Chess Puzzle of the Week (25)


Last week I left you with this position, asking you how the Richmond Chess Club President beat one of the all-time greats from this position.

The Richmond President in this case was Thomas Francis Lawrence (1871-1953), one of the strongest London amateurs of his day, and, for some years at the beginning of last century, President of Richmond Chess Club. That’s TF Lawrence, not TE Lawrence and certainly not DH Lawrence.

Lawrence had a rather unusual chess career. Apart from appearances for Richmond, he played regularly in the (very strong) City of London Chess Club championship, and in the Anglo-American cable matches which were an annual event for several years. His only international tournament was, unexpectedly, Cambridge Springs 1904, where he was, for some reason, the English representative.

Our puzzle is taken from his game in this event against the great Harry Pillsbury, who was suffering from the syphilis which would claim his life two years later. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot Nxf7 here, meeting Qxf7 with Bxg6 and Kxf7 with Rf3. Full credit for h4, again with the idea of Rf3 which also wins. Lawrence had also met Pillsbury twice in cable matches, the Edwardian equivalent of cyberspace, in both 1902 and 1903, drawing both games.

An insurance clerk by trade, Lawrence lived in 1911 at 132 Palewell Park, East Sheen with his wife and three young daughters. Although he was well over 40 at the time, he signed up to serve his country in World War One and never returned to the chessboard, later retiring to Kent.


This week my offering is a rook and pawn ending. White to move: would you play a5 or gxh5? Red or blue pill? The result of this critical London League match rests on your decision.

Richmond D v Harrow B 14-03-19

Another disappointing result for Richmond D in their bid for the Division 4 title. While our top two boards won, Adam using the Morra Gambit to triumph in only ten moves against a usually solid opponent, the other four boards all lost by blundering pieces.

At this level chess is mostly about taking care and not making unnecessary mistakes. Put your pieces on sensible squares, calculate everything that moves and don’t do anything stupid.

Thanks to all who played and congratulations to Eamon and Adam.

Richmond D Harrow B
1 Eamon Rashid-Farokhi 143 1:0 David Stott 123
2 Adam Naglik – 1:0 Alan Marshall 120
3 Colin Dailley 103 0:1 David Wray 116
4 Rob Hunter – 0:1 Phil Humphry 101
5 Max Brindley – 0:1 Jennifer Goldsmith 96
6 Huw Williams 103 0:1 David Walker 87

This is a very tight division with little to choose between any of the teams and only Richmond C slightly detached.

Current scores:
Richmond D 5½/9
Wimbledon D 5½/8
Harrow B 4½/10
Surbiton C 4/8 + one undecided match
Ealing C 4/7 + one undecided match
Richmond C 2½/10

The unfinished match between Surbiton C and Ealing C stands at 2½:2½ with one game adjourned.

Our last match of the season, at home to Surbiton C on 4 April, will be crucial.

We Were the Champions (10)

Our penultimate match of the 1975-76 season was against Islington 1, who had been champions four times in the 1960s, on the first occasion (1962-63) with a team almost entirely made up of teenagers. Those were the days! I was so lucky to have grown up at a time when chess was popular with teenage boys. (I might have been even luckier if the game had been as popular with teenage girls, but that’s another story.) Islington was famous not just for its chess club but for its pioneering and, in the 70s, very large weekend congresses. You’ll spot a familiar name, responsible for much of this, on B2. Another of the Islington pioneers, Ron Harman had, as you might have noticed last week, transferred his allegiance after obtaining a job with King & King, and Stewart would later join him at Cavendish. Although Stewart has lived in Twickenham for many years he’s never been a member of our club.

Sadly, Islington Chess Club disappeared a long time ago. Hackney are now flying the chess flag in that part of North East London.

We weren’t quite at full strength, so I had to make an appearance on bottom board. Yet again, we were helped by one of our opponents failing to arrive.

Join me now as we climb the many steps to the top floor of St Bride’s Institute.

17 March 1976 St Bride’s Institute
Richmond & Twickenham 1 Islington 1
1 AP Law 225 ½:½ S Webb 229
2 DSC Goodman 200 1:0 S Reuben 204
3 GH James 211 0:1 R Webb 208
4 MJ Franklin 192 1:0 JI Century 198
5 MJ Lightfoot 183 0:1 R Bailey 199
6 PJ Stubbs 179 0:1 EA Isles –
7 JC Benjamin 183 1:0 DI Patrick –
8 AR Bracher – 0:1 BF O’Sullivan 197
9 PJ Sowray 170 ½:½ NH Skinner 169
10 DM Andrew 182 1:0 Default
11 P Gillham 184 ½:½ CJ Marley 165
12 R James 174 ½:½ MJ Rose 167

If my game is anything to go by, we were fortunate to draw. I played the opening far too loosely and lost a pawn, but my opponent misplayed the ending and allowed me to salvage an undeserved half point.

