Yet even more Minor Updates (updated)

Pawnstar has been inundated with enthusiastic hawkings of the Minor variety  – see below from Mike Ward –

“The Minor Tournament is now in its final phase with only 4 games left, and as Nigel Cottle has won all his 9 games played so far he cannot be caught by any other participant and so is the Minor Champion for 2015 (a win in his last game v Martyn will give him a 100% score).

Matt. Haines is currently in 2nd. place but has played all his games and finishes on 6.5, however Martyn Maber has 2 to play against Nigel and Ken. Overshott so a draw and a win will see him finish on 7 points and take clear second place.

Vic. McAndrew has 2 to play (Mike Ward and David Graham) and with 2 wins can draw level with Matt.haines, while David G. with 3 to play (Mike Watson, Steve Smith and Vic.) can also finish on 6.5 with 3 wins.

Stephen Downes after a promising start with 5 wins from his first 5 games and looking to challenge for a good finish, lost 4 and drew 1 of his last 5 games finishing on 5.5 points.

So to recap, the games to come are:- Martyn v Nigel, Steve v David, Vic. v Mike Ward, and David v Vic, and with the possible scenarios above should lead to some interesting games to finish the Minor Tournament.

Latest results are Ken. O lost to Martyn M and to Ian Hardy and finishes on zero points! and Mike Watson wins v Dave G. and finishes on 5 points.”

And finally this was sent –

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 19.42.49

The Mighty Revelation II (part two)

Regular readers and also AGM attendees will be aware of the mighty RevII.

Previously, in pawnstar’s test lab, it swept the feeble Fidelity Chess Challenger 10 aside. Then, more recently, at the TCC AGM it took on all-comers, crushing all and sundry. You’d think that’d make any potential new challengers simply sidle off, kicking heels, whistling and staring skywards, hoping not to be noticed….

But suddenly a voice called out –

“Oi! RevII! You think you’re f**king hard? Well ‘ave a bit of this…”

Ok, not quite. It was actually Mike Ward politely enquiring if he could pit his Fidelity Elite A/S computer against the RevII. And pawnstar politely agreed.

So the scene was set. First club night, the two silicon monsters would meet.

And so it was yesterday. The machines were set up. A 15sec/move time limit was set. The crowd (well, just Alex) hushed and the game got under way.

Predictably, a few moves out of book the RevII was around +3.00, which suddenly rose to #7 shortly after the Elite sent it’s bishop on a pawn grabbing sortie… The Mighty Revelation II cruised to a crush again. Anyone dare to try?

Here’s the game –

RevII v Elite

RevII v Elite

Som Cup Final 2014 – match report

(if this webpage is asking if it can run extra software – say yes – its a video player for later on… - pawnstar)

It is round about this time of year that everyone can take heart in the natural order of things. Certain annual events take place with a metronomic regularity, and help give a certain relaxation to the proletariat that all is good, the natural world order is in place and all is fine with life.

‘What are these events?’ I hear you ask. Well, around now in early May, the days get warmer, Man United win the Premiership, Mourinho wins something elsewhere to placate doubters, and more locally, the Taunton Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods participate in the Somerset Cup Final, win the toss (sometimes after multiple attempts), give Nick white, and subsequently win the title yet again…

But the natural order of things is seriously miss-firing this year –

The weather (up until today) has been crappy, ManU didn’t even make the top four, Mourinho has nothing, and whilst the TSTCPGs have made the final (that would have been truly earth-shattering if not), but somewhat in-explicably, although we won the toss (after just one attempt this time), DaveL not only gave Nick black, but chose White for himself – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a selfish choice of colour ever before….!

After all this change – it does beg the question – will the natural order of things be restored? Will the TSTCPGs win the title, or has there been such a cataclysmic shift of events that not even this can be relied upon anymore?

Ok, no prizes for guessing (especially as I’ve already revealed the result in an earlier post), but at the time, as the match started, everyone was a bit un-easy (even CPGs have doubts from time to time) – can we win to establish the natural order of things?

