Another frenetic weekend’s activity

[photos, games, pgn]

… from the lads at the 4NCL sees the firsts more or less hold their own with 50%, the seconds squeak a draw on the Saturday before winning on Sunday to be in with the leaders on 7/8 after round 4, and Oxford 3 … well, trying their best, I suppose, without luck. Not content with all of this we managed an AGM and all this while Tim's twittering Pseudorandomically was keeping all those not using pocket Fritz to check out their position completely up to date on what was happening on an adjoining board. I’m sure you’re all dying to read the minutes, so we’ll leave you to it.

Top Problem (1)

Sugden – White (Round 4)
Black to move: 39 …

Given White’s threats, has Mr White (Black) – or vice versa – anything more than a draw here?

Youtube stayawake moment: Cliffhanging stuff for Oxford 2s…

Battle of the Beards

It’s a close shave …

Top App:

Top Man:

Tom E-W, who not only scored 100%, but played Black for the first time in about 6 years. Here he can been seen getting reacquainted with the Dark Side the night before Round 4…

Media name-check award: goes to Merim B. for this mention in the International Herald Tribune:

and for those of you who prefer to read these things truly online, and want to find out more about the which region the caudate nucleus is in (and no, it’s not on the queenside, or anywhere near Ingushetia), try here.

Time to say goodbye to the silverware moment

Top Summary

(thanks to Dave Shaw for his succinct minutes of the AGM)


Division 1b P W D L GP pts
Wood Green Hilsmark 1 4 4 0 0 25 8 1 4 3 0 1 17½ 6
White Rose 1 4 2 1 1 16½ 5
Guildford A&DC 1 4 2 0 2 16½ 4
Oxford 1 4 2 0 2 16 4
Cambridge University 1 4 1 1 2 14 3
Barbican 4NCL 2 4 1 0 3 11 2
Sambuca Sharks 4 0 0 4 11 0

A 50% weekend gives Oxford 1 a small chance of qualifying for the top section, and the right for Ben to take on Mickey Adams. Remaining opponents in green. The key clash if the other results go to plan will be Round 7 against Guildford ADC 1.

Division 3 (top) P W D L GP pts
Braille Chess Assoc 4 4 0 0 18 8
Brown Jack 4 3 1 0 18 7
Celtic Tigers 1 4 3 1 0 16½ 7
Oxford 2 4 3 1 0 15½ 7
Wessex 2 4 3 0 1 16½ 6
KJCA Kings 4 3 0 1 14½ 6
Bristol 2 4 3 0 1 13 6
Sussex Smart Controls 4 3 0 1 12 6

all to play for here, and Oxford 2 have done well to start well – we’re usually rubbish before Christmas (and fairly ordinary until mid-March), so +3 =1 is excellent. Oxford 3 have had weaker sides, and so far have been paired against sides much stronger than them. (100 points / board in round 3)

Oxford 1

Round 3

Matches between Oxford 1 and White Rose have – if memory serves any guide – traditionally followed for a few years in what I suppose needs to be called the mid-noughties 4ncl fests a pattern – viz, after a few hours the slightly higher-rated Roses looked to be about +3, before a series of accidents befell about 6 boards, thus leaving the Oxford lads looking around in triumphantly sheepish fashion. An honorable tradition I always felt, as a nervous onlooker – although I suppose we weren’t too surprised when the oppo changed the tradition a few years back when, looking like they were about to d*** us at half time, they came out and did precisely that in the second half. This ruffled the feathers of the traditionalists amongst the crowd, although to be fair not all that much – since White Rose did it with a certain cheery friendliness.

