Weekend 4

[photos, games, pgn]

Tim writes:

All, to mis-quote Chelsea's Special One Jose Mourinho post-Arsenal 6-0: Oxford's first team had a "special weekend in their history":

  • Oxford 1 lost 1-7 to Guildford 1 and beat 3Cs 1 5-3;
  • Oxford 2 lost 2-4 to Bradford DCA B and drew 3-3 with Holmes Chapel;
  • Oxford 3 lost 1½-4½ to 3Cs 2 and beat BCM Bison 4-1*

* default-related scoreline: 2-2 on the day, but Bison defaulted 2 boards.

Headline: Ox1 are stunned to have scored a win v 3Cs 1 - they were much weaker on the day than I expected they would be. Consequently Oxford 1 are almost safe from relegation from Div 1, currently on six points from a possible ten and joint second in the relegation pool. I expect three more match points in the last 3 rounds [=> 9/14] will be absolutely certain, but two [=> 8/14] might be enough depending on results elsewhere and we might be able to lose to a resurgent Cambridge Uni in R11 by a narrow margin and still stay up. Fixtures for rounds 9-11 are not yet confirmed on the 4NCL website, but I am guessing from past experience they will be 9: Ox1 v Barb1; 10: Grantham 2 v Ox1; 11: Ox1 v Camb Uni 1.

Hendrik Brackmann was our main highlight, winning both his games on board 4 of Oxford 2 and turning over one of my contemporaries from junior days in the 1980s [before Hendrik was born!] on Sunday. I always feel Chris Doran should be a much better player than his current FIDE of 2002: he was one of UK's top juniors in his heyday, and I vividly remember getting stuffed by him as White in Sicilians in those days.

In Ox1, David did well to draw with GM Gawain Jones in round 7, and Justin says he missed the win of a piece v GM Robin van Kampen. He won on Sunday to score 1½/2 for the weekend and maintain his IM norm chances: very unofficially, I say he now needs only 1/3 to secure that norm. Yes, Justin, I know I told you 2/3! We'll double-triple-check after round 9, when we will have a clearer picture.

Mike Healey always prefers to play in Ox2, but whenever I promote him to Ox1 we get great stuff from him. This time he took ex-Women's World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova - one of my favourite players - all the way to RB v R, missing out on a classy Ox team dinner at the Thai Orchid in the process, and then outplayed one of England's top juniors from a level-ish endgame on Sunday. He says 81 moves both days, total time elapsed: ~12 hours. Way to go, Mike!

If you want a REALLY tough exercise, take Mike's position v Stefanova after her 78. Rh7-d7: W Kf5, Be5 Rd7, B Kg8, Rg1, and see if YOU can find the only Black move to "draw" according to tablebases, on the 30 second increment as Mike was, so set your watch and be quick about it [yes, yes, even if he miraculously finds it - and I still don't understand it even though I've looked it up - it there's still work to be done]. I guarantee you, it's impossible. If someone out there can figure out the logical reason for the "right" move, do let me know so that we might be able to squeeze it into Sean's report.

Finally, I was particularly pleased with the number of current OxUni players participating this time in our three teams during their vacation. I counted seven of you [many thanks, chaps & lady], eight if we count Szymon Pozimski who tells me he's returning to OU in 2014-2015 - and I was delighted that he overturned a nominal 282-point rating defiicit to score Ox3's only win on top board on Saturday, making his train trip worthwhile!

Oxford 1


Oxford 1 2185 Guildford 1 2567
w Zakarian, David f 2404 ½ - ½ Jones, Gawain CB g 2651
b Rose, Matthew 2311 0 - 1 Sadler, Matthew D g 2645
w Tan, Justin f 2351 ½ - ½ Van Kampen, Robin g 2603
b Dickinson, Tim R 2126 0 - 1 Hansen, Eric g 2587
w Hayward, Philip T 2146 e 0 - 1 Hebden, Mark L g 2545
b Healey, Michael W 2127 0 - 1 Stefanova, Antoaneta g 2476
w Foster, Chantelle L w 2066 e 0 - 1 Suarez Real, Alberto f 2546 e
b Miranda, Nicole M w 1951 0 - 1 Flear, Glenn C g 2490
1 - 7

On FIDE paper this was a match that suggested a match, but current form and strength of David and Justin gave us the chances of avoiding this fate. Elsewhere was the chance for some experience in playing the top flight, and see how easy survival is at the top of the game.

Top board was a fight to the last pawn, won by nobody — and an excellent struggle all through. Initially an Exchange Lopez, David found himself needing to retreat actively positioned pieces to shelter as Black opened lines, in the end losing a pawn to a technical combination resulting in this position where Gawain is about to win back the bishop, and emerge a dangerous pawn to the good. David has a defensive problem.

Zakarian - Jones (W)

25.Rd1 Rxe3 26.Ne4 blocks the communication of the doubled rooks and hampers the Re3, which needs to mind itself. … Nb4 27.Rcd2 Nd5 28.Kg1 threatening Kf2 … Rf8 countering the threat 29.Rc1 a5 30.Nc5 nudging a weakness … b6 31.Ne4 closing the escape of the rook … Nb4 32.h4 starting off the next front, gaining space before moving a rook off the second rank. c5 33.Rcd1 h6 34.Rd7 Rf7 35.Rd8+ Kh7 36.h5 a4 37.R1d7 Rxd7 38.Rxd7 Rd3 39.Rxc7 Nd5 40.Rd7 axb3 41.axb3 Kg8 and the worst of the first session. Watching the second live from the other hotel was pretty fraught, as any result was a great one: (½–½, 67)

Matt was up against the intermittently active Matt Sadler and found himself in a “Kings Indian without fianchetto”:

Sadler - Rose (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

Matt has on his last move played … Nb6 which seems to bottle in his Queen a bit, but the computer doesn’t think too badly of it, particularly in conjunction … a3 now, with some manoeuvres to follow. Instead of which he opts for 14. …Qb4 and after 15.Qc1 Bd7 16.dxc6 bxc6 17.Bd2 it’s hard to find a good argument for the queen’s sortie, or a good suggestion for where it should go now. Matt opted for … Nb7 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.Bxb4 Nxb4 but this wasn’t going to be enough on the day. 20.f4 Nc5 21.Qc3 Nba6 22.fxe5 dxe5 23.Qxe5 Bf6 24.Qf4 Bxb2 25.Rxd7 1–0

Board 3 saw Justin’s game serve up the real entertainment where Black had played a Sicilian e6, followed by a speculative … h5, something that leads to “play of a certain sort”. As I’ve been known to try this, usually failing and seeing the h-pawn drop off as a limp (if ripe) apple, before cursing myself for playing more thematically, the continuation from this position was of personal interest:

Tan - Van Kampen (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

It’s White to play and it’s fraught with latent tension. Where’s the Black king going to live? Will that c-pawn survive? and, more practically, what next? The answer is 18.Nb1 wow Ng8 zowie 19.Kh1 pow h4 ah 20.Qg4 aha! Nf6 reculer pour mieux sauter 21.Qf3 ditto Nh7 hmm, diversion owing to leaves on line?? 22.gxh4 fabulous stuff. Anyone like to fill something more cogent in between the lines of this?

Be that as it may, Fritz 6 doesn’t see anything more than a 0.07 (the Microbond difference) so play continued … Be7 23.Qg3 Nxg5 24.hxg5 Rh5 25.g6 f6 26.Rd2 Kf8 27.Rfd1 Rd8 28.Bf3 …

And here Black can continue the conversation quietly with … Rh6, but chooses intead to win back a pawn with … Rg5? 29.Qh4 Rxg6 30.Rxd7? instead, 30.Qh8+ Kf7 31.Qh5 wins a piece albeit with not completely clear advantage emerging. 30...Rxd7 31.Rxd7 Qxd7 32.Qh8+ Kf7 33.Bh5 Qd4 34.Nc3 Qxf2 35.Bxg6+ Kxg6 and the familiar outlines of an unfamiliar perpetual takes shape 36.Qe8+ Kh6 37.Qh8+ Kg6 38.Qe8+ Kh6 39.Qh8+ Kg6 ½–½

Board 4 was a personal reminder that it’s time to dust off some old theory books, and buy some new ones. Is this:

Hansen - Dickinson
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

with White to play, on move 5, a:

  1. Caro Kann
  2. Chebaneko variation
  3. The Kelly Khan? (viz. what Kelly has been playing in 5-minute for the last 20 years)

And if it’s (c), is this what the state of opening theory has come to!? As it happens, White played 5. Qg4 c5? Which was one pawn move too far, because after 6. dxc5 it wasn’t possible to get recapture it immediately, or in the future. (1-0, 32)

On board 5, Phil H put in a long shift before losing in the endgame to Mark Hebden (0-1, 69) and the transition to the endgame had interesting features:

Hayward - Hebden
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

Black has an active position but there’s not much in it, as White’s position isn’t loose by any means. Rc1 suggests itself as does g4 (for the adventurous), although the pawn push might subsequently end up as so much eggnog over the White King’s face. Phil was adventurous and went for the other side with 18.b4 axb4 19.axb4 Rxa1 20.Qxa1 Qc6 cheeky as the knight has no effective discovery squares 21.Bg5 played thinking the intricate line that emerges OTB is tenable … Bxe4 22.b5 Qb7 23.f3 Bf6 24.Bxf6 Rxf6 25.fxe4 Rxf1+ 26.Qxf1 Kg7 27.h4 This seems to create a weakenss too many (g4) and Fritz suggests 27.e3 as an alternative … c5 28.exd4 cxd4 29.Qc1 27...c5 28.Qf3 Ng8 29.Bh3 Nf6 30.Bg2 Qa7 31.Bh3 Qa1+ and the Black queen starts to snake her way in to the position 32.Kh2 Qb1 33.Qd3 Qe1 34.Kg2 Kf7 35.Bc8 Ke7 36.Bh3 Qa1 37.Qc2 Qa8 38.Kf3 Qa3+ 39.Qd3 Qc1 40.Kg2 Ne8 41.e3 Qc3 42.Qe2 dxe3 43.Kf3 Nd6 44.Bf1 Nxc4 45.Qxc4 e2+ 46.Qxc3 exf1Q+ 47.Ke3 Qg1+ 48.Kf3 Qd1+ 49.Kg2 Qe2+ 50.Kh3 Qxe4 51.Qa1 Kf6 52.Kh2 Qe2+ 53.Kh3 Qxb5 54.Qa8 Qd7+ 55.Kh2 Qc7 56.Qf8+ Ke6 57.Qg8+ Kd6 58.Qf8+ Kc6 59.Qf3+ Kd6 60.Qf8+ Qe7 61.Qb8+ Kc6 62.Qa8+ Kb5 63.Qa2 e4 64.Qb3+ Kc6 65.Qa4+ Kb7 66.Qc4 e3 67.Qd5+ Kc7 68.Qa2 Kc6 69.Qa4+ Kb7 0–1

