Friday 31 July 2020

International Chess Challenge: Queen Invasion

New moves have been played in our Interntional Chess Challenge between Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) and The Links (England).

Last time we visited the game this position had just been reached, with the black queen hovering close to the white king.

Hutt, playing as White, are in trouble here. The black is queen is about to capture the c-pawn and deliver checkmate.

Hutt played 19 b3, which blocked the queen's path to c2.

The Links now voted for 19 ...Qxa2, giving us this position to ponder.

Can Hutt hold the defence together?

Stay tuned for more moves!

Project 30 Zoom Quiz

Tonight brought another new venture for Project 30.

Some people were using Zoom for the very first time and a good time was had by all.

David Hardy was the champion, one point ahead of John Garnett.

Friday 24 July 2020

Another Goodbye

Unfortunately we lost another friend this week, with the passing of Julian Farrand.

Julian was always very kind to me and I have had conversations with numerous people this week who said they were all treated very kindly by him too.

He loved chess and had recently taken up the challenge of playing via the Internet.

Julian - together with his great friend, Ray Edwards - welcomed me to the English Chess Federation Book of the Year panel in 2016.

We enjoyed many discussions about chess literature over the years. We didn't always agree on which four books should make the shortlist but it was always a lot of fun discussing our respective choices.

I learned a lot from Julian. He was a good friend, a kind person and a true gentleman. 

The photograph is one of my favourites. Left to right we have Ray Edwards, Natasha Regan, Matthew Sadler, Julian Farrand and me.

We had just presented Natasha and Matthew with the ECF Book of the Year award at the London Chess Classic.

Julian will be greatly missed by many people.

International Chess Challenge: The Dance Goes On

Last time we saw the International Chess Challenge between Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) and The Links (England) we had reached this position.

The Links had just played 17 ...Qd7.

The dance of the queen and the knights continued, as Hutt now played 18 Ne4.

Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) and The Links (England)

White is offering a swap of knights.

This still may happen, but Black found a very aggressive move with the Queen.

Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) and The Links (England)

What is Black threatening to do?

How will Hutt respond?

Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday 23 July 2020

Chess Update

Here is an update on recent activity.

The CSC lessons are now up to number 22 and they can all be found here.

My CSC Lockdown blog is keeping the pace and all of the instalments can be found here.

I have also been adding lots of articles to the Chessable Blog, all of which are here.

Monday 20 July 2020

It’s All A Matter Of Belief…

It’s all a matter of belief…

The week that has just ended should have been a time for great celebration with a large dose of nostalgia.

The end of a school year is a special time. Children are ready to move on up, with the Year 6 children of Primary Schools all ready for the great leap to their respective Secondary Schools.

Indeed, some schools adopt an interesting policy of moving everyone up for the last two weeks of the Summer term, so they will be acclimatised for the September re-start.

There should have been parties, trips out - all manner of special events.

A whole year of such special experiences has been lost. Schools have tried very hard to make the best of the situation, much to their credit - and 2020 will still go down as an extraordinary year, albeit not in a good way.

None of this extraordinary scenario has been the fault of the children. I have said it before and I will say it again: I carry the shame of my generation.

Children are far more resilient than is generally acknowledged.

What the are experiencing now will stand them in very good stead and they WILL make a difference.

I believe in them.

The school year 2020-21 is going to be an immense challenge.

It is one thing to prepare for a return to normal in September, but in reality it is highly unlikely and now, more than at any other time, there is a need for manifold plans.

When challenged, we must embrace that challenge - and we have certainly not been standing still at Chess in Schools and Communities.

We have been trialing sessions of online delivery across a range of platforms, with Teesside as the main testing area.

Special thanks to Hemlington Hall, Mill Lane, and Westgarth, all of whom were more than willing to help with my initial forays into teaching chess to classes online.

Their help has been very valuable indeed and the members of staff involved in my sessions were all exemplary in every way.

 Committed teachers will always go beyond expectations.

I believe in them.

Standard delivery - with which CSC has been highly successful since 2010 - is still very much on the agenda too.

In fact the options from September onwards will be more varied than ever before. Given the speed of the turnaround of new ideas it is more of a revolution than an evolution.

Schools should head here for further details:

It has all been an extension of the very steep learning curve we have all been experiencing since the lockdown in March.

I know how hard the CSC has been working to keep everything going.

I believe in them.

One very significant aspect of the current emergency is that its scale is far too large to fully comprehend. Every single aspect of our lives is being impacted upon.

Some people will always build bridges; others will always build brick walls. I prefer to build bridges.

I believe in them.

Friday 3 July 2020

International Chess Challenge: Queens and Knights

This was the position the last time we reported on our International Chess Challenge between Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) and The Links (England).

White to play
The black knights had been dancing with the white queen and they continued to do so for another couple of moves.

The game continued:

16 Qg4 Nf6

17 Qg2 Qd7 

Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) and The Links (England)
What will White do now?

Stay tuned to this blog to find out!

Thursday 2 July 2020

Lockdown Reunion: The Big Match

Yesterday we reported on our Lockdown Reunion, with a promise of the moves of the game to follow.

Here they are!

White: The Parents
Black: The Juniors

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d3 Nd6 6. d4

White sacrificed a pawn to open up central lines but now they got excited and forgot their bishop was under attack.

