Category Archives: News

Amateur Versus Master: Game Fourteen

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re all together ooky,
The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum
Where people come to see ’em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.

So get a witches shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We’re gonna pay a call on
The Addams Family.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re all together ooky,
The Addams Family!

This song kept running through my head every time that I got a card from Gary Adams or looked at this chess game. Once, I asked him on a card that I sent to him, “How is the “Adams family doing?”. I got no reply. I do not know if he failed to get the joke or just did not think that it was funny.

This game is one of the four that I drew in the 2011 Golden Knights Postal Championship, Final Round. I ended this section with 1 win, 1 loss and 4 draws. This even score is what I wanted, but it failed to put me over 2200 points because of losses in other sections of correspondence chess. I am still waiting to see how I place in this section.

Mike Serovey


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


More 2015 Colorado Closed Championship and Scholastic Championship

Life is full of little ironies for the stupid – P.J. O’Rourke

One irony of chess is that sometimes the most satisfying games artistically are the competitive stumbling blocks. For example, we present two games from the recent 2015 Colorado Closed Championship and Scholastic Championship in which a lower section winner suffered a loss, These were, in my opinion, two of the most exciting games of their respective sections of the tournament. Afterwards, we present two outstanding games from the top section.

Victor Huang won the Colorado Closed Scholastic Championship 2015 on tiebreaks. Perhaps his most entertaining game was his 4th round loss to 6th-place Daniel Herman, who is up a knight at move 35. The easy win is 37 … Qxc5, but instead Herman has to win the game all over again with a lot of luck.

The Challenger section was won by student and young giant Gunnar Anderson, who is edged out in sharp play by 5th-place Chris Peterson.

Here is one of my favorite games from the Championship, in which 2nd-place Ponomarev wins a game from 3rd-place Bloomer that is positionally on knife’s edge from the fifth move.

This 3rd round game effectively won the 2015 Colorado Closed Champion title for Lior Lapid. In the diagrammed position, White threatens to win the queen for two minors.

Jacques Delaguerre


Amateur Versus Master: Game Thirteen

This is my second cc game with Harold Boege. The first game was in the previous round of the 2011 Golden Knights Postal Championship. This game is
from the final round and it may be my only win from this round. I am the only NON master in this section and I expect to finish it with an even score.
Although I am not 100% certain, I believe that Harold is the highest rated opponent that I have defeated in correspondence chess.

I started off playing something resembling the Bremen System and ended up with something that I have never seen before or since this game, except in my analysis.

Mike Serovey


2015 Colorado Closed Championship and Scholastic Championship

The 2015 Colorado Closed Championship and Scholastic Championship took place the second weekend in April. There were five six-person sections:

  • Championship
  • Challenger
  • Booster
  • Scholastic Championship
  • Scholastic Challenger

The Championship featured three “zombies”, as we in Colorado call strong players who have disappeared from competition for a long period of time: the event winner Lior Lapid (2290), Philipp Ponomarev (2340) and Josh Bloomer (2255).

7-time Colorado Champion Brian D. Wall beat the championship winner, but otherwise got a shellacking, losing three of his five games, including one from a drawn position.

In this position from Wall vs. Bloomer, White should shift his rook back and forth on the rank to keep the Black king out. If the Black rook harries the White king, it should head for the Black g5 pawn, not fearing the capture of the White f2 pawn even if the Black pawn has reached f3: there’s time to get back for a drawn K+R+RP vs K+R ending, since the Black rook will be in front of its own f-pawn and will require a move to vacate the file. Instead, Wall began checks from the side and rear which drove the Black king forcefully to the assistance of its own rook and pawns.

Here’s Wall driven to the wall by Ponomarev. 41 … Rc2! is a piquant move, forcing the White bishop to capture and trapping the White knight.

I’ll have some more games from the Colorado Closed next week.

Jacques Delaguerre


From Russia with Love

Well, not quite. However, my opponent in this chess game is a Russian woman. I did win and I love winning! My opponent’s last name sounds like that of another woman from Russia, Anna Kournikova.

In this section I ended up with 5 draws and 1 win. This game was my only win in this section. As a result of my failing to win an earlier game, the best that I can do in this section is third place.

