Craig Evans

John Claridge - IM not going to mock him...

Craig Evans  Sunday, July 16, 2017

It seems to have become the Welsh way that, when one of our strongest players plays a blinder of a tournament and earns a title, instead of celebrating this and congratulating them, I am asked to mercilessly taunt them through a 'comedy roast' of their play. With people like Glyn and Gareth this was easy, but surely not someone as respected as John?

Well... he was up for it, and submitted this game (from the tournament which earned him his first IM norm) which he admitted to being very proud of. As well he might be, as he played a beautiful game... I can only assume his opponent was hoping for a share of the brilliancy prize though, as he goes wrong from the very first move... Enjoy!

Tooting My Own Horn

Craig Evans  Monday, July 3, 2017

This week for a change (and somewhat inspired by Russell's interesting discussion on the British penchant for self-deprecation), I thought it would be interesting to analyse one of my own games. Not only this, but to choose a game I won, and be positive about it. I have spent a lot of time over the years putting myself and my chess-playing down, so I've picked a game I am quite proud of, and instead of picking holes, looked for the moments I am happy with. It is far from perfect I'm sure, and in years to come I'm sure the opening I chose to play will be picked apart... but until then, this was one of my first 'good' wins.

There is little in the way of substantive analysis - there isn't meant to be really. It's more the psychological side that I am interested in beyond the opening, as it was one of the first CC games where I played with confidence and aggression from the get-go.

One other interesting sub-plot was the speed at which my opponent was moving - another issue that Russell has commented on elsewhere is players playing too quickly (something I am also prone to!). It was this, in part, that tempted me to play in such enterprising fashion. So, here's the game - I hope it is entertaining in some way.

Clough vs Grieve - Some Additional Discussion

Craig Evans  Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I am aware that some of my analysis articles have gotten many people talking (usually about how they will inflict revenge!), but it was lovely to hear from the protagonist himself recently about some additional information regarding his Ponziani preparation.

Hello Craig Evans.  Thank you for your sympathetic and insightful articles featuring my recent Ponziani games. I agree with everything you say about the probability that the Fraser Gambit (5.....Bc5) is likely to be a refutation of the Ponziani, given that White has little option to avoid it after 3....Nf6. There is an interesting prologue to this game v. Grieve . I have for several years been running a thematic choice correspondence tourney for the BCCA which offers Gambit and Counter choices from a range of options. This year (my last before retiring from this post) I included the Fraser Gambit for the first time. My introductory comments in the BCCA journal 'Correspondence Chess No. CC196 Summer 2016) said that Taylor and Hayward ('Play the Ponziani' 2009) had concluded the gambit to be "basically unsound". My view differed and I went on to write 'Perhaps that is also the conclusion reached by various other reputable modern writers on the Ponziani who have chosen to completely ignore the move 5....Bc5 in their analyses. Well don't believe them! Fraser's move 5...Bc5 is extremely dangerous for both sides and leads to fascinating double-edged chess of uncertain outcome. Have a go and reach your own verdict on this neglected, and I believe underestimated, 19th Century gambit'.

Given that I had never actually faced this Gambit before, It was then something of a shock to find that my opponent in the Ward Higgs (Grieve) confronted me with it this year!!  Moreover I believe his 7....Bb6 is a significant improvement over the Taylor and Hayward 7....bxc6 mainline recommendation. So I had to work hard on my analysis and concluded that my 12 Qd5   c6 13. Qd2 was the best hope (to draw!!) A possible desperate alternative here might be 12. Qxb6 Rxb6 13. Kxf2, but really I think there is no way forward for White who is simply struggling to draw in all variations. I thought you might like to hear this little story. I shall still play the Ponziani OTB and perhaps occasionally CC , but since you have perhaps made this gambit more popular I may have to be better prepared to meet it more often! Incidentally, Russell played in my Gambit Tourney, but I've not yet asked him whether he tried or faced the Fraser Gambit!  

Some very interesting stuff from Fred; it is a relief to know my feelings about the gambit's strength were not misplaced!

In terms of 'resurrecting' the line for white, 12.Nbd2 and 12.Na3 seem to warrant closer attention - things are not as clear as they seem in these lines. 12.Nbd2 was discussed very briefly in the analysis to the game (see my previous posts!) as leading to an advantage with an edge for black; however, this is not necessarily a won endgame and OTB may be well worth a crack. 12. Na3... well, I leave analysing that as an exercise to any interested readers, but the idea is to again go for a material balance of two pieces against rook and two pawns, where white has a pair of bishops as some compensation for any nominal material defecit. Any engine will help the reader find the only playable continuation (for both sides almost!) - you can judge for yourself whether you think the endgame for white is worth a shot!

Finally, I hope that the gambit doesn't put Fred (or others) off the opening - I think it will remain a well-kept secret on these pages for some time, and there's something romantic about openings like the Ponziani being played still in the 21st Century - it would be a shame for it to be disposed of in this brutal fashion!

It's a Yeo-sy game.

Craig Evans  Monday, June 5, 2017

I've accused Gareth of playing boring chess in the past. Many times. However, he provided this game (and some excellent part-analyses) to show that he is not all stodgy openings and draws on move 10... a very impressive piece of work Gareth!

Death of a Ponziani?

Craig Evans  Sunday, April 30, 2017

This week's game is another stirling effort in the Ponziani by Fred Clough. This time, however, it is black who goes on a sacrificial attack right from the opening, and the brutal reality is that Fred is lucky to escape with a half-point. Could 5...Bc5 refute the Ponziani? Stay tuned...

Responding to a cannibal's 'Wanted' advert...

Craig Evans  Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This week I've been asked to take a look at a rather brutal game by one of our finest veterans, Fred Clough. His opponent, Nicola Robinson, plays in sharp fashion against the Ponziani opening and tries to use pins to hold her position together; but Fred is wily and shows why the experts use cement rather than pins for holding things together. Enjoy!

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Two nice games by Glyn Sinnett - Part 2

Craig Evans  Friday, March 3, 2017

The second part of the two-part series looking at the match between Glyn Sinnett and Anthony Stebbings.

Two nice games by Glyn Sinnett - Part 1

Craig Evans  Friday, February 24, 2017

I was recently asked by Ian to take a look at two games recently played by Glyn in a county match against Essex. I rarely need an excuse to criticise others... so, here is part one of a two-part series analysing some high-level chess. Enjoy!

Gareth Yeo wins The Correspondence Chess Master Title

Ian Jones  Thursday, January 19, 2017

Well Done to Gareth Yeo on Winning the Correspondence Chess Masters Title.

Craig Evans has done a sterling job again with his excellent annotations in the game against Richard Williams.

Gareth celebrated with a drop of squash.

Glyn Sinnett has achieved a CCE norm!

Ian Jones  Sunday, January 1, 2017

Glyn Sinnett’s recent win against the Russian Yury Grigievich Lavrentyev (2296) has given him enough points in the first WCCF Congress to achieve a CCE norm.

A massive thanks to Craig Evans for the fantastic annotation to this game which is below.