Archive for June, 2015

Here’s a snippet from The Beds Advertiser and Luton Times April 29th, 1910


Those of us local, with an interest in our history know just how important author F.Dickens was. Did the man who trounced Lasker (albeit in a simul) and had Jacques Meises scrambling for a draw really learn how to play chess as an adult from a local farmer? I wonder if the comments reported above really are true? There is no word on who the reporter is and how he acquired such ‘information’.


Chess in Bedfordshire (F.Dickens & G.L. White, Leeds 1933), pg.3

It should be noted that the Luton/Dunstable chess scene was exceptionally strong at that time, drawing in the world’s greatest players for simuls with ease on a regular basis, such as Blackburne the great simul master who was unable to beat F.Dickens. To go from a non-playing adult to top board in a blisteringly strong Luton side is possible but improbable unless you are exceptionally talented.


dickens 2

dickens meisis

Note the mis-reportage in the final paragraph (above the game)

Here’s another snippet, this time from The Bedfordshire Advertiser Dec 9th, 1904.




Advice from F.Dickens on how to play the game of chess.


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Peter Frost, an Australian friend from Bangkok recently entered the Teplice tournament in the Czech Republic and bumped into Bedfordshire’s finest, the Ledger brothers. If that wasn’t enough of a coincidence, Peter was paired with white against Steve Ledger in the second round. Here is their game.

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 c5
3 d5 b5
4 Nf3
This is Yermolinsky’s recommendation.
5 dxe6 fxe6
6 Nc3 b4
7 Nb5!? d6
8 a3
It seems as if the Knight has a death wish, but opening up the “a” file fully protects him against being netted by …a6.
9 axb4 Nxb4
10 g3 Bb7
11 Bh3!
Taking aim at the e6 pawn.
12 Nc3 Qd7
13 0-0 Nc6?
I think Stephen  must have overlooked that he was allowing my next move, which is very strong.
14 Nd5! Nxd5
15 cxd5 Nd8
16 dxe6 Qc6
It is too dangerous to play 16…Nxe6 due to various pins.
17 Bg5 Be7
18 Bxe7 Kxe7
White has a strong (indeed winning) attack but needs to execute well. The best way to proceed was to introduce another piece into the attack by the creative Rook lift 19 Ra3!, which unfortunately I didn’t notice at all.
19 Qd2? Nxe6
20 Qe3 Qe4
21 Qxe4?
Once again, 21 Ra3! was better. Now my once substantial advantage has quickly disappeared.
22 Bxe6 Bxf3
23 Bc4 Bb7
24 Rfd1 Rhd8
25 Bd5?!
Seems natural enough, to stop …d5, but this move allows Black to take the initiative on the “b” file.
26 Rxd5 Rdb8!
27 Rad1 Rxb2
28 Rxd6 Rxe2
29 Rd7+ Kf6
30 R(1)d6+ Re6
31 Rxe6+?
Miscalculating the resulting endgame. It was necessary to keep both Rooks with 31 Rd3!, seeking counterplay against Black’s King.
32 Rxg7 c4?
Stephen misses his chance to win fairly simply by advancing his “a” pawn to a2, forcing Ra1, and then after …Kd5, White is one move too slow with own King to prevent Black’s from penetrating to b2.
33 Kf1 Kd5
34 Ke2 a5
35 Rxh7?
It turns out that White doesn’t have time for this, but it was quite difficult to see the problem, a “star” 43rd move for Black. I calculated a long variation at this point, and thought everything was going to be ok, because  I missed the “star” move in my counting (so did Stephen). I think it was Larsen who said “long variation-wrong variation”.
36 Rb7 Kd4
37 Kd2 a3
38 Rb1
All as calculated on move 35 so far…
After 38…a2 39 Ra1 c3+ 40 Kc2 Kc4 41 h4 Rd8 we both assumed that after 42 Rxa2 Rd2+ 43 Kb1 defending the Rook is fine for White. But we both missed the “star” move 43…Kb3! winning immediately. This line continues to be available to White for the next two moves as well.
39 f4 Rh8
40 h4 Rg8
41 Rb7 a2
42 Rd7+ Kc5
43 Ra7 Rxg3
44 Kc2 Rf3
45 Rxa2 Kd4
46 Ra8 Rf2+
47 Kb1 Rxf4
48 Rg8
Proceeding directly to Philidor’s position, as I knew that to be drawn.
49 Rg3
Philidor’s position. The Rook cuts the King off from the sixth rank, and just waits for the pawn to advance to that rank, after which the Rook goes to the 8th rank and checks forever. Black’s only try is to force White to demonstrate long side defence.
50 Rf3 Rd2
51 Rh3 Rd3
52 Rh8 Kc3
53 Kc1 Rg3
54 Kb1!
The key move. The King must go to the short side, so as not to get in the way of the Rook’s lateral checks.
55 Ka2 Rd1
56 Rh3+ Kc2
57 Rh2 Rd2
58 Rh1 c3
59 Rg1 Rd1
60 Rg2+ Rd2
61 Rg1 Rf2
62 Rh1 Rg2
63 Rf1 Re2
64 Rh1 Rg2
65 Rf1 Rh2
66 Rg1 Rd2
67 Rh1 Rd7
68 Rh2+ Rd2
69 Rh1 Rd8
70 Rh2+ Kd1
71 Rh1+ Kd2
72 Rh2+ Kd3
73 Rh3+ Kc4
74 Rh4+ Rd4
75 Rh8 Kd3
76 Rh3+ Kc2
77 Rh2+ Rd2
78 Rh1

