The Gazette - August 2015

Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Six Nations Tournament

Les Whittle writes:

It was a rainy Good Friday morning when the UK team (in board order Steve Hilton, Les Whittle, Mark Kirkham and Phil Gordon) with our guides Norman Andrews and Tristram Cole, left London by EuroStar for Paris. We changed trains there and journeyed on to Le Havre, where we were met and taken to a sports complex 2km outside the town of Gonfreville l'Orcher. It was a unique venue in as much as we slept in one building, dined in another and our chess was played in a third. Shortly after we arrived we were asked to assemble in a fourth building for the opening ceremony. All the speeches were in French and not everyone understood what was being said. However, we were all presented with a glass of champagne and some tasty nibbles. We then went for dinner and I must say, all meals, breakfast continental style, lunches and dinners, were very good. While there, we learned that there was no lounge and if we wanted to socialise in the evenings, we should stay in the dining area where there was a small bar.

Saturday 9am: The chess begins! The UK team was drawn against the Netherlands and although slightly outgraded we thought we stood a good chance. And so it proved! Phil Gordon beat his opponent and the rest of us drew giving us a score of 2.5 – 1.5.

Saturday 2.30pm Round 2: We were up against Belgium and again we thought our chances were favourable. But disaster soon struck! I was very disappointed with my game as I had beaten my opponent previously, but unfortunately, I went wrong in the opening and didn’t really recover. Steve and Phil had also lost so it was 3-0 to Belgium. Thankfully, Mark came through to win, saving us from a whitewash.

Sunday 9am Round 3: The UK was playing Germany, who had drawn with France the previous afternoon. All games were going pretty well for us initially, but after a long struggle, both Steve and Phil went down. I managed to force a draw and Mark came through to win, making a respectable score of 2.5-1.5 to the Germans. On Sunday afternoon there was a trip to a local distillery. The most interesting part was when we went into the tasting shed, where we sampled three drinks. I must say, they seemed all the same to me, but several people made purchases.

Monday 8am - an early start for Round 4: The UK team was facing France. It was a dingdong battle! As time went on, Steve drew, Phil drew and I drew. Then the news came through that Bertrand Catherine, the French captain, had trapped Mark’s bishop! However, Mark was not to be denied. Not only did he find a way to save his bishop, he also forced equality and drew the match for us.

Monday 1.30pm Final Round: We were playing Ireland, and were quietly confident. Unfortunately, the Irish team hadn’t read the script! Eamonn Casey came storming through to win on board 4. Shortly afterwards, Phil Doyle offered Steve a draw and Steve, in his wisdom, turned the offer down. Alas, in his endeavour to win, Steve unfortunately lost. Mark and I played on, but in an endgame, I have to confess, I played an inferior move that gave an advantage to Michael Delaney, who deservedly won the game. Meanwhile, Mark kept going and eventually overpowered Ernie McElroy, thereby rescuing us from a whitewashing for the second time that weekend! At this juncture, I feel I should point out that Mark Kirkham was making his international debut and I would like to congratulate Mark and thank him for his tremendous performance! Our grateful thanks also go to Norman and Tristram, who were always on hand to help no matter what hour of the day. Although the UK chess

was a little disappointing, it was all in all a very enjoyable weekend!

Individual scores for the UK team, in board order:

Steve Hilton 2 draws; Les Whittle 3 draws; Mark Kirkham 3 wins and 2 draws; Phil Gordon 1 win and 1 draw.

Final team placings: 1st Germany 9 points (4 wins, 1 draw)

2nd France 7 points (2 wins, 3 draws)

3rd Belgium 4 points (1 win, 2 draws, ahead of the Netherlands on tie break)

4th Netherlands 4 points (1 win, 2 draws)

5th UK 3 points (1 win, 1 draw, ahead of Ireland on tie break)

6th Ireland 3 points (1 win, 1 draw)

Game from Mark Kirkham:

The game I was most pleased with came in round 2, against a very experienced international opponent. Despite what seemed at the time like very minor inaccuracies by Black, I managed to take a stranglehold on the game that I never let slip. I suspect I made slightly heavy weather of it going into the endgame. However, I hope readers will enjoy as much as I did finding the nice tactic to seal victory on the final move of the game score, so be warned not to look at move 40 until you've spotted it. Fortunately each player had two hours to complete the game, so I was able to spend several gleeful moments checking that it worked before playing it!

