Weekend 1

[games, pgn]

Tim writes:

All, Oxford had a mixed bag of results at the first weekend:

  • Oxford 1 lost 3½-4½ to Cheddleton 1 and defeated Barbican 2 5-3;
  • Oxford 2 lost 2½-3½ to Surbiton 2 and defeated Sussex Martlets 2 4½-1½;
  • Oxford 3 lost 1-5 to Iceni 1 and 2-4 to West Is Best 2.

The big talking point was Oxford 1’s tremendous Saturday result against Cheddleton. When I arrived at Hinckley, Francesca was just agreeing her draw to make the score 3½-3½. Neil was the last man in play and everyone in the room agreed that he was winning. Problem: no-one could offer a concrete winning plan, although Marcus had several stabs at it.

Alas, the position turned out to be mega-difficult to hold, let alone win, and the advantage swung Cheddleton’s way super-quickly. Even Carlsen would have found it challenging. Still, I’d have taken that match result before the start of play and it is likely that we will drop it eventually. The Sunday match was a “must-win” and that 5-3 win will surely count.

Three players scored 2/2: Aidan, who has now won his last six, Phil - recipient of a generous dollop of Blunderama on Sat - and Szymon, who has won all five of his games since returning to the team last season. I suspect he won't be hanging around the 1800s for much longer.

Honourable mentions also for Francesca: two draws on board 8 of Ox1, and she was pushing at the end of the Sunday game; Tom E-W and Marcus, who both scored 1½ against a titled player and a FM; and Jon Manley who blew away his FM oppo in 20 moves on Sunday - did he have a point to prove to his former captain Jon Rogers, perhaps?! Lower down, Ryan Gossiaux scored two solid draws on his debut.

Saturday Dinner (or not)

My apologies to all who were staying overnight at the hotel: our team dinner plans were non-existent because we were struggling for transport back to Oxford and I couldn’t be sure of having enough cars available to fix up a Rugby restaurant. Many thanks to our drivers Robin, Phil, Rob, David Z and Matt who got people to & from the venues, and double-thanks to Robin who did the Dav-Ox round-trip to drop off two Uni players on Sat evening. We owe him a stiff drink!

Oxford 1


Cheddleton 1 2383 Oxford 1 2258
w Howell, David WL g 2667 1 – 0 Tan, Justin f 2361
b Hawkins, Jonathan i 2546 1 – 0 Martins, David Pires Tavares f 2341
w Arkell, Keith C g 2460 1 – 0 Zakarian, David f 2400
b Eggleston, David J i 2426 0 – 1 Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2269
w Williams, Simon K g 2451 0 – 1 Harvey, Marcus R f 2307
b Radovanovic, Jovica f 2303 1 – 0 Dickenson, Neil F f 2299
w Oswald, David C 2107 0 – 1 Rawlinson, Aidan 2177
b Steil-Antoni, Fiona wi 2109 ½ – ½ Matta, Francesca w 1911
4½ – 3½

... we ended up last season with the excitement of a last-round clash against Cambridge on Neil Dickenson’s board, and this year started off with Neil still hogging the last-man-standing, crowded-on-twitter status flag. So while we work our way there, see if you can work out something to do here with White, to move:

Dickenson – Radovanovic
(W to play, time trouble)

Meanwhile, on top board we join proceedings on move 26:

Howell – Tan
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

Extra marks for anyone guessing that this position arose from a Ruy Lopez, where the recent exchange of knights on d4 has put paid to whatever ideas placed the white queen on a1. It’s hard to see any concrete advantage for either side, though Black is poised to for the … f5 punt: 26.Bc1 f5 27.exf5 Rxf5 28.Bxh6 Qxh6 29.Re2 Rh5 30.h3 Bd7 Fritz suggests 30...Rf5 with the idea if 31.c3 Rxf3 32.gxf3 Qxh3+ 33.Kg1 Bxf3 with a draw in the offing. 31.Qc1 Rg5 puts the Black major pieces in a self-bind which requires tactics as a justification 32.g4 e4 32...Bxg4 33.fxg4 Qxh3+ 34.Rh2 Qxg4 is another piece sacrifice which seems less obviously equal, but is an improvement over the game continuation. 33.dxe4 Rf8 34.h4! ouch Rxf3 35.Rxf3 Bxg4 36.Qxg5 Bxf3+ 37.Rg2 Qxg5 38.hxg5 Bxe4 39.Kh2 Bxg2 40.Kxg2 1–0

Board 2 had a less theoretical opening (or so it seems) with 1. b3 being met with classical development by Black. I watched with the interest of the lesser player who’d spent most of the previous year trying to make b3 themes work in other openings…

Martins – Hawkins
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

David’s debut game has reached a non-standard position where both sides have developed, and white’s on move. Candidate moves abound … : That pawn on c6 can be taken, but White’s king would begin to look a bit bare in that castling cupboard, and … Qg5 or h4 would be problematic. Certainly not 13. d4? but 13. f4 is possible. 13.Qc1? unfortunately not this 13...Bxh3! collects a pawn 14.f4 exf3 15.Nxf3 Bg4 16.Nc3 Bxf3 17.Rxf3 Qh4 and this wins a second as otherwise … Ng4 will win a lot more. 18.Rh3 Qxc4 19.Qf1 Qxf1+ 20.Rxf1 Rab8 and Black completed all the tasks necessary to receive the handshake at move 48 (0-1).

On board 3, David’s position seems promising in the diagram position. The recent exchange of pieces on f5 has left a weak pawn on that square, and White’s pressure on the b-file isn’t going to result in any breakthrough. What next for David?

Arkell – Zakarian (B)
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

The obvious 33. … Rf6 isn’t the way. Fritz gives 33...b6! (threatening Nc6 winning the exchange, so) 34.Rb1 Nc6 35.R4b2 Ne7 36.Bc2 Rf6 and now the pawn can be picked up without allowing the game continuation. 34.Bf3 forcing the rook to defend the pawn along the rank …Rxf5 which allows the rook to invade 35.Rb6 Nb3 36.Rxh6 and now the Rf5 has no squares … g4 37.hxg4 Rg5 38.Rf6 b5 39.axb5 axb5 40.Ra2 Rg7 41.Ra7+ Kd8 42.Bxd5 Rxg4+ 43.Kf3 Rg7 44.Bxf7 Nd2+ 45.Kf4 b4 46.Rd6+ 1–0

All of which gives us 0-3 on the top boards, albeit that the positions were promising on two of them. Tom E-W found an elegant way to force the win, as Black attempted to neutralise the potential of the white queen-pawn majority:

Eckersley-Waites, T – Eggleston
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

31.Bh5! a pleasing move, targeting f7 and so discouraging tactics such as Ra7xa3, which would allow an invasion of the 7th rank … Ra1 32.Rb4 Ra2 33.Re2! Kg7 34.Kf3 Be7 35.Rb5 Kf6 36.Kg2 Rc7 37.f4 Rc1 38.Rb7 Rb1 desperation has drawn both black rooks to two squares, b1, a2, where cossetted by white pawns they have little other than tactical purpose 39.Kh3 and just before time control, another virtual zugzwang, as the tactics don’t work – … Rxa3 allows Rxe7 40.Rd2 e5 41.Rb6+ Kg7 42.Rd7 1–0

On board 5, Marcus was able to convert a point against Simon Williams after the GM overplayed an initiative:

Williams – Harvey (W)
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

White’s a pawn down but the position is good for it, if just about so. 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Rhf1? Fritz gives 17.h5 Nd7 18.Rdf1 Qg7 19.h6 Qg8 as keeping a slight plus Qg7 18.d6 c6 19.d7+ Nxd7 20.Bb4 f5 21.Rd6 fxe4 22.Re6+ Kd8 and even though it’s messy, Marcus has a piece extra which was converted elegantly just before time control (0–1, 38)

On board 7 the fireworks were about to kick off in this position:

Oswald – Rawlinson,A (W)
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

20.f4 Nxe4 (Fritz suggests Nxb2; 21. Kb2 Na4+; 22. Kb3 Nc5+ as the way to a draw, but white sees something which I wouldn’t refuse…) 21.Bxf7+ Kxf7 22.Nxe4 Bxe4 23.fxg5+ Ke8 24.Qf4 d5 25.Rd2 hxg5 26.Qxg5

Although it’s not immediately obvious that both kings are equally vulnerable, another surprise is that the castled king is the weaker, though each has a strong survival instinct. 26 … Nc3! 27.Nf5 Nxa2+ 28.Kd1 (28. Kb1 Qc5 and if 29. Kxa2 b3+! etc) 29. Qc5 29.Qg6+ Kd7 30.Qxa6 Bxc2+ 31.Ke1? the decisive error – Ke2 would prevent the winning check on e3 that happens on the board Bxf5 32.Qb7+ Kd6 33.Qa6+ Rc6 34.Qxa2 Qe3+ 0–1

This made it 3-3 in game wins, and with Francesca marking her debut with a “winning draw” on board 8, pressing her 2100 opponent all the way to a perpetual check on move 42, this left Neil on board, the last to finish with the match , and the news from twitter started off well. The answer to the quiz at the top of the page reveals the missed opportunity 36. Nxe6+ Kf6 37. Nd8 which nets another pawn without fuss. A pawn up during the first session, this became an exchange at time control (there’s a suggestion of zeitnot in the moves leading up to the diagram as White missed a strong winning at move 35):

Dickenson,N – Radovanovic (W)
4NCL Division 1b, 15.11.2014

And around here the news from Twitter was more muted – white has the rooks, but Black has those pawns, and what about that weak pawn on e4? 43.Rd8 Rg7 44.Rf8+ Ke5 45.Rg4 Bxe4 (… Kxe4; 46. Rfxf4+) 46.h4 Rb7

It’s still not that clear whether the h-pawn or the central pawn mass will prevail, though it could simply be that the game is drawn with accurate play on both sides. 47.b3 Kd4 48.Rxg5 Ke3 49.Rg1? after this the initiative swings decisively to Black; Rf6 would have kept the pawns under control: 49.Rf6 Bf5 50.h5 f3 51.h6 Ke2 52.Rfxf5 exf5 53.Rxf5 when a draw beckons Bf5 50.Rc8 Rh7 51.Rc3+ Kd2 52.Rc4 Rxh4+ 53.Kg2 e5 54.Rgc1 Bd3 55.Kf3 e4+ 0–1

Aargh – so close!


Oxford 1 2257 Barbican 4NCL 2 2263
w Zakarian, David f 2400 ½ – ½ Buchicchio, Giampaolo f 2295
b Harvey, Marcus R f 2307 ½ – ½ Morrison, Graham f 2354
w Tan, Justin f 2361 1 – 0 Rogers, Jonathan f 2297
b Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2269 ½ – ½ Berry, Neil f 2241
w Rose, Matthew 2321 0 – 1 Coleman, David c 2252
b Martins, David Pires Tavares f 2341 1 – 0 Navarro Cia, Miguel f 2281
w Manley, Jonathan 2152 1 – 0 Chapman, Terry f 2304
b Matta, Francesca w 1911 ½ – ½ Lauterbach, Ingrid wi 2084
5 – 3

A close match once again, but this time with the added bonus of a match result.

