Regular visitors to this site must be wondering what has happened to Broadstairs’ adopted GM, Wei Yi. It’s so long since we heard from him that he must be at least 17 by now. Well, he is actually 18 which by chess standards is positively ancient. However, remember that he reached 2700 at a younger age than Magnus Carlsen and with his most recent rating 2746, he is 17th in the world rankings. Currently playing in the Danzhou Super-GM tournament, after four rounds he is the sole leader with 3/4. After two opening games with the black pieces, he had white against Ruslan Ponomariov in round 3, who was soon being bamboozled by a number of pawn sacrifices as Wei Yi cleared a way for his rook.

White: Wei Yi  (2746)     Black: Ruslan Ponomariov (2712)

8th Hainan Danzhou 2017

Of course, a recurring problem at super GM chess tournaments is the high percentage of draws. In order to avoid this, the organisers have instigated some new initiatives to promote positive play. According to, “the tournament has some of the toughest anti-draw rules you’ll ever witness – no draw offers are allowed (only theoretical draws or with the agreement of the arbiter), while if the players draw by repetition within 15 moves they have to start the game again. If they draw by repetition in 15 moves again both players lose! Nevertheless, we’ve only seen three wins in 15 games.” We shall have to wait and see what effect the new rules have at the end of the tournament.

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The third international chess tournament to be held at Margate in the 1930s was another all-play-all featuring ten players including three heavyweights: the then world champion, Alexander Alekhine, the American GM Reuben Fine and the rising star from Estonia, GM Paul Keres. The tournament also featured several English players who had played in the earlier tournaments but were largely thought to be making up the numbers. Alekhine did not appear to consider Keres a threat. After an early loss he said: “The next seven rounds will show if I can give an extra point to Fine.” However, in round seven his oversight became all too apparent (see game below). Keres had emerged as a player of note as a 19-year old in the 1935 Chess Olympiad and in the next few years he became a strong player of international repute with a number of supertournament victories, notably the 1938 AVRO tournament, considered one of the strongest ever played. Today he is popularly regarded as the best player never to win the world chess championship.

At Margate Keres played Fine in the last round and and their draw resulted in them tying for first place with 7½/9 (both +6 -0 =3). Alekhine, who lost three games finished third on 6½. Keres blamed himself for not winning outright, saying afterwards, “I felt that I still lacked the necessary endgame technique.” Others did not agree and in his book ‘Paul Keres II: the Road to Mastery’, Joosep Grents quotes a contemporary commentator: “The extraordinary combinational ability of Keres left a deep impression on all the participants. If one takes into consideration that he is merely 21 years old, then one can certainly foresee his future fame. The only factor that speaks against him is his modesty. No player with aspirations of becoming a World Champion has ever been known for this characteristic.” 

White: Paul Keres       Black: Alexander Alekhine

Margate International Chess Tournament 1937


    Winners and losers celebrating in the pub

The annual Broadstairs Blitz took place at the club on Monday July 3rd. When many clubs are well into their ‘close season’, Broadstairs is still going and with three competitions yet to be decided, the club will remain open until August 14th. Last year the it was the Brexit Blitz and as it is hard to avoid the soap opera that is modern politics, this year the theme was was the Blunder Blitz: Superman v Blunder Woman  – no prizes for guessing who this was based on. Sixteen players, all from Broadstairs Chess Club, were divided into two teams, the Supermen and the Blunder Women. The teams were picked on current grades and on recent form it looked as if the the Blunder Women had the edge with Ian Hames and Paul Carfrae, Blitz specialists, on the same team. However, it did not work out that way.

