4NCL Div 4, Rounds 7-8. Sunningdale, etc...

Both Oxford sides emerged with 50% from an interesting, if wet, March weekend at Sunningdale: Oxford 2 found interesting ways to avoid winning both their matches, ending up with draws on both days, while a 5-man Oxford 3 recovered from a trouncing on the Saturday to surprise themselves with a comfortable win on the Sunday. A lop-sided report, due in part to the early defeat of the writer on the Saturday, which precipitated an early withdrawal to a darkened room with teabags, follows.

1 w Lambourne, Daniel M 2100 0 - 1 Rawlinson, Aidan 2229
2 b Bolt, Graham 2109 1 - 0 Hackett, David G 2157
3 w Taylor, Geoffrey P 2028 1 - 0 Bruce, Dave 2114
4 b Gilmour, Andrew J 2030 0 - 1 Burt, Will 2080
5 w Meade, Philip J 2020 0 - 1 Ludbrook, Matt 2030
6 b Baker, Patrick 1795 1 - 0 Hadi, Justin 1985
1 w Freeman, Richard C P 2085 ½ - ½ Jeffries, Majid 2012
2 b Kendall, Paul S N 2069 ½ - ½ Levicki, Jeffrey 1912
3 w Majer, Chris E 2075 1 - 0 Terry, Sean 1841
4 b Valentine, Brian J 1986 1 - 0 Henbest, Kevin B 1785
5 w Adebajo, Femi 2029 0 - 1 Foster, James M 1770
6 b Matthews, Adrian 1920 1 - 0 default

Sunningdale continued its history of aqueous, wind-swept chess weekends with the current series of Division 4 matches, and our early arrival was due in no small measure to Captain Dave's smooth negotiation of the many motorway pitfalls traditionally in operation at weekends, and his early preference for Will's directional hints over mine. All of which meant that we arrived in good time to find the Anderson Block, dump baggage, and saunter to the playing hall... while missing a mere 20 or so minutes on the clock.

The early, indeed, only excitement of the day for the writer came in his game against Chris Majer. Off the board, Dreamy Dave had politely explained my habitual inability to make it to the board on time, to which my opponent surmised that I was probably Fritzing him. Unable at this distance to work out whether this was intended as a joke - this is, after all, Division 4 of the 4NCL... - it was certainly enough to bring a smile to my walkabout. As Will would say, ... "honestly..."

Back at the board, a quiet opening had led to this somewhat equal position emerging at the board...

Majer - Terry (B)

Neither side can claim any great advantage here, although my original thought that 20. Ra6 dropped the exchange (it does) without compensation required modification (not quite it doesn't: 20...Bc4 21.Rxb6 Bxf1 22.Nxc5 is a bit scary) - so I temporised with 20. ... Rb8 to which White naturally replied 21. Rfa1, at which point I asked his rook the question with 21. ... Bc4:

and, after a longish think Chris uncorked the sweet-smelling FCA solution that is 22. Rxb6! and play didn't last much longer after 22. ... Rxb6 (best) 23.Ra8+ etc, although had I bothered to rush to my room and check with Fritz I might have found a better way to hold on than 24. ... Rd8? It was time to go hide in the Anderson shelter and watch some rugby.

Majer,C - Terry,S [B10] 4NCL 4.7 (saturday), 2008

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.c3 d6 5.Bd3 Nd7 6.0-0 e5 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qf3 Qh4 10.Be3 Bg4 11.Qg3 Qxg3 12.hxg3 Be6 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.f3 Rd8 15.Bc2 0-0 16.Nb3 b6 17.a4 Rd7 18.a5 c5 19.axb6 axb6 20.Ra6 Rb8 21.Rfa1 Bc4 22.Rxb6 Rxb6 23.Ra8+ Bf8 24.Bh6 Rd8 25.Rxd8 Nd7 26.Nxc5 Rb8 27.Rxb8 Nxb8 28.Bxf8 Kxf8 29.b3 1-0

This left us 2 down with three to play - our Board 6 was missing as Marco had picked up a bug that morning in Oxford, while Jeffrey Levicki had scrambled a draw from a worse ending in the Ruy Lopez exchange on board 2. Returning a few hours later - after England's defeat of Ireland at Twickenham, and Wales's capture of the Grand Slam - the match position was confirmed at 1-5 to the bad guys.

Meanwhile, Oxford 2 had seemed to be marching to a close victory early on, but by the fifth hour we were trailing 2-3 with just one game to go. We drew the top boards - guest GM's Aidan Rawlinson grind on top board being cancelled out by Dave Hackett's loss with the closed Sicilian on two. Will Burt also won too quickly for our sleeping correspondent to pick up any highlights, but these were more than cancelled by two losses on either side of him. Dreamy Dave somehow managed to downsize this advantage in the French advance:

Taylor - Bruce (B)

within 6 moves (17... Bb5 18. Rf3 g5 19.Nb3 Bb6 20.a4 g4 21.Rg3 Be8 22.Nd4 Bxd4 23.cxd4 Nc6 24.Qd2 h5) and found himself defending the indefensible along the b-file (1-0, 33), and Justin set himself up for one long crabby evening's beer drinking in suitably agreeable company after winning two pawns while displacing Black's king, only to find he'd run out of plans sufficient to adjust to the newly acquired largesse.

This left the draw the best we could hope for, and this eventually appeared on the horizon at 8.50pm when Matt Ludbrook closed in on a win

Meade - Ludbrook (B)

And after 50...Rb5 51.Rd3 Rb4 52.Rc3 Ke6 53.f4 gxf4 54.gxf4 a4 55.bxa4 Raxa4 56.Ne3 Rxf4 57.Kg3 Rfe4 58.Kf3 Ke5 59.Rc5+ Ke6 60.Rc6+ Kf7 61.Rc8 Kg6 62.Rc6 Kg5 63.Rc8 f5 64.Rg8+ Kf6 65.Rf8+ Kg6 66.Rg8+ Kf7 67.Rg5 the win was minutes away from confirmation.

This left Matt cock-a-hoop but modest ("I played that like God"), the rest of us content but hungry, and Justin looking for someone with whom to smoke a cigarette. A taxi arrived to take us to Mings, was found to be 50% too small, but we eventually made it there and ate well. Aidan continued to expound on how best to adjust to losing, Justin & myself ignored the advice, and we all of refused to look at Matt's game.

God in action...


... meant more rain, some decent breakfast, although Kevin & Justin were both located so far away from the eating hall that Kev decided to pass on breakfast.

1 w Adebajo, Femi 2029 0 - 1 Rawlinson, Aidan 2229
2 b Freeman, Richard C P 2085 ½ - ½ Starkie, Ray 2140
3 w Kendall, Paul S N 2069 1 - 0 Bruce, Dave 2114
4 b Majer, Chris E 2075 0 - 1 Chapman, Graham W 2040
5 w Valentine, Brian J 1986 1 - 0 Morris, Graham 2038
6 b Matthews, Adrian 1920 ½ - ½ Ludbrook, Matt 2030
1 w Brockbank, Henry 2010 ½ - ½ Jeffries, Majid 2012
2 b Pugh, Glyn D 1960 0 - 1 Chen, Ti 1995
3 w Doran, Michael J 1980 ½ - ½ Hadi, Justin 1985
4 b Lee, Darren 1950 0 - 1 Terry, Sean 1841
5 w Asbury, Jon A 1870 0 - 1 Henbest, Kevin B 1785
6 b Llewelyn, John D 1810 1 - 0 default

Whether this attributed to his Sunday win - he thinks so - is anyone's guess, but his Knights were certainly hungry for some action:

Asbury - Henbest (B, 16)

Asbury - Henbest,K [E82] 4NCL 4.8 (sunday), 2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 b6 7.Qd2 Bb7 8.Nge2 c5 9.g4 e6 10.0-0-0 Nc6 11.Bh6 Rc8 12.h4 cxd4 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Nxd4 Ne5 15.b3 d5 16.Qg5 Nfd7 17.Qxd8 Rfxd8 18.exd5 exd5 19.Ndb5 Nf6 20.g5 Nh5 21.Bh3 Rc5 22.Kb2 Nf4 23.Nxa7 Nfd3+ 24.Ka1 Nf2 0-1

on an adjoining board, the post-Saturday Knight Fever seemed to be catching:

Terry - Lee (B, 30)

Terry,S - Lee,D [C30] 4NCL 4.8 (sunday), 2008

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.c3 Nc6 5.b4 Bb6 6.b5 Nb8 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 d5 9.e5 Ne7 10.Ba3 Bf5 11.Nc3 c6 12.Rc1 0-0 13.Be2 f6 14.0-0 fxe5 15.Nxe5 Bc7 16.Qb3 Bd6 17.Bxd6 Qxd6 18.bxc6 bxc6 19.g4 Bc8 20.Ne4 Qd8 21.f5 Qb6 22.Nc5 Qxb3 23.axb3 a5 24.Ra1 Ra7 25.b4 a4 26.Rxa4 Rxa4 27.Nxa4 Ba6 28.Bxa6 Nxa6 29.Nd3 Nc7 30.Nac5 Nc8 31.Ne5 Ne7 32.Ncd7 Ra8 33.g5 1-0

and these two wins made it 3-1 to Oxford 3, as Ti Chen had made it to the ending with his customary dash to find a position so strong as to yield an exchange before more of the other boards had made it to move 10. Having wrapped up quickly and efficiently, he sped off ... leaving only two boards to negotiate, both of which were declared draws in due course, with Majid Jeffries solid top-board play contrasting with Justin's somewhat more expansive attitude to the half-point eventually, if somewhat dubiously, claiming a share of the spoils.

This left the team to go in search of food, which proved quite difficult as the management seemed to have forgotten that after about 4 hours playing chess that the players of the Royal Game need (a) provender; and (b) directions to (a). Fortunately for Kev, he'd done a bit of advance research:

For Oxford 2, there was more of the same, except that this time we got to 3 points a bit quicker but couldn't add the necessary half-point against an FCA Solutions side that was basically unchanged from the day before.

Aidan and the Grahams (C & M)

Dave's bad weekend, which started with a sicknote call from Marco on Saturday morning and all the administration that this entails, ended lamely with him thinking through this position:

Kendall - Bruce (B)

Thinking he can nab the a-pawn, he does so: 18.... Qxa2 19.Bf3 ... at which point he wonders about the safety of his queen, and calculates the following 19...Qd2 20.Bxe4 Qxd1 21.Bxc6 Qxd4 22.Bxb7 which wins White's queen for a lot of bits. Thinking of an 'improvement' he comes up instead with 19. ... Rcc8? which simply loses a piece: 20.Ra1 Qd2 21.Qxd2 1-0

"It was a good track, so I decided to bat... (and then bat some more) ... " - Aidan

Both Ray Starkie and Matt Ludbrook drew their games with White, and Aidan continued the white-bashing trend on top board with this smooth win against the Morra, which ended elegantly enough, and earned him the flat-track bully award for his 100% achievements on top board, and a note of censure in a future episode of Disinformator for having the gall to accept a pawn on move 3 and then win with it 44 moves later without much further ado:

Adebajo - Rawlinson (W, 45)

Adebajo - Rawlinson [B21] 4NCL 4.8 (sunday), 2008

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.Qe2 Nf6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 d5 10.exd6 Bxd6 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.Rd1 Qe7 13.0-0 0-0 14.Ne4 Nge5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Bb3 Nc6 17.Rd3 e5 18.Qh5 Nd4 19.Re1 Nxb3 20.Rxb3 f6 21.a3 Be6 22.Rg3 Bd5 23.Nc3 Qf7 24.Qh6 Kh8 25.Qd2 Bc6 26.Rd3 Rae8 27.b4 a6 28.f3 f5 29.Rd6 Re6 30.Rd1 e4 31.f4 e3 32.Qe2 h6 33.R6d3 Rfe8 34.Re1 Qc7 35.g3 Qb6 36.Nd5 Bxd5 37.Rxd5 g6 38.Rc5 Qd6 39.Rd1 Qe7 40.Rdc1 Qf6 41.Rc7 R6e7 42.R7c5 Rd8 43.Rc8 Rxc8 44.Rxc8+ Kg7 45.Qa2 h5 46.Kf1 e2+ 47.Ke1 Kh6 48.Rc2 Qd4 1-0

This left the match to be decided by the two Grahams, Morris and Chapman. GM's appearance in the Varsity Match last week made it to the Patrick's Day edition of the Times, but yesterday's ending sees his opponent (White) in charge of the firework's display:

Valentine - Morris (W, 58)

with the answer in the next paragraph. (Or, as they say on the TV, "for those of you who don't want to know the answer, don't look upside-down now")

All of which in fact made the match scores 3-3, as earlier on Graham Chapman had scored the full-point against this column's Man-of-the-Weekend, Chris Majer, who once again came up with the journalistic trumps with this unforced copy in the Scandinavian:

Chapman - Majer (B)
12. ... Rfd8 ??; 13. Nxf7

ehhhhm. ... been there, Chris - and though Chris struggled long enough to allow Graham confuse himself into losing his queen, the price was ultimately too high and the good guys once again came up with a drawn match.

17 March 08