew Bamford U11

1993 Tom Hinks-Edwards U16 shared

One of our favourite simul givers at the time was Ukrainian IM Petr Marusenko, a regular visit to Hastings (he’s there again this year) who would drop in to visit us after the congress.

In this game James Clifford outplayed him in the ending.

Richard Bates, now at Tiffin School, continued to be successful in 1992, and was rated one of the world’s top players of his age.

Kingston Informer 31 January 1992

 

But by that time we had a new member whose feats would outshine even Richard’s. This was Luke McShane, who, at the age of only 8, took the World Under 10 Championship in 1992.

Newcastle Journal 14 July 1992

Luke scored victories against future stars such as Bacrot, Aronian and Grischuk in this event. He was perhaps fortunate to escape from lost positions in the first two of these games, but here’s his win against the Russian representative.

In January 1993 we were privileged to host a junior team from Kiev (now Kiiv), whose top players were, as you might imagine, very strong. We arranged four events: a simul given by Daniel King, a match against a team from Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club, a match against a Richmond Junior Club team and a match against a junior team representing the Southern Counties Chess Union, which included three RJCC players.

Another of our very strong players, Aleksandar Trifunovic, great nephew of Grandmaster Petar Trifunovic, scored an exciting win on board three of the RJCC v Kiev match. His opponent here is now an American IM.

Richard Bates scored a win and a draw against the top two Kiev players. He drew with Spartak Vysochin, now a grandmaster, in the RJCC match and won this game from the SCCU Juniors match.

As a result of his performance in the World Junior Championship, Luke was given the opportunity to play a game against Garry Kasparov, in London to discuss the arrangements for his forthcoming World Championship match against Nigel Short.

Richmond Informer 05 March 1993

Here’s the game.

In May 1993, buoyed by these successes, we were asked to be involved in the Richmond Chess Initiative, which, in essence, did very much what Chess in Schools & Communities is doing now, but on a local rather than national level.

Richmond Informer 14 May 1993

Children would learn all the right moves, but would they play them in the right order? You’ll find out in the next part of the history of Richmond Junior Chess Club.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker's Publishing, 14 Feb. 2022, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9464201420
Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker’s Publishing, 14 Feb. 2022, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9464201420

From the publishers’ blurb:

“That such a fine achievement should be immortalized, is beyond dispute. But who will pick up the gauntlet? We live in a volatile world where the Internet is dominant and when a tournament is over, the next one is already at the door. No time for reflection and historical awareness? Yet there was someone who had followed the tournament with great interest. The English grandmaster Daniel Fernandez, who also publishes for ChessPublishing came up with the idea of thoroughly examining all the games from this tournament. He did not take any chances in doing so. In addition to the various sources he found on the Internet, he of course used the strongest engines available at the moment. He also had engines in the cloud patiently calculate various positions. Together with his source research and his own insights, he has created a unique compilation of chess-technical material that is unprecedented.

In doing so, Fernandez has painted a fantastic picture of the opening variants that were on the board in this tournament. He has done a thorough research of the ins and outs of the various variants and placed them in a broader perspective. And it must be said that the organization was kind to him by providing an interesting field of players who gave it their all every round. This resulted in many nice confrontations with extremely interesting opening theory! That Fernandez did not get away with the middle game and the many fascinating endgames was clear from a first estimate of the amount of material when it had to be converted to the format of this book. Initially, we ended up with almost 900 pages! That is far too much and therefore drastic cuts had to be made. Hundreds of (analysis) diagrams have been dropped, small side notes are no longer in the book and sometimes – pain in the heart – the trees of variations had to be cut back. That only happened, by the way, when the ingenious structure became so extensive that it would be hard to follow for “mere mortals”. It is being considered whether this can be made available digitally at a later date, and the moment that it is, we will of course put Fernandez’s entire analytical work on offer! IM Herman Grooten, December 2021 ”

 

GM Daniel Fernandez (born 1995) is an English grandmaster with a slightly unusual approach to chess: at once mischievous and hardworking, and equally comfortable in tactical positions or dry endgames. His style fits the Modern perfectly and he has played it with success for almost a decade. He is a past holder of the British under-18 and under-21 titles, and the winner (or joint winner) of many open tournaments, such as Paracin 2017, Pula 2018, Ghent 2019 and the New Zealand Open 2020. Daniel also writes and commentates frequently, and is a columnist of the 1.e4 section on ChessPublishing.com. This is his third book for Thinkers Publishing, the Modernized Caro-Kann and Modern Defense were his first two and world wide acclaimed as the best you can get.

GM Daniel Fernandez, 2019 British Championships, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Daniel Fernandez, 2019 British Championships, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Chess book collectors will look back with fondness on the days when competitions between leading players were often commemorated by tournament books. Hastings 1895. New York 1924. The 1953  Candidates’ Tournament. Everyone with a passion for chess literature will have books such as these on their shelves. From time to time they’ll open them again, not just to admire the games but to relive the excitement of the event. Like me, they’ll regret that this tradition seems to have gone out of fashion.

Is this book a worthy addition to an almost forgotten genre of chess literature?

With 750 pages, trimmed down from an original almost 900, one can only admire Daniel Fernandez’s industry in compiling the book, in producing several pages of detailed analysis, often focused on modern opening theory, for almost every one of the 91, invariably hard-fought games produced by some of today’s leading Grandmasters.

The author has made an unexpected and seemingly unexplained decision in ordering the games by the player of the white pieces. So we start with all the White games of Alexander Donchenko, who eventually brought up the rear, through to those of Jorden van Foreest, the rather unexpected tournament winner.

I guess this makes sense if the main reason you’re reading the book is to study you heroes’ opening repertoires, but  from my perspective as a humble club player it seems rather eccentric. Why not group the games by the player of the black pieces instead? Or, better still, why not group them by opening so that we can see all the Sicilian Defence, for example, games together? If, like me, you’re not especially interested in opening theory, you’d probably prefer a more conventional format, especially given that the book also includes the round summaries taken from a Dutch chess news website. So we get a Round 1 report, Donchenko’s white games, a Round 2 report, MVL’s white games and so on, which creates, at least for me, a rather disjoined effect.

The opening analysis is, for many games, extremely detailed. Take, for example, Esipenko’s win over Carlsen in round 8. We get five pages of notes about the latest trends in the Sicilian Najdorf, which I’m sure is deeply fascinating to anyone playing that opening with either colour at master level, but of only passing interest to someone like me who finds the opening far too difficult for comfort.

Esipenko sacrificed a pawn in the opening, reaching this position where he gained a winning advantage: 18. Ncxb5+ axb5 19. Nxc6 Qxc6 20. Qc3: a familiar enough sacrifice but with an unusual follow-up. The queen fork regains the piece and the World Champion eventually succumbed.

50 or more years ago, when I was young and innocent enough to look at opening theory, the Sicilian Najdorf was all the rage. It’s still popular now, although most of it looks very different from the days when we eagerly awaited the news of Bobby’s latest games. One line that’s still popular, and hasn’t changed all that much, is the Poisoned Pawn variation. To the best of my knowledge it’s still, in general, standing up well for Black, but it’s very easy to go wrong and lose quickly, as MVL found out against Caruana.

Black plumped for the wrong pawn capture on d5, and now White continued 14. e6!! A crushing breakthrough. After 14 moves Black is essentially lost against good play!, according to Fernandez, who provides some beautiful variations against various Black tries here.

As you’d expect, the tournament produced its fair share of fascinating endings. I found this position, from Wojtaszek – Anton Guijarro, particularly instructive.

Here Black played 58… Rg1!. Fernandez comments: Black shows alertness and does not allow the half-point to slip away. There are only a few dangers for Black in this position, and foremost among them would be allowing the enemy king into f6. Hence 58… Ra2?? loses, because Black now has to go very passive to prevent the infiltration.

He then goes on to give a lot of analysis demonstrating how White can always, at worst, reach the Lucena position.

The analysis of the remaining moves (59. Rb7 f6 60. e6 and so on) is also informative as to how this very typical position should be played.

At one level this is a magnificent, monumental book. You get 91 top level games, all deeply annotated, all hard fought, with profound opening play, often exciting middlegames and sometimes intricate endings. Fernandez has put in an enormous amount of work to ensure that readers are informed about the latest opening theory in lines currently popular at top GM level (although I guess it’s all 18 months out of date now!), and that all the analysis has been thoroughly checked for accuracy using the most powerful engines. The production values are high, with many excellent photographs and lots of interesting background material. I spotted a few typos, but not enough to spoil the book.

And yet, writing as a fairly strong club player, it’s sadly not a book for me. It’s just much too heavy, in more ways than one. Picking it up made my arms hurt and reading it made my brain hurt.

Give me a 250-300 page tournament book rather than 750 pages, and I’d be happy. I’d want the games in round order, annotated in a user-friendly (but not patronising) way, with opening theory and computer-generated variations only included where necessary, with helpful tips on how I could learn and improve my game and perhaps some reader interaction such as quiz questions. Indexes of openings and endings would also be welcome.

If you’re an ambitious 2200+ player, this book will, I’m sure, be ideal for you. If, like me, you’re an unambitious under 2000 player, you may well think it’s too much of a good thing.

I sometimes get the impression that there are a number of grandmasters who write books for themselves and their friends rather than considering the nature of their target market. For me this book, praiseworthy and outstanding though it undoubtedly is, falls into that category.

I’d advise you to make up your own mind whether this is a book for you. If you click here you’ll be able to download a teaser.

Richard James, Twickenham 28th June 2022

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover: 750 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (14 Feb. 2022)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:‎ 9464201428
  • ISBN-13:978-9464201420
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 4.57 x 23.62 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker's Publishing, 14 Feb. 2022, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9464201420
Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker’s Publishing, 14 Feb. 2022, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9464201420
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Candidates Tournament 2020 : Part 1 Yekaterinburg

Candidates Tournament 2020 Part 1 Yekaterinburg
Candidates Tournament 2020 Part 1 Yekaterinburg

From the rear cover :

“Vladimir Tukmakov, born in Odessa 1946, was one of the strongest Ukrainian grandmasters. He was the winner of several strong tournaments, including the Ukrainian Championship in 1970, and he came second in three Soviet championships in 1970,72 and 83. After his successful period as active player, he became a coach, trainer and author. This is his second book for Thinkers Publishing, after his major success in 2019 with ‘Coaching the Chess Stars’.”

GM Vladimir Tukmakov
GM Vladimir Tukmakov

Also from the rear cover

“The official story of the 2020 Candidates Tournament began on November the 11th, 2019 with the signing of a contract between FIDE and the Russian Chess Federation detailing the hosting duties of said tournament in Ekaterinburg from the 15th of March to the 5th of April, 2020. At that point no one could have even imagined how difficult the road to that tournament would be nor how unexpected the outcome. Yet the significance of the actual numbers in this dramatic epic is hard to overestimate which is why the author will attempt to play the role of chronicler and try to describe as accurately as possible the key moments of this historic event. Vladimir Tukmakov was our close observer, author and wrote a historically important book on the first part of the Candidates 2020.”

Tournament books, once a staple of chess literature, have been rare in recent years and books about half a tournament have always, naturally, been rarer still. This book by GM Vladimir Tukmakov is just such a book – and in my opinion it is a very welcome one.

Of course, 2020 has been an exceptional year (in a bad sense of exceptional) and the Candidates Tournament stands out as the exceptional (in a good sense of exceptional) over-the-board elite event of the year. It is unfortunate that Covid-related reasons forced the tournament to be suspended before its conclusion. (Or was the suspension necessary? The author’s comments on the decision are interesting.)

Although the tournament started on schedule in March, it was already in somewhat controversial circumstances because Teimour Radjabov had withdrawn – citing the rapid spread of the pandemic – and had been replaced by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.  The tournament was suspended exactly half way through following an announcement by the Russian government that all international air travel had been suspended indefinitely. The eight Candidates had been due to play each other twice, and seven of the fourteen rounds had been completed.

The author of this book, now aged 74, has been pretty much inactive as a player in recent years but he was a top player for a number of years, coming second in the Soviet Championship on three occasions, and reaching number 12 in the world rankings. This quality is reflected in his game annotations even if they are – as he modestly admits – sometimes helped by his “Iron Friend” (as he refers to chess engines).

The book consists of the following sections:

Introduction: Three pages of he author’s reflections on why he chose to write this book.

Prelude: Nine pages which describe the tournament itself, its participants and its occurrence in the time when the pandemic was developing.

The Play: 121 pages of games, with each of the 28 games annotated by the author and with a summary of the situation after each round.

Unexpected Conclusion: A brief two page description of the suspension.

Interim Results: An eight page summary of the tournament (so far!) including general observations of the players and their prospects for the remainder of the tournament, whenever that will be.

The Prelude and Interim Results chapters are informative and are engagingly written. They include a number of personal reflections by the author.  The annotations in The Play chapter are, I think, superb, with both textual comments and given variations always hitting the spot in their relevance. An example of this is taken from his notes to the Ding-Caruana game:

12 d5!?
Another complicated decision. The position demanded 12.e3 in the hope of completing development after 12… Bb3 which was like the game. Also, worth considering was 12… Bg6!? 13.Bc4 (Although 13.Nd3 led to an even more complicated struggle. For instance, 13…Na6 14.Nxb4 Nxb4 15.dxc5 Nc2 16.Rb1 Qa5) 13… Bxc4 14.Nxc4 cxd4 15.exd4 (15.Qxd4 Qe7) 15… Nc6 with enough compensation for the pawn.
It is very revealing, that having found himself in a difficult psychological situation, the Chinese grandmaster does not rush towards simplification instead choosing a more difficult and principled continuation each time.

(The book actually uses figurines for the pieces.)

Tukmakov is generally very respectful of the great players who are taking part in the tournament (indeed he writes that the book “bears witness to my solidarity with my younger colleagues” in view of their bravery in playing under the circumstances of the pandemic), but this doesn’t stop him from criticising them. For example, their clock handling occasionally comes in for comment. On one occasion he writes:

It is difficult to understand what Giri thought about for 25 minutes.

As may perhaps be expected, Grischuk receives sterner criticism in this area – but criticism that is well reasoned (and somewhat humorous).

In summary, I really like this book. I look forward to the second instalment which I hope arises as and when the second half of the tournament is complete. Who knows, perhaps tournament books are not a thing of the past after all?

Colin Purdon, Crowthorne, Berkshire, November 11th 2020

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Flexicover : 160 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (8 Dec 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510928
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510921

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

GM Vladimir Tukmakov
GM Vladimir Tukmakov
Candidates Tournament 2020 Part 1 Yekaterinburg
Candidates Tournament 2020 Part 1 Yekaterinburg
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Happy Birthday IM Marcus Harvey (24-vii-1996)

Marcus Harvey at the 2013 Hastings International Congress, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Marcus Harvey at the 2013 Hastings International Congress, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Marcus Ross Harvey born on this day (Wednesday, July 24th) in 1996. Killing Me Softly by the Fugees was top of the hit parade.

Marcus was born in Oxford and attended The Marlborough School, Woodstock, Oxfordshire and then (in 2014) at The University of Southampton he studied mathematics.

Originally playing for Bicester Marcus now represents Witney Chess Club in local leagues.

Marcus first played in the British Championship in 2011 (Sheffield).

Marcus Harvey at the 2013 King's Place Rapidplay, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Marcus Harvey at the 2013 King’s Place Rapidplay, courtesy of John Upham Photography

Originally playing for Oxford he now plays for Wood Green in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) and Southampton University in the Southampton League.

Marcus playing IM Yang-Fan Zhou at the 2013 Delancey UKCC Terafinal at Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
Marcus playing IM Yang-Fan Zhou at the 2013 Delancey UKCC Terafinal at Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.

In 2014 Marcus won the title of “Strat” (the overall Terafinal winner) of the 2014 Delancey UK Chess Challenge at Loughborough Grammar School.

Marcus Harvey at the 2013 Delancey UKCC Terafinal at Loughborough Grammar School, courtesy of John Upham Photography.
Marcus Harvey at the 2013 Delancey UKCC Terafinal at Loughborough Grammar School, courtesy of John Upham Photography.

Marcus has a FIDE rating of 2440 and an ECF grading of 240.

2014 Delancey UKCC Terafinal winner, Marcus Harvey at Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
2014 Delancey UKCC Terafinal winner, Marcus Harvey at Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

In 2018 he won the Witney Open outright with 4/5 and, in the same year, was runner-up to David Howell in the UK Blitz Open with 12.5/15 and a of 2589.

In 2019 he was =1st (with Mark Hebden) in the 4NCL Easter Open in Stevenage. Later that year Marcus was losing semi-finalist (to Gawain Jones) in the London Classic Blitz Knockout.

