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The Chess Variant Pages

Chessnuts 2000

Chessnuts is a newletter published by The Circular Chess Society. See the bottom of this page for more information. -- Ed.


View from the chair

Another year wends its way into history. At long last someone managed to win against Francis Bowers. His magnificent record of three years unbeaten in the championship came to an end. (see championship report)

The new title holder hails from Holland. This brings mixed feelings for some of us who remember when the UK was good at winning things. Perhaps a trip to Amsterdam may be on the cards for future events. This may in reality little be difficult considering we have booked next year’s venue and Francis is itching for revenge.

The championships once again successful but sadly absent were Mark Hore who mangled his car on the way up, and David Carew who like one or two locals first went to the other Guildhall, but unlike them never found the venue. Many thanks again to Francis who, as ever, organised the pairings and supplied the pieces and clocks.

The quarterly events have somewhat died a death, but by popular demand the chessnutting with real conkers went ahead thanks to my mate Dave, and we are now preparing for the ever popular, one and only, Chrimbo Challenge.

The response to my now regular plea for contributions was not overwhelming and the contribution on email was lost when my computer went down. (As did the address of a chap who supplies foldable card versions - any info get in touch) Copies of chessnuts will hopefully be available on the Internet courtesy of Hans Bod and his variant chess website.


The Y2K World Championship

The 2000 championships were held at the historic St Mary’s Guildhall in Lincoln. This had for many years been a favourite choice for our esteemed historian and painter/decorator and we at last relented.

On the day a number of local competitors went to another Guildhall in the centre of town. Most duly arrived red faced and flustered. As is often the case folk without local knowledge had no such problems.

The field was as varied as normal with some normal board superstars from near and far, some new faces, and the normal rabble . With some non shows and local lads struggling to recover from the previous nights excesses the first round random draw out of the hat by our good lady Mayor was perhaps more random than previous.

As the day progressed the heavyweights made their way towards the top table. Fourth seed Herman Kok signalled his determination overcome arch rival Bowers when he took out second favourite Paul Byway in a very tight fought match.

The penultimate game gave us the shock of the day, and indeed the history of the second coming of circular chess. Bowers against Kok was billed as a stoical dogged match with no quarter given and none asked. After a couple of minutes the chairs squeaked (as they do in quiet places) alerting the massed crowds and players to Francis arising.

Muffled news spread around the hall that Herman had actually managed to defeat the champ. It later transpired that it was no ‘ordinary victory’. A devastating bishop checkmate through massed ranks with the king trapped by his own players had lead to the victory. This is a derivation of the fools mate discussed in earlier editions of Chessnuts and a manoeuvre that Herman exploits with great merriment. His stock two bishop opening always gives it a chance of happening. (Full notes on the game are in the variant chess magazine)

Perhaps we should also have regard to the only ever previous competitive loss inflicted upon Francis. This was by Chair in a 15 min event when a reverse bishop lead to his downfall. Maybe we should revise the commonly held adage to ‘bishops are sheep’.

However the championship was not over. The last round commenced with no less than 5 players on 3 points and Herman on 4. Herman still had a very tricky final match to play against John Beasley, variant chess whiz and all round good bloke. The nightmare scenario for the organisers would have been Herman losing to leave 4 players on 4 points. We not under the same pressure to vacate as we were in the castle where a play off nearly got us locked in, and Ed and the crew had not quite finished all the free beer, but it had already been a long day.

Paul Byway efficiently despatched Chair and Francis managed to overcome the challenge of Jeff Bayton who had been particularly successful in this his first championship. (Jeff was one of our first ever members and it was great to see him there.)

It all came down to the match between John and Herman. Not being as able as such masters of the game at assessing positions, chair and other organisers were pacing up and down in the courtyard below, with increasing gloom and anticipation. It seemed that John had the upper hand, and four way playoffs would be needed. The prospect of yet another ‘delighted’ champion loomed as an unmentionable possibility.

At the end of the day a draw was agreed and Herman became the millennium champ. He also picked up the special bounty that his earlier victory over Francis had earned him.

There were several other noteworthy performances: Eamonn Hunt achieving 4th position, Ed Reynolds who finished half way up with a creditable 2.5 /5, Rick, Brian Goodwin (who had to leave early after a promising start) and Tony Smith who each recorded two points in their first championships. Particular thanks must go to ‘bye’ without whom our out of sorts guru would have finished pointless (Alan, Ed, Eamonn and George benefitting from Dave’s hangover !!!) .

About the Champ:

Herman is a prominent local businessman, in the construction industry. He really is Dutch, coming from Amsterdam where he was a chess Champion. Since moving to England he has been widely involved in the local chess scene, being a regular club and county player. Much more information is to be found in the mass media.

Final Positions:

4.5/5 H. Kok 4: F Bowers, P Byway 3.5: J Beasley, E Hunt 3: M Clark, A Pell, J Bayton, R Stevens 2.5: E Reynolds, R Lamming 2: C Vermes, T Smith, Rick, B Goodwin, George, M Sedgwick 1.5: A Brewster, 1: R Gray, JJ Holland, and Reynolds.


In true traditional we had a chessnut competition in the Tap and Spile Lincoln (The Home of Circular Chess). Dave organised the event but proceeded to abdicate responsibility to anyone at hand. The format for the evening became straight knockouts with a limit of 8 players per rubber. With £1 in and ‘winner takes most’ format, the situation soon got well out of control and great fun was had by all. Chair’s attempts at rule rigging and other deviousness were spotted and dealt with. Overall it was good clean fun, without stampsies or tanglies, but lots of bruises.


World Circular Chess Championships 2001

In keeping with our historic roots and moving ever closer to matching the rumour of 11th century Monks playing the game in their cells at night, the 2001 championship will be held in the Bishop’s Palace adjacent to the Lincoln Cathedral.

Further details will be announced nearer the time but put it in your diaries for 20 May 2001. If you don’t get the details please get in touch.


Chrimbo Challenge

The original chrimbo Challenge, held over two years ago spawned such interest in the knockabout friendly competitions that we set out to do regular events. We did manage those mentioned in the last chessnuts but unfortunately (for some), this year Chair was otherwise engaged in cricket exploits and a new (1st) wife. This rather limited his capacity to organise extracurricular activities. But by popular demand we will be having a challenge this year. We do not know what the event will be, but it will be held on Sunday 17 December 2000 in the Tap and Spile. Bleep off will be 2.30 ish and will go on through the afternoon.

As its Christmas: we still have stocks of boards, now 3rd or fourth generation, available as pressies at the 1996 price of £35 (inc uk p&p.)

Circular Chess Conundrum

So many times we see folk struggle to produce endgame checkmates. It can be done with rook and king but needs a bit of luck or assistance from the opponent. However it brings tears to our eyes when after several circuits back and forth a weary player gives up when there is queen and king v king. There are no corners so it is not so easy and you have to be very careful with the stalemate. Give it a go. It should take 6 or 7 moves (answer overleaf - but no cheating).



Avoid the temptation to go for check. The principle is to trap the king on an outside rank (a generous opponent will go straight there). If the first move is queen to C8. The black king’s cause is so hopeless even Dave would consider resignation. Moving the white king forwards shepherds it onto the inside ring and then into the jaws of the trap:

Kb5;Kc3, Kb6; Kc4, Ka7;Qb9(traps the king. nb moving white king to c5 is stalemate),Ka6;Kc5, Ka7; Kc6, Ka6;Qb6 or a9 mate

If the black king goes to a5 rather than a7 the end is a couple of moves quicker. The mate could also be effected, more speedily in this case, by pushing the queen round after the king. The principle is that the game is up once the defending king goes onto the inner (or outer) ring and is then trapped.

Any comments please forward to the society

Society Contacts:

Rob Stevens, Tel 01522 532745 (Speak to Moppet)
Chair and Chessnuts editor in chief
((email removed contact us for address) .com)

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

Cover picture. Maureen and the kids get to hear Francis has lost a game.

The Circular Chess Society
11 North Parade
Lincoln LN1 1LB


Written by Rob Stevens. Web page posted by David Howe.
WWW page created: 16 Dec 2000. Last modified on: 16 Dec 2000.