RIP Dave Robertson

Dave sadly passed away yesterday after a short spell in hospital. He will be greatly missed by Chester members. Our thoughts are with his wife Laura and family.

He joined our Chester club a decade or so ago as part of a mostly Liverpool-based team seeking new challenges. Along with captain John Carleton who he had known since school days in Birmingham he was part of a team which scored many league and cup successes. I was fortunate to share in some of the cup successes but unlucky to have to face such a formidable opponent in our games when playing for competing Chester league teams.

Off the board he helped inspire some of our strongest ever junior players. He was also a great help in some of the club administration.

The funeral is to take place at Allerton Crematorium at 3pm on March 17th. No flowers please but donations to organisations helping the Ukrainian people are welcome.

Thanks to John Carleton for sharing his recollections of Dave over the last six decades below and Steve Connor for the photo above:

I first met Dave in 1964 when the chess teams for two schools located in the Birmingham area, Bishop Vesey GS [my school] and King Edward’s GS Camp Hill [Dave’s school] played each other. A couple of the Camp Hill players came across as very confident [well, “cocky” was the way I thought of it]. These two were strong players, and Dave was one of them. In 1965 I had brought about some improvement in my game and edged my way into the Warwickshire U18 team which won the national championships. Dave was an established player already playing higher up the team. After that I played higher than him for many different teams over the years until 8th February 2022 when Dave played what turned out to be his last game for Spirit of Atticus in the on-line 4NCL championship on board 3 just one board above me! It had been a running joke that Dave’s ambition was to play above me in a team despite over 50 years of trying. This was a justified board order, since Dave had kept his form and chess studies up to scratch better than I had. When the board order was announced, little did we know how short Dave’s time for the mock celebration of this event would be.

We each arrived at Liverpool University in the Autumn of 1966 and in fresher’s week we each approached the Chess Club display, in due course heading upstairs to inspect the well-appointed chess room; I remember that journey since Dave, as he explained, had to pause a couple of times as he had just undergone an operation on his back. This was a typically low-key explanation of his degenerative illness. Dave, in the many years I was to know him was determined to enjoy life to the full and never had time to feel sorry for his legacy. I have no clear recollection of his playing chess over our university years, but Dave and I were called into action to save the Birmingham Easter Chess congress since the long- term organizer of junior chess in Birmingham, W. Ritson Morry, was about to up his roots and move to Jamaica. In the Christmas holidays we ensured that there was a venue booked, that notification would go to the schools as normal and tried to raise some money to allow for decent prizes. Dave showed himself to be worldly wise in our endeavours, far superior to me in the “getting money from people” category in particular. Although we did not get a big sponsor, he did inveigle a few donations which eliminated the possibility of a loss on the venture. The event went well but harsh words were exchanged between us on one occasion, the only time I can recollect this over our many years of our friendship. The congress returned to its usual stewardship in the following year when Ritson made an early return from Jamaica.

As reported in the press

Thereafter, we returned to normal activities, with a resumption of university study, some chess for the University teams and plenty of relaxation for me. Dave on the other hand was throwing himself into political action to the extent that in his final year he was editor of the Students Union newspaper, was standing as a candidate for election as President and was half of the debating team that represented Liverpool University in the prestigious Observer Mace competition, which carried a first prize of a debating tour of the USA. Frank Milner, Dave’s debating partner, shared their winning plan with me[thank-you Frank]: 1/ to win 2/ to politicise the motion into a Marxist/ left wing one, 3/ to follow this format in speaking : Frank to deliver the scripted introduction to their contention. Dave would speak extempore to pick-up and counter points made by other speakers. Dave was never known to make notes, relying instead on his phenomenal memory recalling who had said what. Their strategy as “wild men” proved very successful up to a point.

What happened? Dave and Frank missed out narrowly on the trip to USA. There was a record turnout in the election for guild President, the electorate having been whipped up by two boisterous campaigns. This was Dave’s planned battle ground but the right-wing candidate was elected. The Guild Gazette had a good readership throughout Dave’s stewardship and its content was greatly admired. I must admit I wondered whether the report about Aston Villa’s come-back from 4-0 down to draw with Liverpool in 1960 was either topical in any way or going to win many friends, despite the absolutely amazing supporters of Aston Villa, but in general agreed with the main sentiments of the newspaper.

