When the Thanet Congress began in 1970 there were three sections: Open, Major and Minor, still a common arrangement in many congresses today. Not that many years ago a fourth section was added: the Intermediate. This year it was decided to add a fifth: the Challengers, an ambitious and, indeed, challenging decision. It paid off because we had 19 entrants including a junior who is the fourth best for his age group in the country. Once again, it was a local player, John Atherton from Folkestone Chess Club, who carried off the trophy. Here is his winning game from Round 5 and thanks to John for his comments.

White: John Atherton  (163)     Black: Paul Jackson (162)

Thanet Congress (Challengers) 2017

After a draw in Round 1 against Steve Appleby, I managed three wins and was a half-point clear going into the final round. My opponent was Paul Jackson (162). Paul had won the tournament before and is a dangerous attacking player who plays the Dutch Stonewall Variation which he used to overpower Bob Pooley in an earlier round. The main elements are a rigid centre, place a knight on e4 throw the g pawn forward and mate. I devised a scheme to blunt this …….

1.d4 e6 (Paul also plays the French but I rarely play e4) 2. g3 f5 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nh3!? The idea here is twofold: first to support Bf4 if Black plays Bd6 and second, e5 is the weak black square and the knight on f4 can go to d3 whist the other knight can also control e5 via d2 and f3. 4.…d5!? persisting with the Stonewall set-up. Another plan is the d6 set-up hoping for a later e5 to neutralise the h3 knight. White switches to an e4 break. 5. O-O Bd6 6. Bf4 Be7 (Paul retains his good bishop and plans to harass the white bishop) 7. Nd2 O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Qc2 (a little positional trick – if Nd7 then cxd5 forces cxd5 else White wins the f-pawn and has easy play down the c-file)…Nh5 10. Nf3 Nxf4 12. Nxf4 Bd6 13. e3 (he won’t take the knight as his e-pawn is backward and pawn attacks on the kingside are held back.) 13…Qe7. Time for a plan: e4 breaks are tricky so let’s open up the queenside and trust in the solid white position with the great g2 bishop protecting the king. 14. b4 Nd7 15. a4 e5 (Black tries the recommended response to a wing attack with central play but it does free d4) 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Nd4 Kh8 18. c5 Bc7 19. b5 g5 20. Nd3 Nxd3 21. Qxd3 Bd7 (the c pawn is poisoned as if Qxc5 Rc1 plus bxc6 kills Black’s position) 22. Rac1 Rae8 23. bxc6 bxc6 24. Qa6 (time to go pawn grabbing and see if my trust in the position is justified) … Rf6. I offered a draw here as the only players who could catch me had drawn so a draw gave me the title. Paul of course declined. 25. Qxa7 Be5 26 Nf3 Bb8.  27. Qa5 (eyeing up e1 so that f4 exf4 followed by mass exchanges on the e-file so Paul switches to a plan to mate me down the h-file…. Rh6 28. Qc3+ Kg8 29. Rfe1 g4 (here he comes) 30. Nd4 Qg5 31. Rb1 Qh5 32. Rb7 Qxh2+ 33. Kf1 Bc8 (Sneaky: if Rxb8 then Ba6+ is overwhelming.  However, this was my chance for a brilliancy with Ne6 which mates shortly.) 34. Reb1 Be5 (stops Ne6) 35. a5 (tally ho) Bxb7 36. Rxb7 Ra8 37. Qd2 (I am still winning: look at how out of play Black’s queen and rook are.) Rc8 38. Nxc6 (attacking the bishop and if Rxc6 then Bxd5+ wins) Re8 39. Qxd5+ Kh8 40. Nxe5 1-0. That’s all folks.

 

Peter Dirmauskas was the joint winner of the Intermediate section of the tournament with Paul Arnold whom he defeated in the final round. When featuring one of Paul’s games on this site, I had promised (threatened?) to publish his defeat by Peter in a later posting. However, Peter sent this game instead because in his words “I played a gambit which was fun, it was a nice checkmate and a quick game which was what I really needed as the extra time I had after the game to relax and recharge I think helped me in my final game against Paul Arnold.”   

White: Peter Dirmauskas  (118)     Black: Jeff Fleischer (127)

Thanet Congress (Intermediate) 2017

And, as John Atherton rightly said, that’s all folks.  I hope you have enjoyed looking through these games and thank you to all those who sent them in, especially to Kevin Thurlow who sent me all the Open games. See you all next year.

