Oxford 1 – Weekend 4


Streeter - Vikanis
The juniors clash on bottom board...does size matter?! (Part 1 of 2)


All journeys start with a single step, but on this sunny day the trip to Wokingham Park started with a bike ride to a High Street caff:

a trip to Boots to collect some long-needed reading glasses, and a train ride to Reading. As luck would have it I arrived just in time to get a lift on the 4NCL bus. but hadn't calculated that I'd be one of the 8 people surplus to its people-carrier's capacity. An interesting time was had at the station taxi rank - spent waiting in the wrong place, mostly, before we successfully got our taxis.

All this palaver meant that I arrived on time and £5 lighter than planned to see the games start - an interesting experience, to be compared with the cast of Craggy Island's favourite parochial house seeing an alarm clock read 5 o'clock in the morning ...and hung around long enough to see when Jack Rudd would sit down and actually think about his game against Dave Shaw. So after 9....Na5 on that board (game score below), it was time to find my room, freshen up and watch The Lady Vanishes.

Round 7

1 w Savage, Ben D 2305 ½ - ½ Arkell, Keith 2489
2 b Shaw, David A 2261 0 - 1 Rudd, Jack 2326
3 w Ozeren, Kemal 2316 ½ - ½ Walker, Martin 2250
4 b Rose, Matthew 2248 0 - 1 Buckley, David E 2232
5 w Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2215 0 - 1 Poobalasingam, Peter 2165
6 b Smallbone, Kieran 2230 1 - 0 Curtis, John 2127
7 w Dickinson, Timothy R 2166 1 - 0 Hunt-Grubbe, Henry 1980
8 b Vikanis, Georgs 1950 ½ - ½ Streeter, Harry 1765

Returning around 4.00pm, on board 5. Tom had sacrificed on f5 in the Sicilian but withouth any obvious compensation - and after some careful play by Black ensured that there was no grovel into the endgame phase, we join the game for the last rites, where White's king, having originally settled on c1 for its home before being forcibly uprooted, is eased back towards the centre.

Eckersley-Waites - Poobalasingam (W)

26.Bxe5 Qh1+ 27.Rg1 Bh3+ 28.Ke1 Qxg1+ 29.Kd2 Qg5+ 30.f4 Qxe7 31.Qf3 dxe5 0-1

Eckersley-Waites,T - Poobalasingam,P [B89] 4NCL div 2, rd 7, 2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.Be3 a6 9.Qe2 Qc7 10.0-0-0 Na5 11.g4 b5 12.g5 Nxb3+ 13.axb3 Nd7 14.Nf5 exf5 15.Nd5 Qd8 16.exf5 Bb7 17.f6 gxf6 18.gxf6 Qa5 19.fxe7 Bxd5 20.Rhg1 Ne5 21.Rg3 Qa1+ 22.Kd2 Qxb2 23.Ke1 Qc3+ 24.Kf1 Qc6 25.Bd4 Be6 26.Bxe5 Qh1+ 27.Rg1 Bh3+ 28.Ke1 Qxg1+ 29.Kd2 Qg5+ 30.f4 Qxe7 31.Qf3 dxe5 0-1

meanwhile, on Board 2 the game was rapidly reaching either a crisis or climax point:

Rudd - Shaw (W)

It's not clear whether White's sacrifice is sound, but after 25.a5 it seems Na8 is forced when Black's pieces are lacking coordination. Fritz now suggests that 25...Na4 is possible, with 26.Rxa4 Bxc3 27.Bxc3 Qd1+ as a tactical justification, and 26.Qxb7 Nxc3 27.Bxc3 Rb8 28.Qa6 Qd5 29.Rd1 Rxf4 30.Nh3 Bc5 as a back-up line. After 25....Na8 the position's complexities grew and the absence of time eventually resulted in an error by Dave.