Incidentally, back in the ’80s, there was an advert telling kids to drink milk, otherwise they’d never be good enough to play for Man United, and would instead play for Accrington Stanley – cue kids eagerly quaffing lots of milk…

Our team for the match has a couple of changes from the regular TSTCPGs – firstly James was ill (get well soon), and Ben (who despite drinking milk on occasion), plays for a Sedgemoor in the Somerset Cup. Being an 8-man team, Stan and Jerry were drafted in. (worryingly, not using MikeW as our board 8 secret weapon is also a break from the natural order of things)

So our team was – DaveL, MarkH, MikeR, NickW, TerryS, AlexC, StanW and JerryK.

Sedgemoor turned up and the match got underway. The games finished like this –

Board 5: T Stuttard 1/2 v S Green 1/2
Terry couldn’t break through against black’s defences here and the game was drawn. No game details held – please send me the .PGN.

Next was Stan –

Board 7: S Wojcik 1/2 v A Byrne 1/2
Stan couldn’t break through against black’s defences here and the game was drawn. No game details held – please send me the .PGN.

Then Jerry –

Board 8: S Hill 1/2 v J Kilby 1/2
Jerry couldn’t break through against white’s defences here and the game was drawn. No game details held – please send me the .PGN.

So three draws in a row, and by now Mark had reached move 14, when suddenly, this happened –

Board 2: W Taylor 1/2 v M Hassall 1/2
A… ahem, cough, ‘grandmaster’ draw… So few moves, but please send me the .PGN.

So, four draws so far. Scores level at 2-2. Looking at the remaining games, Dave was slowly being squashed by Ben, Mike’s game looked harmless, Nick’s was double-edged and Alex, whilst a pawn or so up, had opposite bishops in an ending. So, if Alex drew and Dave lost, then both Nick and Mike would have to win, otherwise the board count-back rule (where is MikeW when we need him?), would mean we lose. Arrggh… maybe the natural order of things is looking shaky…

But whilst I was fretting and concerning over the possibility the TSTCPGs may lose to mere mortals, Alex’s game came to an end like this –

Board 6: V Effiong 0 v A Conway 1
Comments from Alex –

Great win – Score now 3-2 to Taunton, but Nick and Mike still possibly drawish and DaveL looking lose-ish, we’d still lose on board count..

Next was Nick with this –

Board 4: C McKinley 0 v N Wilson 1
Nick, unaccustomed to playing Black, says – “I was happy to let Chris move all his major pieces over to the Q-side as I thought this would be a simple sac-sac-mate on the now-deserted K-Side. But I took too long, let Chris blockade, and the game became double-edged. Chris made a slip, letting me win the exchange, but even then, with best play, I think it was drawn. But in the end, my rook got free, mopped everything up and the game was decided.”.

This win means we just need half a point from the next two games.

MikeR was next with this –

Board 3: M Richardt 0 v N Senior 1
Comments from Mike himself –

And with this, Taunton lead by 5-2, thus winning the Somerset Cup!!

The final game between Dave and Ben went like this –

Board 1: D Littlejohns 1 v B Edgell 0
Ben steamrollered Dave, let him off the hook, and Dave grabbed a draw at the end – aided by Ben’s morose as Sedgemoor has already lost the match by then. Final moves not recored due to a time scramble, but caught on video!

So – Taunton win 5.5 – 2.5 and are Somerset Cup Champions again!!!

Congratulations to all – this is an unprecedented run of success for Taunton – in years to come, people will look back at these halcyon years and recognise the true legendary greatness of the TSTCPGs!

But also, it means the natural order of things has been restored and we can all rush out and put a tenner on Man Utd being champions next season…

And as usual, we celebrated with MaccyDs (maybe next year it’ll finally be the coke and hookers…)

Scoffing MaccyDs in a victory celebration!

Scoffing MaccyDs in a victory celebration!

So, a big big thank you all members, who each and everyone has have helped Taunton have such a great season and maintain the glory, aura and domination of the Taunton Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods!


