Weekend 3

[photos, pgn]

Before we look back on a mixed weekend for the teams, let’s have a quick look at The Round 6 roundup …

For Oxford 1, it’s the trapdoor of doom:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Cheddleton 1 4½-3½ 4½-3½ 5-3 5½-1½ 3½-4½ 6-2 29 10
2 Barbican 4NCL 1 3½-4½ 4½-3½ 2-6 5-3 5½-2½ 6½-1½ 27 8
3 White Rose 1 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 5-3 4½-3½ 4½-3½ 4½-3½ 25½ 8
4 Wood Green 2 3-5 6-2 3-5 4½-3½ 3½-4 5-3 25 6
5 Jutes of Kent 3-5 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 4½-3½ 5-3 4½-3½ 24 6
6 Cambridge Uni 1 1½-5½ 2½-5½ 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 5-3 4½-3½ 20½ 4
7 Oxford 1 4½-3½ 3½-4½ 4-3½ 3-5 3-5 2½-5½ 20½ 4
8 Guildford 2 2-6 1½-6½ 3-5 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 5½-2½ 19 2

Despite good performances, and no thrashings – the heavy defeat against Guildford 2 being the result of Guildford 1 playing N. Short & others on top board matches that weekend – we face the Luxembourg jury of the relegation clash as we are destined to carry forward precisely nul points from the group stages – none of the victories against the higher seeds making a brass button of difference to our points tally.

Our only hope of points is that the Jutes pip out Wood Green 2 from the promotion pool this coming Saturday – which seems unlikely given their respective opposition. But who thought that Cheddleton would qualify in top position, only losing to us…?!

For Oxford 2, a 50% score suggests mid-table respectability for the yet another year– but we’ve been performing well, just not getting the results –

GP SOS Pts
1 Wessex 24 48 10
2 KJCA Kings 27½ 45 10
3 Hackney 22½ 42 10
4 AMCA Rhinos 22 33 10
5 British Universities CA 21½ 46 9
6 Gloucestershire Gambits 22½ 40 8
7 e2e4.org.uk 2 18½ 39 8
8 Anglian Avengers 2 21 38 8
9 Leeds University Old Boys 22 36 8
10 Sussex Smart Survivors 19 35 8
11 Fermented Sharks 18½ 35 8
12 Cambridge University 3 20 41 7
13 The Rookies 19½ 41 7
14 Celtic Tigers 1 19½ 36 7
15 e2e4.org.uk 4 18 36 7
16 Guildford 3 19½ 29 7
17 The Full Ponty 22 25 7
18 Oxford 2 18½ 47 6
19 AMCA Hippos 16 37 6
20 Iceni 15½ 31 6

and we’ve played 5 of the principal contenders so far – (coloured in table above). With some solid play and the smidgen of luck that conventional wisdom suggests is called for when chasing from the middle of the pack, we are not out of it yet!

For Oxford 3, we’re at the top of this table, too …

GP SOS Pts
21 FCA Solutions 2 17½ 41 5
22 e2e4.org.uk 3 17½ 35 5
23 Oxford 3 15 30 5
24 SCS 12½ 12 5
25 Anglian Avengers 3 14 41 4
26 Metropolitan 12½ 39 4
27 Bristol 3 13 37 4
28 Warwickshire Select 2 17½ 35 4
29 Bristol 2 17½ 33 4
30 Banbury Bulldogs 15 30 4
31 AMCA Cheetahs 11 26 4
32 Halesowen 14 32 3
33 KJCA Knights 12½ 28 3
34 Celtic Tigers 2 13½ 26 3
35 Sons of Anarchy 10½ 30 2
36 e2e4.org.uk 5 14 25 2
37 3Cs 2 34 0

which suggests we’re not doing that badly either – not bad for a team that takes the hit when the other teams succumbs with viruses, call- and cry-offs, and the like.

Oxford 1

Saturday

Oxford 1 2220 White Rose 1 2351
w Shanmugam, Ravindran f 2386 0 - 1 Jones, Gawain CB g 2653
b Savage, Ben DM f 2278 0 - 1 Wells, Peter K g 2499
w Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2267 0 - 1 Palliser, Richard JD m 2448
b Rose, Matthew 2282 ½ - ½ Buckley, Simon T 2347
w White, Michael JR f 2229 1 - 0 Croad, Nicolas f 2307
b Dickinson, Tim R 2152 0 - 1 Gourlay, Iain f 2351
w Coleman, James 2142 1 - 0 Adair, James R 2247
b Miranda Gonzalez, Nicole 2027 1 - 0 Messam-Sparks, Lateefah 1962
3½ - 4½

Another close result against the strong White Rose team, with James and Nicole putting a good margin on the performance with some adventurous play – but the top board performances by the titled opposition put too much distance between the Whites and the Blues.


