Christmas Themed Blitz – The Black Knights’ Tango

To help fill the winterval chess gap, made worse by the cancellation of the Durham Congress, we’re having a themed blitz tournament on the Thursday 20th December at the New Ship Inn. As usual, no entry fee, no prizes, no rating just lots of chess fun.

The theme is the Black Knights’ Tango. No, I hadn’t heard of it either until I saw John Boyd playing it in a league match a couple of weeks ago. Books (plural) have been written on this opening and John probably has them all. For the rest of us here is a video from the St Louis Chess Club explaining the opening.

Play will start after the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 Nc6 with white to play.

Carlsen-Caruana Redux – AlphaZero’s Take

12 games at normal time controls, 12 draws. A lot of people just looked at the result and said “Boring!“. For those of us (layabouts) who actually watched the games live, online there was a lot of exciting chess. It’s just that at key moments the players either rushed their moves and missed their opportunity (giving hope that they are, at least in that respect, just like us patzers) or they thought long and hard and then chickened out (again, something we can all can identify with). Then there was that winning move that Sesse identified which none of the experts could understand until they had sat in a darkened room for several hours studying the computer analysis.

Somebody who particularly enjoyed the games was GM Matthew Sadler. He and WIM Natasha Regan have been given access to AlphaZero to write a book about it which is coming out next year. Sadler, meanwhile, was allowed to maintain access to his new toy for the World Championships and followed the games with the benefit of analysis of AlphaZero. He has produced a number of videos examining AlphaZero’s analysis of the 12 games, themed according to the openings.

DeepMind’s AlphaZero on Carlsen-Caruana Games 1, 3, 5 & 8 (Sicilian Defence)

Games 2 & 7 (the QGD)

Games 4 & 6 (English & Petroff)

Games 10 & 12 (Sveshnikov Sicilian)

Games 11 & 9 (Petroff & English)

For contrast here are the thoughts of former world champion and reigning rapid world champion, Vishy Anand on the first 12 games given before the playoffs.

Themed Blitz Tournaments – cont.

Thursday 4th October – Modern Defence
The theme is the Modern Defence. Play starts after 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 with white to move.
There are many directions the game could take after this, Modern, King’s Indian, Sniper, 150 Attack, so I’ll limit myself to a couple of specific Modern videos. First one from the Ginger GM giving one of his wins with black playing for Cheddleton in the 4NCL. Second, Gary Quillan’s very exciting win with white against a Russian GM in the 2018 Gibraltar tournament which won him a brilliancy prize.

With the season due to start in a couple of week’s time this will probably be the last one until next summer.

Last week’s Caro Kann tournament was won by Dave Mooney with 9/9, Paul Bielby was in second with 7/9 and Yaroslav Kolodiy and Brian Towers finished in joint third on 6/9. Full details here.

Thursday 27th September – Caro Kann
The theme is the Caro Kann. Play starts after the moves 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 with white to move.
Last week’s London System tournament was won by John Boyd and Dave Mooney, both on 8/9 with Yaroslav Kolodiy 3rd on 6.5. Full details here.

Durham Congress – 7th to 9th December

This will be held at Houghton Miners Welfare Hall, Brinkburn Crescent, Houghton-le-Spring.
There are four tournaments, a FIDE rated open, and 3 ECF graded restricted tournaments. The Major is U165, the Minor U135 and the Foundation U100.

Time controls for the Open, Major and Minor are all moves in 1 hour 50 minutes with a 10 second increment from move 1 and the Foundation is all moves in 50 minutes with a 10 second increment from move 1. So, while there are 5 rounds in the Open, Major and Minor, there are 10 rounds in the Foundation. Moves must be written until the first time your time goes below 5 minutes. If you make a few quick moves and your time goes above 5 minutes again you don’t have to start writing the moves again.

There is a £3 early bird discount for entries before 26th October.

Full details and entry form here.

54th Northumberland Chess Congress – 28th to 30th September

At the Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields. There are four tournaments, a FIDE rated open, and 3 ECF graded restricted tournaments. The Major is U166, the Minor U136 and the Foundation U106. I believe there are 5 rounds in the Open, Major and Minor and 10 rounds in the Foundation but this isn’t clear from the website.

Time controls are also sadly lacking from the website. Last year they were game in 1 hour 50 minutes plus 10 second increment for the Open, Major and Minor and game in 1 hour with no increments for the Foundation. Perhaps they’ll be the same this year. If so and there is no increment in the Foundation will quickplay rules apply? If you are playing in the Foundation probably best to ask the arbiter to clarify before the first round as quickplay rules can only apply if announced beforehand.

The important part of the quickplay rules to be aware of is in Guidelines III.4 of the FIDE Laws of Chess. It says:

If the player having the move has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may request that an increment extra five seconds be introduced for both players. This constitutes the offer of a draw. If the offer refused, and the arbiter agrees to the request, the clocks shall then be set with the extra time; the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue.

What this means is that once your time goes under 2 minutes if you are worried about losing on time you can ask for this and the 5 second increment can give you the chance to draw the game rather than lose on time. When you make the claim your opponent can take a draw if you have a won game at that stage.

Themed Blitz Tournaments resume after AGM

Thursday 20th September – London System

The theme is the London System. Play starts after the moves 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 with black to move. As usual a link to an introductory video from the Ginger GM. And an alternative view from the St Louis Chess Club.

Thursday 13th September – AGM

The AGM will be on the 13th September at the New Ship Inn, South Shields.

Thursday 6th September – Bishop’s Gambit

The previous themed blitz, Bishop’s Gambit, was won by Dave Mooney with 8.5/9 with John Boyd second on 7.5/9 and Ian Maughan third on 6/9. Full details here.

UK Open Blitz Championship – Newcastle Heat

Qualifying tournaments were held around the country today for the UK Open Blitz Championships with one of the qualifying heats held at RGS in Newcastle. Time control was game in 3 minutes with a 2 second increment and there were 15 rounds with the top 2 players qualifying for the finals. This was FIDE rated.

GM Danny Gormally of Alnwick and IM James Adair, who is at York University, finished in 1st and 2nd with 15/15 and 13.5/15 respectively.

Well done to South Shields players Dave Mooney who finished in 6th place with 8.5 points and Paul Bielby who finished in 17th with 6.5.

Full details here.

Late Summer Themed Blitz Tournaments

As we have been getting quite a few club members (and visitors!) turning up on club nights the last few weeks I’ve started running themed blitz tournaments. We aim to start between 7:15 and 7:30pm. Every week there is a “theme” which basically means everyone playing the same opening.

There is no entry fee, no prizes and no rating. This is just a bit of fun to get club members playing something other than the London System (only joking, one member who never plays it has asked to have it one night so he can practice). Time limit is 5 minutes plus 2 second increment with at least 7 rounds. Last night we played 8 rounds and could possibly have squeezed in a 9th. If only a few players turn up we will have a round robin (if very few then double round robin), otherwise a Swiss as we did last night.

Last night’s theme was the Ruy Lopez. Play started after the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 with black to move. Congratulations to John Boyd who won. Full tournament details here. Apologies to anybody who’s name I got wrong.

Suggested future themes for future Thursday blitzes – Trompowski, Benko Gambit, King’s Gambit, French and London System.

Thursday 6th September

The theme is the Bishop’s Gambit. Play starts after the moves 1. e4 e5 2. f4 ef 3. Bc4 with black to move. For those who want to brush up on the excitement of their youth the ginger GM, Simon Williams, has done a 20 minute video on this opening here.

Thursday 23rd August

The theme is the Benko Gambit. Play starts after the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cb a6 with white to move. St Louis Chess club have done an excellent series of opening videos. For those who want to do a bit of revision the one on the Benko Gambit is here.

More players this week with Dave Mooney coming along to share the honours with John Boyd. Piotr and Brian were busy for the first half of the tournament playing their club championship match so Jay Steel stood in as Deputy Arbiter for the first half and Piotr joined in for the second half.

Full details here.

Thursday 16th August

The theme is the Trompowski. Play starts after the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 with black to move.

This turned out to be a very strong tournament with Piotr back from Poland and Tim Wall, who will be playing for our Durham County Chess Association team next year, also coming along. As he said, the Trompowski is his favourite opening. How could he resist?

Full details here.

 

Customs House Blitz – Results

This was an exciting, closely fought competition with lots of upsets. Eventually Tomas Eggleston and Daniel Abrahams came out on top, sharing first prize with 7.5 from 9.

Third was junior Max Turner who had to beat Dave Walker in the last round to reach a very combative 7.

Fourth was James Moreby on 6.5 who won the junior prize.

South Shields’ Kevin Rowden, playing in his first ever FIDE blitz won the U1700 grading prize with 5.5

Jay Steel, also playing his first FIDE blitz shared the U1500 grading prize with Ryan Duff on 4 out of 9.

Paul Bielby and Ian Maughan shared the senior prize with Mike Smith and Gary Hewitt, all on 5 out of 9.

Finally, a very special “Well done!” to Michael Landon, comfortably the youngest player in the field at just 8 years old. He beat the tournament organizer (sorry Eddie!) and two players in their 70’s to finish on 3 out of 9.

Full results here