4NCL Division 4 (9 and 10 Feb 2008)

1 w Bruce, Dave 2114 1 - 0 Savage, Nicholas W 2105
2 b Burt, Will 2080 0 - 1 Lunn, Timothy 2074
3 w Stembridge, Ed 2026 0 - 1 Ruthen, Steven 2050
4 b Morris, Graham 2038 ½ - ½ Donaghay, Richard 1963
5 w Ludbrook, Matt 2030 1 - 0 Botham, Paul 2042
6 b Jeffries, Majid 2012 1 - 0 Downham, Alan 1975

The 4NCL world tour of obscure places oop north continued for the benefit of Division 4 players on 11 February, with a trip to Daventry and the delights of the De Vere Conference centre venues (golf optional but not included). And, thanks to a good driver, good weather, and pleasant company we all arrived relaxed, refreshed, and on time to start battle anew in Northampton.

Saturday saw (we regret to say) a measure of normality being restored, as Oxford 3 failed to maintain its ethical hold over its fellow travellers, Oxford 2, and lost to a stronger Nottingham side, while Oxford 2 managed to sneak over the line thanks to a fortuitous own goal by their man on board 4. An absence of games, thanks largely to their absence from the 4NCL as I write, and in part also to the fact that I've lost my notes, means that you'll have to take my word on most things here. but the chess was good, and interesting.


Dave Bruce started the ball rolling with this steamroller effort in the dream-like Guioco Pianissimo, where after impressively manoeuvring his queen to a2 via a4, this follows:

Bruce - Savage N (B)
20. . Rf6 21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.Bg8+ Kh8 23.Nxg6# 1-0

as nice a pure mate as you'll see in OTB play so let's have a closer look:

Bruce,D - Savage,N [C55] 4NCL 4, 2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.0-0 d6 6.c3 g6 7.Nbd2 Bg7 8.Re1 0-0 9.a4 Kh7 10.a5 Rb8 11.d4 Nh5 12.d5 Ne7 13.Nf1 c5 14.dxc6 bxc6 15.Ne3 Nf4 16.Qa4 Qc7 17.Qa2 f5 18.exf5 Nxf5 19.Nxf5 Rxf5 20.Nh4 Rf6 21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.Bg8+ Kh8 23.Nxg6# 1-0

With two losses on the centre boards (Ed, above, declined a draw in a scramble near the first time control), we needed and got two wins from our lower boards, Majid & Matt. Here's the concluding phase of Matt's win, and I like the first move which calmly exchanges Black's remaining useful piece before going on with the main order of the day (promoting a pawn):

Ludbrook - Botham (W)

52.Rf3 Rxf3 53.Kxf3 Ke7 54.Kg4 a4 55.Kg5 Re8 56.h6 gxh6+ 57.Nxh6 Kf8 58.Kf6 Re7 59.Nf7 Rc7 60.g7+ 1-0

Ludbrook,M - Botham,P [B02] 4NCL 4, 2008

1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d6 3.h3 e5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bc4 0-0 6.d3 Nc6 7.a3 Be6 8.Nd5 h6 9.Be3 Nb8 10.c3 c6 11.Nxf6+ Bxf6 12.Bxe6 fxe6 13.d4 exd4 14.cxd4 d5 15.e5 Be7 16.0-0 Nd7 17.b4 Nb6 18.Ne1 Qd7 19.Nd3 Nc4 20.Bc1 Kh7 21.Nf4 Bg5 22.Qd3+ Kg8 23.Ng6 Rf7 24.Bxg5 hxg5 25.Qe2 Qd8 26.Qh5 Rf5 27.Rfd1 g4 28.Qxg4 Qg5 29.Qxg5 Rxg5 30.Nf4 Kf7 31.g4 a5 32.Nd3 Rg6 33.Kg2 Rh6 34.Kg3 Ke7 35.g5 Rhh8 36.Nf4 Rhc8 37.h4 Kf7 38.h5 b6 39.Nd3 Ra7 40.g6+ Ke7 41.Kg4 Rca8 42.b5 cxb5 43.Kg5 Rf8 44.Kg4 Raa8 45.Rh1 Rh8 46.Ra2 Raf8 47.Nf4 Rh6 48.Nh3 Rf5 49.Ng5 Rh8 50.Nf7 Rg8 51.Rh3 Kd7 52.Rf3 Rxf3 53.Kxf3 Ke7 54.Kg4 a4 55.Kg5 Re8 56.h6 gxh6+ 57.Nxh6 Kf8 58.Kf6 Re7 59.Nf7 Rc7 60.g7+ 1-0

