From time to time, it is a pleasure to hear from old friends doing well further afield from our cosy local chess environment. Recently I received two sets of games from tournaments outside of the Cleveland scene. One lot came from the Doncaster Open and were supplied by Jonathan ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins and the others came all the way from India.
So let’s jump straight into the action with…
A Postcard From India
From Julian Allinson
Julian was a fellow member of Guisborough Chess Club several lifetimes ago. Since helping Guisborough to their first A division title in 50 years (1988) he has travelled far and wide but always kept in touch. I have received games from him played in many different places. This time he has excelled himself. The following two games were played in a tournament in India, which just happened to coincide with a trip he’d already planned.
Allinson,J - Madhukiran,G
Delhi Tournament, 03.2004
My opponent in this game was one of the many juniors in the tournament who are cropping up in large numbers over India in the wake of the rise of Chess Academies. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 4.Nbd2 f5 5.Ne5 Bd6 6.Nd3 Nf6 7.g3 0–0 8.Bg2 Ne4 9.Qc2 Nd7 10.0–0 Ndf6 11.Nf3 Qe7 12.Nfe5 Bxe5? Black should probably try ... c5 here to add a bit of lime pickle to his defensive popadum. 13.Nxe5 Nd7 14.Nd3 Nd6 15.b3 Nf7 16.Bb2 Nf6 17.f3 g5 18.e4 fxe4 19.fxe4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Nf2 Bd7 22.Nxe4 Nd6?? 23.Ba3 Rxf1+ 24.Rxf1 Rf8 25.Rxf8+ Qxf8 26.Bxd6 Qf5 27.Qf2 1–0
Venkatesh,K - Allinson,J
Delhi Tournament, 03.2004
My opponent in this game was from Chennai (formerly Madras) and became a friend during the tournament. He plays a strange opening in all his games as White (with some notable successes), and when I was paired with him I knew I would be facing the Venkatesh Special. This has now been named the Chicken Madras Opening, but it may have a dubious future.
1.f4 d5 2.g3 g6 3.Nh3?! Bg7 4.Nf2 This is the Chicken Madras Opening. Venkatesh tends to put his Bishop on g2, and to develop, and in some lines breaks with a sacrificial g4 leading to positions resembling the Grob.
4...e5! 5.d3 exf4 6.gxf4 After the game Venkatesh proposed 6 Bxf4 Bxb2 7 Nbd2 Bxa1 8 Qxa1 f6, claiming compensation for the material; I disagreed with this assessment, but one must never underestimate the latent and delayed power of the Madras.
6...Qh4 7.e3 Nc6 8.Qf3 Nh6!? The little-known Vindaloo Gambit; if now 9 Qg3 then Black wins by exchanging Queens and playing ... Nf5. If 9 Qxd5 then the position is unclear, but with a development edge for Black that should provide a sustained initiative. Being from Madras, Venkatesh declines the potent offering.
9.c3 0–0 10.Na3 d4!! Phall!!!! 11.cxd4 Nxd4 12.Qg3 Qe7 13.Bh3 Nhf5 14.Bxf5 Nxf5 15.Qf3 Bxb2 16.Nc2 Bxa1 17.Nxa1 Qb4+ 18.Bd2 Qb1+ 19.Ke2 Qxa2 20.Ng4 Nd4+! It would have been the same after 20 Ne4. 21.exd4 Bxg4 22.Qxg4 Rfe8+ 0–1
If any old friends are reading this column and would like to send me a ‘Postcard From Wherever’ then why not drop me a line at email@example.com
Drama At Doncaster
There is little doubt that one of the most improved local players over the last couple of seasons is Durham’s Jonathan Hawkins. He was always a good player, but the fairly recent ambitious leap into Open tournaments provided the extra experience needed for a rapid booster in strength.
The following games, from the strong Doncaster Open, show what he is now capable of…
First up, a fighting draw with former Hartlepool star Robert Shaw. The Hawk seems to get the better of the opening but the ensuing struggle peters out a Rook and pawn ending and the players agree to a draw.
