Saturday, 28 July 2012

Which Board to Play on For an Easier Life

Some weeks ago, we were sitting in a bar somewhere when Colin “Biggg Boss” Ross said that next season he wanted to play at the bottom of the side for the Second Team in Division 3, rather than Board 1 for the Arms Third Team in Division 5. I said that I thought there probably wasn’t much difference in the playing strength. When challenged on this, I said that when Littlethorpe had a growing number of sides and we had to decide where to ask for them to be placed in the League Sean Hewitt would analyse the playing strengths of each Board in each Division based on the prior season. As I recalled it, it was normally the case that the top board in any Division was markedly stronger than the bottom board in the next division up, and I thought that certainly lower down the league this effect extended to two divisions apart. (I was going to say I thought that this analysis was probably the only use Sean has ever made of his Statistics Degree, but that would ignore the work he did on grading of weaker players, which meant after the ECF regrading exercise, for one glorious season I was graded in three figures!)

I’ve carried out a rather more limited exercise of looking at the opposition which HA2 (Boards 3 & 4) and HA3 (Board 1) faced last season in the League. The sorted data is as follows:

HA3 Board 1: 133, 130, 126, 111, 110, 108, 107, 105, 105, 101, 101, 93 (12 matches)

HA2 Board 4: 127, 120, 120, 113, 113, 113, 106, 80, 80, 77, 76, 76, Default (13 matches)

HA2 Board 3: 134, 127, 126, 124, 123, 113, 113, 113, 112, 96, 80, 80, 76 (13 matches)

Thus the average strength was
HA3 Board 1 111 HA2 Board 3 109 HA2 Board 4 100.

I didn’t use toes & fingers, but rather EXCEL, so these averages should be correct.

If I didn’t know the Biggg Boss so well, I would think he was running and hiding…

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

ECF August 2012 Grades Online/David Ward Cup

The ECF have published the Summer Grading list online now.   Doesn't seem a vintage year for the Heathcote Arms.   Ignoring Sean (and I know that is difficult to do) the best increase in grade for Standard play seems to be 5 points for Graham Booley and the sadly departed (for pastures new and not down below) Rob Ensor.

Despite my pathetic record in the last 6 months - played 8 and won 3, lost 5, my standard grade has climbed a smidgeon, and as a result of the first couple of rounds of Harrod Cup my Rapid Play grade is at a new high of 99.

Having reviewed the annual change in Standard Gradings - although I run out of fingers so take this as provisional - I reckon that subject to no grading revisions the runner up for the David Ward Memorial Cup is John "The Grinder" Manger who has improved his grade by 12 points, but the winner is Graham "Our County Champ" Sharpe whose grade went up by 15 points.  Well done to both of them.  Rob Ensor managed +11, another creditable performance.

Friday, 20 July 2012

County Championship 4th Round

My game finished quite early with a draw. I played the white side of a Winawer against David Reynolds. After a bit of probing on the kingside with my queen, the centre became blocked with pawns and i offered a draw. David took it.

Ross,Colin - Reynolds,David

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c4 7.Qg4 g6 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.Bg5 Qa5 10.Kd2 h6 11.Qh4 Nce7 12.Bxe7 Nxe7 13.Qf6 Rg8 14.h4 Qd8 15.g4 Nc6 16.g5 h5 17.Be2 ½–½

In the Minor, Hacker Dave (playing the Sicilian against Stan Parsons) exchanged his two rooks for Stan's queen and bishop, but then turned a won position into a loss as his king became stuck on the back rank with nowhere else to go. He will be having nightmares about this one.

I was giving Dave a lift and he didn't want to hang around, so i missed a lot of the endings.
John had a rook and seven pawns against a rook and six pawns and looked set to grind out a win, but the results site has this as a draw.

Also in the Major, Howard took the point against Guy.

Mick Slater caused an upset by defeating Roy Lathwood, the reining Minor Champion and the guy to beat. Mick now has 3.5 points from 4, and is wearing the yellow jersey, despite his draw against Stan in the third round.

Graham B played Sean in the Championship Section. I do not know how this finished, however.

edit: Graham won

Well done everyone.

Club night on Tuesday.


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

2012 AGM

Just the main points - minutes to follow:
  • Annual Subscriptions (due now) are £27.50 per adult and £17.50 per junior for 2012/2013 and include Bronze membership of the ECF. That is all you need to pay for a whole year of chess.
  • Election of Officers: Peter the President (Chairman), me (Secretary), Hacker Dave (Treasurer), and Graham B (Committee Member).
  • Team entries (League): HA1 in Division 1, HA2 in Division 3, HA3 in Division 5.
  • Team entries (League Cups): 1 Team in the Major League Cup, and 1 Team in the Minor League Cup.
  • Election of Captains: Graham B (HA1), Pete (HA2), and me (HA3) with Russian Ray as Vice-Captain of HA3.
County Championship Games.

