Chess and artificial inteligence

Ravi has passed this to me which looks very interesting:

Grandmaster Matthew Sadler and I will be giving a lecture about AI and chess followed by a simultaneous chess display where you will get a chance to play against a grandmaster. We will look at some beautiful AlphaZero games and show you some AlphaZero strategies that you can incorporate into your own play (AlphaZero is the AI programme produced by DeepMind that beat Stockfish in a 100 game match at the end of 2017).

The event is hosted by the London Mensa Games Club and is on Friday 28th September at The Rugby Tavern, Millman Street (near Holborn/Russell square). Tickets are £15 including buffet and it would be great to see you there!

The programme is:
6:30-7:00: buffet dinner
7:00-8:00: the lecture on AlphaZero strategies.
8:10-10:00: simul!

Under 18’s are welcome, but need to come with a parent or guardian. They will need to leave by 9pm because of the restrictions of the license of the pub (and so under 18s and their parents will have first priority in the simul).

If you would like to attend please can you let Yulia know using the email and she will arrange payment/tickets.

School of rock

Ben and Toby thought that these games may be of interest for the chess club website. They come from the Gibraltar International Junior Chess Festival, in which they have both just participated as part of the National Junior Chess Squad.

Ben’s game is a draw, against an opponent of ECF grade of 199. This is his biggest chess result to date.

Toby’s game is a win over a team of 4 GM’s (David Howell, Stuart Conquest, Pia Cramling, and Juan Bellon-Lopez) and an IM (Jovanka Houska), playing in relay against him in a “simultaneous event” [wow! – Ed]. This format probably comes under the category of “fun and interesting” rather than a game to be taken too seriously, but the club members may wish to see it nonetheless.

In the tournament itself, Toby scored 2.5/6 and Ben 2/6.

New look for website

The website has been a given a slightly different look, with a new mobile friendly (?) theme and some excellent pictures from Joe.  There are a few wrinkles to iron out – the crosstables on the competition page require tweaking – but please let me know about anything else that is wrong or you don’t like or you think  should be added etc.



British summary

Very well done to all Bedford players competing at the British.

Paul finished 4th in the over 65’s with an excellent 5/7.

Ben Cox got 2/7 in the under 16’s, Toby 3.5/7 in the under 14’s and Lucian 2/7 in the under 12’s.   All boys did well compared to their starting ranking.

David also scored a creditable 2/5 in the under 120 grade section.

Many thanks to Paul and David for their interesting insights which I, and hopefully others, have enjoyed very much.

British update: Paul finishes fourth

I had my chances for =1st but it wasn’t to be. The top board game was drawn almost immediately, making James and Bowmer joint champions with 5.5/7. They could be joined by a winner from Boards 2 and 3. The Board 2 game was supposed to be Bimpson v Jackson, but Tom Bimpson turned up at the venue with a badly cut thumb and had to go to A & E. Oliver Jackson was offered a default win and thus a share of first place but, to his credit, he wanted to play. By chance someone on 3 points had no game because his opponent had thought the last round started at 10 a.m. and had timed his train ticket accordingly. So Jackson at least had a game against an O-65 player. Meanwhile I declined an early draw offer and had built up what I thought was a crushing position (see game) against Chris Jones on Board 3. However, he defended stubbornly and I took a draw when I got short of time and could not see a way to make further progress. There were three prizes, so Jones and I could still be in a sextuple tie for third if Jackson failed to win. That game went on for four and a half hours with the weaker player having the draw in hand until the very last moment when he blundered a pawn and lost. Oliver Jackson therefore finished in a three-way tie for the Championship (no tie-breaks or play-off). He deserved it for his sportsmanship. That ate up the third prize, leaving me in a quintuple tie for fourth place on 5/7.
I gained 15 FIDE rating points, but, to be realistic, I had two huge slices of luck in drawn games I should have lost. Also, I didn’t have to play any of the ten top-rated players in the section. Since starting in the Seniors in 2007 (it used to be 60+) I have come third three times, but a higher place is proving elusive.

British update: Paul hits form at the right time

Such a complicated game in the penultimate round. It was just a question of who made the last error and it was my opponent who imploded. Final round pairings are Bowmer(5) v James(5), Bimpson(4.5) v Jackson(4.5) and Habershon(4.5) v Jones(4.5). Chris Jones is a new young whippersnapper at a mere 65. There are seven players on 4, including the top-rated Chris Shephard, FM David Friedgood, Mike Surtees and David Anderton. I wouldn’t be surprised if the leaders agree a draw to guarantee first place. If that happens then they could be joined by two others. However, the top board may turn into a real game and one of them could win outright with 6 pts.

