Congratulations to Michael Doyle for another fine win in our otherwise disappointing defeat to Margate in the Mick Croft Cup. Paul Ruffle used to be a member at Broadstairs and is certainly a stronger player than his estimated 117 so this was an especially impressive performance by Michael, who is also a much better player than his grade as I am sure you will agree after playing through this game.


White:   Michael Doyle (81)     Black:   Paul Ruffle  (e117)

Mick Croft Cup v Margate

Broadstairs  1½         Margate   3½ 

1 David Faldon (174) ½ -½   Peter McGill  (144 )
2 Paul Carfrae (133) 0-1   David Rogers (e125)
3 John Couzens (116) 0-1   Colin Gregory (122)
4 Michael Doyle  (81) 1-0   Paul Ruffle (e117)
5 Michael Jenkinson (80) 0-1   Leon Garfield (100)

Nick McBride writes:

When I told my wife I’d been made captain of the team for the Mick Croft cup, she pulled a face that grandmasters of non-verbal communication might assess as ‘unclear’ or ‘dubious’. This lack of faith in my organisational abilities made me even more determined to have a great team lined up for the Tuesday 14th November match at Margate. Unfortunately, I had got the date wrong. The match was on Thursday 16th. This technicality meant we had a few last minute team changes but we looked good with David Faldon, Paul Carfrae, John Couzens, Michael Doyle and Michael Jenkinson. As one of the designated drivers I had most of the team in my car and I said, “I think we’re going to hammer them”.  John replied “You’ve jinxed us. We’ll lose now”.

After the first hour things were looking good. No single board looked in any serious trouble, but then things got serious. First to finish was John Couzens. John’s opponent, Colin Gregory, played an anti-Sicilian system with e4, Nf3, d3, Be2, 0-0, c3, Qc2. John played the opening and early middle game very well, swapping off bishops, opening a file and Colin had to find an excellent freeing move (d4) to avoid passivity. John when faced with the choice to move a knight to a central square or a non central square, chose the latter, and this single-handedly led to the loss of pawn which turned into a lost knight and a lost game. One down.

Paul Carfrae was next to fall. Paul was up against one of the younger players in the league, David Rogers. Rogers played the French, and Paul chose the advance variation. This variation typically leads to a backward d-pawn for white, and a good black knight on f5, but Rogers brought something interesting. He manoeuvred his positionally well-placed knight from f5 to a tactically useful square on g6 and Paul’s position fell apart with the loss of two pawns. Rogers is very good with knights. I suspect he’ll be playing board 1 for Margate within 12 months, if not sooner. Two down.

Good news came on board 4. Broadstairs’ Michael Doyle played Paul Ruffle. Ruffle chose to play the ultra-sharp Two Knights Defence, an opening that Wiki says was invented over 500 years ago. Black’s sacrifice of a pawn in the opening, and Michael Doyle’s almost immediate consolidation of that pawn, ultimately lead to a rook and pawn ending in Michael’s favour. Michael centralised and advanced his king, got an active versus passive rook, made an outside passed pawn, swapped that for an advanced protected passed pawn and won. Two-one down.

But with two games left things weren’t looking good. On board 5 Margate’s Leon Garfield had played the opening in a solid but passive manner leaving few opportunities for Michael Jenkinson. I hadn’t paid much attention to the game after the opening but a quick look showed Leon to have conjured up a huge attack and taken key squares. Soon after this he gained material and entered into what would be described as a king and pawn endgame if Leon didn’t have an extra bishop. The bishop was telling but Leon moved very slowly and was down to two minutes left on his clock for the last 15 or so moves. That was enough, though, and Leon won. Margate now had an unstoppable three-one lead.

The top board saw the home team’s Peter McGill against David Faldon. Peter McGill, the County Major Champion, winner of his section at the Thanet Congress with a 175+ result, and is listed with a 144 grade. He’s way better than that. Peter with white played a King’s Indian Attack against David’s initial French setup. David gained space with d5 and then grabbed some more with d4, but that was his first and last incursion into white’s side of the board. Peter got his minor pieces into good positions, forced David to create weaknesses around his king and controlled key squares. Instead of an attempt to open the position and get his rooks better placed, Peter arranged for a knight and queen to infiltrate David’s position and even threatened a smothered mate. David is very tenacious, ridiculously tenacious. You need more than a positional advantage to get him, and in this position Peter needed more than a queen and knight. However, what both Peter and David needed at this point was more time. At move 20 both were left with little over 10 minutes each. In the final position, if Peter had an edge, it’s the same sort of edge white has in the starting position, i.e. not very much. A draw was agreed.

(This is from memory so there may be transpositional issues)

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Qe2 Ne7 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 Nbc6 6.Bg2 d4 7.Nbd2 Qc7 8.e5 Nf5 9.O-O Be7 10.a4 b6 11.Nc4 O-O 12.Ng5 Bxg5 13.Bxg5 f6 14.exf6 gxf6 15.Bd2 e5 16.Qg4+ Ng7 17.Qe4 Bd7 18.Qd5+ Kh8 19.Nd6 Ne6 20.Nb5 Qd8

(At black’s 19th move, if instead David wasn’t careful and had played something foolish like 19….Rfd8, then there’s a great mate with 20. Nf7+ Kg8 21. Nh6+ Kh8 22. Qg8+ Rxg8 23. Nf7 mate)

They won this time by 3.5 to 1.5, but next time I think we’ll hammer them.

Is it me or are chess tournaments becoming more complicated? The Champions Showdown which has just started in St Louis boasts that the games feature no increments or delays so we can expect a few exciting time scrambles. In fact, there could be many such scraps because although the tournament is only scheduled to last six days, there are so many games to be played that it resembles a series of penalty shootouts with no preamble of a proper match beforehand. Eight players are involved and so far as your correspondent can see, there is no overall winner. They are divided into four pairs: Nakamura v Topalov, Caruana v Grischuk, So v Dominguez and Carlsen v Ding Liren.  The first round consists of four games for which each player has 30 minutes. There are six games in round two with 20 minutes each, 10 minutes for the next eight in round 3 and finally only 5 minutes for the last 12 games in round 4. For each match the winner gets $60,000, the loser $40,000 – yes, $40,000 for losing! Why did no-one ask me? And that appears to be it. No semi-final or final and while three of the four games are under way with round 1 completed, Carlsen v Ding Liren begins on Saturday. Apparently, Carlsen had a prior engagement in Germany. The good news from that is that the tournament will therefore have to continue until Nov 16 with Carlsen’s match the only one left. Meanwhile, this is what happens at the highest level when you are short of time and losing:

White:   Alexander Grischuk (2785)     Black: Fabiano Caruana  (2794)

Champions Showdown 2017

Match drawn! While this was clearly entertaining for the spectators, it is not to everyone’s taste. As Mr Spock might have said, ‘It’s chess, Jim, but not as we know it.’ Caruana was of the same view:

‘I think it puts a lot of psychological pressure on the players from an early stage… Generally, a game shouldn’t end with one side losing on time in a completely won position, but it’s ok for one tournament.’ 

Perhaps the tournament should have been played last weekend to coincide with Fireworks Night.

                                           Broadstairs  1         Ramsgate 3 

1 Reg Pidduck (107) 0-1    Malcolm Snashall (107)
2 Bob Cronin (104) 0-1    Kenneth Keeler (91)
3 Josh Vaughan (98) 0-1    Bob Wallace  (85)
4 Michael Doyle (81) 1-0    Terry Green (47)

Reg Pidduck writes:

BOARD 2. Bob’s game against Ken Keeler looked even for the first hour. When I looked again Bob was a piece down from which he never recovered. 1-0 down

BOARD 3. Josh got a rook and a pawn for a knight and a bishop early on and was pushing for a win. Bob Wallace then got the swap offs he needed and the end game went.   Josh, with just his king, and Bob with king, knight and bishop. All credit to Bob finding the right moves to get the checkmate. 2-0 down.

BOARD 4.  Captain Michael went a knight up and made it tell in getting a passed pawn, finally getting a touchdown to secure a win. (Michael is now 3/3 in the Walker) 2-1 down.

BOARD 1 Malcolm Snashall is my HEX . In all the years I have known him I have never beaten him.  I was a pawn down in an endgame where a draw now was not enough. In venturing out, he finished me off with a series of checks and the game was lost .( Looking forward to our next encounter Malcolm. ) A 3-1 loss.

We have now played 3, won 2, lost 1 in the Walker Shield.


                                              Broadstairs  4         Folkestone   0 

1 Bob Page (135) 1-0  Andrew Haycock (e101)
2 Paul Carfrae (133) 1-0  David Erwee (96)
3 John Couzens 116) 1-0  Robert Twigg (e70)
4 Andy Flood (106) 1-0  def

Andy Flood writes:

Hats off to Folkestone who played some great chess and were very unlucky to leave Broadstairs with nothing but a 4 – 0 defeat. Whilst they had to concede Board 4 to start 1–0 down, they gave their Broadstairs opponents a real run for their money. On Board 1 Bob Page maintained his 100% win record going into a evenly balanced end game in which he was able to use his experience to go 1, 2 and then 3 pawns up to secure a win. Paul Carfrae on Board 2 was always in a strong position but David Erwee was finding the best defensive moves, creating a little bit of counter play before finally losing late on in the evening. Board 3 was the last game to finish, as Robert Twigg sought to beat the clock and find the killer moves. The Gullbuster – or the Giantkiller as he is now known – was comfortably controlling the early part of the game, going two pawns up. However, his opponent sacrificed a rook, broke though John’s defence and then chased the black King around the board going for a win. Whilst there were opportunities for White to pick up points through both a checkmate and a perpetual check, John resiliently held on to win on time.

So a good result for Broadstairs but Folkestone played well above their ratings and were unlucky to face the long drive back with nothing to show for their efforts. There is only one thing worse than driving home from Broadstairs to Folkestone on a Monday evening with no points and that is driving home from Folkestone to Broadstairs on a Friday evening with no points.