On top board, David’s opponent arrived almost on the hour, but, as is sometimes in such situations, it was White’s play that seemed the more rushed, and a planless reactionary first session ended with Black in the driver’s seat, and David looking for the seatbelt called safety. After 43. Re8, it’s Black to play:

Zakarian – Buchicchio (B)
4NCL Division 1b, 16.11.2014

43…. Rxe8 43...Qxf4 is possible and after 44.Rxd8 Qg3+ 45.Kh1 Qxh4+ Black emerges a pawn to the good – but a draw is still the favourite. The move played loses a piece but secures the half point immediately. 44.Bxd4+ Kh6 45.Qxe8 Qg4+ 46.Kf1 Qd1+ 47.Kg2 Qg4+ [47...Qxd4] 48.Kf1 Qd1+ 49.Kg2 Qg4+ ½–½

Same result on board 2 as Graham Morrison recovered from a blunder on move 24 to hack his way through the forest of pieces to a draw:

Morrison – Harvey (B)
4NCL Division 1b, 16.11.2014

38… b5 39.Bxf7+ Qxf7 40.Qb8+ Kh7 41.Qxb5 Qe6 42.Qd3 Kh6 43.Qd2 Kg6 44.Qc2 Kh6 45.Qd2 Qd6 46.Qxd6+ Nxd6 47.f4 ½–½

A theme of pawn winning & losing continued onto board 3, where Justin seemed first to win, then lose a pawn, to reach a position where material was equal but that c-pawn weakness amounted to a longer-term plus, though how much of a plus is a matter of debate.

Tan – Rogers (B)
4NCL Division 1b, 16.11.2014

35…. g5 eyeing black piece invasion points against the White king on f4, g5, g3, although at a price of weakening his own king position 36.h5 g4 37.fxg4 Re5 38.Qf3 [38.Qxc4 Re3 39.Rf3 (39.Kf1) ] 38...Ng5 39.Qf4 h6 40.Kh2 Qe8 41.Qxc4

At which point the dust has settled and the position is now clearly won: 41. …Re4 42.Qa6 Rxg4 43.Qg6+ Kh8 44.Qxh6+ Kg8 45.Qg6+ Kf8 46.Rxf7+ Qxf7 47.Bxf7 Nf3+ 48.Kh3 Rxg6 49.Bxg6 Ne5 50.Kh4 Kg7 51.Kg5 1–0

Another draw appeared on the horizon of board 4, and one was duly recorded, though not by the conventional route.

Berry – Eckersley-Waites, T (B)
4NCL Division 1b, 16.11.2014

33…. Nxe4 when reading this in the pgn, I wondered if things had changed since the old days – doesn’t that b-pawn represent the tease that that will draw the black king away to his eventual doom? If not, it does look pretty risky to exchange knights, there’s a lot of calculating to be done now. 34.Kxe4 Kd6 35.g4 f6 36.Kf5 Kc5 37.Ke6 Kxb5 38.Kf7 h5 another time-control decision to make … White to play and win.

39.gxh5?? ouch – 39.h3 hxg4 40.hxg4 Kc5 41.Kxg7 is the clear win 39...f5 40.Kxg7 e4 41.fxe4 fxe4 42.h6 e3 43.h7 e2 44.h8Q e1Q 45.Qh5+ Ka4 46.Qg4+ Ka5 47.Qg5+ Ka4 48.h4 Qc3+ 49.Kg6 Qc4 50.h5 Qg8+ 51.Kf5 Qd5+ 52.Kf4 Qd2+ 53.Kg4 Qg2+ 54.Kf5 Qd5+ 55.Kf6 ½–½

On board 5, Matt’s position was a Sicilian, looks like a French, and unfortunately his g-file looks less open than Black’s f-file:

Rose – Coleman (W)
4NCL Division 1b, 16.11.2014

And so it transpires: 26.Bg5 Qf8 27.Bxd8 Rxf3 28.Bg5 Rxf2 29.Qh5 Rf1 30.Be3 Rxg1+ 31.Bxg1 Rf1 32.Rc3 Nf4 33.Qg4 h5 0–1

On board 6 David carried a slight advantage against stubborn defence in just under 18, while on 7 Jon marked his debut with a spectacular miniature against an old team mate, which made it to the 4NCL round 1 report (see here)

Manley – Chapman
4NCL Division 1b, 16.11.2014

14.f6 gxf6 15.Bd3 fxe5 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Qh5+ Kg8 18.Rf3 Bh4 19.Nf5 Bxf5 20.Rxf5 Qd6 21.Qxh4 f6 22.Bh6 Kf7 1–0

On bottom board, Francesca fought through to the end against Ingrid Lauterbach and secured a draw on move 99, having spent the previous 20 moves the favourite to take advantage of any errors from her opponent:

Lauterbach, I – Matta,F
4NCL Division 1b 8), 16.11.2014

89.Nd3 Ke3 90.Ne5 Nd2 91.Ng4+ Kf4 92.Nh6 Nf3+ 93.Kf2 Ne5 94.Kg2 Ng4 95.Ng8 Ne3+ 96.Kg1 g4 97.Nf6 g3 98.Nh5+ Kg4 99.Nxg3 ½–½

Oxford 2


Surbiton 2 1880 Oxford 2 1949
w James, Angus S 1950 ½ – ½ Dickinson, Tim R 2111
b Fenwick, Hugh F 1867 1 – 0 Chiu, Howard c 2067
w Alcock, Graham P 1885 ½ – ½ Nandi, Robin 1952
b Durrant, Paul EO 1907 1 – 0 Terry, Sean 1930
w Tivillier, Jacques 1885 0 – 1 Neatherway, A Philip 1854
b Mason, Ian 1787 ½ – ½ Gossiaux, Ryan P 1780
3½ – 2½

A disappointing start for Oxford 2 – a close match, but the two draws emerged from dogged / patient defence on boards 3 and 6 was enough to secure Surbiton 2 the win after your correspondent had an off-ish day.

On top board, our skip had to call the arbiter in his game:

James – Dickinson (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.11.2014

White’s just punted h4, which weakens g3 but does look to inconvenience the Ng6. Tim isn’t hanging around: 17… Bxg3 18.Bxg6 hxg6 19.fxg3 Qxg3+ 20.Qg2 Qf4 21.Re2 Rh8 22.Rf1 Rh5 23.Qh2

23 …Qg4+ 24.Rg2 Qe4 25.Re2 Qg4+ 26.Rg2 Qe4 27.Re2 at which point Tim’s gesture (draw?) is refused, so it’s time to call in Priscilla … it’s a draw after Qg4+ ½–½ Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate how quickly “3” comes up when counting upwards from “1”.

Long before this happened, we’d had our first blunderama for the year on board 5:

Tivillier – Neatherway (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.11.2014
11.Bg5? Nxe4 12.Be3?? 0–1

On board 4, I managed to do Part 1 of the Harry Houdini thing (get into a box: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.b3 b5 4.c4 Bb7 5.e5 bxc4 6.bxc4? Huh?), but soon enough it became clear that my opponent found a way of hiding the key, resulting in a slaughter:

Terry – Durrant (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.11.2014
34.Bg4 Ra2 35.Rd2 Ra1 36.Bd1 Qb1 37.Kg2 Qc1 38.Qxa6 Nb3 0–1

The key point in Howard’s game happened when the position was still in a French book on the Winawer – always a dangerous sign to reach a crisis while still midway through a textbook.

