It is no secret that chess is played by considerably more men than women. The reasons for this are many but the question is how can women be encouraged to play (or return to) chess and is the situation the same worldwide? Hammersmith Chess Club is doing its bit by holding a chess month during May in which there will be various events to promote the game with women in mind.  These include a series of lectures by Women’s FIDE Master Maria Manelidou, a women’s rapidplay tournament with £250 in prize money and special offers on membership for women players who wish to join the club during May. The initiative is supported by the ECF (see here) and Chris Fegan, ECF Director of Women’s Chess wrote: “It is (at least to my knowledge) the first ever such month-long series of activities specifically designed for women that an English chess club has ever put on.” Full details can be found on the Hammersmith Chess Club website.

As regards female participation in chess worldwide, there was a very interesting blog posted recently that is recommended reading for anyone interested in the topic. The article is entitled ‘The Best (and Worst) Countries to be a Female Chess Player” and is prefaced by this summary: ‘Female participation rates are higher in countries that are traditionally patriarchal. Various theories are discussed. Federations seeking to boost female participation should concentrate on teaching chess to girls in or before primary school, as well as encouraging young adult women to stay in the chess world.’

The article is too detailed to comment on further here but you might be surprised by the research and conclusions that the author, David Smerdon, provides. As a taster, try this question for starters: guess which of these countries have the highest percentage of female chess players: Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam.

Intrigued? Then read the article here.


Trefor receives the Micklethwaite Shield

Congratulations to the Broadstairs A team who won the Team Buzzer tournament for the third year in a row. Sadly, as has become routine in recent league events, only three teams competed and two of those were from Broadstairs so we should be grateful to Margate for at least making it a competition.  Had they been at full strength it would have been closer than it was but the absence of one or two of their stronger players together with (or perhaps because of) the fact that buzzer events – you have to move every ten seconds on the buzzer – are not everyone’s cup of tea meant that the real competition was for second place.  Here Paul Johnson justified his selection on Board 1 for the B team by drawing with Trefor Owens – the only individual game that the A team did not win – and twice beating Peter McGill, the Margate number one.

It is to Broadstairs’ great credit that not only could the club count on eight players to take part but that two others offered to stand by if needed as reserves. Indeed one of those, Paul Carfrae, stepped in at the last minute. This is the club’s fourth trophy this season after the Team Quickplay, the Mick Croft Cup and the Hargreaves Shield. With second place in the Millar Cup and the possibility of second in the Walker Shield which concludes on Monday, it has been an excellent season. Many thanks to all those who took part and to Margate for their hospitality.

A team: Trefor Owens, Shany Rezvany, David Faldon, Ian Hames

B team: Paul Johnson, Bob Page, Paul Carfrae, Michael Doyle

Team Played Won Drawn Lost Game Pts Match Pts
Broadstairs A 4 4 0 0 15½ 8
Broadstairs B 4 2 0 2 4
Margate 4 0 0 4 2 0

Full details of individual results can be found on the ECF LMS site.

                                         Broadstairs  5        Bridge   2

1 David Faldon (174) ½-½  Richard Eales (193)
2 Trefor Owens (167) 1-0  Patrick Burns (166)
3 Shany Rezvany (163) ½-½  Jeff Green (144)
4 Bob Page (141) 0-1  Graeme Boxall (93)
5 Paul Carfrae (140) 1-0  Ray Rennells (80)
6 Chris Stampe (124) 1-0  Darren Coker (40)
7 Paul Johnson (116) 1-0  Conor Gorman (27)

David Faldon writes:

This match was way too exciting. At about 30 minutes in our board 3, Shany, suddenly found himself struggling to breathe. Luckily we had a doctor on site and after a quick check of Shany’s symptoms, Dr Jenkinson persuaded the ambulance service that we had a real emergency. The ambulance arrived almost immediately and Shany was taken to the QEQM Hospital in Margate. The latest news is that Shany is still unwell, but in stable condition. After that, the match was rather secondary. Shany’s opponent, Jeff Green, sportingly accepted the draw offer that Shany made on his way out of the room. An hour or so later we were 3½-½ up as our boards 5, 6 and 7 used their extra experience to crash through with three rather one-sided wins. On board 1, I had a good position but an opportunity arose where I could force a draw by repetition. After checking the outstanding games I decided to take the draw, leaving us 4-1 up with two to finish. Next, Trefor on board 2 confounded my doubts by convincingly finishing off a well-played positional game: 5-1. The final result (board 4) was a bit disappointing but Bridge’s captain, Graeme Boxall, played excellently and deserved his upset victory. Many thanks to Bridge for bringing a full team despite trying circumstances and for their support (and use of a phone!) during the emergency. This is our last Millar Cup match of the season and the result leaves us joint top on eight points level with Folkestone, though Folkestone do still have two games to play. Of course Folkestone could lose their remaining games to Bridge and to Margate, but I’m not holding my breath for that – sorry, Shany!

Ed: the latest news on Shany is that he was discharged on Tuesday afternoon. He thanked everyone for their support and apologised ‘for disturbing and interrupting the match’!

Here at Game of the Week HQ we are naturally partial to games where the underdog puts one over on a more exalted opponent. While this game may not quite qualify as a David v Goliath encounter, beating an opponent 26 points stronger is nonetheless a commendable achievement.  There is a theory – almost a truism – that chess players often do better against stronger opponents, whether the result of unintentional complacency, concentration (or lack of) and Michael seems to have become a convert: this fine performance was sandwiched between two games in the Walker Shield where he was less  successful against lower rated players.

White:   John Couzens (117)     Black:  Michael Doyle (91)

Goodall Cup  

                                                 Broadstairs   1½      Ramsgate  2½                     

1 Andy Flood (110) 1-0 Malcolm Snashall (110)
2 Bob Cronin (103) 0-1 Josh Vaughan (94)
3 Reg Pidduck (101) ½-½ Bob Wallace (88)
4 Michael Doyle (91) 0-1 Don Richards (74)

Capt Mike Doyle writes:

If you are skiing on a slippery slope you will invariably fall and go downhill. That’s what happened to Broadstairs last night when we lost to Ramsgate. The only hope of  winning the Thanet Shield if we beat Ramsgate was gone when we lost by 2½-1½. To spare a complete disaster, Andy on Board 1 notched up our only win. With white holding the initiative, we lost on Boards 2 and 4 playing black, namely Bob C and your captain Mike with Reg achieving a draw with the white pieces. It only proves the point that a 50-50 chance of winning with either with white or black favours white! Our first loss was Bob C. He was eventually worn down by white and resigned before he was mated. It was an even game with Reg and Andy a few pawns ahead, but our captain was on do-or-die battle on board four playing black (you guessed it). He had the white king in check by a rook in the middle of the board and lo and behold in a right tussle he lost in the end game. It was Reg who gained a draw with repetitive checks in the middle of the game. With his passed pawn gaining a queen, Andy was the only one to win. Hard luck, lads! Next season, we’re hoping to win the Walker Shield – praying with a bit of luck!