Weekend 2

[games, pgn]

Oxford had a pretty fine Saturday (only the 3s lost) and a 100% Sunday – all this after some reported late night partying at the Daventry branch while the Boss wasn’t looking:

2/2 weekends for Jan-Peter, Matt, and Kieran helping Oxford 1 team to decisive wins against Spirit of Atticus and Pandora’s Box, but the stars of the show the stars of the show were Oxford 2, who converted two ‘draws’ into match wins, courtesy Matthew Cornford on Saturday, who made light of an enforced queen loss from this position:

Cornford – Pein (W)
25. Rxg3 bxc5

While on the Sunday Howard rescued an historic pile of rotting seaweed to convert it into this late-afternoon nail biter:

Chiu – Stimpson (W)

Oxford 3 took a bit of warming up but eventually came to the party on Sunday – this position (Baruch – Terry) when Black, to play, notices that … b5 doesn't quite rescue the Nd1, because of Bc6+. So should he cut and run with Nxf2 or …?!

Oxford 1


Spirit of Atticus 2113 Oxford 1 2199
w Ivell, Nicholas W 2320 ½ – ½ Zakarian, David fm 2374
b Mitchell, Martin 2213 0 – 1 Ambrus, Endre fm 2324
w Jackson, Sheila wg 2177 0 – 1 Schmidt, Jan-Peter fm 2269
b Latham, David 2143 0 – 1 Rose, Matthew 2303
w Ackley, Peter JE 2029 0 – 1 Smallbone, Kieran D 2211
b Connor, Stephen J 2065 0 – 1 Dickinson, Tim R 2134
w Mort, Andrew J 2021 0 – 1 Nitz, Tomos 2122
b Robertson, David J 1939 1 – 0 Ehr, Jennifer 1858
1½ – 6½

On top board an evenly rated encounter in an Open Sicilian fluctuated both ways from early on, with David enjoying the better of the position from about move 10 onwards, finally annexing a pawn after what seems to have been either a cri de coeur or a straightforward blunder as early as 14.c4, resulting in a pawn plus until the following diagram, by which time White has established control over the position and is about to annex the c-pawn with Rb4:

Ivell,N (2320) – Zakarian,D (2374) [B]
4NCL Division 2a , 12.01.2013

28 … a5 27.a3 Rab8 28.Rdb1 Rxb6 29.Rxb6 Nd4 30.g4 hxg4 31.hxg4 g6 32.Bh3 g5 33.fxg5 Kg7 34.Kg3 Ng6

Captures on d5 will only release the c-pawn but White finds a way to settle the nerves: 35.Nf5+ exf5 36.gxf5 Nxf5+ (otherwise f6+) 37.Bxf5 Be6 38.Bxe6 fxe6 39.Rb7+ Kf8 when the position is equal (½-½, 51)

Ambrus,E (2324) – Mitchell,M (2213) [W]
4NCL Division 2a, 12.01.2013

Nominally equal, the presence of that lusty pawn on d5 – itself the result of a rash ... e5 by Black earlier – puts Black in the critical zone already. His last move (Ra8-c8) is considered inaccurate by Fritz, who prefers ... Bh6 followed by ... e4, Bf4 in order to prevent the invasion which now occurs: 21.Qb5 Qxb5 22.Bxb5 Rxc1 23.Bxc1 Ra8 [forced, as 23...Rd8 24.Bg5 Rd6 25.Be7 Rxd5 26.Bc4 will win the exchange] 24.d6 Bf6 25.Bb2 Kg7? [with the king now generally on the 2nd rank, and specifically on g7, both bishops are subject to tactics] 26.Rc1 Rc8 27.Rxc8 Bxc8 28.d7 Bb7 29.Bxe5 1-0

Jackson,S (2177) – Schmidt,J (2269) (W)
4NCL Division 2a, 12.01.2013

Should White capture on d4 in such positions is a question asked in particular in three games this weekend (the others involve Tomos and, in Div 3, Matthew Cornford). The textbooks I’ve shied away from over the years tend to suggest “no”, but personally I’ve always hesitated before allowing a pawn to end up looking isolated in amongst the enemy. Here, White decided to take 11.Bxd4 (Fritz prefers Qd3 followed by Nb5) and after ... exd4 12.Nb5 the simple a6 13.Nxd4 Nxd5! 14.exd5 Bxd4 allowed Black an easy game in a near end- middle game. After 15.c3 the finesse ... Re8 16.Qf3 Bg7 was the first of many small steps to a win on move 68. An impressive performance – and the B v N ending is well worth a play through, with the Black king manoeuvres well worth noting.

Tim’s problem-like winning sequence saw White cruise to victory impressively with 17. Na4 Nxe5 18. Nb6 Rb8 and:

Dickinson,T (2134) – Connor,S (2065)
4NCL Division 2a, 12.01.2013

19.Bf4 f6 20.Rc3 Kf7 21.Rdc1 1-0

Complete domination of the black position, which drew murmurs of admiration even from those in the pub not altogether taken by the 2. c3 Sicilian.

A third 1-0 for the White pieces came from Matt who, unusually for him, hung on to a pawn while conceding the two bishops in a Caro-Kann (Botvinnik), and tidied up impressively when Black opted to trade into an R v B+N ending.

Mort,A (2021) – Nitz,T (2122) (W)
4NCL Division 2a, 12.01.2013

This ending was reached after the most recent exchanges have undoubled the Black d-pawns while removing a pair of bishops from the board. Black’s most recent move (... Qa4-a5) keeps an eye on the outside a-pawn while eyeing the open spaces adjacent to the White king. A cheap program suggests it’s equal; more expensively and expansively, Fritz says it’s about 0.54 to Black. Both of them suggest 34. Kf1. Too optimistically, White blunders with 34.Qb2 Qe1+ 35.Kg2 c4! 36.dxc4 d3 (and now tactics will raise the price of that d-pawn to a Knight) 37.Qb8+ Kh7 38.Nxd3 Qxe4+ 39.Kh3 Qxd3 40.Qb4 Qf1+ 0-1

On bottom board, Jen seemed well set in a position until a tactical error on move 23 dropped a pawn.


Oxford 1 2194 Pandora's Box Grantham 2254
w Zakarian, David fm 2374 1 – 0 Slaby, Jerzy im 2476
b Rose, Matthew 2303 1 – 0 Crouch, Colin S im 2388
w Schmidt, Jan-Peter fm 2269 1 – 0 Ross, Chris N cm 2247
b Smallbone, Kieran D 2211 1 – 0 Batchelor, Peter J 2298
w Walden, Andrew 2282 ½ – ½ Birtwistle, Nigel 2148
b Dickinson, Tim R 2134 0 – 1 Capuzzo, Marcos 2224
w Nitz, Tomos 2122 ½ – ½ Burrows, Martin P 2153
b Ehr, Jennifer 1858 ½ – ½ Mangione, Claudio 2098
5½ – 2½

Fun and games in the top clash in Div 2(a) starting from the top with David’s clash against Jerzy Slaby, where the quiet opening led to some controlled tactical battle on the queen-side which saw White lose the a-pawn, but managed to keep keep some control over the position. In advance of time control he has swung the Queen over towards the black king.

Zakarian,D (2374) – Slaby,J (2476) [B]
4NCL Division 2a, 13.01.2013

It looks as if the Bh6 may be inconvenienced by a future g5 but Black gets another idea: 41 … e5? [Black gets his tactics twisted: 41...Bxf4 42.Rxf4 e5 when 43.dxe5 Qxe5 spears a rook] 42.dxe5 Bxf4 43.Qf6+ [ah] 43...Kg8 44.Rxf4 Rf7 45.Qd6 Rxe5 46.Ra8+ Kg7 47.g5 Re4 48.Qd8 1-0

On Board 2, Matt found a very pleasing idea to break open the White position here:

Crouch,C (2388) – Rose,M (2303) [B]
4NCL Division 2a, 13.01.2013

18.... e4! 19.Nxe4 Nxe4+ 20.fxe4 Ne5 21.Rb3 f5 22.Rxb7 Black may be 2 pawns adrift, but the sacrifices are temporary and the sound of ripe apples falling (c5, b2, a3) – if not, indeed, a disgusted, Szabo-like resignation – are all mooted in this position. And so it came to pass (0-1, 39)

On Board 3, Jan-Peter was awake on Sunday morning to see that Chris Ross’s last move (... Bf6) had a flaw:

Schmidt,J (2269) – Ross,C (2247) [W]
4NCL Division 2a, 13.01.2013

18.Ndb5 Qb8 19.Bxf6 Nxf6 20.Nxd6 Re6 which forces another sequence which regains the pawn ... 21.e5 Ne8 22.Nde4 Qxe5 23.Nxc5 Qxc5 24.Rxe6 fxe6 25.Ne4 ... but leaves the Black position in ruins. ... Qe7 26.Qd2 when it’s hard to find a move for Black that doesn’t lose material. (1-0, 40)