The mighty Revelation II Chess Computer

Chess Challenger 10

Chess Challenger 10

From reading all the various match reports, anyone would think pawnstar has broad interests, ranging from evaluating barmaid-hotness through to finding things to do during otherwise boring chess games.

There is in fact a further interest, one that unimaginatively combines two very, in-their-own-right, nerdy interests to make one super-nerdy interest. This being chess and computers, combined as chess computers.

Recently pawnstar was playing with the very latest (and best ever) chess computer – the Revelation II. Strangely, he didn’t choose to release any games played by him, but instead decided to pit it against the ancient Chess Challenger 10 – a very early (and feeble) chess computer from the ’70s.

Revelation II

Revelation II

The result wasn’t pretty, with the Revelation announcing mate in 6 by move 15 – particularly impressive given the game was still in book by about move 7.

Div1 Match Report – Taunton v Frome

We all know the Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods that is Taunton’s Division One Chess team, is, er, supreme, and er.. god-like, but I don’t think Taunton has ever put out such a strong team as we did for this match. Had Mark been available to play (even gods get ill, or choose to watch Arsenal beat minnows), then you’d need to be 180+ to even get in the team. Without bothering to check, I think this would eliminate probably 99.9% of all other Div1 players from the team.

Yeah baby! This rocks! Strongest Taunton Div 1 team ever! Yeah! Bring it on!

And why are we fielding such a strong team? Surely some vital, must-win match?

This is Taunton’s last Division 1 match for the 2013/4 season, and despite pawnstar’s enthusiastic hawkings, the reality is Taunton had already clinched the Division 1 title on goal difference. This makes the Frome match a ‘dead rubber’.

There are no positive connotations to that phrase, with all of them ranging from erasory issues right though to prophylactic failures. None are good.

So we approached our seemingly pointless final Div 1 game, with the strongest team ever, and so long as we avoid a somewhat unlikely 10-0 defeat, then the Div 1 title is ours. Of course, as always, we wanted to win in style and put ourselves clearly top.

Frome is a gazzilion miles away from everywhere, especially Taunton, and it took ages to get there. There was some sort of police disturbance with the blues and no-twos going strong nearby. We heard rumours it was a gypsy problem… in Gypsy Lane. Really? Are they that unimaginative?

Anyway, we all turned up roughly on time, including new Taunton chess club member, Carl. The team was Carl, Ben, Dave, Mike, Nick and James.

We settled down to play and they finished roughly like this –


Board 3: D Littlejohns 1 v Frome Player 0
This game had all the hallmarks of a Dave classic – e.g. after the frst half hour, the game was still in the early opening stage, and even after an hour, no major pieces had left the back rank. And Dave, after 1 hour and 14 mins of play, felt he had a slight edge, with his pawn structure giving him slightly more space. Black’s fag fell shortly after, giving Dave the win! (I suppose for accuracy, it should be pointed out Dave’s opponent didn’t turn up and he won by default..)

Next was Ben –

Board 2: G Jepps 0 v B Edgell 0
This looked like a quiet, boring opening, with white eventually exchanging two minors for a rook. Ultimately this proved his downfall and Ben converted the win nicely.

Then was Mike –

Board 3: C Fewtrell 0 v M Richardt 1
Mike defended properly under some pressure from White’s K-side pressure, and then converted the winning endgame into, er, a win.

And now Carl, Taunton’s newest member –

Board 1: C Bicknell 1 v C Purry 0
Comments are from Carl in game, but a good win, well played, and secured the match for Taunton.

Next was James, who drew against the same player recently, was looking to win following that result.

Board 6: G Berryman 0 v J Byrne 0
A long struggle, eventually going our way!

Finally was Nick. Just one more win needed to for 6-0 scoreline!

