The London Chess Classic has become a major fixture on the chess calendar and the line-up for this year’s tournament which starts on December 4  has just been announced – and what a line-up!

Magnus Carlsen 2853 (world ranking 1), Viswanathan Anand 2816 (2), Veselin Topalov 2816 (3), Hikaru Nakamura 2814 (4), Fabiano Caruana 2808 (5),  Anish Giri 2793 (6), Alexander Grischuk 2771 (9), Levon Aronian 2765 (11), Michael Adams 2740 (18), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2731 (24).

This gives it an average rating of 2791, a category 22 tournament and only nine points off category 23. With seven of the world’s top ten competing – alas no place for Wei Yi – it will be one of the strongest chess tournaments ever played in this country and, indeed, the world. The London Chess Classic is one of three ‘super’ tournaments that make up the Grand Chess Tour, the others being the Norway Chess Tournament played in June and the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis which begins on August 22 – no world top ten players at this year’s Thanet Congress then.   The 2015 Sinquefield Cup has an average rating of 2799.6 so depending on what stage its category is announced, it could be a category 23 tournament which probably makes it the strongest ever.

But how can we compare modern tournaments with those of the distant past when ELO ratings were only introduced in 1970?  If you Google ‘strongest chess tournaments’ you get any number of suggestions, not least the Sinquefield Cup of 2014 but if we want to compare it with tournaments of the early 20th and even late 19th century then we need to devise an alternative measure. An excellent article originally published in Chess Base in 2009 suggests that a simpler way to measure the strength of a tournament is to give points to the number of top ten players in the world taking part. With four points for the top two, three for numbers three and four, two for five and six, and one for seven to ten, that gives the London Chess Classic a total of twenty.  According to the article, this puts it on a par with the strongest tournaments ever played, including the AVRO tournament of 1938, often quoted as the best ever, including in its line-up Alekhine, Capablanca, Botwinnik and Euwe i.e. the then world champion and all his nearest challengers. The tournament was won by Paul Keres, considered by many to be the strongest player never to be world champion.   For more information on the article click here.

The 2015 British Chess Championships have begun at the University of Warwick. Plenty of information including details of the various competitions together with commentary on the leading games which can be played through on screen can be found on the website Broadstairs’ own Davd Faldon is competing in the U180 tournament and he started today (Monday) with a draw.  He will be hoping to go one or even two better than last year at Aberystwyth where he came third in the same tournament.  Here he is receiving his cheque from the Chairman of Ceredigion County Council.

David Faldon photo

The Jamboree is a traditional end of season competition in which all the Thanet League clubs – or as many as can raise a team – compete against each other.  Teams consist of six players and what makes it slightly different is that while you know you will be playing someone on a similar board to you – possibly one above or below – you do not know which club your opponent will be representing. We thought we had a pretty good team this year but unfortunately things did not go our way….


1 David Faldon (170) 0-1         Richard Eales  (Bridge 201)
2 David Horton (164) ½-½         Harry Sharples (W’borough 151)
3 Alan Gosman (149) 1-0         Leon Garfield (Margate 101)
4 Paul Carfrae (132) 0-1 Mick Micklethwaite (Herne Bay 139)
5 Reg Pidduck (104) 0-1         David Erwee (Folkestone 115)
6 Michael Doyle (80) 0-1         Chris Siebert (Folkestone 102)
Total 1½/6

(for full results – for which thanks to Graeme Boxall – click here)

David Faldon writes:

 “The 2014/15 Jamboree, staged in Margate, attracted six teams: a good turnout. Bridge fielded a formidable top five from Richard Eales (201) to James Essinger (155) and finished as clear winners, scoring 5/6 ahead of Herne Bay (4/6) and Folkestone (3½/6). Broadstairs came joint fifth on 1½/6. Despite this disappointing result, all of the Broadstairs players had interesting, hard-fought and enjoyable games, two of them going well past 11 pm. Reg (board 5) was the first to finish. Having neatly won two pawns right in the opening, he then unfortunately missed a surprising rook sacrifice from his opponent which proved instantly fatal. Oops! Mike (board 6) was the next to go, but not before chasing his much-higher-rated opponent’s king around for an hour or so. Our third loss was David on board 1, out-calculated in a messy scrap. Alan (board 3) finally broke our duck, winning a complicated game where both sides sacrificed knights like they were going out of fashion. The last two matches to finish in the whole event featured Broadstairs players. Paul (board 4) fought hard and must have had his chances somewhere but in the end his game came down to a rook for Paul to a rook plus bishop for his opponent (with no pawns for each side). Even here Paul had good chances to draw but in the end one tired move sealed his fate with his opponent down to his final few seconds. David Horton’s game on board 2 wasn’t quite as spectacular as Paul’s but even so both sides could probably have won before a perpetual check in a queen and pawn endgame saw the point halved. All in all, things could have gone better but we had a lot of fun. Roll on next year.”


Four teams took part in the annual Team Buzzer Tournament at Margate: Broadstairs, Bridge, Herne Bay and Margate.  For those unfamiliar with the format, players have ten seconds to make their move.  If they fail to do so, they lose.  Kings failing to acknowledge check can be taken. With only four teams, it was decided to make it a ‘double header’ i.e. each club plays the other twice. There were few surprises in the results.  Both Bridge and Herne Bay had strong teams and it was simply a question of who would come out on top and, more pertinently for us, who would finish third or fourth out of Broadstairs and Margate. We were higher graded so a draw in our first match was a disappointment because we knew we would not get much change out of the other two clubs. A couple of 2½-1½ defeats were the nearest we came to taking a point off either but we did manage to beat Margate in our second match to secure third place.  At the other end, Bridge came out on top largely because their board 4 won all six of his matches.  Many thanks to those who took part.  None of us disgraced ourselves: Bob Page (board 2) and Paul Carfrae (board 3) finished on 2/6 while David Faldon (board 1) and Bob Cronin (board 4) both scored 3.  The latter deserves a special mention for twice beating Luke Kyte (graded 139) of Herne Bay.                 

Bridge   3         Broadstairs   2

1 James Essinger  (155) 0-1           David Horton (164)
2 Patrick Burns (e136) 1-0           Bob Page (141)
3 Lee Butcher (e128) 1-0           Andy Flood (113)
4 Tim Spencer (e120) 1-0           Bob Cronin (101)
5 Ian Redmond (86) 0-1           Michael Doyle (80)

Bob Page writes:

Alas, it was a case of ‘so near yet so far’ in the Mick Croft Final. Having carefully selected a team with the maximum grade total of 625, we were dealt a double blow with the withdrawal of first John Couzens and then Alan Gosman. Not surprisingly, Bridge managed to find a team with an aggregate of 625 so our hastily rearranged team (599) was always going to find it a struggle. It was obvious from a glance at the two line-ups that it would be difficult for Andy and Bob on boards 3 and 4 so if we were to win the match, we would probably need to win on the other three boards.

Not for the first time this season, Michael pulled a rabbit out of the hat and was the first to finish on board 5. He admitted that his opening was dodgy at best but the ending was neat (see diagram). I was the next to finish but it was not the result I wanted.  Trying too hard to win, I overplayed my hand, left myself with a rook that went AWOL and a poor position: desperately disappointing. On board 4 Bob had a even game for a while but then lost a piece and the end came with a king and rook fork.  Andy fought gamely against Lee Butcher, who had a grade of 163 as recently as 2009, but eventually he was ground down and the match was lost.

Meanwhile on board 1 it would have been easy for David to take a draw at this stage.  He won a pawn against James Essinger early on but later sacrificed rook for knight and suddenly the game looked much more even. Both players fell short of time, James offered a draw but David played on, won a rook in time trouble but still James fought back, threatening to queen a passed pawn. However, David got his in first and won with less than two minutes left on his clock. What as shame it wasn’t the point we needed to win the match.

Many thanks to all those who played in the Mick Croft Cup this season – both matches!

White: Ian Redmond (86)                     Black: Michael Doyle (80)

Mick Croft Cup Final (2015)