John Wilkinson Triumphant

In our intra-club competition I show this game to demonstrate the dangers of underdevelopment and poor play.

Major Club Champ – update

This year’s Major club championship is being run by Martin and already is looking a much more efficient and successful affair when compared to last year’s shambolic offering, run by, er.. , someone else…

Thus far three games have been played, these being –

NickW 1 – 0 MartinW
MartinW 1 – 0 AlexC
MikeW 0 – 1 NickW

Martin has contacted all involved, so please make sure you play your games on time!


2015 Taunton Chess Club Lightning Tournament

I’m not sure how many here are familiar with the phrase first world problems and the subsequent funny, yet embarrassingly trivial problems people come up with/suffer from – e.g. “Oh dear, Waitrose is out of organic humous, I’ll have to make do with their own-brand value range.”. A classic first world problem.

Pawnstar doesn’t shop at Waitrose (although he probably would if there were one in Taunton), and so doesn’t have that particular first world problem. However, one, amongst the many he does suffer from is people who have telephone answer phone messages that chirpily say “Hello….?”, exactly as though a person had answered the phone,followed by a significant pause, and then just as you start talking, the machine then says “Ha! I’m not here, please leave a message? (Yes, f**k you and you stupid answer phone…).

I can now officially add one more item to my list of first world problems, one probably only shared by 10 people in total in the entire universe!

I’m sure everyone can relate however – imagine talking to some strangers in a pub and opening with this – “You know where you are playing in an annual lightning chess tournament held at a small West Country chess club, and you are waiting for the buzzer to sound so you can make your move, and the buzzer does sound and you make your move, only do be told whilst making your move that the buzzer you just heard wasn’t the actual buzzer but an example of what the buzzer does sound like? Arrgh so frustrating and annoying, wouldn’t you all agree?” Terrible first world problem, huh?

Let me move on – Taunton’s 2015 lightning tournament was held at the club last night (Nov 3rd). MikeW was organising it as usual and did a very good job.

The format, as it has been for decades, is an all-play-all round robin type thingy, but the games are limited to 35 moves for each player, with a buzzer sounding every ten seconds, forcing a player to move then. If the game is unfinished at 35 moves, it is adjudicated. Points are awarded – 3 for a checkmate within 35 moves, 2 for an adjudicated win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss.

Other rules include a 3 point win if an illegal move is made and no resigning allowed (part of getting the full 3 points is to ensure a checkmate within 35 moves). You are supposed to move immediately after the buzzer or face a 3 point loss too. Nick probably racked up about 30 points in his game against Mike Watson due to flagrant breaches of the illegal/immediate move rules…! (but in a travesty was only awarded 3 – yes a first world problem for him!)

The ‘buzzer’ is actually a cassette recording played on a mini boom-box that MikeW brought along. For those under 35, let me explain –

cassette – a ​flat ​rectangular ​device ​containing a very ​long ​strip of magnetic ​material that is used to ​record ​sound and/or ​pictures, or a ​machine that uses such ​devices.

Many years ago, MikeW patiently recorded this cassette to be used as the buzzer for the lightning tournament – presumably he sat in a quiet room pressing a buzzer every ten seconds whilst recording it.. Were Sherlock Holmes to attempt to date and method the recording he’d notice the absence of any Dolby B or C (its very hissy), its old (can you even buy cassettes anymore?) and its been used a lot (quite muffled and quiet). So all this would point to maybe late 1980’s, but in a sudden, dramatic development, around move 20 or so, you can clearly hear the de-dela-de,dela,de,dela,de of a mid 1990s mobile phone signal interfering with the device. So looks like its about 20 years old…

And yes, the tape has an ‘example’ buzz at the start, before the actual first buzz, and yes, even after 20 years this still catches everyone out. Even after ten games on the same evening, people got caught out. Who said chess players are intelligent?

Ok, on to the chess – being a lightning tournament, no games were recorded. Most went according to form, and with a few rounds left, Nick, leading by 1 point, was due to play Mike. After 35 moves, the game was unfinished. Nick was a deliberate exchange down, given to achieve some initiative and a strong bishop. but Mike had defended well. How to adjudicate this? Mike was material up but not won yet due to the early nature of the game and also due to the slightly better activity Nick had. Sportingly he agreed to a draw, which almost certainly handed the title to Nick (Nick says thanks, btw..). Just to balance things out, Nick was awarded a draw in a round when he was a Q+B v Q pawn ending, so there is an element of karma there.