Board 5: N Wilson 1/2 v R Williams 1/2
What a shocker! Nick managed to miss a win earlier (e.g. 24. Qd7 Qd7 25. Ne4 wins clearly), and then botched a +10.2 eval on move 29. Nick says “I’d seen Rxe6 looked like winning, but thought I’d slip in Bh6 first to stop it being en-prise and making the Rxe6 combo simpler. But in a chess-blindness issue had stupidly not seen Black’s queen could now go to g4, forcing the exchange. The rest of the game might have been won for white, but rather than thinking clearly, I was still kicking myself for not playing Rxe6 first. This moaning then continued all the way home, as Dave (trapped, as the only passenger in the car), will testify…”

So with that pathetic offering from Nick, the final score was 5.5 – 0.5.

It has to be said that rarely is a 5.5 – 0.5 crushing victory, actually slightly disappointing, but that’s how it felt with Nick spoiling the 6-0 party.

Anyway, Taunton now are clearly Div 1 champions!! For the fourth time!

Time to party – and party we did – check this out – late night MaccyDs – yeah we know how to party big time!

Here is a piccy of the event. Sadly Carl couldn’t make it, but I must be honest – we had a digital artist superimpose him in the picture…

Taunton celebrate Division One victory!

Taunton celebrate Division One victory!

Well played Taunton!

Now for the Somerset Cup!!

– pawnstar

Div1 Match Report – Taunton 4.5 v Yeovil 1.5 8-Apr-14

There have been many questions circulating recently, e.g. –
What has happened to pawnstar?” or “Are match reports no longer being written?”

They ranged from the concerned “I hope pawnstar is ok, not like him (or her – his/her identity is secret don’t you know) to miss writing these reports..?“, to the somewhat less concerned – “Oi! I spent f@&king ages sending my .png to pawnstar – so where is the f$%^&ing match report – eh?

Well pawnstar is back and match reporting will continue – or at least for the big, important matches anyway.

So, Taunton meet Yeovil in their penultimate Div 1 match, which is a big important match, and so here is the report.

Now, you’d think that a 6 man chess team would have a, dare I say it, higher-than-mormal set of analytical skills than Mr Average, but there was a lot of mathematical uncertainty regarding this match…

Let me explain – should we win, we would be level on points with the current Div One leader, and yet have a game in hand to play. However, our goal difference (don’t bother) is very large, and calculations went on to find what score we needed tonight to reduce the final match to a dead rubber (now there’s a phrase normally used er, um.. elsewhere, suddenly finding its way into a respectable match report). It seems that should we win by 4-2 or more, then it should secure the Div One title again.

So MikeR arranged the team, and it eventually settled at – Ben, Mark, Dave, Nick, James and Alex.

I think this is the first time Taunton has ever fielded a team without someone called ‘Mike’ in it. Of course, I think we should now be able to field an entire team of Mikes in one of the lower divisions, but I’ll leave that to the respective captain…

Melissa George - "Stay back, pawnstar is all mine..."

Melissa George

One final point here. Imagine driving a Ferrari for a day, but having to go back to a Mini. Imagine spending a night with Melissa George but then the rest of your life with Heather from Eastenders. Imagine a day on the beach at St Tropez, but having to return to Scunthorpe. Must be pretty depressing. To have touched or felt greatness/perfection momentarily, only to be thrown back to normality a moment later must be heart wrenching.

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, Ben arrived at the club looking surprisingly happy.

As did everyone else, and we settled down to the match, which went like this –

Board 3: J Fewkes 1/2 v M Hassall 1/2
Mark was never under any real threat in this game and although technically up at the end, it was impossible to convert due to the Queens being on board.

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Next Alex with this –

Board 6: A Conway 1 v N Mills 0
Alex played a good game with advantage throughout, although missed a quicker win around move 37 – e.g Ke2 seems to win quickly. But in game the pawn advantage was enough. Alex – I’m missing the last few moves – can you send them please?

Next was Nick –

Board 4: N Wilson 1/2 v R Knight 1/2
Nick played too quickly and missed a couple of key moves in the opening (e.g. 8. Ng5 looks tasty) – very important in these sharp gambits. Whilst the position looked promising, suddenly everything was exchanged off, and White should have been lost. Thankfully, time pressure meant Roger didn’t play best moves and the game was drawn.

