Weekend 4

[games, pgn]

Tim writes:

All, a rather tricky weekend of 4NCL has finally been negotiated safely. To briefly catalogue our pre-event woes: one team short, two cars kaputt, snow on the horizon. Thankfully the snow was not as vicious as feared, and the cars involved found alternative rides — all appeared well on the Sunday until a third car was found to also be kaputt! Grr. I suppose I should have expected these things to come in threes.

To the results.

  • Oxford 1 beat Wessex 5-3, and drew 4-4 with Bristol 1;
  • Oxford 2 lost to Ashfield-Breadsall 2-4 and then to Jorvik 2-3 (3-3 draw on the day, 1 point penalty).

While it wasn't a great weekend for the seconds, the firsts at least maintained their promotion drive mainly thanks to the brilliance of Matt Rose, our only 2/2 player. We now sit clear second on 6 match points. I believe 3 more points will suffice to go up, and there is some money at stake: £750 for first place, £500 for second, £250 third.

Oxford 1


Wessex 2076 Oxford 1 2184
w Yeo, Michael J 2155 0 - 1 Zakarian, David fm 2374
b Lock, Gavin R 2173 0 - 1 Rose, Matthew 2303
w Rutter, Nick J 2193 0 - 1 Schmidt, Jan-Peter fm 2269
b Simons, Martin J 2159 ½ - ½ Rawlinson, Aidan M 2171
w Tunks, Dominic R 2055 ½ - ½ Smallbone, Kieran D 2211
b Gregory, Keith DF 2047 ½ - ½ Healey, Michael W 2088
w Gill, Oliver 1984 1 - 0 Dickinson, Tim R 2134
b Reid, Vaness wf 1844 ½ - ½ Ehr, Jennifer 1922
3 - 5

Oxford 1 made it to the internet for the Round 7 clash with Wessex, which was bound to count for points in the race for promotion later on, in May, so all eyes were glued to proceedings for those, like your correspondent, stupid enough to have booked his Easter holidays without first consulting the 4NCL chess diary. So, while the lads were battling it out in the Puma hotel at Hinckley Island on 23 March, I found myself nursing a slight hangover and peering at a “smart” phone in that slightly unintelligent fashion that hangovers can induce. So, around 3pm, this was the first thing I got to see:

Apart from Board 7, where Tim’s opponent seems to have been surprised by his defence to 1.e4, things are proceeding a-pace... except on the top boards where both sides seem anxious to finish things off before half time and go watch the TV vide-printer. And the result isn’t that clear in either. Let’s look at top board, a few moves on:

Yeo - Zakarian (B)
4NCL Division 2a (7.11), 23.03.2013

and for my money it looks precarious, although Fritz suggests Black is marginally better. I think many might enjoy the prospect of pushing all those queen pawns “up ‘em’”, in the manner suggested by Lance Corporal Jones. Over the board, play continued 15. ... Nxd5 16.exd5 and after ... Ne7 17.c4 Fritz has moved from -0.20 to about +0.50.

Similarly Matt’s position was looking “won”, but without a clear win in sight. Black’s king is on the move to the queenside, without the benefit of castling, and White has play.

On board 3 things were looking better, as Jan-Peter had reached an ending in which his bishops were more actively placed, and that e-pawn was lurking with intent to advance... so let’s look at what’s happening with Jan-Peter on Board 3, which had already reached an ending with pawn imbalances on king and queen side:

Rutter - Schmidt (W)
4NCL Division 2a, 23.03.2013

With a view to neutralising those clerics, White continued 18.Bd4 but after ... Bf4+ 19.Kb1 Rfd8 20.h4 e5 Black’s advantage is now visually clear to the tune of about -2, and White will struggle to get any development of his king side. Fritz suggests the finesse 18.Bc5! Bf6 19.Bd4 e5 20.Be3 when Black is still better not as completely dominant as in the game, which ended prettily. (0-1, 38).

