Oxford 2&3 – Weekend 3

The Four Nations Chess League gathered at Nottingham for the third weekend of division 4. Most took the direct route up the motorway. Some chose the county back roads until persuaded that Nottingham was further from Oxford than the northern provincial outpost of Banbury.

The Oxford crew were the usual suspects, with Will Burt having been persuaded to make his first appearance of the year. Pete's arrangements had been impeccable but the sudden influx of chess-players seemed to play havoc with the hotel registration. Will and myself were booked into the same single room. 'We're friends' I explained to the receptionist 'but not that good friends'. A hasty amendment was made!

Oxford 2 faced a close match in prospect against the Conquistadors who out-graded us on the top boards but this was balanced by our strength in depth. My team orders were to 'hold' the top three boards and to win the bottom boards. The match started with a bang. Within 45 minutes my opponent blundered a piece and resigned on move nine. Aidan followed orders by taking a grandmaster draw and Graham produced the following cute miniature.

Cork, D (1955) - Morris, G (2025) [B80]
4NCL/Div4/CON1-OXF2 Nottingham ENG (5.5), 11.02.2006

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.f3 Be7 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nc6 10.g4 b5 11.Be2 Bb7 12.h4 Rc8 13.h5 b4 14.Nb1?? Nxd4! 15.Bxd4 Nxe4! 16.fxe4 Bg5!! 17.Bxg7 Qxc2# 0-1

So by a quarter past 3 the three of us were checking out the local hostelry rewarded ourselves with a glass of our favoured beverage. When we returned Matt wrapped up nicely to make it a clean sweep on bottom boards. See diagram.

In fact everything went nicely to plan, only the rebel Duggan disobeyed orders by winning his game - so the match ended 5-1 in our favour.

The thirds were facing a tough match against the kids from Richmond . All eyes were on Comet Stembridge which had blazed across Kidlington. A NASA probe sent to analyse its composition found trace molecules of organic matter, hiccupped and broke into a verse of 'Frere Jacque' before ending transmission. Simultaneously Norman creperies were forced to take their signature dish off the menu as stocks of Calvados had mysteriously evaporated. A government spokesman said the incidents were unrelated. Meanwhile Comet Stembridge continued in his elliptical orbit to the outer regions of the solar system as evidenced by the following game.

Kenyon,S (1731) - Stembridge,E (1960) [B20]
4NCL/Div4/RIC2-OXF3 Nottingham ENG (5.3), 11.02.2006

1.e4 c5 2.a3 e6 3.b4 Qf6 4.Nc3 cxb4 5.axb4 Bxb4 6.Bb2 Qg6 7.Nge2 Na6 8.Nb5 Nf6 9.Rxa6 bxa6 10.Nc7+ Kd8 11.Nxa8 Qxe4 12.Qa1 Nh5 13.c3 Nf4 14.f3 Nd3+ 15.Kd1 Nf2+ 16.Ke1 Nd3+ 17.Kd1 ½-½

Will, no doubt much relieved that the rooming circumstances had been settled satisfactorily, relaxed enough to play a long game and extract revenge on a former foe.

Justin, playing black, reached the following position where he decided to risk the king and pawn endgame.

The game continued 29.. Ra5?! 30.Rxa5 bxa5 31.Kb3 Kxd6 32.Ka4 Kc5!? 33.Kxa5 h5 34.a4 g5 35.Ka6 f5?? (35.Kc6=) 36.a5?? (Kb7!) Kc6! 37.Ka7 f4 38.a6 Kc7 39.Ka8 h4 40.h3 f3 41.a7 g4 42.hxg4 h3 43.g5 h2 44.g6 h1Q 45.g7 Qh7 46.g8Q Qxg8# 0-1

Kevin meanwhile, continued with his experiment, allowing his opponent free access to the motorways while he went for a cross country jaunt - this time on foot.

12.Nxg6? hxg6! 13.f4 Qd5 14.Kf2 Qe4 15.Kg3 0-0-0 16.c3 e6 17.Re1 Qc6 18.Qe2 Be7 19.g5 Rh7 20.Bd2 Rdh8 21.Qe4 Rh3+ 22.Kf2 Rxh2+ 23.Kg1 Qxe4 24.Rxe4 Rh1+ 25.Kg2 Rxa1 26.d5 Rd1 27.Be3 Rxd5 28.Bd4 Rhd8 29.Kf3 Rf5 30.Ke3 Bc5 0-1

Sean avoided all winning attempts in order to demonstrate his staying power and drawing technique in the endgame. The latter feat he was to repeat in the next round.

Meanwhile the squad gathered in the pub across the road, dined and entertained themselves with blitz chess with the additional entertainment of avoiding the intermittent torrents of Justin's beer.

After all this fun Sunday proved to be an anticlimax. Oxford 2 were paired against runaway leaders Pride & Prejudice with GM Aaron Summerscale on board 1 and WGM Harriet Hunt on board 2. So outgunned on top boards it was down to the lower orders again to get a result. However my dismal record against the fairer sex continued and though I escaped with a draw, as did Matt, Graham blundered horribly to Heather Lang so the great result of Saturday was reversed and we went down 5-1.

When Will's promising attack faded in the last quarter Oxford 3 were also in trouble and Sean's rearguard action this time could not save the match. The only entertainment was provided by Ed whose star is showing no signs of fading. Witness this neat finish.

18.Rxf6! Qb4 19.Qc1 gxf6 20.hxg4 Nxg4 21.Nf5 Rad8 22.Rf1 Qc5 23.Rf4 Ne3 24.Rf3 Qe5 25.Rxe3 dxe3 26.Qxe3 1-0

The next weekend is 18/19 march at West Bromwich. Contributions are being sought out to provide essential equipment required to the future success of the teams: an intravenous dip to provide alcoholic refreshment to Justin without hazard; and a Sat Nav for Kev.

Mr Mojo

Mr Mojo