Recognise this extraordinary logo? Well, for the benefit of anyone who has been visiting Planet Zog recently, the World Chess Championship Final between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana begins today in London. The logo chosen for the match has not been seen much since the fanfare of its unveiling when the match was announced earlier this year. It attracted a fair amount of interest at the time and led The Times to describe the match as The Pawnographic World Chess Championship. Perhaps the inspiration for the logo was the famous (notorious?) chess game between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair.

The match consists of twelve games and if the scores are tied at 6-6 then a tie break ensues, details of which can wait until necessary. What are the odds of Carlsen retaining his title? While his FIDE rating is only three points higher than his opponent, the consensus seems to be that it would be a major surprise if he were to lose, especially as his quick play is superior to Caruana’s if the match were to go to a tie break. So what are Caruana’s chances? Searching for ‘World Chess Championship odds’, I was directed to the headline ‘What are the odds that chess is sexy enough for sports betting?’ from an American site (What do you mean, ‘No surprise there then?’). It quotes Unibet as claiming the ‘betting handle’ on the contest to be higher than that of some 2018 FIFA World Cup Matches. Really? Morocco v Iran, perhaps. It goes on to quote Carlsen as 29/50 and Caruana as 7/25. You don’t get odds like that at Ascot.

The ‘sexy’ aspect of the article is clear when you look at the logo but FIDE have offered an alternative ‘traditional’ one which seems even stranger. To this writer it looks more like a game of Chess Twister which could be the must have game for Christmas. The article states that ‘Chess is not noted for being a sexy sport’. Clearly the writer has not visited Broadstairs Chess Club. Unfortunately, his credibility went out of the window when the final paragraph announced that the match will take place in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In fact, the venue is The College in Holborn, an apparently odd choice as while its website claims that there will be space for 400 spectators, Malcolm Pein in The Telegraph today said that there will only be approximately 160 seats for paying customers, the rest presumably for press and officials. As for the building, it is indeed Victorian as claimed but photos suggest to this reader a cross between Victorian baths and a school hall. See what you think here.

Enough of this, you say, what about the chess? Well, Caruana drew the white pieces for Game 1 but was he able to take advantage? Surely he could not allow Carlsen to win the first game with black? At one point the computer had Carlsen as winning but he blundered and after seven hours there is still no result. While it was hoped to be able to post the game here for everyone to admire (?), with 111 moves played and no result in sight, we shall have to wait until tomorrow.  The online wags are having a field day. “I live in Toronto,” says one. “The game started as I arrived at work. I am now leaving and it is still going on.” Another suggested that the game will still be continuing when round two begins tomorrow while a third has tipped Carlsen to win in 700 moves. The 30-second increment added per move means this game could run and run. Hold it….pawns have been swapped off so that’s another 50 moves….zzzzz….no, wait – draw agreed! As the players leave the stage, you can imagine the resident DJ playing ‘Things can only get better’.

                                                Broadstairs  4        Bridge  3

1 David Faldon (175) 0-1  Vishnu Singh (210)
2 Trefor Owens (167) 0-1  Richard Eales (193)
3 Shany Rezvany (163) 1-0  Patrick Burns (166)
4 Arnaud Wisman (155) ½-½  Alan Atkinson (166)
5 Bob Page (142) 1-0  Jeff Green (e135)
6 Chris Stampe (124) 1-0  Tim Spencer (118)
7 Gary Hilleard (118) ½-½  Peter Blundell (117)

David Faldon writes:

It’s not a misprint and it’s not fake news – Broadstairs have won an away Millar Cup match at Bridge! This is the first time this has happened since, well, ever. Hearty congratulations to all the players, and especially to the five who actually won or drew. Bob’s win on board 5 got things rolling in the right direction. Bob won a pawn early and then a piece and the game was over before some of the other players had swapped their first pawns. The two top board games were next to finish. Two interesting games but two losses. Comparing impressions afterwards over a consoling cup of tea, Trefor and I tested our predicting skills on the remaining games. I guessed one win (Chris was a clear pawn up) and three draws (yes, Shany was a pawn up too, but the position looked blocked) which if correct would have given a drawn match, while Trefor went for two wins and two draws. Luckily Trefor proved the better prognosticator: Chris and Shany both skilfully converted their extra pawn into wins and Gary (a late substitute on board 7) settled for a draw after pressing hard throughout the game. That left Arnaud on board 4, deep in a blocked up knight and bishop ending. Arnaud won a pawn but then agreed a draw as time ran down to bring home the win for the team. A splendid result. Many thanks to all the Broadstairs players, and especially to Trefor for driving. And many thanks to Bridge. As usual, they made us feel very welcome and even provided tea, coffee and biscuits.