Rudd,J - Shaw,D [C05] 4NCL div 2, Round 7, 2008

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 Qb6 8.a3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Na5 10.b4 Nc4 11.Bxc4 dxc4 12.Bd2 Qc6 13.Ne2 Nb6 14.0-0 Bd7 15.Nc3 Be7 16.Qc2 Rc8 17.b5 Qc7 18.a4 0-0 19.Ng5 g6 20.Rf3 f6 21.exf6 Bxf6 22.Rg3 Bxd4+ 23.Kh1 Rf5 24.Qe4 Qd6 25.a5 Na8 26.Qxb7 Nc7 27.Nge4 Qe7 28.b6 axb6 29.axb6 Nd5 30.Rb1 Qd8 31.Nd6 Rb8 32.Qa6 Nxc3 33.Bxc3 Rxf4 34.Nxc4 Bxc3 35.Rxc3 Bc6 36.Ne3 Bb7 37.Qe2 Qf6 38.Rc7 Rf2 39.Ng4 Bxg2+ 40.Kg1 Rxe2 41.Nxf6+ Kf8 42.Nxh7+ Ke8 43.Nf6+ Kd8 44.Rd7+ Kc8 45.Rc1+ 1-0

So, 2 down and a long way to go. but the bottom boards were looking good, as Tim had picked up a solid pawn early on board 7:

Dickinson - Hunt-Grabbe (B)
10....c4? 11. Nxf7!

The subsequent liquidation left White a fairly technical ending a safe pawn and better pawn structure to the good - though Black struggled on, he conceded the rook and pawn ending when 3 pawns adrift. Though subsequent games this weekend may cast some light on the wisdom of this decision, a Fritz advantage of 3.50 is perhaps a good time to lay down ones remaining pawns and die.

Tim adds: "My Saturday opening was very reminiscent of my Varsity match debut 14 years ago. I still have Bill Hartston's Independent report giving my game against Ed Holland: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. ed ed 5. Ngf3 Nc6 6. Bb5 a6 7. Bc6+ bc 8. Ne5 Qc7 9. Qe2 Be6 10. Ndf3 Nf6 11. Nxf7! - I found that OTB, but sadly I later lost and Oxford bit the dust 4.5-3.5 (sound familiar?) when 5 ½ - 2 ½ in our favour would not have flattered us in the least"

This left us -1 after three boards, but this became -2 after Matt went down to David Buckley in what looked like a Tromp gave a middle game where White's 2 knights dominated Black's 2 bishops, and Matt's sacrifice of his queen for rook and minor piece didn't quite allow him to restore equality.

The board 8 clash of the juniors ended oddly from a position not all that far away from this one:

Streeter - Vikanis

It's Black to move and Georgs misread the position when playing 1....Bd3 and offered a draw. In addition to the announced grading difference in his favour, his pieces are all much better placed than his opponents, and White will have a lot of work to do to keep an eye on his weak pawns on a3, d4, d4 and h4. Perhaps the only thing in White's favour here is that he's considerably taller than his opponent. Although White initially refused the draw (2. Rc1) he subsequently had a change of heart and the handshake was agreed.

Two down with three to play, and three long endings were taking place on boards 1, 3 and 6. On top board, Ben had drifted from an equal-looking ending into a sticky one and the position was a bit sickly just before adjournment. Stout defence in what seemed a very complex ending won the day and turned the assessment around in his favour in the 7th hour:

Savage - Arkell (W)

With Black refusing several attempts to simplify up until now, White has had to tread carefully. After 59.Kb3 a4+ 60.Kxa4 Rxc3 61.Kb4 Rc2 62.d5 Kd4 63.Kb3 Rd2 64.Rxf4 Rxg2 65.d6 Ke5 66.d7 Rd2 67.Rf7 the draw was agreed just in time for Keith to join the rapidplay tournament that was being held somewhere else in the centre. ("But where?!" the crowd murmured.)

Kieran had been doing the Caro for a long while this Saturday afternoon, and converted a faint middle-game grovel into a surprisingly strong plus in the rooks and minor piece endgame, where his Nd6 completely dominated his opposite numbered bishop on g2.

This left Kemal trying to win a game which had wandered from the farcical.

Ozeren - Walker (B)
1...Bb4 2.a3 Bd6 3.Qxb8 Nxb8

(... the reader is invited to add his own volume of interrogative commentary), through the intricate... :

Ozeren - Walker (W)

Where play continued 42.a4 Kg4 43.Ke5 Kxh4 44.Kd6 Kxg5 45.Kxc6 h5 46.Kd6 h4 47.c6 h3 48.c7 h2 49.c8Q h1Q 50.Qd8+ Kf5 51.Qxa5...the prelude to another exchange of queens and onwards to another set.

This left Kemal needing to win with his extra a-pawn, a task which he abandoned around move 80.

So, a disappointing result to bring to the food table. Food was surprisingly good, and good value too, although after a short while it was time for the not-so-young-after-all set to cut out, find MoTD and a good book with some new reading glasses.

Sunday: ... had been billed as a day of wild winds and stormy rain but turned out benign and sweet. I say this for those of the team that mightn't have been fully alive to the external world after their late night exercises in wrist-glass-beer coordination.

Haria - Vikanis
Does size matter ?! (Part 2)

Round 8

1 w Whiteley, Andrew 2265 ½ - ½ Savage, Ben D 2305
2 b Kwiatkowski, Feliks J 2233 0 - 1 Ozeren, Kemal 2261
3 w Okike, David C 2189 ½ - ½ Smallbone, Kieran 2316
4 b McMichael, Richard 2253 1 - 0 Shaw, David A 2215
5 w Ward, Julian T 2145 1 - 0 Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2230
6 b Mackenzie, Colin 2124 ½ - ½ Coleman, James 2147
7 w Thomas, Richard H 2176 ½ - ½ Dickinson, Timothy R 2166
8 b Haria, Ravi 1585 ½ - ½ Vikanis, Georgs 1950

With no taxi to get me to the hall on time, the Oxford journalistic juggernaut was suitably late on Sunday, which here meant that two games had already finished.. viz. :

In principle, two draws with the black pieces are good on the top board - and perhaps good decisions given the alco-frolics from the night before. So, for the record here are the two games, with Ben making it to move 10 if for no other reason than principle.

Whiteley - Savage [D27] 4NCL, div 2, 8 (sunday), 2008

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 a6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Bxc4 e6 6.0-0 c5 7.Nc3 b5 8.Bb3 Bb7 9.Qe2 Be7 10.dxc5 Nbd7 ½-½

... while Kieran makes it to the sort of position in the Caro Kann that made me give up (a) playing it as Black in the early 1980s; and (b) playing the Classical variation as White.

Okike - Smallbone [B19] 4NCL, div 2, 8 (sunday), 2008

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.h4 h6 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 e6 10.Bd2 Ngf6 11.Ne4 Be7 12.0-0-0 Nxe4 13.Qxe4 Nf6 14.Qe2 Qd5 15.Kb1 Qe4 16.Rhe1 Qxe2 17.Rxe2 Bd6 ½-½

This addition to the crowd did make it less of a lonely vigil than normal. and in time to see how the others were faring with their overnight drugs surplus. The answer was, on boards 4 and 5, "not very well". On board 5, Dave did seem to have something going for him in the French:

Shaw - McMichael

But here, after Black has just played...g6, his f5 was a misjudgement which allowed Black the time and luxury to invade the white position: 15.f5 Nxf5 16.Bg5 Qc5 17.b4 Qc6 18.g4 Nce3 19.Qc1 d4 at which point the game is as good as over.

Unaware of the pre-match training our younger members had endured, it's clear in retrospect where Tom went wrong on board 5:

Ward - Eckersley-Waites (B)

Play continued 6....Nf6 7.Bg2 Be7 8.a4 b4 9.b3 0-0 10.0-0 after which White was able to demonstrate the clearer head and triumph along the c-file. Of course, every Irish schoolboy knows that in such positions one always chops on f3, and hopes for the aspirin to take effect. As it was the post-mortem was a bit more reflective .

especially as most of the team had overlooked the circular plastic thing in the foreground the previous evening.

