Even the sandwiches have class

The Tata Steel Chess Masters tournament, held annually at Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands,  has traditionally been one of the strongest events in the chess calendar and this year’s competition which began today  is no exception. With five of the top ten players in the world taking part and an average grade of 2751, it is comfortably the strongest tournament ever held in…er…2017. Naturally we shall be following the fortunes of Broadstairs’ adopted son, Wei Yi, and he began with an unspectacular draw in round one – as did most of the players – so here is the only win so far which puts Ukraine’s world no.15 into an early tournament lead.


White:  Pavel Eljanov (2755)   Black:  Richard Rapport (2702)       

Tata Steel Chess Masters 2017

Congratulations to GM Deep Sengupta of India who has won this year’s Hastings International Chess Congress with a score of 7/9. Going into the final round, no fewer than 23 players were within a point of the leaders and of those, 12 had a chance of either winning or sharing the first prize. However, with four players on six points, realistically the race was between those four and the only one to win was Sengupta. After losing his second round match, he finished strongly, taking two and a half points off three top ten seeded grandmasters in his last three games. His final winning game is featured below.

                             FM Ravi Haria

However, while Indian grandmasters dominated the top boards, you might be asking yourself who was the top Briton. Was it Mark Hebden? Danny Gormally? Glenn Flear? No, it was 17-year old Ravi Haria – as featured in our last post – who beat all three of the previously mentioned GMs on his way to 6½/9, joint second place. He also achieved his second IM norm, lost only one match and, for good measure, also scored draws against Bogdan Lalic and Keith Arkell: 4/5 against GM opposition! How about that?! One final note on Hastings: congratulations to Toby Stock, formerly of this parish, on winning the Weekend Major.  It was amusing to see his club listed as Broadstairs even though he has not played for us since moving five years ago, now resident in Cambridge.  Still, we don’t object to basking in a little reflected glory – just don’t tell the ECF.

Meanwhile, our attention now shifts to the Tata Steel Masters which begins next Friday (13th). With all due respect to Hastings, this is where the big boys come out to play with five of the world’s top ten taking part including Sergey Karjakin possibly looking for some sort of revenge against Magnus Carlsen, and our good friend, Wei Yi. He is well down the pecking order and recently lost a match against Richard Rapport of Hungary to ‘decide’ who is the best U20 player in the world. He may also be looking for revenge as Rapport is in the line-up as well.

White:  Deep Sengupta (2575)   Black:  Murali Karthikeyan (2530)       

Hastings International Chess Congress 2016/7  Round 9

In the gap between Christmas and the New Year the thoughts of many chess fans turns to Hastings and its annual chess congress. This is one of the oldest tournaments in the world and over the years has attracted some of the world’s greatest players.  Possibly the most famous is the 1895 tournament which has claims to be the strongest ever held in England. The then World Champion, Emanuel Lasker, and the former World Champion, Wilhem Steinitz, took part alongside Chigorin, Tarrasch and a number of other world-class players. To everyone’s surprise, however, the tournament was won by the American, Harry Pillsbury, in his first international competition.    Personal memories either as spectator or player include seeing Glenn Flear beaten by a young Judit Polgar in the 1989 Challengers, watching the top players in the Premier fight it out in the comfortable surroundings of the Cinque Ports Hotel and – at the other end of the scale – trying to concentrate on playing chess on the pier while the waves (visible through the cracks in the floorboards) were crashing around beneath us.

This year, thanks to some generous sponsorship resulting in a first prize of £2000, the organisers have managed to attract a sizeable number of GMs and IMs. Top seed is the Indian GM S.P.Sethuraman but he was surprisingly beaten in the first round. It was not the only early upset with the result that by round 3 there were only nine players out of the 97 with 100% scores. One of these is the rising English star, FM Ravi Haria.  At 17, he is currently graded 228 and has been on the radar since his annus mirabilis of 08/09 when his grade shot up from 95 to 169 and he was still only ten years old! He attracted attention in 2015 when he beat GM Gawain Jones in the Politiken Cup and in round 2 at Hastings this year he came up against another formidable opponent in GM Danny Gormally.

