Rotherham Online Chess

The Rotherham online chess tournaments are a wonderful way to continue to play chess during the pandemic. I was late to the party, joining in season 4 which was recently completed. Geoff Frost encouraged me to join and i am thankful to him for his encouragement. Oli Brennan is to be applauded for what he has created here. Internet chess is rather anonymous and fraught with accusations of cheating.  Oli has created a community of local chess players who not only compete but also support each other through banter on Slack  and spectating and commenting on each others games. People agree a fair pledge not to use engines, books or consult with others during play. The time control is 30 mins plus 30 seconds a move which i can attest can be nerve shredding. I was visibly shaking after my last round game where we were both living on our increment. The social side of the tournaments has been important too. Hey, our default setting as chess players is often to be socially distanced, but during this pandemic it is so important to find creative ways we can be more connected to others.  It has been nice to correspond with players from local clubs.
The next round of tournaments start Wednesday 7 October. I really encourage you all to give it a go and support this wonderful venture. 

Are you a chess mummy?

I came across this amusing quote on the internet from Axel Smith’s book “Pump Up Your Rating”:
“In Lund we have an expression for a player who never improves: a mummy. It is not said in a negative sense; the mummy enjoys chess. The romanticizing of the expression has even gone so far that The Mummy (SK Mumien) is the name of a chess club! Many mummies actually see themselves as quite ambitious players. This could be a typical chess diary of a mummy:
  • Monday: Playing blitz for two hours on the internet.
  • Tuesday: Watching live games from a super-tournament for the whole evening, while checking the games with an engine.
  • Wednesday: Warming up with some blitz games, before watching a DVD.
  • Thursday: Planning to prepare for the weekend’s game by reading a chess book, but running out of time after reading chess news on the internet.
  • Friday: Reading a book about great players from the past. Looking at the diagrams, but concentrating mostly on the great stories in the text. The book is read in bed, thirty minutes before falling asleep.
  • Saturday: Losing a tight game in the league, and afterwards claiming that a single mistake decided the game. Checking the game quickly with an engine.
  • Sunday: No chess; impossible to be motivated after such an unfair loss!
Our mummy spends a lot of time on chess, but he won’t improve much. 
The key to learning a foreign language is to try to speak it. Without any doubt, it’s also good to listen, but it’s when sentences are first formulated that improvement really starts.
It is the same in chess, and active learning is my hobbyhorse as a coach. This means questioning statements in books (maybe I should have mentioned that earlier!), forming your own opinions, and using training methods that activate your brain.
With only some small changes, our mummy can come alive!”
Hmmm. I think I may be a mummy. I bought half a dozen middlegame strategy and endgame books when I joined the Nomads yet nearly 2 years later they remain largely unread. And partly that is down to work and family commitments but also it is easier to watch a DVD at the end of a day or play some blitz than study chess. But this pandemic is not going away so the “new normal” might as well include some chess study. Anyone else got that book on their shelf they always meant to study? Can we help each other to improve? Now is the  time. I turn 57 next week, can I be a better player at 60?

Christmas/New Year B Team report

After a shaky start to the season with a home defeat 2-4 against Ecclesall and 3-3 draw away to Hillsborough the season has got considerably better with us winning our next 4 games in convincing style with a 4-2 win being our worst result. Our next 3 matches were all at home where we beat Aughton 4.5-1.5, Chesterfield 5-1, & University 5.5-0.5. Our last game of 2019 saw us travel to Woodseats which should have been a tough match but we were victorious by 4-2 a fantastic result. So with 6 played & 8 to go we sit top of the table on 9 points, a 1 point lead  over  Woodseats & Chesterfield chasing us on 8 points each, (same games played as us) and winning the league is very much in our own hands, win all our remaining 8 games & we are champions I would even say winning 7 of our 8 would give us a great chance of winning the league. Thanks to all who have played for me so far this season your support as always is greatly appreciated. Lets get the job done in the second half of the season & romp away with the title like the champions we are and make it Nomads Champions of Divisions 1 & 2 as it looks like the A team are in total control of their division winning 5 out of 5 great work so far Chris keep it going.

Cheers Lez

Nomads beat Ecclesall in Richardson quarter final

We’d brought a formidable team for this anticipated quarter final match, with Sam Milson (back in Sheffield) and Kieran significantly improving our chances against a strong Ecclesall. But bumping into Dave Adams in The Abbey carpark, he tells me they’ve been expecting to see Sam: intelligence from somewhere…. But still, great players if not quite the surprise factor we were counting on!

Very interesting match to watch. 3 fairly early draws: Chris v Dave Adams on board 3, Jon v Jonathan Tait on 1, then John F v Farshad on 4. But Ian (facing John Clark) and Kieran (Ewan Cormack) are better – and Sam is equal against Jim Burnett. Lots of interest in Ian’s middle game position: he’s playing extremely well against some inaccurate opening moves. But he is in bad time trouble and in the endgame his opponent is getting some threatening-looking counterplay. But still, Kieran has played very nicely on the White side of a Kings Indian Bayonet Attack: and I think we’ll probably win, with Sam now also standing better. Still, it’s quite tense, as people are crowded round the three outstanding games….. But then out of the blue Ian’s opponent resigns (he’s blundered his knight – see the full game below) and Kieran wins: we’re there. And Sam beats Jim too: 4.5-1.5 – a great result.


Sheffield Deaf 1 – 5 Nomads C

Another great result, ensuring the C team remain on maximum points so far   this season.  Four out of the five new players who recently joined the club took part in this game and we all returned home unbeaten, with wins for Ray, myself, Arkady and Rory (in his first game) and draws for Eric & Sean.  Well done everyone 🙂

Hillsborough A 3 v 5 Nomads A

Eventually the A team gets its campaign underway with a trip to Hillsborough, and what a fantastic result for us winning 5-3.  Wins for Jon, Chris (by default) John & Pete and draws for Nick & Steve gave us the points to secure a well deserved victory. Thanks to everyone who played tonight, what a great way to start the season. On to next match away to Darnell next Monday 5th Nov.

Cheers Lez

Interesting Position, Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia

This interesting position comes via Jeremy:

The England Open team had a good 2½-1½ win against Israel on Tuesday (2nd October), at the Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. But one that got away was David Howell’s game against Emil Sutovsky. Here is the position at a critical point (after 26. Re1-e2…), with Howell (Black) to move):

Here he played 26…Rfe8, allowing White to play Nf4 and then Rd1, consolidating (though I assume it’s still much better for Black) – the game ended as a draw.

Can you do better than our grandmaster in this position?! There are actually two very strong continuations. Solutions in a few days!