I shall continue by concentrating on the years from the early seventies onwards and Dave’s great contribution to and involvement in chess.

I spent a year teacher training and then a year in London. When I returned to Liverpool in the autumn of 1971, I joined a local chess club and lived in a popular Westminster Rd. multi-roomed residence designed for students. On reflection, residence is way too grand a term for the environment. But Dave lived there too as did Geoff Hall [ now Sir Geoffrey Hall] who arrived having “graduated” from Bishop Vesey’s. Dave was now really “into” chess again and was devouring chess material. The three of us realised that we could probably challenge for the first division title of the Liverpool League [once promoted from our likely starting point in division 2] including me and players currently not in clubs. Thus, the three of us founded Kirkdale Chess Club playing at Kirkdale Community Centre and started in the Liverpool league in September 1972. The cost of our match venue was covered by us organising a chess club for the local children on one night a week. Dave, Geoff and I did just that always having at least 2 of the 3 of us present. The tricky part was that our session clashed with woodwork’s night, so we got an unusual mixture consisting predominantly of girls but also containing the occasional boy banned from woodwork, usually for being a danger.

The following year we changed our venue to Atticus bookshop and name to Atticus having won promotion. Thereafter, we duly won the 1st division. The club just grew and grew, attracting many players from Merseyside, and just five years after formation Atticus won the National Championships, an incredible achievement at the time. A Northern Club winning the title was unheard of and Dave had flagged it up at the quarter-final stage with a local pub which promised and delivered on its promise of much champagne should we succeed. Dave, as well as being one of the team who played every round, also kept the whole club up-to-date with frequent newsletters with reports on all of our teams, including some good games played by members.

National Clubs Champions: Dave and John in the middle sporting the latest 1977 styles
As reported in the press

Growth continued for Atticus over the years as Dave and the rest of us got on with our lives as well as enjoying the noble game, albeit with a necessity of reduced preparation time. Dave’s lecturing career at John Moore’s University was busy. In addition, he was keen to take any opportunities to travel the country to dispense his wisdom and improve his reputation. That said, on many occasions he rushed back to Liverpool, frequently using risky train connections to play for the team. Dave continued to pursue his political aims but, for the rest of his life, within the safety and, sometimes frustrations, of the Labour Party. Finally, Dave had married his sweetheart Laura and was devoted to her and their three children. [NOTE: the descriptions laid out here did not necessarily happen in the order written].

In January 2003, Liverpool was awarded the City of Culture 2008, and in the summer of 2004, Dave invited me for a chat in his garden. Professor Dave as he now was, told me that he was seriously contemplating submitting a bid for chess in the upcoming celebrations, following discussion with the senior figures at John Moore’s University. As his talk progressed, I wondered what the strength of the wine he was sipping was. In truth I knew that Dave once again was showing understanding of the real world, far beyond my ken, and would do what he could for chess.

The outcome after much planning, help locally, and with the passage of time, was a grant, of well over half a million pounds, I believe, awarded by the City of Culture fund in response to Dave’s bid. [ WARNING: I feel Dave turning in his grave, questioning, “I believe” and asking for my source]. Sorry, my computer skills are not good enough! Please advise if you have a more definitive figure. It turned out Dave was organising, not one event in 2008, but two leading up to two in 2008 itself, giving us:

2006: Open EU Individual Championship

2007: Britain v China [ 6 rounds, 6 men and 2 women in each team, won by China 28-20. We would love to be able to get that close to them these days] This was played along side an Open Swiss Event in St. Georges Hall.

2008: Open EU Individual Championship

2008: British/ English Championships: all categories. This was the first and only time to date that the Championships had come to Liverpool during the history of the event [held annually: started 1904]

To dream of delivering all of this was fantastic, to actually do it was sensational. All the events had a proliferation of grandmasters and offered opportunities to local players to test their skills and increase their experience. Behind the scenes there was high stakes drama when Dave successfully faced down an attempt to cut the budget by asking the funders to choose which of the EU or British Championships they would like to cancel. Bluff or not we may never know, but it worked and both tournaments went ahead fully funded.

