Weekend 5

[games, pgn]

Tim re-writes slightly (12 July):

Following our relegation on game points following the May bank holiday, reported below, with some diagrams & commentary to follow, the excellent headline news is

Oxford 1 Return to Division 1 (!)

In a repeat of the 2011 close season when Pride And Prejudice's withdrawal kept us in Division One after finishing fifth, we have earned a reprieve thanks to WGHK's decision to reduce to one team for 2014-2015. While that means we get our seat back at the top table, our perennial "bunnies" WGHK 2 unfortunately won't be there for us to nick points off. Moral: if going down, always go down in fifth place, just in case. A very pleasant side effect of this un-relegation is that Justin Tan has agreed to continue with us for 2014-2015 – yippee!

Tim writes (early May 2014):

All, the results from the last 4NCL of 2013-2014 are as below. Oxford had a good day on Sunday, not so good on the other days ...

  • Oxford 1 lost ½-7* to Barbican 1, beat Grantham Sharks 2 4½-3½ and lost 3-5 to Camb Univ 1;
  • Oxford 2 lost 2-3* to Shropshire, beat Banbury Bulldogs 4-2 (yay!) and drew 3-3 with Ferry CTM 1;
  • Oxford 3 only played on Monday, losing 2½-3½ to Bristol 2.

* default-related scorelines

The headline, disappointingly: Oxford 1 are relegated from Division 1, with eight match points. That's annoying, because in past seasons 8/14 match points (over 50%!) has often been enough for survival. We can point to Cambridge's win over Blackthorne Russia in round 8 as a starting point for our relegation; the crunch match against them today was mainly decided on board 5, where Neil had a ridiculously complicated game against Daniel Bisby that I had no idea most of the time who was winning or losing. It was quite possible that the position would blow up in either player's face at any moment: unfortunately for us, loss of the e4 pawn after the time control more-or-less spelt the end for Neil and our Div 1 chances.

All that said, Oxford 1 put in a great effort to try and stay up today. I've described Neil's efforts above; Justin was very impressive in despatching Gabor Pinter in 19 moves, earning an IM norm with something to spare and ending only half-a-point shy of a GM norm. Chantelle held a slightly-worse ending fairly easily; Ben tried for a whole scoresheet to win N+5 v B+5 without success.

Top players for Oxford over the weekend: here I'm going to go purely by percentages, awarding gongs to Szymon Pozimski for his 2/2 [3/3 for the season!!], and Matt Rose & Sean Lim for 1½/2 – well done to Sean, I'm delighted that he won with us for the first time.

If we talk of players doing all three games this weekend, Justin & Hendrik (yet again!) were our leading lights with 2/3 each – this is as I would expect, because they have both had great seasons and (in skip's view) were our best players in Ox1 and Ox2 respectively. I am very much looking forward to giving Hendrik more challenges next season in Ox2, but regrettably our relegation from Div 1 means that we will lose Justin's services, as top Premiership footballers don't play in the poxy Championship. Justin has been a revelation [I'm still drooling over his ... Nc3, ... Nb1, ... Nxa3 v Andrew Greet] and I am eager for us to return to Division 1 as soon as possible so that we can put in a large (virtual) bid for him!

I also want to record my thanks to Zoe Varney for her debut appearance in the first team on Sunday. She played very well – watch out in the PGN for Nxe5! and the simplifying combination with Bxf7+ to a (probably) winning endgame. Sadly she scored 0/2 this weekend, but I would very much like to see more moves from her.

That's all from me. Roll on 2014-2015! The dates are on the 4NCL website here – put them in your diary! [do please tell me if you already know you can't make one or more of those dates, so that I can plan ahead ...]. Our next action will be on October 4-5 at the 4NCL Rapidplay in Daventry.

Oxford 1


Oxford 1 2174 Barbican 4NCL 1 2362
w Tan, Justin f 2363 ½ – ½ Turner, Matthew J g 2499
b Zakarian, David f 2403 ½ – ½ Cox, John J i 2396
w Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2275 0 – 1 D'Costa, Lorin AR i 2418
b Dickinson, Tim R 2124 0 – 1 Ferguson, Mark i 2411
w Healey, Michael W 2132 0 – 1 Franklin, Samuel GA f 2370
b Ludbrook, Matthew 1998 0 – 1 Knott, Simon JB i 2325
w Terry, Sean 1925 0 – 1 Lauterbach, Ingrid wi 2101
b 0 – 1 Collinson, Adam R f 2383
½ – 7

A long April (New York, Belfast, deadlines…) so it was a relief for your reporter to sit down to play some chess in early May, even if that meant getting up a lot to see how the top boards were doing. Justin on top board needed some results all through the weekend to get his GM norm, and he’d reached this position with White, against Matthew Turner, who’s to move:

Tan – Turner (B)
4NCL, 03.05.2014

White has picked up the b-pawn, but it looked like it was going to be in exchange for the central d-pawn, and on that basis it did look like Black has gone some way to solving his problems – chop off on f3, win the pawn on d4, castle… – all a bit dull, really. (Instead) play continued (as predicted) 12 … Bxf3 13.Qxf3 exd4 14.Nxd4 Nxd4 15.Ba4+! (ah) Nd7 16.cxd4 Bxd4 17.Rd1 Bf6 18.Qg4

and all of a sudden it’s gone critical for Black; his king is stranded in the middle.

18 … h5 19.Qh3 Ke7 20.f4 Bxb2 21.Bxb2 Rxb2 22.e5 Rh6 23.Re1 Re6 and the position is beginning to look a bit like “White to play and win”

24.f5 has the point that the Rb2 is vulnerable if the d-pawn captures on e5, but afterwards Justin pointed out that Bxd7 immediately (before f5) is completely decisive. The computer also suggests Qh4+ wins – 24.Qh4+ f6 25.exd6+ cxd6 26.Rxe6+ Kxe6 27.Re1+ Kf7 28.Qxh5+. 24 … Rxe5 25.Bxd7 Qb8! (avoiding the loss of the Rb2 and generating surprising and quick counterplay) 26.Rxe5+ dxe5 27.Rd1 Qb6+ 28.Kh1 Rd2!

29.Qh4+ f6 30.Ba4 Qd4 31.Qxh5 Kd6 32.Rc1 Qxa4 33.h3 Qa3 34.Rg1 Qd3 35.Qg4 c5 36.Qxg7 Qxf5 37.Qf8+ Kc6 38.Qa8+ Kd7 39.Ra1 Ke7 40.Qa7+ Rd7 41.Qxc5+ Kf7 ½–½

Next door, David Z had dropped a pawn to a d’oh moment a few moves before this position and was still struggling as that Nb5 was threatening to cause damage on either d6 or c7.

Cox – Zakarian
4NCL, 03.05.2014

… Rd8 seems forced if big-bit material equality is to be kept in balance, but David finds another way … 19…. Nc6 20.e3 [20.Nxd6 Nf4+ 21.gxf4 Qg4+ 22.Kh1 Rxe2 is what I saw at the time and wondered if this was enough, but Fritz is happy that after 23.d4 Nxd4 24.Nxd4 Bxd4 White is doing OK] 20...Rd8 21.Bb2 Bxb2 22.Rxb2 Nb4 and now although a pawn down Black’s position has stabilised and there are chances to get a result here. Thirty moves later a much reduced position had produced a R+P ending that seemed to have only 2 results left in it:

White to play

On the face of it, although White is better, if Black can monitor the d-pawn the draw is the favourite and play continued 51.e5 c3 52.f4 and it appears that both sides have missed a finesse in this exchange. White needs to play Re2 where possible, and Black needed to play 52 … Re1! If allowed. The threats that Ree3 can conjure are probably enough to hold the game 53.d7 Rxd7 54.Rxc3 h5 55.Rfc2 Kg7 56.Rc8 Rd3 57.R8c3 Rd7 58.g4 hxg4 59.hxg4 g5 60.fxg5 ½–½

The rest of the boards all ended in defeats, some blunder-ful, others just the application of pawn pushes. Here’s a summary:

Eckersley-Waites T – D’Costa
4NCL, 03.05.2014
28 … Nd5 29.Nxd5 Qxd5 30.Qb3 Rxc5 ouch 0–1

Matt and I found ourselves in Div 1 and found ourselves enjoying the same fate, by different means. For Matt, his opponent got a better position and then, in the manner of Birnam forest on its way to Dunsinane, pushed his pawns:

Knott – Matthew
4NCL, 03.05.2014

29.a4 Nd7 30.a5 b5 31.f4 Rc8 32.Bf3 f6 33.Qc1 Ra8 34.g4 Kf7 35.h4 Nf8 36.Nd4 Rb8 37.g5 Qd7 38.Kg3 h5 39.gxh6 Bxh6 40.Bg4

40 … Qb7 41.Bc8 Qa8 42.Rc6 Ng7 43.Rxa6 1–0

My own game had its roots more in tragi-comedy, starting off with the over-ambitious (off stage) push of a b-pawn as early as move 10, which led to Ingrid building up this powerful position on move 26:

Terry – Lauterbach,I (B)
4NCL, 03.05.2014

It’s almost resignable, as Black’s additional pawn and better minor piece, allied to control of the d-file means a long and slow death at the altar of technique. Still, better to play on a bit, was the general mood on the White side, and this resulted in a complete bonus when Black continued with the wonderfully wrong 26. … e4**, at a stroke throwing away the linchpin of her material progress, while centralising the White queen.

** Not, we should say in mitigation, the worst move to feature the arrival of a piece on e4 this season, as readers of the Oxford 2 reports can testify.

An endgame, starting with 27 … Qd1+, appears quickly on the board, as does time control, and move 60 even as the game wends its way towards the prospect of a draw. Other games would have been agreed drawn by now, but presumably on the principle that disgust has its own motivations towards redemption, the game continued on. At move 65 this was the position:

Still drawn, but with energy levels now critical it’s time to reduce this to the handshake, so out popped the combination that had been forming: 63.Ne5 Bxf4 64.Nxc6 Bxg5 65.Nd4+ Kd7 66.c6+ Kd6 67.c7 Kd7 68.Kd5 Bf4

And with the knight about to sacrifice itself on f5, It’s nearly time for the king to go to h1 and thence to sleep. 69.Nxf5 (?) much easier was 69. c8Q followed by Ke6, but moves being dictated to the right hand were being only haphazardly executed by the fingers of the right hand. … Bxc7 70.Nd4 Ke7 71.Nf3 Kf6 72.Ke4 Bg3 73.Ng1 Bf2 74.Ne2 Kg5 75.Kf3 Bc5 76.Nc3 Bd4 77.Ne4+ Kf5 78.Ng3+ Ke5 79.Ne4 h6 80.Ng3 Bc3 81.Ne2 Bb2 82.Ng1 Kd5 83.Ne2 Be5 84.Ng1 Kd4 85.Ne2+ Kd3 86.Ng1 Kd2 87.Kg4 Ke3 88.h4 Bf4 89.Nh3