Marcus, on home ground, won the 43rd Kidlington Open in 2020 and followed this with and is the current 2020 English Online Blitz Champion beating IM Andrew Greet, FM Jonah Willow, IM Ameet Ghasi and IM Andrew Horton in the final.

In the Pro chess league he represents UK Lions.

Marcus Harvey's FIDE rating profile according to Megabase 2020
Marcus Harvey’s FIDE rating profile according to Megabase 2020

On 6th November 2019 we reported that Marcus had obtained his second International Master norm at the recent (October 2019) Hull 4NCL International Congress by scoring 4.5/9 with wins over IM Andrew Greet and IM Richard Palliser.

On July 17th 2021 Marcus was joint winner with IM Peter Roberson in the 1st Chessfest Decode Rapidplay with an impressive 6/6 and a TPR of 2911.

Marcus overcame Rory McLean, Theo Koury, Steven Coles, FM Alexis Harakis, CM Jonathan Pein and rapidplay / blitz specialist IM Ameet Ghasi to share first place.

Over the 19th – 23rd August  2021 Marcus played in the Wood Green Invitational round-robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford.

Marcus scored 6/9 and secured his second International Master Norm and  a TPR of 2532.

<img class=” wp-image-18696″ src=”http://britishchessnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/untitled_wgi.jpg” alt=”Wood Green Invitational Round-Robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford. August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2021″ width=”654″ height=”229″ /> Wood Green Invitational Round-Robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford. August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2021

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2021 Marcus played in the Northumbrian Masters  GM Tournament at the splendid Marriott MetroCentre, Gateshead scoring 6/9 and TPR of 2559 and earing his fourth IM norm. His standard play rating of 2451 (September 2021) is sufficient and now only requires the next FIDE Congress to ratify the IM title.

Marcus enjoys playing the Smyslov-Larsen opening with white

and the classical French and the Nimzo-Indian Defence.

It is clear that Marcus is now surely a strong candidate for England’s next Grandmaster.

FM Marcus Ross Harvey
FM Marcus Ross Harvey
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The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965

The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965
The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965

The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965 : Pedro Méndez Castedo & Luis Méndez Castedo

Pedro Méndez Castedo & Luis Méndez Castedo

Pedro Mendez Castedo is an amateur chess player, an elementary educational guidance counselor a member of the Asturias Chess History Commission, a bibliophile and a researcher of the history of Spanish and Asturian chess. He lives in San Martin del Rey Aurelio, Spain. Luis Mendez Castedo is an amateur chess player, a full teacher at a state school, a member of the Asturias Chess History Commission, a bibliophile and an investigator of the history of Spanish chess. He lives in Gijon, Spain.

 

When I mention Gijón, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Mustard? No, that’s Dijon. Dijon’s in France, but Gijón’s on the north coast of Spain, on the Bay of Biscay.

Small international chess tournaments were held there between 1944 and 1951, then between 1954 and 1956, and, finally, in 1965. These were all play all events, with between 8 and 12 players: a mixture of visiting masters and local stars. A bit like Hastings, you might think, but these tournaments usually took place in July, not in the middle of winter.

The strength of the tournaments varied, but some famous names took part. Alekhine played in the first two events and Euwe in 1951. A young Larsen played in 1956, while other prominent masters such as Rossolimo, Darga, Donner, Prins, Pomar and O’Kelly also took part. The local player Antonio Rico played in every event, with fluctuating fortunes: winning in 1945 ahead of Alekhine and 1948, but also finishing last on several occasions. English interests were represented on three occasions by Mr CHESS, BH Wood.

A nice touch is the Foreword, written by Gene Salomon, a Gijón native who played in the 1947 event before emigrating first to Cuba and then to the United States.

The main part of the book comprises a chapter on each tournament. We get a crosstable and round by round individual scores (it would have been better if these didn’t spill over the page: you might also think that progressive scores would be more useful). We then have, another nice touch, a summary of what was happening in the world at large, and in the chess world, that year. Then we have a games selection, some with light annotations: words rather than variations, giving the impression that little if any use was made of engines.

The book concludes with a chapter on ‘Special Personages’: Félix Heras, the tournament organizer, and, perhaps to entice British readers, BH Wood. Appendices provide a table of tournament participation and biographical summaries of the players.

Returning to the main body of the book, let’s take the 1950 tournament as a not entirely random example. A year in which I have a particular interest.