All too typical of chess is what happened next: there was a falling out in Atticus Chess Club within 2 years of Dave’s triumph on behalf of the city. A group of us left to join Chester where we were welcomed by friends and able to concentrate on playing chess. Dave represented the Chester and District Chess League on the English Chess Federation for a number of years and provided an entertaining summary each year on the workings of the Federation. A few years ago, Chester decided to refurbish its equipment and Dave volunteered to negotiate the price. Once again, I, and many others were staggered by Dave’s skill in negotiating a deal; this time bringing a large discount.

At the time of our move to Chester, we were able to found another chess club which played under the name of, “The Spirit of Atticus” in the national league[4NCL] played at weekends. We started in the then new 3rd division North and experienced success and growth in the number of teams and their

strength over the years. The Saturday evening meal away from the venue proved a great success with Dave selecting the restaurant venues. His notion of choosing a venue based on the wine list alone proved to provide a potentially sticky start. We survived! And Dave became our Grubmeister using more traditional evaluations after our first outing.

Then after some ten years of the 4NCL for us the pandemic struck. There was large falling off of membership in the E.C.F, presumably partly because of the lack of opportunity for play over the board and partly because the large proportion of members who were unwilling to risk exposure to the virus. The new 4NCL leagues started last November with Spirit of Atticus drastically reduced in availability and just managing to get the 6 players needed for each round of the Northern League so far, with 3 rounds left to play. Dave and I had agreed to try to get him a game over the board for the next round. Bolton, with a 14:00 start was easily reachable and I could bring him back to Liverpool after the evening meal. Dave was extremely keen on this idea; for once there was something more important than chess: “It is the camaraderie that I’m looking forward to,” he told me. Alas this small wish never took place and it adds to my sense of loss.

This was not a great time for a power struggle to start within the ECF but it almost came to be; Dave was one of those, respected by the great and good of English chess, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to stop any split in the organisation at what is a threatening time for the future of the game in Britain.

I have received many tributes relating to Dave’s intelligence, wisdom, wit, strength of his play, thirst for knowledge, thoughtfulness, love of life, entertaining company work on behalf of the chess community, etc. My favourite, slightly off the wall contribution, came from Colm, who thought of Dave “as our[ Chester’s] Korchnoi” I can think of no better summary of my dear, sadly missed, friend but can add only that nobody said that they thought he was cocky and thus I was clearly mistaken in 1964.

Tuesday Town Crier evenings to resume

Club nights will resume from August 3rd 2021. Members and prospective members should be comfortable with taking on the coronavirus risks from being inside in close proximity with other players and prepared to follow the guidance points below.

Games will be informal between club members for now. The earliest date on which some league matches against other clubs will resume is expected to be October.

Junior club Friday nights will remain online for now.

Guidance to reduce covid risks:

1) Please do not attend the club if you have covid-19, covid 19 symptoms or if isolating.

2) Please do not attend the club if you have flu symptoms.

3) We will need to follow the Town Crier’s policies. Mandatory check-in via a one-way system has been removed so it should be possible to approach the club room directly from the stairs on the corner of City Road.

4) Please register on entry into the club room. Ideally bring your own pen to write your name on that day’s registration sheet. If you haven’t been to the club before, please add your contact details.

5) At this stage we do not plan on having a formal capacity limit. Summer attendance is normally low and many members are planning on staying away for now. As and when league matches resume, we will reduce the number of concurrent matches from a maximum of three to a maximum of two.  

6) There will be hand sanitiser available on entry to the club and within the club near the boards.

7) For ventilation we will have the window open where possible.

8) Boards should be spread throughout the room.

9) It’s recommended that face coverings are worn in the club room. The relevant government advice can be found here Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Please bring your own but we will have some disposable ones available in case needed.

10) Formal social distancing regulation of the 2m or 1m+ type has been removed. However, please avoid crowding around a board if you are watching a game.

11) Pieces, board and clock should be cleaned before and after games. Wipes will be provided to do this.

12) Drinks are available at the bar as usual. There is also a new app advertised in and around the pub which should enable us to order drinks remotely. This wouldn’t be appropriate in a formal game such as a league match where such use of a phone could be mistaken for cheating. You can remove a face covering temporarily to take a drink.

13) Players may wish to find an alternative to the handshake for showing respect at the start and end of a game.

14) Whilst there are no formal games ongoing, players might wish to trial creative ways of expanding social distance and reducing shared piece touching by playing with a board each.

Graham Bromley wins ECF President’s Award

Graham Bromley has been nominated for and awarded an ECF award for Services to Chess. The nomination drew particular attention to all the work he has put in to setting up and running the Chester Junior Club. In these unusual times it unfortunately hasn’t been possible to arrange a regular presentation. However, here he is with his award. Congratulations Graham!

Can anyone stop Chester?

Last night saw our first match since the club moved temporarily online. Tensions were high as we faced off against Crewe. Those with long memories might remember we had a slight hiccup when we played a rapid match against them last year. Due mostly to the extreme weather conditions we were soundly trounced.

This time round was a little different. Despite benching John Carleton and your reporter mostly sitting it out to type some encouragement to the Crewe players, Chester emerged convincing winners 134 points to 76.

Chester players dominated the highest scores with club champion Colin White a recognisable name amongst the top 6. CaldayGrammar did particularly well against rating. Congratulations also to Yeeto and Sol19 who performed well on their first team debuts.

Thanks to Crewe for playing us in an enjoyable match. Next up is Lewisham on Tuesday 7th April. If any other teams would like to play a match please get in touch at info@chesterchess.co.uk.

We now have 28 members in our adult online club. If any other member would like to join in you need to set up a lichess account https://lichess.org/ and then apply to join our team quoting your real name in the accompanying message https://lichess.org/team/chester-chess-club.

Junior members please email Phil in the first instance.

Chester Online Session Thursday 26th March

As we previously announced we have set up a Chester online group on Lichess. Membership is free and easy to set up. We will hold our first session for playing slowish blitz (5min+3sec per move increment) on Thursday 26th March at 7.30pm-9.30pm. To take part you need to first join the Chester team: https://lichess.org/team/chester-chess-club noting your real name on your request and then join the tournament Chester Thursday Arena https://lichess.org/tournament/l8ZBbXrJ. (Ignore the event labelled “battle” which I set up in error and can’t delete.) It will be run in the form of a tournament but you don’t have to take it overly seriously and you can take breaks between games if you wish.

A Long Weekend in Germany

Herewith an indulgent and rambling account of my recent trip to play in the weekend tournament in Germany run by Chester’s twin town Lörrach. If you’re short of time or lacking the patience to endure another bad beat story, feel free to stop after the Executive Summary. As an additional warning, be warned that in line with the current fashion for active learning (as opposed to skim reading in front of the TV) there will be a series of problems to be solved.

The Wasserschloss castle complete with moat was the venue for the tournament near Basel

To be honest I hadn’t planned on writing a tournament report. However, it transpires that there is a growing German readership of our Chester club website, so it would seem churlish to disappoint them. Our recent online match has been picked up by the local newspaper, apparently with brewing interest from regional outlets. To make this clientele feel more like they are reading terse German prose, I have wherever possible obfuscated and elongated the write-up. Three words have been preferred to one and the arcane selected over the simple.

Chester and our 107 to 97 point loss in the internet match is described in the right hand column

Executive Summary

I flew to Basel. The weather was windy. The food and beer was good. The locals were hospitable. I played a few too many weak moves to win the tournament. I burnt some wood. I flew home.

Planning the trip

An international trip isn’t something your normally would leave until the week before as chess players normally operate. I was invited to play around August giving at least 6 months to sort things out. Actually getting a personal invitation is pretty rare at club level so I had the opportunity to push my luck with some negotiations.