Anyway, in the end, Nick was the winner by one point, Mike second and James third – both Mike and James have been historical winners prior, with James being the current holder. It was a fun evening, as always, and long may it continue – thanks again to MikeW for running it and putting up with all the groans/complaints as everyone moved after the ‘example’ buzz.

With a new winner, this meant the passing of the baton (trophy) from James to Nick, and Nick, being the true gent said to James – “Oi! Its my trophy – hand it over. Now!”

But there was further controversy – James didn’t have the trophy, nor had he ever had it during his reign.

So where is it?

Terry was the previous winner, and since being handed the trophy two years ago, he has mysteriously disappeared…?

Looks like Sherlock will be needed again!

UPDATE #1 – Terry has been in touch – he doesn’t have the trophy, nor did he ever have it. So the prior two winners have been trophy-less..

UPDATE #2 – Miraculously, the trophy has been found, safe and well. I’ll spare the embarrassment of the person who spotted it lurking on a shelf along with some other junk, but suffice to say, the trophy is safe – here is a picture of Nick, re-united with the trophy..

2015 Lightning Trophy

2015 Lightning Trophy


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

Even more Minor updates –

This from Mike Ward –

When the Minor was started in Sept. 2014 it was with 10 players which gave each player 9 games, 5 with 5 Whites and 4 Blacks with the other 5 having 4 Whites and 5 Blacks.

However when Stephen Downes (who joined the club later) came into the Minor it gave me the opportunity to even up the colours and thus giving everyone equal Whites and Blacks.

So at the (approx.) half way stage ( 21 games/4 rounds) there are 5 players on 3 points (all wins, no draws as yet) and they are Nigel Cottle (3/3), Stephen Downes (3/3), Steve Smith (3/4), Martyn Maber (3/4) and Matt. Haines (3/5).

Some unexpected results are Steve Smith(W) beating Martyn Maber, Matt. Haines after 3 wins losing his next two v Martyn and Stephen D. also Mike Ward losing against Ian Hardy and Mike Watson.

Other scores are:- Ian Hardy (1/4), Ken Overshott (0/4), Vic. McAndrew (1/2), David Graham (1/4) and Mike Ward (1/4).

Games to come between the front runners are Matt. Haines v Nigel Cottle/R.7, Martyn Maber v Nigel / R.9, Stephen Downes v Nigel, Martyn v Stephen and Nigel v Steve Smith / R.6 so plenty of interesting encounters still to come.

Not forgetting some of the other players ( Vic. McAndrew, Mike Ward, Mike Watson, Dave Graham) who may have something to say between now and the conclusion of the Minor.

All the games played to date in the Minor have been forwarded to the ECF for inclusion in the January Grading list.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 12.38.14


And some hot off the press results –

Stephen Downes 0-1 Steve Smith (a shock win for Herr Smith here!),

Vic. McAndrew 1-0 Ken. Overshott and Ian Hardy 0-1 Mike Watson.

More Minor updates

Hot off the press from Mike Ward (well, he emailed me at various times during the last month), we have the following results –

DG 1 – KO 0
MJM 1 – MAH 0
VMcA 0 – S.Downes 1 (just returned, new player in the minor)
IRH 0 – MJM 1,

KO 0 – SJS 1,
VMcA 1 – IRH 0,
MJW 0 – NWC 1
MAH 1 – KO 0.

Round 1:- Nigel Cottle 1 – Vic. McAndrew 0,
Mike Watson 1 – Ken Overshott 0.

Round 2:- Dave Graham 0 – Matt Haines 1

Round 3:- Ian Hardy 1 – Mike Ward 0

Steve Smith 1 – Martyn Maber 0

TCC Open – Round Two Draw

Games to be played by end Dec 2014. White to contact black to arrange time and date.


TCC Open – Round 2
table name - name
1 Alex Conway - Mark Hassall
2 Nick Wilson - Martin Maber
3 Martin Worrall - James Byrne
4 Jerry Kirby - Stan Wojcik
5 Jorge Pineda-Langford - BYE

NOTE – Round 1 had to be extended to ensure all games were played. Round 2 is being extended to end December 2014 to allow these games time. All future rounds will be monthly!



TCC Championship – First Round Draw – complete by 31st Oct 2014

Hi everyone,

The draw for the first round has been made. There will be a round each month for Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr and May, so this should be effectively an all play all, even though a Swiss pairing system will be used.

These first round games are to be played by end Oct 2014.

The white player is responsible for arranging the date and reporting the result back to me.

Due to there being 9 players, the will be a BYE each round for one lucky player (my german software lists this as a Speilfrie)

TCC Round One

TCC Round One