Weekend 2

[games, pgn]

A solid Oxonian chess tradition went out the window at the 4NCL as the January meeting turned into a flurry of action, drama, tragedy, and fine beers. Normally we manage the beers, of course, but the New Year’s resolution is normally to drink them while watching the darts, and not after finding the best place in the Daventry hotel to watch uninterrupted play online, social-media-live from the other venue.

Headline news from weekend 2 is that Oxford 1 are in the Championship Pool, at least for now. The King's Head result was one we needed in the long–term, and the victory over Wood Green 2 comes as a welcome bonus. We must now await Blackthorne–WGHK 2 in round 7 to find out if that will be helpful.

Match summaries:

  • Oxford 1 defeated WGHK 2 4½-3½ and King's Head 1 6-2;
  • Oxford 2 drew 3-3 with BCM’s Hippos and Rhinos;
  • Oxford 3 defeated West Is Best 2 3½-2½ and Barnet Knights 1 4½-1½.

Top performers: Justin Tan, Aidan Rawlinson and Hendrik Brackmann with 2/2 — Hendrik on his first full weekend with us.

New boys on the block: Neil Dickenson and Sean Lim made debuts for the team, Neil in flamboyant style on Sunday, sacrificing most of his pawns for a prolonged & sustained initiative against an uncastled king that resulted in a mate.

Top games:

  • Greet — Tan — watch out for Justin's outrageous 42. ... Nb1.
  • MacKenzie — Rawlinson — Aidan's Sunday game sees him lifts a bishop off in broad endgame daylight
  • Nick Burrows (Sunday) overturned a 300-point rating deficit to win his Sunday game with a neat combination for a 1½ weekend and 2½/4 so far this season.

Top Girls: Mel Rawlinson made it a family hat-trick by winning her Sunday board 8 game surprisingly competently. Sympathy for Chantelle who had a 123-move loss in Ox1 on Sat, and has now played 265 moves in three games for a solitary half-point return.

With all this brilliance abounding, you wouldn't expect that we made any crass blunders, would you? Err, best not to go there in too much detail, but I'll just say that one of our number smoothly converted a +68 position (according to my machine) into a +1.6 position in one single move. No, there isn't a decimal point missing in “+68”!

For those who want to revisit the Saturday excitement, no better place to start than here:

Oxford 1


Oxford 1 2228 Wood Green HK 2 2311
w Zakarian, David f 2406 1 — 0 Cherniaev, Alexander g 2439
b Tan, Justin f 2313 1 — 0 Greet, Andrew N i 2429
w Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2274 0 — 1 Pert, Richard G i 2433
b Harvey, Marcus R 2270 ½ — ½ Houska, Jovanka i 2415
w Savage, Ben DM f 2265 ½ — ½ Haydon, David L f 2280
b Coleman, James c 2141 ½ — ½ Lee, Graham D f 2249
w Rawlinson, Aidan M 2143 1 — 0 Hegarty, Sarah N wf 2112
b Foster, Chantelle L 2018 0 — 1 Maduekwe, Chiedu U 2136
4½ — 3½

A monster of a match win, with the online crowd updating their phones to distraction as three games were left with the scores tied on 2½ each; for the moment, with three games standing, the Darts on BBC (ancillary purpose of the January 4NCL weekend) was abandoned:

David Z on 1 (W, 46, W)

Justin on 2 (B, W to play)

Which seemed to be promising 1+ points — tho Kieran was punting a clean sweep:

But let’s look first at the outcome on board 8, where Chantelle was once again keeping us all glued to the screens as we headed for food. At the time of Kieran’s prediction the position was something like this:

Maduekwe — Foster,C
Chantelle on 8

Where White has just offered the queen swap — rook ending or no? With Black’s pawns marginally the weaker in the ending, it makes sense to keep the tension and play 47... Qa5 48.Qb3 fxg4 49.hxg4 b4 50.Rc1 Qa3 51.Qxa3 bxa3 52.Kg2 Ra7 53.Ra1 Rb8 and it does look like Black has an initiative but it’s not possible to promote the a-pawn. 54.Ra2 Kg8 and this is too optimistic. Black can probably hold an easy draw here with ... Rb2+; 55. Rxb2 axb2; 56. Rb6 Ra2. 55.Rxe6 Rb3 56.Re8+ Kf7 57.Rd8 Ke7 58.Rd6 Kf7 59.d5 and with the advance of the central pawns White starts the process to an eventual win in 123 moves, but needing to first of all sacrifice a rook to allow one of those pawns to queen and then win the resulting bare Q v R knuckle contest. (1-0, 123)

Tom on 4 was another late finisher, but was always the wrong side of the bullseye as a French advance ended up looking like this as late as move 26, a move after Black has castled:

Eckersley-Waites,T — Pert,R (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

