Weekend 3

[games, pgn]

Tim writes:

Oxford 1 lost both matches, 2-6 v Barbican 2 and 2½-5½ v Grantham 2;

For Oxford 1, there is some good news to report. Wood Green 2 were defeated by Barbican 2 5-3 on Sunday, and are headed for the Div 1 relegation pool barring a Barbican 2 accident v King’s Head in round 7. That means that our victory over them in Round 3 will count, and we will take 4 points from a maximum of 6 into that pool. I reckon that if Ox1 beat Grantham 2 and Cambridge Uni, we are likely to stay up - but not certain. Needless to say, once round 7 is completed I’ll be scrutinising the relegation pool very closely.

Oxford 2 lost 0-6 (ouch!) to e2e4.org.uk 2 and won 4-2 v Anglian Avengers 3;

Oxford 3 lost 1-5 to Sussex Smart Survivors 1 and 2½-3½ to Midland Monarchs.

Not the best weekend ever! It’s fair to say we were heavily outgunned across the board on Saturday, hence the disastrous results on that day including Ox2’s first and worst(!) match defeat of the season. Still, there are two highlights to report: Ox2’s biggest win of the season on Sunday [your skip tried for 94 moves to improve further on 4-2, but failed], and Aidan Rawlinson scored 2/2 again(!) and is on a 4-game winning streak.

Enjoy the header game Zakarian-Grund*: three rook-for-minor-piece sacrifices from David! No, he didn't start with three rooks. Other games well worth a second viewing are Nandi-Riley {not Kelly!} from Ox2-AA3 Sunday, and the topsy-turvy turbulence of Varney — Mirza (Ox3 on Sunday).

Oxford 1


Barbican 4NCL 2 2286 Oxford 1 2211
w Sanders, Isaac B 2378 1 - 0 Zakarian, David f 2406
b Morrison, Graham f 2354 ½ - ½ Rose, Matthew 2307
w Rogers, Jonathan W f 2300 1 - 0 Smallbone, Kieran D 2211
b Twyble, Michael S 2268 ½ - ½ Savage, Ben DM f 2265
w Chapman, Terry PD f 2304 1 - 0 Dickinson, Tim R 2134
b Buchicchio, Giampaolo f 2346 0 - 1 Rawlinson, Aidan M 2156
w Coleman, David J c 2236 1 - 0 Hayward, Philip T 2146
b Lauterbach, Ingrid wi 2102 1 - 0 Foster, Chantelle L 2066
6 - 2

On top board David was engaged in another Lowenthal meets Kalashnikov variation, and, as customary on top board this season, the pieces had skipped the idle chit-chat that is so often the development phase, and cut instead to a bit of pillaging. David’s first attempt to put a rook en prise had failed on move 15, when White had instead opted for the pretty Bf3-c6+ which sent the Black king on its travels:

Sanders — Zakarian (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

Black now sacrificed a real exchange with 24. … Rxc6 although it’s hard to see a better alternative. 24. … Be7 loses immediately to 25. Bb6, while 24...Kg7 concedes a huge position after 25.Bd5 Bxd5 26.Qxe5+ Kh7 27.Rxd5 Qxa2 28.Rd7 25.Qf3+ Kg7 26.Qxc6 Be7 27.Qb6 probably the easiest way, taking the queens off and reducing to an endgame where Black cannot eliminate all queen-side pawns: … Qxb6 28.Bxb6 bxc3 29.bxc3 Bxa2 30.Rxe5 Bf6 31.Ra5 Bb3 32.Rb1 Bc4 33.Bd4 Re8 34.Bxf6+ Kxf6 35.Rc5 and from here on in there’s an impressive round up by White: … Bd3 36.Ra1 Ra8 37.h3 Ke6 38.Rd1 Bc2 39.Rd2 Bb3 40.Rb2 Kd6 41.Ra5 Bc4 42.Rb6+ Kd7 43.Rc5 Bd3 44.Rd5+ Kc7 45.Rf6 Bf5 46.Rxf7+ Kc6 47.c4 a5 48.Rf6+ Kc7 49.Rdd6 Bc8 50.c5 1–0

On Board 2 Matt Rose made a welcome return, and reached this position after sacrificing a pawn on e5 — but does he have enough for the pawn? His bishop is attacked, so …

Rose — Morrison (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

18.Bxh6 gxh6 19.Qd2 Nh7 20.Rae1 Kh8 21.Rh3 f5 22.Qxh6 Rf6 23.Qf4 Qg7 24.Rg3 Qf7 25.Qe5 Rg8

26.Rxg8+ Qxg8 27.Bf8, and now Black starts to drift, probably believing the worst is over. (It is, but the way things work out the best way forward wasn’t so easy to create, and so remains in the footnotes.) Qd8 (f4) 28.Re3 Bd5 (Qd5 is another possibility, breaking the diagonal pin, and preparing to regroup his kingside pieces) 29.Rd3 c4 30.Rh3 Kg7 31.Rg3+ Kf8 32.Rh3 Kg7 33.Rg3+ Kf8 33...Kf7 34.Be2 Nf8 35.Bh5+ Ng6 36.Rg5 is another messy looking position to contemplate in advance of time control 34.Rh3 Kg7 35.Rg3+ ½–½

Next door on board 3, Kieran was a piece adrift in return for pawns and some play, following an opening which saw complications arise in the appropriate manner after White had managed to play b4 and g4 before move 16.

Rogers — Smallbone (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

Here, you’d only be partly mistaken for thinking that those two bishops might wreak havoc in due course, but it is necessary to find the right continuation. Fritz awards himself top marks for this 26.b5 e5 27.bxc6 Nxc6 28.Bf5+ Kb8 29.Rxc6 bxc6 30.Qb3+ Ka8 31.Qf7 but instead play continued 26.Qe2? e5? The right idea with the wrong pawn: 26...g5 27.Rh1 gxf4! 28.Bxf4 Qf6 and the two knights dominate with the help of two additional pawns 27.Rh1 exf4 28.Bxf4 Qf6 29.Qxg4+ Qe6 30.Be2 Neg6 31.Bg3 Re8 32.Bf3 Qxg4 33.Bxg4+ Kd8 34.Rd1+ Ke7 and now the ending slightly favours the white bishops: 35.f4 Rd8? Probably the losing move in a critical position 36.f5 Rxd1 37.Bxd1 Nh8 38.Be5 ah Kf7 39.Bb3+ Ke7 40.Bxg7 Nf7 41.Bd4 a6 42.Kf3 Nd7 43.Kf4 b6 44.Bc4 b5 45.Be6 Nd6 46.Bxd7 Kxd7 47.Kg5 Ne4+ 48.Kg6 Kd6 49.f6 Nxf6 50.Kxf6 a5 51.Bc5+ 1–0

Next door on four, Ben was preparing another winter Olympics style dismount by way of a faux sacrifice exchange, some doubled pawns and an opposite bishop with pike:

Savage - Twyble
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

20.Qc4 Bxc2 21.Qxa6 bxa6 22.Bxa8 Rxe2 23.Nxc2 Rxc2 24.Rd1 Bf8 25.a4 Bc5 26.Rf1 a5 ½–½

We now only await the webmaster to provide a little App to see how the voting of the Oxford jury goes for draw of the weekend™

Tim seemed to be going somewhere on the c-file, and kicks off naturally enough:

Chapman — Dickinson (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

19. … Rc3 19.Qe2 Bb4 this is less obvious than Rfc8 20.Nf3 f6? Fritz suggests Rc7 or Rxd3 to avoid the worst, which is 21.Bd2 ouch Rfc8 22.Rab1 perhaps what Tim missed? Ba3 23.Bxc3 Rxc3 24.Nd2 Qc8 25.Red1 h6 and now White picks up some time on the clock 26.Kg2 Kh7 27.h3 Kh8 28.Kh2 Kh7 29.Kg2 Kh8 30.Kh2 Kh7 31.Rf1 Rc2 some forced randomness 32.Bxc2 Qxc2 33.Rfd1 Bc8 34.Qf3 Bc5 35.Kg2 Bd7 36.Nb3 Nxb3 37.axb3 a5 38.Rbc1 Qb2 39.Rb1 Qa3 40.Qd3 Bd4 41.Qc2 Bc5 42.Rd3 Qb4 43.Rc3 Bd4 44.Rc4 Qd6 45.Rxd4 1–0

Aidan’s good form continued as he established a strong 2-bishop v 2-kinight position in a Slav, to reach a position the like of which featured quite often in the 2008 toiletgate series:

Rawlinson, A — Buchicchio (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

Black doesn’t see safety for his king on either wing so continues 18. … a4 19.Bb4 Nb5 20.Bd3 a3 21.b3 Nxd4 22.exd4 Qxd4 23.Qd2 missing the more immediately decisive Qxe6+! … Ne5 24.Be4? (Bc3) Qa1+ 25.Bb1 Qb2+? and now Black misses a fireworks show leading to a possible draw after 25...Nd3+ 26.Kc2 Nxb4+ 27.Qxb4 Qb2+ 28.Kd3 0–0–0+ 29.Ke3 26.Qxb2 axb2+ 27.Kxb2 Nxf3 and now it’s all over 28.Be4 Ng5 29.Bg2 e5 30.h4 Ne6 31.Bh3 c5 32.Bc3 Nd4 33.Rhe1 f6 34.Bxd4 cxd4 35.Rxd4 g5 36.Rb4 gxh4 37.gxh4 Rd8 38.Bf5 Rd2+ 39.Kb1 1–0

Quite frankly it’s hard to know where to start with Phil’s game on 7, unless it’s around 9pm on Saturday in the Thai restaurant, with Phil saying “yeah, it was a difficult endgame after a Winawer…”. Let’s have a look at the position around about move 35:

Coleman — Hayward (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.02.2014

Phil’s made it back to defend the kingside thanks to some neat tactics in the last few moves, but White is threatening Bxc4; normally this shouldn’t bother an intrepid Winawerian, for whom the idea of a Qxc2 and a leisurely promotion promenade of the a-pawn represents a day on the dodgems. This time, however, Bxc4 will threaten mate after Bxd5. Probably with this sort of “drat” in his mind, and a few furtive glance at his clock time, Phil went for an exchange of queens with 35. … Qe4** 36.Qxe4 dxe4 37.Bxc4 b5 38.Ba2 Nh6 39.Bg7 Nf7 40.d5 Ng5 41.Bf6 Nh7 42.Be5 and still a mate threat binds Black to passivity … Nb6 43.dxe6 Be8 and the rest is all still a little weird, but White’s advantage can only be gainsaid by problem-like moves (which we’ve not yet discovered): 44.h6 Nc4 45.Bf4 Kb7 46.Nf5 Kc6 47.Ne3 Kc5 48.Bb8 Nxe3 49.Bxa7+ Kd6 50.Bxe3 Bg6 51.Bf4+ Ke7 52.Kf2 Kf6 53.Be3 Ng5 54.Bxg5+ Kxg5 55.Ke3 Kxh6 56.Bd5 Kg7 57.Bxe4 Be8 58.Kd4 Kf6 59.Kd5 Ke7 60.Bd3 Kd8 61.Kd6 Kc8 62.e7 Kb7 63.Bf5 1–0

** For the record, Fritz comes up with 35...Nge7 36.Bxc4 Be8 37.Be2 Qxc2 which he rates as vaguely equal.

On board 8 Chantelle has gotten to the white side of a Sicilian where all is hanging on a thread, as some parts of the natural fabric of White’s position have been weakened by c2, b3, f4 and that bishop on d5. It’s White to move though and from personal experience of handling the White bits in this way, the question now is how best to grovel a little. (a) Rfc1 is a bit implausible, so maybe (b) a4 first?! (c) Bf3 is another candidate, all of which have some sense as long as White does so with an air of insouciance.

Foster,C - Lauterbach,I (W)
4NCL Division 1a , 15.02.2014

Unfortunately 19.Rf2 isn’t the best, though, as … Nf6 gives black the necessary extra tempo to convert this position after 20.Rff1 Ne4 21.Qd3 Nc3 22.Bf3 Rfd8 to a position where Black is -1.50 to the good (and in a position where it’s materially equal this isn’t a good place to start the resistance). After the exchanges 23.Bd2 Bf6 24.Bxc3 Qxc3 25.Qxc3 Rxc3 26.Rad1 Bxf3 27.Nxf3 Rxc2 28.Rxd8+ Bxd8 Black was well on the way to victory (0-1, 52)


Oxford 1 2221 Grantham Sharks 1 2356
w Zakarian, David f 2406 1 - 0 Grund, Holger 2428
b Rose, Matthew 2307 ½ - ½ Ghasi, Ameet K i 2471
w Harvey, Marcus R 2279 0 - 1 Roberson, Peter T f 2380
b Smallbone, Kieran D 2211 0 - 1 Rendle, Thomas E i 2389
w Sanchez, Antonio 2200 0 - 1 Williams, Samuel G 2418
b Rawlinson, Aidan M 2156 1 - 0 Sreeves, Clement 2270
w Hayward, Philip T 2146 0 - 1 Foisor, Veronica wi 2265
b Foster, Chantelle L 2066 0 - 1 MacQueen, Calum 2228
2½ - 5½

Sunday didn’t provide any easier opposition for Oxford 1, but a review shows tough struggles and only one (self-declared). Worst. Game. Ever. But on top board it was David’s time to get his exchange sacrifices right, starting from this position which comes from a QGA where Black rather intrepidly converted the notional pawn gambit into a true one as early as move 6… and only 8 moves later he is rewarded with this position to defend.

Zakarian — Grund (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

Fritz 6 — not the fastest of petrol engines — takes about 50 seconds to go from zero to +1 — suggesting the variation which emerges over the board: 14. … Nxh2 15.Rxc6 sac 1 … 0–0 16.Rxd6 sac 2 … Nxf3+ 17.gxf3 Qxd6 18.Bc5 Qd8 19.Be7! not content with one skewer, David goes for an aesthetic second helping … f6 20.Qc5 Qe8 21.Rd1 Bd7

And with White to move, it’s time for Sac 3: 22.Rxd7 perhaps Nb6 was clearer Qxd7 23.Nb6 Qd3 24.Bxe6+ Kh8 25.Bxf8 and with 3 pieces for the rook it’s time for Black to go look for a life-raft — or a white towel Re8 26.Bd6 Qg6+ 27.Bg3 f5 28.Bxf5 Qh5 29.Kg2 h6 30.Nd7 b6 31.Qc2 Re1 32.Bh3 Qb5 so nearly an attack, but David has a final trick up his sleeve 33.Qc8+ Kh7 34.Nf8+ Kh8 35.Ne6+ Kh7 36.Bf5+! nice g6 37.Qc7+ Kg8 38.Qg7# 1–0

Next door on two, Matt was ensconced in a position as familiar a position with Black as his c3 Sicilian is with White: a compact position with the Black pieces where the cramped position of the pieces is compensated by hopes for a big advantage in any endgame. In the meantime, there’s a long time to go to the first time control:

Ghasi - Rose
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

21. … Qd7! if only for the originality of the manoeuvre, which retreats the queen to the safety of e8 and draws more white pawns on to their fate. But is it death, or glory? 22.d5 cxd5 23.Rxd5 Qe8 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Rd7 and now Fritz gives White a plus, and suggests either … a4 or … Be2. Matt comes up with a third option, (Fritz 6 comes around to consider it in time) almost impossible to evaluate: … g5! 26.Bxb7 Bxb7 27.Rxb7 gxf4 28.Bxf4 Qc6

Black has gained some space, but White still has a plus: 29.Rd7 29. Qd7 seems better but White’s king is now in more immediate danger than Black’s, so after … Qc2! 30. Qxe7 isn’t a safe option … Bf8 30.Be3 Qe4 31.Kf2? Qxe5 32.Rd5? ouch Qxh2+ 33.Kf3 Qh3+ 34.Kf2 Rc2+ 35.Rd2 Rc6? Matt misses 35...Rc3 36.Rd3 Qh4+ 37.Kf1 Rxd3 38.Qxd3 Qxg4 which nets a second pawn 36.g5 Qh4+ 37.Kg2 Re6 38.Qf3 h6 39.Rf2 Qe4 40.Qxe4 Rxe4 41.Kf3 Re6 42.Rc2 hxg5 43.Bxg5 Bg7 44.Rc5 a4 45.bxa4 Bd4 46.Rc4 Bb6 47.Re4 Kf8 ½–½

Harvey - Roberson
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

Marcus had reached a largely equal position until his 17th move (c4-c5) allowed Peter the opportunity for a sharp exchange on that square, which led to an endgame position where that pawn’s replacement on c5 came under the microscope, and White’s weaknesses are too hard to defend against the healthier placed Black pieces: 24.Be4 bxc5 25.Ra4 Rb3 26.Rc1 c4 27.Bc6 Reb8 28.Nd5 Rb1 29.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 30.Kf2 Nd1+ 31.Kg2 c3 32.Rc4 Be6 33.Kf3 Rb3 34.e3 Nb2 35.Rc5 Nd3 36.Rc4 c2 0–1

This was given a special post mortem award as the Worst. Game. Ever. played by Kieran, although it’s not completely obvious why to those below a certain rating.

Rendle - Smallbone
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

Of course, the outlines of a Caro Kann are evident in this reduced middle-game position, and while not the most exciting it is not sufficient to warrants the “Worst.” signature. Presumably the fault lies somewhere in the continuation, where it seems natural to lift the pawn on h5 and see what happens next…. 22. … Nxh5? Unfortunately this is the move that sets the Fritz heartbeat aflutter: 23.Ne5 Bxe5 24.Rxd7 Rxd7 25.Rxd7 Qxd7 26.Qxe5 and here the heartbeat is back to normal, and the suggestion is that … f5 will tempt a perpetual starting with Qc5+. After … Nf6 white still has a pull 27.Qc5+ Kb8 28.Be5+ Ka8 29.Bd4 b5?? 30.Qb6 1–0 as Kieran calculates a position that sees the White queen wander over towards the Black king-side pawns.

Still, surely a little early to write the epitaph on the scoresheet?!

A heavy metal rock and roll rook convention taking place on the queen side meant there was a delay to action on Antonio’s debut for the first team:

Sanchez- Williams (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

On one level, one sees the influence of the hypermoderns. On another, more personal, level I can see why (a) my copy of Pillsbury’s best games is better thumbed than the Reinfeld book on Reti, and (b) I got hammered at 5 minute by Antonio so often in the Vicky Arms in Jericho in late summer. Personally I’d favour Black in this position, but I wouldn’t want to prove a point with that particular configuration. 22.d4 is the prelude to some more manoeuvring towards a clarification of the position: … Rab7 23.Rab2 Nd6 24.dxc5 Nxc5 25.Nd4 Be8 26.Bf1 Nde4 27.Be1 Be5 28.Nab5 Nd6 29.Bxa5 Nxb5 30.axb5 Qf6 31.Rc2 Ne4 32.Rbc1 h5 33.Qa4 Bxd4 34.Qxd4 Qxd4 35.exd4 Bxb5 36.Bxb5 Rxb5 37.b4 R8b7 38.Kf1 Nd6 39.Rc5 Nc4

And it’s one move to time control. What would you play, with the White pieces?

40.R1xc4?! a very brave decision, perhaps influenced by our mutual German friend, zeitnot. … dxc4 41.Ke2 Kf8 42.Kd2 e5 43.d5 Rxc5 44.bxc5 Rb3! and this effectively puts an end to the dreams of those advanced pawns, leaving a matter of technique to be displayed: 45.d6 Ke8 46.Bc3 Rb5 47.Bxe5 Rxc5 48.Bxg7 Kd7 49.Kc3 Ke6 50.Bh6 Rc8 51.Bf4 Kd5 52.f3 Rb8 53.Kc2 Rb7 54.h4 f5 55.Kd2 Rb3 56.Kc2 Ke6 57.Kd2 Rxf3 58.Kc2 Rd3 59.Kb2 Rxd6 60.Kc3 Rc6 61.Be3 Kd5 62.Bf4 Rb6 63.Bc7 Rb3+ 64.Kc2 Ke4 65.Bd6 Kf3 66.Be5 Kg4 67.Kd2 Rd3+ 68.Ke2 Rd5 69.Bf4 0–1

Aidan continued his winning weekend with another point from an unlikely enough position:

Sreeves- Rawlinson,A
4NCL Division 1a 6), 16.02.2014

Black has just kicked the bishop with … e6, on to be greeted with: 29.hxg6! Nxg6 30.Bxe6! which does spoil the party a little for Black …Qe8 31.Bxf5 Rxf5 32.Rfe1 Ne5 33.Qf2 Qc6 34.Rd5 Rg8 35.Rf1 Bh6

White is doing quite well; his pieces are nicely placed and he’s a handy pawn up, to boot. Converting this to something of a tangible advantage in the endgame is another matter and he gets attracted by the chimera … 36.Rxe5 dxe5 37.Nd5 of a mighty fork on e7. However, after Bxe3 38.Nxe3 Rfg5 39.g4 Qf6 Black is completely back in control 40.Rd1 e4 41.Rf1 h5 42.Kh2 Qf4+ 43.Kg2 exf3+ 44.Qxf3 Rxg4+ 45.Nxg4 Rxg4+ 46.Kf2 Qd2+ 47.Qe2 Rg2+ 0–1

On board 7, Phil allowed himself to get into a needless tangle on the queenside :

Hayward - Foisor,V
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

Here, Black’s Bg7 probably prevents an impetuous f4 by White; Fritz suggests a simple Nf3. Phil tries to simplify things, perhaps hoping to put a bishop on b5: 17.a4? bxa4 18.bxa4 Rxb1 19.Qxb1 Rb8 and now Black bosses the b-file til death did them part: 20.Qa1 Qb6 21.Nc2 Qb2 22.Na3 Qxa1 23.Rxa1 e4 24.Re1 exd3 25.exd3 Rb3 26.Nb5 Rxd3 and (0-1, 47)

The last board of the weekend is perhaps the one that defeats the narrative annotator:

MacQueen — Foster, C (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 16.02.2014

White has just played 22.Red1 … what would you do as Black? At first sight, White seems a lot better, not least because Black can’t release the tension with a capture on e4. Equally, White can’t force this outcome, and a capture by him on f5 will only tend to increase the sweeping power of the black bishops, and it perhaps for this set of reasons that this pawn centre has been on the board for 7 moves, as both sides shuffled their pieces to mildly better places.

Fritz suggests 22. … Be7, but Chantelle opted for the flexible and sensible 22. … Rd7 which doesn’t please the machine. (I’m still looking blankly at squares…) 23.a4 Qd8 [23...fxe4 24.Nxe4 Nd5] 24.a5 Na8 25.e5 Be7 26.a6 and by now White’s advantage is completely clear … Qb8 27.Na4 Rc7 28.Nc5 Bxc5 29.dxc5 bxa6 30.Rd6 Qb7 31.Rcd1 h6 32.Be1 Rb8 33.Ba5 Rcc8 34.b4 Qb5 35.Qxb5 axb5 36.Rxc6 Rxc6 37.Bxc6 and the handshake was only slightly delayed (1-0, 58).

Oxford 2


Oxford 2 1922 e2e4.org.uk 2 2153
w Ludbrook, Matthew 2001 0 - 1 Ross, Chris N c 2221
b Miranda, Nicole M 1961 0 - 1 Barnes, Michael H f 2205
w Terry, Sean 1922 0 - 1 Mansson, James C 2107
b Nandi, Robin J 1972 0 - 1 Morley, Andrew J 2154
w Neatherway, A Philip 1862 0 - 1 Byron, Alan M 2152
b Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1818 0 - 1 Milson, Samuel A 2082
0 - 6

And, while the Firsts struggled against the ratings odds at Hinckley, a somewhat weakened second team were similarly outgraded. What kind of benefit does a grading advantage confer? is an interesting question which doesn’t admit of a simple answer — sometimes it doesn’t. But here, the ratings did, and we found ourselves outplayed on some boards, but also cleverly outwitting ourselves on the others. The result? - the first bagel in our team’s history.

The first three zeros were quickly accumulated on the bottom three boards, a mixture of blunders which suggested that the opposition were more alert this particular Saturday afternoon. First to go was Sean on bottom board. Earlier in this French Tarrasch Black had neglected to castle, choosing instead a Na5-b3 manoeuvre which initially threatened to win the exchange. Now, however, that knight is loose and the e6 pawn is unprotected:

Milson - Lim
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

So after 19…. Qb6 20.Nxe6 Qxe6 21.Qxb3 0–0 White is a clear pawn to the good, and the white rooks are about to open fire on the e-file. 22.Rfe1 Ne4? 23.Rxe4 ouch 1–0

On board 4, things look slightly better for White, but soon it’s all over for the Black side of the Ruy Lopez:

Morley — Nandi (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

20.Qf3 Rcd8? (… Ng8 was necessary) 21.Bh6+ Kxh6 22.Qxf6 Re5 23.h4 1–0

While on board 5 Phil got himself snared by an optical illusion I’m certainly familiar with in a position that wasn’t that far off equal:

Neatherway - Byron
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

31.f4 Rd7 32.Rd3 Be7 33.Rxd5?? Rxd5 0–1

On the top 3 boards things were, if nothing else, a little more drawn out. Nicole had a tense position here:

Barnes — Miranda (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

And a decision to make: — to take (not take) on e5. She took, although … Ne8 isn’t a bad option either: 14. … dxe5 15.dxe5 Nd5 16.Bg5 Rd7 17.Rad1 Be7? Missing the tactic which follows. Instead … h6 is what the beast recommends with some more patient grovelling. 18.Bxe7 Rxe7 19.Rxd5 cxd5 20.Nxd5 Qe6 21.Nxe7+ Qxe7 22.Qg4+ Kb8 23.Qxg7 and white didn’t have much problem converting the 2 pawn advantage. (1-0, 50)

On board 2, I was faced with some challenges in a position that had morphed itself from a peaceful 1.f4 into what seemed a lot like a Grunfeld-to-be:

Terry - Mansson
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

Especially if after … cxd4 I had recaptured with the pawn. Instead 12.Bxd4 isn’t all bad, perhaps simply “unusual” (although apparently that sort of thing is in the ye of the beholder. Perhaps against a less-strong opponent a different brand of common sense might have seen me capture differently.) … Qc7 13.Qb3 thinking to force … e6 14.0–0 Nc6 15.Nxc6 Qxc6 16.e5

16. e5 Not a popular move (at least in the Thai Orchid in Rugby), but this was the position I was aiming for when playing Bxd4. Black doesn’t have much to do yet, and White can use his space to generate ‘stuff’. Or so I thought. The thought occurs that I mightn’t have thought like this had I been played a mere 2000-strength player. 16 … b6 17.Be2 Qc7 18.Bf3 not necessary, and quite committal. I dither a bit now, trying to prevent Black from doing stuff, rather than deciding on a concrete plan. a4 seemed like a good plan. …Rb8 19.Qb5 Bd7 20.Qa6 Rfc8 21.a4 Bh6 22.Be4 Bf8 23.Rf3 Bc5 24.Qd3 Bc6 and by now my position is now only barely defensible, and Black begins the process of invading all the weak squares created by my grand planning … 25.Rh3 Bxe4 26.Qxe4 Bxd4+ 27.cxd4 Qc2 28.Qe3 Qf5 29.Rc1 Rc2 30.Rxc2 Qxc2 31.f5 Qb1+ 32.Kf2 Qxf5+ 33.Rf3 Qc2+ 34.Kg3 Qc7 35.Rf4 Rc8 36.Qf2 f5 37.h3 Qc2 38.Qxc2 Rxc2 39.d5 exd5 40.Rd4 Rc5 41.Kf3 Kf7 0–1

Finally, Matt was left looking to defend this ending, the result of some minor middle-to-endgame skirmishing in a closed Sicilian which saw Black obtain an e-pawn for an a-pawn.

Ludbrook — Ross (W)

27.Rf3 Rc4 28.a4 Nb4 29.Rb3 29.a5 Bxd4 30.Bxd4 Rxd4 31.Nc3 doesn't help things much as 31...e5 starts a pretty effective central gold rush 29...Ra8 30.Nb2 Rc2+ 31.Kf1 Nc6 32.Rd1 Kf7 Black's domination is impressive with White now spectating and waiting reactively... 33.Be3 Rb8 34.Rxb8 Nxb8 35.Nd3 Ra2 36.Nb4 Rxa4 37.Rb1 Ra5 38.Ke2 Rb5 39.Kd3 0–1 Time



Anglian Avengers 3 1825 Oxford 2 1975
w Fogg, Martin 2058 ½ - ½ Dickinson, Tim R 2134
b Hall, Antony C 1989 1 - 0 Miranda, Nicole M 1961
w Lamont, Richard 1914 0 - 1 Ludbrook, Matthew 2001
b Riley, Simon 1826 0 - 1 Nandi, Robin J 1972
w Woodcock, Keith D 1665 ½ - ½ Neatherway, A Philip 1862
b Sheerin, Alex 1498 0 - 1 Terry, Sean 1922
2 - 4

On Sunday we were ratings favourites to win and notwithstanding the occasional lower-board heart murmur the result was secured with some comfort in the end. Tim managed to churn out 94 moves in search of the win which was somewhere to be found in the B+P ending he had fashioned. In the meantime, Matt found himself (finally) in a position the like of which I could understand and made no mistake:

Lamont - Ludbrook
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

Something’s gone wrong with White’s opening as Black is comfortable ++ by this point. 13.Nc3 Rb8 14.a3 Kh8 the second of two calm moves which complete development and hide the king from tactics 15.Qd3 15. Nf3 was probably the best but after … Ng4 there’s a storm a-brewing … cxd4 16.Qxd4 Ne4 and White’s position collapses. 17.Nxd5 exd5 18.Qxd5 Bb7 0–1

Robin also completed a quick win after opening the g-file early and then smashing through smoothly after finding the right piece to sacrifice.

Nandi - Riley,S
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

20.f5 e5 21.f6! exd4 22.Qf5+ Kg8 23.Rhg1 Ne6 24.Nxd4 Rfc8 25.Nxe6 fxe6 26.Qxe6+ Kf8 27.fxg7+ 1–0

Boards 5 and 6 were less secure in seeking some net positive impact on the points position. Phil had quickly reached a Dutch position — play moves in pleasure, repent at leisure — which then turned slowly into this:

Woodcock - Neatherway
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

That backward pawn looks like a penance for a past sin in my book, and White chose to drive home the point with a considered 13.Qe2 [Phil emailed me to point out that 13.d5 is a lot simpler for White to play: … exd5 14.Re1+ and if … Ne7 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Ne5+, while the king has otherwise no easy place to hide] 13...0–0 14.Rae1 Rae8 15.c3 Rf6 White nonetheless owns the lion’s share of space and enjoyment here 16.b4 Ref8 17.Bd3 Be8 18.b5 Nd8 19.Qe5 c6 20.a4 Nf7 21.Qc7 Ng5 22.Qxb7? a mistake that should lose Nxf3+ 23.Rxf3 Rxf3 24.gxf3 Qd2 25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.Rf1 Bh5 27.Qxc6 Qe3+ 28.Kg2 Qd2+ 29.Rf2 Qg5+ 30.Kf1 at which time a draw was veiled over the position ½–½

On bottom board there was some excitement and a lot of time trouble as my junior opponent cooked a trap for me. Unfortunately I’d nearly fallen into the trap in a league match the previous Monday…

Terry - Sheerin
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

I’ve just spent a while making sure that Black can’t play … Ng4, and safe in the knowledge that this isn’t happening I have confidently castled. Play continues 10 … Ng4 d’oh; but just as the previous Monday there wasn’t as much in this discovery as meets the passer-bye’s eye. 11.Bxg7 Nxe3 12.Qc1 Nxf1 13.Bb2 Nxh2 14.Kxh2 e5 15.fxe5 Qh4+ 16.Kg1 d4 17.Nd2 f6 18.Bf3 Rxe5 and now White is going to complete his development. Black’s attack just fails to generate enough compensation 19.Bxc6 Rh5 20.Nf3 a safe move, as I couldn’t calculate this Sunday morning whether taking on a8 avoided any perpetual that … Qh1+ 21.Kf2 Qxc1 22.Rxc1 Rb8 and the advantage is clearly in White’s hands. (1-0, 65)

Nicole got herself into this sort of position:

Miranda, N — Hall (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

Which on the face of it looks quite good (the key is “White to move”, I suspect). Unfortunately this reminds me so much of the Irish Championships 1975, which (if memory serves) consisted of people (e.g. Alan Ludgate) playing open English-es and closed Sicilians and generally trying to evoke the spirit of Botvinnik that was then fashionable that my brain goes more goo-ey than usual. (0-1, 36)

Which leads us back to board 1 and Tim’s mammoth 94-move draw:

So, nothing worked in that ending — not for lack of trying [including a last-ditch bishop-for-pawn sac]! I think I missed a trick as soon as we got into it and blew a tempo by not playing ... Bg5 pronto instead of faffing around with the king. After that he held it perfectly and annoyed me by never allowing a sneaky ... Bc3 trick, playing Ke2 each time the Black bishop was on e1 and the White bishop was not on a fatal square. Grr. Obviously I didn’t camouflage it well enough, because even Matt spotted it from the stands.

A fair enough shout — at the time, I’d imagined some wins just after the first time control but they didn’t make it to any line that convinced Fritz.

Fogg - Dickinson (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

42…. Kf5 43.Kd3 Bd8 44.Bf4 Ke6 45.Be5 Kd7 46.Ke3 Bg5+ 47.Bf4 Bf6 48.Be5 Bg5+ 49.Bf4 Bd8 50.Be5 Ba5 51.Kd3 Kc6 52.Bf4 Kd7 53.Be5 b5 54.Bf4 b4 55.axb4 Bxb4 56.Be5 Ke6 57.Bf4 Kf5 58.Be5 Be1 59.Bf4 Kf6 60.Be5+ Ke7 61.Bf4 Kd7 62.Kc2 Kc6 63.Kd3 Kb5 64.Bd6 Ba5 65.Bf4 Be1 66.Ke2 Bb4 67.Kd3 Kb6 68.Be5 Ka5 69.Bc7+ Ka6 70.Bf4 Kb6 71.Be5 Be1 72.Bf4 Kc6 73.Ke2 Bb4 74.Kd3 Kb5 75.Be5 Be1 76.Bd6 Bf2 77.Kc3 Be3 78.Kd3 Bg5 79.Kc3 Bd8 80.Kd3 Ba5 81.Bf4 Be1 82.Ke2 Bxg3 83.Bxg3 Kc4 84.Kd2 Kxd4 85.Bf2+ Kc4 86.Kc2 Kb4 87.Bg3 d4 88.Kd3 Kb3 89.Kxd4 Kxb2 90.Ke4 a3 91.Be5+ Kb1 92.Kf4 a2 93.Kxg4 a1R 94.Bxa1 Kxa1 ½–½

STOP PRESS: Kieran has taken advantage of a post-lunchtime Thursday lull to suggest as follows:

80… Bb6 would have been enough. The White bishop can’t leave the a3-f8 diagonal because of …Kb4, nor the h2-b8 diagonal because of …Bc7. The king can’t leave c3/d3 because of …Kc4. So White’s best two moves are (a) pass and (b) Kc3. But 81. Kc3 runs into …Ba5+ 82. Kd3 Be1. Which looks a lot like the game, except the White bish is on d6 rather than f4. It can’t leave d6 because of …Kb4 or …Bxg3, and Kc3 is illegal. So White’s best two moves are (c) pass and (d) Ke2. But now 83. Ke2 can be met by …Bb4 which hits the White bishop, gaining an important tempo and allowing the Black king forward.

Oxford 3


Sussex Smart Survivors 1 2025 Oxford 3 1778
w Graham, David B 2157 1 - 0 Burrows, Nick 1868
b Grant, David J 2106 ½ - ½ Brackmann, Hendrik 1858
w Cumming, Rhys 2038 1 - 0 Varney, Andrew 1810
b Howell, Chris I 2041 1 - 0 Henbest, Kevin B 1693
w Higgs, Anthony RJ 1991 ½ - ½ Biswas, Karl 1745
b Graham, William M 1819 1 - 0 Riley, Adrian K 1698
5 - 1

As a reward for their double win the previous week, Oxford 3 joined their team-mates in being heavily outranked. On board 2, Hendrik got a strong draw which was so nearly a smashing win:

Brackmann - Grant (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

20.f5 e5 21.f6! exd4 22.Bxd4 dxe4 23.fxe7 Rfe8 24.Bxg7 Kxg7 The high point of White’s position 25.Qd4+ Fritz shows that the finesse 25.Qd6! yields a decisive advantage: … Bc4 26.Qd4+ Kg8 27.Rxa7 Qb5 28.Bxe4 25...Kg8 26.Qf6 Bc4 27.Ra4? Qb3! 28.Rxc4 Qxc4 29.Bxe4 ½–½ in a position where Black has a clear advantage but probably less time.

A second draw came from Karl, who put his opening repertoire knowledge from books purchased the previous weekend to good effect. Kelly didn’t do as bad in the Reti as he made out in the corridor post-mortem.