The most interesting player in the Islington team, apart, of course, from Stewart, was Ted Isles. Google is your friend. There’s a lot to be written about London chess between the 60s and 80s. It’s a tale that needs to be told, while the likes of Stewart and Jimmy Adams (another of the Islington pioneers) are still around, but it’s not mine to tell.

FIDE World Team Championship 2019

Fantastic news for English chess!

In the Open section of the World Team Championship our team took the silver medals behind Russia.

Better still, three of our team won individual medals as well. Luke McShane, former Richmond Junior Club star and arguably the world’s strongest amateur, took the gold medal for the best performance on Board 2. Gawain Jones won the silver medal for his results on Board 4, while there was a bronze medal for our Board 3 David Howell, a good friend of Richmond Junior Club who, as a young boy, took part in some of our events.

Heartiest congratulations to Luke, David and Gawain along with our top board Mickey Adams, reserve/analyst Jon Speelman and team manager Malcolm Pein on a superb performance.

Chess has a serious image problem in this country. While the game is seen as being ‘good for you’, chess players usually have a bad press, being seen by the general public as nerds lacking in social skills who will probably go mad ‘like that Bobby Fischer’. We need to make the game more popular with teenagers and young adults (female as well as male), and we could do worse than using the distinctly unnerdy Luke, David and Gawain, as well as some of the younger female stars, as role models

Here, for your enjoyment, is David Howell’s last round win against Sweden.

Kings Head 1 v Richmond 13-03-19

It’s always sad to see a club which seems to be struggling, especially a club like Kings Head, which has been at the forefront of London chess for more than three decades. A club  which, like Drunken Knights, has been noted for its sociability and friendliness as well as its chess.

As in their previous encounter, against Wimbledon, they defaulted two boards, although they’ve fielded strong teams in some of their other matches. Only one of their ten nominated first team players took part. It’s a similar story in the Middlesex League. I’m not sure what’s happening internally, but we can only sympathise and hope they’re able to resolve these issues in time for next season.

You can only beat what they put in front of you, though, and that’s precisely what we did. Congratulations to the whole team (and commiserations to those who didn’t get a game).

Kings Head 1 Richmond
1 Alex Lewis 203 0:1 Iain Gourlay 225
2 Colin Mackenzie 179 Adj Gavin Wall 223
3 Andrew Gilfillan 186 0:1 Ashley Stewart 205
4 Jim Falzarano 179 0:1 Mike Healey 212
5 Mark Davey 188 ½:½ Caspar Bates 200
6 Kayode Disu 171 0:1 John Burke 181
7 Alex Bourke 160 0:1 Martin Benjamin 176
8 Peter Grant-Ross 141 0:1 Chris White 177
9 Default 0:1
10 Default 0:1

A score of 6/7 gives us an excellent chance of repeating last season’s second place. We note that Battersea are on 4/4, but with Wood Green, Hackney and Cavendish, as well as ourselves, to come.


Richmond C v Wimbledon D 12-03-19

Richmond C completed their programme for the season with a defeat at the hands of a strong Wimbledon D team, who are vying with Richmond D for the league title.

Well played Barry and Richard, who both beat useful opponents.

Richmond C Wimbledon D
1 Alex Shard 138 0:1 Angel Silva Pena –
2  Dan Donohoe 103 0:1 Robbie McCarthy 128
3 Barry Sutton 100 1:0 Pawel Slonczuk 126
4 Richard Sleep – 1:0 Paul Carter –
5 George Dokic 90 0:1 Maciej Psyk –
6 Jim Anandajeyarajah 81 0:1 Alex Brett 108

Richmond C finish with a score of 2½/10, a big improvement on last season’s performance, so congratulations are due to everyone in the squad. It’s really important that clubs should provide competitive chess for everyone, not just for the superstars in the first team.


Chess Puzzle of the Week (24)


Last week I left you with this king and pawn endgame.

The solution:

1. Kd6 Ka3 (1… b5 2. Kc5 Kb3 3. Kxb5 Kc3 4. Kc5 Kd3 5. Kd5) 2. Kc5 Ka4 3. f4 b5 4. f5 (4. Kd4 b4 5. f5 b3 6. Kc3 amounts to the same thing) 4… b4 5. Kc4 b3 6. Kc3 Ka3 7. f6 b2 8. f7 b1=Q 9. f8=Q+ and wins either the king or the queen.



This position is from a game in which the President of Richmond Chess Club defeated one of the all-time greats. Can you find White’s winning move here? In fact there’s a choice here: you might want to look for the two best moves. If I’m feeling generous come next weekend, I’ll give you full credit for either solution.