Meanwhile Kieran had managed to get to move 32 without any apparent tactics on Sunday – at which point White felt nonetheless compelled to invent some, sacrificing the exchange. (His position wasn’t that great, come to think on it.) The enjoyable romp that ensued is captured in the pgn file below, and here is the final fling from White being repulsed:

Batchelor,P (2298) – Smallbone,K (2211) [B]
4NCL Division 2a, 13.01.2013

45. … Qc3+ 46.Kg4 Qxb4+ 47.Kh5 Qxe7 48.gxf6 Qxf6 49.Qg4+ Kh8 50.Qg7+ (... ah) Kxg7 0-1

Jen gets the winner’s gong for agreeing the draw to take us to 4½ points, seconds before Kieran secured a win.

Capuzzo,M (2224) – Dickinson,T (2134) [B]
4NCL Division 2a, 13.01.2013

In what seems to be an unusual Caro-Kann, Tim chose to give back the pawn he’d just garnered as follows: 11. … Nc6 12.Bxd5 0-0-0? but after 13.Bxc6 bxc6 14.Na3 Kd7 15.Nc4 it was death by strangulation and Nc4 (1-0, 47). Perhaps 11. … Bd6 ; 13. f4 Nc6 ; 14. Bxd5 Nge7 was better.

Andrew Walden picked up another half-point having grovelled and ground down to this position at the time control:

Walden,A – Birtwistle,N (2148) [W]
4NCL Division 2a, 13.01.2013

40.Re1 Rxe1 41.Kxe1 Ke6 42.Kd2 Kd6 43.Nd1 Kc5 44.Kc3 b5 45.Ne3 Bd7 ½-½

Oxford 2


Celtic Tigers 1 1941 Oxford 2 2030
w Pedersen, Carsten 2134 ½ – ½ Healey, Michael W 2088
b Quinn, John M 2112 1 – 0 Stembridge, Ed 2050
w Essinger, James J 1946 0 – 1 Duggan, Christopher 2025
b Pein, Jonathan 1890 0 – 1 Cornford, Matthew 2026
w Buttell, David 1820 ½ – ½ Colburn, Paul J 1978
b Stampe, Chris F 1746 0 – 1 Scott, David A 2017
2 – 4

The seconds seemed to be listing towards yet another 3-3 draw when rescued by Matthew Cornford’s remarkable R + N + B domination of Q + R. Before looking at this, let’s briefly get to the stage where Oxford are 3-2 ahead:

A pair of wins: On board 3, Dugg had a comfortable win sewn up before move 20, when he was an exchange + to the good ; but this loss paired off against a loss on board 2, which saw Ed’s queen-side pawns adopt the ‘ripe apples’ and his resignation on move 18 was, if a trifle premature, quite merited if you ask Fritz.

A pair of draws: On top board Mike Healey played to a dynamic draw against Carsten Petersen in a game where the tactics just failed to be ignited by a touch paper of flame ; this squared off against a scrambled draw by Paul Colburn on board 5, with R+3 defending R+4 with all material on the same side.

Game 5: Dave Scott strikes – after an initial openings sacrifice (piece for 3 pawns), his opponent goes astray with … Nd7:

Scott,David A (2017) – Stampe,Chris F (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2013

19.c6 Rxb6 20.c7 Rb8 21.Bxd7 Rc8 22.Bxc8 Bxc8 23.Rd8+ 1–0

Which brings the scores to 3-2, with this mess now facing Matthew (who missed a winning tactic a few moves earlier and is now Q for pieces adrift). Still, nothing ventured...

Cornford,M – Pein,J (1849) [W]
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2013

31.d6+ cxd6 32.Nd5+ Kd8 33.Rf7? (natural, but should be losing, as the queen now invades. Rf6 retains a form of equality) ... Qd4+ 34.Kf1 Qh4 (... Rb8 or Rh8) were better but this is OK 35.Bf5 Qh1+ 36.Kf2 Re2+ (otherwise White has a perpetual) 37.Kxe2 Qh5+ 38.g4 Qxf7 39.Rh1 Qe8+ 40.Kf3 ...

40 ... Ra7? (Fritz prefers... Qe5 – now White invades to the 7th with tempo) 41.Rb1 Ra8 42.Rb7 Qc6? (the final error. ... Qe1 and White would not have any more than a perpetual) 43.Rh7 Rb8 44.Rh8+ Qe8 45.Rxe8+ Kxe8 46.Nc7+ Kf7 and now the g-pawn speeds without further ado: 47.g5 Rb2 48.g6+ Kf6 (Kf8 prevented immediate death) 49.Ne8+ 1-0


Oxford 2 2041 Guildford 3 2054
w Healey, Michael W 2088 1 – 0 Singleton, Michael PF 2165
b Stembridge, Ed 2050 0 – 1 Foster, James C 2039
w Chiu, Howard cm 2042 1 – 0 Stimpson, Philip M 2048
b Scott, David A 2017 ½ – ½ Punnett, Alan K 2029
w Duggan, Christopher 2025 1 – 0 Shepley, Julien M 2020
b Cornford, Matthew 2026 ½ – ½ Smart, Michael R 2023
4 – 2

Just as on Saturday, Oxford 2 got to three points, with a hopeless position on the remaining board, before it got rescued by grit and determination (and some help from the opponent). A lot more was happening in this match, starting with the Saturday night manoeuvres that saw boards 1 and 6 of both teams out in the hotel bar until an approximated average of 3.50am.

On board 6, an undistinguished 9-move draw was the result of Smart – Cornford, and all credit to White for turning around a pretty late appearance at his board. Board 1 was much more exciting and the position seemed to be inching for long periods towards Black as Mike stretched the tactical position in search of initiative. [Check out 16. Qd5 in the PGN file]

The key position is here, where Black has some options – and presumably a need for aspirin: should he take the b-pawn?

Healey,M (2088) – Singleton,M (2165) [B]
4NCL Division 3s, 13.01.2013

A pawn already to the good, Black decides to ‘play safe’, with an unusual (and inferior) retreat: 22. … Nf6 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Qg3 Kh8 25.Qe5 (and now White is motoring) Raf8 26.Rf3 Kg8 27.Rg3 Ng4 – and now a beautiful redesignation of the Bg5 wraps things up: 28.Be3 Qa5 29.Bd4 Rf6 30.h3 Rh6 1-0

This gave us a one point lead as there were three other results in by this stage. Dave Scott agreed an early draw on 6, while two other results were decisive and 1-1:

Foster,J (2039) – Stembridge,E (2050) [W]
4NCL Division 3s, 13.01.2013

White has ample positional compensation for the pawn, and Ed’s next is a blunder: 22. ... Nc8 23.Nxb7 g5 24.Qh6+ Kf7 25.Nd8+ Rxd8 26.Qxh7+ Kf8 27.Qh8+ Kf7 28.Rxd8 1-0

Meanwhile, a quicker tempo game on Board 5 had reached beyond time control and Dugg found a sacrifice:

Duggan,C (2025) – Shepley,J (2020) (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 13.01.2013

41.Nxb6! Nxe4 42.a5 Nd2+ 43.Kf2 Nxb3 44.a6 Ke4 45.a7 Be3+ 46.Kg3 1-0

Which once again left us 3-2 ahead but this position was hopeless (-3), the result of Howard getting lost in the Ruy Lopez ... d5 morass mess.

Chiu,H (2042) – Stimpson,P (2048) [W]
4NCL Division 3s, 13.01.2013

So we sat down to watch Man U – Liverpool, while moves were played at the board: 33.Bc1 Ne4 34.Ke3 Ng3 35.Nc2 Nf5+ 36.Kf2 Nxh4 37.Ne3 Rf8+ 38.Kg3 Nf5+ 39.Nxf5 Rxf5 40.Ba3 Re5 41.Bf3

And though it’s still lost there’s a glimmer of light because the a6 pawn is now vulnerable: 41 ... h5 42.Bb7 Re2 43.Bxa6 Rxd2 44.Bb7 Rxa2 45.Bb4 Kf7 46.a6 Ke6 47.Bc5 and now it’s looking more promising, as long as Black doesn’t take over the long white (h1-a8) diagonal: ... Kf5 48.Kf3 g5 49.a7 g4+ 50.Ke3 Ke5

... and now there’s mate in 1 (Re2) and Fritz is saying 0.00.

51.Bd4+ Kf5 52.Bb6 Re2+ 53.Kd4 Re4+ 54.Kc5 Re5+? (... Ra2 was necessary) 55.Kb4 Re8 56.Bc7 Be4 57.Bxe4+ Kxe4 58.Bb8 Kf3 59.a8Q+ Re4 60.Qd5 1-0

Oxford 3


Oxford 3 1771 Warwickshire Select 2 2028
w Neatherway, A Philip 1859 0 – 1 Stepanyan, Henrik 2178
b Terry, Sean 1881 0 – 1 Baruch, Andrew JD 2079
w Zhang, Marco 1746 0 – 1 Cooper, David M 2050
b Henbest, Kevin B 1729 0 – 1 Fallowfield, Jeremy R 2023
w Genis, David 1642 0 – 1 Ali, Golam S 1872
b d – 1 Cundy, Mark A 1970
-½ – 6

Outrated and outplayed overall – but the top two boards had moments of interest:

Neatherway,A (1859) – Stepanyan,H (2016) [B]
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2013

Here Phil has reached – a little fortuitously? – a position where the Rf4 is embarrassed by 19. g3. Black continues 19. ... g6 and after 20.gxf4 the PGN file says the continuation is ... exf4 21.Qd1 [instead 21.Nd4 would be +3] and Black strode on with 21...gxf5 22.e5 Nxe5 23.Nf3 Qg6+ 24.Kh1 Nd3 25.Ra2 Nxe1 26.Qxe1 Bc4 27.Rd2 Bd5 28.Rxd5 cxd5 29.bxa5 Qg4 30.Nd2 f3 31.Qf1 Qxa4 0-1

Next door on 2, I enjoyed all the play but got none of the result.

Baruch,A (2079) – Terry,S (1881)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2013

Here, Black played 21. … Nxf2 bailing out and the quiz question at the top was essentially whether ... b5 (what I’d seen) was good enough. I got this far before seeing that

21...b5 22.Bc6+ Ke7 23.Bxb5 Rb8 24.Kc2 “wins”, but as Kieran pointed out in the pub, in this analysis 24...d5! 25.Rxd1 dxc4 neatly attacks both of white's minor pieces.

All that said, White can instead win right back at the beginning by resisting the tempting cherry that is the pawn on b5: 22. Bd5! keeps the Nd1 enclosed on d1.

The game ended in sweet and sour fashion:

Here I was prepared to go into the K&P ending which would follow 31. Nxe5+ dxe5; 32. Rxe5 Re8, but reflected that my opponent probably wouldn’t take that risk with the onset of time trouble. He was probably aiming at a Rook and Pawn ending where the pawn on h5 was a real weakness. So 31.Ke3 Ke6 I considered ... c5 but thought that this was the ‘safer’ option. 32.Nxe5 dxe5 33.Ke4 Rh8 34.Rxe5+ Kf6 35.Kf4 Rh7 36.Rc5 and it’s more or less equal, unless ... Kg6?? 37.Rc6+ 1-0


Sussex Smart Survivors 2 1766 Oxford 3 1837
w Fryer, David W 2006 0 – 1 Burrows, Nick 1970
b Graham, William M 1802 0 – 1 Terry, Sean 1881
w Woods, Timothy J 1829 ½ – ½ Neatherway, A Philip 1859
b Harris, Toby E 1698 1 – 0 Henbest, Kevin B 1729
w Howell, Matthew G 1498 ½ – ½ Zhang, Marco 1746
b d – d
2 – 3

A 5-a-side match this time, settled by Nick Burrows’ solid win in the Caro-Kann:

Fryer,David W (2006) – Burrows,Nick
4NCL Division 3s, 13.01.2013

29.Qf2 loses immediately but 29. Kg2 Rch8 is difficult ... Qxf2+ 30.Nxf2 Nd2 nabbing the exchange 31.Rbd1 Nf3+ 32.Kg2 Nxe1+ 33.Rxe1 Rxc3 and 0-1, 44.

On board 2, I played a variation of the French (2. b3) I’d last seen on the board in the lobby around 2am – and managed to secure enough for the pawn by the time the head had cleared.

Terry,Sean (1881) – Graham,William M [W]
4NCL Division 3s, 13.01.2013
28.b4 cxb4 29.axb4 a5 30.Bc6+ Kd8 31.Bd4 1–0

Final gong though goes to Marco, for castling long on Saturday in this position:

Zhang,M – Cooper,D (2050) [W]
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2013
16.0-0-0 ...

21 Jan 2013