Obituary: Professor Michael Furmston

We regret to report the death of Professor Michael Furmston who was a member of the club for several years early in the millennium while he was at Bristol University. He played correspondence chess and continued to work into his late 80s.

Here is a link to an article regarding his long and distinguished academic career: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-07-09-michael-furmson-1933-2020

And a link to the Varsity match a mere 64 years ago: https://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/pgn/195603vars-viewer.html

Covid-19 update

Due to the pandemic the Bristol and District Chess League was suspended in March. The League has decided that it would be impractical to restart the League and all divisions would be decided on the basis of the average match points gained over the matches completed (teams having completed a different number of matches depending on when their fixtures fell).

The result is that Clifton A are Champions by the smallest of margins from Clifton B (1.56 per match as against 1.54). The B team had actually dropped less points but had played fewer matches.

The League has no plans to start the new season as it is difficult to reconcile over the board chess with social distancing. We will have to see how the pandemic resolves itself.

2019 Graeme Thomson Memorial

The 2019 Graeme Thomson Memorial was held on Sunday 2nd June. The event raised a total of £138 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Thanks to all those who donated.  

The Open was won by veteran USA international Jim Sherwin, ahead of top seed Greg Tooczek, currently from Cardiff, and Leon Burnett from Manningtree.  

Joint winners of the Major were Tim Jones of Cabot and Andrew Munn of Downend. Full results are on the Chess-Results server (links below)  

Open Results

Major Results

Bristol & Clifton’s A team 2018/2019 Champions!

Bristol & Clifton’s A team made sure of the First Division Championship with a round to spare by beating nearest rivals Bath 4-2. After a slow start to the campaign we won 7 and drew 2 matches in the second half of the season to overhaul the various teams that were ahead of us in the first half.  

We hope to continue our good form when the new season starts in September. The club will be shut over the Summer but we are interested in hearing from potential new members at any time”

9th Graeme Thomson Memorial Tournament

Where?

6th Form Common Room, Bristol Grammar School,
University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SR

When?

Sunday 2nd June 2019

How?

6 Rounds
20 mins per player plus 5 sec increments after each move

Open & Major (U145) Sections

Entry £17, including £2 discretionary donation to Macmillan Cancer Support

NB:
The entry fee assumes ECF membership at Silver level or above.
Bronze and non-members will pay to play fee of £7.50.
Members of non-English national bodies don’t have to be ECF members.

Entries to: David Collier, email docollier@sky.com

Download the form in PDF format here: GT Memorial Entry Form 2019

Match report: Clifton A – Clifton B

Date: 21/11/2017
Clifton A
5-1 Clifton B
James Cobb 0-1 Chris Beaumont
John Curtis 1-0 Manuel Sierra
Gareth Morris 1-0 Anton Muller
David Collier 1-0 James Coxwell
Duncan Grossett 1-0 Tomas Jankowski
Igor Doklestic 1-0 Robert Smolka

We’ve had very mixed results against our B team over the years, to the extent that losses to them have cost us the title in the past, so this was a welcome banana skin avoided.

I was first to finish, largely because Manuel played very fast. He played a Schlechter Slav, but quite a passive version, and I greedily took lots of space in the centre, planting a knight on d6. In trying to swap it off Manuel missed a tactic that won me the exchange, but more importantly left his kingside pretty undefended. I crashed through, finishing with a completely unnecessary but satisfying queen sac.

Dunc won next. After playing some Hippo type rubbish he looked a bit worse, but gradually got his pieces to good squares, and won the exchange. He was dominating the centre of the board, and when Tomas tried to counter attack on the kingside it just made things worse. It didn’t last long after that.

Unbelievably, Gareth had exactly the same opening line for the third game running. It’s not that popular a line, so maybe his opponents are colluding? He’d at least looked it up after last week’s debacle and was looking pretty confident. Anton was playing normal-looking moves, but missed a tactic that won Gareth a piece. In compensation he had some scary looking queenside pawns, but Gareth kept them under control, and Anton resigned when he ran out of pieces.

Meanwhile, David was happily hacking on the white side of a London. He did everything right apart from one thing: for some reason he decided to castle queenside. He won some material, but his king started looking very lonely indeed, as James’ pieces starting pointing that way. Davis sacced the exchange back, leaving him three pawns for a piece, and an odd position ensued where it looked like a repetition might be the best for both sides. Instead James allowed a mate in one. Oops.

Igor and Robert had a closed Sicilian, with Igor having a normal slight advantage. That persisted into an endgame, and I assumed a long grind was on the cards. Igor had other ideas, ripping open the position and catching Robert’s king in a bishop/rook/pawn crossfire. Quite impressive, and fun to watch.

On top board the two IMs were playing a different brand of chess altogether. Answering an English with an early h5, James blocked the position, and he and Chris were jockeying for good squares for their bits. It looked to me that James was getting the upper hand, but a surprising late castling by Chris made it very tricky. Then a desirable but flawed central pawn push allowed Chris some tactics, and that was that.