It’s a little-spoken fact that chess tournament prize money is insufficient to sustain most professional players. Instead they typically rely on money from coaching. There is also the practice of holding out for side payments before agreeing to play a competition. This is euphemistically known as “conditions”.  

The negotiations over conditions dragged out over a few months. ELO 2000 doesn’t really give you that much leverage, but the opportunity to add another country to the international nature of the village tournament had to be worth something I figured. We finally settled on limo-service transport from the airport and a guided tour of Basel’s famous Morgenstreich Fasnacht celebrations. Just a word of warning in case you get into these sort of negotiations: organizers can be very keen to get you to the tournament, but getting you home really isn’t as important to them.

Preparing for opponents before the tournament

In my experience around 90% of pre-game preparation is wasted, most often by guessing the wrong first move. Before a weekend tournament begins you of course don’t even know who you will play so the odds are even worse. I decided to just have a quick look at the database information of the top player as beating or drawing against him would likely be necessary for winning the tournament. Spoiler alert: he didn’t show up for the tournament. At least that was only a few minutes wasted.

That time would have been better spent preparing some stock answers for the (in retrospect) obvious conversation topics I would be presented with on the trip:

What did I think of Brexit?

How about that Boris bloke?

And what’s your view on Megxit?

Getting there

The good news was that Easyjet flies from Manchester to the Swiss city of Basel, just a few miles from the tournament venue in Germany. That was also the bad news as flying a budget airline presents a bewildering array of choices. I settled for terminally slow boarding, hand luggage only and a random seat. I couldn’t afford to take more bags as the local hotel didn’t accept arrivals after 11pm and the flight wasn’t arriving much before then.

Ignoring the woman with pornographic headgear sat on the opposite aisle the flight seemed unremarkable. Banking capital Basel didn’t seem like an obvious hen party rival location to Dublin, Prague etc but maybe tastes are changing.

What to read on the way to a tournament is always a tricky choice. In retrospect I should have selected Gufeld’s seminal Exploiting Small Advantages. Instead, partly in a bid to look a little less out of place I went for a novella, with a seemingly oxymoronic title connected with taciturn Americans. I spent some time in rounds 1, 4 and 5 regretting that  choice. The book wasn’t so bad though.

Swipe left or right for your holiday read?

As the flight approached Basel there was an announcement to say that actually they’d noticed that it was a bit windy, maybe a bit too windy for them to fancy having a go at landing. But all was well they explained as they had enough extra fuel to fly around Basel for an hour or perhaps to drop us off in Lyons or Zurich instead. Eventually they decided to roll the dice and have a go at landing. That just about worked out OK and soon I was striding through Basel airport in search of my lift. Normally finding someone in airport arrivals isn’t so difficult but Basel airport is situated right where France, Germany and Switzerland meet so you actually have to exit through a door for your country of choice before you meet anyone. I plumped for Germany which fortunately proved correct. I was met by local club member Andreas Kuglstatter who kindly drove me to a small guesthouse near the tournament.

Friday preparations for round 1

After a typical German breakfast buffet including delicious bread from the local bakery I was picked up gain by Andreas. We visited the local Vitra Design Museum which included quirky displays like Ikea posters over the last few decades and the (apparently famous) Hadid firestation. Supposedly this distinctive building contained a small blunder in that the fire engines couldn’t fit in.

Next up was a home-cooked meal at Andreas’ house together with local club president Markus Haag and families. As the world stumbles from one crisis to the next it was reassuring to learn over a feast of goulash soup, dumplings and rösti of the first world problems faced by Brombach chess club. Avid readers of last year’s report may recall that Brombach has the benefit of a free chess room 24/7. More wants more though and it transpires that a bitter factional fight is now underway over replacing the club’s beer fridge. My memory may have failed me a little but I believe one group wants to buy a basic cooler, another has secured a sponsored option, and yet another group is offering to make a contribution towards their preferred means of chilling their beers. No resolution is currently in sight.

Checking out the local vineyards before round one

Round 1 – Friday evening

This round’s problem is to construct a series of legal moves whereby Black to play (with loads of time to invest in this task) can transition from the nicely advantageous middlegame in the first diagram to the somewhat suspect endgame in the second diagram.

