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Chessnuts 1999


Hello all and welcome to the summer/autumn/winter edition of chessnuts. Apologies for its tardiness but that’s just the way it is. Looking on the positive side it will remind folk of those warm sunny days.

The year has been tinged with sadness Harry Cornish who passed away just before the World Championship. It came as a shock to us all but we did find some comfort in being able to make a presentation in his memory.

We now have slightly off the wall quarterly events at the Tap and Spile Lincoln, to date the Spring Showdown, the Summer Madness and the Autumn Apocalypse. We look forward to the December 19th competition which will be a Winter Wobble or Michaelmas Mayhem. These competitions are great fun and if anyone happens to be in town please pop in The format (from normal board ideas naturally) works very well. It sometimes just needs a bit of imagination although extra boards and clocks would help. (Christmas is coming)

The Showdown was a 15 min knockout also serving as a warm up for the Championship. When I caught Francis with a reverse bishop to win in the final we all felt that perhaps he was vincible after all. However, despite the entreaties of David Carew we failed to do the same when it mattered and Francis Bowers completed a delightful hat trick of victories. We are thinking of ways to knobble him that verge on legal but thus far without success. For sure next year there will be a sizeable bounty for anyone that manages this feat. We will be in touch nearer the event which will be at the historic Guildhall on Sunday 14 May 2000. So make that diary entry now.



On Sunday 16 May 1999 the 4th World Circular Chess Championship was held at Lincoln Castle. This was the second year at the castle and a stronger field gathered than ever before. There was a smattering of normal board great and good and one or two experienced old hands worthy of the challenge. We were also pleased to see the rabble (chair inc), who always give good value for money and stop us from getting tooo serious. (Technical) representatives from different parts of the world made it a multinational event although few ventured from afar. Unfortunately there were also some who could not be with us and we think of them.

We were particularly pleased to welcome John and Sue Beasley, and Paul Byway. John produces the variant chess magazine and is soon to be handing over to Paul. We knew that John would be a strong competitor having spent a most enjoyable evening with us some time previously. From preliminary discussions with Hertfordshire's normal board county champ Paul it immediately became clear that he would also present a strong challenge.

The bookies were split between Paul and Neil McInnes for the favourite’s slot, with that man Francis Bowers and Herman Kok coming up close behind. There were also plenty of folk who felt that should they be drawn against a hot shot, any mistake would give them a good chance of an upset. In the pre tournament warm up Francis had exposed that even he could be deceived by the reverse bishop (See the Spring Challenge write up).

Once again the day was perfect for spectators, with croquet on the castle lawn also taking place in bright sunshine.

As the tournament progressed the favourites eased their way towards the top of the table. Those with an outside chance failed to capitalise on their opportunities, succumbing to nerves, nexperience, or simply the free beer.

Fastest finish was recorded by Johnnie Boyall against Richard Gray within seconds of the tournament starting.

The most notable reported games revolved around Francis Bowers’ habit of escaping from the jaws of defeat. The list of those who ‘should have had him’ lengthens every year. The art of unlocking the door to a last minute draw when under pressure is indeed something to behold. The most unexpected and telling escape was when Paul Byway bore down his lone king with large bits, comparatively lots of time, and even more pawns. Somehow Paul’s seconds ebbed away and the flag dropped. With Francis without any firepower a draw was the result.

The final round looked set to be the end of the tournament. If champ in waiting, Neil, won against Francis the crown would be his outright. Should Francis win and Paul also win his match they would end up even on 4.5/5. Neil was perhaps distracted by things away from the chessboard (it was by now late afternoon) and succumbed to the ever fresh Bowers. Paul also won to set up a mouth-watering rematch playoff.

With the castle staff getting twitchy about the time the players agreed to a 15 min game to settle it. This may slightly have favoured Bowers being more experienced on the board but we were confident that Paul would acquit himself admirably. Most onlookers had suffered indignity at the hands of Mr Bowers over the last few years and so understandably the general support was for the new boy on the block.

Under intense pressure and the glare of TV lights both players showed their class. In an incredibly technical game given the circumstances Bowers set up a massive attack which threatened annihilation. With some top quality defence work Byway fought back, turning the tables to give him the scent of victory and again had a small time advantage. As Paul looked for ways to capitalise without exposing himself, time ran away from him. With both clocks poised to drop the tension became unbearable. The game finished amidst a furious fflurry of moves when Paul’s time ran out, leaving Francis the victor by a matter of seconds.

So once again Francis defied the odds and pulled through, to win the title for the third year in succession. He was no doubt even more delighted than any previous year. This begs the question how much more delighted can he be. Someone out there must be destined to break his incredible record. As ever he took the plaudits in his own inimitable style and we must be give him his due for the achievement and be pleased that he continues his reign.

There were some other creditable achievements: Alan Pell again showing his grasp of the game, with Mensaman Vermes also coming within a whisker of the trophy. John Holland , John Boyall, Andew Brewster and Pamski Painter outperformed their odds and we expect even better from them next year.

There were the standard curses and guffaws expected of our championship. None more so than the late outpouring of grief from Oliver which echoed up and down the room as an opponent yet again did something unexpected and obviously distressing.

Harry Cornish Commemorative Board

There was a special trophy this year in memory of our friend Harry Cornish from Devon who died suddenly, shortly before the championships. Harry was one of our first members and made a great impact on us when he appeared to watch the first World Championship Final back in 1996 bb. (Before Bowers) He maintained an enthusiasm for the game and it was always a pleasure to renew contact with him each year. It was with great sadness we learnt of his passing on.

The Harry Cornish board was for the person that nephew Alex Slade and Son in Law Mark Hore (also a CCS stalwart) felt to be the player of the day. Not necessarily the best or most accomplished but who battled throughout in a spirit which would have received the approval of Harry and who may promote the game further. There were many who merited such an award but it was decided that the board should go to young Max Brewer, participating in his first such tournament and even winning against the old war-horse from Scotland Mike Sedgwick.

Final Results (5 Rounds)

Francis Bowers 4.5 (+ playoff win), Paul Byway 4.5, Neil McInnes 4, Alan Pell 4, Charles Vermes 4, Robin Stevens 3.5, Mark Spink 3.5, Herman Kok 3, Robbie Lamming 3, John Beasley 3, Eamonn Hunt 3, Mark Hore 3, John Holland 3, John Boyall 3, Derek Simcox 2.5, Dave Reynolds 2.5, Andrew Brewster 2.5, Richard Gray 2, Alex Slade 2, Alan Jones 2, Richard Rance 2, Eddie Reynolds 2, George 2, Pamski Painter 2, Mike Sedgwick 2, David Painter 1.5, Shane Higgins 1.5, David Honley 1.5, Max Brewer 1.5, Oliver Clark 1, Dave Monks 1




Unfortunately I no longer have the record of the event, just my distant memories. Forgive me if any hard earned accolades are missed out.

The competition was a fifteen minute each straight knockout with names drawn from the pot each round. A good number of people participated and the competition boiled down to a head to head showdown between Francis and chair, a repeat of the 1997 final playoff and obviously a grudge match.

Things were bumbling along without much to report when suddenly that much hyped phenomena occurred with devastating effect and a vital rook fell. The world stood still for one moment whilst everyone stared at the board with incredulity (none more so than Francis and chair).

From that point it became a matter of time and chair did not make the mistake of taking all Francis’s pieces or thinking too much, even missing a chance of snaffling the king on a couple of occasions in the heat of the moment.

In a rare show of frivilarity chair put the prize money behind the bar to ensure those not pickled by then were so before long.


My mate Dave caught on film undergoing training in South American black magic to cast a spell on Mr Bowers in yet another futile attempt to stop him from winning.

SUMMER MADNESS - 20 June 1999

This event was just as it suggested. The intended format was a round robin, culminating in a knockout stage with a bleeper clock set at 10 seconds. In this players have to move on the bleep, not before and not after. It seems like forever at the beginning when most folk happily ignore the opponent. In the middle game it causes no end of panic when the bleep goes off just as you spot that what you had in mind was a very bad idea. Natural speedsters like Robbi Lamming and DJ complained it slowed down their whole game. (They lost.)

The madness started when, after much chasing around, it became apparent there wasn’t a timer to beg borrow or steal. Even Mr Bowers did not have one in his prodigious collection of things weird and wonderful chesswise. Banging the brasses with a spoon wasn’t loud enough; Colin had snaffled the pub bell; the fire alarm was so loud and piercing it would have driven to distraction everyone in the pub, and next door, and it made everyone jump whenever it went off; and shouting ‘bleep’ was just a bad idea. The solution was a pager which, by pressing a sequence of buttons, set a time between bleeps of about 7 seconds. We have the delightful and technically agile Catherine Reynolds to thank for operating it all afternoon. With a beaming smile she most ably kept the little device alternately bleeping and vibrating.

Star moment was in the group two semi final when George beat Dave Reynolds in a game when for a number of goes both undefended queens faced off in ‘the other direction’.

The result? - Francis added another notch and DJ won a few pennies in the ‘plate’ competition.


AUTUMN APOCALYPSE - 12 September 1999

This was a round robin competition based upon a 5 minute game. We decided that handicapping would feature, to knobble Messrs Bowers and Kok. It works a bit like golf with players on +1,0,-1 minute. If a +1 played a scratch player he would start with 6 minutes to his opponent’s 5 and so on.

We gave Francis -2, so he started some games with just 3 minutes on the clock. We also had a bandit in our midst as landlass Liz claimed +3 minutes on the basis that she hadn’t played much before, and was suffering from an almighty hangover. Deborah who went to the same party was completely disfunctional and couldn’t get out of bed and Robbi looked as if he only just did.

In all 11 players took part and everyone played each other, in the course of the afternoon. Notable absentee was chair who got a summons from the cricket team, who would have fared just as well without.

The result was entirely predictable... Dave Reynolds came last!! (Do I need say who won?! with 10/10) Perhaps result of the day was Liz who finished a creditable 5th with 5/10.


We are hoping to do a 12/24 hr marathon for Children in Need

and anyone interested in participating should contact us. I had hoped for free beer for the duration but don’t bank on it.


In true Chessnut tradition we have an evening of conkers planned for November 18 at the Tap.



On September 12 1999 the Tap and Spile Lincoln (the home of circular chess) established a chess league. There are currently three divisions each with seven players. Games have been programmed to be played over fortnightly periods.

The competition has produced many moments and as a replacement for the rather derelict ladder has been a success. There have been a few who could not sustain initial enthusiasm and commitment and have retired. We should perhaps learn not to pounce late at night for recruits.

Super League favourite Herman Kok is steaming ahead unbeaten, but not without a bit of a scare from Robbi Lamming who was a rook up but did not spot a rook swoop for check mate out of the blue. Robbi is having a bit of a ‘mare, losing to Eamonn with a reverse bishop featuring, and letting Chair off the hook with an ill deserved repeat check draw although Mike Clark appears to be the one sweating most in this division.

In the Premier League Dave Reynolds is having some fun and looks to be on his way to promotion. The mercurial Posty is up and down as normal and John Boyall has work to do to avoid relegation.

In Division 1 - the league for new starters and Sedgwick we have seen some of the most interesting games. Swanni and Jonathan Howe look set to vie for the title with Ed losing to Liz in a cracking game the turning point of which was when Ed gleefully announced checkmate, only to find none of the onlookers moving. What can you do in such a situation but stay schtum. Liz cottoned on and took the offending piece with a rook swoop.

We are looking forward to a classic battle between John Hansom and Deborah both new to the game and it could be a fight for bottom slot.

The league finishes on December 19 with a grand presentation session. It would appear unlikely that Francis will win this one.




In this position black has manoeuvred himself into a very threatening position (queen-b1 is mate). White has a strong position but without any spare moves, should he resign?



Society Contacts:

Rob Stevens, Tel 01522 532745 (Speak to Moppet)
Chair and Chessnuts editor in chief

Mike Sedgwick, Tel/Fax 01522 533063
Money man, organised person

Dave Reynolds Tel 01522 887666
Well known Painter and Decorator, sort of Historian,
Secretary, Board designer and painter

Eamonn Hunt Tel 01522 704457
Board Production Manager

Robbi Lamming
Promotions Manager

Conundrum answer: Quite simple really, and I would expect most to see that there is just one option. Pawn to c8 gives mate. Promote to knight. If anyone has any little problems or other comments/ anecdotes please send them in.

Written by Rob Stevens. Web page posted by David Howe.
WWW page created: 24 Dec 2000. Last modified on: 24 Dec 2000.