Grantham Sharks 2 2104 Oxford 1 2218
w Purton, Ben J 2145 ½ – ½ Tan, Justin f 2363
b Batchelor, Peter J 2157 0 – 1 Zakarian, David f 2403
w Murphy, Hugh W 2156 0 – 1 Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2275
b Varnam, Liam D 2126 0 – 1 Rose, Matthew 2315
w Burrows, Martin P 2168 ½ – ½ Tsanas, Athanasios 2285
b McGowan, Daniel 2097 ½ – ½ Healey, Michael W 2132
w Cairns, Stephen 2042 1 – 0 Dickinson, Tim R 2124
b Summerscale, Claire E w 1941 1 – 0 Varney, Zoe w 1850
3½ – 4½

Part 2 of this weekend was the easier match against Grantham Sharks, and the match win duly arrived, courtesy a 3/4 performance on top boards, and a somewhat less convincing (but ultimately sufficient) return from the bottom boards. Your reporter was in a different hotel, wondering what there was left to say about Intercultural Management in Hospitality & Tourism Environments (turns out there was quite a lot left unsaid), so much of this report is second hand stuff, but at least you’re all spared another edition of Terry-Lauterbach.

On first viewing though Justin’s game v Ben Purton has all the makings of a classic of a different sort. For one thing, it’s move 38 and just look at the bishop on c8. Poor thing, never had (quite literally) a chance. What’s worse, if you look through the pgn file with the help of the computa-monsta it doesn’t make any recommendations as to how to improve its plight.

Purton- Tan (B)
4NCL, 04.05.2014

Next thing – let’s look at the evaluation. It’s Black to move and he seems better – pieces more active, that advance h-pawn, that AC-DC horizontal-vertical hold of the rooks … whatever. Then again, the indicator on the Fritz barometer is pointing towards the Black end of the spectrum (it’s been dithering either side of equality for 20 moves or so).

Finally, there’s the continuation: 38 … Rh7 39.g3 Be3 40.c5 e4 41.Bxe4 fxe4 42.Nc4 Rf7 43.Rfe1 Bf2 44.Nxa3 ½–½

By my sober calculations that’s about 8 x question marks and a vaguely hallucinogenic cloud hanging over the final result. And did that rook really go to g7 on move 42 (we think f7)??

On board 2, far more manageable fare, and before the diagram position below David has made an interesting and unforced exchange sacrifice which has given him an extra (doubled) d-pawn and some presence on the board – the minor pieces are exerting pressure – but it’s not clear where it’s going to end up.

Zakarian – Batchelor
4NCL, 04.05.2014

24.Ne7+ Kf8 25.Nc6 Rad8 and the exchange is going to be recovered but David presses for more 26.d7 Nxd7 27.Bf5! nice move – … Nc5 (after … Kg8, 29.Re1 and the e-pawn will quickly fall) 28.Nxd8 Rxd8 29.Bxh7 Rxd5 30.h6

… and all of a sudden the lightbulb comes on, and the Rh1 is converted into an attacking piece, suddenly offside. Very pleasing, as is the textbook demonstration of the finish – and after yesterday’s farce on board 7 it’s time we feel to start emphasising the textbook:

30 … gxh6 31.gxh6 Rd8 32.Kc2 Ne6 33.Rh5 Kf7 34.Be4 Nd4+ 35.Kc3 Kf6 36.h7 Rh8 37.Rh6+ Kg7 38.Rxa6 Rf8 39.Kb4 Rc8 40.Rg6+ Kh8 41.Rg5 Re8 42.a3 Ne2 43.Kxb5 c3 44.Rg8+ Rxg8 45.hxg8Q+ Kxg8 46.Bd5+ Kf8 47.bxc3 Nxc3+ 48.Kc5 Ke7 49.f3 Kd7 50.Be4 Kc7 51.Bc2 Ne2 52.Kd5 Nd4 53.Be4 Nc6 54.Ke6 Na5 55.Bd5 1–0

On board 3, Tom EW recovered from the blip on Saturday to nail down a mate on move 40 against Hugh Murphy:

Murphy- Eckersley-Waites,T
4NCL, 04.05.2014

36…. fxg5+ 37.Nxg5 Rh3+ 38.Nxh3 Rh5+ 39.Kg3 Rxh3+ 40.Kf4 g5#

This win, allied to a grinding win on board 4 and two contrasting draws on 5&6 – Thanasis was held, Mike held on to offer / accept a draw – meant that the match was decided. Both bottom boards were interesting in their own way. On 7, Tim drops a pawn and cedes the two bishops, and his position is hopeless at the diagram position:

Cairns- Dickinson
4NCL, 04.05.2014

What’s interesting is the direct tactical route that results in a handshake in fewer than 10 moves– exchange queens then allow the clerics to go bish-bash-bosh: 23.Qe7 Rfe8 24.Qg5 Qxg5 25.Bxg5 Ne5 26.Bf5 Rb8 27.Bf4 Rb3 28.Rd6 Rb6 29.c5 Ra6 30.Bxe5 Rxe5 31.Bd3 1–0

On bottom board Zoe plucked a tactic from a morass of development:

Varney, Z – Summerscale, C (W)
4NCL, 04.05.2014

17.Nxe5 Qxe5 18.Bd4 Qc7 19.Bxf6 Bxh3 20.gxh3 Nxh3+ 21.Kf1 Bc5 and here there are two clear ways forward: (a) 25. e5 will win surely but not without complication while (b) the computer suggests the flash 22.Be5 Qe7 23.Bd6 which liquidates the dangerous bishop and down to an ending where the extra piece will count. Instead Zoe continues 22.f3 Rg6 23.Bd8 more tactics Rxd8 24.Qxd8+ Qxd8 25.Bxf7+ Kxf7 26.Rxd8

And although still an exchange to the good the bind on the black position has gone and Claire’s better piece placements allowed enough chances to be conjured to reverse the result: … b6 27.Rad1 g4 28.R1d7+ Kf6 29.Rc7 Kg5 30.Rdc8 Rf6 31.Rxc6 Rxf3+ 32.Ke1 h5 33.Kd2 g3 34.e5 Rf2+ 35.Ke1 Rxc2 36.Ne4+ Kf4 37.Nxc5 bxc5 38.e6 g2 39.Rg8 Ng5 40.Kd1 Rxb2 41.Rxg5 Kxg5 42.Kc1 g1Q+ 43.Kxb2 Qg2+ 44.Kc3 Qxc6 0–1


Oxford 1 2267 Cambridge University 1 2301
w Zakarian, David f 2403 0 – 1 Mah, Karl CC i 2403
b Rose, Matthew 2315 ½ – ½ Dearing, Edward J i 2416
w Tan, Justin f 2363 1 – 0 Pinter, Gabor i 2353
b Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2275 0 – 1 Camus de Solliers, Guillaume f 2351
w Dickenson, Neil F f 2306 0 – 1 Bisby, Daniel L f 2310
b Savage, Ben DM f 2265 ½ – ½ Eckersley-Waites, Adam 2275
w Coleman, James c 2144 ½ – ½ Chevannes, Sabrina L wf 2158
b Foster, Chantelle L w 2066 ½ – ½ Hill, Alistair 2142
3 – 5

Top board tactics – or match preparation ?! – emerged from the off in Zakarian – Mah : 1.e4 c5 2.b3 g6 3.Bb2 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.e5 Nh5 6.Nd5 d6 7.g4 leading to this:

Zakarian – Mah (B)
4NCL, 05.05.2014

and after 6. … dxe5 8.Nxe7 Qxe7 9.gxh5 0–0 a position that would once have put in an appearance only in blitz games seems to have arrived on the board, or maybe an Oxford OCA chess league. Black does seem to have survived the blitz and White’s plans aren’t that clear – Bg2 and queenside castling, perhaps. The decision to take immediately on g6 (10.hxg6) does take any remaining tactical tension out of the board and Black was left with an easy game, and after … fxg6 11.Bc4+ Kh8 12.Qe2 Nc6 13.0–0–0 Nd4 14.Qe3 Bg4 White was on the back foot and wasn’t given any chance to escape (0-1, 53).

Equally drastic was the outcome on board 3 – Matt Rose drew a cautious encounter against Eddie Dearing on board 2 – where Gabor has pinched a pawn on a2 and now his knight is being prodded on f6:

Tan – Pinter
4NCL, 05.05.2014

Now, even with the queen offside, it does seem like White is winning whatever happens next, but there’s nothing immediately calculating to mate or material loss. I wouldn’t want to be Black though, and might tentatively put my knight on d7 (… Ne8 looks too constricting**). Fritz strikes down that idea with the impish 16. b4! Which wins a piece as the Bc3 is poisoned (Bh7:+) and winning another pawn on b4 will lose the Bb7 to an eventual Rb1. Black chose 15…. Ne4 and was immediately in hot water after 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.Nxe4 Bd8 which only got worse after 18.Rd2 Qe7 19.Nf6+ 1–0 as Rd7 will win the queen if nothing better emerges after … Kh8. A more complete analysis is here (http://www.4ncl.co.uk/rep5_1314.htm)

** Ironically, Fritz suggests … Ne8 as the only plausible defence in the diagram position!

A quick but entertaining draw emerged on board 7, which seems to be the result of some book misread while under the influence of midnight oil:

Coleman - Chevannes, S (W)
4NCL, 05.05.2014

It’s a Caro Kann and Sabrina now seems to have an easy enough perpetual, which is what initially starts to unfold: 14.Kg3 Qg5+ 15.Kf2 Qe3+ 16.Kg3 Re4 (and now mate is threatened, but) 17.h3 seems to hold … Qf4+ 18.Kf2 Qe3+ 19.Kg3 Qf4+ 20.Kf2 Qe3+ 21.Kg3 Qf4+ (isn’t this 3 times repetition) 22.Kf2 Qe3+ 23.Kg3 Qf4+ (and a fourth?) 24.Kf2 Qe3+ 25.Kg3 Qf4+ (eventually) ½–½

So that’s 2½ apiece with 3 games to go.

Tom EW went adrift in a game where his two bishops eventually were one tempo short of retaining initiative in the diagram position, where earlier his pawn structure was so structured as to easily suggest the possibility of sacrificing them for initiative:

Guillaume Camus de Solliers, – Tom Eckersley-Waites (W) **
4NCL, 05.05.2014

38.e5 gxf4 39.gxf4 Bxd2+ 40.Rxd2 Ke7 41.h3 Bxd1 42.d6+ Kd7 43.Rxd1 Rb4 44.Rc1 Rxf4 45.Rc7+ Kd8 46.Re7 a5 47.Ke2 a4 48.Ke3 Rf1 49.Ke4 a3 50.Ra7 Re1+ 51.Kd5 Rd1+ 52.Kc4 Re1 53.Kd4 Rd1+ 54.Kc4 Re1 55.Re7 Rf1 56.Kb3 Rf3+ 57.Kb4 Rxh3 58.Rxf7 Re3 59.Kc5 1–0

** Great names, incidentally. An unsuspecting visitor might have thought he had wandered into a Hammer House studio at which the cast of the da Vinci Code were blitzing in between scenes, while football fans amongst our readership might want to consider how James Alexander Gordon might have enunciated this result at 5pm on a match Saturday:

Guillaume Camus de Solliers 1 … Tom Eckersley-Waites 0

On board 8, Chantelle rescued a position where albeit an exchange to the good has found herself pinned back on the back two ranks without that much counterplay, and a budding fatal weakness in that pawn on a6, a fine result against a 2150-rated opponent:

Hill- Foster,C
4NCL, 05.05.2014

24.f3 e5 25.Bh3 Qb8 26.b4 Qa7 27.Kh1 Qb8 28.Qxb8 Rxb8 29.Bf1 Re6 30.Ra1 g6 31.Ra4 Kg7 32.Bxa6 d5 33.Bd3 dxe4 34.fxe4 Rexb6 35.axb6 Rxb6 36.b5 Nd7 37.Ra6 Rb7 38.Rc6 h6 39.Kg2 Nb8 40.Rd6 Nd7 41.Kf3 Nc5 42.Bc4 Ne6 43.Bxe6 fxe6 44.Rxe6 Rxb5 45.h4 ½–½

Which brings us to the final moments of the match and season, where sometime around here a draw wasn’t a good result for Oxford and a win was needed:

Dickenson,N – Bisby
4NCL, 05.05.2014

And if this is the position, then (like so many directions given in my home country) this isn’t the best place to start looking for a win, as after the clever 43.Nc4 the game is more or less stock equal, and this 3-month’s late assessment ignores the effect of the previous 42 moves, which saw the initiative slip and slide each way, and latterly towards Black … Ne8 44.Rg3 perhaps Rf3 and Rxf6 is worth a punt? … Qb8 45.Na3 and now Black takes control. As is suggested by John Saunders, here (http://www.4ncl.co.uk/rep5_1314.htm) Rf3 is very dangerous … Nd6 46.Rf3 Rf8 and by now Black is firmly in control 47.Nc4 Nxe4 48.Bd3 Nxf2 49.Rxf2 e4 50.Rg2 exd3 51.Qd6 Qe8+ 52.Kd2 Bb5 0–1

Oxford 2


Oxford 2 1821 Shropshire 1971
w Nandi, Robin J 1952 1 – 0
b Brackmann, Hendrik 1858 0 – 1 Gostelow, David W 2066
w Neatherway, A Philip 1858 ½ – ½ Paul, Nathanael 2010
b Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1818 ½ – ½ Pugh, Glyn D 1938
w Biswas, Karl 1745 0 – 1 Lewis, Christopher D 1850
b Riley, Adrian K 1698 0 – 1 Tarr, Steve F 1818
2 – 3

A strong Shropshire side defaulted on top board and needed to pull out the stops elsewhere to achieve the 4-1 OTB victory for a match win – and this they were able to achieve …

On board 2, Hendrik has reached this position (black) where the middle game looks a bit like stalemate, as Black’s forces have arrived on time to prevent a White breakthrough. Both sides willingly trade off positions and look to the ending:

Gostelow- Brackmann (B)
4NCL, 03.05.2014

24…. Kf8 25.Rhg2 gxh5 26.Bxh5 Rxg2 27.Rxg2 first pair of rooks off Rg8 28.Rxg8+ Kxg8 … second pair 29.Bf7+ Kg7 30.Bxd5 cxd5 … bishop & knight 31.Qe3 Qh6 32.Kd2 Qxe3+ 33.Kxe3 .. queens Kf6 34.Kf4 Be6

All too quickly the pieces have been traded, and as the smoke settles above the board it looks at first sight that Black is holding the game – one can point to the passed h-pawn and the nominal B v N advantage as factors in this judgment. In truth, though, this is close-to-losing for Black, as the white pawns on the other side can’t be held back for long, and the white knight dominates any attempt by the black bishop to defend against their advance. For this reason the decision to exchange the queens is questionable.

35.b4 h5 36.b5 a6 37.b6 There’s a slightly quicker win with 37.c6 Bc8 38.Nd7+ Ke7 39.Nc5 but … 37...Bc8 was quite sufficient 38.c6 h4 39.Nd7+ Ke7 40.cxb7 Bxb7 41.Nc5 Kd6 42.Nxb7+ Kc6 43.Nc5 Kxb6 44.Kg4 Kb5 45.Kxh4 Kc4 46.Ne6 a5 47.Kg5 a4 48.Kf4 Kd3 49.Ke5 Kc2 50.Kxd5 Kb1 51.Kc4 Kxa2 52.Nc5 1–0

On board 3, Phil was quick to pounce when the moment presented itself on move 17 :

Neatherway – Paul (B)
4NCL, 03.05.2014

16…. Nd7 17.Rxe6 fxe6 18.Bxg6 Ndf6 19.Bxe8 Qxe8 20.Qe2 Ne4 21.Ne5 a little too carefree – c4 is indicated here – sometimes it’s good to hang on to what you’ve got?! …Nxc3 22.Qg4+ Ng7 23.a4 Ne4 24.Re1 a6 25.Nc6 axb5 26.axb5 Ra3 and White’s initiative was spluttering (½–½, 54).