Which left Oxford 2 3-2 up, with one game to go, with Graham Morris appearing for the mob. The crowd had been calling this a draw for quite a while, but just as the dinner bells were going it didn't quite look that way:

Donaghay - Morris (W)

Only a pawn down, but those passers on the 5th look menacing, and after: 45.Rxf5 exf5 46.Bxg8 Kxg8 White looks favourite. (Fritz however points out the much prettier win missed by interpolating 46.h6+ ! in the sequence above, say 46.Kf8 and after 47.Bxg8 Kxg8 48.g6 Kf8 49.h7 Kg7 50.Kg5 f4 51.Re8 it's time to draw the curtains and open the restaurant menu. Play continued: 47.g6 (which still is good enough) f4 48.Rd3 (here Fritz suggests the easier 48.Re5 f3 49.h6, which puts a quiet end to Black's drawing plans) Kg7 49.Kg4 Kh6 50.Kxf4? (seeing a quicker win which as usual isn't there in R-+P endings: the slower win is quicker, as it were) Kxh5 51.Rg3 Kh6 52.g7 Rxg7 53.Rxg7 Kxg7 54.Ke5 ...

and usually this sort of position is good enough for an easy win. Alas for Anglia, not here: ...Kg6 55.Kd6 Kf6 56.Kc6 Ke6 57.Kb6 Kd6 58.Kxa6 Kc6 ½-½

1 w Richmond, Robert J 2260 ½ - ½ Chen, Ti 1995
2 b Mercs, Peter J 2086 1 - 0 Hadi, Justin 1985
3 w Walker, Andrew N 2040 1 - 0 Levicki, Jeffrey 1912
4 b Levens, David 2010 0 - 1 Terry, Sean 1841
5 w Webster, Richard J 1989 1 - 0 Henbest, Kevin B 1785
6 b Kingston, Ian 2025 1 - 0 Foster, James M 1770

Oxford 3 managed a better performance than the score suggested, with Ti getting a result he deserved, and Jeffrey (below) the game he wanted - and so nearly the result, too. Justin found his opponent wasn't allowing a hack to emerge, and was slowly outmanoeuvred, while on bottom boards the ratings gap was too great to allow a fair fight! (that said, I enjoyed contemplating the Traxler that appeared on James's board and will await the pgn with interest)

I managed the sole win, thanks to some bizarre play by my opponent around the point in the diagram:

Terry - Levens (W)

White has been footling (an Irish word, pronounced "footeling") around in the Sicilian f4, to not much avail. His Be2 has already been retreated to d1 - a style move that was deemed Petrosianic by some impressionable spectator afterwards - but essentially he's under no illusions about the position: Black has at least an equal position and White needs some accurate moves to prevent a lasting advantage accruing to the bad guys. It's White to move, Black just having played Ba6, and with a sigh, White gives up and plays d4. (Fritz Lite rates this about No. 9 in its top moves chart, and about -0.38. I could have accepted this, particularly as I was operating under the disadvantage of not having been able to take over my room, and as a result had 20 extra minutes at my disposal. )

14. d4 to which Black, after some not excessive thought, replies: 14. ...Bb7 A bizarre looking move - presumably Black wants more than a steady advantage and takes the view that keeping bishops on is the way to go about it. White found plans easier to come by and Black had problems adjusting to the defensive.

Terry,S - Levens,D [B23] 4NCL 4 (Nottingham), 2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Be2 Nge7 6.0-0 Bg7 7.d3 d5 8.Qe1 Nd4 9.Bd1 0-0 10.Ne2 Nxe2+ 11.Bxe2 Nc6 12.c3 b6 13.e5 Ba6 14.d4 Bb7 15.Be3 cxd4 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Qc8 18.a4 Ba6 19.a5 b5 20.b4 Qd7 21.Rf3 f6 22.Rh3 fxe5 23.fxe5 Rf4 24.Bd3 Rc8 25.Qg3 Qf7 26.Qg5 Rf8 27.Be3 Rf5 28.Bxf5 exf5 29.Bd4 Re8 30.Re3 h6 31.e6 hxg5 32.exf7+ Kxf7 33.Rxe8 Bxd4+ 34.cxd4 Kxe8 35.Re1+ Kf7 36.Rc1 1-0