We learn a little about the football World Cup, the Korean War and a Spanish radio programme, the first Candidates Tournament and the Dubrovnik chess olympiad.

The big news from Gijón was the participation of the French player Chantal Chaudé de Silans, the only female to take part in  these events, and rather unfairly deprived of her acute accent here. She scored a respectable 3½ points, beating Prins and Grob (yes, the 1. g4 chap).

Rossolimo won the event with 8½/11, just ahead of Dunkelblum and Pomar on 8. Prins and Torán, playing in his home city, finished on 7 points.

This game, between Arturo Pomar and Henri Grob, won the first brilliancy prize.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 Bg7 6. Bg2 c6 7. e3 h5 8. Nge2 h4 9. Qb3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Nd7 11. a4 Nb6 12. a5

12… Nd7 13. a6 Qc7 14. Qc4 Nb6 15. Qc5 Rh5 16. Qa3 bxa6 17. Nf4 Rh8 18. Qc5 Bb7 19. Ba3 e5 20. Nd3 exd4 21. cxd4 Rh5 22. Ne5 O-O-O 23. g4 Nd7 24. Qc2 Rxe5 25. dxe5 Nxe5 26. Rb1 h3 27. Be4 Nxg4 28. Ke2 a5 29. Rxb7 Kxb7 30. Rb1+ Kc8 31. Bxc6 Ne5 32. Bb7+ Kb8 33. Ba6+ Qb6 34. Bd6+ Ka8 35. Rxb6 1:0

The annotations – by result rather than analysis – neither convince nor stand up to computer scrutiny. We’re told at the start of the game that ‘Pomar takes the initiative from Black’s error in the opening and does not relinquish it until the final victory’, but the annotations refute this claim. After criticizing several of Grob’s moves but none of Pomar’s, we’re told, correctly, that Black could have gained an advantage by playing 25… Qa5+. However, Grob’s choice was second best, not a ‘serious mistake’: Stockfish 10 tells me 26… a5 was still better for Black, and 27… a5 (in both cases with the idea of Ba6) was equal, though I guess those moves might not be easy to find without assistance. It was his 27th move, and perhaps also his 26th, which deserved the question mark.

This game was played in the last round of the tournament, on 26 July 1950.  Two days later a boy would be born who would learn chess, develop an interest in the game’s history and literature, and be asked to review this book. What is his verdict?

An enjoyable read, a nice book, but not a great book. If you collect McFarland books you’ll want it. If you have a particular passion for Spanish chess history, you’ll want it. Otherwise, although the book is not without interest, it’s probably an optional extra.

The tournaments, apart perhaps from Alekhine’s participation in the first two events, are not, in the overall scheme of things, especially significant. The games, by and large, aren’t that exciting. The annotations are, by today’s standards, not really adequate. The translation and presentation could have been improved.

Just another thought: we could do with a similarly structured book about the Hastings tournaments. There was one published some years ago, but a genuine chess historian could do much better.

Richard James, Twickenham 20 November 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 244 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476676593
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476676593
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.5 x 25.1 cm

Official web site of McFarland

The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965
The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965
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Third Keith Richardson Memorial : September 14th 2019

Camberley Baptist Church
Camberley Baptist Church

A glorious Saturday (the 14th) in September was the date and Camberley Baptist Church was the location of the third tournament in memory of correspondence Grandmaster Keith Bevan Richardson.

Keith Bevan Richardson (1942 -2017)
Keith Bevan Richardson (1942 -2017)

A field of thirty-two gathered at the home (since 1982) of Camberley Chess Club for a six round rapid-play event (R20′ + 10″) that was free to enter raising money by donations to The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Players were invited to choose books from Keith’s library

Charity Bookstall
Charity Bookstall

and donate to charity in return.

The Cure Parkinson's Trust
The Cure Parkinson’s Trust

Top seed was recently qualified IM Adam C Taylor (ECF230)

IM Adam C Taylor
IM Adam C Taylor

whose chances were dented by losing in round 4 to Clive Frostick (Farnham) who, like Keith, was a highly successful correspondence player (a SIM : Senior International Master)

Clive Frostick
Clive Frostick

Other pre-tournament favourites were FM Andrew P Smith (IRE and Bourne End)

FM Andrew Smith
FM Andrew Smith

and FM Richard M Webb (Crowthorne)

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

along with WFM Louise Head (Crowthorne)

WFM Louise Head
WFM Louise Head

Following three rounds we stopped for lunch (in some cases liquid only) and on 100% were Adam, Clive and Andrew so round four could well be a key decider. Clive beat Adam with the white pieces whereas Andrew and Richard drew a hard fought Sicilian Dragon. In round five Clive breathed a sigh of relief to survive a “dodgy” position against Colin Purdon in one of the candidate games for the “Best Swindle” Prize.

