Chess Puzzle of the Week (57)


I left you with this position last week. I missed a beautiful, study-like continuation:

1… Na5! when we have three variations (I wanted them all for full marks: yes, I’m mean!)

Obviously, 2. Rxa5 c2 and Black promotes.

So White has to bring his rook back to stop the pawn:

2. Re5 c2! (after the immediate Nb3 White can defend with Re2) 3. Re1 Nb3! and again Black promotes.

Instead White can try 2. Rb5+ Ka8! (the only move: Black must avoid potential checks) 3. Rb1 Nb3! (in this variation the immediate c2 is answered by Rc1) 4. axb3 c2! and yet again Black promotes.

In the game Estick – James (from a London League match between RTCC 2 and Streatham in 1986) I played Nxd4 and the game was drawn a few moves later.


One of the chapters in Chess Puzzles for Heroes will be called Spot the Blunder. I spent yesterday evening at the launch party for Jonathan Rowson’s new book The Moves that Matter (and it was lovely to bump into Nette on the train home) so decided to look at some of his old games.


This is a position from Jonathan Rowson – John Richardson (Walsall 1977) which would fit right into Spot the Blunder. Black, to play, is doing fine here, but, as they ask on A Question of Sport, what happened next?

I’ll write more about both The Moves that Matter and the Chess Heroes project later.

Wimbledon A v Richmond A 11-11-19

Richmond A opened their account at the third attempt with a rather fortuitous draw at Wimbledon.

Mike Healey reports:

An away draw tonight! Despite Wimbledon turning up with their strongest team of the season. And us having three players three days ago. Incredible.

Ian started us off by terrifying his opponent into not turning up. Sampson went down to a fiery (and maybe theoretical) attack. Gavin repeated moves in a case of high-level dynamic equilibrium with most of the pieces on.

The other games were less clear. Eamon certainly seemed to have his higher rated opponent on the ropes, but couldn’t find a way through and lost a tight game. Chris, after another of his classic offbeat openings, seemed a bit under the cosh: lashing out with a queenside hack suddenly things were looking good – and just as suddenly everything went south. That left myself, Richard and Andrew with the score at 3.5-1.5.

In a brilliant piece of captaincy, having grimaced at Richard’s fairly horrific position, I told Andrew the match was gone and he could play for whatever result he wished. Meanwhile I finished off my own uncharacteristically tranquil game (possibly the result of too much cough medicine), and Richard seemed slightly less lost than he had been. A couple of inaccurate moves by his opponent, and the draw was proffered.

So a draw was possible – if Andrew could win an opposite coloured bishop middlegame where he had been a pawn down since the opening. A snazzy tactic, a few checks and a mate later, the match was drawn!

Thanks to everyone who played, this could well be a valuable point come the end of the season.

Wimbledon A Richmond A
1 Alberto Suarez Real 235 ½:½ Gavin Wall 224
2 Marcus Osborne 206 0:1 Mike Healey 217
3 Russell Granat 213 1:0 Chris White 180
4 Ian Heppell 177 ½:½ Richard James 167
5 Default 0:1 Ian McLeod 161
6 Philip Gregory 174 0:1 Andrew Hebron 161
7 Neil Cannon 177 1:0 Sampson Low 155
8 Nick Keene 177 1:0 Eamon Rashid-Farokhi 144

Congratulations to Andrew (who told me that, many years ago, we played a lot of 1-minute games on ICC) for a fine win against a strong oppoonent in his A team debut. Congratulations also to Mike for managing to get a full team out and for winning his game. I guess a drawn match – and a draw in my game – was a fitting result for Armistice Day. I played the middle game very badly and really didn’t deserve to share the point. Let’s hope for some more luck in our forthcoming matches.

Surbiton C v Richmond D 06-11-19

An excellent result for Richmond D: an away draw against higher graded opponents from Surbiton C.

Surbiton C Richmond D
1 Robert Faint 132 1:0 Dan Donohoe 109
2 David Cole 126 0:1 Barry Sutton 109
3 Mark Webley 119 0:1 Richard Sleep –
4 Sanjit Kumar 125 1:0 Laurie Catling 90
5 Paul Sheehan – 0:1 George Dokic 87
6 Paul McCauley 94 1:0 Jim Anandajeyarajah 81

Great wins for Barry, Richard (yet again!) and George.

