Richardson Cup Final

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Saturday May 18th 2024 turned out to be a very signifcant day. Not since the days of Paul Motwani and Colin McNab over 20 years ago have Dundee been represented in the Final of the Richardson Cup. Having battled through earlier rounds against Cathcart and Bank of Scotland, we were paired in the Final against Edinburgh. On paper, Edinburgh were, by far, the strongest team in the competition. Their Rounds 1 and 2 matches illustrated a team that dazzled with International Masters, Fide Masters and Candidate Masters. In the preparation of the match, therefore, we anticipated opponents with IMs on the top boards down to players with FIDE grades in excess of 2000 on the bottom boards. As it turned out we were completely wrong as, on the day of the match, Edinburgh fielded a weaker team with  several of the strongest players missing. Although it still looked like a big ask for us, the reduction in the overall strength of our opponents at least meant that we had a realistic chance. That said, we were still out-graded on the lower boards – on the other hand with Jacques on Board 1 and strengthened by Declan Shafi and Rishi Vijayakumar on Boards 2 and 3 we were exceptionally strong on the top boards. So it was a big day – with all of the 8 games being streamed live on the Internet.

As the match unfolded, several of the bottom boards were the first to resolve themselves. First to finish was Alastair against Lindsay MacGregor on Board 8. In a Kings Indian, Alastair, with the white pieces, reached a blocked position where neither side thought they could progress without endangering their positions – and so a draw was agreed. Shortly after, Euan Dawson, up against Willie Rutherford’s London System, found himself in difficulty and could not resist white’s kingside breakthrough. Thereafter, Joshua Crofts played a Qb3 Nimzo-Indian against Hugh Brechin and eventually reached a drawn Queen and minor piece ending. So, halfway through the match, Dundee were 1-2 down. Shortly afterwards, Ed Spencer found himself in a valiant struggle against Petros Valden but it could not be sustained and resignation soon followed. 

In a difficult position therefore, with 4 matches remaining, there was a moment of joy when on Board 1 Jacques Ophoff made a winning exchange sacrifice against Keith Ruxton that forced resignation. At this point the score was 2-3. On Board 3 Rishi Vijaykumar was having a hard time against Craig Thomson and eventually had to resign. That left 2 matches with Dundee needing to win both. The first of the two matches was between Andrew Wright and Andrew Green. Andrew pushed hard for the win but once the Queens were exchanged, his pawn deficiency was exploited by his opponent and he had to resign. On Board 2 Declan had an equal Queen and Pawn endgame against Neil Berry but with the pawns locked, a draw was the only result. When the dust had settled, our efforts were not enough with the final score showing 2.5 – 5.5. That said, the tournament organisers at the prize-giving described a very tough match that had taken place between the two teams. When the match day was nearing its end, Dundee were left to contemplate what might have been. One thing was for sure, that we would be back again in the Richardson Cup next year ready to take on all-comers.

Alastair Dawson

Dundee 2½ – 5½ Edinburgh

  1. CM Jacques Ophoff 2262 1-0 FM Keith Ruxton 2289
  2. Declan Shafi 2226 ½ – ½ FM Neil Berry 2260
  3. Rishi Vijayakumar 2196 0-1 FM Craig Thompson 2247
  4. Ed Spencer 2123 0-1 Petros Valden 2174
  5. Andrew Wright 2128 0-1 CM Andrew Green 2113
  6. Joshua Crofts 1922 ½ – ½ Hugh Brechin 2047
  7. Euan Dawson 1892 0-1 William Rutherford 1935
  8. Alastair Dawson 1847 ½ – ½ Lindsay McGregor 1948

Club Championship Round Four

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Jacques Ophoff FM 2253 1-0 Edwin Spencer 2132

A powerhouse performance by Jacques to move into a clear lead on 4/4 with a final round to come.