Meanwhile on board 4, Aidan has got himself embroiled in the intricacies of the Benko gambit, an opening which to the hungover viewer suggests the aesthetic appeal of a giraffe trying to commandeer a mini: You’re sure something’s happening but it’s hard to know how best to intrude with a bit of helpful analysis. Instead, we moved on and waited for the post mortem, which shows some concrete tactics emerging:

Rawlinson,A - Simons (B)
4NCL Division 2a, (7.14), 23.03.2013

Here, Black’s e-pawn is en prise and though it can be defended in about 5 ways, none of them are particularly in line with the dynamic nature of the opening. So, Black strikes out entertainingly with 18.... h6 19.Bxe7 Re8 hoping opick up the pawn on e2, but Aidan chooses instead 20.a4 which traps that bishop on an open board. ...Rxe7 21.axb5 Qxb5 22.e3 Nf6 23.Ne1 (Fritz suggests b4 as a way to keep the initiative) ... Rb7 24.Bf1 Qe8 25.Bg2 ½-½

Let’s return to the top board to see how things are developing:

Yeo - Zakarian (W, 21)

Things have developed a little along the way the tired traveller at Gate 80 has imagined it, although the devil is in the detail here. Was a4-a5-a6 a good way of going about it? Is a7 now a good idea? What about the next move ... b4? Rfb1 or c1? And what is the evaluation? Personally I felt White was close to a decisive advantage here, though lacking the plan to show it. Those bishops look useless against the tide of pawns on the queenside. [Switching on the analysis button brings this suggestion 21.a7 Bb7 22.Ra4 Ra8 23.Qa5 Qd7 and an evaluation of +1.5].

Play continued 21.b4 Nxe3 22.fxe3 Qb6 23.b5 Bg5 24.Ra3 f5 25.Qf2 Qc5 26.Rfa1 e4 when White has maintained a +1.5 advantage. Around now I was on the plane and missing the action. So, with the score (at least using the chronology of this report at 1.5 - 0.5), it’s time to move on and listen to the safety announcement on Flight EI 253 to Dublin.

Kieran had reached this position when Dominic Tunks went for the thematic break:

Tunks - Smallbone (B)
4NCL Division 2a, (7.15), 23.03.2013

20.d5 exd5 21.cxd5 cxd5 22.Nf5 at which point all hell breaks loose with ... g6?

23.h5? d4? 24.Rxe8 Rxe8 25.Rxd4? after which the position is equal, though the evaluation of the position swung wildly between moves 22 and 25 - each side missing the continuation for an advantage. (Hint: go find them.) An outbreak of peace on move 28 resulted - ½-½. - which seems to suggest our old friend Zeitnot was on the premises.

Time trouble, or possibly one eye on the match scoreline as it developed in real time, is suggested by the curious end to Healey - Gregory on board 5:

Healey - Gregory
4NCL Division 2a, (7.16), 23.03.2013

A pawn down, and without a clear initiative, it doesn’t look good for Mike, but he comes up with a plan to jettison some heavy material to keep the boat floating: 21.h4 Na4 22.Rxa4 bxa4 23.h5 a3 24.Ba1 Qb7 25.Kh2 Qxe4 26.Nd2 Qc6. Black has been coaxed into losing back the exchange (27. Bf3), and White can emerge with a piece for 3 pawns in a main variation, but Black still can develop nasty threats using that passer on a3. Instead, for whatever reason, ... ½-½

So with the score at +1 = 3, it’s time to look at the bottom boards. Tim’s game has gotten to the Rook and Pawn stage, so let’s go there now:

Gill - Dickinson (B)
4NCL Division 2a, (7.17), 23.03.2013

And a casual glance suggests that the K+P ending threatened by Re5+ looks lost, the R+P ending can be salvaged. But how? 34.... Kf6 seems a decent start, the calculation being that 35. Rd7 allows multiple trades starting ... Re4, after which it could be R+3 passed pawns v R + 3 other passed pawns. 35.Rd6+ Ke7 36.c5 Rc8 37.b4 a5? May be thematic but it’s a case of the wrong theme at the wrong place at the wrong time. (... b6, unfortunately now impossible, would clear up the queen-side pawns). 38.a3 axb4 39.axb4 Ra8 40.Rb6 Ra3 41.Rxb7+ Ke6 42.Rxg7 Rb3 43.c6 Rxb4 44.Kc3 Rb1 45.c7 Kd5 46.Kc2 1-0

That makes it all square +1 = 3 -1, which stayed the same after Jen’s draw on bottom board.

Ehr - Reid (B)
4NCL Division 2a, (7.18), 23.03.2013

A wild looking position takes a little more subtlety to open up, as both sides have built up their positions with care. Now Black decides she doesn’t quite like the King’s position, so it hoves back to where it comes from: 19.... Kd8 20.Rfc1 Ke8 21.c4 dxc4 22.Bxc4 Nxc4 23.Qxc4 Qb6 24.Kf1 g4 25.Ne1 Bb4 26.Rcb1 Qa7 27.Bxb4 Nxb4 28.Nd3 Nd5 29.Kf2 Kf7 30.Nc5 b6 31.Nxd7 Qxd7 32.Qb3 Rc8 ½-½

So what about those last two boards? On board 2, Matt took a lot longer to win his game than the initial phases of the game suggested, but win he did :

Rose - Lock
4NCL Division 2a (7.12), 23.03.2013

62.Rfc6+ Kd7 63.Rb7+ Kxc6 64.Rxh7 Kb6 65.Rf7 Kc6 66.Rf6+ Kc7 67.Kc5 Be4 68.Rf7+ Kd8 69.Kd6 Kc8 70.c5 Bf5 71.c6 Kb8 72.Rf8+ Ka7 73.Rxf5 1-0

Which brought us to 4-3 with the top board to finish, and even that worked out in our favour:

Yeo - Zakarian (W, 27)

White remains in control, and has only a few tactical fleas, such as the threat to e3, to brush off. He opts for: 27.h4 Bf6 28.a7 (ignoring the threat to a1) ... Bb7 29.a8Q?? Michael miscalculates this, perhaps forgetting the Ra1 is still en prise while the tactics that protected it have melted away. ... Bxa8 30.Rxa8 Bxa1 31.Rxf8+ (not clear if this is an error - the Q&R ending is worse, but not immediately losing, or whether Michael now figures it’s best to seek salvation, a piece for pawns down) ... Kxf8 32.Qxf5+ Ke7 33.Qxe4+ Be5 34.Kf2 Qb4 35.Qc2 Qb2 36.Qxb2 Bxb2 37.h5 Ba3 38.Kf3 Bc5 39.Kf4 Kf6 40.e4 Bd4 and so into an ending, which had turned into this:

By the time the plane landed in Dublin, and we’re waiting for luggage to emerge. A bit like the Aronian - Kramnik game in London a bit more recently, the game has gone beyond the stage where imagination can help White: 54.... e4 55.Kxe4 Kxc6 56.g5 hxg5 57.Kf5 Kxb7 58.Kxg5 Be3+ 0-1


Oxford 1 2215 Bristol 1 2101
w Harvey, Marcus R 2434 0 - 1 Rudd, Jack im 2285
b Rose, Matthew 2303 1 - 0 Buckley, David E 2257
w Schmidt, Jan-Peter fm 2269 0 - 1 Beaumont, Chris R im 2273
b Walden, Andrew 2282 ½ - ½ Musson, Adam J 2082
w Rawlinson, Aidan M 2171 0 - 1 Collier, David O 2075
b Healey, Michael W 2088 ½ - ½ Dilleigh, Stephen P 2112
w Dickinson, Tim R 2134 1 - 0 Thompson, Robert 1948
b Foster, Chantelle L 2042 1 - 0 Slade, Theo 1782
4 - 4

And another nail biter here between 2 broadly equally matched teams (discounting grading differentials on boards 1 and 8). Not that grading mattered on Board 1, where Marcus had drawn the short straw for a shoot-out with Jack Rudd, which resulted in a surprisingly dull encounter, and by the diagram position Black’s two bishops count for a little more than the equivalent White assortment:

Harvey - Rudd
4NCL Division 2c (8.11), 24.03.2013

19.f4 opens the position for the Black bishops to enter the fray (Rfd1+ was better, covering d4) ... Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Bh5 21.h3 Be2 22.Rcd1! an excellent wriggle which nets two pieces for the rook Bxd1 23.Rxd1 Ke7 24.Rxd4 Rc1+ 25.Kh2 Rhc8 26.Nc3 Rc2 27.Nd1 Re2 28.Rd3 Rcc2 29.Ne3 Rxb2 and Black is now well on the way to the full point (0-1, 53).

Buckley,D - Rose (B)
4NCL Division 2c (8.12), 24.03.2013

This set-back got wiped out in spectacular style on the adjacent board where Matt produces a finish all the more surprising for being unexpected. 16... h6 17.Nxe6 Qh4! 18.Bf4 Qxf2+ 19.Kh1 fxe6 20.Bxd6 Qh4 21.Bg3 Nf2+ 22.Kg1 Nxd1 23.Bxh4 Nxc3 24.bxc3 Nc2 0-1

Schmidt - Beaumont
4NCL Division 2c (8.13), 24.03.2013

Board 3 was the last to finish with Jan-Peter looking for salvation in an ending where his King-side pawns were prey to a predatory rook, which weakness became fully exposed by 29.f4 - unusual to find that same move causing the rapid deterioration of 2 games in much the same fashion that Sunday - ... Bb2 30.e5 d5 31.Nc5+ Kc6 32.a4 a5 and already White is looking down the board on the wrong side of the zero which, though delayed (like the occasional British train) did eventually arrive (0-1, 53).

Musson - Walden
4NCL Division 2c (8.14), 24.03.2013

On board 4, Andrew has all the (perhaps slight) chances of a result in this position, but these evaporated after an inaccuracy 38.... Rh7 allows the bishop in to prey (as it were) on Easter Sunday: 39.Bf6 Rg6 40.g5 Rf7 41.h4 Bc6 42.Bc3 Rf5 43.Bf6 e5 44.Rgf1 Rg8 ½-½

All square became one adrift when Aidan let slip an advantage in this position, thus completing a 0/3 match return for the white pieces:

Rawlinson,A - Collier
4NCL Division 2c (8.15), 24.03.2013

13.Nb5 Qb8 14.Nfd4 Bb7 15.Nc6?? Bxc6 16.Bxc6 Ne5 0-1

Two down, three to play became dormie two after Mike escaped (?) to a draw:

Dilleigh - Healey
4NCL Division 2c (8.16), 24.03.2013

31.Qxc5 Qxb3 32.Rd6 Rxd6 33.Qxd6 Qe3+ 34.Kh2 Qf4+ 35.Kg1 Qe3+ 36.Kf1 Qc1+ 37.Kf2 Qxc4 38.Qxe5+ Kf8 39.Bd2 Ke8 40.Qb8+ Qc8 ½-½

Interesting to know what the match score was when this was agreed - White only very marginally better (BvN) though.

Tim adds: Dilleigh v Healey (Sun) was drawn, as I recall, perhaps around the same time as the Slade-Foster & Dickinson-Thompson results: the time control in my game was reached at c. 2:50pm and Chantelle secured her win before me once she reached the time control herself. The last two games were Musson v Walden and Schmidt v Beaumont: Andy declined a draw at some point knowing the match score and Jan’s position, and tried to push for a win which was not forthcoming.

The Rescue Remedy™ did eventually come, courtesy of Tim and Chantelle:

Dickinson - Thompson
4NCL Division 2c (8.17), 24.03.2013

As this game puts me in mind of defeats against Tim (and Ray Starkie) from the Oxford league scene some years back, I’ve mentally categorised the winning approach as the Cowley Method:

20.fxg4 create the weakness hxg4 21.Ne3 Qd7 22.Red1 f6 displace the pieces 23.a5 Nc8 get rid of the good ones 24.Bc4 Ne7 25.Nb3 Qc6 26.Bxe6+ Nxe6 plonk a knight on d5 (f5) (wherever) 27.c4 Ng5 28.Nd5 Nxd5 29.exd5 Qc8 invade 30.Qg6 Nf7 31.Rf1 Rd6 32.Nd2 Ra6 33.Ne4 f5 don’t fear the ending 34.Qxf5 Qxf5 35.Rxf5 b6 36.Raf1 Rf8 37.Be1 Nh6 38.Rxf8+ Bxf8 39.Rf6 Kg7 40.Bc3 Nf7 come up with some fancy tactics to end things 41.Re6 Kh7 42.Nf6+ Kg7 43.Ne8+ 1-0

On bottom board, Chantelle accepted the material offered and sac-swapped her queen into a winning ending:

Slade - Foster
4NCL Division 2c (8.18), 24.03.2013

13.Nxd5 exd5 14.Bxc6 Rac8 15.Qxd5 Be6 16.Qf3 Nb8 17.Ba4 Qxc1+ 18.Bxc1 Rxc1+ 19.Bd1 Bb4+ 20.Kf1 Bd5 21.e4 Bxe4 22.Qe2 Re8 23.g3 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Bxh1 25.f4 Re1+ 26.Qxe1 Bxe1 and 0-1, 41.

Oxford 2


Oxford 2 1902 Ashfield - Breadsall 1983
w Duggan, Christopher 2025 0 - 1 Madden, Paul 2210
b Nandi, Robin J 2066 ½ - ½ Walker, Andrew N 2096
w Colburn, Paul J 1978 1 - 0 Jarvis, Derek A 1962
b Ludbrook, Matthew 1996 ½ - ½ Taylor, Robert P 1944
w Henbest, Kevin B 1729 0 - 1 Graham, Neil 1853
b Asatryan, Robert 1618 0 - 1 Cranmer, Stanley EE 1834
2 - 4

Our Div 3 presence being reduced owing to absences to one team, and a weakened one at that, our Saturday loss put us out of contention for honours, or promotion. A quick look-through. On top board Chris had another bad day against the French, and his opponent must have liked this denouement:

Duggan - Madden
4NCL Division 3 (7.135), 23.03.2013

16.... h6 17.Nf7+ Rxf7 18.Bxf7 Bf5 19.Ng1 Be4+ 20.Nf3 Nd8 0-1

With Robin drawing early in a 4 knights after a sacrifice by his opponent to achieve a perpetual, Paul got the right side of a French and won well after first calculating that he could jettison the d-pawn, even with a tempo:

Colburn - Jarvis
4NCL Division 3 (7.137), 23.03.2013

28.Rdb1! Nxd4 29.Bf1 Rh8 after this the B v N ending is an easy win, as Black can’t defend a8 and the phalanx of white-squared pawns on the kingside: 30.Rxb7 Rxb7 31.Rxb7+ Kf8 32.Rb8+ Kg7 33.Rxh8 Kxh8 34.Bxa6 Kg7 35.Bb7 Kf8 36.Kf2 Ke7 37.Ke3 Nf5+ 38.Kd3 Kd7 39.a5 Kc7 40.Ba6 Nh4 41.g3 Nf3 42.h3 g5 43.Ke3 g4 44.hxg4 hxg4 45.Bb5 Ne1 46.Be8 Nc2+ 47.Kd2 Nd4 48.Bxf7 Nf5 49.Bxe6 Nxg3 50.Bxg4 Ne4+ 51.Ke3 1-0

A curious draw on board 4:

Taylor,RP - Ludbrook (B)
4NCL Division 3 (7.138), 23.03.2013

Fritz doesn’t quite squeak, but one feels a GM-GM struggle might continue this conversation. Particularly on Saturday afternoon. Then again, it was Easter weekend, and the bar was open...


Jorvik 1904 Oxford 2 1943
w White, Mark W 2100 ½ - ½ Ludbrook, Matthew 1996
b Mounce, Richard B 1890 1 - 0 Nandi, Robin J 2066
w Flint, Martina 1888 ½ - ½ Duggan, Christopher 2025
b Nezis, Anastasios 1906 0 - 1 Stembridge, Ed 2050
w Cowan, Richard M 1816 1 - d Zhang, Marco 1730
b Pearce, Neville R 1826 0 - 1 Varney, Andrew 1794
3 - 2

3-2 on the day, but a match loss owing to the default. Bah.

Over the board, Matt’s draw on top board merits more attention than we have time for - perhaps a drink or two to run over the finer aspects of this French defence... - while Andrew was gifted a one-move rook on bottom board. Robin got mugged in Black to play and win style:

Nandi - Mounce (B)
4NCL Division 3 (8.166), 24.03.2013
27.... Bxf3 28.Rxf3 Rxf3 29.Nd5 Rxh3+ 30.gxh3 0-1

In time to avoid mate, or was Qxg1# not recorded?

Chris found the wind removed from the sails of his endgame initiative:

Flint - Duggan
4NCL Division 3 (8.167), 24.03.2013

Black is pressing for a win and White offers her h-pawn... to appease the Gods?!

55.h5+ Kxh5? (Kg5) 56.Qxg4+ yegads... trapsville! fxg4 57.Rxf6 Kg5 58.Rf8 Rh7+ at which point it looks like Chris offered a draw... in the same manner that the h-pawn offer a few moves back?! ½-½

Ed won quickly in a strange variation of an old chestnut:

Stembridge - Nezis (B)
4NCL Division (8.168), 24.03.2013

White has some pressure and more space, but nothing clearly winning just yet.... at least until 23.... e5 24.Nf5 1-0 The only way to protect mate and the queen is 24. ... Qd7, after which 25. Nh6+ completes the set piece move - enter the aged conker.