Broadstairs   3½         Margate    1½

1 David Faldon  (178) 1-0 Peter McGill (145)
2 Bob Page (133) 1-0 Colin Gregory (127)
3 Dominic Blundell (e126) 1-0 Keith Findley (e123)
4 John Couzens (108) 0-1 Clive Le Baigue (121)
5 Fredy Reber  (75) ½-½ Leon Garfield (104)

Bob Page writes:

We began our defence of the Mick Croft Cup with this excellent win over Margate. Captain John won the toss and chose white on the odd boards. The teams were as evenly matched as the grades indicate and that was reflected in the play where in four of the five games there was nothing between the two sides for the first hour or so. On Board 3, however, it was Bonfire Night all over again with fireworks flying as Dominic took the game to Keith and soon won a piece. On Board 2 Colin paid for lack of development and was soon backpedalling as his queen came under attack. Eventually, with his king trapped, he lost a piece and resigned. 1-0 to Broadstairs. After the early excitement in Dominic’s game, things settled down but the advantage was there and as the pieces were gradually swapped off, Keith was left with a bad bishop against Dominic’s rook and pawns. 2-0 to Broadstairs. This was a terrific performance by Dominic in his first match for the club and this game will feature as the next Game of the Week. The match was won when David gradually outmanoeuvred Peter on Board 1 and once he won a crucial piece, Peter resigned. 3-0 to Broadstairs.

On Board 4 John held his own against Clive for a long time and almost swindled a win towards the end but Clive saw it and his queen and knight combination was enough to win. 3-1 to Broadstairs. Finally, all eyes were on Fredy’s game with Leon and what a performance by Fredy! It should be noted that although he is listed above as graded 75, that is because 75 is the minimum grade for the competition. His official grade is 59 so almost 50 points below Leon. Nevertheless, he played a solid game and although he was two pawns down at the end, Leon had less than two minutes left on the clock and a draw was agreed. 3½-1½ to Broadstairs. Owing to the shortage of teams in this competition, our first match is in fact a semi-final so Broadstairs will now play Bridge in the final on a date to be arranged. Well done, team, and thanks to Margate for their usual hospitality, especially the tea and biscuits.


                                                 Broadstairs   1      Bridge  3                       

1 Bob Page (133) 0-1 Richard Eales (192)
2 Paul Carfrae (131) 1-0 Peter Blundell (115)
3 Andy Flood (115) 0-1 Gary Hilleard (107)
4 John Couzens  (108) 0-1 Graeme Boxall (86)

Paul Carfrae writes:

On a cold Bonfire Night the Broadstairs Steele Cup team ventured to Bridge. Like Mr Fawkes, I was plotting a cunning plan to overthrow our esteemed hosts.I knew that Bridge put a very strong player on Board 1 so my plan was to outgun our opponents on the other three boards. As history has told us, most cunning plans and plots fail as did this one!

As the games got under way, I thought nothing would happen early on so did not take much notice and concentrated on my opening. How wrong I was – the fireworks had already started on Board 4! Within no time at all, John’s opponent, Graeme Boxall, had won a knight for nothing. As you know with John, he does not give up lightly and battled on. Unfortunately, by John’s own admission, a few too many wrong move choices cost him the game: 1-0 to Bridge.

I was the next to finish. Peter Blundell played a cagey opening so to force a breakthrough I gave up a pawn to open up the c-file that I could then control with my rooks.  With the pawn advantage, Peter decided to swap off as many pieces as possible to get to the endgame. He had  a bishop and six pawns to my knight and five. However, his miscalculation enabled me to swap my knight for his bishop and a pawn. With my king in the centre of the board protecting my pawn structure, I was able to force through a passed pawn. Peter duly resigned:1-1.

Next up was Bob on Board 1. Anything that Bob could get from this game would be a bonus as his opponent was Richard Eales, graded at 192. Bob fought a gallant battle but eventually succumbed to Richard’s pressure tactics and resigned: 2-1 to Bridge.

All hopes to rescue a draw fell on Andy who was playing ex-Broadstairs player, Gary Hilleard. Andy, playing his normal attacking game, had built up pressure on Black’s kingside and Gary was forced to weaken his pawn structure by doubling his pawns in front of the king. However, he managed to control the position and Andy could not capitalise on the weakness. Eventually, Gary got the upper hand and had numerous threats that Andy had to defend against. In the final position, Black’s rooks were too much for Andy and he had to resign: 3-1 to Bridge.