British update: Paul, David and Toby win

We had mixed results on Thursday; with wins for myself and Toby, and losses for Ben and Lucian.

In my game, I managed to cramp my opponent’s position leading to him having under developed pieces. A king side attack from a pawn push with a bishop sacrifice proved to be too much.

Ben was uncharacteristically timid in the opening. His opponent took advantage of this to develop a strong and ultimately winning position.

Toby managed to gain early centre control with his French Defence, allowing him to start a strong king side attack. Along the way he won a bishop, then sacrificed a knight to force mate.

Lucian was evenly matched with his opponent, until he missed a tactic which allowed her to take a rook.

A win today puts me on 3.5/5 so at least I’m guaranteed 50%, which is all I got last year. Bimpson leads with 4.5, followed by 4 players on 4, so I am in a group in =6th place with two rounds left.


Paul Kendall and Brian Valentine are on 3/5 in the same tournament. Richard Freeman is on 2/5 in the over 50’s.

British update: the highs and lows of the Cox clan and Paul’s Houdini act!

Tuesday and Wednesday were the two extremes of results for the Coxes: 4 losses on Tuesday, followed by 4 wins on Wednesday.

I messed up a good opening position, and never really recovered it on Tuesday. I had a much better game on Wednesday. I went into the endgame with more material, with my opponent trying to make it a draw. I eventually prevailed, with my opponent resigning as my pawn promotion became inevitable.

Ben’s game on Tuesday followed theory for quite a while. However, Ben made a small error later, which was punished. The next day, he gained a piece during a long middle game. The position then became fairly locked, but Ben was able to outmanoeuvre his opponent and break out for a win.

In round 3, Toby was a pawn up early in the game. Later, threatened with a back rank mate, he had to sacrifice a bishop, and he never really recovered. In the next round, he was able to fork some minor pieces in the opening and after seizing the opportunity, the game became relatively easy.

Tuesday’s game for Lucian was very close. However, a small error gave his opponent a better position. Wednesday was a very quick game after Lucian was able to fork the king and queen in the early middle game.

Today a much more blatant failure by my opponent to put me away. An exciting battle, where I was better into the middle game, then incredible carelessness by White allowing me a perpetual. It reminded me of the tennis dictum ‘Always make them play another shot.’
The two leaders on 3 drew to reach 3.5 but nobody caught them up. There are 10 players on 3, making me =13th on 2.5/4.

British update – Paul is a little “fortunate”

I was fortunate to escape with a draw today after a poor queen move meant I had to give up the exchange to extricate her. I have 2/3 and there are just two players on 3/3. My opponent in the next round, David Levens, is rated a lowly 1909 but played in the British when it was rather more elite in the 1960s. I think he took a long break from chess. He beat Stewart Reuben today.


British update – Toby gets on the scoreboard and Paul draws with an old foe


I started my 5-round Under 120 section on Monday. I was happy with the way that I played. The game was looking like a draw by move 34. However after much further manoeuvring my opponent managed to find a way through to gain his win.

In his second round game, Ben’s position had some positional weaknesses which his opponent managed to exploit to win. Toby had a good attack which led to him having a material advantage going into the the end-game. However, his opponent managed to gradually reduce the advantage, leading to a draw. In Lucian’s game, he made a couple of sacrifices which did not give him enough compensation, arising in a loss for him.


Brian Valentine and I were paired in Round 2. Neither of us really wanted that, but we played a proper game and it turned out to be well contested and didn’t contain any major blunders. Let’s hope 1.5/2 will be tactically superior to 2/2.


Meanwhile, in the elite section, the usual suspects lead the way with Adams, Howell and Jones on 3/3.  However, Adams was a tad fortunate in round 3!

Imagine you’re Fodor here – you’ve just played 60 moves against a super-GM more than 200 grading points your superior and you’ve had the edge more or less throughout –  “… if only I could exchange queens … I know, 61. Qe5 …”.  What was Adams’ swift response leading to immediate victory?  You can see the solution and the full game at bcc 2018 rd3 Fodor-Adams