Phones win Spens Cup final, 2017!

phones-win-spens-cup-2017-team.JPG

Winning team being presented with the Cup by Jim Webster, Chess Scotland President. Photo credit: Andy Howie, Chess Scotland.

Photos credit – taken by Andy Howie of Chess Scotland, for more see here.

FIDE Rated Report; Round 1 on 2017/04/15 at 12:00
Bo. Phones Rtg Bellshill Rtg 3 : 2
1/1 Dickson, Robert (w) 0 Nolan, Graeme (b) 2181 1 – 0
1/2 Doyle, James (b) 1895 Deary, Daniel (w) 1795 0 – 1
1/3 Misanjo, Stephen (w) 0 Mitchell, Alex (b) 0 1 – 0
1/4 Barker, Luke (b) 0 Deary, David (w) 1763 ½ – ½
1/5 Skettos, Nicolas (w) 1581 Black, Colin (b) 0 ½ – ½

Easter Saturday was the 2017 Spens Cup final, taking place in Kirkcaldy where the plucky Phones took on Bellshill. Phones prevailed, despite being outgraded on most boards, but our sincere commiserations to Bellshill who were fine and sporting opponents.

It is also important to mention Pavlos Bozinakis, our usual board one player, who couldn’t make the match sadly, but he has been a key team member for League and Cup this season and shares the trophy with us.

FIDE rated games, with the international arbiter Alex Macfarlane in charge, so we were all looking forward to playing in this, after a great season and journey to get to the final (with a fine win away to Wandering Dragons in the semi-final). Kind thanks go to John and Bob for stewarding the team there. Time control is the usual 2 hours per player for 40, then 30 minutes quickplay finish.

Having reached the final this also means we should be entering a team for next year’s Richardson Cup, hopefully.

Stephen was first to finish and played a fine endgame to put us 1-0 up! Stephen kindly gave me a description of his board 3 game and the move-sheet, which is transcribed here. (click link to view the game board)

“My game was interesting from the start. I lost a pawn after move move number 9 in the opening stage but I held my nerves continued as if it was a sacrifice. In the middle game I was head in time and my opponent started feeling the pressure and he was looking for exchanging all the powerful pieces since he had an advantage. In the end he made a mistake and I took my chance to win the game. I thank all my team mates for the excellent job in winning the Spens Cup.”

Luke offered a draw soon after, having squandered his initial advantage and stood slightly worse (but holdable) with the black pieces on board 4. His opponent declined and they played on. Nikos was next to offer a draw as he had hit a roadblock after queens exchanged. Nikos has supplied some notes on his game on board 5:

“So I started off with the Moscow 3. Bb5+ variation against the Sicilian Defence wishing to avoid the Najdorf and other sharp lines of the Open Sicilian. Then I adopted a Maroczy Bind type of pawn structure with pawns on c4 and e4 but my opponent also placed his pawns on c5 and e5, leading to a very closed position in the centre with no immediate tension, Also, I blocked the pawn structure on the queenside so I could focus on attacking on the kingside. My advantage was that with both of us having dark-coloured bishops, my pawns were on light squares while his on dark squares. If on move 16 I had found Nh4 then my advantage would be even greater but I didn’t. After move 26 my opponent offered a draw but I declined as I had nothing to risk by playing on and still a slight advantage. Unfortunately though, I wrongly exchanged the queens releasing the pressure and with 30 minutes approximately less on the clock and our team already in the lead by 1-0 after Stephen’s victory, I decided to offer a draw on move 41 with the position close to equal, that my opponent accepted after some thought.”

Next Jim and Luke and Bob were all fighting on. But Luke lost the b7 pawn to a clever tactic in the time trouble up to move 40. It kind of was key to the position and should really have lost. But a later slip where his opponent let his g-pawn go allowed a chance to draw. After activating the king to limit his opponents king and knight (somewhat desperately!) Luke was able to sac his knight for the two pawns. Now faced with pawns on the same side of the board and one extra, despite being a piece down there was good chances to draw, which his opponent eventually agreed to.

Here is some of the game, but I lost the sheet with full moves and so it kind of gets inaccurate about move 32.

More reports to follow…

Spectators are welcome, so in the rare event that you are in Fife tomorrow:

at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy on Saturday April 15 – matches start at 12 noon. Adam Smith Theatre, Bennochy Road, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1ET.

The tournament has been running for over 100 years, and pits teams from all over Scotland against each other (rather than the more usual local-area encounters). Alan McGowan wrote this fascinating history of the person the tournament is named after [provided here (temporarily) as the Chess Scotland page seems to be down right now]:

Walter Cook Spens 01 February 1842, Glasgow – 13 July 1900, Edinburgh

The Bailie, No. 411, Wednesday, September 1st, 1880

Walter Cook Spens was born in Glasgow on February 1, 1842. He was connected to an old Spens family from Lathallan in Fife.

His parents were William Spens, an actuary and Manager of the Scottish Amicable Life Assurance Society, and Janet Hill Cook.

His early schooling was at Glasgow Academy, followed by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. He was called to the Bar in 1865.

On 2 August 1870, in Edinburgh, he married Helen Gillespie, daughter of Sir John Gillespie and Margaret Ruth Robertson.