Well done, Bridge. Thanks for the hospitality and a big thank you to Andy for taking the Broadstairs contingent.


                                         Year 3 pupils from St George’s Primary with Bob and Reg

It was back to school for Reg and me this week – in Reg’s case, he really was going back although the new St George’s School in Broadstairs is a far cry from the one he attended a few (!) years ago.  As many people know, St George’s Secondary School has hosted the Thanet Congress for the past two years and following the opening of the new school building in 2010, a primary department was added in 2016. At our AGM in September a decision was made to strengthen our ties with St George’s and the local community while at the same time helping to promote the game we know and love. It was therefore decided to donate ten new chess sets to the school and the presentation took place on Tuesday. The primary department does not have a chess club at present but will use the new sets to start one up and the six Year 3 pupils you see here are going to be the ambassadors sent to spread the word. At the presentation we asked a few questions and then invited the children to ask us anything. “Why are there 64 squares?” asked one boy. “Ah…er…” Reg and I looked at each other. “Why are the pieces black and white?” asked one of the girls. “Another good question!” we replied unconvincingly. We knew what they were thinking – ‘Who are these impostors? They say they come from a chess club and have been playing all their lives but they can’t answer the most basic of questions!’ Time to beat a retreat, we thought.

We look forward to hearing about the new St George’s chess club which it is hoped will lead to matches against other schools in due course. Broadstairs Chess Club will follow the school’s progress keenly and we have offered any help and advice that is required. For any school wishing to start a chess club there is plenty of help available. In this county there is the Kent Schools Chess Association, and nationally there is the excellent Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) set up by Malcolm Pein in 2009 which provides coaches to teach chess in 300 state schools across the country and offers help to 500 more. Finally, there is the UK Chess Challenge, the world’s largest children’s chess competition which last year involved 40,000 children from over 1,200 schools. Perhaps St George’s will make that 1,201 in 2020.

                                             Broadstairs   3      Ramsgate    1                       

1 Andy Flood (115) 1-0 Bob Wallace (100)
2 John Couzens (108) ½-½ Malcolm Snashall (98)
3 Reg Pidduck (99) ½-½ Don Richards (92)
4 Bob Cronin (90) 1-0 Kenneth Keeler (91)

Reg Pidduck writes:

As usual Ramsgate made us very welcome at their cosy new venue.

BOARD 2. John and Malcolm were first to finish. Just when John was on top with his passed pawns, he blundered and ever steady Malcolm was able to salvage a draw.    ½-½ – a good start for both teams.

BOARD 4. Bob got us in the lead with a fine game, his two passed pawns pressing for home. Did not see the finish only Ken resigning. 1½-½ to Broadstairs.

BOARD 1. Andy’s game against Bob Wallace looked tight for a while but Andy found a way through for a checkmate. 2½-½ to us.

BOARD 3.  I could now breath a sigh of relief as I had been under pressure for the last hour from my formidable opponent, Don Richards. He had seen off all of my schemes and tricks and we were now left with a knight each with Don’s five pawns to my three. After reducing  his pawns to two, I sacrificed my knight for one of them then got my king in the corner to force a draw. Phew! Unlucky Don not to get the win and I look forward to playing you again.  Final score: 3-1 to Broadstairs.


It’s always reassuring to see grandmasters making the sort of mistakes that plague the average woodpusher week in week out –  what do you mean,  ‘speak for yourself….’? – and this Blunder of the Week falls into that very category. In the recently completed Isle of Man International Tournament David Howell was seeded 24/150 before the start and had enjoyed a successful tournament in ten of the eleven rounds, including a win over GM Alexander Grischuk in Round 10. Victory in his final game could have given him a share of first place depending on the result of the Nakamura-Caruana game on Board 1. In his way stood China’s Wang Hao (playing with the white pieces) who was also on 7/10 with similar ambitions. Here is the position after White’s 18th move. A glance at the board suggests that a win for either player is unlikely but likewise neither is defeat. White has just played 18. Qa4 so the bishop on a2 clearly has to move. Who knows what Howell was thinking but 18….Be6 looks a good bet.  However….


The joke about Howell making a howler has been made before – not least here – and this does look a shocker. It probably did not take White too long to reply 19. Rd1  and although the game continued for another nineteen moves, after 19….Bxb7 (what else?) 20. Rxd8 the damage was done. Howell still finished in eleventh place with a performance rating of 2743 but as a result of his victory, Wang Hao won both the tournament on a tie break and also a place in the 2020 Candidates Tournament.