Mike found himself at the long end of the long game straw, losing in the end to Antoaneta Stefanova in a position considered to be draw-able in many positions but now considered to be losing in most, and its best exponent is Keith Arkell (now European Senior Champion):

Recently I was looking at R+B v R with Jonathan Hawkins, and it became clear that he was better versed than me in some of the very long and precise winning variations. I am also often not sure whether I am in a drawn or a won position, but I calculate very well when there is reduced material, and have a good feel for how to improve my position.

Streatham & Brixton blog interview , 2009

And his advice is, when possessor of the additional material, is to present the opponent with practical problems. Here, for instance (move 75) it’s “lose in 53” (is this enough for a draw? - Ed), although with the Black rook on f1 it’s a “draw”, according to Nalimov. Of course, the problem is, where is Nalimov when you most need him, and is it seemly to take him into an unoccupied cubicle when you’re down to increments? Ho hum.

Stefanova, A - Healey (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

Play continued (notes by Nalimov): 75 … Kg8 76.Be5 Kf7 77.Rh7+ (lose in 51) Kg8 78.Rd7 Rf1+ (lose in 22) 79.Ke6 (win) Rf7 (win 14) 80.Rd1 Rf2 81.Rh1 1–0

On board 7, Chantelle found herself in a usual dilemma in the Sicilian - with her d-pawn attacked, should she defend it or continue attacking? A usual, crucial, dilemma.

Foster,C - Suarez Real (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

18.Ne2 The computer doesn’t like this, and prefers 18.h5, giving as justification the line … Qxd5 19.Nf5 Qe5 20.Nxg7 when an exchange goes whichever way it’s recaptured. Black now has a tempo to get moving on the c-file 18...Rfc8 19.Rc1 and Black shores up the h-file h5 20.b3 R4c7 21.Rhg1 hxg4 22.fxg4 a5 23.Nf4 a4 24.Qxb4 Rb7 25.Bb6 Qb8 26.Nd3 Rxb6 27.Qd2 Qa8 28.Nb2 axb3 29.cxb3 Rxc1+ 30.Qxc1 Qxd5 31.Qc2 Rc6 32.Qe2 Bxb2 33.Qxb2 Bxg4 34.Ka1 Bf5 35.Qf2 Rc2 36.Qe3 Qa5 37.a4 Qb4 0–1

On bottom board, an illustration of how so much can depend on single tempi:

Flear - Miranda,N
4NCL Division 1a, 22.03.2014

Play continued - Black looking a bit cramped and probably feeling a little bare on the kingside - 14. Rc1 h6 15.Qe2 c5 16.Qe4 f5 17.exf6 N7xf6 18.Qxe6+ Kh8 19.Ne5 and it was essentially all over (1-0, 40). … h6 is the sort of move you think of and reject most times, unless where you’re playing a stronger player! Could Black have improved here with 14. … Qa5 and 15. … c5 … ?


3Cs 1 2210 Oxford 1 2211
w Gordon, Stephen J g 2487 1 - 0 Zakarian, David f 2404
b Longson, Alexander f 2341 0 - 1 Tan, Justin f 2351
w Milliet, Sophie i 2402 0 - 1 Harvey, Marcus R 2275
b Bentley, John L 2245 0 - 1 Rose, Matthew 2311
w Walton, Alan J c 2104 ½ - ½ Dickinson, Tim R 2126
b Horton, Andrew P 2108 0 - 1 Healey, Michael W 2127
w Horton, Jamie A 2016 ½ - ½ Hayward, Philip T 2146 e
b Abbas, Daniel 1982 1 - 0 Miranda, Nicole M w 1951
3 - 5

A pretty crucial win for the first team, and two points that go a long way towards making survival in Div 1 a possibility. A loss on top and bottom boards, but in between a sandwich jam-packed with nutritious points and half-ers, and three wins on the top 4 boards set the tone for the match.

On top board, David has just played … e6-e5 to reach another King’s Indian without fianchetto position (Fritz suggests … Re8 as another, more fluid, possibility).

Gordon – Zakarian (W)
4NCL Division 1d, 23.03.2014

White reacts vigorously with 13.c5 dxc5 14.Nb3 e4 15.Nxc5 f5 this e4/f5 stance by the Black pawns is what you’d expect from David, though it’s a high risk strategy (I used to try this optimistically at a lower level, and where not careful end up with a long grovel on my hands…) 16.0–0 b6 17.Nb3 Bb7 18.f3 chipping away Re8 19.fxe4 fxe4 20.Rf4 and all of a sudden there is no centre left Nf7 21.Rxe4 Qd7 22.Rxe8+ Rxe8 23.e4 Ng5 24.Nd2 c6 25.h4 Nh3+ 26.Bxh3 Qxh3 27.dxc6 Ba6 28.Qb3+ Kh8 29.Qf7 Rc8 30.Qd7 Qxd7 31.cxd7 Rd8 32.Rc7 Kg8 33.Nf3 Kf7 34.Ne5+ Ke6 35.Nc6 Kd6 36.Nxd8 Kxc7 37.Nc6 1–0

On board 2, Justin didn’t waste his second white of the weekend.

Tan – Longson (B)
4NCL Division 1d, 23.03.2014

15…. a4 pretty thematic stuff, though it’s hard to see the variations through the piece groupings. 16.Nxa4 Nb4 17.c3 Rxa4 the point, although Fritz looks more approvingly at another variation: 17...Nxa2 18.Kxa2 Bc4 19.Bxc4 Rxa4+ 20.Kb1 Rcxc4 which seems a lot more equal than the equality which results from 18.Bxa4 Bc4 19.Qe1 Bd3+ 20.Rxd3 Nxd3 21.Qf1 Nhf4 Black’s knights have some presence in the centre of the board, but they aren’t linking up with any of the other ideas. 22.Bb5 Nc5 23.Nxc5 dxc5 and now the queen side has no life for the Black attack and White can resume operations on the h file. 24.h4 Qc7 25.Bc4 Rd8 26.Rg1 Qd7 27.Bxf4 exf4 28.Bd5 b5 29.h5 g6 30.hxg6 hxg6 31.Rg4 Bd6 32.Rh4 Be5 33.Rh6 Qd6 34.Qxb5 Kg7 35.Qf1 Rh8 36.Rxh8 Kxh8 37.Bxf7 Kg7 38.Bd5 Qd8 39.Qg1 Bd6 40.Qg4 Be7 41.Qxf4 Bxg5 42.Qf7+ Kh6 43.f4 Bf6 44.a4 1–0

And, eventually, a loss on time in the new incremental chess environment. Reading through the game on Twitter, you get the impression that Marcus was playing blitz for long stretches, and was about an hour to the good against Sophie, to whom we stalwarts of the Oxford & District Chess Leagues can say “Sophie, we feel your pain here … every second Monday during the chess season, actually”).

Milliet, S - Harvey
4NCL Division 1d, 23.03.2014

Leaving that sisterly sibling sympathy for a blitzed comrade to one side, it did look as if a win over the board was possible, as the h-pawn was marching confidently to the queening squares. White though had different ideas, and after 43.Bf1 Bg4 44.c3 h2 it’s not so clear any more where the win is to be found. Fritz spends a lot of time examining an exchange on f3, leaving an opposite bishop ending which is beyond that reach and just short of Nalimov. One objective might be to lose the h-pawn while gaining the f-pawn but this is hard to engineer, particularly in Blitz mode. 45.Bg2 Bh3 46.Bh1 Bf1 47.c4 Bh3 48.Ne5 Bf1 49.Nf3 Kd7 50.Ne5+ Ke7 51.Kf3 Be1 52.Ke3 Bc3 53.Nf3 Bb2 54.Kd2 Bg7 55.Nxh2 Bh3 56.Nf3 Bh6 57.Ke3 Bg4 58.Bg2 (=) 58...Kd6 59.Bf1 Kc7 60.Bd3 Kb6 61.Ne5 Bh5 62.Bc2 Be8 63.Bd1 Bg7 64.Nd3 Bd4+ 65.Kd2 Bc6 66.Bh5 Kc7 67.b4 cxb4 68.Nxb4 Be4 69.Nd3 Kd6 70.Ke2 Bb7 71.Be8 Ba6 72.Bb5 Bxb5 73.cxb5 Kd5 74.Ne1 Bb2 75.Kf3 Bc3 76.Nd3 Bd4 77.Ne1 Kc4 78.Ke2 Kxb5 79.Nf3 Kc4 80.Ng5 Kd5 81.Kf3 Kd6 82.Nf7+ Ke7 83.Ng5 Kf6 84.Kg3 Bb2 85.Nf3 Bc3 86.Kf2 Kg6 87.Kg3 Kh5 88.Ng1 Be1+ 89.Kf3 Bc3 90.Kg3 Bf6 91.Nf3 Bb2 92.Ne1 Kg6 White lost on time 0–1

At which point the game doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but hey ho (as we’d say in the leagues, if only we had this sort of position).