Not the best shirt even seen at the chess board Steve.


From left to right, Dave Ledger, Peter Frost, Steve Ledger and Andrew Ledger.

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Bedfordshire’s very first county matches have been documented in the book Chess in Bedfordshire, F.Dickens and G.L.White (Leeds 1933) see below:

za zbzc zd

For detail, I have added newspaper reports detailing some of the matches described.

1908 return match Beds Advertiser and Luton Times Fri Mar20

1908 return match Beds Advertiser and Luton Times Fri Mar, 20

The Bedfordshire Advertiser  Friday March 11th 1904

The Bedfordshire Advertiser Friday March 11th, 1904

The Beds Advertiser and Luton Times Feb 22nd. 1907

The Beds Advertiser and Luton Times Feb 22nd. 1907


Old Bedford Road, Luton

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Grace contemplates a double-knight sac in one move.


An unusual position created by Ms. McCready

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Some of us untitled players may wonder whether being titled matters. It certainly does. The higher the title the greater the perks it provides. Take for instance when Hou Yifan, the then Women’s World Champion came to Bangkok to play in 2012. There was a $10,000 appearance fee generously paid by a local retiree (sorry, not allowed to name him), and a penthouse suite at the Dusit Thani for 2 weeks was provided also -free of charge of course!

In turn, there were a few duties to fulfill, such as a simul against a select few, a photo shoot here and there, and perhaps an interview. Thankfully, Hou Yifan made a genuine effort to win the tournament, which cannot be said for all Bangkok’s guest GMs, some of whom, in the belief they have already made their money, begin each round the worse for wear after a night on the town.


GM Hou Yifan, a pleasant person to meet.


A trap that has caught many GMs out whilst visiting Thailand.

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Some games defy belief. Having played 1. f4 for many years, I couldn’t help but laugh with incredulity when I saw this game on pg. 6 of The Quickest Victories of All Time by Graham Burgess (Cadogan). It is one of the funniest games I’ve ever seen, what on earth black was thinking about I don’t know. If it were a football match then we could assume he wanted an early bath!

H.Rost – J.Roscher corr. 1989

1. Nc3!? f5?! That’s not a good start as we Dutch Defense players can testify.

2. e4 dxe4

3. d3 exd3?!

4. Bxd3

If that's not the daftest postion ever to be reached on a chess board then I don't know what is. One more dubious move and black is lost.

If that’s not the daftest postion ever to be reached on a chess board then I don’t know what is. One more dubious move and black is lost. I understand the occasional need for experimentation but really… .

4. …Nf6

5. g4 (Nf3 is better) g6

6. g5 Nh5


If this were a true From Gambit, black would have little to worry about here if, I repeat, if he knows what to do as the g-pawn push isn’t anything to worry about.

7. Ne4 d5

8. Ng3 Nxg3

9. hxg3 Bg7?


Black had to play Qd6 after which he is holding with a material advantage.

10. Rxh7 O-O?? 

11. Bxg6 Qd6

12. Qh5


12. …Qe6

13. Be3 Resigns

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If people are going to play anti-chess openings, they deserve everything they get.

M. Wickert – M.Adams Islington 1992

1. d4 Nf6

2. Bg5 Ne4

3. Bf4 c5

4. d5 Qb6

5. Nd2 Qxb2

6. Ngf3?? (If Nxe4 then Qxb4+) Nc3

7. Nc4?? Nxd1



This is how you play the Trompowsky, Michael Adams beats Kasparov!

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Tolush, Spassky’s old trainer, was a colourful figure over the board and won many brilliancy prizes in his day. Unfortunately, there were times where he was gung-ho to the point where you wonder whether he deserved the title he had. Here is one game where he fails in spectacular fashion it is, apparently, one of Khalifman’s favourite games: 14th Soviet Championships, Moscow

Tolush – Bondarevsky Boleslavsky (Cafferty’s mistake not mine)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5

The Trompowsky played in the 40s!

The Trompowsky played in the 40s!

2. …c5

3. dxc5 Ne4

4. Bf4 Nc6

5. Qd5

I don't play the Trompowsky but this looks cavalier to me.

I don’t play the Trompowsky but this looks far too cavalier to me. Some kingside development is surely in order here rather than the move actually played.

5. … f5 6. Qxf5

What on earth is going on?

Again this doesn’t seem right. White must now attend to his queen before developing.

6. … d5

7. Qh5+ g6

8. Qh4 Nd4


Note that half of white’s moves have been with his queen, which is danger of having no good squares left if black is allowed to play Nf5 on his next move.

9. Be5 Nxc2


I think we can say that the opening hasn’t been a great success for white.

10. Kd1 Nxa1

11. Bxh8 Qa5 6 12. Nc3 Nxc3+

13. Bxc3 Qxa2

14. e3 Qxb1+


An extraordinary position. How does white get into such a mess within 15 moves? By ignoring just about every opening principle that exists, that’s how.

15. Ke2 d4 Black opens up the position. 8 16. Qxd4 Bd7 Black prepares to castle.

17. Qb4? Hard to understand. Boleslavsky thought Nh3 was better  

17. … O-O-O

18. f4 Nc2

19. Qa5 Qc1 1020. Bd4 Nxd4

21. exd4 Qxb2


Still no kingside development!

22. Kf3 Qxd4

23. Ne2 Bc6+

24. Kg4 h5+

25. Kh4 Qf6+

26. Kg3 e5


1 – 0


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Tigran Petrosian, who as we all know went on to become world champion, made a rather nervous start at the Soviet Championships in his debut game. At the 18th Championships in Moscow, 10th November to 12th December 1950, the meekest of all tigers came up against Kotov in the first round.

Here is the game: Kotov – Petrosian

1. d4 d5

2. c4 e6

3. Nc3 Nf6

4. cxd5 exd5

5. Bg5 Be7

6. e3 c6

7. Qc2 Ne4? 


9. Bxe7 Qxe7? The king had to capture.

10. Nxd5


Courtesy of his previous move, black is already lost but he plays on.

10. …cxd5

11. Qxc8+


The whole point. The unguarded bishop is now lost.

11. …Qd8

12. Bb5+ Nc6

13. Bxc6

4 13. …bxc6

14. Qxc6 Resigns. 


Two pawns down and with an uncastled king, black resigns. Not quite what you would expect from a future world champion.


A picture of a distraught Petrosian taken just after the game.

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Play chess of course! What else? A local player tells of how he passed the time whilst unfree.

Bedfordshire Times and Standard, 6th October 1944

Bedfordshire Times and Standard, 6th October 1944

Any thoughts on who it may be? Ukranian V.Maluga perhaps?

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