Broadstairs  2         Margate   2 

(Board positions based on July grades)

1 John Couzens (121) 0-1     Colin Gregory  (107)
2 Andy Flood (114) ½-½     Clive Le Baigue  (117)
3 Reg Pidduck (109) ½-½     Leon Garfield (105)
4 Bob Cronin (106) 1-0     John Clarke  (97)

Andy Flood writes:

Another close and even match between the local rivals saw Broadstairs achieve an unlikely draw from a late evening losing position. As John sought to secure a quick win with white for Broadstairs on Board 1, he was the first to finish in a surprise loss to Colin Gregory. Not the best of starts for Broadstairs who were in time difficulty on Board 2 and a piece down on Board 4 going into the endgame. Somehow Broadstairs Bob with his never-say-die attitude won from a lost position to even the match at 1 – 1 and to wrestle the Houdini mantle from the absent Paul Carfrae. On Board 2 against a resolute Clive Le Baigue playing a very solid game, I was in real time trouble and only achieved the requisite 36 moves with three seconds to spare. Closing up shop, the inevitable draw was agreed at the second offer: 1.5 v 1.5. So all depended on the last game with Reg a pawn down (rook and four pawns) to Leon (rook and five pawns). Reg cleverly swapped off the rooks and aggressively pushed forward his pawns to secure half a point for Broadstairs and to maintain our unbeaten record.


                                 Ju Wenjun

The 2017 Women’s World Chess Championship began in Tehran on February 11 and continues until March 3. 63 players are taking part in a six-round knockout tournament that has been surrounded by controversy since it was announced that all players would have to wear the hijab, leading to the refusal of several players to take part. Top seed, fresh from her triumph at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters where she won the women’s first prize, is Ju Wenjun. If she can add the $60,000 first prize to the £15,000 she won in Gibraltar, it would make it a terrific start to 2017 for her. The odd number of players is explained by the death of the Romanian women’s chess champion, Cristina-Adela Foisor, last month. She has not been replaced and her opponent in round one has been given a bye.

Second seed in the competition is Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine who also had a fine tournament at Gibraltar, scoring 6/10, although her sister Maria, a former women’s world champion, is one of the absentees, saying that in her opinion “it’s absolutely obvious that Iran isn’t a suitable country for such a prestigious event.” An alternative view was understandably offered by the Iranian WGM Mitra Hejazipour, who said: “This is going to be the biggest sporting event women in Iran have ever seen; we haven’t been able to host any world championship in other sporting fields for women in the past. It’s not right to call for a boycott. These games are important for women in Iran; it’s an opportunity for us to show our strength.”  Unfortunately, we shall not be seeing any more of the strength of Iranian women’s chess for now as all three home players have already been eliminated.

The current world champion, Hou Yifan, is also absent from Tehran owing to her objection to the arrangements. Her mood at Gibraltar and bizarre protest in the final round may have had something to do with this defeat in Round 6 to her new rival and the favourite to take her crown.                                  

White:   Hou Yifan (2651)   Black:  Ju Wenjun (2583)       

Tradewise Gibraltar Masters 2017

Broadstairs  5         Herne Bay   2 

1 David Faldon (179) 0-1        Bernie Kooiman  (189)
2 Nick McBride (171) 1-0         Bob Pooley  (153)
3 Bob Page (141) 0-1         Paul Arnold (120)
4 John Couzens (125) 1-0         Paul Johnson (113)
5 Andy Flood (117) 1-0         Ronnie Melhuish (96)
6 Reg Pidduck (107) 1-0         Eddie Ridley (64)
7 Bob Cronin (103) 1-0         John Heath  (48)

David Faldon writes:

Our second win of the season out of six attempts leaves us in mid-table of the 2016/17 Millar Cup, behind Bridge and Folkestone but above Herne Bay and Margate. Reg was the first to score on board 6. His opponent played very quickly, but Reg wasn’t put off, calmly winning a pawn, then a bishop, then the game without any big scares. All of the other games lasted until 10pm, when Nick on board 2 completed a very well-played attack with a snap checkmate. Hopefully we’ll be able to show this game on the site as it’s a great example of bringing every last piece (and pawn) into the attack to overcome the toughest defence. John’s game on board 4 finished next with another Broadstairs win. This time it was John defending carefully until he got his chance to break out. Bob Cronin then finished off his game to wrap up the match win (4-0 up with 3 to play). Bob won a rook early on but he then had to be a bit careful not to let things slip. Next, Andy’s slow but sure progress on board 5 put us 5-0 up, which was just as well as the last two boards didn’t add to the team’s score. Overall a good solid team performance where none of our winners ever seemed in any danger of losing. Bridge next, away, on Feb 28th.

Hikaru Nakamura

While congratulations go to Hikaru Nakamura for his victory in the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters – and commiserations to the unlucky runner-up, David Anton Gujarro after a play-off – the sensational news from Gibraltar today was not a victory by anyone but a defeat….and a deliberate one.  In what GM Stuart Conquest described as ‘the biggest crisis to hit chess in fifteen years’ (why fifteen? what happened in 2002?), our favourite female Chinese GM, Hou Yifan, amazed everyone in her final match by resigning after five moves. This was no blunder as you will see from the details below. In an interview afterwards Hou Yifan said that she was ‘upset’ at having been drawn against seven women in the first nine rounds and felt that this was not fair on the other women players although it did not do Ju Wenjun any harm as she won the women’s first prize of £15,000, beating Hou Yifan on the way.  The tournament organiser, Brian Callaghan, was sympathetic but pointed out that the draw is done by computer and that was the way it turned out.  I suspect we have not heard the last of this.

White:   Hou Yifan (2651)   Black:  Lalith Babu (2587)       

Tradewise Gibraltar Masters 2017


Congratulations to Wesley So who has added victory in the Tata Steel Masters to his success at London and the Chess Grand Tour. Over fifty games unbeaten – where will it end? Well, Broadstairs’ favourite grandmaster, Wei Yi, had a good go yesterday in the penultimate round where victory would have put him in the driving seat. After an interesting start where Wei Yi had a slight advantage but with isolated pawns, the game evened out and a draw was agreed. This followed victory for Wei Yi on Friday in only 31 moves against the World Championship runner-up, Sergey Karjakin. There was an amusing finish to this game for those following online where the result was initially given as a draw with Wei Yi in a clearly won position. Presumably, the chap pressing the button misunderstood the handshake between the two players and had not seen the position. Sadly, Wei Yi lost his last game today – only his second defeat in the tournament – but his final position of joint third was a tremendous result against some of the best in the world for a player who is still only seventeen.

                         Nigel Short

Meanwhile, attention now turns to the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters which, according to the Financial Times is “the strongest and best-organised event of its kind in the world”. Certainly, most of the world’s top players who were not at Wijk aan Zee are taking part in the 250-player ten-round Open which has just completed its sixth round. Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and MVL (Maxime Vachier Lagrave) are all competing for the £23,000 first prize and Hou Yifan is hoping to win the £15,000 for the top woman. British interest rests on the shoulders of Michael Adams, David Howell and Nigel Short. With four rounds to go, Adams shares the lead with Nakamura and David Anton Guijarro of Spain. However, Short is only half a point behind after a terrific win today against Caruana, the world number three, that must have brought back memories of his battles with Kasparov all those years ago.

White:   Nigel Short (2684)   Black:  Fabiano Caruana (2816)       

Tradewise Gibraltar Masters 2017