A few things have changed in the intervening years – like, for instance, three of the Oxford connections on the other side of the board appearing on boards 1, 3 and 8. And then there was the norm count on the team sheet, and the reporter’s calculator quick did the math here:

G + M + M + F + W Vs F + F + W

Translated into about 2 ½ – 5 ½ at the end of the day – the surprise was that the score was precisely that – but with Oxford celebrating a decent victory once more. Here’s some highlights, but first of all let’s look at the line-up

Oxford 1 2252 White Rose 1 2305
w Savage, Ben DM f 2289 ½ - ½ Wells, Peter K g 2487
b Zakarian, David 2362 1 - 0 McNab, Colin A g 2454
w Rose, Matthew 2276 ½ - ½ Palliser, Richard JD m 2445
b Milovanovic, Aleksander 2255 0 - 1 Buckley, Simon T 2345
w White, Michael JR f 2237 1 - 0 Gourlay, Iain f 2367
b Shaw, David A 2244 ½ - ½ Townsend, M Paul 2266
w Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2246 1 - 0 Gayson, Peter M 2173
b Tidman, Sophie E w 2109 1 - 0 Messam-Sparks, Lateefah w 1904
5½ - 2½

Arriving after an hour, most boards seem tense, except on the lower boards, where Tom has a strong initiative, and Sophie struggling against Lateefah. Tom had temporarily tac-ticked his way through the central squares to pick up a strong initiative, and Black’s attempt to take refuge in the middle-game (the ending was a bit of joyless prospect, admittedly) met with more fireworks:

Eckersley-Waites,T – Gayson

19.Rxd7 Rxd7 20.Qxf5 Rad8 21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Qh8+ Kf7 23.Qh5+ Kf8 24.Re1 g6 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.Qxg6+ Kf8 27.Qf6+ Kg8 28.Qg5+ Kf7 29.Re6 1–0

But our advantage here was being whittled by poor positions next door, which saw Sophie look to establish a presence in the White camp …

Messam-Sparks – Tidman

… but after 16.fxe4 dxe4 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Bxe4 Qxe4 19.Qxf7+ Kh8 20.Qxd7 Ba6 it was all beginning to look a bit 1-0 shaped for Sophie.

Matt’s draw against Richard Palliser was a bit … short, but not lacking tension. Next door though Alex was having problems from very early on against Simon Buckley.

Buckley – Milovanovic (W, 11)

The game is only 10 moves old but already the issue is not so much whether as when the d-pawn will fall, and if Black can get enough compensation for it. Passing the board, I had arrived to see 10. a3 a5, and thought “at least that stops b4”. Play continued 11.b4 (hmmmm) Qb6 12.Qg5 Nge7 13.b5 … Black was in trouble (1-0, 35)

Meanwhile on board 8, another 10 moves have passed and White – though now three pawns up – is faced with a mate threat, and still has yet to develop her remaining Q-side pieces. With the crowd gathering, play continues from the diagram:

31.Qg4 Rh1+ 32.Kg3 Qe1+ 33.Kf4 Rf1+ 34.Ke5 Bd3 35.e4 Qa5? (allowing mate – instead Qd7 or Qc8 are the computer choices) 36.Ke6 Rf6+ 37.Ke7 Qc7+ 38.Ke8 Kg8 0–1

By now the win was more or less assured, as we had secured wins on 2 more boards, and Dave Shaw had quietly taken a draw also. First board 2:

McNab – Zakarian (W)

It looks like Black will have a lot more defending to do here – as the b-pawn is doomed, and a long ending battle may be the only route to surviving. Instead White took a different, more tactical view …: 24.Nxe5 dxe5 25.d6+ Kg7 which Fritz doesn’t take to much, and after 26.Rd1 Ng8 27.Qe6 Re8 28.Qd7+ Kh8 Black was able to consolidate his extra piece (0-1, 46)

Meanwhile, on board 5, Mike had begun to exert himself on Black’s Sveshnikov, so much so that even the patzers could hear the Black squeals of discomfort in this position (whereas a few moves earlier Black had been comfortable + before deciding to double on the fourth rank rather than the g-file):

White – Gourlay (B)

25…Qf6 is fatal (Rxh4) and now the White invasion on the queenside goes unchecked: 26.Qg8+ Kd7 27.Ra7+ Rc7 28.Ra8 Re4+ 29.Kf1 Qe7 30.Qb8 1–0

This left Ben to crawl out of the position he’d found himself only late in the first session, and find a knight and pawn ending which he played strongly enough to hold the draw.

Savage – Wells (W)

36.Kd4 Kf7 37.Kd5 Ng4 38.e5 h5 39.e6+ Ke7 40.Nf4 Ne3+ 41.Ke5 Ng4+ 42.Kd5 Nf6+ 43.Ke5 Ng4+ ½–½

Round 4 1 2246 Oxford 1 2234
w Slavin, Alexei m 2417 1 - 0 Savage, Ben DM f 2289
b Zhou, Yang-Fan * f 2325 ½ - ½ Rose, Matthew 2276
w Arutyunova, Diana wg 2304 0 - 1 Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2246
b Hulmes, David I 2255 1 - 0 Milovanovic, Aleksander 2255
w Mladenov, Ilian 2194 1 - 0 Smallbone, Kieran D 2221
b Almond, Richard J 2145 0 - 1 Shaw, David A 2244
w Sugden, John N 2193 0 - 1 White, Michael JR f 2237
b Talbot, Andrew R 2139 1 - 0 Tidman, Sophie E w 2109
4½ - 3½

On paper and before the weekend, this match was the easier of the two – but our oppo had turned up the previous day looking 3 top boards stronger than previously and upset Cambridge – so the team had its work cut out for them. As I had a game to play (and a hotel bill to pay) this delayed my arrival at team HQ, but when I finally got there Tom EW was once again showing how the black bits should be played (like the white bits, except a half-move behind), as illustrated by the progress demonstrated between the first and second diagrams here, with pieces floating into and out of the white position like Frisbees on a warm summer breeze… :

– Eckersley-Waites (B)

11… Qxe4 12.fxe5 Qxe3 13.exd6 Bxd6 14.gxh3 Bxh2+ 15.Kf1 Qxh3+ 16.Rg2 Nd5, (etc 0-1, 30)

Mladenov – Smallbone

But the other games were tough going; Kieran’s position looked pretty OK for long periods, but as the bits came off, so the holes began to emerge, and White took efficient advantage:

39. … Rb5 40.Ra1 Ra5 41.Rd1 Rb5 42.Bd7 Ra5 43.Be8+ Kh6 44.Rh1 Ng6 45.Bf7 Kg7 46.Be6 1–0

Meantime, Mike White was looking to press home an advantage he thought was pressable, and ended up with a rook adrift on move 39 with this position:

Sugden – White

and with 15 minutes to spare, Black (that is, White) came up with 39 … Qe2-g2+, which was enough to drop the flag, and raise a few eyebrows… would the ranks of Tuscany, scarce forbear to cheer, we wonder…?

Meantime, the match was going away from us in small but significant steps. On board 2, Matt had a bit of work getting to a draw in the end against a young (16) 2300 opponent:

Rose – Zhou (W)

Matt’s had the better of the game for long periods at the expense of a pawn but now needs to play accurately to secure the draw: 50.Qxf8+ Kxf8 51.fxg5 Kf7 52.Kg2 Kg6 53.Kf3 Kxg5 54.Ke4 Kh5 55.Kf4 g6 56.Kf3 g5 57.Ke3 Kg6 58.Kf3 Kf5 59.Ke3 Ke5 60.Kf3 Kf5 61.Ke3 Ke5 ½–½

On 8 Sophie lost the middle-game argument half way through the first session, and though she recovered to a rook and pawn ending the writing was on the wall at the end of 4 hours. On top board though Ben looked like he’d initiated and weathered a Benko storm, nabbing a piece and gradually bringing the position under control. Here, the queens have just come off the board and the spectators are thinking that all black now needs to do is to rush that Nb3 off its perch while defending the c5 pawn. Unfortunately, this was what Ben was thinking too:

Slavin – Savage (B)

32… Rxb5 33.Ra1! and suddenly it’s clear the threats to queen will cost Black that extra piece and many of his remaining pawns: …Nd7 34.Nxc5 Rb8 35.Nxd7 Kxd7 36.Ra7+ Ke6 37.d7 Kxe7 38.d8Q+ Kxd8 39.Rxg7 Rxb2 40.Rxh7 and the graffiti was on the wall (“watch out, here comes a Lucena position”)

and that concluded the match result – leaving us all to make our way home while Dave Shaw played on until another Lucena hove into view. As a mark of respect ot Ben’s feelings, we’ll show this one being played out instead :

Shaw – Almond

63.Kh6 Rh8+ 64.Kg7 Rh3 65.Re2+ Kd7 66.g6 Rg3 67.Kf7 Rf3+ 68.Kg8 Rg3 69.g7 Rf3 70.Rh2 Ke7 71.Kh8 1–0

Oxford 2

Round 3

Oxford 2 2107 Iceni 2024
w Rawlinson, Aidan M 2183 ½ - ½ Savage, Nicholas W 2134
b Smallbone, Kieran D 2221 1 - 0 Reynolds, D Ian W 2044
w Harvey, Marcus R 2098 0 - 1 Feavyour, John A 2069
b Scott, David A 2034 0 - 1 Ruthen, Stephen W 2066
w Hadi, Justin 2051 1 - 0 Jones, Robert L 1930
b Nitz, Tomos 2058 ½ - ½ Szymanski, Mark 1906
3 - 3

And with the seconds now strengthened by the experience and wisdom of current and past skippers of the Oxford 4NCL ship, things were looking good on the Division 3 battlefront, at least in theory they were. Aidan on top board was quickly getting Hon. mentions in Twitter-world, as his 1.e3 brought the crowds in – to a different part of the concourse, admittedly, but that’s the way things go – to find that around move 12 it looked like a queen’s pawn opening that had morphed to a Dragon where White had blundered a pawn. And so it now transpires, and a most curious draw in 43 resulted, in which Black managed no attempts on goal, and the hands were shaken while the good guys were still a pawn adrift on top board.

Meantime, Kieran’s return from his December trip to New Zealand showed he hadn’t lost his appetite for some Caro-Kann manoeuvres with the dark pieces but White does open the door to the space invaders, albeit in a poor position already:

Reynolds – Smallbone (W)

26.Nd2 Qc2+ 27.Ka1 Bf6 0–1

Meantime, Marcus Harvey was reported as doing well at one stage, but by the time we reached him he’d blitzed his way to this position, and then took a hasty (and quite unusual) step in a cautious direction:

Harvey – Feavyour (W)

White is a pawn to the good, and while Black has compensation in the shape of more coordinated pieces and two bishops, it’s a nicely passed pawn. … Be3+ is a threat, winning the pawn, and d5 isn’t an option because of the pin, so Marcus opts for 21.Kh1? which promptly loses a bunch: 21. … Qa6 22.Re1 Bxe2 23.Rxe2 Rc1 and it’s 0–1, 45 on board 3

Justin has annotated his win here, another splendid bit of anti-French hackery which ended with this sedate but well-paced jaunt up the Champs Elysees by the white pieces:

Hadi – Jones

38.Nb3 Kg7 39.Kf2 Kf7 40.Na5 Bc8 41.Ke3 Bd7 42.Kd4 Bb5 43.Kxd5 Bf1 44.h4 Bxg2+ 45.Kd6 Ke8 46.c4 Be4 47.c5 g5 48.hxg5 hxg5 49.fxg5 f4 1–0

So, one up with two to go, but neither were looking that good. Dave Scott had turned down a draw in or about here – rightly, I felt – though Fritz thinks it’s equals for long periods around here, and in the ending which followed after… Qf3+, White’s pieces proved more adept at hoovering the king-side pawns than Black’s were on the other side, and the h-pawn proved a surprising fast runner.

