4NCL Division 3, Daventry, 7–8 February, 2009

[games, pgn]

Match of the Day: White to play and win in 82
Yi Ming reveals all


1 w Richmond, Robert J 2223 1 – 0 Chapman, Graham W 2080
2 b Levens, David 2009 0 – 1 Bruce, Dave 2091
3 w Kingston, Ian 2023 1 – 0 Stembridge, Ed 2062
4 b Combie, Alexander 1950 0 – 1 Morris, Graham 2022
5 w Place, William 1965 0 – 1 Rawlinson, Chris 2047
6 b Thompson, Brian 1938 1 – 0 Neatherway, Philip 1960
1 w Ackley, Peter 2101 0 – 1 Ludbrook, Matt 2011
2 b Taylor, Robert K 2106 ½ – ½ Jeffries, Majid 1997
3 w Hardman, Michael J 2087 1 – 0 Terry, Sean 1870
4 b Twitchell, Neville H 1976 0 – 1 Lai, Yi Ming 1835
5 w Barr, Gabriel 1820 1 – 0
6 b Chadwick, Susan E 1640 1 – 0

The 4NCL juggernaut slithered its way up the M40 to junction 11 or thereabouts and Daventry at the weekend, to witness the further trials and tribulations of the Division 3 teams. For the Oxford teams, this represented a bit of a wrench for some – who might prefer to have supported the local Kidlington tournament, and which surely after 25 years or so might have pulled some rank on the relative upstarts of the National Leagues ?! – and a bit of a no–brainer for others, but for Graham (below) a chance to show some good endgame technique before a pawn had been pushed:

and when we arrived we discovered we were about 2 players short for Oxford 3, but otherwise all intact. The reporters arrived a little late, notwithstanding Graham’s punctual arrival, to witness the shake–hands phase of Majid’s game (Oxford 3, board 2):

Jeffries - Taylor
5.e4 Nb4 6.a3 Nd3+ 7.Bxd3 Qxd3 ½-½

a little tame, the crowd felt – all this way through the snow for this? – although in fairness Majid was playing a friend, who was rated 2100, and didn’t know that Oxford 3 was a couple of players short. On the principle that if Chelsea can lose a manager over a few draws and a lot of media hacking, the reporter–vultures descended on Mr Mojo’s table to get some reaction – but were soon wowed by the ferocious attack that was developing on Dave’s board, for which he's written a piece:

Mr Mojo gets his Mojo working

Some of you will be aware that I have been thru a crazy time recently. To be honest it hasn’t fazed me too much – I am used to crazy times, as I revealed to Matt who stayed over Friday night. I finally got a weather beaten, Kidlington affected squad together way past midnight when Rawlo got back from the pub and gave me a call. I must have turned in about 3.00am after time to email and chill.

Next morning, having managed to drag Matt away from my piece on Churchill – which he seemed quite taken with – we picked up Ed from Rugby. They both ribbed me about my chess preparation – playing bullet chess on the ICC. I find it helps my intuitive style. And I managed the best possible response to the events of the last few weeks and to the teasing by playing in the style another intuitive player, my chess hero, Mikhail Tal.

After the game I was told it was Sophie’s birthday, so I would like to dedicate this effort to our lovely lady star.

Bruce,D (2091) – Levens,D (2009) [B72]
4NCL Div 3

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.h3 Bg7 7.Bc4 0–0 8.Bb3 Nc6 9.Be3 Bd7 10.0–0 Rc8 11.f4 h5?

Black’s last move is rather strange, weakening the g6 square. He told me he was afraid of g4 but that is not white’s plan.

12.f5! The most direct. I also considered the manoeuvre Nd4–f3–g5

12…Ne5 13.fxg6 Nxg6 14.Rxf6!? had to be tried. It took me 20 seconds to decide on this move a 2 minutes to play as I studied the possibilities

14…Bxf6 15.Qxh5 e6 16.Rf1

Graham Chapman afterwards suggested 16. Nxe6 which wins material. But I never considered it. I was confident he could not defend his king.

16…Bg7 17.Nf3! much stronger than 17.Nf5

17… Bf6 what else

18.Ng5 Bxg5 19.Bxg5 Qb6+ 20.Kh1 Qd4

I had missed this defence only considering 20…Rc5 21. Rf5!

21.Bf6 Qe3

So it appears that black has defended against the deadly threat of Qh6 mating. For a few seconds I was nonplussed and then the answer came to me. White to play and win like Tal.

22. Nd5!!

22…exd5 forced the queen is under attack and Ne7+ mating is also threatened.

23. Bxd5 1–0

Black resigned. It turns out he cannot simultaneously defend g6 and h6. If 23…Qg3 Qh6. And the last ditch effort 23…Be6 24. Bxe6 Qxe4 also fails to 25. Qh6

The next day my opponent generously came over to me and said that he and his team mates had gone over my attack with the aid of Fritz and said that my attacking display after 11…h5 was exemplary. Now, if only that was true about my other life…



A pleasant start and Oxford 2 were certainly in command early on against Nottingham 2, as on top board Graham was showing good opening technique as well, confessing that the Czech Benoni wasn’t (in effect) a mid–life crisis but a fashionable choice for the conscientious trawler of databases. “Throw–in–…h5 – and–you’re sorted” was the main soundbite from the database, and sure enough by move 19, … h5 had been thrown in with … h4 for good measure, and it was time for the draw offer:

which induced the error: 19.Ng1? hxg3 20.hxg3 Nxg3+ 21.Kg2 Nh5 after which Black was a pawn up in a comfortable (if unusual) position. By the time of the next diagram, there was the opportunity for a second pawn – but this time Graham should have declined the proferred riches:

32...Nxe4+?? (... Nhf6 first) 33.Bxe4 Rxe4 34.Nxh5 and now 34...gxh5?? ... Qe7 was a last chance to stay in the game 35.Qh6 1–0

and with Ed looking a little cramped after an opening which he assures me constitutes a book line, the view from the sideline was turning a touch sombre. But Ed does go his own way and he nonetheless scrambled out of the self–constructed queen–side bunker with an exchange sacrifice...

Kingston - Stembridge

19...Rxh4 20.gxh4 Qd8 21.Kh1 Qxh4 22.Qc4 d5 23.Qc2 dxe4 24.Bc4 e3+

by which time it's clear that Black is in the driving seat and the Irish Pawn centre is going to be triumphant... ... but alas a few moves later:

31.Kf2 Bb7?? an odd oversight, when ... e4 or ... Bh5 kept the balance in hand. 32.b3 Bc7 33.Rxe2 Rc3 and eventually 1–0

Not to worry, Ed – just hold back on renewing your Irish visa a while.

but Graham Morris was steaming through and surprising all with his performance on board 4, not only replacing the closed Sicilian type of stuff for the open variety, but also distaining the almost obligatory time trouble that is his signature. As it was he reached this position and finished neatly: 30.Nd5

Morris - Combie

30...Qxh4 31.Nxf4 Qxf4 32.Qxh5 Ra7 33.Rh6 Qxh6 34.Qxh6 1-0

which left just boards 5 and 6 to decide the match; Chris Rawlinson managing to overcome the handicap of starting with a French defence to hack this game down to a Rook and Pawn ending which won for Black:

Place - Rawlinson
0-1 eventually

And to our surprise Phil Neatherway managed to even the match score by losing from this position (no further moves available):

Neatherway - Thompson
White to move etc 0-1

but the way we think it went was (in time trouble, move 36 above) White lost a rook for a bishop, then after time control Phil missed an opportunity to get rid of that pesky h–pawn.