Now for Dave, who, after a season full of draws finally won!

Board 2 M Baker 0 v D Littlejohns 1
In a boring looking position, Dave managed to create an advantage on the Q-side and pushed on, with a slip from black accelerating the win

So, Taunton lead 3 – 1. Just one point needed to secure the title. I think. Or maybe not. Who knows??

Next was Ben –

Board 1: A Footner 0 v B Edgell 1
This first looked like a beginners game with the e4 e5 and then all knights coming out, but by move 9 it could have been a DaveL game with blacks peices rapidly returning to the back rank. fortunately it didn’t turn out that way and Ben played a few good zwischenzugs to leave white in zugzwang and totally ficken.

This win ensures Taunton win the match, and possibly Div 1. We gathered and half-heartedly air-fist-pumped and collectively muttered ‘Yay?’ to celebrate feeling 50.1% sure we are now Div one champs…

James’s game was now the last to finish.

Board 6: D Freeman 0.5 v J Byrne 0.5
An interesting game at the end with White having rooks and a few pawns v Black’s Queen and lots of pawns. Probably a draw, but White had the added pressure of all his team-mates gathered round and wanting to go home – all waiting for this final, non-match-result-relevant game to finish. James was a true gentleman and offered the draw. It goes without saying that pawnstar would have played on, waiting for white to wilt under team mate pressure!

Final result – Taunton win 4.5 – 1.5!!

Pretty sure we have won Div One again with this, but we all want to do it in style and ensure we are clear winners by beating Frome next week!

Well played everyone!

– pawnstar

2013 Somerset Cup Final – report

photo 2-2Yes, its May 22nd, and whilst we should all be outside, sipping Pimms/Lager/Methylated Sprit and enjoying sunshine/BBQs/being-hidden-from-the-police-on-a-park-bench, it seems Mother Nature has been taking her cue from Taunton Chess Club and has officially delayed the onset of Summer until the final chess event of the season completes – that being the Somerset Cup.

Normally this would have been played in late March, or in extreme circumstances perhaps in April. But for various procrastinatory reasons, it took place last Monday. At least summer can start now – are you listening Mother Nature? (looks outside, shivers, and realises she isn’t..)

Anyway, Taunton and Trowbridge are in the final.. er.. WHAT??? WHO??? Trowbridge?? Let’s just check a map… Hmm… They aren’t even in Somerset!! I quote (from Wikipedia) “Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire”. So, that is easy – Taunton win the Somerset Cup by default!! Yay!!

Ok, not quite. Being the sporting, generous chaps we are, we decided to continue with the final and let the best man win and all that (not like that is in any doubt of course – this is Taunton’s Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods we are talking about..)

photo 3-2So, the final was agreed to be played at Glastonbury, this being roughly halfway between the County Town of Somerset and the County Town of Wiltshire. The teams are fighting for the Somerset Cup, with Taunton looking to win it for the third time on the trott. In fact, looking back at the previous winners reveals a few surprises, most notably being the fact Glastonbury travelled back in time to win the 2003 Final before the 2002 event took place – very impressive!

So thanks to Glastonbury for letting us use their club for the final. Regular readers know pawnstar’s opinion of the Tor Club, and will be pleased to hear that the barmaid on duty was definitely more hot than not. Sadly, the pool table was out of action and we were in a room without a mildy entertaining wall mural – cue plenty of agonising boredom while waiting for opponents to move. At least the club has had a good re-fit recently and now very well lit etc.. for us fussy chess-types..

Ok, on to the teams and games.

Taunton were near full strength with – Mark, Dave, MikeR, Nick, Alex, Stan, Martin and MikeW – only Robin and Jorge being unable to make it. Trowbridge turned up with their lot, none of whom we’ve really met or ever played against. So new territories. Looking at the gradings, Taunton had the edge in the upper half and Trowbridge more so in the lower section. But we have Mike Ward on board 8 – a key tactic in many of our victories!