6 ...Nxc4 7. Qd3 d5 8.Re1 Bb4 9. c3 Ba5 10. Bg5 Ne7 11. dxe5 O-O 12. b3

The Parents have done well to stay calm after losing their bishop. This position is complicated. The black knight is under attack and if it moves back to b6 then White will play 13 b4! trapping the bishop on a5.

Black could try 12 ...Nxe5, attacking the white queen. Then after 13 Nxe5 f6! would fork the knight on e5 and the bishop on g5, with great complications.

However, The Juniors were tempted by a different attack on the queen.

12 ...Nb2?!

This move does indeed attack the queen but the knight will not get out of there alive.

13. Qd2!

Saving the queen and attacking the knight - which has no safe way out from b2!

13 ...d4 

They are hoping White will fall for 14 cxd4 Bxd2, but The Parents are not to be bluffed so easily.

14. Qxb2 Bxc3 15. Nxc3 dxc3 16. Qxc3

The Parents now have the advantage. They have more space, thanks to the e5-pawn, their pieces are more active than Black's and if they can have an untroubled move they will 17 Rad1, completing their development and attacking the black queen.

The Juniors sensed action was required and they came up with the bold...

16 ...Nd5!?

Now both queens are under attack. Up until this point, I had been relaying the moves of both sides as a sensible anti-virus precaution. But at this moment, one of The Parents struck like a cobra, picking up the bishop and capturing the black queen in the blink of an eye.

17. Bxd8 Nxc3 18. Bxc7 

The Parents have recovered well from their early mistake and they are now one pawn ahead. That may not seem much, but every pawn is a potential new queen...

18 ...Nb5 19. Ba5 b6 20. Bb4 Rd8 21. Ng5 Bg4 22. Re4 Bf5 23. Rf4 Bd3 24. Nxf7
Now The Parents are two pawns ahead! Their middlegame skill has turned the game around. How can The Juniors fight back from here?

Rd4 25. Rxd4 Nxd4 26. Rd1!

More trouble for Black! The white rook is pinning the bishop against the knight and it looks like one of them will be lost, although it is still very complicated, as the white knight on f7 may also fall. The Juniors try a check, to muddy the waters a little more.

26 ...Ne2+ 27. Kf1?

27 Kh1! was best, to avoid the discovered check by the knight.

27 ...Nf4+! 28. Kg1 Kxf7 

With extraordinary dexterity, The Juniors have not only managed to arrange for their knight to defend the bishop, but they have also emerged a piece ahead! True, The Parents do have two pawns for the piece, so the game is still far from clear.

29. Bd2 Bc2 30. Rc1? 

Oh dear! This is not the best square for the rook, despite the temptation to attack the bishop, as it runs into a devastating knight fork.

30 ...Ne2+ 

31. Kf1 Nxc1 32. Bxc1 Rc8 Good play by Black. Their extra rook should decide the game and The Juniors are quick to bring into action.

33. Ke2 Bb1 34. Bb2 Rc2+ 

Another fork. The white bishop will be lost!

35. Ke3 Rxb2 36. a4 Rxb3+ 37. Kd4 Rb4+ 38. Kd5 Rxa4 39. e6+ Ke8 

The Parents have done well to create any sort of counterplay but the black rook zooms around the board to end all resistance. The endgame plan is clear: promote a pawn to a queen and force checkmate as quickly as possible.

40. Kd6 Rd4+ 41. Ke5 Re4+ 42. Kd5 Ke7 43. f3 Rxe6 44. g4 Rd6+ 45. Ke5 a5 46. f4 a4 47. g5 Re6+ 48. Kd5 b5 49. f5 Bxf5 50. h4 a3 51. h5 a2 52. h6 gxh6 53. gxh6 Rxh6 54. Ke5 Rh5 55. Kf4 a1=Q 56. Ke3 Rh4 57. Kf3 Qa3+ 58. Kf2 Rh2+ 59. Kg1 Rb2 60. Kf1 Qa1 Checkmate!

And there it is! A classic checkmate with a queen and rook.

The Juniors are triumphant!

Is it time for a rematch yet...!?

Wednesday 1 July 2020

London Crew: Lockdown Reunion

One of the biggest highlights of the current school year is, without doubt, being with my chess stars at the 2019 London Chess Classic

We enjoyed a subsequent reunion evening and were looking forward to more special events when the lockdown occurred.

We didn't want to wait any longer to reunite, but what could we do...?

Inspired by the outdoor chess activities of my excellent friend Kineke Mulder, we came up with the plan of chancing the mercurial British weather with a special al fresco evening of chess.

It was a big surprise for our chess stars, who had no idea why they were suddenly going out on respective walks, especially as it was almost tea time.

We had an exceptional evening of great company, chess and fine pizzas.

There was also a big chess match, featuring the juniors against the adults! We will present the full moves of the game in the next post, when you will find out who emerged victorious.

Thank you, everyone! It was wonderful to see you all again.

All is ready for the big match
The unbiased Arbiter
Having fun despite the rain (which soon stopped)
Exemplary preparation for the evening
They are either hungry or ready for the big chess match
Well, that's Catherine's tea - but where is ours?
Chess and chocolate always go together well
Always willing to take a good pizza advice
Smile, please! Oh - they are!
We look ready to take over the world. In fact - let's do it!
Writing down the moves of the game
Impressive improvisation
Deep thinking. This game means a lot!
Checkmate! Find out who won in the next post...