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

The drama continued into the final round as Adam beat strong junior Ranesh Ratnesan
and everything hinged on Clive’s game with Richard Webb. After a long and interesting struggle the game was drawn and the tournament was decided.

The award for Best U-150 player went to rapidly improving Jessica Mellor (Guildford)

Jessica Mellor
Jessica Mellor

the award for Best Junior went to Radesh Ratnesan (Surbiton)

Ranesh Ratnesan
Ranesh Ratnesan

and the title of Camberley Chess Club Champion (highest placed local player) went to Colin Purdon

Ken Coates & Colin Purdon
Ken Coates & Colin Purdon

In overall first place with 5.5/6 was Clive Frostick :

Overall winner : Clive Frostick
Overall winner : Clive Frostick

The event collected more than £300 for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust and we are sure Keith was looking down from above and was pleased with what he observed.

Keith Bevan Richardson (1942 -2017)
Keith Bevan Richardson (1942 -2017)

Past Winners of Keith Richardson Memorial :

2017 : Julien Shepley
2018 : Ken Norman
2019 : Clive Frostick

Full results may be found from UTU Swiss

Camberley Chess Club would like to thank :

Camberley Baptist Church, Berkshire Junior Chess Association, Ken Coates and Christine Coates.

The organiser was John Upham.

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British Blitz Championship Qualifier : Bristol

GM Matthew Turner (SCO)
GM Matthew Turner (SCO)

Sixty-four (!) players entered the South-West qualifier for the British Blitz Championship 2019 held at Bristol Grammar School for a fifteen round tournament employing a 3′ + 2″ FIDE approved time control.

GM Keith Arkell (ENG)
GM Keith Arkell (ENG)

The entry was headed by GM Matthew Turner (SCO) scoring 13.5/15 and gaining a mere 8.8 FIDE Blitz rating points drawing quickly with Keith Arkell and losing to FM Lewis Martin (ENG).
Paignton based “local” GM Keith Arkell (ENG) took runner-up spot with 12/15 losing 15 rating points having drawn with Lewis Martin but losing to in-form IM James Cobb (WLS) and IM Malcolm Pein (ENG). Malcolm’s son Jonathan elected to play in the much weaker Belfast qualifier which was probably a good move.

IM James Cobb
IM James Cobb

Highest placed lady player (and therefore qualifier) on 8.5/15 was University of Warwick student and reigning English Ladies Champion, WFM Louise Head (ENG) who was supported by her Crowthorne team mates FM Richard Webb, Colin Purdon and Mark Taylor.

WFM Louise Head
WFM Louise Head

Surprise performance (perhaps?) was from FM Lewis Martin (title awarded in 2018) who beat Matthew Turner, Malcolm Pein, Richard Webb and Louise Head of the titled players to earn a 64.8 rating increase.

FM Lewis Martin (ENG)
FM Lewis Martin (ENG)

Full results may be found at Chess Results . com

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Today in Torquay…

BCN has joined the action in wonderful Torquay at the Riviera Centre.

British Championships in Torquay
British Championships in Torquay

On Board four we have IM Richard Pert vs GM Nick Pert (Richard won the game) :

IM Richard Pert
IM Richard Pert
GM Nick Pert
GM Nick Pert

and on board three : GM John Emms vs GM Justin Tan (the game was drawn) :

GM John Emms
GM John Emms
GM Justin Tan
GM Justin Tan

and on board two : IM Richard Palliser vs GM Stephen Gordon (the game was drawn) :

IM Richard Palliser
IM Richard Palliser
GM Stephen Gordon
GM Stephen Gordon

and on top board we have GM David Howell vs GM Michael Adams (the game was drawn) :

GM David Howell
GM David Howell
GM Michael Adams
GM Michael Adams

Follow the action at Twitch with GM Danny Gormally and IM Adam Hunt

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