Tomorrow (Thursday 19th July 2012). Round 4.


Colin (120) Vs Dave Reynolds (134)
Bob Collins (135) Vs John (133), and
Guy Closs (109) Vs Howard Phillips (136)


Stan (The Man) Parsons (82) Vs Dave (93)
Ray has already defeated Patrick Reid.


Friday, 13 July 2012

Hurricane Heathcote blow Wigston away (With a light breeze and a whimper)

Round 3 of the Harrod Cup drew Wigston to play Heathcote Arms at Wigston. Speaking from a Wigston point of view, it was nice to get a home draw after away trips to Ashby and Syston. It is sometimes hard to captain a side and persuade players that long trips like this are beneficial for their chess, but more than satisfactory results had been achieved so far. This clash of the titans pitched top of the table Heathcote Arms against second placed (by 'goal difference') Wigston.

And so the invincibles rolled in to the arena, this not being the Harrod Cup players, Martin Burrows and Graham Sharpe played their County Championship match on the same night, they were followed by the Heathcote Arms and Wigston players preparing to do battle. After deciding to toss for colours, Ben Vaughan shook hands with Colin Ross and tossed the coin. An excited shout of 'Heads' - rather like the excited call of 'check' when playing a better graded player (sometimes you don't even get to check them!) and the coin fell tails. Ben threw the gauntlet down to his team - 'What do we want to do team?' ...... (tumbleweed rolls by) ...... (sound of crickets breaking the silence) ...... 'Erm I don't know' retorted the evergreen Barrie Cooper, 'Let's play white,' he continued. Such decisiveness and boldness was to bode well for him. It appeared that Heathcote weren't happy with black pieces first, a few grumbles of 'Oh oh, that doesn't suit us' and 'I'm not sure about this' (presumably not sure about which board to sit at). Battle commenced.

First to finish was Haka (now apparently Hacker) Dave. Taking the definition of rapid play chess to a new level, they were finished after around 15-20 minutes. A very cunning fork of queen and king with a knight that couldn't be taken because of a pinned pawn, the killer blow. An excellent move well spotted and executed by the lethal Haka Dave. (I'm sorry chaps, but I prefer Haka than Hacker - he isn't a serial killer! I'm not sure that adjectives like executed and lethal are helping my case). First blood (there I go again) to Heathcote. By this time Colin had removed Frank Hulford's bishop for a pawn after Frank got in a huge mess against Colin's French defence. Paul Winterton vs Ray Beach and Barrie Cooper vs Mike Cowley looked pretty even. After watching Colin grind Frank down by pressurising doubled pawns and making use of his advantage, I switched to looking at Paul and Ray's board.

During this time and after a very short discussion that probably went along the lines of 'Shall we play our next game?' and 'Yes', Simon Dean and Haka Dave played their second match. This one wasn't quite so straightforward for Haka Dave however, from looking fairly even, Haka Dave blew open Simon's Kingside with huge mating threats. Simon defended fairly well and it looked for half a second like he might have had some counterplay on the queenside. After looking away for approximately two seconds, I heard an excited shout of 'Mate'. I looked over to see that Simon was keeping calm whilst wanting to simultaneously throw the chess board across the room and jump out of the window. All it needed was Haka Dave to throw some haka shapes and that would have made the night. Heathcote were two up before the other boards had finished their first games.

Soon after that Frank's match against Colin and Paul's match against Ray finished (although I can't remember which way round). Paul managed to keep his advantage of being a piece up and having an outside passed pawn to force Ray's resignation and Colin finished Frank off with a very sexy discovered mate, moving a rook out of the way to a bishop pointing at a cornered King, keeping the flight square occupied. (Finished in style by asking 'Is that mate?').

After the first round of matches, Wigston were 3-1 down (or 4-1 given that Haka Dave and Simon had finished). This meant that Wigston had to win all 3 of the remaining games to salvage a draw.

After each of the games looking pretty even (and Haka Dave and Simon playing a friendly) all of a sudden I heard the call of 'draw?'. I was thinking 'If that is a Heathcote player offering our boy a draw, then instantly it's a no'. I look over and Paul and Ray were shaking hands on a draw. I was then experiencing what Simon may have felt earlier against Haka Dave, that draw lost us the match. It was Paul that offered the draw, much to my amusement. Soon after Colin and Frank agreed a draw after deciding that there was actually no play for either of them with bad bishops each and Kings to one side of the board. I think that I summed it up with 'That was boring'.

