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 http://www.thanetchesscongress.co.uk 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…)
Aronian beat Carlsen here last year
Most of the world’s best chess players are currently slogging it out at the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament in Stavanger. As is customary in these events, the opening rounds featured the usual shadow boxing as few risks were taken and draws dominated. In the first three rounds there were only two wins and thirteen draws. However, all this changed in Round 4 with three wins from the five matches. Without doubt, the one you will be reading about in the papers tomorrow and for some time to come, one suspects, is the remarkable victory by Lev Aronian over the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen. Peter Svidler, commentating for Chess 24, said that the game “…is hugely important because it features more or less everything that you would want from a chess game”. Aronian is from Armenia and for those of you unfamiliar with chess in that country and who would struggle to identify Armenia on a world map, you might be interested in the edition of ‘On Assignment’ shown last Wednesday (7th) on ITV which features a piece on how chess is both encouraged and financed in Armenia. My thanks to Michael Doyle for drawing my attention to this.
White: Lev Aronian (2793) Black: Magnus Carlsen (2832)
Altibox Norway Chess 2017
While most of world’s leading chess players gather in Stavanger for the Altibox Chess Tournament, it is worth looking back to a time when a Thanet club was the centre of the chess world. Sadly, it was not Broadstairs but for five years in the 1930s Margate managed to attract some of the strongest players in the world to compete in a series of international chess tournaments. The first of these was held in the Grand Hotel in 1935 and featured the former world champion Jose Raul Capablanca, the American prodigy Sammy Reshevsky and a number of British stalwarts including Stuart Milner-Barry, Sir George Thomas and Vera Menchik. Not surprisingly, Capablanca was favourite to win but his defeat by Reshevsky was decisive and the American went on to win the tournament with an unbeaten score of 7½/9.
White: Samuel Reshevsky Black: Jose Raul Capablanca
Margate International Chess Tournament 1935
Hot on the heels of our victory in the Team Buzzer comes news of another Broadstairs triumph – joint winners of the Jamboree. For the uninitiated, the Jamboree is an annual competition where teams from Thanet League clubs turn up and pairings are mixed so you could be playing anyone from another club at your level i.e. Board 1 plays against Board 1 or 2 etc. Unlike the Team Buzzer, however, this was a genuine contest with five teams competing: Broadstairs, Margate, Bridge, Herne Bay and Woodnesborough. Here are our pairings and results:
1. David Faldon 1-0 Peter McGill (Margate)
2. Nick McBride 0-1 Shany Rezvany (Bridge)
3. Bob Page ½-½ Paul Arnold (Herne Bay)
4. Paul Carfrae 1-0 David Erwee (Woodnesborough)
5. Andy Flood ½-½ Malcolm Snashall (Bridge)
6. Michael Doyle 1-0 James Maskell (Margate)
The first three games finished quite early. Michael had an easy win over James Maskell, Paul won a piece against David Erwee who never managed to achieve parity and Andy drew a game he thinks he probably should have won. When Bob agreed a draw in a complicated game, Broadstairs were on 3/4. David was already in a strong position against Peter McGill which he soon managed to convert into a win. By this time, most other matches had finished and Herne Bay with 4/6 were the only team who could prevent Broadstairs becoming outright winners. All eyes now turned towards Nick McBride, who needed only a draw in his match. Unfortunately, Nick did not know this and, valiantly chasing a win, he lost on time with both players having seconds left. Disappointing but we all agreed we would have settled for joint winners at the start of the evening and our name will still be on the trophy. Many thanks to all who took part.
The 2016 Open in action (photo courtesy of Brendan O’ Gorman)
Encouraging numbers of entries are already coming in for the 48th Thanet Chess Congress at Canterbury Christ Church University, Broadstairs, from August 18th-20th 2017. The attraction of free entry for IMs and GMs had already been noted and we are delighted to welcome back last year’s winner of the Open, IM Alan Merry. Here he is the picture above, possibly surveying the opposition although more likely simply returning to his chair on the number one board. It is also hoped that the offer of a reduced entry of just £5 for U15s will encourage several of the strong Kent Juniors to take part. Facilities are excellent: a comfortable and air-conditioned playing area, a well-priced, stylish canteen – how often do you hear that about a chess congress? – offering a varied menu and excellent breakfasts. The canteen combines as an analysis room (see picture) and accommodation is available at the venue but book early if you want to take advantage of this as rooms are limited. See http://www.thanetchesscongress.co.uk for further details including online entry.
The canteen and analysis room
Twenty-nine years ago your correspondent was fortunate enough to win the Minor section at the Congress. Some might consider that use of the word ‘fortunate’ is false modesty but not so. No matter how well you may be playing, there is always that element of luck that you need – the draw, mistakes by an opponent, rivals faltering at key moments – that invariably play a part in ultimate victory. The Thanet Congress has taken place at several venues over the years – none as smart as the current one – and this was the last to be held at Holy Cross School in Broadstairs. Here is the decisive game in the final round. My opponent was on 4/4, half a point ahead of me so that essential good fortune was needed.
White: Joe Farrell (113) Black: Robert Page (100)
Thanet Minor 1988 Round 5