On board 4, Matt had the quickest kill when Black decided to go for long castling in the c3 Sicilian:

Rose – Bentley (W)
4NCL Division 1d, 23.03.2014

12.Bxd5 Qxd5 13.Qa4 h6 13...Kb8 14.Nb5 a6 15.Bf4+ is hopeless 14.Rac1+ Kb8 15.Bf4+ e5 16.Bxe5+ Bd6 17.Rc5 Nb5 looks a bit cleaner Qe4 18.Qa5 Be6 19.Bxd6+ 1–0

On other boards, two artistic threefold repetitions gave us a fourth point and a 5th point came from Mike Healey’s second 80+ move game.

Oxford 2


Bradford DCA Knights B 1996 Oxford 2 1910
w Allis, Richard 2034 1 - 0 Ludbrook, Matthew 2005
b Gardiner, Eric D 2042 e 1 - 0 Burrows, Nick 1874
w Jennings, Roger W 2042 e 1 - 0 Nandi, Robin J 1953
b Nicholson, Jim WR 2007 0 - 1 Brackmann, Hendrik 1858
w Slinger, AJ (Tony) 1950 1 - 0 Neatherway, A Philip 1856
b Patrick, David A 1906 e 0 - 1 Terry, Sean 1918
4 - 2

This being round 7 of Division 3, it was time for the North and South divisions to meet and pair off against each other for a while.

On top board Matt had been struggling with an opponent well versed in what is called elsewhere the Interesting French Exchange, but had managed to deal with the invasions along the e-file while preparing an incursion somewhere along the c-file; the g pawn is the only medium term weakness on display:

Allis – Ludbrook (W)
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

33.Rd2 Rc4 (?) Fritz suggests 33...Rc1 34.Ng2 Nd7 (or exchanging) as being more or less plumb equal. 34.Ng2! aims at e3 from where it will menace the rook on c4 and the g4 pawn. … Ra4 35.Ne3 Black’s position now heads down the slippery slide called decline … Qa5 36.Nxg4 Rxa2 37.Nxf6+ Kf7 38.Qe3 Rc7 39.Rxa2 Qxa2 40.Ng4 Qa4 41.Qe5 Rc6 1–0

On board 2, Nick was once again heading for an all-nighter in the heavy piece middle game drama. What to do in this position though, as White’s queen as been twice to b7 (via c6) in the last few moves. Is a quick draw in the offing??

Burrows – Gardiner (W)
4NCL Division 3 56), 22.03.2014

Well no, obviously. White is slightly the better but while the source of his advantage (more space better pieces, activity) it’s quite difficult to see where the output lies – Qf3 followed by e4, d5 and the like? In any event, 26.Qe4 threatens d5 so … Re8 27.Rd2 Fritz 6 suggests g4 around here, presumably to gain space and possibly hint at f4, Kf2 and a king-side initiative? 27...Qd7 28.Rdc2 b5 29.c6 Qd6 after which it’s not so clear that White has any longer-term advantage brewing, and Black can develop his queen-side 2v1 majority if nothing else happens. 30.Rb2 Reb8 31.Qb1 a6 32.a4 b4 33.a5 Rb5 34.Rc4 Rab8 35.Rb3 Kg8 36.e4 Rxa5 and Black began the downhill section of the slalom to the win (0-1, 60)

Robin’s season took another curvy lurch this Saturday as he missed a sting in the tail of his own simplifying combination:

Jennings - Nandi
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

14… Be5? 15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Bxe5 Re8 the point 17.Rfe1 the counterpoint Rxe5 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7 19.Rxe5 ah. Credit though for making White complete the task, and delaying things to move 58.

Sometimes you want to let everyone know that you play a lot better when you’ve had a week’s holidays, or anything other than a week full of bosses, customers, kids and the like. My opponent sleepwalked into a tactic he’d seen in earlier versions, and this allowed me to pick up a full point from a position where I’d felt I was losing the plot.

Hendrik on board 4 was showing how the White side of the closed Sicilian worked, and here is the start of the denouement – a worthy candidate for Game of the Weekend. White has an extra pawn but this isn’t enough to be sure of the point, as the pawns are all so raggedy. So Hendrik takes a pragmatic and quite scenic view:

Brackmann - Nicholson
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

31.Rxc6! Rxc6 32.cxd5 Rcc8 otherwise Bxd5 will win a rook 33.d6 Qd8 and now f7 is less defended so 34.h4 traps the Ng5 Qa5 35.hxg5 Rf8 36.Qa2 Rxf1+ 37.Kxf1 Rf8+ 38.Ke2 Kf7 39.Qb3 playing 39.Bd5 a move earlier is also possible but analysis is harder: … Re8 40.Qb3 exd5 41.Qf3+ Ke6 42.Qf6+ Kd7 43.Qf7+ Kd8 44.c6 39...Qd8 40.Bd5 Qxg5 41.Qb7+ Kg8 42.Bxe6+ Kh8 43.Bc8 Qf4 some temporary air for Black, although White’s queen and bishop are able to block off the checks 44.Qd5 Qf1+ 45.Kd2 Qf4+ 46.Kc2 Qh2+ 47.Kb3 Qg3+ 48.Kc4 Qe1 49.e6+ Kg8 50.e7+ Rf7 51.Qe5 Qf1+ 52.Kd5 Qf3+ 53.Qe4 Qb3+ 54.Ke5 Qg3+ 55.Ke6 Qb3+ 56.Qd5 Qxa4 57.Bd7 1–0

Time trouble or its prospect did for Phil, who though a pawn down has chances to hold back the White king from the fray. Instead …

Slinger – Neatherway (W)
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

38.Rd8+ Kf7 39.Rd7+ Kg6? 40.Bf8 ouch Nxf2 41.Rxg7+ Kf5 42.Rxh7 … and after this unequal set of trades the evitable became less evitable, and the inevitable (1-0) loomed ever closer on the horizon (58).


Oxford 2 1892 Holmes Chapel 1947
w Ludbrook, Matthew 2005 0 - 1 Bennett, Patrick 2014
b Burrows, Nick 1874 0 - 1 Clark, Robert G 1998
w Nandi, Robin J 1953 ½ - ½ Turner, John M 2035
b Brackmann, Hendrik 1858 1 - 0 Doran, Chris 2002
w Neatherway, A Philip 1856 1 - 0 Higgie, Charles L 1831
b Varney, Andrew 1810 ½ - ½ Raeburn, Andrew L 1804
3 - 3

After a little break to experiment with winning and losing, the seconds get back onto track and record a match draw, which was probably a fair enough result, all told. (This report is being written on Saturday afternoon, watching the relegation struggle, in advance of managerial interviews where no result is ever fair unless your team wins.) So, taking it from the top … … Matt carefully built up a position where he was in control but then, with time trouble in the offing, the wheels came off:

Ludbrook- Bennett
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

22.. … Nd3+ seems forced as does 23.Kc2 Qxf4 24.Qxf4 Nxf4 but 25.Nxf6 throws away big time the slight plus that Matt had been managing – Rxd8+ was first necessary: …Rxd2+ 26.Kxd2 Re2+ 27.Kd1 Rxb2 28.Re1 c6 29.Nxh7 Rxh2 30.Re8+ Kc7 31.Re7+ Kb6 32.a4 Nd5 0–1

On the adjacent board, Nick was running into some problems of his own in a Caro Kann, where he probably felt the congestion of pieces on the 3rd rank didn’t amount to an immediate threat to the status quo, so he castled 16. … 0-0

Clark – Burrows (B)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

After which White was all over the position with 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Rxe6 and whether this is completely winning or completely sound is a quiz for the reader, but it looks pretty strong to me … Bg5 19.Nxg5 hxg5 20.Nf5+ Kg8 21.Rh6 N7f6 22.Rg3 g4 23.Rxg4+ 1–0

On board 3 Robin may have intended to sacrifice, but also managed to lose a pawn in a QGA as early as move 4. This led to some interesting play to justify the material offer, and for a while it wasn’t obvious where the advantage lay, but about here:

Nandi – Turner (W)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

The feeling was that this could be headed in the way of 2R v R N N dramas such as a Korchnoi – Karpov from the (WCC, 1970s), or more recently Kramnik – Topalov (WC-gate, 2006). As both those games were won in different styles by the knights, we were relieved at the continuation: 29.Rc1 c5 30.Rc4 Rb8 somewhat unadventurous 31.Rfxe4 Nxe4 32.Rxe4 Rxb2 33.Rc4 Rb3 which led to a tame enough ending a pawn down, which was drawn in 36.

Instead, a possible continuation was 30...Kf8 31.b4 cxb4 32.axb4 Nd2 33.Rcd4 Re2 leads to this:

Which does feel a bit uncomfortable for White.

So, looking at the match top-down we’re in need of a win, no question, and Hendrik is clearly trying to conjure one out of a Sicilian Sveshnikov, where both sides have rattled out their moves to move 22 before settling down to consider the position. By move 27 the position has clarified and Black has two bishops in return for the sacrificed pawn. Play is developing along the e-file and the spectator wonders if a future … Rg8 will (a) happen and (b) be effective.

Doran – Brackmann (B)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

28…. exf3 29.Nxf3 Qg4 30.Be2 Be4 themes develop against g2 and the pin along the g-file 31.Qc6 (Qd1) … Rg8 32.Qc5?? Bxf3 33.Bxf3 Qxf3! 34.gxf3 Bd4+ and it’s all over: 35.Kf1 Bxc5 36.Ra5 Be3 37.Rxd5 Rg1+ 38.Ke2 Rg2+ 39.Kd3 Rxb2 0–1

Next door Phil was wrestling with his football conscience as Spurs were away to Southampton and live on TV. Fortunately he didn’t accept any draws offered as the lads were doing badly, dropping two goals early and settling down to a managerial talk-to at half time. Phil meantime had extra space but his advanced pawns could become vulnerable to a rook along the fourth rank if he lost control of midfield.