The first two rounds were close with few surprises and the scores were level. In round 3 the Supermen took the lead and never looked back.   Further wins in rounds 4 and 6 extended their lead and in the final round, with the Blunder Women needing a 7-1 victory to win, the Supermen had their best round, winning 6-2.  Final scores: Supermen 36½ Blunder Women 27½.  Highlights of the evening were fine performances from David Faldon, 8/8 on Board 1 for the Supermen, and 4/8 for Joshua Vaughan (grade 86) for the same team. Your correspondent still cannot quite understand how he lost to Ian Hames, allowing his king to be taken with one second left on the clock.  The post mortem concluded that the Blunder Women lost because they made too many blunders. Afterwards most of the players adjourned to pub to celebrate another successful season: steady membership, victory in the Team Buzzer and the Thanet Shield and joint winners at the Jamboree.

Supermen: David Faldon, Alan Gosman, Bob Page, Andy Flood, Joshua Vaughan, Michael Jenkinson, Fredy Reber, Jordan Leach.

Blunder Women: Nick McBride, Ian Hames, Paul Carfrae, Reg Pidduck, Bob Cronin, Michael Doyle, Richard Bowles, David Clifford.



In 1936 the second Margate International Chess Tournament took place and, once again, the former World Champion, Jose Raul Capablanca, was invited and accepted. The good news for Capa was that there was no Reshevsky but the bad news was that he was second again. The winner was the Czech GM Salomon Flohr who was undefeated in the tournament, scoring 7½/9 and winning more than half of his matches. Also returning from the first tournament were Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik and Sir George Thomas.

      The England team for the 1939 Olympiad

Milner-Barry was one of the most gifted British chess players of his generation. Winning the first British Boys’ Championship in 1923, he went on to play for England from 1937-1961 and was President of the British Chess Federation between 1970 and 1973. He also has two chess variations named after him: the Milner-Barry Gambit against the French Defence, and the Milner-Barry variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence. His most important contribution, however, was his work as a code-breaker during the war at Bletchley Park for which he was recruited by his friend and fellow chess player, Hugh Alexander. At Margate in 1936 Milner-Barry lost only three games out of the nine, two of which were to Capablanca and this one to the eventual winner.

White: Salomon Flohr       Black: Stuart Milner-Barry

Margate International Chess Tournament 1936

Never mind about Norway, I hear you say, what about Broadstairs? Well, as everyone knows, the club continues until the Thanet Chess Congress – still plenty of room: see for further details – and the various club competitions are nicely coming up to the boil. In the Goodall Cup, the blue riband of Broadstairs club competitions, it is looking like a two-horse race between David Faldon and Nick McBride unless Ian Hames can win all his remaining seven games, six of which are against players in the top half of the draw. David might have expected at least a share of the trophy after Nick’s surprise defeat by Bob Page earlier in the season but Bob threw another spanner in the works by swindling a draw against David in their match. This means that victory for Nick in his match against David may give him the cup outright.

Two of the five rounds of the Summer Swiss have been played with Nick, Bob and Paul Carfrae the only players on two points. These scores are, of course, irrelevant as the prize goes to the player with the best grading performance over the five rounds. If past history is anything to go by, this is unlikely to be the player with the highest score.  The knockout tournament for the John Couzens Vase is at the quarter-final stage and victory here is anyone’s guess as it is a time handicap where it is not unusual to find strong players given only ten minutes against weaker players’ one hour fifty! Finally, on July 3rd there is the traditional end of season event, the Broadstairs Blitz after which we hope as many members as possible will join us in the pub to celebrate the club’s successes in the Team Buzzer and Jamboree tournaments.

         “Look, a blank cheque!”

One of the trophies awarded at the Thanet Congress is the Oyster Shield which goes to the Thanet player with the highest score in either the Minor or Intermediate sections. It was donated to the Congress by Whitstable Chess Club and the inaugural winner was our own Reg Pidduck and here he is collecting his trophy and cheque in 2011. This has become quite a custom for Reg because he has gone on to win the award on a further three occasions including the last two years so he’ll be aiming for a hat-trick at this year’s Congress which, don’t forget folks, is on August 18-20. (Mind you, he hasn’t entered yet…)