I didn’t see the coin toss for colours, but was aware of the pre-amble with both teams recognising Nick has to have White, and negotiations concluded successfully without the often messy, and maybe slightly potentially illegal, multiple coin tosses until the desired outcome is met. Nick had White, and everyone else settled in around that…

The games finished roughly like this –

Board 4: Nick Wilson 1 v D Weston 0
Nick, as usual, lost (“sacced” – Nick), a couple of pawns early on, but won quickly, after a nice exchange sac, followed by a knight sac and mate. The game was over in just 20 moves. DaveL considered a pawn sac in his game, thought it was too risky, and took 24 moves to win – hah!

Next was Dave –
Board 2: Dave Littlejohns 1 v Mark Leonard 0
Dave and Mark always meet when we play Frome, so it seemed only correct they’d meet here. I don’t know the head to head standings, but Mark must fear a long Dave grind, and therefore meekly capitulated in 24 moves. Dave, all fired up for a long drawn out endgame tussle, was reduced to releasing this pent up energy by making semi-accurate comments on other endgames in the room – particularly Stan’s game – e.g. “Stan’s winning”, then “Stan’s losing”, but then, “Stan might hold this”, followed by “Stan’s losing” etc.. etc…

So, Taunton lead 2-0.

Next was our secret weapon, Mike, on board 8 with this..

photo 1-4Board 8: Mike Ward 0 v C Lamming 1
Mike was technically out-graded by a large margin and therefore ‘took one for the team’ in losing here. Not a great game, sadly.

Taunton lead 2 – 1, but have secured the vital loss on board 8, which tactically mean Trowbridge have to score 4.5 now to win. A matchplay tactical masterclass by Mike Ward!

Next was Martin –
Board 7: D Rothwell 0.5 v Martin Worral 0.5
Had I seen this position after move 14, I would have sworn in was one of Dave’s games (queens off and only one piece beyond the back rank) – a nightmarishly boring tedious position, just ripe for a grind. But it got interesting quickly and soon Martin was a rook up, and therefore as with all his games going that way it was agreed drawn. (Actually he was a rook exchange up, but pawnstar doesn’t like the truth getting in the way of a good story, as regular readers will know…)

Taunton now lead 2.5 – 1.5

Next was Alex with this –
Board 5: T Woodard 0.5 v Alex conway 0.5
Comments are by Alex. Dave also commented on the end postion, seconds before the result, and his opinion was ‘Yawn’… sorry.. ‘Drawn’.

Taunton new lead 3 – 2

Just one more point needed…

Next was Mark –
Board 1: A Cooper 0.5 v Mark Hassall 0.5
Comments are by Mark, but he secured the draw (seeing that MikeR’s game by them looked totally winning) in a position that did offer him chances.

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Taunton now close in on the title with a 3.5 – 2.5 lead.

Next was MikeR –

Board 3: D Marshall 0 v Mike Richardt 1
Comments from Mike –

Taunton win the 2013 Somerset Cup!!

The final game involved Stan.
Board 6: Stan Wojick 0 v G Williams 1
Stan was involved in a lengthy tussle here, and even the legendary end-game grind strategist DaveL couldn’t predict the outcome. Once the match was secured, Stan was offered a draw, but he played on, unfortunately missing a possible best line, and lost.
(Moves to come)

So Taunton win 4.5 – 3.5 and retain the Somerset Cup for 2013!!

Taunton Win the Somerset Cup in 2013

Taunton Win the Somerset Cup in 2013

I have to say, this was a closer match than we anticipated, and so commiserations to Trowbridge who put up a good fight.

But anyway, well done to us and cementing our Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods status! We just need one more win to have an unprecidented four-in-a-row Somerset Cup Victories!!

A final pic – Nick, Mike and Dave celebrate their wins, not with the expected Coke and Hookers, but a sensible MaccyDs…
photo 4-1
Chess season is now over – see you all in early September (or sooner if you turn up at the yet-to-be-announced annual AGM / BBQ at Nick’s!).

Thanks again everyone for a great season!!

– pawnstar