Editor’s note: This was a great night for Broadstairs Chess Club, especially for the three ‘rebels’ as Graeme Boxall described them! There is no doubt that all three wanted to win and the tension as all the Broadstairs players gathered around the final game at the end with just a draw required for victory but Arnaud desperate to beat Alan was palpable. Well played, everyone.

This fine building is the Lysses House Hotel in Fareham, venue for the 2018 Hampshire Chess Congress which took place last weekend. The High Street in which the hotel is situated is an impressive road with some imposing Georgian buildings which can only have been built by very wealthy businessmen, possibly important navy officials from nearby Portsmouth.   It is the first year the hotel has been used for this congress and the building has an interesting history. It was built in the early 1800s for Stephen Barney, a local solicitor whose main claim to fame was in his position as Recorder at the trial of the Mutiny of the Bounty and his portrait hangs in the entrance to the hotel.  The building remained in the Barney family until 1946 when it became an independent boys’ school. It is now a 3-star  hotel and boasts 21 en-suite bedrooms and a selection of conference rooms to cater for up to 100 delegates.

As a chess congress venue, Lysses (pronounced ‘Lizziz’) definitely has charm. The games were played in small rooms and there was tea, coffee and biscuits available throughout the weekend for a small contribution. As some of the players were staying at the hotel, dinner on Saturday night was from 5.00-6.30 in order for it to be completed in time for Round 4 starting at 7.00. A sample menu was available to view on Saturday afternoon. The congress consisted of six rounds with three games on Saturday which is not to everyone’s liking as suggested by the twenty or so byes taken for Round 4. Perhaps they were residents who favoured a more leisurely evening meal.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Kevin Thurlow as Arbiter with Karen assisting him, and I understand he has been controlling this congress for some years. There were three sections: Open, Major (U160) and Minor (U125). Not surprisingly, there was a large contingent of local players. Your correspondent managed to find some form at last and this is one of his better games. Black fell into severe time trouble and eventually resigned with only seconds left on the clock.

White:  Robert Page (144)      Black:  Jeremy Hudson (132)

 2018 Hampshire Chess Congress Major 



The latest Game of the Week is a topsy-turvy battle from last week’s Hargreaves Shield match against Folkestone. As Andy Flood said in his report, the match was in the balance for a long time and deciding the winner on Board 4 was by no means clear. Have a look at the following game which, while by no means faultless, is entertaining and appropriately full of fireworks. It also eventually proved to be a crucial win both for Michael and Broadstairs.

White:  Robert Twigg (77)      Black:  Michael Doyle (90)

 Hargreaves Shield v Folkestone (a)

                                        Broadstairs  3         Folkestone   1                                        

1 Chris Stampe (124) 1-0 Alec Nicol (136)
2 Gary Hilleard (118) 1-0 David Erwee (100)
3 Andy Flood (110) 0-1 Andrew Haycock (97)
4 Michael Doyle (90) 1-0 Robert Twigg (77)

Andy Flood writes:

The match at Folkestone was always going to be tricky, given that last year a stronger team only managed a draw, and so it proved. The exception was Gary Hilleard with the black pieces on Board 2, who quickly overcame his opponent with clever tactics that saw him win a pawn and rook in exchange for a bishop, then dominating his game for an early win and thus retain his remarkable 100% win record for Broadstairs in league chess games. The game on Board 3 was evenly balanced and Mike Doyle on Board 4 had a slight positional advantage which he was developing but Chris Stampe on the top board was soon a pawn and then two pawns down.

As the evening drew to a conclusion, Mike Doyle appeared to be in trouble from a developed dominant position when his opponent broke through onto the 7th rank with his queen and rook. Meanwhile on Board 3 I forced the exchange of queen for two rooks and soon had my own rooks on the 7th rank with the intention of forcing a mate following a sacrifice of a piece. However a slight miscalculation and solid  play by my opponent meant that I lost my game and, as last to finish, feared that the team had suffered a 3 -1 defeat.

But no! resolute strong defending by Mike Doyle had fought off the attack and had enabled him to go on and quickly beat his opponent, and Chris Stampe had managed to win on time against his higher graded opponent on the top board. A tricky match indeed but one that was won by Broadstairs 3-1.