Trefor receiving the Kent Challengers Trophy 

The Challengers (U171) was the smallest entry in the Congress with seventeen players but the least predictable at the start with over half of the players graded within six points of each other and no-one over 165. Consequently, it was hardly surprising that first place was shared although few could have foreseen a five-way tie. As I write, it appears that Trefor Owens and Mike Taylor, who share the same grade, also seem to have the same result when the sum of progressive scores is calculated although Trefor is listed as first in the official published results. While there may be some dispute about who wins the ‘Johnny’ – John Couzens’ special 50th Thanet Congress prize – there is no question as to which of the two is the Kent Challengers Champion: Trefor plays for Broadstairs while Mike comes from Stockport! Here is Trefor’s second round win with his own comments against another local player, Patrick Burns from Bridge.

White:   Trefor Owens (165)    Black:  Patrick Burns (161)

50th Thanet Congress (Challengers) Round 2


                      The Major and the Gullbuster

The 50th Thanet Chess Congress has come and gone and what a memorable weekend it was in so many ways. There is much to say and a more detailed summary will appear on this website after we have looked at some of the winning games. The overall results and cross tables of the five sections can be found on the congress website Here we shall look at each of the sections in turn, starting with the Major (U151). There were 24 entries in a competitive field and at this point your correspondent has to declare an interest in the proceedings because he was fortunate enough to win the section.

Of course, playing through games afterwards on a computer is a sobering experience. You think you have played well only for the occasional glaring error and frequent oversights to be highlighted. However, this was the decisive game in the final round and therefore deserves a wider audience for that reason alone. If the computer analysis proves anything, it is that (a) Black’s early exchanges gave him an advantage isolating the White QP and (b) White’s kingside attack was less threatening that it appeared to Black at the time and in the end proved to be a losing one. While several chances were missed to win the game earlier – I wish I’d seen 71. Ne4 but by then the end was nigh – Black’s advantage always showed him to be winning.

Thirty years ago I finished second in an U140 congress at Folkestone, losing to Bob Pooley who won the tournament. It was worth the wait.

White:   Robert Pooley (150)    Black:  Robert Page (133)

50th Thanet Congress (Major) Round 5


Congratulations to David Faldon who has won the Goodall Cup for the club championship. It would be tempting so say that his victory was a foregone conclusion bearing in mind his run of success that goes back about ten years. However, this was definitely not the case. The club this year has been boosted by several strong players who took the competition to the wire. It says a great deal about a club when the championship which started last September was only decided just before 11.00 p.m on the final club night of the season in the middle of August. Of course, with such a large all-play-all competition it is not surprising that a few games were not played but there are plans to improve the playing arrangements next season while maintaining the all-play-all format which is considered essential by most members.

Along with David, the front runners throughout the season were Arnaud Wisman and Richard Clement. Richard enjoyed an excellent season, losing only to the aforementioned players to finish in third place. Arnaud and David, having drawn their game against each other, went into the final game neck and neck. David was to play Trefor Owens whom he had never beaten – Trefor only joined the club last year – while Arnaud had to play the dangerous  Shany Rezvany. Both knew each other well, having formerly been members of Bridge Chess Club. A win for Arnaud and David would mean the Goodall Cup would be shared while defeat for either would open the door for the other. Arnaud was always behind on time and when his promising position faded, Shany used his time sensibly and slowly a pawn advantage became two then three and the game was up. Meanwhile, David, who had been watching their game closely, still had to win his. Here is that crucial game. The opening and closing comments are by Trefor, the rest by David.

White:   David Faldon (178)    Black:  Trefor Owens (165)

Goodall Cup

David’s conclusion: “Both Trefor and I played very well in this game. There were no huge mistakes I could spot, except for White missing 31.Qh5. White got a slight advantage in the opening, Black defended aggressively and well but then White found a couple of really difficult moves at exactly the right time.”

The 50th Thanet Chess Congress is almost upon us and on the left you can see the magnificent trophies made by John Couzens for the winners of the five sections (plus a few spares). These unique prizes are for the winners to keep so there will be some keen competition this weekend. They look rather like Oscars lined up before the annual Academy Awards ceremony, prompting them to be nicknamed ‘Johnnies’ after their creator. In addition to these special trophies, there is over £2300 in prize money, the title of SCCU Champion and Kent Individual Championship titles available. There is still time to apply so if you want to get your hands on a Johnny this weekend, you know what to do.


Here we are again, folks, bursting the balloon which is the apparent invulnerability of top players. Yes, we’ve all done it: made howlers at vital moments while rehearsing our victory speech at the prize giving – “I’d like to thank….oops, what happened there?” Somehow, though, we have this idea that blunders are the preserve of mere woodpushers like us. Well, it may be that by definition more mistakes are made by weaker players otherwise we would all be grandmasters. However, while sympathising with anyone who makes a howler – unless, of course, it is your opponent – we can’t avoid affording ourselves the smuggest of smug grins. For this example, I have to thank Geoff Chandler, a contributor to the English Chess Forum who has a team of spies whom he calls his Blunder Hunters. This game was played in Round 5 of the Irish Championship. After seventy moves the players had reached the following position where White has just played 70.Kc2. Have a look at the position and before you see what Black played, think carefully and – be honest – what would you do?

White:   GM Alexander Baburin (2432)    Black:  Killian Delaney (2247)

Irish Championship 2019

Black played 70…Qxa5?? It is debatable who was more surprised, White on seeing this move, or Black when White replied 71.Qb2+ whereupon Black resigned. In fact, although it looks like it should be a draw, the only move that guarantees this for Black is 70…Qe2+. All other checks allow a trade off of queens and the a-pawn romps home. If you were thinking of 70…Qc4+ 71.Qxc4 stalemate, think again because White simply ignores the capture and plays 71.Qc3+ again forcing off the queens. And if you looked at this position for a long time and still would have played 70…Qxa5??, then that is why you (and I) are the grade we are.

There are only fourteen days until the 50th Thanet Chess Congress and things are hotting up. Numbers currently stand at 89 which is a pretty healthy position at this stage. With it being the fiftieth congress, there are some special prizes as everyone must know by now and this latest photograph shows where we are with them.  John says: “Ten kings in the rough ready for polishing. Should get them back mid next week ready to fit mahogany bases.”

David Faldon warmed up for the congress by taking part in the U2050 section of the British Championship which this year is being held in Torquay. His tournament consisted of five games, one each afternoon and after losing his first game, David recovered to finish on a respectable 3/5. His only loss was to a typical young whippersnapper that you are likely to come up across at the British. The boy is currently graded 152 but last year he was 129 and the year before that 107. By next year he may have overtaken David. We shall have to wait to find out the last time David lost to a player graded 152 or below – surely, it couldn’t have been your humble editor, could it?!

Meanwhile, we should offer a belated ‘well done’ to Trefor Owens who finished second in the Tunbridge Wells Major in June. Victory in his final game would have made him the outright winner but he could only draw with his opponent who began the round half a point ahead. Trefor had no complaints about his draw, however:  “I was happy to come second. Actually my final round opponent and the winner (of the Major), David Heath, is a really nice guy and was also my opponent when I played my very first competitive game, I think in 1974 when I was 15.” In this photo Trefor is about to unleash a devastating move against his Round 4 opponent, Geoffrey Bishop.

Photo by Karen Shilstone

With three wins and two draws, Trefor can be pleased with his performance. Here is his Round 2 win with his own comments.

White:   Trefor Owens (156)    Black:  Chris Hann (146)

Tunbridge Wells Major 2019