So, match DRAWN for Oxford 2

Returning to Oxford 3, where the score was ½ – 2 ½ after 5 minutes’ play, nothing much happened for the next 3 hours, when Matt Ludbrook picked up a point after his opponent resigned in this position:

Ackley - Ludbrook

“White to move and resign”

thus leaving Matt with that vaguely unsatisfied feeling that must have affected big game hunters had the hippopotami of the Serengeti decided not to charge or run away but instead settled down for a good read in a decent mud bath while awaiting the inevitable.

Unfortunately your correspondent couldn’t keep up the good work on board 3 where having reached a perfectly decent position it was time to allow some dreadful thinking to get in the way of a good grind:

Hardman - Terry

many will be surprised by this position – playing Black, I have managed to achieve a position by move 17 that Fritz thinks is better. A pleasing development in itself, but my lack of experience of playing decent positions this early in the afternoon has meant I manage to unravel the position shortly after acquiring an advantage. And so it transpired here.

17...f5?! 18.Qf3 and now e4 will more or less equalise, but not: 18...exf4? 19.Nxf4 Bxf4 [I had planned here: 19...Ne5 but thought that after 20.Nxg6+ I could capture his queen with check – not noticing my own king's plight. Then the variation (not forced) 20...hxg6 21.Qh3+ Qh4 22.Qxh4# made me resolve the position incorrectly by ceding the two bishops.

1–0 and match loss occurred on move 61

Which was a shame because the Yi Ming’s clash on board 4 against Neville Twitchell was a classic encounter which was almost the last to end at 8.25pm

and not resolved until the above picture, gave the below diagram:

Lai - Twitchell

74.Ng2! Kb5 75.Ne3 Kc5 76.Kb2 Kb5 77.Ka3 Ka5 78.Nc4+ Kb5 79.Nd6+ Kc5 80.Nxe4+ Kd5 81.Kxa4 Kxe4 82.Kb5 1–0

a heroic game, or one which became one by the time we got to the post–dinner drinks phase of the evening. White’s queen journey d1–e2–h5–h3–h6–h3–f3–c6–xa4–xa1–a5–b4–b7 being one of the major delicacies.

Dinner was served in the hotel, a combination of reasonable taste, small portions and high prices. Not too bad, but last time we were there the options were more expansive – and, I suppose, expensive.

“here I would have won a lot quicker but my opponent kept pulling the board away from me…”


1 w Bruce, Dave 2091 ½ – ½ Graham, David B 2212
2 b Stembridge, Ed 2062 1 – 0 Elliston, Robert 2128
3 w Morris, Graham 2022 ½ – ½ Salimbeni, George 2100
4 b Rawlinson, Chris 2047 0 – 1 Payne, Matthew 1865
5 w Ludbrook, Matt 2011 0 – 1 Woods, Tim 1900
6 b Neatherway, Philip 1960 ½ – ½ Yates, Christopher 1835
1 w Jeffries, Majid 1997 1 – 0 Periasamymanjula, Mani. 1718
2 b Foster, James M 1945 1 – 0 Ward, Matthew J 1760
3 w Terry, Sean 1870 ½ – ½ Malhotra, Tarun 1730
4 b Lai, Yi Ming 1835 ½ – ½ Meechan, Catriona 1780
5 w Foster, Chantelle 1600 0 – 1 O'Neill, Tom C 1532
6 b 0 – 1 Coates, Christine 1490

The hot news from the 4NCL circuit is that if you want breakfast at 7.30am in Daventry, you get it – and you are alone if so. This time the food was hot, the dining room was heating up and the man at the door welcomed you in a broad and deep West Indian accent that had overtones of Frank Bruno but no suggestion that only 12 hours earlier the English team had been bowled out for 51 runs by the home side at Sabina Park. The stale news from the circuit is that Sunday television is really quite as grisly as previously reported, Nicky Campbell hosting a Sunday morning all–in wrestling love in between Darwin and God, neither side of the argument really working out what they were talking about while vigorously exercising their vocal chords. Honestly – some people should wake up and … sniff the cyanide.

Right, back to the chess board where Oxford 2 were headed by Dave Bruce who opted for a quick enough draw in what seemed a promising position – until the previous night’s whiskey was factored in:

Bruce - Graham
21.Rc8+ Rf8 22.Rc7 Rf7 ½-½

Next to him Ed had achieved a slight plus (those king–side pawns look weak) when White injudiciously started on a queen sortie and was punished by some robust geometry:


Elliston - Stembridge

22.Qd6? Rd5 23.Qb4 Rb8 24.h3 Rb5 25.Qc3 Rb3 26.Qa5 Rxg3 27.Bxb7 Qxb7+ 28.Kh2 Qf3 0–1

but elsewhere the Oxford 2 mob seemed to be struggling: this position marked the high–water mark of Matt Ludbrook’s morning:

Ludbrook - Woods

15.d4 when Fritz’s assessment slips past – 0.78 into –1.21 territory and loss was later signposted when Matt had lost about three pawns and all king cover for no noticeable compensation.

etc 0–1

while the pressure of having to defend two variations of the French on the one weekend proved too much for Chris, although in fairness his youthful opponent did make an elegant fist of the execution:

20...gxf6 21.Nh5 fxe5 22.Qh6 f5 23.Nf6+ Kf7

24.Nf3! a confident White provided the “!” annotation on his own scoresheet Qxf6 25.Nxe5+ Qxe5 otherwise White picks up the Bd7 and Na4 with checks 26.Rxe5 Ke7 27.Qxh7+ Kd6 28.Re2 Rh8 29.Qg7 Nc5 1–0

which left Oxford 2 at minus 1 with two boards to play. On Board 6 Phil Neatherway was speculating in a … h5 style offer of a Ng4 around move 16 – it looked a bit flimsy, but I’ve said a lot worse about Will Burt wins from similar positions – and ended in a draw offer in the ending which resulted. This left Graham Morris, who had overnight reverted to time–trouble type and reached this position with seven seconds to spare

Morris - Salimbeni

41...Rd3 42.Rc8+ Kg7 43.Rc7 Kg8 44.Ng5 Rxb3 45.Nxf7 Rb2+ 46.Kh3 b3 47.Rb7 Rb1 48.Nd6 Bxd6 49.exd6 b2 50.d7 Rd1 51.Rxb2 Rxd7 etc ½–½

and Graham had to concede the draw around 4.45pm.

So a loss by 2 ½ – 3 ½ against “Sussex Smart Controls”.

And what of Oxford 3?

Well, our personnel had increased in number to five with the arrival of James Foster and his sister Chantelle, and they fashioned a point between them, with James winning with the French in about 16 moves, not all of which made it to my notebook. So we were 2–1 down with three to play, and an early draw by Yi Ming, adopting the ‘heroic last–round winner’ approach of Mr Mojo although about 15 moves earlier.

Meechan - Lai
14.Ng5 Bxc4 15.Qxc4+ Kh8 ½-½

although in fairness White has the better of play here. The score was brought to 2–3 with this somewhat fortunate looking draw by myself

Terry - Malhotra

45...Rxh3+ 46.Bd3 Kh7 47.Re8 Kg7 48.Kc2 Rh2+ 49.Kc1 Rh1+ 50.Kc2 Rh2+ ½-½

where the errors of the youthful player of the Black pieces (seen here, standing beside Majid inspecting the board, on move, from his opponent’s side of proceedings – a habit as endearing as it became frankly irritating) were more than matched by those of his aged opponent – and a half point was the most that either deserved.

This left Majid needing to win his encounter on top board to secure a match draw, and this he duly did – with this piece of tactics being enough to ensure that this particular rook and pawn endgame was hard not to win – a task that Majid concluded with an elegance demonstrated in the play through facility below.

Jeffries,Majid – Periasamymanjula,Mani [A13]
4NCL (3), 08.02.2009

33.Rc7 Kf8 34.Ne6+ Kf7 35.Nxg7 Kxg7 36.Rxe7+ Kf6 37.Rh7 Kg6 38.Rd7 a4 39.Rd6+ Kg5 40.Rxd5