Shanmugam – Jones (B)

Ravi on top board found himself a pawn down after an offbeat variation in the closed Sicilian (2. d3) had reduced to this position, where Black has the pawn extra, but there seemed to be some navigating by Gawain to bring in the full point. This he managed with some deft strokes, starting with 21. … Nf3! which secures the (better) bishop v knight in the ending 22.Kxf3 Bxd4 23.Re4 Rc3+ 24.Kg2 Bc5 25.Rd7 b5 26.Rc7 Rd8 27.Ne2 Rc2 28.Re5 Bd6! (shedding the b-pawn) 29.Rxc2 Bxe5 30.Rc5 Bf6 31.Rxb5 Rd2 32.Nc1 Rc2 33.Rb1 Bd4 34.Nd3 Rxa2 (for the a-pawn) after which it was 0-1, at time control.


Wells – Savage (B)

Resulted from a deferred Exchange Lopez, and here Ben chose 20… fxg5 which instigated some mass exchanges on the f-file – 21.Rxf7 Rxf7 22.Rxf7 Kxf7 23.Qxg5 Ke8 – and a position where the unopposed Bb2 bishop exercised a controlling effect along the long diagonal. This allowed Peter to adopt a planned approach to the endgame (1-0, 57) including many near-repetitions, which allowed both sides to reach time control without White having to make any concrete decisions in time trouble. An instructive breakthrough by the white pawn mass along the central files ensued.

Fritz rather instructively, or annoyingly, points out that in the diagram position 20. … c4! as a better fighting option, as it threatens … c3 (Bxc3 Qc5+) while the normal capture bxc4 also fails to the tricksy Qb6+. After 20…c4 21.Nxc4 Bxc4 22.dxc4 fxg5 23.Rxf7 Rxf7 24.Rxf7 Kxf7 the g5 pawn can only be swiped by allowing the unpleasant … Qd1+.

Meanwhile on Board 3 there some unmitigated hostility in the first of two Oxford alumni battles:


Eckersley-Waites, T – Palliser (W)

And here the Kelly Riley question, after Black’s last move (10. … Bxc5) is “is it wise” to snaffle on g7? A look through the Fritz lens suggests it’s not altogether great to take a second pawn (e.g. 11.Nxg7+ Kf8 12.Nh5 Qa5 13.Bd2 Qb6 14.Rh2 Qxb2 when the black bishops seem to be controlling proceedings) but Tom’s preferred 11.Na4 Be7 12.Rh3 Qa5+ meant that the Na4 would be a sacrificed piece, whether intended or not. The game see-sawed for a while before lurching towards 0-1 on the 43rd move.


Buckley – Rose (B)

Matt picked up the first score from the top boards after a long defensive examination from Simon Buckley – where the position was whittled down to a R, minor piece +2P draw on the 57th move, and where some accurate moves and good ideas were needed from the diagram position to prevent the white bishops from exploiting their spatial advantage: 29. … Nc5 30.Nxc5 Bxc5+ 31.Be3 Rb8 32.Rc4 Ke7 33.b4 Bxe3+ 34.Kxe3 a5 35.bxa5 bxa5 36.Rc5 Rb3+ 37.Ke2 Kd6 38.Rxa5 Rb2+ 39.Kd3 Rxh2 40.Ra6+ Ke7 41.Re6+ Kf7 42.Rxe5 Nh5 43.g4 Nf4+ 44.Ke3 g5 45.Rb5 Re2+ 46.Kd4 Rd2+ 47.Ke5 Nd3+ 48.Kd4 Nf4+ 49.Kc4 Rc2+ 50.Kb3 Rf2 51.Rb6 Rxf3+ 52.Kc4 Kg7 53.e5 Rf1 54.Rb7+ Kf8 55.Rb8+ Kg7 56.Rb7+ Kf8 57.Rb8+ ½-½

Mike White was enjoying the better of this Q+R endgame, having earlier shed an extra pawn to get down to this reduced ending


White – Croad (W)

It seems like there’s some intricate play left here, but an early blunder by Black seals his doom: 31.b5 Qd3?? 32.Rc7+ and now if … Rd7, then Qxd3 – and otherwise it’s curtains after Kf8 33.Qh4 Kg7 34.Qg4+ Kh8 35.Rxf7 Rg8 36.Qh4 Rg7 37.Rf8+ 1-0


Gourlay – Dickinson (W)

saw Tim’s pieces get cramped on the queen side, and some deft moves opened up central squares :

21.e5! Bxa2 22.Qh4 h5 23.exd6 Qxd6 24.Ne4 Qe6 25.Ra1 and it’s not possible to avoid material loss: … Re5 26.d4 Rd5 27.Rxa2 Rxd4 28.Re2 Ra4 29.Nc3 Rxa3 30.Rxe6 Nxe6 31.Ne2 Ra2 32.Qe4 a4 33.Nc3 Ra1+ 34.Bf1 a3 35.Qxb7 Nc4 36.Qc8+ 1-0

So the match is by now lost, but the fun was just beginning on board 7, where by move 12 Black has an overwhelming visual advantage:


Coleman – Adair (W)

Where, the crowd feels, an early result is on the cards, especially if 12.Kh1 is the best that White can come up with. Fritz tends to confirm this to be the case, and for 15 or so moves Black makes steady inroads, subject only to the volatility of such Sicilian positions where advanced pawn deployments tend to affect one’s confidence in judging the safety of one’s own king left in the rear.

We rejoin the position just after 26. Nf4,

calling out for the simple … h4, with clear advantage, but Black instead chooses safety first which leads quickly to a lost position: … Rg8 27.Qb3 Ne7 28.Ne6 e2

28. … e2 is the natural response to the impending loss of the d-pawn, the threats to f1, e1 and f3, but as it happens there wasn’t that much to be done as James can now, and did finish in style with: 29.Ra8+ Kxa8 30.Qa3+ Ba6 31.Qxa6+ Kb8 32.Qd6+ Kb7 33.Qc7+ Ka6 34.Ra1+ Kb5 35.Ra5+ Kb4 36.Qb6+ and with a mate to follow on move 37, it was nearly too late for 1-0

This leaves the see-saw ding-dong battle that was the second “Oxford” contest of the day on board 8, where Nicole first had the advantage, then started the ding-dong off by sacrificing a little unsoundly …


Messam-Sparks – Miranda Gonzalez (W)

By the diagram position all seemed to be heading towards a peaceable handshake – given the checking sequences along the h-file, but instead Lateefah uncorked the wrong bottle with 36.Ke2 Qh2+ 37.Kd1 Qg1+ 38.Kc2? Rc8+ which lead inexorably to 0-1, 60.

Sunday

Cambridge University 1 2268 Oxford 1 2185
w Mah, Karl CC m 2419 ½ - ½ Savage, Ben DM f 2278
b Pinter, Gabor m 2360 0 - 1 Rose, Matthew 2282
w Moskovic, David M f 2324 ½ - ½ Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2267
b Bisby, Daniel L f 2264 1 - 0 White, Michael JR f 2229
w Makarov, Alexander 2218 0 - 1 Dickinson, Tim R 2152
b Churm, Rohan M 2161 1 - 0 Foo, William J 2106
w Eckersley-Waites, Adam 2231 1 - 0 Coleman, James 2142
b Kueh, Audrey 2170 1 - 0 Miranda Gonzalez, Nicole 2027
5 - 3

The battle of the Univs – or thereabouts – went out live on the 4NCL site – and by lunchtime we – that is, Justin and myself – had (at the different, Div 3, site) worked out using extreme science and some mental arithmetic that Cambridge were about 0.4 to the good over the 8 boards. This carried through to the end, notwithstanding some sterling performances.

Board 1 turned out to be a lot less controversial thand we had predicted, with Mah – Savage being agreed drawn 2 moves after we thought White had a little the better of the position.

The real excitement was on Board 2 where Matt avoided his usual 2. c3, as he had decided that 3. c3 was the better option. On the evidence of the position at move 27, he was right, although by all accounts he had less than two minutes to reach move 40, in a position where – although a piece adrift – a draw would be a psychological nightmare. Fortunately Matt had thought through things enough to have seen the continuation, and had enough time to play the following:


Rose – Pinter (B)

27… Rf7 [27…Qf7 doesn’t help either: 28.Qe4+ Kf6 29.Rb5 Qg6 30.Rh6 Qxh6 31.Rf5+ Kg6 32.Rf3+ Kh5 33.Rh3#; while 27…Nf7 results in 28.Qe6#] 28.Qe4+ Kg7 29.Qh7+ Kf6 30.Qh6+ Ke7 31.Qxg5+ Kd7 32.Qg4+ Kc6 33.d5+ Kxd5 34.Rh5+ Kc6 35.Qa4+

1-0
Massive.


Moskovic – Eckersley-Waites (W)

Looks quite draw-ish, and ends up drawn in 62, but both sides play their part in the ensuring the crowd gets great VFM. White generates strong pressure and it takes a lot of agility from the Black rooks to prevent the avalanche, before steadying the ship:

29.Rbh2 Rhc8 30.Rc2 Rh8 31.Rch2 Rhc8 32.Rc2 Rh8 33.Rh5 Rc5 34.f4 exf4 35.gxf4 gxf4 36.g5

36 … Rcc8 37.gxh6 Rcg8 38.Rf2 Rg4 39.Kd4 Kf6 40.Rf5+ Ke7 41.a5 Rxh6 42.axb6 axb6 43.Ra2 f6 44.Ra7+ Ke8 45.Rb7 f3 46.Rxf3 Rhh4 47.Re3 f5 48.Rxb6 Rxe4+ 49.Rxe4+ Rxe4+ 50.Kd3 Ke7 51.Rb7+ Ke8 52.Rh7 Re1 53.Rh4 Ke7 54.Kd2 Rg1 55.Ke3 Rg4 56.Rh7+ Ke8 57.Kd3 Rg3+ 58.Kd4 Rg1 59.Rh6 Ke7 60.Re6+ Kd7 61.Rf6 Rf1 62.Rf7+ ½-½

And the online crowd got a good deal of rook and pawn education that Sunday, because on Board 4 we had this:


White – Bisby

Arising out of another chaotic opening where Black had neatly neutralised the White initiative before reaching this position, where the real question is whose move it is… unfortunately (from our point of view) it is Black’s and he took full advantage of those advanced pawns to neatly create a distant passed pawn: 27… Rh3 28.h5 Rh4 29.hxg6 fxg6 30.g5 Rh5 31.Rc5+ Kd7 32.gxh6 Rxh6 and converted to the win in 61.

On the adjoining board, Tim was being forced to show his paces in a similar ending, and the crowd wasn’t disappointed:


Makarov – Dickinson (B)

46… a4 47.Ra5 Kd6 48.Rxa4 Rxg5 49.Ra6+ Ke5 50.Ra7 Rf5 51.Rd7 h5 52.Kg2 g5 53.Rd8 f6 54.Kg1 Rf4 55.d6 Ke6 56.Kg2 Rd4 57.Rh8 h4 58.Re8+ Kxd6 59.Kf3 Rf4+ 60.Kg2 Rf5 61.Re3 Re5 62.Ra3 Re4 63.Ra5 Ke6 64.Rb5 Re5 65.Rb4 Kf5 66.Ra4 Re4 67.Ra6 Rb4 68.Rc6 Rf4 69.Rc3 g4 70.Rc5+ Kg6 71.Ra5 Rf5 72.Ra8 Rf3 73.Rh8 Kg5 74.Rg8+ Kf4 75.Rh8 h3+ 76.Kg1 f5 77.Rh7 Ra3 78.Rf7 Ra1+ 79.Kh2 Rf1 0-1

But on the lower boards we failed where the previous day we had been successful:


Foo – Churm (W)

Earlier on, William’s position seemed to have promise but his failure to take that pawn on a3 when that mythical beast, Common Sense, might have dictated (21. Nxa3) meant that it remained a thorn in the position right until the end: 31.Rg3+ Kf7 32.c3 Bf2 33.Be3 Bxg3 34.hxg3 Rf1 35.Kc2 Rg8 36.Bf4 e3 0-1


Eckersley-Waites,A – Coleman (B, 20)

Watching this game online we had the impression “we” were doing well, until I remembered there were two Eckersley-Waites-es in this match. The big question was whether Rxe5 was possible, and the continuation showed decisively that that the e-pawn is poisoned. (That said, the Black position isn’t all that well.)

20… Rxe5 21.Nc5! Bxf3+ [Best. if 21…Rxe1 22.Rxe1 Be6 – the computer announces an abrupt mate: 23.Rh1 Kb8 24.Rh8+ Bc8 25.Nd7#] 22.Kxf3 Rxc5 23.Re8+ Kd7 24.Rxa8 Rxg5 25.Rxa7 .. and with an exchange to the good it was 1-0 in 44.


Miranda Gonzalez – Kueh,A

On bottom board, Nicole took the wrong view early and found herself saddled with a leaky kingside: 14.f4 Nc5 15.Qf3 e5 16.Nb5 Nfxe4 and very soon her king was afloat but with no pawns to act as a paddle in the coming endgame. (0-1, 32)

Oxford 2

Saturday

Oxford 2 2047 Metropolitan 1862
w Nitz, Tomos 2130 1 - 0 Lindner, Daniel 2217
b Foster, James M 2028 1 - 0 Dickson, George 2095
w Nixon, Rodney J 2011 ½ - ½ Calvert, D Ian 1956
b Duggan, Christopher 2031 1 - 0 Stewart, Noel M 1850
w Hayward, Philip T 2034 1 - 0 Zhou, Yang-Jian 1578
b Panayotov, Ivo 2053 1 - 0 Boyalakuntla, Siva 1476
5½ - ½

A match where the team with the superior rating didn’t make mistakes, and so ran out with the win points, and the tactics. Tom’s result against a 2200 player was excellent, and lower down our team took full advantage of the ratings difference – but not without the occasional scare, as Metropolitan play deserved more than the final result suggested.

The clash on board 1 gives more reasons why I gave up the Kings’ Indian – and some as to why I might return there in due course! It’s a messy position all right, and without some serious Midnight Oil™, it’s not at all easy to see if that pawn on e6 is a matchwinner, a helpless pion put there by a careless master, or some mixture of the two:


Nitz – Lindner (B)

17… Rg8 somewhat mysterious. 17…Nxd5 18.exd5 Nd4 19.Qd1 dxc5 20.bxc5 c6 is a more straightforward approach, which attempts to dissolve the white pawn structure the way Daz dissolves dirt. 18.Bb2 g5 19.Rad1 g4 20.Be2 Nxe4 21.Bc4 Ng5

22.Nxc7 this seems thematic although Fritz provides the concrete variation 22.e7 Nxe7 23.Nxc7 Qxc7 24.cxd6 Qd7 25.dxe7 Qxe7 26.Bxg8 picks up the pesky rook on g8 and clarifies White's advantage. … Qxc7 23.cxd6 Qb6 24.e7 Rgb8 Here the computer favours re-sacrificing with 24…Rge8 25.Bd5 Nxe7 26.dxe7 Qc7 27.Be6 g3 28.hxg3 fxg3 29.Bd7! a neat move which cuts off the Queen from the e-file and visually emphasises the mis-posiitoning of the black major pieces. gxf2+ 30.Kxf2 Nh7 31.Qc3 Qb6+ 32.Qc5 Nf6 33.Bxe5 Rg8 34.Qxb6 axb6 35.Bxf6 Bxf6 36.e8Q Rgxe8 37.Rxe8+ 1-0

On board 2, White had just about stabilised the position when he took a big breath and took the wrong option:


Dickson – Foster (W)

30.d4? (Rc1) cxd4 31.Rxd4 [if 31.Qxd4 Re1+!] 31…Qb6 32.Bd5 Nf6 33.Kg2 Rd8 0-1

Rod was fortunate that his opponent hadn’t found … h4 to insert at an appropriate moment in the pre-control continuation (below):


Nixon – Calvert (B)

38… Rg2 39.Kf3 Rd2 40.Ke3 Rg2 ½-½

Chris was winning comfortably and didn’t have to rely on the checkmate the game provided on move 40:


Stewart – Duggan (W)

39.Qd1 Qxb2 40.Qe1 Qxg2# 0-1

Phil hacked and sacked his way through the long diagonal to the black king:


Hayward – Zhou (B)

25… Qb6 26.Rxd4 [Fritz also likes the other rook sacrifices: 26.Rxe5 Qxd6 27.Rxd4 Qxe5 28.Rxd7+ Kf6 29.Rd6+] 26…Qxc5 27.Rd5 Qc7 28.Qxe5+ Kh6 29.Nf7+ Rxf7 30.Qxc7 and this was enough material to secure a win, and mate, around move 40 (1-0, 40)

While the bottom board was a picture of domination, and sacrifices on g2 or h3 are in the air no matter what White opts for:


Boyalakuntla – Panayotov (W)

27.Kf1 Qh4 28.Kg1 Rxh3 29.gxh3 Qg3+ 30.Kf1 Qxh3+ 0-1

Sunday

Fermented Sharks 2078 Oxford 2 2043
w Maleki, Emanuel 2284 ½ - ½ Nitz, Tomos 2130
b Thorarinsson, Pall A 2229 1 - 0 Panayotov, Ivo 2053
w Farkas, Daniel 2120 1 - 0 Hayward, Philip T 2034
b Hermes, Geoff R 2050 1 - 0 Duggan, Christopher 2031
w Millward, Kevin P 1965 0 - 1 Wang, Maria 2066
b McAleenan, Charles T 1820 0 - 1 Wang, X Anna 1946
3½ - 2½

A new formation set out on the Sunday to continue the good form against the strong, fermented sharks (a reference to the dietary preferences of some members, rather than the Damian Hirst concoctions). A match which saw all but one game stretch past the 4-hour mark:

On top board Tom Nitz stoutly defended a version of the Slav(e) where he ended up with a IQP around move 12 – and looked to be struggling for long periods – but on the replay it seems his opponent couldn’t find anything that particular Sunday morning:


Maleki – Nitz (B)

28… h6! 29.gxh6 Rh8 started the liquidations to the draw 30.Kf2 Rxh6 31.Kg3 Rh5 32.f4 Ne7 33.Nd4 Nf5+ 34.Nxf5+ Rxf5 35.b4 Rf6 36.Kf3 Re6 37.Rd1 Re4 38.Rd4 f5 39.Ke2 Re7 40.Rd2 Re4 41.a3 Kc6 42.Kf3 Kd6 43.Rg2 ½-½

On board 2, Ivo seemed to have had the worse of the pawn formations in a Dutch-style ending, but got outplayed in the lead-up to time control, where although he had re-established pawn equality, it seemed to be one of those Rook and Pawn endings …


Panayotov – Thorarinsson (B)

40… Rb3! forces the king to retreat 41.Kf2 Kf5 42.Re7 Rb2+ 43.Kf1 Ke4 44.Re6 Kf3

45.Rf6+ This seems natural but once the e-pawn goes the central pawns will easily outgun their counterparts on the rim. 45.Kg1 might have set more practical problems, forcing Black to calculate concrete variations – as it’s hard to maintain the incursion with both the d- and e- pawns on the board, while Kxg3 46.Rxg6+ Kxh4? 47.Kf1 Kh5 48.Rg8 seems quite drawn. 45…Kxe3 46.Rxg6 d4 and now, as I found out to my cost the previous day, it’s very hard to move any of those white pawns if you calculate a few moves! 47.Ra6 d3 48.Ra1 Kf3 49.Re1 e4 50.Rd1 Kxg3 51.Kg1 Rg2+ 52.Kh1 Rh2+ 53.Kg1 Rxh4 54.Rd2 Kf3 55.Rf2+ Ke3 56.Rf6 Rg4+ 57.Kh2 d2 0-1

On board 3, Phil seemed to have been tied up in knots – but Houdini could have helped a bit here:


Farkas – Hayward (B)

12… Bd6 13.Qd4 Bxf4+? This hands the initiative to White as Black now has the pin on the d-file to contend with. Instead, 13…Bc6 14.f3 (14.Bxd6 cxd6 15.Qxd6 Qg5+ 16.Kb1 Qxg2 isn’t completely suicidal) 14…Bxf4+ 15.Qxf4 Qe7 and Black is waving, not drowning. 14.Qxf4 Qc8 15.h4 c5 16.h5 h6 17.g4 e5? Fritz prefers … b5 and … Bc6 18.Qxe5 Bxg4 and now he’s drowning. 19.Rhg1 b5 20.Bd5 Rd8 21.Qg3 Rxd5 22.Rxd5 f5 23.f3 Qb7 24.Rgd1 Qa6 25.fxg4 Qxa2 26.Rd8+ Kh7 27.gxf5 1-0

Chris had negotiated an early opening position which was making him mad, to reach this position in the endgame which was more comfortable – two, not all that pretty, pawns to the good, but with some tactics about to hit the fan, as White has just played 24. g3:


Duggan – Hermes (B)

24… c5 25.a6 Ba8 26.c4 Nb4 27.Bxc5 Rxc4 28.Bxb4 Bxf3

at which point those extra pawns are looking that much healthier, even if there are two pieces en prise. Unfortunately, 29.Rf1?? wasn’t the way to deal with the double attack (29. Re1!): … Be2 30.Re1 Rxb4 31.Kd2 Rbe4 32.a7 Bf3 and all of a suddent it’s a piece down for the good guys, and 0-1, 57 in sight.

Which meant in this story that we had already lost, which is a shame because the Wang sisters were putting in overtime in picking up the two points. Maria’s win is the Oxford 2 GoTW, mostly because she calmly plays a position which White tries to bust – confident that the endgame is won, when it arrives.


Millward – Wang,Maria (W)

Not that it is bound to arrive, but after 26.Nc5 Bxf5 27.Rxf5 Bxh4 it’s one set of exchanges closer and she’s won a pawn – and her play in her opponent’s severe time-control difficulties was exemplary.

On bottom board Anna was engaged in a battle which quickly left traditional book (1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3.e5) and after hacking off that errant knight on h6 an unbalanced position arose where it wasn’t clear who had benefited from this unseemly trade in mixed minor pieces. Chances abounded – as happens in an unusual position where there’s no obvious attack, but some clear weaknesses – but neither side felt sure enough to put their mark in the sand. Time trouble loomed, but not quite as large as on the sister board.


Wang,X (Anna) – McAleenan (W)

Black has just played Rfg6 and this turns out to be an error (35.Nxf5 Rxg2 36.Nxh6 is strong – if visually hard to conceive).

Instead Anna prefers 35.Re2? Rg3 after which the tables have turned towards Black. 36.Qf2 Qc8? Too defensive, and handing back the initiative once more. 36…Bxd5 37.Bxd5 Qxd5 is strong, when Fritz suggests 38.Nf3 Rxg2 39.Qd4+ Qxd4 40.Nxd4 Rxe2 41.Nxe2 e6 and that double-pawn on h6 isn't the only thing separating the sides. 37.Qe1 Qc5 38.Nxf5 Rd3 39.Nxh6 Bxd5 40.Bxd5 Qxd5 41.Qh4 Rd1 last chance (Rgg3!?) 42.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 43.Re1 Qd2 44.Nxg8 Kxg8 when it’s time to resign but it turned out to be 1-0, 58.

(Note for Seniors: juniors still enjoy playing til mate)

Oxford 3

Saturday

Anglian Avengers 3 1888 Oxford 3 1926
w Hopkins, Phil 2018 1 - 0 Woolacott, Samuel 1962
b Fogg, Martin 1920 1 - 0 Terry, Sean 1926
w Hill, Luke 1954 0 - 1 Ludbrook, Matthew 1999
b Hall, Antony C 1882 ½ - ½ Pozimski, Szymon 1930
w Brennan, Samuel J 1922 ½ - ½ Neatherway, A Philip 1925
b Woodcock, Keith D 1633 0 - 1 Ehr, Jennifer 1818
3 - 3

Meanwhile, at a different part of the De Vere holiday camp complex – and situated, rather aptly, in the Chess Valley – Oxford 3 were playing in a different brand altogether of chess, one that befitted their proud, if lowly, position in the 4NCL Division 3. Board orders seemed a little skewed but the teams were evenly matched, and a draw was probably no better than either side deserved, with Jennifer’s miniature (see GoTW) being the exciting pick of the lot.

On Board 1 there was a mysteriously early end to proceedings as Sam took too dim a view of a position that had grown steadily worse over the previous 10 moves:


Hopkins – Woolacott (W)

And with no pieces as yet off the board, the game concluded 20.Nb5 Qd8 21.Qc2 1-0

Next to him, I was once again experimenting with pushing pawns in front of my king – an expansive later-life strategic option that seems to generate nothing more than a lot of catholic guilt – which may account for a subsequent inability to take advantage of any opportunities that arise.


Terry – Fogg (W)

Here I was thinking that I had some initiative, and that – just as importantly – my opponent’s queen side was not going anywhere, quickly. But if 22.Bxd7 Qxd7 23.Rh3 (seeming to get somewhere) Kf7, all of a sudden … Rh8 might be embarrassing. So I equivocated with 22.Rg3 Kf7; 23. Bxd7 Qxd7 24.f4 thinking that after Rh8 25.Qg4 Qxg4 26.Rxg4 there might be some pressure along the f-file in the ending. Instead after … Rh3 27.Rg3 Rch8 all of a sudden I’m struggling, and although the outlines of a subsequent defeat (0-1, 63) are writ into the position, Black needed to play with some accuracy to score the full point.

As it happened, though I had missed a reasonably obvious – tactical point in this sequence, as 22. … Kf7? is an error: 23. gxf6! Bxf6; 24. Qh7 which will win the g-pawn. Ho hum.

On board 3, Matt L won well in the ending (0-1, 56) although there is some query about whether he was doing all right in the opening:


Hill – Ludbrook (W)

Now White rightly played 12.Nb5 Qxe3 13.Bxe3 is rated by my PC as +2.5 as after … Bd6 not 14.Nxd6+ , as played, but 14.Rxd6 (as considered by the crowd) seems to maintain a plus. So, one putative line could be … cxd6 15.Nc7+ Kd7 17.Nxa8 b6 18.c4 (stopping … Nd5) Bb7 19.Nxb6+ axb6 20.Bxb6.

In fact, it’s all hugely messy, and there’s no guarantee that Kd8 is the best place for the king after 15. Nc7+, all of which suggests that it was well worth a punt by White – unless he thought he was doing well enough without hitting the randomiser button.