I started this chess game off wanting to play the Max Lange Attack and I ended up with a Giuoco Piano instead. This line tends to be drawish, but my opponent gave my some chances for play and I took them.

I had the position after move number 9 in another correspondence chess game that I lost. This time, I played more accurately and my opponent is the one who was inaccurate.

On move number 11 I could have played the sharp Bxf7+, but I decided against that for some reason that I no longer remember. Perhaps the line that In played is safer for White.

On move number 12 I decided that it was best to get my King off the same diagonal as the Black Queen was on. Discovered checks can be a pain! Once Black castled queenside it was a race to see who could checkmate the other one first. However, I was not positioned for a queenside attack and thus I had to reposition some of my pieces.

On move number 14 I got my sacrificed pawn back. By move number 17 I had all of my White pieces in this game, but I still was not clear on where to attack first.

Move number 19 finally started some queenside play. Move number 21 started a combination that favored White (me). Starting at move number 23 both sides were aggressively attacking the other side and Lidiya never let up her attempts to trick or trap me until she was clearly lost.

Starting at move number 28 White was putting pressure on both the Black Rook and the backwards Black pawn at  f6. At move number 31 I won the Black pawn at h4 and then the Black pawn on f6 ten moves later. I was up two pawns at that point but Lidiya continued to fight.

On move number 42 Lidiya sacrificed her Bishop by taking the White pawn that was on h3, but I was not dumb enough to fall into her trap and I moved my King instead. She recovered one of her lost pawns but she was still losing.

On move number 44 I played the only move that wins for White and Lidiya had no chance from there. Still, she lasted for another 15 moves before she finally resigned.

Mike Serovey


Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You Don’t

I am posting two different games from the same section here. In the first game my opponent dropped a Bishop on the thirteenth move of the game and he resigned when I took it. My opponent in this first game is from the Netherlands. My opponent in the second game is from Canada.

In the second game we played much longer and agreed to a draw. These results put me in temporary first place in this section. I also got a draw against the other player who is higher rated than I am in this section. With 4 draws and a win I am alone in first place in this section and I am winning my last game in this section. However, that may not be enough to keep first place if one of the players that I drew wins more than 2 games in this section.

My notes in this second game, plus what I have stated above, pretty much cover what happened in this game.

Mike Serovey


Chess with Chris and Kenny

Back to the Ruy Lopez next week unless anything else happens. Today there’s something different I have to share with you.

I returned from Richmond Junior Club last Saturday to see the sad news that one of my oldest chess friends and most regular opponents, Chris Clegg, had died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 66.

I’d known Chris for more than 40 years and saw him regularly at matches in the Thames Valley League between my club, Richmond, and his club, Kingston. We played six times in a decade between 1978 and 1987, and then, strangely a 22 year hiatus before four more recent encounters.

Chris started playing chess at his secondary school, taking part in junior tournaments and soon joining his local chess club where he remained for the rest of his life. Every time we played Kingston we knew he’d be there, captaining the team. If we were playing at Kingston he’d be the first to arrive to set up the furniture and equipment, and the last to leave, having put everything away. He’d even arrive early for away matches and help set everything up without asking or being asked. Chris would be at almost every tournament in the London area, arriving on his own and leaving on his own.

By profession he was a solicitor, but he retired very early. He had no family, living with his mother until she died some years ago. His other interest was bird watching. Chris was one of those highly intelligent, rather introverted people who tend very often to be drawn to chess. As his Kingston Chess Club colleague John Foley wrote in his obituary on the English Chess Forum, chess kept Chris going and Chris kept Kingston Chess Club going.

The chess world has always needed, and will continue to need, the likes of Chris Clegg. At his best he was a county standard player, a bit short of master strength. But, more importantly, he was an organiser who worked at a local level, never seeking fame or recognition. Chess isn’t just about producing grandmasters. Without dedicated organisers there would be no grandmasters and no chess.

Here’s an exciting game from a Thames Valley League match a few years ago in which both players missed wins.

But there was also good news recently: news that, as Bruce Mubayiwa reported on this site, Kenny Solomon has become South Africa’s first grandmaster. A great achievement in itself, but notable also for Kenny’s background, growing up in a township notorious for drug abuse and gang violence.

