British Over 65 and Over 50 (years) Championships
04/05/2022 to 08/05/2022, Holiday Inn Kenilworth
Yorkshire representatives at these events are mainly from Sheffield, but also by Michael Stokes of Harrogate.
IM Andrew Ledger and Jonathan Nelson were initially 3rd and 6th respectively of the 22 Over-50 entrants when ranked by rating. That might make it seem Andrew Ledger was in with a chance of winning, but there was the slight problem that numbers 1 and 2 in the rating line are GMs Mark Hebden and Keith Arkell, both of whom, as professional chess-players, would be chasing the £500 first prize.
Meanwhile, Chris Shephard started 4th of the 32 entrants when ranked by rating in the Over 65, without any GMs to worry about, though there were an IM and an FM ahead of him. Michael Stokes was ranked 8th.
Both events were of 7 rounds. Round-by-round reports follow.
Round 1: Both Ledger and Nelson were in the top half of the draw, and would be expected to win, but in the event only drew, each against a player with a significantly lower rating.
Round 2: Sod’s law dictated that Ledger and Nelson be drawn against each other. The opening was a Slav exchange, which is always “drawish”, but can win for White if Black is the weaker player (not the case here). In the event the game was agreed drawn after White’s 12th move.
Round 3: Both Sheffield players won fairly easily. Andrew Ledger’s opponent was another player who managed to bury his queen and so lose.
Round 4: Jonathan Nelson drew in 32 moves. Meanwhile Andrew Ledger lost to Philip Crocker. His opponent advanced his isolated passed d-pawn to d6 on move 23, and it was still there on move 41, at which point its promotion could not be satisfactorily prevented. That left Nelson of 2½ out of 4 and Ledger on 2 out of 4.
Round 5: Both Sheffield players won in round 5, Jon Nelson being now in 4th place. Click on link to play through a game, using browser’s “back” function to return to this page:
Round 6: As leader Mark Hebden had already played Keith Arkell and Mark Josse, who lay in equal 2nd-3rd places, Jon got paired against the leader Mark Hebden. Hebden won, not too surprisingly. Meanwhile Andrew Ledger had Black against Natasha Regan, who developed the more active game, then sacrificed a knight to edge through her pawn at h6. Thus the other Sheffielder lost. Click on link to play through a game, using browser’s “back” function to return to this page:
Round 7: Going into the final round with 3½ out of 7, Jon Nelson had a reasonable chance of finishing third equal if he managed to win. Andrew Ledger being on 3 out of 7 was no longer in the running for a prize, but won in the last round to finish on 4 out of 7; his opponent went astray by going pawn-grabbing with a bishop which was needed back home to prevent promotion of a passed pawn. Meanwhile, Jon Nelson won fairly easily to end up on 4½. Click on link to play through a game, using browser’s “back” function to return to this page:
Round 1: Chris Shephard was in the top half of the draw, and won fairly easily as was to be expected. Michael Stokes beat Dinah Wright, past many-time British Ladies Champion (as Dinah Dobson).
Round 2: This time Chris managed to win a pawn on move 17, then advanced a passed d-pawn but could not promote it. The game simplified to a same-colour bishop and pawn ending, with all pawns on the same side of the board, but all Chris’s pawns were blockaded on the same-colour squares as the bishop, and his opponent could effectively shut up shop and the game was drawn. Michael Stokes, however, chalked up his second win.
Round 3: Chris Shephard’s opponent trapped his own king at move 30 so losing it and resigned. Michael Stokes predictably lost to top-ranked Paul Littlewood.
Round 4: Chris has been playing the Czech Benoni since time immemorial, and in this round trotted it out against Roger de Coverley, who was doing okay to start with, but eventually stumble and lost. The Sheffield player was thus move onto 3½ out of 4, putting him in the joint lead with Paul Littlewood (whose father was of course born and bred in Sheffield). Meanwhile, Michael Stokes drew with Geoffrey M Brown (not to be confused with Sheffield’s Geoffrey D Brown).
Round 5: Despite having the white pieces, Chris Shephard lost in round 5, making his chances of winning the event somewhat slim. Michael Stokes had a tricky opponent in Oliver Jackson (against whom the writer has a score of 1 out of 1) and came second. Click on link to play through game, using browser’s “back” function to return to this page:
Round 6: In this round the Sheffield player was paired against I L Snape (who the writer beat in the British Under 16 – or was it Under 18?) This game was drawn. The Harrogate player got back in winning mode with a win over James Bingham, sacrificing a piece for two pawns in the opening, and ending up, eventually, with a winning ending. Click on link to play through the game, using browser’s “back” function to return to this page:
Round 7: Going into round 7, Chris Shephard was on 4 points out of 6 and lay in =m 6th=7th place, with a reasonable chance of finishing 3rd=, and a theoretical chance of finishing 2nd=. Michael Stokes was half a point behind. The two Yorkshire players were paired in the last round, with Chris Shephard (White) winning. In the event, Chris Shephard tied 4th-5th equal, and Michael Stokes ended 12th-21st equal: