Sunday, 17 April 2016

From Nottingham to Imperial College

I completed the preparation work for the BCPS residential weekend at Nottingham and duly attended the meeting.

The solving tourney comprised 11 chess problems and one endgame study. I knew that at least one former World Chess Solving Champion (Michel Caillaud of France) would be taking part, so I had to make it tough. Nobody solved the endgame study (a nice original by Steffen Slumstrup Neilsen of Norway) and Michel also failed on the more-mover, so perhaps the whole tourney was too tough? In the event it was Michael McDowell who came first, with 51 points out of 60 and Michel came second on 46.5. As Michael was the top-placed British solver, he also won the Ron Brain Cup for yet another year.

The first six problems were all two-movers - directmates, selfmates and helpmates - and formed a tourney within a tourney for those who just wanted to solve shorter problems. Of the three solvers who elected to take part in this minor competition, Barry Barnes and David Shire both handed in their solutions within the first hour, Barry being faster. Neither of them scored full marks, both dropping points on one of the selfmates, but, as Barry was less careless than David, he took the first prize.

I proposed the theme for the Fairy composing tourney, the challenge being to compose problems using the Checkless Chess fairy condition, with or without fairy pieces but with no additional fairy conditions being added. As I decided many years ago not to judge composing tourneys we managed to persuade Stephen Emmerson to do the honours. Stephen wasn't actually at the meeting, but the entries (10 of them) were transmitted to him by email early on Sunday night. His award arrived sometime late on Sunday night while I was in the bar chin-wagging with Neal Turner. The top-placed problems were by Michel Caillaud, Michel Caillaud, Christopher Jones and Michael McDowell.

The solving tourney wasn't the only thing that was difficult. Steve Giddins concocted a trivia quiz around the Inspector Morse TV stories and John Rice presented a chess-themed crossword.

Of course, the meeting was about far more than competitions. We had several lectures. John Rice gave a talk about the late Jeremy Morse. Steve Giddins also talked about Jeremy, showing two of his endgame studies together with two studies by the late Adam Sobey. Neal Turner talked about his mind-bending speciality of SAT and grasshopper kings. Barry Barnes talked about another recently-deceased composer - the great Valentin Rudenko of Ukraine. We even had the unexpected pleasure of a brief visit from John Ling, who gave a very short presentation of one of his favourite problems by Comins Mansfield.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend, despite some difficulties encountered in the hotel.

I am now in the middle of preparing a solving tourney for an ECF Junior event taking place at Imperial College in London on Wednesday next week. The juniors will have mates in one, mates in two, selfmates in two and helpmates in two to challenge them. Just two rounds of that to do now.

This afternoon I have done more work on my new website. I have now included all the endgame study material from the existing site and also added four further columns from my series in Chess, taking that collection up to the end of 2011. When time permits I shall start moving the chess problem material to the new site.

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