White:  Ravi Haria (2382)   Black:  Danny Gormally (2493)       

Hastings International Chess Congress 2016/7

Spolier alert! If you have not had a chance to have a go at the Christmas teaser in the last posting, now is your chance because the answer is about to be revealed. Otherwise, look away now… For the rest of you waiting on tenterhooks for the answer – and there might be one or two of you curious to know – it is annoyingly simple. In the puzzle Black cannot castle because as both pawns are on their original squares, Black’s previous move must have been with either rook or king, thereby disallowing castling.  Therefore, 1. Qa1 followed by 2. Qh8 wins. Happy New Year!

Christmas at Broadstairs Chess Club always means one thing: the annual Christmas Dinner. This is a tradition that has been going on for about twenty years and for most of that time the venue has been the Tartar Frigate overlooking the harbour. It is one of only a few 18th century flint pub/restaurants in Kent but it is not the oldest in Broadstairs as we found out in Michael Doyle’s splendid quiz during the dinner. Alas, the official photographer neglected to take any photos of the evening itself so instead of a few boozy chess players, you can admire the venue above, strongly recommended if you fancy a cosy pint when you come down for the Thanet Chess Congress in the summer. As usual, it was an excellent evening, subsidised by the club (which always guarantees a good turnout) including the now traditional quiz comprising a mixture of chess and local questions e.g. which 19th century artist is buried in Birchington (and it’s not Turner!)? When was Broadstairs Chess Club founded – an embarrassing question for your correspondent who could not remember even though it is featured at the top of our website; and which Broadstairs church was visited by the Archbishop of Canterbury recently? Congratulations to Tom Lovegrove and David Clifford, joint winners. Excellent food, drink, company and laughter: what more could you want?   The club closes for Christmas but re-opens on January 2nd.

Finally, here is a Christmas teaser for you: White to play and win in two moves. Looks easy, doesn’t it? Surely, you are thinking, White plays 1.Qa1 with mate to follow on h8? But wait….what if Black castles?  Answers or requests for the solution via the Contact link above.

A very Happy Chessmas to our many loyal visitors from everyone at Broadstairs Chess Club.


Wesley So completed a very satisfying nine days in London by winning both the London Chess Classic and with it the Chess Grand Tour for 2016.  Victory in the former nets him $75,000 while the latter is worth $100,000. His victory was completed with a round to spare, thereby making Round 9 today something of an anticlimax although the only victory of the round was an achievement of sorts for Veselin Topalov in what has been a wretched tournament for him.  So’s victory takes him over the 2800 barrier and up to fourth in the world rankings. Chess commentators are already talking about a possible world title challenge in the future and, let’s not forget, while people are always talking about the youth of the current world champion, So at 23 is three years younger.

                   Round 6:  Caruana v Nakamura

Runner-up in London was Fabiano Caruana who is only a year older than So and is now just thirteen points behind Magnus Carlsen in the world rankings. His terrific win over Hikaru Nakamura in Round 6 involving an audacious queen sacrifice was the game of the tournament. Caruana was clearly not surprised that Nakamura played a sharp Najdorf as he explained afterwards: “In the US Championship (Nakamura) said it was a must-win game in Round 3, so maybe here he thought it was a must-win game if he wanted to win the Grand Chess Tour.”   The key move was perhaps not 19.Qxf6 or any of those immediately preceding or following but probably White’s 21st.  Mere mortals like your correspondent would no more contemplate sacrificing a queen in White’s position after nineteen moves than they would cutting off their right hand.  However, 21.Nc6, which Nakamura was clearly expecting, would at least win back the queen but with an uncertain advantage. Instead, what followed was 21.Nf5!! after which Nakamura spent 35 minutes realising that he was in serious trouble. Caruana explained: “I’d analysed this and the computer doesn’t show 21.Nf5. The problem is that the computer doesn’t understand that after 21.Nf5 Bxf5 Black is pretty much just lost. It’s one of the saddest positions I’ve ever seen for Black.”  Judge for yourself.

White:  Fabiano Caruana (2823)         Black: Hikaru Nakamura (2779)

London Chess Classic 2016 Round 6