Can’t complain about winning 5-1, so I won’t. The match finished fairly early, so there was a time for a couple (more) social beers afterwards. Which was nice.

John

Match report: Clifton A – Downend B

Date: 14/11/2017
Clifton A
3.5-2.5 Downend B
James Cobb 1-0 Attila Reznak
John Curtis 1-0 Michael Brigden
Gareth Morris 0-1 Stephen Meek
Duncan Grossett 0-1 Ian Pickup
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Dave Tipper
Igor Doklestic 1-0 Oliver Stubbs

Our first night back in our refurbished venue, and things looked much the same as ever. On there plus side there is a great range of bottled beer, which I’ll be working my way through over the coming weeks. The match was a very close one, not decided until late on in the evening.

Dunc was first to finish. A standard looking Open Sicilian against Ian seemed to be just getting going when I heard he’d resigned. He’d blundered something, losing a piece, or possibly a pawn, and had clearly had enough. We’ve all had days like that.

Dave and David drew soon after that, their Sicilian fizzling out into an endgame. Dave may have been a little better, but with one point already in the bank a safe draw seemed a good option.

Gareth was facing the same c3 Sicilian line as last week, and clearly hadn’t looked at it in the meantime. He went for a different variation, giving up a pawn to get an endgame where he hoped to have counterplay. Unfortunately for him it never arrived, and he got gradually pushed off the board on the queenside. I’m not sure that dropping his glass full of beer was a good idea, no matter how bad his position, but he wiped it up before resigning.

Mike went wrong early on against me, misjudging a queen exchange and subsequent pawn push. Rather than go for a sad looking endgame Mike tried an active defence, but unfortunately for him it didn’t really work, and I ended up with a couple of extra pawns as well as all the play. There wasn’t a lot Mike could do, and after I’d got all my bits out and pushed my central pawns he decided it was time to put the bits back in the box.

The last two games to finish were the most interesting. James and Attila reached a complex position which was difficult to call. A tactic won James a piece, or Attila may have sacrificed it, but either way there was plenty of compensation. From the sidelines it wasn’t at all clear to me, but James got his pieces into the white position and forced the win of queen for rook while also avoiding his back rank problems. It all looked rather impressive. All in all a very hard-fought game by two very strong players.

On board 6 Igor and Oliver had castled on opposite sides, which is always fun too watch. Early on Igor’s attack looked much the faster but no knockout blow was found. Igor won a pawn, and another complex position arose, with BvN, and a queen & rook each. I thought Igor might be a touch better, but Oliver played it well and the queens came off leaving him a pawn up. A rook and bishop with pawns can be dangerous though, and a march of his a pawn won Igor the exchange. It went on many more moves on the increment, but Igor eventually brought home the point.

Overall a fun and exciting match, with many thrills and spills, some of them literal. The Downend guys played well and we were a bit lucky (again), but as ever we’ll take the win.
John

Match report: Clifton A – University A

Date: 06/11/2017
Clifton A
3.0-3.0 University A
James Cobb 0-1 Mark Cleary
John Curtis 0.5-0.5 Bogdan Manghiuc
Gareth Morris 1-0 Philipp Prasse
Duncan Grossett 1-0 Victor Kupper
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Leonidas Tsilipallos
John Waterfield 0-1 Denis Fradkin

This match started in a farcical manner: at 7:30 both teams were present, but we didn’t have any boards, sets or clocks. Our temporary venue won’t let us store equipment there, and some crossed wires meant that the person meant to be bringing everything didn’t arrive. Luckily our opponents very kindly offered to get some of their equipment to allow the match to go ahead. We are very grateful to them for that. It meant we started a bit late, and that Clifton players had reduced time, but that was far better than either defaulting or rescheduling the match.

With less time for my game I didn’t see as much of the others as usual. What I did see was clear, the students were generally outplaying us.

I certainly didn’t see much of John’s game, for when I first looked he was already getting mated. Ouch. To counter that, I thought David was doing well early on, and he might have been able to come out ahead from a tactical skirmish, but the way it went left them in a fairly level endgame. Despite them playing on for a while nothing much happened, and a draw was duly agreed.

Dunc and Victor had an interesting game, entering an endgame that I found very difficult to assess. It looked like they were both trying to win, which is always fun for the spectators. Dunc had bishop against knight, but it was the pawn imbalances that made it interesting – Victor had a central mass while Dunc was pushing on the queenside. Dunc eventually broke through, although I missed exactly how.

Mark and James started off looking like two people who had only just learnt the moves, with both queens roving about before any other pieces had been developed. No doubt it was that thing they call theory. The queens got swapped, with James a pawn up but Mark having a lot of play. Mark played it very calmly, developing his pieces and stopping any counterplay. Pieces slowly came off, Mark getting his pawn back in the process, eventually ending up in a pawn ending that was just won for white. From what I saw it looked like a very good game from Mark.

In my game I played 10 moves on autopilot, then spent 20 minutes wondering what on earth to do. It was probably just level, but I didn’t like my position at all. I tried a queenside push, which was a bit risky, and Bogdan was clearly eyeing up my king. I think he should have focussed more on the other side of the board, since I was able to neutralise the pressure and enter an endgame that was slightly better for me. It was really only visually better though, I couldn’t see any way through and with my clock ticking down I took a perpetual. I haven’t looked through the game, but I’m sure Bogdan must have missed something good somewhere.

That left us one down with Philipp and Gareth still going. A c3 Sicilian had left an odd ending where Philipp looked a touch better to me, but that may have been a misconception since Gareth had rejected a draw offer. By crunch time they had rooks and a bishop each, and it should have been a draw. Time and match pressure make these things hard though, and the last 20 moves or so were the usual mixture of good and bad. Philipp made the last mistake, allowing both sides to queen a pawn, but immediately losing his to the dreaded skewer.

All in all a draw was a fortunate result for us. The university team played very well and deserved more from the match. They’re also a nice bunch, and we’re very grateful for them helping us out after our equipment debacle.
John

Match report: South Bristol A – Clifton A

Date: 02/11/2017
South Bristol A
2.5-3.5 Clifton A
Patryk Krzyzanowski 0.5-0.5 James Cobb
Shane Roberts 0.5-0.5 John Curtis
Iain Bourne 0-1 Gareth Morris
Tony Harve 0.5-0.5 David Collier
David Neagle 0-1 Alan Papier
1-0 Default

One might be surprised to be playing South Bristol in division 1 this year, given that they came last last year. I can only assume that they played their best match of the season at an LMC meeting. It’s good to have them there though, the division wouldn’t be nearly as strong if they weren’t.

Both teams were a bit under strength for this match, and we had defaulted board 6 in advance having failed to find another substitute. Seems our club members have a life outside chess, which I’m not sure is acceptable.

I finished first, after reaching an incomprehensible position against Shane. He offered the draw thus: “I offer a draw, since I have no idea what’s going on.” Made me smile, although I wouldn’t try it in a tournament with an officious arbiter. I had no idea either, and the other games looked ok for us, so accepted. We looked at if afterwards, and weren’t much the wiser. Unusually for me I put it through an engine, which said it was dead level. Most helpful.

Gareth and Iain were engaged in a Benoni/Benko type opening. All the initial play was on the queenside, with both players seemingly reluctant to touch their kingside pieces. Iain looked to have a bit of play, but Gareth neutralised it well, swapping into an endgame where he had all the space and much better pieces. Iain got horribly tied down, and while it might have been defensible it was very hard. Gareth missed the win of a piece, while carrying on with his plan of winning an exchange, but it didn’t matter as Iain resigned.

David played a QI against Tony, and lots of shuffling of bits was going on. I can’t say I liked David’s position much, as Tony gained space on the kingside. I think David was quite relieved when Tony offered a draw. It was by no means clearcut, but it did look like a position that Tony could have happily played on.

Alan has been cutting down on his chess to concentrate on other things, so it was very good of him to come out and play for us. His game with David was pretty balanced, with both probing for an advantage, and pieces slowly being exchanged. When I got back from looking at my game Alan was a pawn up in an endgame, with three minor pieces left each. Alan then left a piece en prise, and my first thought was “there goes the match”. Looking closer however, the position was fortunately still at least fine for him, as he was able to gather a few pawns. It looked to be heading for a draw, but then David returned the favour and dropped a piece too, and this time there was no compensation.

That left us one up with James & Patryk still playing. To my uncultured eyes it looked great for James early on, with Patryk playing a bit riskily. I was waiting for a big kingside attack, but I’d probably completely misjudged it since it never happened. Instead, Patryk slowly got his bits sorted out, and with pieces getting exchanged James’ looser structure was looking more and more relevant. It reached a R+B each endgame, with Patryk a bit better, but James put all his bits on the right squares, and once the bishops came off it was pretty even. They played on for a while with one minute plus increment each (still both writing the moves down, oddly), then agreed a draw.

So, a narrow win for us, which we’d have happily taken being one player short. We now have matches every week for the next 6 weeks, and some of us will need to improve if we want to stay near the top of the table.

ADDENDUM
There’s no report for our last match against Downend A since I was away. Gareth did send me some updates from the match, but they’re mostly the ramblings of a drunken man so I’ll spare you those. It seems like it was a close match; I’ll refer you to the Downend report for details (http://www.downendchess.com/report/242) despite it containing libellous accusations about me.

I missed the match because I was on my annual trip to the Guernsey tournament. As always it was a great week, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a friendly tournament with good conditions and lots of prawns. Three others from Bristol also went: David Collier, Steve Dilleigh & Peter Kirby, and while our chess didn’t set the world on fire we did enjoy the glorious weather and good food. Steve did best in the chess, winning about twelve bob, but I definitely won the beer drinking prize.
John