Bulletin No.59 – Yesterday’s News(knight) Never Dies!

Bulletin No.59 – Yesterday’s News(knight) Never Dies!

About a year ago at the start of the first Lockdown we provided a brief review article on our local regular Newsknight magazines which ran for 13 years from 1993 to 2006. One blink and you probably missed it as it was one of our shortest ever bulletins!

Over the last year, Newsknight has played a vital part in providing valuable intelligence, information and insight into the history on many of our local clubs, past players, competitions and other publications. Indeed, there have been a number of references to Newsknight as part of these bulletins including extracts from it.

There is a saying that yesterday’s news is today’s fish and chip paper! For Newsknight, this does not appear to be the case as many of our local readers are still very interested in our Dorset chess history.

The wide information provided by this popular publication bridged a small but noticeable gap between:

  • The ever increasing problems with the weekly chess column in the Bournemouth Echo in the 90s – please see ‘The Rise & Fall of the Bournemouth (and Dorset) Echo Correspondent’ which can be found in Dorset Local Chat No.9 here

and …

  • The Dorset Chess website which began in 2004, the history of which can be found here.

In this article we provide some more insightful history in the production & development of the Newsknight magazine, and some informative summary statistics whilst also choosing to focus on two types of articles (‘Editorials’ and ‘Bits and Pieces’) that have not previously received much attention on other website bulletins.

‘In the Beginning’ aka ‘How Newsknight came about’

Following a spinal injury in a road traffic accident in the early 90s involving a stray horse, and after a year and a half of recuperation, Alan Dommett realised that his competitive chess playing days at our local chess clubs were limited. He therefore began to search for new ways and avenues to support the local chess community.

Given Alan’s recognised observant, sharp yet witty writing skills, he was approached by Martin Simons to consider writing for the Bournemouth Echo particularly as its then current Chess Correspondent, Steve Shutler, was giving up his tenure. It also proved a great opportunity for Alan and Martin to work together to provide an ambitious but much needed regular magazine for the Bournemouth & District chess community and with Alan accepting early retirement, he was ideally suited to be its reluctant main Editor.

Neither Alan nor Martin can quite remember how the ‘Newsknight’ name was chosen but maybe it had something to do with the above horse in question. However, the pair were determined not to call the magazine ‘Nightmare!’ although ‘Merlin’, the name of the horse, probably did come up in a few of their ‘gallows humour’ conversations!

And so the ‘Newsknight’ magazine was born!

First Front Cover and Editorial

Below is the front cover of the very 1st Issue. In those days computer software for the ‘at home’ amateur was in its relative infancy so please excuse the quality. Even in this first outing, it became clear that Alan was going to use his editorial piece as an ideal opportunity and platform to voice some of his local and national concerns and this theme continued throughout many of the editions of the magazine. The problem with the Bournemouth Echo chess column slot also received its first mention here.

The Changing Face of Newsknight

Over the 13 years, the quality of the front cover gradually improved, and by Issue 9 it was looking quite jazzy with a bit of colour and a more professional typeset. County chess was Alan’s main editorial feature here!

The solution to the actual game position on the above page can be found at the end of this article.

And by Issue 16 the magazine had its own separate front cover (shown below) which remained until its final issue (No.28) in 2006.

Missing Newsknight Magazine

A bit like the missing Doctor Who episodes, many of which were destroyed in the late 60s and 70s due to lack of space, scarcity of materials and a lack of rebroadcast rights, we seem to be ‘missing’ Issue 24 for Newsknight. We say ‘missing’ in the loosest sense as there is still an unsubstantiated rumour that Alan and Martin could not count and went from producing Issue 23 to Issue 25 without realising their error!

If any reader can prove these whisperings wrong and has a copy of Issue 24 which would have been produced in either late 2002 or early 2003, then, to save their embarrassment and blushes, Alan and Martin would love to hear from you!

What did the 28 (maybe 27!) Newsknights contain?

Here is a whirlwind statistical summary ….

  • Over 400 pages in total!
  • Shortest issues – 7 pages – Issues 1, 2, 4, and 5.
  • Longest issues – 30 pages – Issues 25 and 27
  • 27 Editorials
  • 25 Bits and Pieces
  • 21 sets of B&DCL / DCCA League Tables / Individual winners / Team Knockout
  • 18 Games Files
  • 16 Events Pages / Diary Dates
  • 14 Dorset Closed Individual Championships
  • 14 Top Local Grades for each season from 1993 to 2006
  • 11 Dorset Rapidplay Championships from its first tournament in 1995 to 2005
  • 10 Dorset Opens
  • 9 British Championships and other tournaments
  • 9 Opening Oddities
  • 8 Dorset County Correspondence reports
  • 3 Bournemouth Swiss reports
  • 5 Obituaries (Greville Marples / Bob Ursell / Peter Fowler / Barry Walker / Jim McKenna)
  • 2 B&DCL Bournemouth Echo Problem Correspondent reports
  • 2 1993 Short v Kasparov World Chess Championship reports
  • 1 Kasparov match versus local player Phil Taylor-Bowd
  • 1 Poole Club Chess International trip to Nijmegen
  • 1 How Do Chess Players Think?
  • 1 Two Towns Match
  • 1 Playing chess in Germany by Phil Taylor-Bowd who moved there.
  • 1 How Bad is Your Chess?
  • 1 Internet Chess report
  • 1 Michael Freeman chess biography report
  • 1 Newsknight Rapidplay Tournament
  • And much more!

So there was plenty of variety to interest readers of differing tastes!

Bits and Pieces

This regular item (only second in number to the Editorials!) gave Alan plenty of opportunity and poetic licence to write whatever he saw fit. Here are a few snippets of the sort of interesting material that was included!:

In Newsknight No.3 below Alan discusses:

  • The difficulties in getting the Bournemouth Echo to print local league tables (it would seem the Bournemouth Echo was Alan’s bug bear!), hence the magazine’s mission to plug the gap and also offer a lot more!
  • The Susan Polgar v Garry Kasparov controversial Linares game played in 1994.

With the availability of past clips of chess matches now on YouTube (see below), please judge for yourself if Kasparov did let go of the piece in that infamous match but the evidence looks conclusive.

In Newsknight No.8 below Alan discusses his ‘worst nightmare becoming reality’ by losing to a junior. Martin had a similar and perhaps even worse nightmare at a later British Chess Championship when this same player (who was not a junior by then!) opened 1.f3 and 2.Kf2 and still won. So who is this ‘Wonder Boy’? All is revealed below but not the latter game!

In Newsknight No.20 below Alan discusses what he believes to be the ingredients of a thriving chess club but as well as the club he mentioned, we are sure there are many other local clubs which have similar folk!

New Dorset Chess website – Was this the beginning of the end for Newsknight?

In Alan’s Editorial below for the penultimate (27th edition) bumper 30 page Newsknight special, he mentions the birth of the much welcomed and anticipated Dorset Chess website. Whilst he states that, along with the Bournemouth Echo Chess Column, we were now covering ‘all bases’, perhaps it did confirm the old saying that ‘two’s company, three is a crowd’ as one of these had to give so which one was it to be?

And it is a ‘Goodnight from me and Goodnight from him!’

Here was the final Editorial. Perhaps it was Alan’s downbeat ‘about turn’ comment regarding a new dawn (now false dawn), his beleaguered request for more games and Martin’s offer of a Newsknight book prize for the best games which simply proved too much for everyone involved! The striking reality became clear that the writing was on the wall and Newsknight took one for the team. Some people may even suggest that 13 years was unlucky for some but Alan and Martin would like to confirm these 13 years were great fun and there was plenty of evidence to suggest the magazine was well supported whilst it lasted!

Solution to the Simons v Rudd game position (White to play) contained in the Editorial to Newsknight No.9

The answer to the county conundrum is shown below.

29.Qe7! is what Martin should have played to finish the game quickly – that old faithful, the queen sacrifice. If either the Black rook or knight captures the queen then the escape square for the Black king is blocked and the white knights inflict a pretty mate in two with 30.Nf6+ Kf8 and either 31.Ngh7# or 31.Rh8#. The best defence is 29…Nh5 but it is still mate in 8.  Martin also had many other ways to win just to rub it in!

Instead the game continued 29.Nf8 (threatening 30.Rh7) Qb4 30.Rh7 Qxf8 31.Re1 Nxd4 32.Re3

32…Rc3!? The move missed by White and an ingenious defence, but White can still win.  32…Nxe2 was another clever try but also loses, as does everything else.

33.bxc3?  33.h4! still wins in a ridiculously complicated position, the advantage of today’s chess engines!

33…b2 34.Bf1 b1(Q)

35.Reh3? this should now lose, instead 35.cxd4 would have held the balance.

35…Ne2+ 36.Kg2 Nf4+?  It’s Black’s turn to go wrong giving a winning position back to White.  Instead 36…Be4+ won for Black.

37.Qxf4 Nh5

38.Qf6?

38.gxh5! wins as there is no defence to hxg6 e.g. 38…Bf5 39.hxg6 Bxh3+ 40.Rxh3 Qxg6 41.Bd3 winning but which human being would see any of this?

38…Be4+ 39.Kg1 Qxf1+! 40.Kxf1 Rb1+ 41.Ke2 Rb2+ 42.Ke1 Draw agreed as there is no safe way to avoid the perpetual.