The Sean Marsh Chess Column
The local chess scene has now entered its final phase of the season, and all titles, cups, relegations, promotions, elation and heartache should be over anddone with by the end of May.
The top of the A division took a very interesting turn in round 11. Defending champions Middlesbrough Rooks suffered their first defeat of the season when thejunior-based side Middlesbrough Knights eventually outplayed them.
Chris Duggan started the possibility of a shock result when he held Mike Closs, current co-county champion, to a relatively painless draw with Black. Robin Killick then won in good style, showing a welcome return to form after a patchy spell. Ian Elcoate was always winning his game for the Rooks but the great turning point came on board 5. Tony Kiddle was not only a pawn up againstMike Welch, but he also had the advantage of good Knight v poor Bishop. However,a terrible and uncharacteristic miscalculation on Tony’s part allowed a transition into a King and pawn ending which was completely lost. Mike Welch duly picked up the full point. It can be said that Mike enjoyed a little luck inthis game, but he displayed great coolness in defending a very difficultposition up to that point.
When Matthew Jackman’s armada of passed pawns sailed majestically into the heart of Peter Ridsdale’s position, the match was over. Ernie Lazenby made desperate attempts to pull back a full point for the Rooks but William Place not only held on, despite a severe shortage of time, but actually stood better when the draw was finally agreed. So the final score of this exciting match was Middlesbrough Knights 4, Middlesbrough Rooks 2.
Playing at the same time, the arch-rivals of the Rooks, Elmwood, were busy demolishing Middlesbrough Bishops to the tune of 5-1. All of this keeps the Rooks on top of the table, but only by one point. Both teams have tough matches coming up. Elmwood must face the Knights and the Rooks play Redcar. Both are having good seasons and both are capable of an upset. Then all is set for the big clash between the Rooks and Elmwood, in the penultimate round of the fixtures. Should be very interesting!
The two big cup finals will take place at The Ladle on Friday 17th May. TheRooks play Elmwood in the main section of the Tom Wise Memorial Cup and ElmwoodJuniors take on Stokesley.
Both should be very tough matches, potentially classics. Nobody can remember a previous cup final between The Rooks and Elmwood, although they have met twice at other stages of the competition over the last five years. One win each!
There is the possibility of an incredible Elmwood double of both cups, and also a possibility of a slightly less impressive Elmwood double of two runners-up places. Spectators are, as always, welcome.
New BookA short time ago, the world of chess books was enhanced by the publication of‘The English Morphy? The Life and Games of Cecil De Vere’ byOwen Hindle and Bob Jones, published by Keverel Chess Books. There is a review of this book in a previous column (see the archive). Keverel Chess Books have just announced their latest project, which will be ‘TheGolden Age of Chess’ and will cover the period from Philidor to the great match of 1834 between McDonnell and La Bourdonnais.
The added twist is that both players were buried in Kensal Green Cemetery,West London. Sadly, both graves are now in a very poor condition. As part of the work on this new project, Bob Jones of Keverel Chess Books is seeking donations for a fund to restore both graves. Anyone interested in helping the cause is encouraged to send £25.00 to Keverel Chess Books. This will guarantee a signed copy of the book and an invitation to the unveiling ceremony.
Thursday, 28 February 2002
Sunday, 10 February 2002
The Sean Marsh Chess Column
Drama at the KO Cup Semis
The Tom Wise K.O. Cup semi-finalswere played at TheTouchdown, Hartlepool (venue for many of Graham Marshall’s excellent Rapidplay events).
The Touchdown produced a very welcome buffet, enabling the players to refue las they gave their opponents food for thought.
Four A division teams (three from Middlesbrough!) battled it out for a placein the big final. Middlesbrough Rooks,holders of the local A division title seemingly in perpetuity, have only won thecup once in the last five years but are always eager to improve on this somewhat disappointing record. They were up against Middlesbrough Bishops in a tie which proved to be a bit of mismatch. With on-form county champion Mike Closs leading the team, the Rooks never looked like giving anything away from start to finish. A solitary draw was all the Bishops could manage from five boards, and that was conceded long after a convincing victory was already in the bag.
The other semi-final was tougher. Elmwood faced Middlesbrough Knights in a replay of last season’s final in a close match that kept everyone guessing until very late into the evening. For a long time, the match was balanced at one win each and then Elmwood seized the lead thanks to another win from Steve Dauber. Steve, currently leading the county individual championship with two rounds to go, is on great form this season. There then followed alengthy period without a further result. Elmwood needed just a single half-point from the two remaining games, and their players were a pawn up in both endgames.However, extreme resourcefulness from the two Knights, Robin Killick and William Place, seemed to be swinging the balance and suddenly any result was possible. Eventually, after much interesting play, both games were indeed drawn, sendingElmwood through to the final as 3-2 winners.
Elmwood have a fantastic recent record in the cup. This will be their fourth final in five seasons (they were knocked-out in the semis the other year). In those finals, two ended in success and one in defeat. What will be the outcome this time?
It is the first time I know of that The Rooks and Elmwood will meet in thecup final; curious, as they have been the two strongest local teams for many years. The Rooks usually triumph narrowly over Elmwood in the league and muststart as favourites in the final. I suspect it will be close , exciting andentertaining. Both sides have done well to reach the final - despite being the strongest teams, places in finals must still be earned by hard work - and I hope it does live up to expectations and produces a showcase of competitive, localchess talent.
The Plate final should also be a great match. Elmwood Juniors take on Stokesley in another one that is difficult to predict the outcome of.
The date has yet to be arranged for the finals, but will be up on this siteas soon as it is announced.
36th Southlands Junior Tournament
Ever since 1990, the Cleveland Schools’ Chess Association has run three tournaments a year at Southlands Centre, Middlesbrough. Over the years the events have attracted many players, of all ages and abilities. Some have become chess superstars (Richard Palliser, Bret Addison, Gawain Jones etc.....), some will undoubtedly go on to become great players and, of course, the vast majority just wanted to play a little chess at a well-organized tournament. At the height of local chess activity, the record turnout was an incredible 130 participants.Then 100 became the acceptable norm, then 80...then numbers tumbled down to40-ish. The latest tournament attracted just 27 entries. TWENTY SEVEN. Yet do you have any idea how many entry forms I printed, copied and distributed to attract this number of players? Well...I’m not sure I should tell you. Each one of the three annual events takes an average of four months to prepare,publicise and run. They are advertised locally, nationally, on the CEEFAX, Teletext, chess magazines, websites, chess club notice boards, schoolnewsletters, by word of mouth, by pre-released lists of ‘dates for the season’.
Every players finishing in the top three of any age group wins a trophy for keeps. Tied places are not subjected to tie-breaks; every placed player receivesa trophy regardless of sum of opponents scores, sum of progressive scores, play-offs or even who has the biggest nose. So many trophies! And in addition, we have given away book prizes, magazine subscriptions, great cash prizes, certificates and thousands of sweets.
What do I have to do to make juniors play in chess tournaments? Do I have to come round on the morning of the event, apologise for not giving reminder number 100 and lead you directly to your playing table? Would a 500 foot neon sign over Southlands Centre help to remind you of what, when and where?
Yet there are some players who have stayed loyal to the tournaments, through thick and thin. They have nearly all become highly reliable players for their local senior chess clubs.
So, hopefully some of the 27 people did enjoy the 36th tournament.
Or Goldreichwon the Under-9 section with five straight wins, a point ahead of Matthew Williamson, and Emma Mavin took third with 3/5.
James Thorne-Wallisalso scored five points, in the Under-11 section, to take clear first. Vijay ShyamSundar was second with four points and there was a big tie for third, with Thomas Mavin (still only six years old!), Abbey Arnison, Hayley Allan and Michael Davison all scoring 2.5/5.
Carl Shuttleworthwas his usual extremely impressive self and he easily won the Over-11 section with 5/5. Christopher Dale held second with 4/5 and David Gorley sharedthird with Nick Webb, both on 3.5/5.
Given the continuous downward trend in the number of entries, I have decided that the 36th tournament should also be the last of the series. The 37th event,scheduled for June 2002, has been cancelled. The numbers just do not justify the time and money spent on running these tournaments. I am working on new ideas forj unior tournaments and will post full details here in this column if and when they become available.
These are the final Grand Prix scores for the 2001-2 season. The first column shows the score from last November’s event. Column two shows the score fromthe February event and the third column is the final aggregate. A cheque for£20 is on its way to each of the three section winners.
Or Goldreich 4/5 5/5 9
Thomas Mavin 4/5 4
Matthew Williamson 4/5 4/5 8
Catriona Bruce 3/5 2.5/5 5.5
Kane Moore 1/5 2.5/5 3.5
Emma Mavin 3/5 3
Tom Bulmer 3/5 3
Thomas Donald 3/5 3
Jenny Openshaw 2.5/5 2.5
Andrew Lodge 2/5 2
James Herbert 1.5/5 1.5
Jason Loveridge 1.5/5 1.5
Abigail Mealing 1.5/5 1.5
Emma Robinson 1/5 1
James Thorne-Wallis 3/5 5/5 8
Vijay Shyam Sundar 3/5 4/5 7
Michael Davison 4/5 2.5/5 6.5
Abbey Arnison 2/5 2.5/5 4.5
Ben Harker 4/5 4
Thomas Beckwith 4/5 4
Hayley Allan 2.5/5 2.5
Thomas Mavin 2.5/5 2.5
Jonathan Robison 2/5 2
Markus Waddoup 2/5 2
Michael Briggs 1.5/5 1.5
Kenneth Kilburn 1.5/5 1.5
Michael Lau 1.5/5 1.5
Michael Lee 1.5/5 1.5
Kyle McGee 1/5 1
Carl Shuttleworth 4.5/5 5/5 9
Christopher Dale 3/5 4/5 7
Graham Shuttleworth 4/5 2.5/5 6.5
Matthew Jackman 2.5/5 3/5 5.5
David Gorley 2/5 3.5/5 5.5
Matthew Hammond 2/5 3/5 5
Dominic Leigh 2/5 2/5 4
Robin Killick 4/5 4
Nathan Huntley 3.5/5 3.5
Nick Webb 3.5/5 3.5
Peter Harker 3/5 3
Thomas Watson 2/5 1/5 3
Calum Arnison 1/5 2/5 3
Andrew Watts 2.5/5 2.5
Amy Dryden 1/5 1/5 2
Tony Jefferson 2/5 2
Friday, 1 February 2002
The Sean Marsh Chess Column
Sometimes, It’s All Goodbyes
The recent Redcar Congress saw a number of our players curiously off-form, with local favourites suffering a number of painful defeats. The Open section was a great success for Durham’s James Simpson, repeating his victory of the previous year. James seemed to be the only person playing consistently well; after the fourth round, he had already guaranteed himself sole first place, as he had a mighty one and half point advantage over his nearest rivals.
An on-form James Simpson is almost unstoppable - always fighting, never compromising, never agreeing draws when there is a chance to play on an interesting game. He is one of my favourite local players and he thoroughly deserved his success. However, I think most of us were not up the challenge this time. Take a look at the full scores elsewhere on this site and you will see what I mean about the locals being on poor form.
For me, and for many others, the congress was overshadowed by the terrible news that Peter Bashford had died on the way to the tournament.
Peter, 74, was one of the most committed club players in our county. Since I joined Elmwood, five years ago, there can’t have been more than three or fourclub nights when Peter was not there, and that was when he had an away match.Peter came into club chess late in life but showed a loyalty and dedication to his local scene that is lacking in so many these days.
He and I often travelled to tournaments together - Tyne & Wear, Durham, Hartlepool...even Nottingham, on one occasion. ‘Fancy playing some different people next weekend?’ He would ask, and off we’d go. During the journeys, we would have discussions on a whole range of subjects, but we’d always come back to chess and football. He was a supporter of Charlton and was pleased to see them holding their own in the Premiership, but his experience and knowledge of football in general was very deep. I enjoyed his tales of watching the greats, such as Sir Stanley Matthews.
Peter always followed my chess progress with great interest, even when I kept him up late, waiting for me to finish my first round in a congress!
The last time I saw him was the Thursday night, one day before the Redcar Congress. He seemed perfectly okay and was looking forward to playing. His last sentence to me was about the chess column which featured the Bronstein visit.What a cruel twist of fate that my very next column should feature his most unexpected death.
When the sadness has had time to settle, Elmwood chess club will plan a memorial tournament for our great friend, Peter Bashford.
Sometimes, it’s all goodbyes. This latest loss comes only shortly after Steve Welbourne and Howard Bowyer, Bob Hammond and, from Hull, Antonius (‘Tony’) Stalmans; not to mention England’s former No.1 GM, Tony Miles.
I feel such things often have a bigger impact on chess players, because ourchess world is usually insulated from many things in the ‘real world’. We will continue playing, but things will never be quite the same again.