White has a blend of traditional (d4, c4) and thematic (h6) pawn weaknesses, and has just played Rfc1 in the hope of sacrificing the a-pawn for a bit of activity. Richard isn’t having any of this and calmly turns the screw: 27... Rfc8 28.Rxc4 dxc4 29.Qe4 c3 30.a5 Qc7 31.bxa6 bxa6 and now there are three pawn weaknesses and a passed c-pawn; something has to give, and Tom decides it’s the h-pawn: 32.Ne1 Bg5 33.Nc2 Bxh6 34.Rb7 and now the a-pawn Qxa5 35.Qf3 Rf8 36.Qc6 Bd2 Black is now solid and this move shores the c-pawn while starting to rattle the White king’s cage 37.Kd3 Qd8 38.g3 Qg5 39.Qf3 a5 40.Ra7 Bc1 41.Ne3 Bxe3 42.fxe3 Qd8 43.Kxc3 Qc8+ 44.Kb3 Qc1 45.Ka4 Qc3 46.Rb7 Qa1+ 47.Kb5 a4 48.Ra7 Qb2+ 0–1

Three mid-match boards ended in draws. Let’s start with Marcus:

Houska,J — Harvey (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

31 moves of strategic cat & mouse led us to here. White has been trying to convert the computer advantage into something concrete, and it’s still in the position — somewhere, probably that a-pawn weakness. Marcus is happy to exchange rooks: 31. Rxe1+ 32.Qxe1 Qf5 33.b4 (not Bxa6? Nc7) Qc2 34.Qe2 Qc1+ 35.Kh2 Nf4 36.Qf1 Qxf1 37.Bxf1 Bd3 38.Be3 Bxf1 39.Bxf4 and this is dead as can be ½–½

Which Ben opening prep was turning up today, then? “Some variation of the English, which led sedately to this position where it’s hard to find cause for anything other than equanimity” was the right answer:

Savage — Haydon (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

22... Rc5 the signal for a mass trade of rooks on the c-file — unlike on board 3 neither side can force anything of significance though if both sides, as here, are careful: 23.Rc2 Rdc8 24.Rfc1 Rxc2 25.Rxc2 Rc5 26.Qd3 Qd6 27.b4 axb4 28.axb4 Rxc2 29.Qxc2 more or less immediately forcing a draw. Nxc2 probably was good for a slight plus. ... Qxb4 30.Qc8+ Kh7 31.Qh3+ Kg8 32.Qc8+ Kh7 33.Qh3+ Kg8 34.Qc8+ ½–½

And on board 6 there was strong trading on and adjacent to the c-file:

Lee — Coleman (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

22.cxb5 axb5 23.e5 dxe5 24.Qxc6 Rxc6 25.Nxb5 Rxc2+ 26.Rxc2 exf4 27.gxf4 Nd5 28.Kf3 Nb4 29.Re2 Rd3+ 30.Kg2 Bxb2 31.Rxb2 at which point it’s hard to know who is doing better. I guessed “Black”, a judgment which is shared by Fritz (-0.9) — all that structure on the kingside, presumably — though into the balance are those white pawns which can run with the bulls and put the fear of God into the back rank.

White takes a more cautious and much more sensible view after James plays ... Nd5 32.Rf2 so after ... Ne3+ there is a draw for the taking: 33.Kg3 Nf5+ 34.Kg2 Ne3+ 35.Kg3 Nf5+ ½–½

On board 7 Aidan was able to break up the run of perpetual checks when his opponent lashed out a little early in proceedings.

Rawlinson,A — Hegarty,S (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

White has much more space and the alignment of his bishops against the future castled king seems more threatening than any similar pressure from the bishops on b7 and b8. Aidan plays the natural enough 11.e4 a fine position so early in an unusual Queens Gambit. ... Nxe4? A miscalculation in a familiar tactic: 12.Bxe4 Qh4 13.f4 ah. ... Bxf4 14.g3 Bxg3 15.hxg3 Qxg3+ 16.Bg2 c5 17.Qe2 b5 18.Nd6+ Qxd6 19.Bxb7 Rb8 20.Bg2 cxd4 21.Qf2 Nf6 22.Qxd4 Rd8 23.Qxd6 Rxd6 24.Nc3 b4 25.Nb5 Rd2 26.Bxf6 1–0

So, back to the top boards for the denouement. From the diagram given at the start, I particularly liked the way in which David made the rook and pawn ending (which looks an easy win) look like an easy win — it can be read in the pgn file at the end. The game, a Pirc where both sides looked to establish small advantages or extract concessions, was more or less equal at move 30:

Zakarian — Cherniaev (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

The knights are equally secure, for the time being, on their e-squares, and while there are backward pawn issues for Black, and draughty king-side areas for White — neither side has the pieces positioned to take any advantage. Play continued 31.c4 Aiming to open the c-file and start to undermine the Ne4. 31...Bc5 32.Kg2 Bxd4 33.Qxd4 Qc5 an inaccuracy, as White has a move to redirect his attention to d5. Fritz suggests ... Rd8. 34.Rd1 g5? 35.f5 and now both central pawns are going to disappear, and Black will need at some stage have to look to defend / retreat his knight. 35...Qxd4 36.Rxd4 Nf6 [if 36...exf5 37.Rxf5] 37.fxe6 Rxe6 38.cxd5 a pleasing if simple tactic which reaps a reward from Black’s inaccurate play. 38...Rd6 39.Rf5 Rxd5 40.Rxg5+ and White garners the pawn and makes time control. The rest of the game is “mopping up” but well worth watching as David ensures no counterplay for his GM opponent. (1–0, 66)

Which leaves the concluding parts of Greet — Tan to savour, although the reader with little else to do might wonder about the sterling merits of 40. ... Nc3 referred to in the intro. Possibly unsound but the best time to play it is around time control.

Greet — Tan (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 11.01.2014

OK we mostly know now that this is drawn with best play, but how? Both sides had c. 2-3 mins each (with increment) to complete the game, whereas under the older time control they would have had an extra 30 minutes each to get this far. 75.Ke4 blocks the king off so that after ... Kc3 76. g5 would keep the Black king at bay for the one move it takes White to draw. Instead: 76.Kf5? ("win, 18") 76...Kd4 77.g5 Kd5 78.Kf6 Kd6 79.g6 Rf2+ 80.Kg7 Ke7 0–1

A real humdinger… … and to think I’d booked a sneak preview of the Darts semis to pass the time.


Kings Head 1 2150 Oxford 1 2147
w Snuverink, Jochem 2353 1 — 0 Zakarian, David f 2406
b McMichael, Richard J c 2216 0 — 1 Tan, Justin f 2313
w Kwiatkowski, Feliks J c 2215 0 — 1 Dickenson, Neil F f 2300
b Guthrie, David W 2230 ½ — ½ Rose, Matthew 2309
w Haria, Ravi 2149 0 — 1 Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2274
b Okike, David C 2162 ½ — ½ Coleman, James c 2141
w Mackenzie, Colin 2122 0 — 1 Rawlinson, Aidan M 2143
b Needham, Sabrina 1756 0 — 1 Rawlinson, Melanie 1290
2 — 6

And so it transpired... :

Rawlinson,M — Needham,S (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

Black is at this stage a good deal better, as Mel’s decision to take on d5 in a Slav has ironed out the doubled c-pawns into a concrete advantage. Sabrina could have been better still, and has missed the chance to pick up the exchange that was on offer with ... Bc2, and Mel wastes no time; 20.e4! Bg6 21.f4! Bxe4 22.Bxe4 dxe4 23.Qxe4 Qd5 24.Qc2 a good decision to keep queens on, even if the tempting ... Nxd4 is possible and sound. ... g5 (24...Nxd4 25.Qf2 Rhd8 26.Bc3 Nf3+ 27.Kh1 Qe4 28.Rxd8 Nd4+) 25.h5 Rhg8 ?

26.Qh7+ ouch Rg7 27.Qxh6 Nxd4 28.fxg5 and now Black has to defend the king against mortal danger: ... Nf3+ 29.Kf2 Qxg5 30.Rd7+ no mercy Kg8 31.Qxg7+ Qxg7 32.Rxg7+ Kxg7 33.Kxf3 Rd8 34.Bc3 Kh6 35.Bxf6 Rf8 36.Kg4 Rg8+ 37.Kh4 1–0

All hail, Mel.

Back on board 1, David was having a different day at the office on Sunday, as this was the position as early as move 10:

Snuverink — Zakarian (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

10. ... Nd4 seems pretty good, but given the opposition the suggestion is that this is all someone’s preparation and another person’s book: 11.Be3 looks a bit like a TN (or else Fritz 6 is pretty old software) and it’s more exciting than Bd3, which requires less calculation Be7 taking on c2 leads to some sort of hacking firestorm soon after Kd2, and starting Qa4+ 12.Bxd4 exd4 13.Qxd4 Qe5+ 14.Qxe5 dxe5 15.0–0–0 after which White has better development, more space, and won in impressive style. (1-0, 38)

The good news was that on board 2 Justin was giving an object lesson in how to play against the Fort Knox:

Tan — McMichael
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

Black has just played ... b5 and hopes that his minority attack will help fix some weaknesses and, longer term, secure some squares for those knights — that Ng6 looks like it’s lost its residence permit. White first of all stops the pawn in its tracks, with some neat and simple moves: 18.Bd2 Rec8 19.Bd3 Rab8 20.b4 Bd6 21.Ne2 Nd7 22.Ra1 Rc7 23.a4 bxa4 24.Rxa4 Ne7 25.Rea1 Nc8 and hereabouts both sides can have cause for satisfaction: White has good pawns and control of the a-file; Black has solidly defended the weak squares and his knights have made it to the happening place. White has more scope for manoeuvring to probe weaknesses: 26.Nc1 Ndb6 27.Ra6 Nc4 28.Be1 Rb6 29.R6a2 Kf8 30.Nb3 h6 31.Nc5 Ke7 32.Bf2 Rbc6 33.Bxc4 dxc4 34.Ne4 Rb7 35.Ra5

Black is still solid, but 35 ... f5 is an active move too far: 36.Nc5 Rbc7 37.Nxe6 ah Bxh2+ 38.Kxh2 Rxe6 39.Rxf5 and the e+f pawn for h pawn trade is just an invite to marauding foes: Rd7 40.d5 Rf6 41.Bc5+ Kf7 42.Re5 Nb6 43.d6 Nc8 44.Ra6 Re6 45.Rd5 g5 46.Rc6 Ne7 47.dxe7 1–0

Next door, Neil Dickenson was marking his debut with some hard slashing in the Schliemann; a c-pawn has been sacrificed and this is just the start of things:

Kwiatkowski — Dickenson (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

17 ... e3 fancy a pawn? 18.Bxe3 Ne4 19.Rf1 a5! and another 20.Nxa5 here comes the waffer-thin mint 20... c5! 21.Nf5 Bxf5 22.gxf5 Qxf5 23.Nb7 Be5 24.Rc1 and amazingly White is still breathing, but only just. The coup de grace awaits…:

24. ... Nxc3 25.Rxc3 Bxc3+ 26.Qxc3 Qb1+ 27.Bc1 (Qc1 Qxb4+ wins the knight while losing no initiative) Rfe8+ 28.Kd1 cxb4 29.Qb3 Qe4 30.Nc5 Qe2# 0–1 A sustained rolling maul from Neil eventually crashing over an exhausted oppo

Matt’s return to active service duty saw a c3 Sicilian produce two bishops but not enough to take control — in the end White scrambles over the footnotes to suggest Black is doing better and towards a quiet draw:

Rose — Guthrie
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

26... Nxb2 27.Rc3 Rfd8 28.Nxb5 Ncd3 29.Bxd3 Nxd3 30.Re4 Nxf4 31.Rxf4 Rd1+ 32.Kh2 Rxc3 33.Nxc3 Re1 ½–½

Tom’s game is a reminder of how little I actually know about the Ruy Lopez — so some diagrams featuring the high point of White’s queenside initiative, contrasting with the lower point about 20 moves later when the remaining forces have shifted camp and the battle is now on the g-file.

Haria — Eckersley-Waites,T (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

28.Bxa6 Rxa6 29.g3 f5 30.exf5 gxf5 31.Qa2 Qb7 32.Rad1 Qb5 33.Ne3 f4 34.Nf5 Qc4 35.Qa4 fxg3+ 36.Nxg3 Nf6 37.Nd2 Qf4 38.Re2 Bh4 39.Qc2 Rg8 40.Rg1 Rxa5 41.Qd3 Ra7 42.Nc4 e4 43.Qe3 Qxe3 44.Rxe3 Bg5 45.Ree1 Bf4 46.Kh1 Rag7

47.Nf5 Rxg1+ 48.Rxg1 Rxg1+ 49.Kxg1 Nxd5 50.Nfxd6 e3 and all the heavy stuff is over it’s time for a minor piece ending with equal material, but unequally secure pawns 51.fxe3 Bxd6 52.e4 Nf4 53.Nxd6 Nxh3+ 54.Kg2 Ng5 55.Kg3 Kg7 56.Kf4 Kf6 57.Ne8+ Ke7 0–1

Aidan did as Twitter suggested he was going to do, and completed proceedings with a nice combo after his opponent found that h8 wasn’t the right square for his rook, as Aidan uncovered the long diagonal neatly:

Mackenzie — Rawlinson,A (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 12.01.2014

44.Rh8 f5! 45.exf5 Rxg4 46.Rxg4 Rxg4 47.Ra8 Rg3+ 48.Ke4 Rg4+ 49.Kf3 Rf4+ 50.Ke3 c5 51.Rxa3 Rxf5 52.Ra8 Bd4+ 53.Ke4 Re5+ 54.Kf4 Re1 55.Kf5 Re3 56.a4 Kd7 0–1

Oxford 2


Oxford 2 2023 BCM Hippos (3) 1951
w Healey, Michael W 2129 1 — 0 Fegan, Chris 2057
b Dickinson, Tim R 2133 ½ — ½ Kane, Robert (Bob) B 2018
w Ludbrook, Matthew 2002 ½ — ½ Lawson, Maurice E 1918
b Duggan, Christopher 2036 0 — 1 Shaw, Matthew H 1912
w Nandi, Robin J 1970 1 — 0 Green, George 1938
b Neatherway, A Philip 1870 0 — 1 Fowler, David W 1867
3 — 3

The general feeling was that we’d thrown it away badly in this match, and it does seem that we held sway in most games only to under-achieve. Not sure this can be said of Tim, who managed an early draw against Robert (Bob) B on board 2, as he (that’s Robert, or (Bob), or indeed B) secured the better part of a French defence:

Kane — Dickinson (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

All seems safe if a little airtight in Tim’s version of a queen’s pawn, which looks a lot like a French. Play had gone 13. Qh5 f5 14. Qe2, unusual enough, and this tempted Tim to expand with 14... g5 but who could turn down the opportunity to play ... g5?! 15.Be3 this tempo saves the bishop Qc7 16.f4 Ng7 17. 0–0 g4 sensible, if unadventurous. (I can say this as on my board I rapidly played the exciting ... g5 before being persuaded (perhaps too early) by the sensible ... g4) And now it starts to dawn on the spectator that White has a comfortable game 18.c4 dxc4 19.Nxc4 Bc6 20.b4 when a draw was agreed, with White having the better of the position, but Black’s position is solid. ½–½

This was the end of the early finishes, and the five other boards settled in for a longer slog. On returning around time control, top board had an amusing finish. Both sides are getting to move 40, and there’s not much time on the Black clock:

Healey — Fegan (W)
4NCL Division, 11.01.2014

Play continues 39.Qd5 Qxd5 40.Nxd5 when Black rushes out ... Bc6 before checking “That’s move 40, right?”. Mike nods out an answer before uncorking 41.Ne7+ Bah, as the tension collapses 1–0

Nandi — Green
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

On Board 5 Robin was wrapping up his first full point of the campaign from this position, where Black’s bishops are holding the slight edge. However, Black’s plan 33... a5 34. bxa5 has the effect of releasing the pin on the Ng3, with resulting activity: ... Bxa5 35.Nf5 f6 36.h4 Kg6 37.g4 Kf7 38.Re1 g6? This chucks away the slight edge, and some. 39.Nxh6+ Kg7 40.g5 Rxd4 41.Re7+ Kf8 42.Rf7+ Ke8 43.cxd4 Be4 44.Rxf6 b4 45.Re6+ 1–0

So that brought us to 2 ½ and although this was brought back to +1 when Phil lost instructively from this position:

Fowler — Neatherway (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

White’s advantage in space is obvious, but it’s not always easy to play patiently as here: 27... Nf5 28.Qc5 Nd6 29.b4 b6 30.Qc6 Nb5 31.Qc8 Nd4 32.Qxa6 Qf6 33.Rc8+ Kh7 34.Be4+ g6 35.Kg2 Nf5 36.Qa3 Nd6 37.Qd3 Re7 38.Rc6 Qe5 39.Rxd6 1–0

So, 2 ½ — 1 ½ but Chris looked to have the makings of a draw here:

Shaw — Duggan (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

White is pawn up, but the single piece endings are drawn, and as long as he can avoid mate or the incalculable pawn ending it could be 3-3. The check on c8 is a threat of sorts, so 34 ... Qb7 ... Rd8 is probably just as good, but this move sneaks the queen closer to the scene of the action. 35.Qg6 Qd5 36.Re1 Rd8? Now this is riskier as White now forces the most favourable ending... 37.Re8+ Rxe8 38.Qxe8+ Kh7 39.Qe4+ Qxe4 40.fxe4 ... the calculably lost ending, drat. ...h5 41.h4 g5 42.hxg5 Kg6 43.Kh2 Kxg5 44.Kg3 Kf6 45.Kf4 h4 46.Kg4 Ke5 47.Kxh4 Kxe4 48.Kg5 Ke5 49.g4 Ke6 50.Kg6 Ke7 51.Kg7 Ke8 52.g5 Ke7 53.g6 Ke8 1–0

This left us all square with one to go, but confidence was high for Matt who has been nurturing his two pawns advantage assiduously for quite a while. That c pawn looks like it’s the winner in the long run, and there’s always the chance of a sneaky f5 (for the impatient).

Ludbrook — Lawson (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

Be that as it may there’s a bit of defensive tic-tacking to do as Black starts with some threats: 37. ... Ba5 38.Rb2 Qa1 39.Rc2 [and here Fritz comes up with a nice finish: 39.Rb3 and if ... Bd8 40.f5! exf5 41.Rb7 Qa6 42.Rd7 when ... Qe6 loses to Rxd8 and invasion on the Black squares] 39...Qd1 40.Ra2 Bd8 41.Ra8 Qc2 42.Bb4 [42.f5 Qxf5 43.Rxd8 wins as in the earlier variation] 42...Qc4 43.Qc3 Qf1 44.Qd2

44. ... Bg5! And the emergence of the bishop on the kingside grabs an exchange and secures, in the end the half point: 45.fxg5 Rxa8 46.Qe3 Ra2 47.Bd2 Qd1 48.Bb4 Qc2 49.Qf3 Ra4 50.Qc3 Qe4 51.Qd2 Qb1 52.Bc3 Ra2 53.Qf4 Qc2 54.Qf3 Qf5 55.Qxf5 exf5 56.Kg1 Kf8 57.Be1 Ra4 58.Bf2 Ra1+ 59.Kh2 Ra2 60.Kg3 Ke7 61.Kf3 Kd7 62.Be3 Ra1 63.g4 fxg4+ 64.Kxg4 Ra3 65.Bf2 which holds the d4 pawn ends interest in a win ( ½–½, 81)

So well done to the Rhinos (3) — and we “drew” Rhinos (2) on the Sunday — let’s have a look at that:


BCM Rhinos (2) 2039 Oxford 2 2023
w Richardson, Keith B 2105 ½ — ½ Healey, Michael W 2129
b Stille, Alexander M 2052 0 — 1 Dickinson, Tim R 2133
w Scrimgour, Alan 2033 ½ — ½ Ludbrook, Matthew 2002
b Amato, Giampiero 2006 1 — 0 Duggan, Christopher 2036
w Foley, John P 2023 ½ — ½ Nandi, Robin J 1970
b Kane, Robert (Bob) B 2018 ½ — ½ Neatherway, A Philip 1870
3 — 3

Another compelling match, which was scheduled to end late with both sides locked on 2½ each, and a QNPs V QPs on board 5 to decide the match. On board 1, though, it was hard to find anything on top board to quicken the pulse, or make the crowd reach for their geometry set (½–½, 70). Around about move 30 it looked like Keith could get into time trouble, but then we remembered the 30 second increment. On the day after Justin Tan had won the R v P endgame there was a brief hysterical moment in the mind of the reporter that something similar could happen here, but that soon passed and a few glasses of water did the necessary restorative bit.

On board 2, Tim had completed the quickest win of the Sunday (in terms of time, anyway)

Dickinson — Stille (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

Black has got a miserable position from the Scandinavian, and that g5 pawn guarantees continued initiative for White, and the need for constant vigilance for Black. Instead, the game ended: 20.Bf4 Bxf4+ 21.Rxf4 Qe7 22.Ne5 there’s a slow-motion fork about to descend on f7 1–0

Board 3 was a more sedate, and shorter draw than board 1 — the ideal way to get to see the view on a Sunday, while giving 50% to Matt for the weekend. Chris completed a miserable weekend when in a similarly even position, he uncorked something less fragrant than a rose (or a bottle of rosé):

Duggan — Amato (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

16. Ba3?? b5 17.Qb3 Na5 18.Qc2 Bxa3 19.Be4 g6 and the end wasn’t far off (0–1, 29)

So, 2-2 with the bottom boards to come. Phil on 5 seemed ot have a positional plus, if not quite an advantage, with a pawn on c5, but by the diagram position early Twitter optimism had dissipated. Still, we were in the Time control Zone™

Neatherway — Kane
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

35.Qf2 Nxc6 36.Nxc6 a bit hasty — ... Rb6 shores up a7 ... Qxc6 37.Qxa7 Rc8?? wrongly evaluating something here 38.Rxb3 Qc2 39.Qb7 ah ... Qd1+ 40.Kh2 Rc2 with a threat, which White undeestimates: 41.Ne5? Rxg2+! securing the draw 42.Kxg2 Qe2+ 43.Kg1 it’s drawn if 43.Kg3 Qe1+ unless White gets ambitious: 44.Kg4?? Qg1+ 45.Kf4 Qg5# ... Qe1+ ½–½ “A ridiculous game”, said Phil as hands were exchanged.

So, as on Saturday, all square with one to go, with Robin trying to convert this endgame, which if it’s not that difficult it isn’t quite straightforward: the black king need as much cossetting as a future outside passed pawn needs cossetting.

Foley — Nandi (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

Robin’s first plan is to secure the king, which he does by first centralising the queen and gradually confining the White queen to the defence of the b — and c — files: 42.... Qe6 43.a4 Qf6 44.Qd3+ Qf5 45.Qb3 Qe4 46.b5 cxb5 47.axb5 b6 48.Kg1 Ne7 49.Qd1 Nf5 50.Qd8 Qb1+ 51.Kg2 Qxb5 52.Qg8+ Ng7 53.Qd8 Qc5 54.Qd3+ Kf6 55.Qd8+ Kg6 56.Qd3+ Qf5 57.Qd6+ Qf6 58.Qd3+ Kf7 59.Qd7+ Qe7 60.Qd5+ Qe6 61.Qb7+ Kg6 62.Qf3 Ne8 63.Qd3+ Kg7 64.Qc3+ Nf6 65.Kf1 b5 66.Qc7+ Kg6 67.Qc2+ Qe4 68.Qb2 Qc4+ 69.Kg1 b4 70.Qb1+ Qe4 71.Qb3

Mission accomplished. The Nf6 will do sterling work on that square protecting the king. It will shield the Kg7 along the long diagonal, and prevents all “short” checks, on g8, e8, e4 ... ... the end is nigh: 71. ... Qe1+ 72.Kg2 Qc3 73.Qb1+ Ne4?? a unique type of blunder, simply moving a piece to an unprotected square to prevent a check when any king move would have induced a handshake ... as it was, the hands were shaken quickly after 74.Qxe4+ Kg7 75.Qe7+ Kg6 76.Qe6+ Kg7 77.Qe7+ Kg8 78.Qe8+ Kh7 79.Qe7+ Kg6 80.Qe6+ ½–½

We wondered if the blunder was induced by (a) thinking his queen still covered the square, even if that left it open to f3; or (b) imagining that the Q on c3 protected, as if a knight, the e4 square. None of the above, just a straightforward oversight induced no doubt by tiredness...

Oxford 3


West is Best 2 1814 Oxford 3 1810
w Davies, Matthew 1942 ½ — ½ Burrows, Nick 1838
b Woolcock, Craig 1907 1 — 0 Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1842
w Bridges, Paul L 1861 ½ — ½ Terry, Sean 1909
b Griffiths, Hywel 1812 0 — 1 Brackmann, Hendrik 1842
w Smith, Steve 1752 ½ — ½ Henbest, Kevin B 1695
b Jones, Jeremy J 1615 0 — 1 Riley, Adrian K 1738
2½ — 3½

A first win for a more coordinated Oxford 3 team. With wins from Kelly and Hendrik, we were able to control our way to 3 ½ points round about time control. Tough tense games on the top two boards contrasted with more open, relaxed play on the lower boards.

With late arrivals on boards 4 (Seani) and 6 (Kelly) the first board to show a plus was Hendrik’s, who found the right tactic at the right time:

(32) Brackmann,Hendrik — Griffiths,Hywel
4NCL Division 3s Daventry Court ENG (3.2), 11.01.2014

15... Nd7 16.Rfb1 a5?? 17.b5! Bxb5 18.a4 and though the game lasted till time control the result wasn’t in doubt (1–0, 41).

In the meantime, there was a bit of self-criticism, not to mention verbal self-recriminations emerging from Black on board 6, after this continuation:

Riley — Jones (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

25.Rec1 b4? 26.axb4 Rc7? 27.Rxd5 Rac8 28.Rxf5? Ra8 (after which there was much gnashing and wailing of teeth, and 1–0, 43). This example does have some strong geometric elements all right, which seemed to be mirrored in the echo chamber of my brain, once my opponent offered a draw in the position given at the top of the report.

The draw offer did allow me to think and look at the other positions, and I took about 45 mins to do this, wondering if it was ethical to leave the room to answer a call of nature. (On the Sunday, I heard a chesser say “Of course, once he left the room while his clock was running he’d technically lost the game” so this one for Tim, please.) [As it happens, I managed to cling to the room for 25 mins before telling my opponent where I was off to.]

On board 6, Kevin had the better pawns but a slightly passive position:

Smith — Henbest (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

24.e6 f6 I’d opt for fxe6 as the ending will show up, if anything, the over-extended white pawns 25.Qe3 Rd6 26.Qxb6 Rxb6 27.Rc7 Re8 and now it’s pretty equal: 28.a3 f5 29.Rd1 Rxe6 30.Rxb7 Ra6 31.Rdd7 Rxa3 32.Rxa7 Rxa7 33.Rxa7 Rb8 34.Rxe7 ½–½

This gave us 2 ½ and I took the draw as by then Nick seemed to be heading for a perpetual. Before then Sean Lim had kicked off on debut and sacrificed the exchange for some initiative on the queen side:

Lim — Woolcock
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

17.c5 the problem with this move is that it closes lines towards the Black king so any counterplay needs to penetrate or else the decision to close the c-file will rebound on White. Rac1 or Qa4 are other options. ... Qd7 18.Rxe7 Qxe7 19.c6 Qd6 20.Bb5 (I thought the plan was Ba6 but Black can simply consume the bish and stroll off towards the kingside) 20...Kb8 21.Qa4 Rhe8 22.Ba6 Bc8 23.Bb5 Re6 24.Qb3 Ka8 25.cxb7+ Bxb7 26.Kh1 Qb6 27.Bf1 g4 28.Qxb6 Rxb6 29.Nh4 Rxb2 30.Nb3 Re8 31.Nf5 Bc8 32.Ne3 Rxf2 33.Nd1 Rxf1# 0–1

This left Nick needing a result to secure a match win from this position:

Davies — Burrows (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 11.01.2014

Hereabouts I was watching before shaking hands. Black is eyeing a lot more pawn weaknesses than White, but needs to be concerned about his king in variations that start 33.Qh7+ Kf8 34.Qh8+ Ke7 35.Nf3 as good as any; Qh4 is possible but Black repeats. ... Nxb4 [and not (as I was thinking) 35...Nxd4 which allows Qh4+ — ceuh!] 36.Qxg7 Qf4+ 37.Kg1 Nd3 38.Qh8 and the draw is now favourite in all books: ... Qc1+ 39.Kh2 Qf4+ 40.Kg1 Qc1+ 41.Kh2 Qf4+ ½–½


Oxford 3 1794 Barnet Knights 1 1879
w Burrows, Nick 1838 1 — 0 Willmoth, Rob 2234
b Brackmann, Hendrik 1842 1 — 0 Cavendish, Joshua Z 1954
w Terry, Sean 1909 1 — 0 Hung, Jake 1802
b Biswas, Karl 1743 ½ — ½ Klingher, Dominic 1762
w Henbest, Kevin B 1695 ½ — ½ Balouka-Myers, Gabriel 1762
b Riley, Adrian K 1738 ½ — ½ Karia, Rishul 1762
4½ — 1½

Three wins on the top boards and three draws made it a 100% weekend for Oxford 3, and no better quality game than this top board clash. It’s a Hedgehog and Black has just played ... b4:

Burrows — Willmoth
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

15... b4 16.Na4 Nxe4 and this is an ouch moment as Qxe4 Ne5 will leave Black in total command. Nick thinks and finds the excellent 17.Nb6 Qa7 (the point is that if ... Ra7; 18. Qxe4 Ne5; 19. Nd5; Black now pins the N against f2, so: 18.c5! Nxc5 19.Nxa8 Bxa8 20.Ng5 Bf8? (Fritz suggests the cold-blooded ... f6. Now Nick gets into sac-combo mode) 21.Rxc5! dxc5 22.Qe4 g6 23.Rxd8 Nxd8 24.Qe5 f6 25.Qxf6 Nf7

At which point Kelly started up a whispering analysis (with Seani) about the respective merits of (a) 26.Nxf7 (as played) or (b) Qxe6. “Defending the merits of Qxe6” became the order of the day and suffice it to say that the Supreme Arbiter (Fritz 6.0) declares (c) Nxh7 the winner (+4.59), though Nick’s choice (and Qxe6) both merit a healthy +3.00. Black needs to grovel a bit ... Qb7 27.f3 Qxf3 28.Qxf3 Bxf3 29.Ne5 Bb7 30.Bc4 Bc8 31.Kf2 Bh6 and though there’s a bit of scrabbling to go the result is not in doubt. 32.Ng4 Bg5 33.Nf6+ Kf7 34.Nxh7 Be7 35.h4 Bd6 36.Ng5+ Ke7 37.Ne4 Bb7 38.Bf6+ Kd7 39.Nxd6 Kxd6 40.Bd3 a5 41.Bxg6 e5 42.h5 Ke6 43.Bd8 a4 44.h6 c4 45.bxa4 b3 46.axb3 1–0

Brilliant sustained attacking.

Hendrik reached 2/2 for the weekend after a long struggle ended with another outside pawn being put the 5th rank:

Cavendish — Brackmann (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

24.Rfe1? g4 ah. The rest is anti-climax (for the spectators, not Black) 25.Nxd4 exd4 26.b5 a5 27.g3 Bd7 28.Re4 Bf5 29.Re2 Ne5 30.Bf4 Re8 31.Kg2 Nf3 32.Rxe8+ Rxe8 33.b4 axb4 34.Ra6 Re1 35.Ne4 Bxe4 36.dxe4 Re2+ 37.Kh1 Rxh2# 0–1

The third win was the shortest win of the Oxford weekend which started here with a bold, or enterprising (but possibly reckless) decision by my opponent:

Terry — Hung (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 12.01.2014

Here, a Scandinavian defence has seen me try to prevent Black castling, but I fully expected Black now to oppose bishops on d6. Instead he opted for 15... b6 which weakens c6 and invites 16.Ne5 Nf4?! I’d not expected this but after 17.Qf3 expected a tame retreat. Instead, ... Qxd4 offered the rook in return for more than visual counterplay (and that’s enough to force a long think before greed); however there’s another move here: 18.Qc6+ ouch Nd7 ouch 19.Qxc8#

Pick of the draws was the entertaining clash on board 4, where Karl Biswas kept theorists in the Kings Gambit picking out the savoury bits in this Sicilian take 1. e4 e5; 2. f4 c5 — leading to open play and shifting initiatives down through to the perpetual check agreed just after the time control.

29 January 2014