Last to finish was Barrie against Mike. Barrie looked in an excellent position, but had to tread carefully, (naturally against a player graded 40 points higher). A poor patzer's analysis of the position was that Barrie had a strong kingside attack, but Mike's defending pieces actually had a threat by themselves. Barrie then cursed under his breath. It looked like he had missed a mate in one. Sorry to mention this again, but once more I felt like Simon against Haka Dave, picking up a chess board and throwing it across the room and jumping out of the window. Thankfully though, Barrie did manage to keep up the attack and prevailed for the win.

The match ended, a 5-3 defeat for Wigston and a deserved victory for the strong Heathcote side. After buying Colin and Ray a drink and Haka Dave a pint of 'I'm alright tar', I shared a drink and chat with the boys in the bar. My question of 'Is it the home captain or the winning captain that buys the drink?' was more in hope than expectation.

It was great to see you all again and I'll drop by soon and say hello, or see you in the league next season (maybe).

Ben Vaughan
Wigston Chess Club.

Harrod Three in a Row

Ben wanted to play all the same colour in the first game of the match.

I like this as, if you are not careful, it can be easy to get mixed up, when submitting the result, as to who was playing which colour and when. I also like it when our side plays all black in the first round as i believe it gives us a psychological edge if we come out of it even (or even half a point down) with four games yet to play as white. So, when Wigston won the toss and chose white i was quite pleased. Moaning Dave had a good hack, however.

We actually did quite well though. Dave won his two games before anyone else had finished their first - he has proved to be something of a banker on board four in this competition. I didn't get much chance to see Ray's game, but he  lost out to Paul Winterton. I played a Winawer against Frank Hulford. In the opening, Frank allowed a bishop to get boxed in with no retreat squares, so i was able to swap a pawn for it. The position became rather locked up and (as ever) time began to run out, but i was able to simplify and snatch a mate with a minute or two to go. Mad Mike was the last to finish, but took the point.

4-1 up at the break (actually with five games played as Dave and his opponent had already finished).
In round 2, Ray agreed a draw giving us the match, i agreed a draw, a pawn down, having over pressed early on, and Mike blundered under pressure.

5-3 and a third win in three rounds was an excellent result.

We adjourned to the bar where Ray told us of a surprise visit from the Red Admiral on Tuesday.

12 JulWigston 1W - BB - WHeathcote Arms 1
3 - 5
1119Cooper, Barrie0 - 11 - 0Cowley, Michael160
2111Winterton, Paul1 - 0½ - ½Beach, Ray105
3106Hulford, Frank0 - 1½ - ½Ross, Colin94
480Dean, Simon0 - 10 - 1Ricketts, Dave94

On Tuesday, we have our AGM. This normally takes about half an hour. After this, there will probably be some friendlies, but most people will probably disappear as there are County Champs games on the Thursday.

Well done everyone,


Saturday, 7 July 2012

So Much For The Birstall Cup


We have been here before...
Outgraded on every board, we had a handicap bonus of 3.5 points with four boards to play. We needed just one draw from four games to win the match.

We all started out well enough, but Michael was first to bite the dust, followed by me a short while later.

The other two games were far closer: Gordon was winning his game up until 9.45PM, but then made his usual mistake of leaving a rook en pris. His opponent was visibly relieved and remarked afterwards on how he had been off the hook. Gordon's extra practice on the internet seems to helping.

Hacker Dave had offered Steve a draw quite early (knowing that he could not accept it) when Dave had been in the better position. Later on, Dave was material down, but still with chances and Steve eventually emerged the victor.

This is a knockout competition, so, good luck to Wigston.

03 JulHeathcote Arms 1vWigston 1GD
0 - 4195
Handicap3½ - 0
3½ - 4
1W120Ross, Colin0 - 1Cohen, Gerry16545
2B93Ricketts, Dave0 - 1Wylie, Stephen14850
3W41Bubb, Michael0 - 1Eastlake, Charles12350
4B40Milner, Gordon0 - 1Winterton, Paul11150

We also had some County Championship games:

Minor Round 4
Ray Vs Patrick Reid resulted in a win for Ray - this was close and could have gone either way.

Major Round 3
John Vs Guy Closs resulted in a win for John despite his having dropped a rook quite early on. A three pawn roller on the queen side was unstoppable.

Well done everyone.

Next Week

On Tuesday 10th, Braunstone play a home match at our place (the Civic Centre is booked up) against Market Harborough.

On Thursday 12th, our invincible Harrod Cup team travel to Wigston. Watch out Ben! Perhaps we could have post match blogs from both sides.

The Week After Next

Our AGM is on Tuesday 17th July.