If anything positive can be gained from the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment, the fact that we are told chess has become increasingly popular with housebound families must be one of them. While face to face – or mask to mask – competition still seems to be on some distant horizon, online chess is booming. The initiative shown by Magnus Carlsen and the world’s other leading grandmasters in setting up lucrative online competitions has attracted great interest and many clubs have moved online to host virtual club nights with rapidplay competitions. At Broadstairs we were quick to exploit this and it has proved extremely popular. We looked at two possible sites, LiChess and Chess.com and after a little experimentation decided the former was easier for everyone. We meet on Monday evenings, our usual club night, from 8.00 and a good time is had by all.


While 10-minute games need to be taken with a pinch of salt, there can be some excellent games played. The following example may not be one of them but as the loser I would say that. Recently, David has been trying out 1.h4 when playing White in order to show what a bad opening it is. Unfortunately, he is too good for most of us mere mortals and has yet to lose by playing it. Here is an example of one of his wins. Have a look and see what fun two players – or possibly one – can have playing rapid chess for twenty minutes. And if you haven’t yet joined us on Monday evenings, you will be very welcome.


White:  David Faldon       Black:  Robert Page 

LiChess 10-minute rapid game


Another bonus to keep our chess brains ticking over during lockdown has been the weekly puzzle fest that Trefor has been sending us. I hope people have been trying to solve them. I think we owe it to Trefor to have a go as he has gone to the trouble of sending them out. I want to know where he gets them all from – six puzzles a week – and how to add them to an email. The following one from this week’s batch is listed as ‘a fairly simple example’! Well, I’m fairly simple and I have failed with three attempts. If you find the answer, tell Trefor. Good luck!

White to move and mate in 2

World sport may have ground to a halt in the last week but thankfully there is still the FIDE Candidates tournament currently taking place in Russia to entertain…..oh, hang on…..it’s just been stopped! Today Russia announced that as from tomorrow all flights out of the country will be stopped so today was the last chance for the candidates to get home. There has been opposition among some of the players almost from the start and certainly Ding Liren and Fabiano Caruana have not been at their best. On the opening day Alexander Grischuk only gave the tournament a 50% chance of being completed and yesterday there was doubt that the players would be able to get a flight home. When asked about this, one grandmaster replied: “They won’t get home – they’ll stay with the winner and prepare him for the (world title) match!” All of this is of no consolation to the Azerbaijani GM, Teimour Radjabov who, having qualified for the tournament but not wishing to take part in the circumstances, pleaded with the organisers to postpone the event. When his request was turned down, he pulled out to be replaced by the French number one, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who was unlucky not to qualify in his own right. Keen football fans remembering when Denmark replaced Yugoslavia in the 1992 European Championships and went on to win, wondered whether history might repeat itself. After four successive draws, MVL was drawn against the current leader, Ian Nepomniachtchai.


White:  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2767)    Black:  Ian Nepomniachtchai (2774)

FIDE Candidates Round 7

As a result of this win, MVL joins Nepo on 4½/7 at the half-way point in the tournament. It may be a game of two halves but when the second half begins is anyone’s guess.

Monday night chess club has taken on a new appearance with the restrictions placed by the Coronavirus outbreak. With plenty of club members already playing online, it did not take long for the idea of a Monday evening online tournament to take off. Credit for this must go initially to Richard who proposed the idea and then to Arnaud who took up the baton and set up the first mini-tournament on lichess.com last night. For those who were new to lichess, it took a bit of getting used to but the important thing is that we were all able to play some chess with those we would normally be playing at the club on Mondays. Already eleven players have signed up which is over half of the club and it would be encouraging if we could add some more so if you have not already done so, sign up now!

What of the chess? Well, first of all there were some strange names so it was not clear at first who you were playing. There was Coolhand, Bogstairs, Pugmug and Wasplake for a start. It was billed as a tournament but for some of us it was simply a chance to play some chess and lose a few games. In the end, I think Wasplake –  who I think is David – was the overall winner and BobbyPG (whoever he is) finally got a win with his last game. It was a pleasant surprise to welcome back Nick McBride (Bogstairs), formally of this parish, and perhaps if he enjoys himself enough in these online sessions he might be persuaded to rejoin the club when/if we return to normal over the board play.  If any Broadstairs members (or guests) would like to join us, first you need to register with lichess (we also have a club group set up with chess.com which we might try next week and you don’t have to pay for either site) then choose a user name and password.

Don’t forget that the Candidates Tournament is in full swing in Russia and there will be a report on it here in due course. Daily commentary can be followed on Chess 24 and other sites. In the meantime, if you did not catch Trefor’s puzzles emailed out recently, here is one for you to solve.

White to move. Which pawn is the weak point in Black’s position?

Ah! Here’s a trip down memory lane, a return to those carefree days when you could stroll along to your local chess club, shake hands with your opponent, converse freely within three feet, enjoy your game win or lose and then retire to the pub – remember them! – either to celebrate your glorious victory or drown your sorrows, consoled by team mates with a pint or two. Goodness, how long ago was that? What do you mean, it was only last week?

Well, for those of you who have forgotten how to play chess in the last seven days and are looking for anything to bring some cheer to your self-isolation, here is the crucial game from our match with Bridge way back on March 2nd. If we were to win the Millar Cup for the first time in over forty years, this was a match that we really did not want to lose. We could still win the competition if we lost but it would mean having to beat Margate and possibly Folkestone, too. With the score 3½-1½ in Bridge’s favour, it did not look good. Somehow, Arnaud managed to force a win from what looked like a drawn position to most observers which left Paul Carfrae’s game against Graeme Boxall on Board 7. Paul thinks he did not play well and the computer points out a few missed opportunities by both players. However, it is worth playing through to see how Black forced a win after a mistake by White in time trouble right at the end and thanks to Paul for sharing it with us.

White:  Graeme Boxall (86)    Black:  Paul Carfrae (131)

Millar Cup v Bridge

Game of the Week returns with a key game from last week’s crucial Millar Cup match against Margate. This is an excellent game from David Faldon and it is thanks to Trefor Owens that we have it. Trefor, who was on the next board and witnessed it, described it as ‘a brilliant, attacking masterpiece’, and sent it in but while David thought this was ‘overgenerous’ he conceded that it ‘pretty efficient from move 31 onwards’! Play it through and decide for yourself. Thanks to David for his notes.


White:  David Faldon (178)    Black:  Harry Sharples (149)

Millar Cup v Margate

Broadstairs’ success in winning the Millar Cup owes much to David Faldon. I don’t know what his overall record is on Board 1 but he has not lost many games in the all the years he has played for the club. He beats the lower-graded players and invariably draws against the stronger ones. It’s a standing joke in the club that a team captain cannot stand down until he wins his respective league competition. On that basis we knew that we could all sleep at night because Broadstairs would never win the Millar Cup so David had a job for life. Perhaps when we finally re-group – the club is shut for a minimum of four weeks because of the coronavirus but realistically it will be longer – David might have forgotten all about it and decide to carry on regardless.

As he wrote in his notes above, David’s victory gave Broadstairs a 3½-2½ lead ‘with just Chris Stampe to finish’ and in his match report he said that once he had finished his game, he rushed over ‘just in time to see that Chris was a queen up and about to win’. Well, that doesn’t tell the whole story because a few moves earlier this was the position:

White:  John Clarke (92)    Black:  Chris Stampe (141)

Millar Cup v Margate

Black to play and win.