Sunday 10 February 2008

1 w Bruce, Dave 2114 ½ - ½ Gilbert, Jonathan A 2062
2 b Burt, Will 2080 ½ - ½ Adams, Mark A 2022
3 w Stembridge, Ed 2026 ½ - ½ Perrett, David 2032
4 b Chapman, Graham W 2040 ½ - ½ Davis, Lee 2056
5 w Morris, Graham 2038 ½ - ½ Waterfield, John 2015
6 b Ludbrook, Matt 2030 ½ - ½ Davies, Peter L 2001
1 w Jeffries, Majid 2012 ½ - ½ Stewart, Joseph 2005
2 b Chen, Ti 1995 0 - 1 Hewitt, Sean D 2005
3 w Hadi, Justin 1985 ½ - ½ Clarke, Brandon 1888
4 b Messam-Sparks, Lateefah 1922 1 - 0 Mapletoft, Alexander J 1865
5 w Terry, Sean 1841 1 - 0 Turvey, Steven 1915
6 b Henbest, Kevin B 1785 0 - 1 Farrall, David J 1802

Fortified by the arrival of Graham Chapman on board 4, both sides were of a strength with their respective oppositions, and match draws were probably the deserved results. In the absence of a pgn file, my memory won't divulge anything of interest from the Oxford 2 game - except for a series of bluffs by Will on board 2 which will be well worth reviewing! Justin did need to hang on for 50 moves in a R Vs R+B, but did so successfully:

For Oxford 3, and after Dave Bruce had managed to secure some chewing gum for Justin & Sean to act as a toothbrush substitute.

Ti Chen managed to lose a bishop ending which seemed unloseable, while Lateefah powered her way through the queen-side dross on the White side of a Sicilian to secure an early win, while Justin and Majid secured draws on the other top boards to leave us all square with two to play.

The bottom boards saw the slightly unpredictable talents of Sean and Kevin hustling. On board 6, Kevin had his second black of the weekend and seemed to be losing out of hand in this position, but with the benefit of time trouble.

Farrell - Henbest (B)
30.. Ng4 31.d7?? Ne3??

And White won shortly after queening his pawn with check. "You missed a mate in two" were his first words to Kevin. True, if a little tactless..

This left my own game to play and around this time the absence of nicotine had gone (or come) full circle, and I was back in control of proceedings. (I've since mislaid the scoresheet, but no matter.) For those of you with an interest in the machinations of nicotine addiction, and who haven't the time to keep up on latest theory by referring to the relevant epistle of the Fr Ted canon, here's a brief recap:

I. The determinist phase. Here, the patient imagines that an absence of cigarette shops in the vicinity of Daventry can be turned to advantage by the simple act of not ordering a taxi to Northampton at around 10.00am. This lasts until 11.30am, or for the benefit of non-smokers, about move 2.

II. The fantasy phase. This is easier to describe with the help of a diagram:

Terry - Turvey

White imagines that 5. d3 is the prelude to an exciting game. This will strike many as being a little worse than fantasy, perhaps even the prelude to wild & gibbering ravings, but account should be taken of the fact that Dave Bruce had picked up 2 points with a queen win and a pure mate in recent 4NCL outings.

III. The reality strikes back. This is the painful phase, where the homage to Dave is displaced by the why can't I hack something about here?! Here White decides to clear the f-file and sacrifice the exchange.

17. f4

IV. The morning after syndrome. Here, the patient wakes up and realises his position is completely bust, and that it's all his own fault. A lot of hacking thoughts are then considered and tried out before one finally works:

29. Qh3 f5??; 30. exf5

All of which brings us neatly back to the position around about move 40, where White has managed to conjure a winning position, viz:

(White to play)

but without the technical skills to win this on his own. (I mean, in theory White rushes those pawns up the queen side, "etc", but how easy is that? And can White allow his h-pawn to go?) Fortunately, the game ended quickly after Black took a wrong view: 40.Kg3 Nf5+ 41.Kg2 Ne3+? (it's not clear how White proceeds if Black simply retreats the knight to e7, even if Fritz says it's +1.75) 42.Kf3 Rxh2 43.Na6 Rc2 44.Ra8+ Kb7 45.Rb8+ Kxa6 46.c8Q+ Rxc8 47.Rxc8 etc 1-0