Category Archives: John Rhodes

Update on Adrian Hollis Memorial CC Tournament

With eleven games out of fifty five still in progress in the Adrian Hollis Memorial you might think that the winner was certain in this prestige event which is, quite possibly, the strongest ever correspondence chess tournament with players solely from the United Kingdom.  At the moment the winner is very likely to be either the player with the highest or lowest number of points so far!  GM Nigel Robson has, so far, scored a magnificent 6 / 8 or 75%, but can he be caught by GM Richard Hall, a World Championship Silver Medallist, who has, so far, scored 2.5 / 4 or 62.5%?  It is, of course, quite possible and will be fascinating to follow. Another player who has done well so far is SIM Richard Beecham with 5.5 / 10, which includes two wins, although he could easily be overtaken too. Unfortunately, the games cannot be followed live even by the players, although you can view them when finished.

You can view the cross table here: –

I am fortunate to be also playing in this event, although I let myself down by losing a level game with a ‘clerical error’ earlier on. I am pleased to say that I have, however, managed one win which I show below. My opponent, SIM Paul Timson is a strong OTB player who I have only managed to draw with on a previous occasion. My queen and bishop gained space on the queen side and I was able to win a pawn. He put up a stubborn defence and at times I wondered if I had enough to win.

John Rhodes

White to Play and Win ….. At Last!

Having already drawn the first of our two games against my lower rated opponent with Black, I was keen to do better with the White pieces. My Hertfordshire team, ‘Eight of Hearts’, needed the points as did my own rating! Since the widespread use of computer assistance it has been increasingly difficult to get any wins in Correspondence Chess!

As far as move eighteen I thought the game was reasonably level, although my opponent now gives me a passed e-pawn for nothing. I suppose he thought that I would now have three isolated pawns against his one. The diagram position shows that after thirty moves my position is looking quite good, although I need some kind of breakthrough to make progress. See if you can find the best continuation.

Yes, White’s 31st move is not so difficult to see, although not so clear to some computer programs who would prefer Re2 or Rb4. Of course, Black would have been better to play 33…Rexe6 to give back the exchange, although I doubt if that would have affected the result. I did enjoy my move 41.Qe8, leaving my queen en prise for the remainder of the game.

John Rhodes

English Counties and District CC Championships

I have just finished, with some relief, both my games in the English Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championships for 2014/15 which started in November 2014. I am relieved not to have lost either and to have held my own against a strong IM graded 152 points above me on Board One.  My two games were played in Division One (Ward-Higgs) on the ICCF server.  The top few boards in Division One attract some strong players from both CC and OTB.  Essex B are currently leading with 8/13, with Warwickshire A on 6/11 and Yorkshire B on 5/9. My own team, Hertfordshire A, have 4/9. It is interesting that some of B teams are leading their A teams at the moment, but it is early days yet!

My own games were a matching pair of Sicilian Najdorfs as far as move 7 and follow theory for some distance. Of course, these games were played simultaneously rather than one after the other.  You can watch all the games in progress from the following link

John Rhodes

John Rhodes

Chess Computer Progress In 21 Years

I have always had a keen interest in computer chess from the very beginning and, although I would not consider myself as a collector, I was surprised to find that I own over twenty different dedicated chess computers from the past thirty years or so! I started with the Chess Challenger 10 in the late nineteen seventies and found that my model would rarely castle and would rather just move its king. It also did not fully understand about attacked squares when castling, so I returned in person to the shop where I had purchased it complaining that it did not keep to the rules of chess and persuaded them to swap it for an upgraded model. I moved on to the Sargon 2.5 by Dan and Kathe Spracklen which was so much stronger and could be upgraded more easily.

In the early nineteen nineties the Mephisto Milano and Berlin machines came out which were even stronger and played a reasonable game. In 1994 Mephisto brought out the Berlin Professional costing £595. This filled a gap in the market between machines costing between £400 and over £1,300, like the Tasc R30 and Genius 68030. The Berlin Pro, as it is normally known, had a 68020 processor, rather than the 68000 of the Berlin, which worked at 24.5Mhz over twice as fast. ROM and hash table size were doubled from 128k to 256k and from 512k to 1024k respectively. Richard Lang was the programmer. I believe the price rose to around £649 when I was lucky enough to be able to part exchange my already second hand Berlin for a brand new Berlin Pro from Countrywide Computers in Wilburton. This is still the strongest dedicated chess computer that I have owned and is rated at 2232 elo by Selective Search Magazine.

The question is how will a Berlin Pro stand up to one of today’s programmes running on an Apple iPod Touch with 8gb? I chose one of my Apps which happened to be HIARCS, programmed by Mark Uniacke, but could have been several others. Obviously, hardware has improved rather a lot since 1994, so I gave the Berlin Pro 30 minutes for the whole game and HIARCS just 2 minutes. I thought that was a bit unfair on HIARCS, so I was prepared to give it more time in future games if needed. I was little prepared for the results and ended up having to increase Berlin Pro’s time instead! So in the game below Berlin Pro has 60 minutes for the whole game and HIARCS 2 minutes. HIARCS won the 6 game match with 6 wins and in the game below had only used up 54 seconds!! Perhaps I should reduce HIARCS time….

John Rhodes

Second British Webserver Team Tournament Division One won by ICCF Warriers

The second British Webserver Tournament has been won by the ‘ICCF Warriers’ Team, consisting of GM Nigel Robson, GM Raymond Boger, GM Mark Noble and SIM Ian Pheby by the narrowest of margins on a tie break with 16 / 24, beating their nearest rivals and last year’s winners, ‘Pawn Stars’, consisting of SIM Gino Figlio, SIM Dr Michael Millstone, SIM John Rhodes (myself) and Austin Lockwood who also scored 16 / 24! The third placed team were ‘Scheming Mind A’ who scored 14 / 24. In this tournament teams are allowed to have two British and two International players.