Shaw,R (Grade: 199) - Hawkins,J
Doncaster Open (1), 02.2004
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.a4 e5 5.dxe5 Qxd1+ 6.Kxd1 Be6 7.e4 Na6 8.f4 0–0–0+ 9.Bd2 g6 10.Nf3 f6 11.Be2 Bg7 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.Ng5 Nc5 14.Nxe6 Nxe6 15.e5 Nd5 16.Nxd5 cxd5 17.Bg4 Rhe8 18.Bb4 Kd7 19.Kc2 Bf8 20.Kc3 Bxb4+ 21.Kxb4 Ke7 22.Rhf1 Nd4 23.Kc3 Nf5 24.Bxf5 gxf5 25.Rf3 h5 26.Rh3 Rh8 27.Rd1 Ke6 28.Kd4 Rdg8 29.Rd2 Rg4 30.Rf2 h4 31.b3 cxb3 32.Rxb3 Rc8 33.Rc3 Rxc3 34.Kxc3 Rg7 35.Kd3 Rg4 36.Kd4 Rg7 37.Kd3 Rg4 38.a5 Rg7 39.Rc2 Rg4 40.Ke3 Rg7 41.Kf3 d4 42.Rc8 Rd7 43.Ke2 Rg7 44.Kd3 Rxg2 45.Kxd4 Rd2+ 46.Ke3 Rxh2 47.Re8+ Kd7 48.Rh8 Ra2 49.Rxh4 Rxa5 50.Rh6 Ra3+ 51.Kf2 b5 52.Rf6 a5 53.Rxf5 b4 54.Rf6 Rc3 ½–½
Next, The Hawk appears on the other side of the Slav Defence and seizes the advantage against the trendy …a6 variation. Establishing a bind with the c5 and e5 pawns, Jonathan skilfully removes the obstacles to leave himself with a brace of passed pawns which are more than enough to secure a victory.
Hawkins,J - Hutchinson,P (Grade: 198)
Doncaster Open (2), 02.2004
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.Be2 e6 8.Bb2 Nbd7 9.0–0 Bd6 10.a4 bxc4 11.bxc4 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Bxh2+ 13.Kxh2 Qb8+ 14.Kg1 Qxb2 15.Qd3 Qb4 16.Rfb1 Qa5 17.e4 0–0 18.e5 Ne8 19.c5 Ra7 20.Bd1 g6 21.Qe3 Ng7 22.Bc2 f6 23.f4 Qd8 24.a5 fxe5 25.fxe5 Qh4 26.Ne2 Nf5 27.Bxf5 Rxf5 28.g3 Qg4 29.Kg2 Nf8 30.Rf1 Rb7 31.Rab1 Rxf1 32.Rxb7 Ra1 33.Qf3 Qf5 34.Qxf5 exf5 35.Rb6 Ra2 36.Kf3 g5 37.Rxc6 Rxa5 38.Rd6 Ra3+ 39.Kf2 h5 40.c6 Ra2 41.e6 Ng6 42.c7 Rc2 43.Rd8+ Kg7 44.c8Q Rxc8 45.Rxc8 Kf6 46.Rc6 Ne7 47.Rxa6 f4 48.gxf4 g4 49.Nc3 h4 50.Rd6 1–0
Jon Nelson used to play regularly in our North East tournaments. I haven’t seen him for a number of years; I’ve never seen him crushed like this before….
Hawkins,J - Nelson,J (Grade: 200)
Doncaster Open (3), 02.2004
1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 c6 5.Qd2 Nbd7 6.Nf3 Qc7 7.a4 e5 8.Bc4 Bg7 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.0–0 0–0 11.Rfd1 Nb6 12.Bb3 Bg4 13.a5 Nbd7 14.Qe2 Kh8 15.h3 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Nh5 17.g3 f5 18.exf5 Rxf5 19.Qg2 Re8 20.Ne4 Bf8 21.Rd2 Bb4 22.c3 Bxa5 23.Nd6 Ref8 24.Nxf5 gxf5 25.Rxd7 Qxd7 26.Rxa5 Qd3 27.Rxe5 Rd8 28.Bd4 Ng7 29.Re3 Qb1+ 30.Qf1 Qxb2 31.Qc4 Qb1+ 32.Kg2 f4 33.Bxg7+ 1–0
The Hawk tasted a rare defeat in round four (only his second loss in a season full of Open events!). However, his opponent is an IM and it was a close battle.
Ledger,A (Grade: 232) - Hawkins,J
Doncaster Open (4), 02.2004
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.h3 c6 6.Nf3 Bf5 7.0–0 e6 8.d3 Qc7 9.Re1 Bc5 10.Ne2 0–0 11.Bf4 Bd6 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.Ned4 c5 14.Nxf5 exf5 15.Ne5 Nc6 16.Nxc6 Qxc6 17.a4 a6 18.a5 Rfe8 19.Qd2 g6 20.Rxe8+ Rxe8 21.Re1 Rxe1+ 22.Qxe1 Qd6 23.Qe3 Kg7 24.f4 Qc7 25.c3 Qxa5 26.Qe7 Qb6 27.Bxf7 Qxb2 28.Bd5+ Kh6 29.Qf8+ Kh5 30.Bf3+ Ng4 31.hxg4+ fxg4 32.Qxc5+ Kh6 33.Qg5+ Kg7 34.Qe5+ Kh6 35.Bxg4 Qb1+ 36.Kh2 Qxd3 37.Qg5+ Kg7 38.Qe7+ 1–0
The last round saw another great fight, ending in a draw after nearly all the material had perished in a worthy battle.