Club Championship Round 4

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Joshua Crofts 1629 1-0 Vladyslav Drabych 1660

David Ewing 1300 0-1 Alastair Dawson 1764

Two very contrasting encounters. A surprisingly one-sided game in the first, but a very impressive performance by Joshua. David and Alastair kept us all late with a very hard fought encounter, with David pushing Alastair all the way. Well played folks 🙂

Club Championship Round 4

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David Findlay 2163 ½-½ Adam Clark 1500

Keith Emery 1533 1-0 Ronnie Agnew 1150

Andrew Collins 1300 ½-½ Christine Sim 984

Doug Smart 1145 1-0 Thomas Watson 800

Bruce Wallace 1435 1-0 Lewis Bisset 1000

Robert Burnett 1318 1-0 Norrie Carroll 938

Steven Leaburn Jnr 1-0 Kara McHugh

TAFCA Knockout Final

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On Wednesday evening (24th April 2024) Dundee Chess Club faced Newport in the Final of the TAFCA knock-out Championship. This is an unusual competition in which a handicap system is used to create an even competition between players of widely different grades. Two games are played by each player against his/her opponent in teams of 4. Our team that had battled its way through to the final was Alastair Dawson (Board 1), Joshua Crofts (Board 2), Keith Emery (Board 3) and Adam Clark (Board 4). An example of how the handicap system operates is for Alastair’s games against Roy Morris. The difference in grades between the two players is 398 points and this translated into Alastair having just 15 minutes to complete each of the two games while Roy had 45 minutes for each game. For the higher-graded player this can  be very stressful since 15 minutes does not last very long especially if a game is drawn out into a lengthy ending!
These comments aside, the evening turned out very well for Dundee. The pairings were Alastair Dawson versus Roy Morris, Joshua Crofts versus Angus Sneddon, Douglas Cairns versus Keith Emery and on Board 4 Adam Clark was paired against Alan Wallace.
In the first set of games, Alastair won over Roy, Joshua beat Angus, Keith Emery triumphed over Douglas while Adam agreed a draw with Alan. In the second set of games with colours reversed, Dundee won all 4 games giving a final score of 7.5-0.5. So, despite the difficulties of having less clock time on each board, we came through with a convincing victory and the Knockout Title.
Alastair Dawson
Newport Knights ½-7½ Dundee A
  1. Roy Morris 1366  0,0  –  1,1 Alastair Dawson 1764
  2. Angus Sneddon 1327  0,0  –  1,1 Joshua Crofts 1629
  3. Douglas Cairns 1327  0,0  –  1,1 Keith Emery 1533
  4. Alan Wallace 1132  ½,0  –  ½,1  Adam Clark 1500

Dundee B v Perth A

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TAFCA Division 1

Dundee B 2-2 Perth A

  1. Joshua Crofts 1629 0-1 Shubham Lakudkar 2142
  2. Jim Anderson 1546 1-0 Martin Gourlay 1888
  3. Adam Clark 1500 0-1 Andrew Sutherland 1664
  4. Ray Flood 1442 1-0 David Hall 1590

The TAFCA season ended with a result that moved both sides up a place in the final table. Perth A now finish as runners-up behind Dundee A, while the B Team move up to a fairly respectable 7th. For the homesters it was an excellent result against a very strong Perth side, comfortably outgrading them on all boards, who certainly earned their 2nd place in the Championship table. Congrats to both sides!

Scottish National Chess League 2023-24, Round 9 (21st April 2024): Report

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Scottish National Chess League 2023-24, Round 9 (21st April 2024): Report

The final Round of this season’s SNCL took place on Sunday 21st April. This season has been the first to be run over 9 Rounds instead of 7. It has been a long journey. Round 1 had started during a time of severe storms and rain with some teams unable to travel. Round 9 coincided with the final Round of the Candidates tournament in Toronto won in dramatic fashion by 17-year old Gukesh from India. The Candidates tournament had a direct impact on the running of Round 9 since our very own Arbiter, Andy Howie, was employed at the Candidates as Deputy Chief Arbiter. So it was without Andy but in the capable hands of Ruaraidh McKay, John McNicoll and Glynis Grant that Round 9 commenced. For the three Dundee City teams there was mostly pride to play for since nothing was at stake. The A-team knew that they were going to relinquish the National Title, the B-team knew that they had already been promoted to the top Division next season with a Round to spare. The C-team were sitting clearly mid-table in Division 3. Because of this we used the opportunity to give some young players a run-out in the C-team, in particular two of our promising young players Adam Clark (J-18) and Matthew Hunter (J-15).