Congratulations to Alan Merry who successfully defended his Open title won at last year’s congress. It promised to be a tricky ride with Martin Taylor (230), a previous winner on more than one occasion, and Richard Bates (232), keen to defend his SCCU Champion title retained only a few weeks ago at the Weald Congress. Alan conceded two draws in his first four games – I resisted the temptation to show you his 117-move draw with Martin Taylor – so everything depended on the final game and here it is.

White: Alan Merry  (240)     Black: Paul Kemp (185)

Thanet Congress (Open) 2017

After a surprise defeat in the first round to his clubmate Kevin Bowmer and a draw in Round 2, Richard Bates probably thought his chance of retaining the SCCU Champion title had gone. Only three wins would surely do. With 2½ points out of 4, Bates was drawn against Taylor (3/4) in the final round. Taylor was not only playing for the SCCU title but that of Kent Open Champion as well.

White: Richard Bates  (232)     Black: Martin Taylor (230)

Thanet Congress (Open) 2017

Richard Bates therefore retains his title of SCCU Champion, a position he has held since November 2015. Martin Taylor, meanwhile, has to settle for the title of Kent Open Champion, a position he has held on at least five previous occasions so everyone’s a winner.

 

One of the many pleasing things about this year’s congress from a parochial point of view was the performance of some of the local players. We have already highlighted Reg Pidduck (Broadstairs) winning the Oyster Shield in the Minor and Paul Arnold (Herne Bay), joint winner of the Intermediate. First place in the the Major section was also shared and once again one of the two was a Thanet player. Peter McGill of Margate was the joint winner with David Heath from Maidstone. Here is Peter’s win in Round 4.

White: Peter McGill  (144)     Black: William Grummitt (e134)

Thanet Congress (Major) 2017

 

David originally entered the Challengers when his grade was over 150 but I’m sure he is now glad that he changed to the Major when the new grades came out. Chess players seem to have a good line in self-deprecation: just as Paul Arnold was remarkably modest about his games despite finishing first in the Intermediate, when David submitted his games for inclusion on this site he claimed that they were all ‘riddled with errors’. Whether that is true or not, the point is that none of his opponents spotted them. You usually need a little luck to win a tournament and when David won this game in Round 1, he must have felt that this was going to be his weekend,  a feeling confirmed in the final game which David won in 13 moves.

White:   David Heath (143)   Black: Stephen Pike (134)

Thanet Congress (Major) 2017

 

Harry Sharples began the tournament as the number one seed in the Major with a grade of 150. However, it was not to be his weekend which he must have realised after this ambush in Round 1.

White:  Harry Sharples (150)   Black: Gavin Josephs (138)

Thanet Congress (Major) 2017

White to move.

  1. Bc2 : Qd5
  2. Re2 :

but—

  1. ——– : Qh1ch
  2. Qf1 : Rd1 ch !!
  3. BxR : Nd3ch
  4. Resigns

Ouch!

 

 

The Oyster Shield is a special prize awarded at the Thanet Congress to the highest-scoring senior (over 60) Thanet player in the Minor or Intermediate sections. It was presented by Whitstable Chess Club in 2011 and in five of the seven years for which it has been competed, it has been won by our own Reg Pidduck. (Perhaps a word of congratulation is merited by the only two players to prevent Reg from achieving a 100% success rate – Tony Hargreaves and Michael Doyle.) With typical modesty, Reg does not feel the entire game is worth replaying as it was effectively won by move 16. Let Reg explain.

“This game won me the Oyster Shield for the fifth time with 3.5 points. It all centres on White’s 15th move. Neil Lang took 8 to 10 minutes looking at taking my b7 pawn. After taking so long I thought he must have seen the trap but no. He took it and I was a happy man. I won’t bore you, dear reader, with the next 30 moves, as I just kept it safe to ensure a win. White resigned after 45 moves.”

White: Neil Lang  (101)     Black: Reg Pidduck (107)

Thanet Congress (Minor) 2017

Paul Arnold is a past winner of the Minor section at the Thanet Congress and last weekend finished joint first in the Intermediate. When asked if he could submit one of his games for inclusion on this site, he whimsically replied that his computer ‘isn’t particularly impressed with any of them’! Nevertheless, he submitted all five of his games, sportingly including his last-round defeat to Peter Dirmauskas, fellow joint winner. It would be rather mean to feature that one now – although it will appear later! – so here is Paul’s third- round victory, a brief but entertaining encounter.

White: Paul Arnold  (121)     Black: William Stock (119)

Thanet Congress (Intermediate) 2017