Frustratingly my opponent now played without error despite being left with little more than the 30 second increment. All of my attempts to offer him chances to confuse things were rebuffed. With perhaps a small advantage himself he now made an illegal draw offer. I have detected an emerging trend for players to offer draws whenever the possibility crosses their consciousness rather than offering after making their move. In the recent Chester 1 v Chester 2 match I think it happened on two of the five boards. Now the pragmatic approach would just have been to fake tank for a couple of minutes and then accept the offer. I decided to take a stand for correct protocol. “Remis” seems to be the local way of offering a draw. The interchange took place in German, with the following translation fairly faithful to the German:

Opponent: I offer to you draw.

Me: First of all you must play.

Opponent (slightly louder I think): I offer to you draw. Do you understand?

Me: Yes, I understand. First of all you must play.

Opponent: I must play a move first?

Me: Yes

Opponent: Plays the obvious move to secure a draw

Me: Offers handshake

It occurs to me now that this was another area of weak pre-tournament preparation. To aid those facing similar situations in future, and with a little help from Google Translate the following rebuttals may be useful and easy to memorise:

Ich sage wann es Remis ist

[I’ll say when it’s a draw – A la Bobby Fischer]

Sicher lachst du. Die Hölle müsste erstarren, bevor ich davon träumen würde, Remis von jemandem zu akzeptieren, der so schlecht bewertet ist wie Sie

[Surely you’re having a laugh. Hell would need to freeze over before I would dream of accepting a draw from someone as lowly rated as you.]

Round 2 – Saturday morning

After a tense and fairly even middlegame including an exchange sacrifice to open up my opponent’s king my opponent blundered a rook. He lost interest in continuing shortly thereafter.

Round 3 – Saturday afternoon

My young opponent unleashed his inner Grischuk to spend an inordinate amount of time over the first fifteen or so moves. Unfortunately as sometimes happens it was a case of long think – wrong think. None of his ideas worked out and he resigned around 10 moves later seemingly in complete despair at his position. Even his resignation included a blunder. At the start of the game he had as is becoming customary carefully avoided shaking hands. Now he forgot his hygiene plans and held out his hand. This quick game was well-timed as it enabled a swift shift to the evening adventures of burning wood.

Preparation for round 4’s game against a local FM

With Andreas next to a raging fire in a raging storm

Once a year in a few local villages there is a local tradition of having a bonfire on top of the local hill. This is linked to the Fasnacht celebrations which mark the start of Lent. Germans being Germans it is all carefully organized with all households leaving out their spare wood such as Christmas trees and cuttings for the local fire service to collect. It was a little wet and windy so the firemen got the opportunity to throw petrol on the fire to accelerate the burning process (Don’t do this at all yourselves boys and girls).

Washed down with a mulled wine and wurst there is also a tradition of throwing discs of burning wood off the hill into the valley below. I understand this has generally proven quite safe except a century or two ago when the local castle burnt down. If this really really excites you then let me know and I can show you a video of the process.

Set fire to the disc in a firepit, attach to a stick and then launch into the valley below looking out for castles

Back at Andreas’ house he offered to research my round 4 opponent against the top seed. We quickly determined he played all kinds of odd stuff. Rather than study any of that I decided to just play 1c4 and see what happens.

Round 4 – Sunday morning

My opponent played quickly and confidently, reaching a -5 position without undue effort. Your challenge is to find the right plan for White (me).

A – Stick your knight on d6. That’s worth a rook according to a certain Kasparov. No need to calculate.

B – The Black knights are excellent defenders, particularly if one end up on d5. It’s vital to exchange one when Black will be defenceless on the dark squares.

C – By manoeuvring the queen to e4 and placing the rook on d6 White can exploit a pin on the c6 knight winning material in all lines.

Let’s just say my moves weren’t the best and my opponent demonstrated that a Failed Master (ie a mature player who has clearly failed to make IM or GM) knows a lot more about piece placement than a FFM (a failed failed master i.e. someone who hasn’t even made FM).