Sean Lim got a draw on 4, while Karl B managed to lose a pawn early in the Caro Kann, and in trying to justify it, and make something of his plight, blundered a piece (0-1, 21). On bottom board Kelly had migrated his knight to the side of the board, which drew the white bishop to e5. It looks a little threatening…

Tarr – Riley
4NCL, 03.05.2014

8. ... 0–0 but castling is all right 9.Ng5 Nxe5? missing perhaps that the Nh5 can be taken with tempo 10.Bxh7+ Kh8 11.Qxh5 Bxg5 12.Bc2+ Bh6 which netted a clean pawn and an enduring plus into the ending (1-0, 56)


Banbury Bulldogs 1841 Oxford 2 1839
w Willetts, Stephen J 1994 1 – 0 Nandi, Robin J 1952
b Staples, Neil 1978 ½ – ½ Ludbrook, Matthew 1998
w Hibbitt, Arthur M 1792 0 – 1 Pozimski, Szymon 1786
b Evans, Chris John 1809 0 – 1 Brackmann, Hendrik 1858
w Beckett, Richard 1778 0 – 1 Biswas, Karl 1745
b Rowan, Daniel 1698 ½ – ½ Riley, Adrian K 1698
2 – 4

On top board the battle seemed to be going the Oxford end of the Oxfordshire derby with Robin’s Capablanca knight outdoing the Botvinnik bishop on a3 – and a pawn sacrifice is needed to free the almost trapped Rb5:

Willetts – Nandi
4NCL, 04.05.2014

30.a5 Nxa5 31.Rb1 Nb3 32.Rh1 Rg6 this seems unnecessary and a simple advance of a-and b- pawns is more to the point, and this exchange allows white to get his k-side pawn roller going: 33.Rxg6 Kxg6 34.g4 a5 35.f5+ Kg7 36.Be7 Rd7 37.f6+ Kf7 the final mistake (Kg6) 38.Rxh6 a4 39.Ba3 Rd8 40.g5 Rg8 41.Rh7+ Kg6 42.Rd7 the final indignity (if … Kxg5, Rg7+) Rh8 43.Rg7+ 1–0

On Board 2, Neil Staples had just snaffled a pawn on c5 and was looking to open up the position for his other pieces:

Ludbrook – Staples
4NCL, 04.05.2014

27.Qb2 c5 28.dxc5 Bxc5 29.Bxg7 the test of the line – Black is (rightly) convinced that the White king’s position is weak enough not to worry about this intrusion. …Nf4+ 30.Kh2 [30.Kh1 Qe4 31.Qb7 Nd5] 30...Nd3 too anxious to attack something directly. 30...Bd6 threatens all manner of discovered disasters and stretches the defence of the Bg7 (e.g. 31.Qa1 Qe4 32.Rb3 Qf5 33.Ng1 Nd3+ 34.Kh1 Qf4 31.Qa1 Qf4+ once again too direct. … e5 causes problems e.g 32.Bf6 Qf4+ 33.Kg2 e4 34.Ne5 Bxf2 or 32. Bh6 Qf4+ 33. Kg2 Qf5 threatening Nf4+ mating 32.Kg2 Qe4 33.Be5 Nf4+ last chance was … Rd5 34.Bxf4 Qxf4 35.Qe5 and the worst is over for White Bd6 36.Qxf4 Bxf4 37.Rb7 Rc7 38.Rfb1 Rxb7 39.Rxb7 Ra8 40.h4 a5 41.Nd4 a4 42.Kf3 Bc1 ½–½

Syzmon Pozimski started his comeback for the team with a visual win on board 3, although with more accurate defence it might have needed a sacrifice to effect a breakthrough:

Hibbitt- Pozimski
4NCL, 04.05.2014

42…. Nb1 43.Kf2 Bd7 44.Nf3 Na3 45.Ne1 Kf7 46.Bf3 Nb1 47.Bg2 Nd2 48.Ke3? Nxb3 ouch 49.Rd1 Na5 50.Bf3 Ba4 and the rest is water torture 51.Rc1 Nc6 52.Rg2 Na7 53.Bd1 Nb5 54.Re2 Na3 55.Rf2 Nb1 56.Re2 Nd2 57.Kf2 Ke7 58.Ke3 Kd6 59.Kf2 b3 60.cxb3 Bxb3 61.Bxb3 Nxb3 0–1

Hendrik got back into the winning groove once more when his opponent gifted him first the b-pawn and then the g-pawn, and the rest was an extended and careful mopping up operation.

Beckett – Biswas (B)
4NCL, 04.05.2014

Karl seemed to be heading for an early win in this position, but 21…. d5 was a bit too sudden (… Kg8 was more accurate) and 22.f5 Bd7 23.Qxd5+ regained the pawn … Ke8 24.Rd2 (Rhg1 is more to the point, and Black now misses the tactical … Bxf5!) … Qc6 25.Rhd1 Qxd5 26.Rxd5 axb3 27.cxb3 Bc6 28.Rxd8+ Bxd8 29.Ng3 Bh4 and Fritz reckons the subtle Ka1 will hold the balance here. 30.Bf2 Bxg3 31.Bxg3 Bxe4+ 32.Ka1 Bf3 33.Re1 e4 34.Bd6 Rc2 35.Bxb4 Rxh2 36.a4 Rh5 37.a5 Rxf5 38.a6 Rf6 39.Bc3 Rxa6+ 40.Kb2 g5 41.Kc2 Ra2+ 42.Kb1 Re2 0–1


Ferry 'Cross the Maroczy 1 2025 Oxford 2 1996
w Williamson, Roger G 2146 1 – 0 Healey, Michael W 2132
b Kee, Steve 2044 ½ – ½ Dickinson, Tim R 2124
w Bimpson, Tom 2044 1 – 0 Colburn, Paul J 1942
b Campbell, Ian 1999 ½ – ½ Ludbrook, Matthew 1998
w Hawkins, James NH 1930 0 – 1 Brackmann, Hendrik 1858
b Boumphrey, Luke S 1988 0 – 1 Terry, Sean 1925
3 – 3

For the final round we played the team with the best name in the whole season, and we provide some of their own team’s commentary, from here (http://www.atticus.merseysidechess.org.uk/index.php/atticus-4ncl/607-ferry-cross-the-maroczy-and-the-4ncl-the-final-rounds) to end off another draw at the end of another season on the seconds.

