Surbiton A v Richmond A 03-05-22

Our last match of the season resulted in a narrow defeat against Surbiton A. A slightly disappointing result given the run of play, but the good news is that it was close enough to ensure us second place in the league and a clutch of virtual silver medals. Even if Surbiton win their last two matches 6-0 we’ll still half a game point ahead.

  1. Chris Briscoe (2156) 0:1 Gavin Wall (2284)
  2. Altaf Chaudhry (2070) 1:0 Mike Healey (2267)
  3. Angus James (2012) ½:½ Bertie Barlow (2006)
  4. Paul Dupré (1968) ½:½ Andrew Hebron (2020)
  5. Nick Faulks (1906) 1:0 Raghu Kamath (1885)
  6. Graham Alcock (1793) ½:½ Maks Gajowniczek (1750)

For most of the match I was expecting somewhere between 3:3 and 4:2 in our favour. Board 6 witnessed some solid chess between Maks and Graham, with early exchanges leading to a fairly quick draw. Chris went wrong in the opening and Gavin had few problems crushing him in short order, giving us an early lead. Bertie had a powerful looking pawn centre with most of the pieces still on the board. Raghu and Nick’s game had seen the major pieces traded off on an open file and they were continuing to play out a bishop ending which looked totally drawn. Mike was a pawn down in the ending but seemed to have good drawing chances against his lower rated opponent. Andrew had, as usual, played resourcefully to survive a dodgy King’s Indian Defence and his position now looked unclear.

But then things started to go wrong. Complications on board 3 led to a draw, but the post mortem suggested that Bertie had missed a win. Altaf produced some excellent endgame play against Mike and managed to get his extra pawn through, putting Surbiton level. Board 4 was eventually, and inevitably, drawn by perpetual check. Finallly, Raghu, short of time, miscalculated something in the ending and lost his bishop.

The final score, then, went rather against the run of play, but all credit to Altaf and Nick for their outstanding endgame skill, and to Angus and Paul for their tactical opportunism.

There are two lessons here for everyone: two vital attributes in today’s faster chess are the ability to play endings very well at speed and the ability to manage your time well. (I should add that this is not just something for younger players: Altaf and Nick are, like me, members of the older generation.)

Congratulations to Gavin on his impressive win, and thanks to all who played in this match and supported the team during the season. I’ll write a full report shortly.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (181)

Illingworth-Beeh, Ford Memorial 2002
White to play

Some of you will know that I have a particular interest in pawn endings.

I found this position on Australian GM Max Illingworth’s Facebook page.

How would you assess this position? What would you play if you were White? Which moves, if any, win? Which moves, if any, draw?

Improving your ending skills, especially pawn and rook endings, should be an important part of your training programme if you’re ambitious to improve your chess.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (180): Solution

Jan Hartong
Good Companion, Complete Block Ty
1st Prize, Section II. Meredith Two-Movers
Good Companion, Apr 1922 

The solution to last week’s puzzle from 100 years ago is:

  1. Qd4+ and if 1… c1Q+, 2. Ne1#, or if 1… c1N, 2. Qb2#, or if the N on a6 moves, Q(x)b4#.

Solving relatively simple 2-movers like this is a good way to improve your calculation skills. Well done if you managed to find the solution.

Match Results Update 28-04-22

This week’s matches in Division 3 of the Thames Valley resulted in an unlucky defeat for Richmond C away to Maidenhead B and a narrow win for Richmond D against Surbiton C.

  1. Steve James (2050) 1:0 Otto Weidner (-)
  2. Anirudh Muppidi (1698) ½:½ David Heaton (-)
  3. Michael Perry (-) 1:0 George Milligan (-)
  4. Dariusz Sikora (-) 1:0 Mike Robinson-Chui (-)
  5. Sangeetha Gowda (-) 0:1 Ron Bilkhu (-)
  6. Iona Italia (-) 0:1 Huw Williams (1435)

I understand there was an unfortunate misunderstanding regarding clock settings which might have cost us the match.

  1. Alex Shard (1720) 1:0 David Cole (1653)
  2. Roger Scowen (1681) 0:1 Robin Browne (1728)
  3. Richard Sleep (1615) 1:0 Alexey Markov (1600)
  4. Dan Donohoe (1533) 0:1 Oleksiy Podolyan (1578)
  5. Ron Bilkhu (-) 1:0 David Morant (1450)
  6. George Dokic (1338) ½:½ Paul McCauley (1403)

Well played everyone!

Chess Puzzle of the Week (180)

Jan Hartong
Good Companion, Complete Block Ty
1st Prize, Section II. Meredith Two-Movers
Good Companion, Apr 1922 

This week we’re turning the clock back a century again, with a problem from exactly 100 years ago.

The Good Companion was a chess problem club running from 1913 to 1924 organising regular composing competitions attracting the leading problemists from all over the world. Jan Hartong (1902-1987) was one of the most distinguished Dutch composers of his generation.

It’s White to play and force mate in 2 moves against any black defence. Good luck!

Chess Puzzle of the Week (179): Solution

Hjartarson – Andersen Reykjavik 2022
White to play

In this position GM Johann Hjartarson continued with 54. e7? and the game was drawn some 35 moves later.

Sadly for him he missed an extraordinary and spectacular win. 54. Qf7+!! Nxf7 55. exf7+ Kh7! (or 55… Kf8 56. Ng6+) 56. fxe8B!! when White’s three pieces will vanquish the black queen. If you promote to a queen or rook Black forces stalemate after either Qg2+ or Qh1+, while promotion to a knight fails to defend the rook.

A queen sacrifice followed by a very rare forced underpromotion to a bishop because a queen or rook would allow a counter queen sacrifice: amazing. This is exactly why we all love chess so much.

I’ve written a post about underpromotions here and you might also find this post of interest.

Richmond A v Surbiton A 19-04-22

Our penultimate match of the season saw a visit from Surbiton A in a match which would have a bearing on second place in the league. I’m unable to provide a first hand report as I was at a concert, but was able to get there in time to pick up the results at the end of the evening.

Currently the match is undecided: we’re 3:2 up with one game for adjournment (remember them?). Update (26-04-22) – the unfinished game on board 4 was agreed drawn, giving us a 3½:2½ victory.

  1. Gavin Wall (2284) ½:½ Altaf Chaudhry (2070)
  2. Mike Healey (2267) 1:0 Paul Dupré (1968)
  3. Bertie Barlow (2006) 1:0 Nick Faulks (1906)
  4. Raghu Kamath (1885) ½:½ Heiko Cassens (1900)
  5. Maks Gajowniczek (1750) ½:½ Henry Shard (1863)
  6. Victor Bluett (-) 0:1 Graham Alcock (1793)

I understand that Mike had a quick win and Bertie an impressive win, while Gavin’s former Pakistan international opponent agreed a draw in what might have been a winning position. Raghu’s adjournment appeared to be a highly unclear position with most of the pieces still on the board: Raghu was attacking on the kingside and his opponent on the queenside. We’ll have to see what Stockfish thinks!

Thanks to all for playing, and especially to Mike who captained the team on the night, and to Sampson for his help. Well played Mike and Bertie!

A report from Mike:

A very tight affair between Richmond and Surbiton. So tight that on the top four boards, the first piece left the board at 8.15! Many closed games and slow building attacks.

On 6 Victor faced what every player doesn’t need – negotiating the unique intricacies of a Benko against a very active player. White got in a muddle, a piece went awry, then the game.

Meanwhile on 1 Surbiton’s Chaudhry had hit upon the genius tactic of repeatedly failing to press his clock, a sure fire way to wind up our Gavin! An ominous pawn landed on f3, but things started going horrifically wrong. Using the patented titled player draw offer, Chaudhry was dumbstruck into accepting. Moments later he was announcing to the room he should have declined, having been shown the win. The joy of an IM result AND the pleasure of moaning about it for years on end! Perfect!

Bertie saved Richmond’s blushes with a gorgeous game on 3. As Nick commented in post match drinks, his mistake was forcing Bertie to play rather than striving for a tame draw. I’ve certainly been enjoying the Barlow bloodlust this season!

On 5 Maks played a former Richmond junior, and got a very pleasant position from his Sicilian. Exchanging down to rook and opposite bishop each, while Black was in complete control White defended smartly. Realising any winning attempt would probably backfire, Maks sadly conceded to a draw. Still, as seen from his games online in Richard’s tournaments, Maks has definitely become a stronger player over lockdown, always pushing for the win even against much higher rated players.

I played my usual offbeat nonsense on 2, and Dupre ended up a bit squished in a Philidor. Amusingly Stockfish had zero criticisms of White’s play apart from moves 2 and 3!?

That leaves the adjourned board 4, where Raghu was playing a calm slow attacking game. The final position is a bit of a mess, but looking over some lines it looked like White should be on top, even if a clean kill wasn’t leaping out at us.

Our season concludes with the return encounter with Surbiton on Tuesday 3 May. We’re anticipating another close match.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (179)

Hjartarson – Andersen Reykjavik 2022
White to play

From a game played 100 years ago to one played a couple of weeks ago.

This has been doing the rounds recently so apologies if you’ve seen it before, but it was too good not to share with you.

It’s White to play and win. Have fun!

Match Results Update 18-04-22

We fielded what might best be called an experimental team for our Surrey Centenary match at home to Kingston B, and the result was very much as expected.

  1. Levente Lencses (1525) 0:1 Jon Eckert (1818)
  2. George Milligan (-) ½:½ John Shanley (-)
  3. Mike Robinson-Chui (-) ½:½ Stephen Moss (1728)
  4. Ron Bilkhu (-) 0:1 Ljubica Lazarevic (1728)
  5. Julian Bedale (1098) 0:1 Adam Nakar (1660)
  6. Ranjit Uppal (-) 0:1 Jake Grubb (-)

Congratulations to George and Mike on excellent draws against strong opponents, and welcome to Ranjit on his debut in competitive chess.

There’s an excellent match report from Kingston’s captain (and former RJCC member) Adam Nakar on their website here.

Richmond D lost a close match against Harrow:

  1. John Clenshaw (1720) 0:1 Alex Shard (1720)
  2. Mary Helen Deans (1653) ½:½ Barry Sutton (1600)
  3. Alan Marshall (1548) 1:0 Richard Sleep (1615)
  4. David Stott (1513) 0:1 Ron Bilkhu (-)
  5. Phil Humphry (1536) 1:0 George Dokic (1338)
  6. David Wray (1490) 1:0 Ken Broadley (1075)

Congratulation to Alex and Ron!