Fast forward a few moves and we reached the following position. Your challenge is in 15 minutes or less to find the only move that keeps White with a playable (if slightly worse) position.

I just couldn’t see a plausible move and gave up a piece and shortly thereafter the game. C’est la vie. So ist das Leben.

Round 5 – Sunday afternoon

My theoretically knowledgeable opponent played the London system. Quite worryingly it seems that there are named variations and sub variations within this opening, all of which he had analysed in detail. I must have played a sub-optimal move somewhere which luckily led him astray and gave me a small advantage. However, given my reading material choice for the trip my mind wasn’t up to the task and we agreed a draw. That was enough for 3/5 and fifth place on tiebreak.

Lights On in Basel

The plan now was to hightail it to a hotel in Basel ready for the Fasnacht celebrations there. At 4am all the lights in the city go out and there is a parade of Fasnacht folk with lanterns. If you want to know more then I recommend wikipedia as sadly I didn’t get to see it. As a corona virus measure Switzerland decided to ban all gatherings of over a thousand people and so it was cancelled.

Going to Basel was now pretty pointless so I’m indebted to Andreas for putting me up in his house for Sunday night. I got to sample a few local beers and check out his DIY home automation. Interestingly I discovered that Alexa despite being born American doesn’t speak any English in Germany.

Monday – Plan B

Patrolling the Swiss-German border with Markus.

The Easyjet return flight wasn’t until late in the evening. Andreas and Markus took the day off work and showed me around some of the local towns. Markus is a manager in the public administration of Bad Säckingen. He showed us round this town on the German side of the Rhein. There is a famous wooden-roofed bridge over the river and a fascinatingly decorated cathedral. Markus treated us to lunch nearby and whilst sampling the local schnitzel I learned that he has a wide range of work responsibilities including planning the trip of any outsized lorries across Germany that entered Germany in his territory. As he moved on to describe the processes for what he needs to do with corpses without relatives after 4 days I’m sure I detected a slight emptying of the restaurant.

View from the wooden bridge
Wooden bridge
Cathedral from outside
Inside the cathedral

Joking apart I’d like to thank Andreas and Markus and their families for showing me such a good time. Well actually I only really need to thank their families… having, as a Man U supporter, taken them both on an Anfield tour last year I don’t see how they can ever even things up.

The end

If you’ve made it this far then well done and it’s time to add up your points.

Question 1 – the best way to spoil the nice advantage is: 26.. Qb2?! 27Re1 Rc2?! 28Qxb2 Rxb2 29 Rc1 when the computer says equal but White’s imminent invasion of the 7th rank leaves him for choice.

Question 2 – Kasparov gets top marks. As he says in his own book he’s arguably the best player ever. I played a combination of B and C and it all went wrong.

Question 3 – Qg4 blocks the deadly check on the g-file. Easy once you see it I guess.

Jack finishes second at Leyland

At the recent Leyland Rapid junior Jack Yang managed a great performance in the minor section. He was second on 5/6, losing only to the unrated (and presumably soon to be highly rated) 6/6 winner. Here he is pictured collecting his prize.

Congratulations Jack!

Chester launches online club

Tired of getting beaten up or flagged at blitz by anonymous online players? That can all change now. Join the Chester club and you’ll know at the very least that the person beating you or flagging you is from the club. Their username may still be bizarre and their identity unknown but it’s a start…

Joking apart, we just launched our online club on Lichess. It’s free and straightforward to sign up. Once you’ve done that you can click to join the online club here, noting your real name in the accompanying note so we can keep it to genuine members: https://lichess.org/team/chester-chess-club

We plan to experiment with matches against other clubs and the occasional internal tournament. And of course you should be able to see which other club members are online and challenge them to a game.

Our first match was an hour blitz battle against our German twin town Lörrach. With players including Dissonant Harmony, Rokelis, Tritium, Bateman and a confusingly German Schadenfreude we built an early lead but ultimately lost narrowly. We have tentatively planned a rematch for the first Thursday in June.

So if you’re ready for some online games, please sign up now…