Andrew was already in trouble, but his freeing manoeuvre from this diagram completed the backfire:

Cumming - Varney (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

16. … f5? 17.hxg6 Qxg6 18.Nf4 Qd6 19.Qe3 e5 20.Qg3+ Kh8 21.Rxh7+ Kxh7 22.Rh1+ Qh6 23.Qg6+ 1–0

Another top game was Kevin’s game on 4, where this position occupied the pre-dinner conversation in Rugby:

Henbest — Howell (W)
4NCL Division, 15.02.2014

It’s a standard enough Winawer structure, but you feel that White must be better; where is the Black king going to live? But our attempts to show an advantage to White failed as we went along with Kev’s natural enough 20.Nf3 Fritz prefers Rf3 and after … h4; 21. Raf1 — a different kind of natural. … Qg4 21.Qb5+ Rc6 22.Ra3 0–0 and now that Black’s king has found a home, the tide turns in favour of the player with the tougher carapace. 23.Qd3 Nc4 24.Raa1 h4 25.h3 Qg3 26.Rf2 Rf4 27.Raf1 Re4 28.Nd2 Nxd2 29.Rf8+ Kh7 30.Qxd2 Rc4 31.Qd1 Qe3+ 32.R1f2 Qe1+ 33.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 34.Kh2 Rxd4 35.R8f7 Rxa4 36.Re7 Raa1 37.g3 Rh1+ 38.Kg2 Rag1+ 39.Kf3 hxg3 40.Re2 Rh2 41.Re3 Rf2+ 42.Kg4 Rxc2 43.Rxa7 g2 44.Rg3 Re1 45.h4 g1Q 46.Kh5 Rxe5+ 47.Rg5 Rxg5+ 48.hxg5 Rh2# 0–1

As ever, Nick was last to finish after another wirey, down-to-the-wire effort, but his better efforts on the day were bested by a cool-headed opponent:

Graham - Burrows
4NCL Division 3s, 15.02.2014

26….h3 27.Rxh3 Qxf4 28.Rf3 Qd4 29.c3 Qe4 30.Ng3 Qg4 31.Qxb6 Bh4 32.Nf1 f4 33.Qd4 Bg5 34.h3 Qf5 35.Ng3 Qh7 36.Ne2 Rc8 37.Nxf4 Bxf4 38.Qxf4 Rc4 39.Qf6 Rg6 40.Qd8+ Kg7 41.Rgf1 Qg8 42.Qe7 Kh6 43.g4 Re4 44.Rxf7 1–0


Oxford 3 1769 Midland Monarchs 1686
w Burrows, Nick 1868 1 - 0 Mirza, Diana 1773
b Langham, Rod E 1801 0 - 1 Evans, Nicholas T 1824
w Varney, Andrew 1810 1 - 0 Mirza, Gabriel 1744
b Henbest, Kevin B 1693 0 - 1 Jina, Taran 1717
w Biswas, Karl 1745 ½ - ½ Jina, Asha 1507
b Riley, Adrian K 1698 0 - 1 Pramod Paleri, Adithya P 1554
2½ - 3½

Game of the day was, for me, Andrew’s game on board 3. He looked lost against Gabriel Mirza early on but toughed out to an ending where he turned the tables.

Varney, A - Mirza, G
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

The game looks equal or thereabouts but after 17.Ra4? c6! the weakness of the d-file becomes noticeable. 18.Bc4 Rhd8 and now the absence of the queen&rqsuo;s rook on a4 pins the Bd2, which needs to protect against Rd1+ 19.Bd3 b3 20.Rc4 bxc2 21.Rxc5 Rxd3 22.Rxc2 Be6 23.Ke2 just in time to stop Bb3 losing material … Rb3 and the game went off into another phase. Returning on move 33 we find this, with Black to move (White has just played g3):

33… g5? 34.h4! gxh4 35.gxh4 Rb8 36.Rg1 and all of a sudden the action has turned to the g-file … Rg8 37.Rdg2 Rxg2 38.Rxg2 Kf7 39.h5 Ra1 40.h6 Rh1 41.Rg7+ Ke8 42.Rxh7 … and the win was confirmed in due course (1-0, 56)

Nothing much seemed to be happening on Kelly’s board, playing against the junior (in age, and (just about) size), when a sui-lighting bolt hit:

Pramod Paleri, - Riley,A K (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

23. … a6? 24.Nc4! … ah. It takes 2 moves to extricate the queen from its self-constructed prison, but only one to fork it on d7. (1-0, 46) followed efficiently.

Nick wasn’t he last to finish — Rod Langham’s losing effort on 2 won this particular prize — but he featured in the also-rans. To reach this position he had entrenched knights on the white central squares and taken advantage of a blunder by Diana to nab the pawn on g5. Still, Black is struggling and threatening a comeback….

Burrows - Mirza,D
4NCL Division 3s, 16.02.2014

… until 25.f5! the start of a nice liquidating combination Bxf5 26.Qg3 Ne5 27.Bxh6 Nxc4 28.Rbd1 Kh7 29.Qxg7+ Qxg7 30.Bxg7 Kxg7 31.b3 Bxe4 32.Bxe4 Na5 33.Rxd6 and now White has full development, an extra pawn, and an opponent with a king in the open. … Rf4 34.f3 Rb8 35.Rfd1 Rh4 36.Rg6+ Kf8 37.Rd7 c4 38.Bd5 cxb3 39.Rg8# 1–0

12 March 2014