In Division 1, Dundee City A took on Bon Accord. Following approval from Chess Scotland for fast-improving younger players to accelerate upwards the Board order, we were given permission to play Rishi Vijayakumar (J-12) on Board 1. Rishi set the ball rolling with a straightforward win over the very experienced Robert Lothian (2038). One of his teammates described his victory as Rishi being in ‘cruise control throughout’ – am I am sure that this will be the first of many wins that Rishi will have on Board 1 of the A-team. Another win followed from Stephen Hogg on Board 5 plus draws for David Findlay and Ed Spencer, thus earning the team a 3-2 victory over their talented opponents.

In Division 2, Dundee City B were playing Oban in the last round. On Board 1 Gary Weir gained a solid draw against Duncan Campbell. However, wins for Matthew Deighan and Ian Sneddon plus a draw for Joshua Crofts earned Dundee City B a win by 3-2.

In Division 3, our Dundee City C team also fared well against Edinburgh 3. Adam Clark picked up a draw on Board 1 against David Montgomery. Then Ana Seijas Otero capped a wonderful campaign with another nice win. There were wins also from Matthew Hunter and Daniel Coleman, the latter essaying the dangerous Jobava opening. So the final result against Edinburgh 3 was 3.5-1.5.

At the end of play, Round 9 finished with 3 wins for the Dundee City teams. In the final reckoning for the whole season of play, the A-team ended up in 3rd place behind Dunfermline Knights and Wandering Dragons. Dundee City B came 2nd in Division 2 behind runaway leaders Lenzie Basilisks. In Division 3, our Dundee City team ended up in a very creditable 7th place out of 16 teams. It has been a long season but a very rewarding one for Dundee City – roll on next season of the SNCL!

Alastair Dawson

TAFCA Round-Up & Club Championship

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Castlehill D 0-4 Dundee A

  1. Harley, Trevor 1333  0-1 Ophoff, Jacques (CM) 2253 
  2. Atkins, Graham 1302  0-1 Spencer, Edwin A 2132
  3.  Alijani, Afshin  932 0-1 Cohen, Sir Philip 1842
  4. McLeod, Robert  885  0-1 Dawson, Alastair G  1764

Castlehill C 2-2 Dundee B

  1. Wardlaw, Tom  1440 0-1 Crofts. Joshua 1629
  2. Noble, Ray 1432 0-1 Anderson, James 1546
  3. Young, Colin 1427 1-0 Emery, Keith 1533
  4. Kelly, Conor 1378 1-0 Flood, Raymond 1442

So the A Team end the successful defence of their title with an expectedly comfortable win. Didn’t see any of the games, but they were all completed fairly quickly against the no doubt brave efforts of their opponents, who unfortunately now drop into Division 2.

A marked contrast to the other contest of the evening, featuring two sides battling for their own survival. All the games were still playing into the 11th hour, all fiercely contested into the endings. In the end, the 2-2 scoreline secured both sides position in the 1st Division for next season. The only game I can offer is my own – an horrifically typical example of my inability to get a result from any favourable/level position the last few years, and a stark illustration of needing to take the hint. But it does illustrate how competitive the match was!

Club Championship

Round 3

Sim, Christine 984 1-0 Smart, Douglas

A nice win for Christine to continue her fine Club Championship campaign.

Richardson Cup Semi Final

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A cursory dip into the history of Dundee Chess Club tells us that we have not reached the semi-finals of the Richardson Cup for many years. Even rarer is of the Club having reached the final – and one has to go back over 30 years when a team led by GMs Paul Motwani and Colin McNab laid their hands on the trophy. So our trip to the Edinburgh Ukrainian Club last Saturday was going to be a notable one since we were to face Bank of Scotland in the semi-final. Looking at the gradings, on paper, our team led by Jacques Ophoff and Rishi Vijayakumar seemed to have slight edge on the top 4 boards. Conversely, we were slightly weaker on average than our opponents on the bottom 4 boards. I should also be mentioned that we arrived in Edinburgh without one of our star players, Helge Magnussen, who was in Germany for an important family matter.

