Summer talk: Chess Puzzles

Yesterday Richard Webb gave a very entertaining talk, going through a number of endgame puzzles. The puzzles were all spectacular, often humorous and, of course, difficult to solve.

As a taster, here is one of the puzzles that Richard presented, a 1922 composition by Kubbel. White to play and win. Expand the “Spoiler” below to see the solution:


The main line of the solution is:

1 Nc6 in order to meet 1…a2 with 2 Nb4+
1 ….Kxc6
2 Bf6 threatening Bxd4, controlling the queening square a1
2 …. Kd5 if 2 …Kc5 3 Be7+ wins the a3 pawn
3 d3!! a2
4 c4+ Kc5
5 Kb7 a1=Q
6 Be7 amazingly, this is checkmate!


Summer Mini Blitz Tournament

As part of our summer events Crowthorne Chess Club held a blitz tournament in the club room on Wednesday 10th July. With 10 club members playing, it was an all-play-all with a time rate of 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move.
The results were recorded using state-of-the-art technology (a whiteboard – see the image below). Colin came first with 8 points, Richard was second with Daniel (the only junior playing) third with an impressive 6 points.

Many thanks to Kim for providing the video

Khyber Cup 2019

The Khyber Cup, which was held on Sunday June 16 fulfilled all the traditional Khyber cup elements: good natured but closely fought games in a friendly environment, and weather going from imminent rain to a lovely summer’s day. Even the traditional winner, Richard Webb, won the event, adding his name to the shield for the 19th time. Runner up was Paul Sloane and there was a three-way tie for the wooden spoon. Many thanks to John Upham for being a generous and perfect host.

Thanks also to Paul Sloane for providing these photos (click to see full image):

New Summer Location

We will be in a different room within Wellington College over the summer, in PE1 in Combermere. It is the same room we were in last summer. In the attached map it is arrowed in red (our current rooms are arrowed in blue). If leaving the current playing rooms turn left on the main road towards the front of the college and Combermere is the building beyond the Old Gym (see image below). PE1 is the first room on the left in the covered walkway. We will be in this room until 14th August, and return to the usual maths block room on the 21st August.

Click image to expand to full size

4NCL Fifth and Final Weekend Report

Ken Coates, our 4NCL captain, has provided the following report on Crowthorne’s 2018/19 season

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who took part in this year’s 4NCL campaign in division 4S.

Crowthorne 1 ran out the division 4 winners with 21 points from a possible 22 points with 10 match wins and one draw and will now play in division 3 next season.

Crowthorne 2 achieved a respectable 5 points considering they only played 6 of the 11 matches because players were unavailable to make a team.

The final table can be found at

Before the next season I will be talking to everyone and gauging the viability of a second team. Unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities for people, and particularly juniors, to play FIDE rated games and to be noticed for England squad inclusion. Consequently many juniors have artificially low Fide ratings.

Major points about the results showed:
– we used 22 different players for the two teams

– Colin Purdon played in all 11 matches

– the following players actually didn’t lose a single game: Paul Cooksey (9/10), Richard Webb(6½/9), Colin Purdon (7½/11), Harvey Duckers (4½/5), Matthew Ward (2/3), Ganeshbabu Gnanagurusamy (1/1)

– scoring the most wins was Peter Tart and Paul Cooksey with 8 wins each

Regarding the next 4NCL season we don’t need to take any decisions yet because even the round dates and venues are not decided but there is a rumour that that some rounds could be in the Sunningdale area but this is not confirmed.

When I know more details I’ll be asking who wants to play next season particularly those who think they are likely to play in a majority of rounds because that information is likely to determine how many teams we have.

Individual perfomances are shown in the following table:

4NCL Round 7 Highlights

Paul Cooksey scored 2/2 on the 4th weekend, with the Black pieces on both days. Here is Paul’s Saturday (Round 7) game against Watford 1.

Paul won a pawn out of the opening, and pressed home the advantage with a nice exchange sacrifice which gave him a number of positional pluses.

A smooth performance by Paul, who made it look deceptively easy.

4NCL Fourth Weekend Report

Crowthorne went into Weekend four of the 4NCL season, played over 13-14 April, with a weakened team because of holidays and clashes with other events. The first team was missing Ken and Richard, and unfortunately it was not possible to raise a second for the weekend – the 4NCL was notified well in advance of this so that Crowthorne 2 was not included in the pairings. We expect to reinstate the second team for the final weekend (4-6 May).

Fears that Crowthorne 1 would lose top place in Div 4 were unfounded, as the Saturday game saw them beat their closest rivals, Watford 1. It seems that Watford also had problems getting their strongest team out, and in the event Crowthorne outgraded them. Paul Cooksey, Peter Tart and John Upham won their games, with Harvey Duckers, Mark Cross and Colin Purdon (somehow) drawing theirs:

In the Sunday Game, round 8, Crowthorne was paired against Wessex B … and were again successful! Paul and Peter both made it 2/2 for the weekend, with Harvey also winning. Colin drew, and Mark and John lost to substantially higher-rated opponents:

This leaves Crowthorne with a healthy lead at the top of Division 4, but with a number of teams still able to overtake us in the three rounds of the final weekend:

Full results tables etc can be found at the 4NCL web site

4NCL Round 5 Highlights

Andrew Kirby had a nice win for Crowthorne 2 on Saturday game, in the match against All Anands on Deck. He played the active Scandinavian Defence, and produced a fine temporary pawn sacrifice in order to activate his pieces:

4NCL Third Weekend Report

Many thanks to Ken Coates, the Crowthorne 4NCL squad captain, for providing the following report on this season’s weekend 3.

With 6 rounds completed and 5 remaining Crowthorne 1 head the table following 2 wins at the weekend.
On Saturday Crowthorne eased to a 4½-1½ win against Warwickshire Select 2 setting up a top of the table clash with Ashfield 1.
Round 5 had seen Ashfield 1 beat Watford 1 leaving Ashfield as the only team on maximum points.
Paul had to jet off on the Sunday to work in the USA this week and despite losing him and being out graded we eventually won a closely contested match.

Crowthorne 1 (average rating 1999)Ashfield 1 (2027)
wRichard Webb22041 – 0Peter Mercs2087
bKen Coates20501 – 0Esteve Mateu Guiu2155
wColin Purdon20471 – 0Alex Combie2005
bHarvey Duckers19901 – 0Andrew George2020
wPeter Tart19320.5 – 0.5Steven Burke1952
bMark Cross17720 – 1Richard Truman1945

Richard won and nicely controlled game by gaining a positional edge early on but needed care and patience to convert for the win.
My game proved a complex struggle in which both players thought they held the advantage but my opponent played a few “sub optimal” moves under time pressure and his position collapsed.
Colin’s opponent sacrificed a piece unsoundly leaving Colin to convert two knights and several pawns against a bishop and less pawns.
Harvey’s game was a close struggle and difficult for me to assess what was going on (like most of Harvey’s games it feels) but he emerged with advantage and was able to convert the ending.
Peter, first  to finish, had a solid game for once and was never worse as any point perhaps having a slight advantage until a draw was agreed after almost 4 hours.
Despite being heavily out graded Mark might even have been better at points in his game and was unfortunate to eventually lose a long game.

The top of the division 4 South table now looks like:

The full table can be found on the 4NCL web site.

The second team drew their Saturday match when their opponents defaulted bottom board but could so easily have won as James had a very good position but ended up losing.
Andrew had a good win efficiently catching his opponent’s king in the centre of the board.
John drew a competitive game which promised the full point for much of the match.
Christine won by default and because the other team did not declare the default in advance they were penalised a further point. Effectively Christine won 2 points for the team!!
Mark and Scott went down to much stronger opponents.

Crowthorne 2 (average rating 1633)All Anands on Deck (1805)
wMark Cross17720 – 1Simon Wilks2147
bScott Leadbetter17570 – 1Tommaso Penna2004
wJohn E Upham16300.5 – 0.5Samir Samadov1769
bAndrew Kirby16371 – 0Antoine Divet1592
wJames Love16600 – 1Domenico Napolitano1517
bChristine Coates13451 – defdefault (-1 score)
2.5 – 2.5

The Sunday saw Crowthorne 2 lose to a significantly stronger team – “Throw in the Tal”. However I must mention Kim Shek’s result:

wLaura Davidson17570.5 – 0.5Kim Shek1262

To concede almost 500 points and draw is a phenomenal achievement and with the black pieces!!

The next weekend is 13-14 April in Daventry again and sees Crowthorne 1 heading the division with Crowthorne 2 comfortably mid table.

4NCL Second weekend highlights

In addition to Richard’s game seen in the previous post, there were a number of interesting games and positions from the recent 4NCL weekend. Here are two examples, starting with Panos’ nice combinational win with the Black pieces in Round 4:

Also in Round 4, Harvey (with Black) found a nice finish: