We Were the Champions (9)

On this day in 1976 we played a London League Division 1 match against Cavendish, whom we have also played twice in the last few days, winning narrowly in the league and losing narrowly in the Eastman Cup.

Cavendish have an interesting history. They were formed from a chess club first known as East Ham, and then, perhaps as the result of local government reorganisation, Newham and East London. Some of their members worked for an accountancy firm, King & King, whose policy was to recruit chess players to join their London League team. At some point in the 70s they changed their name to Cavendish and moved to a central London venue.

David Edward Fault was again much in evidence, this time giving a two board simul. The Cavendish also played a reserve on B11. Defaults on individual boards seem to have been a lot more common then than now.

9 March 1976 St Bride’s Institute
Richmond & Twickenham 1 Cavendish 1
1 MF Stean 233 0:1 AJ Whiteley 230
2 AP Law 225 ½:½ D Wright 219
3 DSC Goodman 200 ½:½ BN Green 208
4 GH James 211 0:1 RFA Harman 197
5 MJ Franklin 192 1:0 GA Hollis 184
6 KI Norman 191 1:0 Default
7 MJ Lightfoot 183 ½:½ SM Kalinsky 186
8 JC Benjamin 183 1:0 Default
9 DM Andrew 182 0:1 RJ Pearce 183
10 PJ Sowray 170 1:0 DK Openshaw 165
11 JM Hodgson 166 1:0 GH Witt 157
12 P Gillham 184 ½:½ RK Lowen 175

With two losses on the top four boards we really needed those free points to score an important victory.

You’ll have noticed that Danny Wright and Barry Green were still playing for Cavendish against Richmond 43 years after this match. In addition, Geoff Hollis, Syd Kalinsky and David Openshaw all still play for Cavendish: a pretty impressive statistic, I think. We wish them many more years of London League chess!

(And, by the by, I’d have posted this earlier, but spent a couple of hours this morning with Russell Picot, who, as you will have seen in the previous post in this series, played for Mitcham against us 43 years ago.)

Branson Pickle

Billionaire businessman Richard Branson was recently photographed, not for the first time, playing chess with the board the wrong way round. He also appeared to have made six moves to his opponent’s three, which might explain why his business dealings have been so successful. He also claimed that “chess is the best game in the world”: again he’s frequently made similar statements, with which we heartily agree, in the past.

Chess playing journalist Leon Watson (a real player, from Battersea chess club) mocked him in a Daily Telegraph article.

A couple of days later, the Times, in a diary column written by their chief film critic, Kevin Maher, replied, describing those who complained that the board was the wrong way round were “chess Nazis”, boasting that “I’ve been playing chess, sometimes handsomely, my entire life while completely unaware of this rule”. He concluded by suggesting that “chess nerds need to get a life”. You might think it inappropriate that a serious newspaper should bandy the word ‘Nazi’ around lightheartedly in this way, but we’ll let it pass.

Week after week I have problems in school chess clubs persuading the children to set the board up the right way round, and to call the chunky guys in the corner rooks rather than castles. They’ve been taught the game at home by parents who play chess in the same way that Branson and Maher do.

Now don’t get me wrong: if you want to set the board up the wrong way round and play fairly random moves, just because it’s fun, don’t let me stop you. The other day I visited the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition in Kew Gardens. I take photographs myself, but just for fun. Unlike the amazing photos I saw at the exhibition, mine are totally devoid of artistic merit. There’s a big difference between someone who takes photographs and a photographer just as there’s a big difference from someone who plays chess (like Branson) and a chess player, someone (like you or me) who tries to play well and get things right.

I think this is something many of us in the chess community tend to forget about. Most people who play chess know little or nothing about the game, and often despise those of us who take it seriously. Which is why most parents who sign their children up for primary school chess clubs have no interest in helping them because they don’t want them to become ‘chess nerds’.

Chess players have a serious image problem. How can we deal with it?

Cavendish v Richmond (Eastman Cup)

Cavendish had strengthened their team for our Eastman Cup encounter, with a team that, if they fielded it in the league, would rival Wood Green. Only Jonathan Rogers was missing from their eleven highest graded players. Their bottom board was graded 197, and they fielded a strong and experienced (but not very active these days) grandmaster on Board 5.

They reversed the result of last week’s league match, but our players performed with great credit to restrict our opponents to such a narrow victory.

Well done to Chris, the only winner on the night, and to all those who drew with their redoubtable opponents.

Cavendish 1 Richmond
1 Ravi Haria 247 ½:½ Richard Bates 225
2 Jonathan Parker 240 ½:½ Gavin Wall 223
3 Mark Ferguson 234 1:0 Mike Healey 212
4 John Cox 226 ½:½ Bob Eames 206
5 William Watson 219 1:0 Caspar Bates 200
6 Sam Franklin 220 ½:½ Andreas Wetscherek 181
7 Matthew Piper 215 ½:½ Julien Shepley 174
8 Rafe Martyn 242 ½:½ John Burke 181
9 Terry Chapman 205 ½:½ Martin Benjamin 176
10 Jeff Goldberg 197 0:1 Chris White 177

Richmond E v Surbiton D 05-03-19

Richmond E faced a strong Surbiton D team boasting a 100% record in this division, and, as they were outgraded on every board, did well to come away with three draws.

Well done Dan, Jim and Richard!

Richmond E Surbiton D
1 Dan Donohoe 103 ½:½ Mark Webley 119
2 George Dokic 90 0:1 David Cole 120
3 Jim Anandajeyarajah 81 ½:½ David Morant 104
4 Richard Sleep – ½:½ Paul McCauley 87


Chess Puzzle of the Week (23)

I’m doing some occasional research into chess players with local connections: Richmond, Twickenham and possibly also moving into Kingston.

One of Twickenham’s most celebrated chessers was Cecil Alfred Lucas Bull (1869-1935). CALBull

Cecil was born in Twickenham, the son of a surveyor and auctioneer. The family lived at various addresses in Twickenham and Teddington until his mother Julia died in 1892. In 1881 they were in Ferry Road, Teddington, just opposite where I’ll be this evening (a concert at the Landmark Arts Centre), and where Huw dropped Colin off on Thursday! At this time Cecil and several of his many siblings emigrated, some to America and some to South Africa. Cecil, a cricket fan, chose the latter option. He was already champion of Twickenham Chess Club, but discovered there was no club in Durban, so he and his friends set about starting one up. He won the club championship on five occasions, and also played three times in the national championship, finishing second in 1906. One of his younger brothers, Clifford, was something of a prodigy composer, having several problems published while still in his teens, but it appears he didn’t maintain his involvement with the game.

It was not as a player, but as a problemist that Bull was best known. Last week I left you with a very simple mate in 3 (Natal Mercury 1912).


The solution:

1. Rf1
If 1… Kc7/c8, 2. Rd2 and 3. Rc1#
If 1… Kd7, 2. Rd1 and 3. Rc2# (the rooks switch roles)
If 1… b3, 2. Kb7 and 3. Rd1#

This week, an instructive endgame study: just a king and a pawn each. It’s White to play and win (Artur Mandler, Narodni Osvobozeni 1938), taken from the February 2019 British Chess Magazine.


Richmond D v Ealing C 28-02-19

Richmond D suffered a setback in their bid for the Division 4 title, going down to a 2-4 defeat against Ealing C. Congratulations are due to Rob, for a fine win, Colin and Omar for their half points, and to Ealing C for an excellent victory against the odds.

Richmond D Ealing C
1 Eamon Rashid-Farokhi 143 0:1 Harry Symeonides –
2 Adam Naglik – 0:1 Nandinee Thatte 114
3 Colin Dailley 103 ½:½ David Websdale 102
4 Omar Anbargi 108 ½:½ Neville Rowden 84
5 Rob Hunter – 1:0 Geoff Richards 80
6 Huw Williams 103 0:1 Michael Smith 76


Cavendish 1 v Richmond 28-02-19

We weren’t at full strength for our match against one of our main rivals for second place: Cavendish 1.

But no matter, we still managed a narrow win in spite of our grading disadvantage, thanks to wins from Gavin, Mike, Jonathan and Andrew along with draws from Julien, John and Martin.

Cavendish 1 Richmond
1 Jonathan Parker 240 1:0 Iain Gourlay 225
2 John Cox 226 0:1 Gavin Wall 223
3 Jonathan Rogers 226 0:1 Mike Healey 212
4 Matthew Piper 215 1:0 Caspar Bates 200
5 Kanwal Bhatia 190 ½:½ Julien Shepley 174
6 Jeff Goldberg 197 ½:½ John Burke 181
7 Danny Wright 188 0:1 Jonathan Somekh 179
8 Alan Scrimgour 185 ½:½ Martin Benjamin 176
9 Barry Green 165 1:0 Chris White 177
10 Howard Waterman 169 0:1 Andrew Waters 168

Here‘s the B3 game. It’s always good to see one of my former (chess) pupils beating one of my brother’s former (English) pupils.

We’re now on 5/6, having only suffered the inevitable loss against Wood Green. Here’s to the rest of the season.