Once the match got going, the first match to finish was on Board 6 where Euan Dawson agreed a draw in a blocked position with Jamie Mollison. Soon after, a similar occurrence happened on Board 7 where his Dad reached an impasse in a Queens Gambit Exchange variation. As it turned out, these two draws proved to be pivotal since it meant that, by getting points from the bottom boards, our top players might be able to secure the wins. And that is how it turned out. As the afternoon progressed Rishi was next to finish with a draw against William Bennett (2174). The next two matches to finish were on Boards 1 and 5. On the top Board, Jacques with the white pieces gradually ground down his highly graded opponent (V Tushynyski 2154). Soon after that, Joshua Crofts on Board 5, first won a piece and then the game against Chris James. Then, in a tour de force attack, David Findlay got the better of the very talented Jorge Blanco (2155). An amazing result was thus unfolding when, with 6 games finished, we were already leading by 4.5-1.5 with two of  our top boards (Jacques and David) supported by Joshua on Board 5, producing outstanding wins . By late afternoon 2nd last to finish was Ed Spencer who agreed a draw with Mike Chisholm. Then in a huge tussle, the last game to finish saw Matthew Deighan lose out in an endgame against Stuart Ballantyne.

Remarkably, when all the dust has settled, we had won the match 5-3 and have now reached the Richardson Cup Final for the first in many, many years. We now face the daunting task of facing a super-strong Edinburgh team in the final to be played in Glasgow on Saturday May 18th.

Alastair Dawson

BOS 3-5 Dundee Chess Club

1. AM Volodymyr Tushynskyi 2154 0-1 FM Jacques Ophoff 2255

2. William Bennett 2174 ½ -½ Rishi Vijayakamar 2156

3. Jorge Blanco Sanjuan 2155 0-1 David Findlay 2124

4. Mike Chisolm 1937 ½ -½ Ed Spencer 2135

5. Chris James 1917 0-1 Joshua Crofts 1897

6. Jamie Mollison 1915 ½ -½ Euan Dawson 1891

7. Nigel Chapman 1851 ½ -½ Alastair Dawson 1858

8. Stuart Ballantyne 1787 1-0 Mathew Deighan 1830

Dundee C v Perth B & Club Championship

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There was a bit more resting on this match than I realised…

My only thought going in was that if we’d won 4-0 we’d overtake Perth for promotion. I didn’t mention this to the team in advance, not wanting to add any pressure and thinking it a tad unlikely to say the least!? Unknown to me at the time, it seemed that a win or draw for ourselves, would also win the 2nd Division title for our friends across the water, Newport Knights. Perhaps the presence of our always welcome bud Marcus Wylie should have been a clue?! Meanwhile, we were selfishly thinking just of ourselves, and looking for a result against our other friends from the Fair City.

Dundee CPerth B
11442Ray Flood01John Williamson1424
21435Bruce Wallace10Ian Caldow1397
31318Robert Burnett01James Graham1379
41310Horson Hyginus10Ian Washington1317
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Well, we didn’t get off to a great start. I blundered a piece early on, and didn’t realise I had till a couple of moves later! I was discussing a club matter outside with Alastair, and on returning to the board noticed John’s queen on b4 and casually noted 14. Qb4, not appreciating that the regal lady had captured my bishop on that square. When it dawned, what would normally be a resignation was replaced by a daze, as I stumbled on for a few moves trying to work out what had happened.

Robert was meanwhile having an off-night and succumed quickly to James, but our star signing Horson prevailed in a long struggle against old stager Washington Gambiteer. Then Bruce gradually converted his pawn plus against skip Ian to secure the draw, and suddenly Marcus was nowhere to be seen! Not that there was much else to see. I began to think there might be slight salvaging chances in my game, but of course that was nonsense, though I made John work a bit.

So Newport are Champions by a single game point tie-break, and Perth follow them into Division One; congrats and commiserations to them both.

Another third place finish for us. Disappointing as the team certainly had the potential to top the table, but that would have required rather better leading by example from the skipper, who has been frankly awful since lockdown (and ok, not exactly a shining star beforehand either).

Club Championship Round Three

Vladyslav Drabych 1660 ½-½ 2163 David Findlay

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our highly promising pal Vlad was taking on Dundee legend and defending Champion David. The result may have raised a few eyebrows, but Vlad has been posting great performances over the season, and David admitted he was unusually out-prepared in his favourite Philidor/Czech Pirc hybrid. Vlad was solid as a rock, and David certainly had no complaints afterwards.