From his website:

“Kenny was exposed to gang culture from an early age. Kenny realised that if he didn’t create his own future, he would merely become a pawn in this scene, trapped in the violent, oppressive cycle of gangsterism. Strong family values and his early interest in chess kept him away from these influences and compelled him to make choices about his fate.

“After getting into chess at the age of 13, he would play blitz games with his older brother and a friend in the Solomons’ backyard, amidst lines of dripping washing.”

Note that he taught himself to play chess in his teens. Not starting young is no barrier to becoming a grandmaster.

Chris Clegg and Kenny Solomon, two very different people and two very different players, but united by their passion for chess. I’m not sure whether chess made either of them smarter but it had an enormous social impact on both of them. It enabled Kenny to escape from the gangs and drugs of a South African township, taking him to Europe where he married an Italian girl, and to grandmasterdom. It gave Chris a purpose in life and a means of connecting with an increasingly alien world (he never used the internet or even owned a mobile phone).

There’s something else they have in common as well. I don’t know when Chris learnt the moves: probabbly round about the age of 11, as we all did in those days. There’s a loss to Ray Keene from the 1961-62 London Under 14 Championship, possibly his first tournament, on I would guess that they both started their obsession with chess at about the age of 13 or 14. Not at 7 or 8 as children do today.

Regular readers will know that I consider the social benefits of chess at least as important as the academic benefits, and that these benefits really kick in for older rather than younger children. I’ll leave you with a quote from a recent interview with the comedian Stewart Lee.

“But also the things that get you when you’re 13 or 14, that’s when you’re most susceptible and if you’re lucky enough to encounter a good thing when you’re 13 or 14, it will stay with you for your life.”

Chris and Kenny were both lucky enough to encounter a good thing when they were 13 or 14.

Richard James


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


Finally Another Grandmaster for Africa, Kenny Solomon!

There was very good reason to celebrate in African Chess recently when Kenny Solomon of South Africa, the winner of the recent 2014 African Individual Chess Championship (AICC) held in Windhoek, Namibia was conferred with the title of Grandmaster. Solomon joined a very select group of individuals who have managed to get this title in Africa. He went through the entire tournament without losing a single game, featuring at least one grandmaster and several international masters (IMs) undefeated. His wins included a win against the top seed GM Adly Ahmed from Egypt.

The current grandmasters include One Moroccan,  One Tunisian (Slim Belkhodja), Two Algerians (Mohamed Haddouche, Aimen Rizouk), 4 Egyptians (Samy Shoker, Essam El Gindy, Bassem Amin, Ahmed Adly), one Zambian (Amon Simutowe) and now a South African (Kenny Solomon)!.

We have around 10 Grandmasters on a continent with more than a 1 billion people. How is that possible? We still have a very long way to go in Africa. By way of comparison, we have less Grandmasters in the whole of Africa than Italy. Italy has at least 12 Grandmasters, from a population of at least 60 million people according to Wikipedia. At this stage I won’t even try to compare the number of Grandmasters in Africa with the whole of Europe. In terms of Chess development we are just not at the same level.

Is it so difficult to become a Grandmaster that even after Robert Gwaze from Zimbabwe won a Gold medal at the 2002 Chess Olympiad ahead of luminaries such as Garry Kasparov, he is still not a Grandmaster?

Amon Simutowe from Zambia was the first Grandmaster from sub-Saharan Africa and the third black chess Grandmaster in history of the game, after Maurice Ashley and Pontus Carlsson. However, Grandmasters Ashley and Carlsson are based in the US and Sweden respectively and not from Africa.  It has been 7 years since Simutowe became a grandmaster in 2007 and the awarding of another GM in Sub-Saharan Africa was long overdue. There have been many false starts in this regard as a few players have managed to get the Grandmaster Norms but still need to achieve the rating of 2500 to get the converted title.

Now 35 years old, Solomon started playing chess at the ripe old age of 13 years, when most strong players nowadays are Grandmaster or are at least International Masters. Magnus Carlsen, the World Chess Champion from Norway who successfully defended his title against Vishwanathan Anand in Sochi Russia is 24 years old.

Many would have given up by now but Kenny Solomon just kept pushing the chess pieces until he achieved his life dream. Who knows what lies ahead now that he is a Grand Master. One thing for sure is there’s a lot more inspiration for African Chess players who also dream of become Grandmasters.

Bruce Mubayiwa