Ruthen – Scott (B)

29 … Qf3+ 30.Qxf3 Rxf3 31.Ne4 Re3 32.Ng5 Rc3 33.b5 Nc5 34.Ra1 g6 35.Ra8+ Kg7 36.Rc8 Rxc4 37.Rxc7+ Kf6 38.Nxh7+ Ke5 39.Rg7 Kxd5 40.Rxg6 Rb4 41.h4 Rxb5 42.h5 Ke4 43.Kg2 Rb2+ 44.Kh3 d5 45.h6 Rb1 46.Kg4 Ke3 47.Nf6 Rb4+ 48.Kf5 Rb1 49.h7 Rh1 50.Rh6 Rf1+ 51.Kg6 1–0

This left Tomos Nitz to rescue the half point as shown in the award-winning video above – a pretty huge effort as the game needed rescuing in all phases of play – here’s a sample from the endgame:

Szymanski – Nitz (B)

33… Rf1+ 34.Ke2 R1f2+ 35.Kd3 R2f3+ 36.Kc2 Rf5 37.Rxh7 Rd5 38.Bb4 f5 39.h4 Rh3 40.h5 f4 … (½-½, 61)

Round 4

FCA Solutions 2 1874 Oxford 2 2068
w Fraser-Mitchell, Jeremy N 2014 ½ - ½ Rawlinson, Aidan M 2183
b Majer, Chris E 2050 0 - 1 Nitz, Tomos 2058
w Freeman, Richard CP 2039 ½ - ½ Duggan, Christopher 2030
b Matthews, Adrian MS 1909 0 - 1 Scott, David A 2034
w Grainger, Benjamin P 1802 1 - 0 Hadi, Justin 2051
b Shields, Callum T 1434 0 - 1 Rawlinson, Christopher JA 2055
2 - 4

As our Saturday opponents were being mauled by the Braille team, we quickly made the full point count against a team whose FIDE lower average reflected a weakly rated board 6 – who nearly pulled a surprise against Chris Rawlinson. Once again, quick wins don’t come without the occasional missed heart beat. This time though we had 2 ½ points in the bag pretty quickly : Chris Duggan had come down the night before and taken a 15 move draw, but Dave Scott and Tomos both met the Benko with aggression and were rewarded with fine wins. First Tomos must get some sort of statto prize for being on the verge of an unopposed pawn promotion when black resigns on move 15:

Benko Gambit assassins (1): T. Nitz

Nitz – Majer (B)

9. … Nxd5 10.Qxd5 Qxd5 11.Nxd5 Bxe5 12.Nb6 Ra7 13.Nxc8 Rb7 14.bxa6 Rb4 15.a7 1–0

Benko Gambit assassins (2): D Scott

Scott – Matthews (B)

Dave makes up for the disappointment of Saturday in style: 26 … Bf6 27.Rf8+ Kg7 28.Rg8+ Kh6 29.Qh3+ Kg5 30.Rxe8 Bxc3 31.Qg3+ Kh6 32.Qh4+ 1–0

Rawlinson, C – Shields (B)

Chris’s opponent shows how to make light of a ratings difference of 600+ FIDE points: 6… Nxh2: … d’oh! and though Chris steadies the ship after this blow, it takes a curious error on move 31, failing to notice that the White bishop on d5 can capture backwards on b3, that blunders the full game and match points to Oxford. With Aidan solid as ever on top board, Justin’s loss in another slugfest (viz. feast of slugs) can be glossed over a little, though this was a nice way for his opponent to finish things off:

Grainger – Hadi (B)

31… Rxf2 32.Kxf2 Qg5 33.Qe8 Qxc1 34.Be4+ g6 35.Qxf7+ 1-0

Oxford 3

Round 3

Oxford 3 1873 Gloucestershire Gambits 2016
w Foster, James M 2011 0 - 1 Hosken, Nigel K 2101
b Rawlinson, Christopher JA 2055 0 - 1 Martin, Peter 2082
w Neatherway, A Philip 1930 ½ - ½ Waterfield, John W 2005
b Langham, Rod E 1802 0 - 1 Lambourne, Daniel M 1996
w Henbest, Kevin B 1740 0 - 1 Dodwell, Phil 1962
b Foster, Chantelle L w 1701 1 - 0 Taylor, Geoffrey P 1950
1½ - 4½

What with the excitement going on for Oxford 1 and 2, the Pseudotwitterati in full flow and the general lassitude that is engendered by trying to find out which corridor you’re in while going from A to B at the 4NCL, it was a long time before we found the Oxford 3 crowd, and they had dwindled to just two or so, viz:

but the team were averagely outgraded by 130 FIDE, so the result we achieved was pretty good. On top board James Foster struggled and wriggled but the black bishops were skillfully maneuvered until asphyxiation point was reached – the pawn deficit was picked up on move 40:

Foster – Hosken (W)

41.a4 Kf8 42.g3 Ke7 43.Kg2 a5 44.Nd2 Bb4 45.Ne4 Bd7 46.Bb3 f5 47.Ng5 Bd2 48.Nh3 Be6 49.Bd1 Kd6 50.Nf2 Kc5 51.h3 Kd4 52.g4 h4 53.Bc2 Be3 54.Nd1 fxg4 55.fxg4 g5 56.Kf1 Bc4+ 57.Kg2 Bf4 58.Kg1 Bd3 59.Bb3 Kc5 60.Nb2 Kb4 61.Bd5 Bc2 0–1

On board 2, Chris Rawlinson found himself a pawn to the good in the diagram position but went astray shortly afterwards:

19.Bxe4 dxe4? (better to keep the g-file closed by capturing the other way) 20.gxf5 Ba6 21.Qg2 exf5 22.Nc6 Qc5 23.Bxf6 g6 24.Ne7+ Kf7 25.Nd5 Bd3 26.Bd4 Qxd5 27.Rxd3 1–0

and elegant as the game continuation was see if you can spot a better idea for White in this position (24, W)

Rod got himself into trouble around here when he went into self-pin mode:

Lambourne – Langham (B, 27)

27… Ra8 28.Ra2 Rff8 29.Rdd2 Kg7 30.Nd4 Kf6 31.Nb5 Rfd8 32.Ra3 Ke7 33.Rda2 c6 34.Nd4 1–0

Oddly enough, there’s not too much wrong with … Nxb4 in the diagram position, and the move was on for a few moves previous to the diagram.

Top marks to Chantelle for ignoring the bloke with the camera and getting on with the real pictures:

Taylor – Foster (B)

54… Kg7 55.Qe7+ Rf7 56.Qh4 R2f4+ 0–1 cute

Round 4

A curiously flat match – with nobody playing particularly well – and probably we were outplayed too. I suppose if you find yourself with 1/6 you expect to find a weaker team to play but not for the moment (are there accelerated pairings in operation?). In the end we got beaten by a stronger team.

KJCA Kings 2001 Oxford 3 1890
w Jones, Victor GL 2119 ½ - ½ Wedge, David C 2002
b Jones, William EG 2115 1 - 0 Parsons, Matthew 2010
w Foord, Dominic 2045 1 - 0 Neatherway, A Philip 1930
b Maguire, Robert 1925 0 - 1 Terry, Sean 1861
w Bayliss, Lyall CP 1963 1 - 0 Henbest, Kevin B 1740
b Gahir, Jasdeep 1839 1 - 0 Langham, Rod E 1802
4½ - 1½

As it was, a solid draw on top board by David Wedge; Rod blundered a one-move loss of a piece early on, and Kevin found himself in a dodgy position after

Bayliss – Henbest (B)

and he missed … Nxd4! as a resource. I found myself taking pictures for a while including this lot:

which allowed me realise I’d forgotten to press my clock when paying the hotel bill! In the end, time was less a feature than space, as

Terry – Maguire (B)

Black quickly went wrong here with 12… Rg8? and after 13.dxc5 bxc5 14.Nb5 e5 15.Bh4 When Fritz starts chattering big numbers … e4 16.Bxf6 gxf3 17.Bxe7 Kxe7 18.Nxf3 exf3 19.Bxf3 Bc6 20.Bd5 Rg7 21.Qf3 Bxd5 22.Qxd5 Na6 23.Qb7+ 1–0

More good 2-bishop technique dispatched Phil on board 3:

Foord – Neatherway (B)

39… f5 40.gxf6+ Bxf6 41.Rg1 Bc3 42.Rxg6 Bxb4 43.Bg5+ Kf8 44.Rg8# 1–0


Friends of Oxford and Oxford chess will be saddened to hear of the death of Dyk Brooker, reported recently.

30 January 2011


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