So, we were two down at half time, and this should have been 3 down as the battle of the juniors was going badly for us.

Vikanis - Haria (B)

and it's clear that Georgs has wandered into a lost position against his much smaller, more junior opponent. Here it's Black to move and while anything will probably win in the long term, 1....Bxa3 would probably be good enough induce a resigned handshake from White. However, it was clear that Black was in unfamiliar territory: having confidently refuted White's strategy, he wasn't clear about what happened next. Being unable to find a killer blow, he wandered into time trouble - one particular move of the pawn to h6 via h5-h7-h6-h5 took about 6 seconds - and Georgs was able to rescue a very unlikely draw another 20 moves later:

Vikanis - Haria (W)

1.f4+ Bxf4 2.Nxh6 Kxh6 3.Kxf4 Kh5 4.Kg3 Kg5 5.h4+ Kh5 6.Kh3 g5 7.hxg5 Kxg5 ½-½

So still two down and this became one down after a real miscalculation on board 2 gifted Kemal the full point:

Ozeren - Kwiatkowski (B)
36...bxa4?? 37.Nxb2 a3 38.Nd3 a5 39.Nc1 Kb5 40.Kd3 a4 41.bxa4+ Kxa4 42.Kc4 1-0

The good news was that both our remaining games looked like winning...rook and pawn endgames - and maybe this is why neither of them converted, and left us with a match defeat instead of a win.

Thomas - Dickinson (B)

White has had to escape to this position in search of salvation, but Black is still in control, and with move. With the benefit of hindsight,...d4 looks simplest. If White captures on h5, Black manoeuvres his rook to d5 while White is forced to get his rook to d1 via h6-f6-f1. So, putting that all together into a line, we have: 39...d4 40.Rxh5 (Rd6 is also possible but not really problematic) d3 41.Rh6 Rb5 42.Rf6 Rd5 43.Rf1 d2 44.Rd1 c5 which seems to win. Tim opted for 39. ...c5 which seems good too, and play continued: 40.Rxh5 c4 41.g6 Kxg6 42.Rxd5 Rb6 43.Kg2 c3 when it looks like Black will now be playing with R + a- and b-pawns against R. 44.Rd1 Ra6 45.Ra1 b5

Thomas - Dickinson (W)

46.Kf2 b4?? ... Rc6 still seems to be winning. 47.Rg1+ Kh5 48.axb4 ½-½


Tim comments by email:
“I'm still annoyed at not winning that R+P ending last Sunday. I got too bogged down in wondering whether I could win K+a+b v K+a with the king a little distant initially. Tried to make it simpler, but moved 46. ... b4 far too quickly. I'll never learn to take a moment to check these things..... of interest is the coincidence that both JC and I reached the same position after move 7 and at the same time - 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.Qc2.. Colin Mac played 7. ... b5 first, I thought "yuck" and chose 7. ... Ne4 - which I have played before in that position.”

... all of which brings us to JC's game, where James had refused a draw early on and was clearly superior before this tactic appeared on the board:

Coleman - Mackenzie (W)

33.Nxf7 Rxf7 34.Qxe6 Qxe6 35.Rxe6 Rae7 when White is clearly winning....but does everything win, though? Here I felt that 36. Rfe2 was better, but without any formal analysis to back it up, just a hunch. James instead went for exchanges, 36.Rxe7 Rxe7 37.Kf1 Re3 38.Rf5 when a thunderbolt hit the board just before time control:

38....Rc3! 39.Rxd5 Rc1+ 40.Ke2 Rc2+ 41.Kd3 Kf7! ... Rxb2 allows c6 winning 42.Rd7+ Ke6 after which the win - still there - wasn't quite so clear after all .. and a draw was agreed around move 50.

not the greatest set of results to report on, then.