Board 1: “Roger`s game was a smooth transition from opening – to pawn gain – to won endgame. Like one of Mozart’s little minuets.”

Yup. Here’s the position after 23 moves … :

Williamson – Healey (B)
4NCL, 05.05.2014

and it’s hard to see a line which gets a result for Black that doesn’t rely on inaccuracies by White.

23. … Bb3 24.Bb7 Kf7 25.Kf2 Ke6 26.g3 Kf5 27.Ke2 Bc4+ 28.Kf3 Bb5 29.b4 axb4 30.axb4 g6 31.Bc8+ Kf6 32.Ke4 Bc6+ 33.Kd3 Bb5+ 34.Kc3 Kf7 35.Bb7 Ke7 36.Be4 g5 37.Bd3 Bd7 38.b5 h5 39.Kb4 h4 40.Be4 Kd8 41.b6 Kc8 42.c6 Be6 43.Kc5 Kb8 44.b7 hxg3 45.hxg3 Ba2 46.Bd3 Bb3 47.Bc4 Ba4 48.Be6 Ka7 49.Kd5 Kb8 50.Bd7 1–0

Board 2: “Honestly, when my opponent offered me a draw after 8 moves (top moves, mind) I thought my lottery numbers had come in. I gratefully cashed in and smugly watched the drama yet to unfold”

Fair call. Odd that the respective skippers managed to get a good view of the final day, although Tim had wandered to see the Div 1 drama unfold. Meantime, here’s a view of the top moves:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Nbd2 Nbd7 5.e4 dxe4 6.Nxe4 Be7 7.Nxf6+ Nxf6 8.Bd3 ½–½

Board 3: “Tom`s was more Stockhausen – well, he did blame me for suggesting that nebulous positions were actually not too bad after all. You might consider your opponents blindspot when in a winning position the result of psychological nebulous pressure Tom (re: `Winning Ugly` by Tony Pulis)”

Hmmm. Wasn’t Black winning for long periods here? Is Stockhausen on youtube?

Bimpson – Colburn
4NCL, 05.05.2014

Here was a key position. Black plays 22. … Kg7 to mind the h6 pawn, and after 23.f5 the question is whether you take that pawn or not. In the game, Paul decided not to and ended up with an extra pawn but a group of awkward pawns. Fritz suggests that 23...exf5 24.Rxf5 Ne4! 25.Nxe4 dxe4 is a good way to keep advantage and flexibility, e.g. 26.Rc5 Bd5. Paul’s choice ends up keeping the advantage but no fluid way of converting it. When his king decides later to abandon the king-side both results become an option and for once the king-side pawns triumph (and with ease):

45.Nf4 Ke4 46.Nxg6 Ke3 47.Rf6 Ra4 48.h5 Rxa2 49.h6 Nf3 50.Rxe6+ Kd4 51.Kg4 Nh2+ 52.Kh5 Nf3 53.h7 Ra8 54.Rf6 Ne5 55.Nf8 Ra2 56.Rf4+ 1–0

A bit like Stockhausen – – sometimes the music comes to an end and you don’t know it’s over yet.

Board 4: “Ian seemed quite annoyed that having initiated his quasi-courtship ritual of shuffling around on his first three ranks, his opponent actually wanted to play for a win. This impertinence was soon extinguished however, and Ian finished with a `perfect` record of played 9, drawn 9 (Steve Burge, you still can`t touch this).

Ludbrook – Campbell (B) to play … h5
4NCL, 05.05.2014

We welcome reader comments on this one. For me, I think … b5 borders on the reckless.

Board 5: “He [White] did so in fine style, sac after sac creating a massive schism between his opponents king and the rest of society. At this point, Nick had a queen and two bishops left (against an army of pieces, but all still on the bank rank and pushed away from their king) – but the Angel of Opportunity calls sometimes just once – and the chance was there to win the 4NCL brilliancy prize.”

No question about this, from not very much this hurricane has appeared in front of the court of King Henrik, and the big bad wolf is blowing hard:

Hawkins – Brackmann
4NCL, 05.05.2014
28…. Ke7 29.Rg7+ Bxg7 30.Rxg7+ Kf8 31.Rxh7 Nf6

A rook down, but the truth is that White’s four remaining pieces are piling in on a defenceless king: 32.f5! Nxh7 33.Qh6+ Ke8 and Fritz now suggests either Qg6+ or Bh5+ as winning, with the idea of (e.g.) Qg6+ Kd7; 34. Qe6+ Kc7; 35. Qe7+ Qd7; 36. Bb6:+ winning the queen 34.f6 Bxd5 35.cxd5 Qd7 36.f7+ Kd8 37.Qxh7 Rc1+ (Fritz has this natural move down as losing to and suggests instead 37...Kc7 38.Bg4 Qe7 39.Bf6 Qf8 40.Qg6, which may not be that much better but has the merit of being longer)

38.Kg2 not as decisive as 38.Bg1 Kc7 39.Qg7 e3 40.Bg4 Rf8 41.Bxd7 e2 42.Qxf8 Rxg1+ 43.Kxg1 e1Q+ 44.Kg2 Qe4+ 45.Kg3 when the king escapes the checks by advancing up the board. On the other hand that’s quite a long variation to see through from move 38. … Kc7 39.f8Q? a final decisive error – there was still chances with 39.Bxb6+ Qxh7 40.Qf4 Rc2 41.Kf2 Qe7 42.Ke1 Kb7 43.Kd1 Rbc8 44.Bc5 Rc3 45.Qf1 Qg5 46.Qf7+ Ka8 47.Bxa6 Qc1+ 48.Ke2 Qb2+ 0–1

Board 6: “Meanwhile, Luke was being squashed by a Maroczy, which developed into trying to restrain two queenside pawns from advancing – but it was not to be.”