Chiu – Fenwick (B)
4NCL Division 3, 15.11.2014

19. … Ne4 and now the threats include a fork on f2 and the pawn on c4 20.Rg1 natural but Black gets too much activity. Fritz points out 20.Bxd3 Nf2 21.Bxf5 Bxb5 22.cxb5 Nxh1 23.Be4 which White 2 adequate bishops as compensation for the missing exchange. … Rxc4 21.Bxd3 Bxb5 22.Bxc4 Bxc4 23.Bb4 b5 24.Kb2 Nf2 25.Rd2 Nd3+ 26.Kc3 Nxf4 27.g4 Ne2+ 28.Rxe2 Bxe2 29.Rg2 Bf3 30.Rf2 Bxg4 31.Rg2 Rg6 32.Bc5 a6 33.Kb4 Bh3 34.Rd2 Rg4+ 35.Ka5 Re4 36.Kxa6 Bf1 .Kb6 Rxe5 38.Rf2 Bc4 39.Rg2 Ne7 40.Rg7 Rh5 0–1


Oxford 2 1942 Sussex Martlets 2 1852
w Rawlinson, Aidan 2177 1 – 0 Payne, Matthew J 1962
b Colburn, Paul J 1937 ½ – ½ Higgs, Anthony RJ 1971
w Nandi, Robin 1952 1 – 0 Twigge-Molecey, Billy 1877
b Terry, Sean 1930 1 – 0 Graham, William M 1863
w Neatherway, A Philip 1854 1 – 0 Woods, Timothy J 1766
b Varney, Andrew 1802 0 – 1 Blake, J Morgan 1675
4½ – 1½

We join top board in the middle of some tactical melee

Rawlinson – Payne
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014

White has just played e5, and this just after Black initiated some tactics to clear off the white pawns on the queen side. Bc6 is one threat and the e-pawn is pinned. Fritz preaches a pious neutrality by way of evaluation. Play continues: 24 … Rbb8 [Fritz prefers 24...dxe5 and what can follow 25.Bc6 exf4 26.Bxe8 Nxe8 certainly does change the material and dynamic balance] 25.Nc1 Nxc1 26.Rxb8 Rxb8 27.exf6 Ne2+ 28.Kf2 Rb2 29.fxg7 Nxf4+ 30.Kf3 Nxg2 31.Bf2 Kxg7 32.Kxg2 Kf6 33.Kf3 Rb7 [33...Rb3+ 34.Be3 Ke5 35.Ke2 f5] 34.Re1 g5 and White was able to convert easily enough (1–0, 56)

Paul Colburn dominated but failed to win on board 2, in so doing picking up the team Blunderama – see if you can improve on his continuation:

Higgs – Colburn (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014

59.hxg6 Nd3+ 60.Kb1 Kb3 61.Rb8+ Nb4 62.Kc1 Rd7 63.a5 Kc3 64.Rh8 Rg7 65.Rh5 Na6 66.g5 Kb4 67.Rh7 Rg8 68.Rb7+ Kxa5 69.g7 Nb8 70.Kc2 Ka6 71.Rf7 Nc6 72.Kc3 Nd8 73.Rf8 Rxg7 74.Rxd8 Rxg5 75.Rb8 ½–½

Robin had quick got a squeeze, and found a brisk way of converting: with most of Black’s pieces either inactive or offside, it was time to focus on removing defenders to the b6 pawn:

Nandi – Twigge-Molecey
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014

24.Qg4 h5 25.Qd7 Ne7 26.Qxc7 Rxc7 27.Rd7 Rxd7 28.Rxd7 Bf6 29.Rd6 Kg7 30.Rxb6 … there’s a stomp stomp stomp quality to the Qg4-d7-xc7 and Rd7 clearance … and the rest was simple (1-0, 41)

A good night’s sleep helped on my board, although playing a variation of the KID French wasn’t what I’d intended, so I spent a good portion of my time trying to justify leaving my king on g8 (where it was reasonably safe), before deciding to take it on a walk that it finds itself in the diagram positon:

Graham – Terry (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014

Though a pawn down, Black is doing quite well as his pieces are better coordinated, and their White pieces are strung out on the g- and h-file for the most part. Being a little short of time, I decide on more exchanges … 33. … Qxe5? [33...Rg8 34.Qf4 Nxe5 35.Rd2 Ng4] 34.Rgd1 White is in fact a lot better after Rxd7 … Qxg3 35.fxg3 Rh8 36.Bg5 Ng6 37.Bc6 Nge5 38.Bxd7+ Rxd7 39.Rxd7 Nxd7 40.Kg2 Kc7 41.Nf3 e5 and by now Black has a slight advantage in a simplified position. 42.Re1 (b4 is better, and White’s position starts to go downhill) Rg8 43.Bh4 e4 44.Ng5 Ne5 45.b3 axb3 46.axb3 Kc6 47.Ne6 Nf3 48.Rh1 Ra8 49.Ng7 Ra2+ 50.Kh3 e3 0–1

Phil’s position arose from a patient nabbing of the exchange, some teasing, and finally these moves:

Neatherway – Woods
4NCL Division 3s 9), 16.11.2014
27 … Bc4 28.e6 f6 29.Bxg6 1–0

Had Black found the cool 28. … Rf8, the game would have started to flare up again!

Oxford 3


Oxford 3 1669 Iceni 1 2011
w Idle, Oscar 1825 0 – 1 Savage, Nicholas W 2080
b Pozimski, Szymon 1822 1 – 0 Davison, Chris 1990
w Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1782 0 – 1 Peters, John A 2037
b Henbest, Kevin B 1680 0 – 1 Reynolds, D Ian W 2006
w Parag, Jain 1525 0 – 1 Daugman, John G 1967
b Bentham, Sam 1382 0 – 1 Burnett,Leon P 1990
1 – 5

A complete mismatch for Oxford 3, but another win for Szymon, with Black, for Oxford 3, and strong performances by Sean, Kev, and Parag in particular.

On top board Oscar spent too long defending (or worrying) about a doubled c-pawn on the White side of the Sicilian, and this age-old problem (be it defending or worrying) got in the way of active planning, to the point where the pawn was still being defended as the game ended:

Idle – Savage (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.11.2014

37… Bb2 38.Bd2 Rxd2 a fitting final tactic 39.Rxd2 Bxc1 40.Rd8+ Kg7 41.Re8 Bxa2 42.Rxe5 Bc4 0–1

Davison – Pozimski (B)
4NCL Division 3s, 15.11.2014

Here, Syzmon’s just coming out from under the ether of some pressure on the queen side, a couple of pawns adrift and nothing very active … except perhaps for this: 28…. fxg3 29.Bxh6 gxf2+ 30.Kxf2 (Kg2 is better) Qh4+ 31.Kg1 Qxh6 32.Qe2 and with the retreat of the queen, the initiative is on the other side of the board, the a-pawn will fall, and a new favourite was installed (0-1, 50)

On board 3 Sean had reached an position from an Alekhine where, neither side having blundered in the opening, the stage was set for a prolonged conversation about the merits of the position. We join the game just after Black has played … c5

Lim – Peters
4NCL Division 3s, 15.11.2014

This aims to exchange the dark squared bishop and establish a strong (black) square for the knight. A drawback is in the long-term weakness of the pawn on d6. Play continued: 23.e5a little too aggressive, and releases the tension in the centre. 23. Bf1 was better, with a view to putting the bishop on g2. White can afford the time to regroup as Black can only exchange on d4 at the cost of weakening his d6 pawn … dxe5 24.f4 (d5 might be better here, at least getting a passed pawn out of the sortie) cxd4 25.Bxd4 Qd6 26.Be3 exf4 27.Bxf4 Be5 28.Be3 Bh6 immediately?! doesn’t prevent the tactics but saves a move on the game continuation Bxh2+ 29.Qxh2 Qxd3 30.Bh6 Qd4+ and it was easy enough from here on in (0-1, 53).


