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December 2015
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Draw for the London Chess Classic


The draw for the highly anticipated London Chess Classic, which is just one week away now, was performed by Tournament Director Malcolm Pein and Deputy Arbiter David Sedgwick with the pupils of Marion Richardson Primary School on Monday 23rd November.

Read on — Draw for the London Chess Classic

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Jovanka Houska – a profile

houska03Jovanka Houska, who recently won the individual Silver medal for Board 1 in the Women’s European Team Championship, is one of the most active English professional players on the circuit. She has long been a regular member of the English Women’s Chess Team, for whom she has consistently performed successfully on a high board, and she has achieved many individual tournament successes in both women-only and open events.

She had her first big success in 2000, when she won Gold in the U20 women’s competition of the European Junior Championship, which also gave her the final norm needed for her WGM title. In 2001, she won the Women’s Commonwealth Championship, beating GM Barua along the way, at the Mind Sports Olympiad. She became an IM in 2005 and was voted ECF Player of the Year in 2006. She won the British and English Women’s Champion title on 3 consecutive occasions from 2008-2010 and reached her career high Elo Rating of 2433 in the latter year, by which time she was firmly established as the British Women’s Number 2, behind the far less active Harriet Hunt.

Jovanka has seen a slight decline in her Elo Rating over the last few years but excellent results at the 2015 Gibraltar International, where she was the highest placed female competitor against formidable opposition, and the aforementioned European Team Championships, will push her rating over the 2400 mark with the distinct possibility, given her present form, that she will equal or surpass her career high.

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World Seniors – final report 2015

predrag-nikolic-3276— from Mark Jordan
GM Nikolic ( BIH 2603) justified his number 1 seeding by winning Gold in the +50 World Seniors, only conceding 3 draws and remaining unbeaten throughout to achieve an excellent 9.5/11. Rosentalis (LTU 2553) won Silver on 9/11 and the little known GM Mohr (2443 SLO) bagged a well deserved Bronze on 8.5/11. Keith Arkell, who won Silver last year, came 10th this time on 7/11. All his games were decisive and he was in contention for a medal for much of the tournament, efficiently despatching lower rated but tough opposition, but he was unable to overcome the big hitters this time around.

Meyrick Shaw, as mentioned in previous articles, had a very good tournament, defeating IM Smolin (2295) and achieving draws against GM Kristiensen (2420) and IM Soylu (2377) along the way, and ended with a score of 6/11 and an 80 point boost to his Elo. The other English participants were Brian Hewson 5.5/11 and Owen Phillips 5/11, both of whom performed creditably.

The +65 Championships Gold was won GM Okhotnik (2443 FRA) who, like Nikolic, ended on an unbeaten score of 9.5/11. He could perhaps have scored even higher but, reaching 8.5 in round 9, 1.5 points ahead of the pack, he sensibly coasted to the title with 2 draws, but still ended a point ahead of the  pre-tournament favourite and his compatriot, GM Vaisser (2505 FRA), who won Silver with 8.5/11.  GM Kupreichik (2369 BLR) won the Bronze with 8/11.

There were 5 English players in the +65 Championships: FM Oliver Jackson 6.5/11, CM Anthony Ashby, Julian Farrand and Ivan Myall on 5.5, and Ian Reynolds (4.5).

There were no English players in the Women’s +50 and +65 Championships which were won respectively by WGM Strutinskaia (2227 RUS) and GM Gaprindashvili (2299 GEO).

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Jovanka Houska wins Silver!

Jovanka Houska in Round 8

— from Mark Jordan
IM Jovanka Houska has won Silver for Board 1 in the Women’s event at the European Team Championships! She achieved a wonderful 87.5% which was equal to that of GM Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) who won Gold, but she lost out on the tie-break. Her performance yielded her an excellent tournament rating of 2614, 10 points ahead of Bronze winner, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), who scored 68.8 %.

The Championships was a triumph for Russia who won Team Gold in both the Open and Women’s event and is something of a shot in the arm for their dominance of the chess world which has been under some threat in recent years. It remains to be seen what they can achieve at the next Olympiad where a Russian Gold is certainly no longer a foregone conclusion.

The result of the Open is as follows:

Gold: Russia 15; Silver: Armenia 13; Bronze: Hungary 13; France also 13.

Commiserations to France for losing out on a medal by tie-break!

After the 1-3 drubbing by the Netherlands in round 7, England, who had not had an easy tournament, looked as if they might be heading for another below par performance. However, wins over Turkey in round 8 and Romania in round 9 pushed them up the table. They finished on  =7 or 10 place on tie-break which, given their seeding of 5 is a little disappointing. However, if one analyses the average ratings of the teams one finds that those ranked from 3 all the way down to 18 were pretty evenly matched so there were few easy pairings at the top half of the table and many of the matches could have gone either way. In consequence, most of the top seeded teams had a difficult time and all the medals were up for grabs right until the last round although Russia was certainly favourite for Gold by round 5.

Read on — Jovanka Houska wins Silver!

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BCC – slight change of URL

The British Chess Championships has moved to its new home, and from now on will have a slightly amended URL – – there may be some interruption of service whil e the move takes place, for which (again) the WM apologises …

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ETCC – Round 6


Gawain Jones on 4/5

— from Mark Jordan
In the Open event England beat Sweden in what turned out to be a close match with draws on the top 3 boards. The difference was made by Gawain Jones on Board 4 who overcame IM Blomqvist (2486). Gawain’s results have been excellent and he now has 4/5 with a performance rating of 2794 which will help to bring his Elo back to where it was a few months ago.

The fight at the top sees Russia maintain a one point lead on 11/12 with a 2.5/1.5 victory over Georgia. Ukraine lost 1.5/2.5 to France who now occupy second position (10/12) and Azerbaijan beat the Netherlands to move into third place 9/12. Seven teams are on 8/12, including Ukraine, and are all in a good position to usurp the leaders with some good performances, so the competition is hot! England are just behind on 7/12 and cannot be ruled out for a medal although they have all to do!

In the Women’s competition England achieved a 4/0 whitewash over the hosts, Iceland, and are now placed 14 overall with 6/12. At the top of the table Russia’s 100% record was finally brought to an end by Ukraine with a draw. This enabled Georgia to move into sole second place, only 1 point behind Russia, having claimed a 2.5/1.5 victory over France. The top scores are Russia 11/12, Georgia 10/12 and Ukraine and Hungary on 9/12.

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RIP Jim Slater

13th March 1929 to 18th November 2015

Jim was a highly successful financier, but things went wrong with the stock market collapse of the mid-1970s. Later he reinvented himself, including writing children’s books.

He was a chess enthusiast throughout his life and counted his sponsorship of British chess as one of his proudest achievements. The most dramatic of these was adding £50,000 to the prize money for the 1972 World Chess Championship Match. Bobby Fischer had said that the purse was inadequate and he wouldn’t play. Jim’s challenge, expressed on his behalf by Leonard Barden, did the trick. Bobby was duly grateful and the match resulted in a worldwide explosion of interest in chess. England benefited from this more than any other country; thus the expression ‘English Chess Explosion’. He also sponsored Hastings for a couple of years.

Read on — RIP Jim Slater

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ETCC Round 5

Jovanka Houska

England Women’s Board 1, Jovanka Houska, has scored 4.5/5 with a performance rating of 2631

Contrary to my optimistic prediction in the last report, England lost 1.5/2.5 to Germany. There were 3 draws but, unfortunately, Luke McShane went down with Black to GM Fridman (2627) on board 3. There are still 4 rounds to go, so England still have time to climb back up to a medal position, but this will be an uphill struggle. Russia leads but relinquished their 100% record with a draw against Azerbaijan and stand at 9/10. France, Ukraine and Georgia are not far behind on 8/10.

In the Women’s Championship, England achieved a convincing 3.5/0.5 victory over Sweden and Jovanka Houska resumed her winning ways and now stands on an excellent 4.5/5 with a performance rating of 2631. Russia remains in first place on 100% after an important victory against France, with their main rivals, Ukraine and Georgia, chasing them on 8/10.

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