Hawkins, J - Gourlay,I (Grade: 211)
Doncaster Open (5), 02.2004
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nc3 0–0 6.Nge2 c5 7.Be3 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 9.Ng3 e6 10.Be2 exd5 11.cxd5 a6 12.a4 Bd7 13.0–0 b5 14.axb5 axb5 15.Rxa8 Qxa8 16.Bxb5 Bxb5 17.Nxb5 Qa6 18.Nc3 Rb8 19.Nge2 Nfd7 20.Qa1 Qb7 21.Qa4 Nb6 22.Qc2 Nbc4 23.Bf2 Bh6 24.Ra1 Ne3 25.Qa4 N3c4 26.f4 Nxb2 27.Qa6 Nec4 28.Qxb7 Rxb7 29.g3 f5 30.e5 dxe5 31.Bxc5 Nd3 32.Bf2 e4 33.Bd4 Bg7 34.Ra8+ Kf7 35.Bxg7 Kxg7 36.Nd4 Rb2 37.Ra2 Rxa2 38.Nxa2 Kf6 39.Nc3 Ke7 40.Kf1 Ne3+ 41.Ke2 Ng4 42.h3 Nf6 43.Ke3 Nb4 44.Nc6+ Nxc6 45.dxc6 Kd6 46.Kd4 Kxc6 47.g4 fxg4 48.hxg4 Nxg4 49.Kxe4 Nh6 50.Kf3 Kd6 51.Ne4+ Ke7 ½–½
Well done, Mr. Hawkins!
KO Cup 2003-4
There was high drama at the semi-finals of the Tom Wise KO Cup (held at the Touchdown, Hartlepool, earlier this month).
Peterlee were in a determined mood; having had a disappointing league season, which has seen them fall somewhat short of their of their title aspirations, they advanced to the final after a tough encounter with Middlesbrough Wasps. The Wasps have had a couple of changes in their line up since the start of the season, with their strength somewhat diluted by the absence of John Pallister and Ernie Lazenby. Nevertheless, any side featuring powerhouses David Smith and Joe Spayne must be considered a threat to anyone. However, Peterlee’s big guns, Jimmy Simpson and Colin Walton, were both on great form and two wins from the two boards virtually guaranteed a passage to the final.
Holders Elmwood had a tougher task against Middlesbrough Rooks in the other semi-final. I think it is fair to say that the balance of power in local chess has shifted over the last couple of seasons to the extent that Elmwood are now normally favourites to beat The Rooks. Add to this the facts that The Rooks were yet again under-strength, Elmwood at full strength and that Elmwood are traditionally much better than The Rooks in this tournament and you would think that the odds were stacked in favour of the holders. However, with just one game remaining The Rooks seemed sure of victory.
The scores were level (one win each and two draws from boards 1-4) but Steve Cole enjoyed every advantage going against Andrew Killick. Not only was he three pawns up in an ending, but Andrew’s clock time was critically low twice and every piece of Steve’s was more active than their counterparts. Strange things happen in cup matches and critical games bring a unique amount of nerves and tension. Somehow, Andrew managed to scramble into a position with Rook and pawn v Rook, with the last pawn set to drop off.
So the game was drawn, the match was drawn, but Elmwood progressed on the board count rule. This (frankly flawed) tie-break system works on the principle that Mike Closs’s victory on board two was more important than Ron’s win on board three. It is not really a satisfactory system but nobody ever fancies a replay. What come around, goes around – a few seasons ago, The Rooks had a semi-final victory over Elmwood in exactly the same circumstances.
So the big final is between Elmwood and Peterlee. That should be a very tough match. Maybe experience will tip the scales slightly in Elmwood’s favour; this is, after all, their sixth final in seven years and they have won no less than four of those finals.
In the semi-finals of the Plate competition (for teams KO’d in the first round of the main event), Synthonia were successful against fellow A division strugglers Stokesley. Both sides have had a hard time of it in the top flight this season but the dust settles they will all have improved as players thanks to the tough experience they have all gained. In the final they will face Elmwood Tyros, who beat Upper Eskdale. The Tyros are having a remarkable season. Not only do they top the B division table with two matches to go, they are also through to the final of NCCU Minor Club Championship. Philip Mitcheson is leading by example on board one and has won the vast majority of his games this season.
Tom Wise KO CupTo be held @ Middlesbrough Chess Club
Friday 28th May
Elmwood v Peterlee
Elmwood Juniors v Synthonia A
All Chess sets and clocks will be supplied by Middlesbrough Chess Club.
New Junior Tournament
The latest in our series of brand new events is the 1st Stockton-on-Tees Junior Chess Championships, to be held at the Education Centre (Norton) on Saturday 26th June. The tournament is being organised by the Chess Links Project in conjunction with the ‘Excellence in Cities’ branch of Stockton Borough Council. To qualify for entry, a player must either live, or go to school, in any part of Stockton-on-Tees. You can download an entry form from the Chess Links Project site. If you have any doubts about eligibility, or any other query, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org