When you consider that my team had an average ICCF grade of 2408 and the winners had an average of 2519, I think we did rather well! The last two games were adjudicated as draws at the end of 2014, so we have been eagerly awaiting the results. The top scorer for ‘ICCF Warriers’ was GM Nigel Robson with 4.5 / 6 and for ‘Pawn Stars’ was Austin Lockwood with a great score of 5 / 6.

Here is one of the crucial games that had to be adjudicated. It shows Michael Millstone holding Raymond Boger to a Sicilian Sveshnikov draw.

John Rhodes

The UK Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championships Division One

During the years that I have been playing in the Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championship our team from Hertfordshire has slowly climbed into Division One (Ward-Higgs) with me eventually reaching Board One. I have played many good players over the years, including drawing with the top two UK GMs.

This year I am playing an IM who is some 150 rating points above me, although the games are only in their early stages. Last year I drew and lost a game, also against an IM, Alan Borwell, who was some 170 rating points below me at the time and playing for Yorkshire. Alan is also a strong over-the-board player and is a past President of the ICCF. It seems an appropriate time to show you Alan’s win of a very complex game where I failed to find a safe haven for my King. Alan is currently just recovering from surgery and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

John Rhodes

Update on Adrian Hollis Memorial

After nearly a year the games in the Adrian Hollis Memorial are now over halfway completed with the current leader being GM Nigel Robson with a score of 5 / 7 with three games to finish. Of course, it is quite possible that other players will catch him when their games are finished. This is probably the strongest ever British Correspondence Chess Tournament with all British players.

Most of the games have been really hard fought, especially as there is a small monetary inducement for any wins, although personally, I am sure most players, including myself, just play for the glory!  Unfortunately, only completed games are viewable on the following link to the crosstable page on the ICCF server : –

I was pleased to draw the following game against ICCF GM John Pugh, especially with the Black pieces. Remember that from this year ICCF games are subject to the six piece tablebase rule so, even with the possibility of being a knight up, I knew that a draw was almost inevitable! I played as far as I could until my opponent could have forced a ‘tablebase draw’.

John Rhodes

County and District Correspondence Chess Championship 2013/14

Yorkshire ‘A’ are the winners with 11.5 / 16 with Warwickshire ‘A’ and Yorkshire ‘B’ joint second and third with 10 / 16. I am afraid to say that my own team, Hertfordshire ‘A’, did not do so well this year with only 6 / 16 and ended up in a quadruple tie for last place with Sussex, Essex ‘B’ and Nottinghamshire ‘A’.  I did not help matters by losing and drawing!

Our player on Board 2 is the FIDE International Master, Lorin D’Costa, who is currently in the top thirty English list of over-the-board players and here is his excellent and instructive game as Black against his Nottinghamshire opponent. I especially like the ending!

John Rhodes

Just When You Think You Are Safe…..

I am currently playing in the ICCF Adrian Hollis Memorial Correspondence Chess Tournament. Adrian Hollis was a strong over-the-board and correspondence player and a world renowned academic. The tournament started this year and is one of the strongest purely British tournaments ever held with an average rating of 2504 ICCF, which is the equivalent of category XI. All the eleven British players are either Grandmasters or Senior International Masters and two are currently qualified for the ICCF World Championship Final. One being GM Nigel Robson, who was also an IECG World Champion in 2006, and the other being GM Richard Hall, a Silver Medallist in the ICCF 25th World Championship in 2013.

Being the lowest rated player, I expected a very tough tournament, which it certainly is proving to be! After a really poor start, which included a loss due to a ‘clerical’ error, I have, at least, drawn a couple of games and feel relatively safe in my remaining ones. I thought I was safe playing White against GM Nigel Robson, with my bishop pair and extra pawn, but suddenly his pieces just seemed to be better placed and in control and I was struggling to defend! Nigel is a formidable player and we wish him luck in the World Championship.

You can view this game and other finished games on the ICCF website HERE

John Rhodes

Close finish in ICCF 2nd British Webserver Team Tournament 1st Division!

With just half a dozen games to finish in the 2nd British Webserver Team Tournament, the race is on between last year’s Champions, the “Pawn Stars” Team with 15/22, the “ICCF Warriors” Team with 14/21 and the “Scheming Mind A” Team with 13/22. The “Pawn Stars” Team consists of SIM Gino Figlio (PER); SIM Dr Michael Millstone (USA); myself SIM John Rhodes (ENG) and Austin Lockwood, Team Captain (WLS) with an average ICCF rating of 2408. The “ICCF Warriors” Team consists of GM Nigel Robson (ENG); GM Raymond Boger (NOR); GM Mark Noble (NZL); SIM Ian Pheby and SIM Andrew Dearnley as non-playing Team Captain with an average ICCF rating of 2519. The “Scheming Mind A” Team consist of SIM Olli Ylönen (FIN); IM Janos Suto (ENG); SIM John Vivante-Sowter (ENG); César Jesús Reyes Maldonado (VEN) with an average ICCF rating of 2332. The Tournament Director and organizer is IA Neil Limbert.

You will find the latest results and games here on the ICCF website: –

It is looking like the mighty “ICCF Warriors” Team, formed by Andrew Dearnley, will eventually overtake us but, whatever happens, we will have given them a good run for their money! Andrew has certainly put a strong team together and deserves success, he is also an International Arbiter and this year has qualified for both the International Master and Senior International Master Titles. Unfortunately, Andrew has been ill recently and we all wish him well again soon. Here is one of Andrew’s wins with Bird’s Opening which went towards his latest title: –

John Rhodes