West is Best 2 1889 Oxford 3 1691
w Hassall, Mark 1956 ½ - ½ Varney, Zoe 1817
b Spencer, Doug 2004 0 - 1 Pozimski, Szymon 1822
w Staniforth, Matthew 1894 1 - 0 Idle, Oscar 1825
b Davies, Matthew 1936 ½ - ½ Gossiaux, Ryan P 1780
w Iyengar, Srihari 1750 1 - 0 Parag, Jain 1525
b Griffiths, Hywel 1796 o 1 - 0 Bentham, Sam 1382
4 - 2

Another loss, but good performances all round once again. On top board Zoe played a Berlin Defence right down to this position, when a draw was agreed:

Hassall – Varney,Z
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014
31.Kg3 ½–½

On board 2, Szymon did with the white pieces what he’s been doing with the black for the last few matches:

Pozimski – Spencer (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014

A position where the drawish material balance is contrasted against the relative security of each king. Szymon continues by clearing off the remaining pawn protection, and then can pursue the material in circumstances where the black king needs constant attention:

30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.g6 hxg6 32.Qxg6+ Qg7 33.Qd6 Rg2 34.Qb8+ Kh7 35.Rh1+ Kg6 36.Qxa7 Qh7 37.Rc1 Kf6 38.Qc5 Qe4 39.Qf8+ Ke6 40.Qc8+ Kd6 41.Qxb7 Qxd4 42.Qb8+ Kd7 43.Qb3 Rd2 44.Qh3+ Kc7 45.Qg3+ Kb7 46.Qe1 c5 47.Qg1 Qxg1 48.Rxg1 Kb6 49.Kc1 Rh2 50.Rd1 d4 51.b3 Kb5 52.Kb2 Rg2 53.Rd3 Rh2 54.Rf3 Rg2 55.Rd3 Rh2 56.a3 Rg2 57.Rf3 Rh2 58.Kc1 Rg2 59.Rf5 Rg3 60.Rd5 Kc6 61.Rh5 …

… Rf3 this looks like the wrong file and the wrong rank (Rg2, or Rg1+) 62.Kd2 Rf2+ 63.Kd1 Rf3 (Rg2 surely) 64.a4 Rc3 65.Rh6+ Kb7 66.Kd2 Ka7 67.a5 Kb7 68.a6+ Ka7 69.Rc6 c4 70.Rxc4 Rxc4 71.bxc4 1–0

Oscar met the Nd5 / Nf5 sacrifice in the Sicilian on board 4

Staniforth – Idle
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014

15…. exf5 (I’d prefer to castle here)16.Nd5 Qa5 17.Bxc5 dxc5 18.exf5 0–0? (here this is fatal. Perhaps Kf8 is better, but White has all the play) 19.f6! distaining the offered piece return … Bd6 20.Qh5 h6 21.gxh6 g6 22.Bxg6 Nb4 23.Nxb4 Bxf4 24.Bxf7+ Rxf7 25.Qg6+ Kf8 26.h7 Rxh7 27.Qxh7 Qc7 1–0

Ryan ensured a draw by means of grit but could have missed a chance for more control in this position:

Gossiaux – Davies (W)
4NCL Division 3s 8), 16.11.2014

26.a3 sensible but a bit passive. Instead 26.Nb4 has promise, as say after … Bb7 27.Rd7 Kg8 28.Nc2 Rd5 or 26.Nb4 Rb6 27.Ke2 a5 28.Nxd5 exd5 29.f5 white has a more pleasant game 26...a5 27.Rd2 Be4 28.Nd4 b4 29.axb4 axb4 30.Re3 Bd3 31.Kf2 Rb6 32.Re1 bxc3 33.bxc3 Ra5 34.g3 ½–½

Sam allowed himself to get too passive on the king-side, so in the end paid the fees on the other:

Bentham – Griffiths (W)
4NCL Division 3s, 16.11.2014
31.Bxb3 Rxb3 32.Rxb3 Rxb3 33.Kg2 Qb7 34.Be1 Rxa3 35.Qc2 d3 0–1

25 January 2015