Neatherway – Higgie (W)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

33.Be3 Rf3 34.Re2! I like this Be3-Re2-Bd2 re-organisation … Rg8 35.Bd2 Bd8? ... Bf8 might have held, but this forces the bishop to defend passively 36.Bb4 Bc7 there are now doubled rooks preventing Be7 37.Re7+ Kd8 38.Rh7 Rf5 39.Rc2 Bb6 40.Rc6 and now it’s a romp Bd4+ 41.Ka3 Bc5 42.Bxc5 dxc5 43.Rxa6 1–0

On bottom board Andrew’s better piece placements and the currently weak d-pawn were set against the prospect of some activity along the e-file. Confidence was high …

Raeburn – Varney (B)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

23 …Nc5 24.Rde1? Be5 25.Bxc5 this looks like a forced option as Bxf4 and Nd3 are threats … Bxf4? This spoils the point of previous good works. … Rcxc5 seems to win a clear pawn 26.Bf2 Rc7 27.Rd1 Be5 28.g3 and White now begins to get a grip on the position’s fundamentals g5 29.Be3 Bf6 30.f4 h6 31.fxg5 Bxg5 32.Bd4 Kg8 33.h4 Bf6 34.Bxf6 exf6 35.Rdd2 Ra5 36.Kf2 ½–½

And a draw here seems to be the result of adding Black’s earlier advantage to White’s current plus and finding the sum is zero.

Oxford 3


Oxford 3 1629 3Cs 2 1881
w Pozimski, Szymon 1761 1 - 0 Burton, Graham P 2043
b Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1818 0 - 1 Adams, Philip 2042
w Riley, Adrian K 1698 ½ - ½ Lea, Daniel J 1931
b Henbest, Kevin B 1684 0 - 1 Manton, Jacob 1856
w Parel, Kurien 1400 0 - 1 Lau, Jason 1785
b Bentham, Sam 1418 0 - 1 Abbas, Ahmed C 1634
1½ - 4½

Oxford 3 fate on Saturday depended a bit on how the ratings translated over the board; as with the first team, a 300 point difference can still result in a tough game, where the result follows the rating if not always the play. And, to start off Szymon showed how poor an indicator the ratings can be as he played calm strategic chess (3. b3 against the Sicilian) to wrap up the full point on his return. Here’s the concluding phase.

Pozimski – Burton (W)
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

Black, though an exchange down hopes us the Nf2+ threat as a ruse to remove the c-pawn from the board, after which White will have to struggle to win the ending. Szymon finds 34.Qe4 Bf6 (after … Nf2+; 32. Rxf2 Qxf2; 33. Qxe7 there is no back rank check) 35.Qe2 h5 36.Bf3 Ne3 37.Re1 Bd4 38.Qd3 and now Black needs to find something to do as his pieces are tied up somewhat f5 (this is an open invitation to a Rook sortie to b7) 39.Rb1 h4 40.Rb5 Qa7 (…) 41.Rb7+ 1–0

On board 2, Sean’s queen wandered offside far too quickly in a French Classical, which morphed into a poisoned pawn variation – the result, all too quickly, was a trapped queen.

Meantime, and a deal later in the afternoon, Kelly had secured a cast-iron draw against a 1900+ opponent who found no way to break through in this position:

Riley – Lea (W)
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

44.Be3 fxg4 45.fxg4 hxg4 46.hxg4 c5 47.dxc5 Bxc5 48.Bg5 Bd4 49.Bd2 Bf6 50.Be3 Be5 51.Bd2 Bb2 52.Bg5 Ke5 53.Bd2 Kd5 ½–½

Another triumph for the Kelly Reti. Some noises off, on and over the board here on the j’adoube rule, and whether a player (viz. Kelly) needed to move the piece that had become dislodged in the course of making a move. We await the inevitable social media commentary from the Office of the the DPP, before committing ourselves to any further comment.

So, all square over the top three boards – a good result, fellas, although the end of the good news for the team. A brief glance at proceedings:

On board 4, this position is an good place to start assessing progress.

Manton – Henbest (B)
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

After 12. … Bd7 13. 0-0 b5 is pretty thematic even though it allows White to win the b5 pawn without worrying about the centre, a subsequent … Qb6 and (if needed) Rb8 will equalise the material situation. So 14.h3 Nc4? looks like a theme, but not quite one that works here 15.Bxc4 bxc4 16.Qe2 Qc7 17.Qxc4 Rfb8 18.Rfb1 White sets about sensibly defending his extra pawn before re-routing that Ng3 to the much nicer c4 square …Rb4 19.Qd3 Rb3 20.Nf1 Qc8 21.Nd2 Rb4 22.Nc4 Ne8 23.Kh2 f5 24.Bf4 Qc7 25.e5 Rxc4 26.Qxc4 dxe5 27.d6+ 1–0

On board 5, We join Kurien’s first game for the Oxford contingent, and possibly his first ever game OTB, in a position which reflects the quiet continuation after a quiet open game:

Parel - Lau (W)
4NCL Division, 22.03.2014

Personally I’ve no real idea what’s going on here; White has two bishops and the possibility of some queenside expansion, so I’d say he’s better. The Be3 could look good on the a1-h8 diagonal but all this is far away, like the cows in Fr Ted, and for the moment Kurien’s queen is attacked. 20.b4 Be6 21.Qd4 Nd7 22.c4 (my preference would be for Bc1-b2) … Raa8 23.Bc2 Kg8 24.Qd3 Nge5 25.Qc3? after this White’s position falls apart … Nxf3+ 26.gxf3 Bxh3 27.Kh2 Qh4 28.Rh1 f5 29.exf5 Bxf5+ 30.Kg2 Qf6 31.Bd4 Qg6+ 32.Kf1 Bxc2 33.Bxg7 Bd3+ 34.Ke1 Qxg7 35.Qxd3 Qxa1+ 36.Kd2 Qxh1 37.Qg6+ Kh8 38.Ke3 Qe1+ 39.Kd4 c5+ 0–1

Board 6 saw Sam forget about the backwards function of bishops, spectacularly:

Abbas – Bentham (W)
4NCL Division 3, 22.03.2014

15.Bg5 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Qd2 17.Bxd2 1–0


BCM Bison (4) 1728 Oxford 3 1708
w Cooke, Charlie 1751 ½ - ½ Biswas, Karl 1745
b Couch, Mark 1746 0 - 1 Henbest, Kevin B 1684
w Moore, John R 1718 ½ - ½ Riley, Adrian K 1698
b Frith, Shane S 1698 1 - 0 Bentham, Sam 1418
w d - 1 Terry, Sean 1918
b d - 1 Langham, Rod E 1787
1 - 4

Sunday’s match was more even over the 4 boards it was played, with Oxford having some additional cushion in the shape of 3 points for the 2 boards being defaulted. Kelly added a quick half point from this position to ensure the draw and give himself the room to pick up the Kibitzer baton for the rest of the afternoon:

Moore – Riley (B)

h5 the sort of move that works well in some Kelly Khans, but here it merely aims to irritate a piece that wants to move, while creating a weakness on g5. 16.h3 Bf8 17.Bg5 Bd6 18.b5 Nd5 19.Ne4 Bc7 20.bxa6 bxa6 21.g3 Kg7 22.Bd2 ½–½ A good Sunday result for the Black pieces, we think – although it was hard to convince Kell of this!

On top board Karl had a knight to move – where would you move it?

Cooke – Biswas (B)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

Well, most Irish schoolboys know that all Russian schoolboys play it to … a5, from where it threatens all hell via c4. Probably Karl wondered whether a5 was the right place for a Knight to be in the ending, when all the action seems to be on the central files, as he played instead: Nd8 which allows a brisk mobilisation on the king-side 19.f5 Nf7 20.g4 c6 21.g5 and White is now doing fine … cxd5 22.cxd5 Rc8 23.Re3 Rc4 24.g6 hxg6 25.fxg6 Nh8 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.Nxd6 Rg4+ 28.Rg3 Rxg3+ 29.hxg3 Nxg6 30.Nc8 Ne7

31.Nxe7? White misses 31.d6, the point of which is that Nxc8 loses to d7, and after say … Nc6 32.d7 Nd8 33.Kf2 Kf7 White still has the initiative and the chance to convert the win 31...Kxe7 32.c4 Kd6 33.Kf2 b5 34.cxb5 Kxd5 35.Ke3 Kc5 36.Ke4 Kxb5 37.Kxe5 ½–½

While Kevin was soon about to start romping home after an opposite-side castling event in a Scandinavian:

Henbest – Couch (W)
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

The h-file isn’t a threat as the Bishop halts any play while it dominates the Black Nd7: 19.b4 Rdh8 20.a4 Nf6 21.a5 Qb5 22.c4 Qf5 23.b5 c5 24.dxc5 Qxc5+ 25.Qf2 the initiative is just as strong without queens on the board Qxf2+ 26.Rxf2 Rc5 27.Rc2 Rd8 28.Bf2 afgter which it’s time to look for the gizmo that operates the curtains … Rf5 29.Bxa7 Nd7 30.Bf2 Nc5 31.Ra2 Nd3 32.a6 Kb8 33.a7+ Ka8 34.Rd1 1–0

On board 4, Sam was too sudden very early in the opening, which started: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 f5 4.d3 Nf6 5.Bg5 Bb4 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 0–0 8.g3 d6 9.Bg2 Qe8

Bentham - Frith
4NCL Division 3, 23.03.2014

And here, White must be doing quite well: he has the two bishops (Black normally needs his dark-squared bishop in Dutch style openings) and an open b-file to conjure with. His Bg2 is ideally placed to make strong points along that diagonal, or from e4 or d5. 10.Bxf6 (?) unusual to swap back a good bishop so soon - perhaps White was afraid of … e4, or a quick Qh5-Ng4 if he castled? Understandable although it would be better to defer the decision to exchange on f6 … Rxf6 11.e4 fxe4 12.dxe4 Qf7 and now the character of the position has changed and White has only weaknesses where he previously had a centre 13.Ng5 Qxc4 14.Qd5+ Qxd5 15.exd5 Na5 and the ending is pretty shabby for White, although that’s one better than the middle game he had previously. (0–1, 44)

12 April 2014