THE WIDE BATTLEFIELD

Mike Basman, November 2021

Last week I played in an international event organised by the new high priest of Northumbrian chess, Tim Wall, (taking over from Paul Bielby), at the Forest Hall Social Club in Palmersville, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

This was a hugely successful event, which resulted in a decisive victory for Tarun Kanyamarala of Ireland, who scored an IM norm, as did Jonah Willow from Nottingham.

IM Tarun Kanyamarala Photograph by Paul Charlton

Northumbria is becoming a beacon of excellence for chess, echoing the early days of England when, in the 7th and 8th Centuries, the Venerable Bede and scholar Alcuin carried the torch of enlightenment aloft.


A curious feature arises when we look at the table of participants:

Final Ranking crosstable after 9 Rounds

Rk. NameRtgFED12345678910Pts. TB1TB2
1FMKanyamarala Tarun 2309IRL*½½½1111117.506
2FMWillow Jonah B 2353ENG½*½½111½11705
3IMFitzsimons David 2334IRL½½*½½1011160.54
4FMHan Yichen 2306NED½½½*1011½160.54
5 Eggleston Thomas A 2175ENG00½0*½1111504
6WIMKanyamarala Trisha 2082IRL0001½*½½114.503
7 Sedykh Mikhail 2120ENG00100½*10½302
8 Jones Steven A 2231ENG0½000½0*1½2.511
9IMBasman Michael J 2273ENG000½0010*12.502
10IMMckay Roderick M 2243SCO000000½½0*100
You find all details to this tournament under  http://chess-results.com/tnr586262.aspx?lan=1

If you look at the ages of the bottom four players, the average age is 55 years.

If you take the ages of the top 6 players the average is 22 years old; in fact, 4 of the top 6 players are still teenagers.

This is clearly a declaration of war.  What is to be done about this?

I have initiated a series of awards, to improve the status of older players.  There are now prizes for:-

Over 60 years old (senor)

Over 75 years old (super senor)

Over 85 years old (mega senor)

Over 100 years old (giga senor)

Over 120 years old (tera senor)

In the Forest Hall event, Roddy McKay captured the over 60 prize, and I was the clear winner in the over 75 section.  There were no participants in the higher ranges.

I will finish with a spectacular game from the Forest Hall International event, by the sole female participant, 15 year old Trisha Kanyamarala, who scored a very creditable 4.5 points out of 9.

Here Comes The Knight!

White: Trisha Kanyamarala (Ireland) Black: Roddy McKay (Scotland)

Northumbria Masters, August, 2021

1 d4 d5

2 c4 c6

3 cxd5 cxd5

4 Bf4 Nc6

Diagram courtesy of chess.com

A harmless looking variation of the Slav defence has arisen on the board

5 e3 Nf6

6 Nc3 a6

Black moves his edge pawn to ward off any plans white might have to play Nb5, but … e6 is quite adequate (7 Nb5 Bb4+).

7 Be2

Diagram courtesy of chess.com

A move loaded with Irish cunning.  White is delaying the development of his g1 knight, and tempts 7 … Bf5 8 g4!? Be4 9 f3 Bg6 10 h4 h6 11 h5 Bh7 12 Bd3 with a bind.

7… e6

8 Rc1

Another high class waiting move; black replies with a natural, but mistaken, exchange offer.

8… Bd6?

9 Bxd6 Qxd6

10 f4!

Diagram courtesy of chess.com

Miraculously we have transposed into the historic Stonewall variation, which could not have transpired if white had played his knight to f3 earlier, which would have blocked the f pawn.  Now the knight on g1 will head to e5, a magnificent outpost.  Usually in the Stonewall variation, white ends up with a stone dead bishop on c1, blocked by its own centre pawns, but here white has skilfully managed to exchange it off.  Trisha’s strategy has been a resounding success. 

10 … 0-0

11 Nf3 Bd7

In this case it is black who has the bad bishop.

12 0-0 Ne7

13 Ne5

Diagram courtesy of chess.com

And here it comes – here comes the Knight.  Did Trisha realise she was playing homage to another legendary Irish citizen, the singer Van Morison (aka Them of the 1960s)

13… Rfc8

14 Bd3 Be8

15 Rf3 b5

16 Rf3

Diagram courtesy of chess.com

The first direct threat – 17 Bxh7+ Nxh7 18 Qh5 with a mating attack.

16… g6

Black’s position looks rock solid.  True he has weaknesses on the black squares, but surely they won’t be that easy to exploit.

17 Qe1 b4

18 Ne2 Bb5

With two sharp blows black takes the initiative on the queen side.  Trisha reacts strongly on the other wing

19 Qh4!

Now if black continues 19 … Bxd3 he is in trouble after 20 Qxf6 because the pawn at f7 is now undefended.  So he plays the natural move.

19 … Kg7

Acquiescing in a draw by 20 Qh6+ Kg8 21 Qh4 Kg7 22 Qh6+ etc.

But a draw is not on offer.

20 Qxf6+!!

Diagram courtesy of chess.com

An explosive conclusion.  After black 20 … Kxf6 white continues with 21 Rxh7 with two threats of mate: 22 Rxf7++ and 22 Ng4++.  If black then bails out with 21 … Qxe5, a third mate appears: 22 dxe5++.  Black did not wait to see these variations demonstrated, but resigned instead.

As long as chess is played, this game by 15 year old Trisha Kanyamarala will be celebrated, both for its devastating finish and for the subtle strategy that preceded it.  We shall name it The Hesperides Encounter.

Enjoy more photos from the event by photographer Paul Charlton (Forest Hall Chess Club):

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