Richmond B v Staines A 07-11-19

After two tough matches Richmond B finally opened their account against Staines A, one of the weaker teams in Division 2.

Huw Williams reports:

“Some interesting games on the top 3 boards with solid draws. Raghu had a good win, followed by a draw for Masoud, who had been a piece down for a while. The two youngsters Lewis and Sophie had a good game with Lewis going onto to win (This was Sophie’s first game [in the TV League]) and Paul had a fairly quick win after being a pawn down early on.”

Richmond B Staines A
1 Bertie Barlow 167 ½:½ Derek McGovern 165
2 Andrew Hebron 161 ½:½ Jack Sheard 153
3 Sampson Low 155 ½:½ Shahannah Schmid 148
4 Raghu Kamath 157 1:0 Paul Seymour 130
5 Masoud Molazadeh 126 ½:½ Stephen George 137
6 Lewis Low 94 1:0 Sophie Wang 93
7 Paul Evans – 1:0 Martin Conlon 50

Well played everyone!

It was good to encounter a team with two female players. The theme of this year’s London Chess Conference (in 3 weeks time) is “Chess and Female Empowerment”. That reminds me: I must book my ticket while they’re still available.

Chess Puzzle of the week (56)


This position arose in the game R James – RS Walker (Richmond B v Acton 1977). I could have won by playing 1. Rxf5 gxf5 2. Bxf7+ Kxf7 3. Qh5+, but instead I played Bc5 and the game was drawn a few moves later (not sure offhand whether by agreement or adjudication).



This week another position from one of my old games.


It’s Black’s move: how should the game continue? You’ll need to provide at least three variations for full marks.

Richmond v Hammersmith 1 06-11-19

There wasn’t much respite from Wood Green as we found ourselves up against a strong and ambitious Hammersmith team. Our West London rivals have strengthened their squad considerably since winning promotion to Division 1 last season. Their average grade was over 200, with the very strong Peter Roberson on top board followed by IMs Mark Kvetny (Germany) and Thomas Rendle.

Although we were able to field a strong team ourselves and hold our own on the top 6 boards, their lower boards were too good for us.

Richmond Hammersmith 1
1 Callum Kilpatrick 222 1:0 Peter Roberson 244
2 Gavin Wall 224 0:1 Mark Kvetny –
3 Mike Healey 217 ½:½ Thomas Rendle 226
4 Mark Josse 214 ½:½ Thomas Bonn 201
5 Caspar Bates 200 0:1 Carsten Pedersen 192
6 Martin Benjamin 181 1:0 Bajrush Kelmendi 188
7 Chris White 180 0:1 Fedja Zulfic –
8 John Burke 175 0:1 Sylvain Eche 183
9 Mike Smart 170 0:1 Jim Stevenson 194
10 John Bass 176 0:1 Marios Kouis 180

Congratulations to Callum and Martin on their splendid results, and to Mike H and Mark for sharing the point.

This match’s RJCC count: 5 former RJCC members on the top 5 boards, and three pre-RJCC RTCC teenagers lower down. It’s very much our commitment to junior chess in this area over the past 40+ years which is keeping us alive.

Well played – and well recruited – Hammersmith. Best wishes for the rest of the season and hope you beat Wood Green!

Surbiton B v Richmond B 30-10-19

A slightly weakened Richmond B team faced a visit to Surbiton B, the strongest team in Division 2. They had declined promotion to Division 1 this season.

On the lower boards at least, things, not unexpectedly, didn’t go well.

Surbiton B Richmond B
1 Jasper Tambini 192 0:1 Bertie Barlow 167
2 David Scott 191 ½:½ Sampson Low 155
3 Tony Stewart 179 1:0 Raghu Kamath 157
4 Nick Faulks 169 1:0 Adrian Waldock 146
5 Steve Kearney 164 1:0 Masoud Molazadeh 126
6 Heiko Cassens 159 1:0 Lewis Low 94
7 Liam Bayly 152 1:0 Huw Williams 97

What great results for Bertie and Sampson, though! Well done!

Surbiton B had previously beaten Staines A 6½:½ and Wimbledon B 6:1 so at least we did better than their previous opponents.

Surbiton’s Steve Kearney tweeted:

“It was a very friendly and sporting match and the final match score belies how close the games were. My opponent played very well and I was pleased to squeeze a win at the end. Hope my opponent and his team Richmond have a very good season.”