Meanwhile, a longer game ended in a R+P draw after the time control, but Black had been doing well just before it:


Pozimski – Hall (B)

38.b6 cxb6 39.axb6 Rd4 this is the rushed move – which allows Szymon to generate enough play, and – as things pan out – a perpetual: 40.Rg3 Rxc4 41.Rxg6 Rb4 42.Rg7+ Kc8 43.Rg8+ Kd7 44.Rg7+ Kc8 45.Rg8+ ½-½

39. … Ke7 would have kept Black’s advantage as the Rc3 is badly passive.


Brennan – Neatherway (B)

And on board 5, a draw was agreed just before the R+4 V R+4 ending appeared on the board: 32… a5 33.bxa5 Ra8 34.Ne2 Rxa5 35.Nd4 Be8 36.g3 b4 37.Nc2 Ba4 38.Nxb4 Bxb3 39.axb3 Rb5 40.Nd3 Rxb3 41.Ke2 Nxd3 ½-½

Sunday

Oxford 3 1904 3Cs 2 1576
w Ludbrook, Matthew 1999 1 - 0 Monaghan, David 1698
b Nixon, Rodney J 2011 0 - 1 Dean, Angelica 1690 e
w Neatherway, A Philip 1925 1 - 0 Rigby, Stephen 1586
b Woolacott, Samuel 1962 1 - 0 Lau, Jason 1586
w Ehr, Jennifer 1818 1 - d Naveed, Abdullah 1522
b Thornblad, Erik 1714 1 - 0 Parkin, George 1378
5 - 0

Sunday’s result (5–0) was a dream for lovers of the 4NCL scoring rules, as although we played all 6 boards, one of them was defaulted (thus meaning that Jennifer’s hard-earned half point on board 5 against another abandoned punter didn’t count) and we picked up a 5 – -1 win overall. As Jen put it:

“Basically I was told by the arbiter when I got there that my opponent had missed his lift from Manchester on saturday so wasn't there. I still got a game against the Celtic Tigers board 6 so all was good.”


Ludbrook – Monaghan (W, 40)

Matt deserved some credit for almost getting to the time control with 32 pieces still on his board as both sides seemed to be looking for the Immortal Blockade Draw award for the (any?) season. As it happens, White was unable to prevent himself from taking on the last move before time control, after which the win became fairly standard.

40.Bxh4 Qf8 41.Bf2 Bxb4 42.Nxb4 Qxb4 43.Nb3 Qxe1 44.Rxe1 Re7 45.h4 Nc8 46.h5 Nf8 47.Reh1 Rg7 48.Be1 Ne7 49.Bb4 Kd8 50.Kg3 Bc8 51.Bd6 Rgh7 52.Nc5 Ke8 53.hxg6 Rxh2 54.Rxh2 Rxh2 55.Kxh2 Nfxg6 56.Bh5 Kd8 57.Bxe7+ Nxe7 58.Bf7 Kc7 59.Kg3 1-0

Full marks for the pictorial overprotection of h3 in the diagram position, however.


Dean – Nixon (B)

Rod had reached move 17 of a QGD of sorts, when disaster struck: 17.Rg1 c5 18.Nxd5 1-0


Neatherway – Rigby (W)

Phil on 3 had slowly squeezed a piece sacrifice out of his opponent after a Scandinavian, and the stage was set for a smart finish: 29.gxh5 Qxh5 30.Rh4! 1-0

Meanwhile, Sam had returned to the arena after a good night’s sleep and quickly achieved a dominant position against an opponent who had seemingly protected c3 in perpetuity. Rather than hack away needlessly at the position, Sam redirected his more mobile forces to probe other weaknesses


Lau – Woolacott (B)

30… Qa5 threatening Ra4-and Ra3 if needed 31.f3 Nd6 32.g4 Ra4 33.Ra1 Nc4 34.Rd3 Rb8 35.Rb1 Rxb1+ 36.Qxb1 Rxa2 37.Qb8+ Kh7 38.Ng3 Rb2 39.Qf4 Qa1+ 40.Nf1 Rb1 0-1

while Erik completed the tactical glee with this nice combination:


Parkin – Thornblad (B)

17… cxd4 18.exd4 Ne5! 19.c5 Nxf3+ 20.Qxf3 dxc5 21.dxc5 Fritz suggests as a better try (although not in quite these words) 21.Bc4 cxd4 22.Bxf7+ Kh8 23.Kh1 e5 21…Qxc5+ 22.Kh1 Qe3 23.Qxe3 Bxe3 24.Bc4 Rad8 25.Rf3 Bh6 26.Rbf1 e6 27.Bd3 Rd7 28.Rd1 Rfd8 29.Kg1 f5 30.Nxf5 exf5 31.Bc4+ Kh8 32.Bd5 fxe4 0-1

Seani
20 March 2012



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