I suppose it should be made clear that it was the Maroczy (and not the Ferry) (and certainly not the opponent) wot squashed it:

Terry – Boumphrey
4NCL, 05.05.2014

Having spent the best part of 30 moves trying to get those pawns moving and the other side quaking, it’s endgame time, and while pretty secure there’s no win obviously in sight just yet, particularly as Black avails of the natural enough 29. … f5 30.gxf5 gxf5 31.Bxf5 [31.Rg3+ is another option but after Saturday’s farce I was prepared to keep things as simple as possible even at the risk of a lesser advantage.] 31...Rxd5 32.Rbd3 e6 33.Be4 Rxd3 34.Rxd3 Be8? Much too passive. After … Bg6 Black survives to a R+P ending in which his ugly pawns are just as numerous as mine 35.Rd8 Kf8 36.Rb8 and now it’s as good as all over … Ke7 37.Rxb7 Rxb7 38.Bxb7 Kd7 39.Be4 h6 40.b5 Kc8 41.b6 Bb5 42.Kg2 Bc4 43.Kg3 Bd5 44.Bd3 Kb7 45.Bb5 h5 46.Kh4 Bf3 47.Bd7 Be2 48.Kg5 Bf3 49.Kf6 Bg2 50.h4 Bd5 51.Kxe5 1–0

Oxford 3


Bristol 2 1898 Oxford 3 1799
w Taylor, John Paul J 2082 0 – 1 Pozimski, Szymon 1786
b Wang, Ed 1957 1 – 0 Varney, Zoe 1850
w Hardy, Roger 1954 1 – 0 Langham, Rod E 1787
b Wang, Alyssa 1866 ½ – ½ Neatherway, A Philip 1858
w Woolgar, Steven G 1876 0 – 1 Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1818
b Willett, Greg Murray 1658 1 – 0 Riley, Adrian K 1698
3½ – 2½

On the Monday our thirds made their first appearance of the weekend on the final round and were narrow losers. Once again Szymon converted in a squeaky bee double rook ending:

Taylor- Pozimski (B)
4NCL, 05.05.2014

One wonders what the majority of Russian schoolboys know about this one, cos there’s one Irish ex-schoolboy who tends to avoid these unless it’s a matter of compulsion. It feels drawn. 43.Kh3 Rg1 44.Kh2 Rg6 45.Rhd7? too early; Kh3 is required and there’s no rush to stop that pawn, particularly as Black’s other rook is trapped on the g-file to prevent the perpetual check. 45...Rxd7 46.Rxd7 Rg4! picking the pawn up with check 47.Rxd5 Rxh4+ 48.Kg3 Rb4 49.Rd2 Kf7 50.Kf3 Ke6 51.Ke2 Ke5 52.Kd1 Rd4 53.b3 Rxd2+ 54.Kxd2 Kd4 55.Kc2 b4 56.Kd2 a5 57.Kc2 Ke3 0–1

On board 2, Zoe forgot to develop pieces and in so doing opened up lines against her own king which Black exploited promptly:

Varney,Z – Wang
4NCL, 05.05.2014

16.Ne4 Na3 … h5 17.Nxf6? ouch gxf6 18.Be4 Rdg8 19.Qf3 Nd5 20.Nd2 f5 21.Bc2 Nxf4 22.Qf1 Bg2 23.Qxc4 Bc6 24.Kf2 Ng2 25.Qd3 Nxe1 26.Kxe1 h4 27.Nc4 hxg3 28.Nxd6+ Qxd6 29.hxg3 Rxg3 30.Qc4 Rh1+ 31.Ke2 Rg2+ 32.Kd3 Rh3+ 33.Be3 Rxe3+ 34.Kxe3 Qg3#

Rod Langham was out of touch and brought on his own demise early on while Phil N nearly allowed his queen to get trapped in on h7 before a strategic withdrawal of forces from that region resulted in a draw in 31.

This left Sean Lim to record the team’s consolation point, in the time-honoured fashion of getting a good enough position and waiting for your opponent to make a mistake:

Woolgar- Lim
4NCL, 05.05.2014

Black’s queen has been pushed to g4 and White promptly loses his line of defence – his weaknesses (e4, c4, the b-file generally) suggest it’s time to grovel somewhat and hope for redemption closer to time control. Instead 22.Re1? [22.Qxg4 Nxg4 23.Re1 Rab8 isn’t totally awful] 22...Qxe2 23.Rxe2 Nxc4 ouch 24.Bc3 Rab8 25.g4 Rb1+ 26.Kf2 Rc1 27.Be1 Ne5 and the rat-tat-tat gang is lining up on the first rank and e-file 28.h3 Nd3+ 29.Kf1 Rxe1+ 30.Rxe1 Nxe1 31.Kxe1 Rxe4+ 0–1

27 August 2014