In the same year Sheriff Henry Glassford Bell, a strong player and an important figure in Glasgow chess circles, appointed Spens as a Sheriff-Substitute for Lanarkshire. Spens, who was known there as the “boy-sheriff”, as he was only 28 years of age, was on the bench at Hamilton Sheriff Court for six years before transferring to the Glasgow in December 1876, where he remained for the rest of his life.

In 1889 the University of Glasgow conferred on him the honorary title of LL.D.

Spens had been active in chess matters for many years, including participation in the Dundee 1867 international tournament. His name first appears in the Minute Book of the Glasgow CC in 1872, and at the club’s Annual General Meeting in October that year he was appointed Vice-President.

He took part in several West of Scotland v East of Scotland matches, for example in 1880, 1881, 1889, 1890, 1892, 1894, 1896 and 1899.

He was also a composer of chess problems, some of which were published in his chess column in the Glasgow Weekly Herald, which he began editing in 1882.

Sheriff Spens was one of the main driving forces responsible for the founding of the Scottish Chess Association in 1884, the inaugural meeting being held in his chambers at the County Court Buildings in Glasgow on Saturday, February 4, when Sheriff Spens was elected as one of several Vice-Presidents.

The Chess Monthly, Vol. XIII, February 1892, p.161.

Spens participated in every Scottish Chess Association Congress from the inaugural year of 1884 until his death in 1900. He was equal first with W.N. Walker in the 1890 championship but lost the play-off match. He won in 1894.

Other successes were the West of Scotland Championship 1897 and Glasgow Chess Club Champion in 1875, 1879, 1881, 1884, 1887, 1888, 1889.

Sheriff Spens died on Friday 13th July in the University Club, Edinburgh. Hs body was transported to Glasgow for the funeral service held in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Great Western Road on Monday, 16 July, after which he was buried in Hamilton cemetery.

After his death, a Public subscription raised sufficient funds to purchase the Spens Cup, to be competed for by teams other than those in the primary team competition in Scotland, the Richardson Cup. (Sadly, the original Spens Cup was lost during WWII and had to be replaced.)

At the time of his death Sheriff Spens was a member of the Art Club, the Walter Scott Club and the Glasgow Ballad Club. In 1863, when only twenty-one years of age, he published his first book of poems, Dreams and Realities, and in 1881 there came Darroll and Other Poems. Several of his writings used chess themes and appeared in various chess periodicals, sometimes with the writer identified as W.C.S.

Spens wrote a number of important legal works, some of which showed his interest in social conditions, the poor, and the interests of workers.

In 1875 he published Jurisdiction and Punishments of Summary Criminal Courts, and there followed in 1876 The Sanitary System of Scotland: Its Defects and Proposed Remedies.

Other important works were The History of the Orr Ewing Case, which dealt with differences in the legal systems of Scotland and England and, co-authored with Robert T. Younger, M.A., LL.B., Advocate, Employers and Employed: Being (1) an Exposition of the Law of Reparation for Physical Injury; (2) the Employers’ Liability Act, 1880, Annotated with special reference to decisions in England and Scotland; and (3) Suggested Amendment of the Law as to the Liability of Employers. With Appendices and Indices.

Additional information
In the 1851 Census the family is shown at 6 Clarendon Place, Glasgow.

In the 1861 Census he is recorded as Age 19, at 3 Granby Terrace, Glasgow (now 6 Hillhead Street, West End area of Glasgow), apprentice clerk, born Glasgow.

In the 1881 Census he is shown as Age 39, Denton Cottage, Govan, Lanark, Scotland, advocate, Sheriff substitute of Larnarkshire. This is in the Partick area of Glasgow (Govan Parish covered a large area).

In 1886 he resided at 3 Westbourne Gardens, Glasgow.

In the 1895 Valuation Roll he is shown as Tenant/Occupier at 1 Prince’s Gardens, in the Govan Parish of Partick Burgh. [Now the Dowanhill Area of Glasgow.]

Spens and his wife Helen had eleven children, several of whom died in infancy (one of his poetic works is entitled Beside a Little Grave).

He named one son Henry Glassford Bell Spens, in honour of the Sheriff with whom he played chess, and who had been influential in guiding his professional career. Henry died on active service in 1917, aged twenty-five.

John Gillespie Spens followed his father into law and became an Advocate.

His daughter Janet co-founded Laurel Bank School for Girls in 1903.

A brother, John Alexander Spens (1847-1928), was a co-founder of the legal practice of Maclay, Murray and Spens.

Sources
The Bailie, No. 411, Wednesday, September 1st, 1880.
The Chess Bouquet, 1897.
Falkirk Herald, July 18, 1900, p. 8 (chess column).
British Chess Magazine
 1900, pp. 370-373.
The Scotsman, July 14 1900, p. 8.
Glasgow Herald, August 10, 1928, p. 13.
Unpublished History of Glasgow Chess Club.
Scotland’s Chess Centenary Book, by C.W. Pritchett and M.D. Thornton, 1984.
The Story of Dundee Chess Club, by Peter W. Walsh, 1984.
http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH1300&type=P (Janet Spens)

Note: All credit for the history article in this post on Spens is to Alan McGowan

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Author: Phones Chess Club Glasgow

Website admin for Phones Chess Club, Glasgow.

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