Six Nations 2015, Saturday 4th April, Round 2, United Kingdom vs Belgium

Mark Kirkham v Herman Jennen (Benko Gambit)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. a4 bxc4 5. Nc3 g6 6. e4 d6 7. Bxc4 Bg7 8. h3 O-O 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. O-O Rb8

11. a5 Ne8 12. Nb5 a6 13. Na7 Bb7 14. Nc6 Bxc6 15. dxc6 Ne5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. Bxa6 Nc7 18. Bb7 Nb5

19. Bh6 Bg7 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Qd3 Na7 22. b4 Qc7 23. b5 Rxb7 24. cxb7 Qxb7 25. Rfb1 Ra8 26. b6 Nc6

27. a6 Qb8 28. a7 Qb7 29. Qa6 Nd8 30. Qxb7 Nxb7 31. Kf1 Kf6 32. Ke2 Ke6 33. Kd3 Kd7 34. Ra6 Kc8

35. Kc4 Kd7 36. g4 e6 37. g5 Kc6 38. Rd1 Kd7 39. Kb5 Nd8

Editor’s Note: To discourage peeking at Mark’s 40th move before you’ve worked it out, it is in a separate item, following Chris’s Puzzle! In the interests of balance, and to illustrate the ‘friendly rivalry’ between British and Irish BCA members, here are snippets from a report on the Six Nations Tournament from the Irish perspective!

Excerpts from a report by Philip Doyle:

The Six Nations is a biennial friendship event hosted in turn by the participating countries. The nations usually taking part are Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Due to the withdrawal of Switzerland, Ireland was asked to provide a team. Having had the great pleasure of participating on three previous occasions, we had no hesitation in answering the call. The team selected was, in board order: Philip Doyle, Michael Delaney, Ernie McElroy and Eamonn Casey. As guides we had Margaret O'Shea, Noreen Cleary and Fionnuala Ní Bhrádaigh. Fionnuala and Michael’s almost 2-year old daughter Laoise completed the party.

On Friday evening, there was a reception hosted by the Mayor of Gonfreville who welcomed the teams and presented each player with a gift of a bag containing local specialities. This was followed by a meeting of team captains to discuss the tournament. The arbiter would be International Arbiter Benjamin Marret, dubbed “The Sheriff” on account of his badge.

In the first of two matches on the Saturday, our opponents were France, the defending Champions, and here we lost heavily. In the afternoon we came up against the Netherlands. After my opponent gifted me a pawn in the opening, I greedily grabbed another which got me into all sorts of trouble and in no time I was lost. Michael and Ernie steadied the ship with creditable draws while Eamonn went down.

Just one round was played on the Sunday and our opponents were Belgium. Overall the result was a good one, earning us our first match point. At this stage France and Germany were neck and neck ahead on five match points. In the afternoon, there was a trip to a distillery where we learned the secrets of distilling cider and the famous Calvados apple brandy. We also sampled drinks including one flavoured with whiskey.

On Monday we came up against the powerful Germans and suffered a disastrous 4-0 whitewash. By contrast, France could only draw with the UK, thus slipping a match point behind Germany.

In the final round Ireland played the UK. Eamonn got us off to a great start with a win against Phil Gordon. Ernie lost to Mark Kirkham who was having a great tournament. Steve Hilton had me all bottled up but after he exchanged his bishop for my knight the game opened up and soon after I won a pawn and the endgame. Michael’s opponent, Les Whittle, blundered a knight and went on to lose giving us a satisfying victory. Our defeat of the UK made up for all that had gone before and our party was elated with the result. Meanwhile, France was dropping another match point to Belgium, while the Germans were forging ahead with another whitewash this

time against the Netherlands. Congratulations to Germany on their impressive win.

The tournament was very enjoyable and playing conditions were perfect: plenty of room, nice temperature, very quiet. The food was really good and staff were very friendly. Noreen proposed giving them a tip which they were delighted with and came around and gave us all a kiss. Ernie suggested we give them another tip!