Weekend 1

[games, pgn]

Tim writes:

All, the first 4NCL weekend of 2015-16 has been and gone. These were our results:

  • Oxford 1 beat 3Cs 1 4½-3½ and lost 2½-5½ to Cheddleton 1;
  • Oxford 2 lost 2½-3½ to Midland Monarchs 1 ["Blunderama ahoy"] and drew 3-3 with Shropshire 1;
  • Oxford 3, in the Div 4 Triangle, defeated Iceni 2 4-2 and lost 1-2½ to BCM 3 [default-related scoreline].

Huge thanks to Sam, Alan, Kelly & Mike T: we defaulted three boards in the third team, and it could have been more without their willingness [quite a trek for Sam in particular, coming from Leeds]. We enjoyed the Telford Div 3+4 venue, two quite spacious rooms, plenty of orange-flavour(!) water on tap outside the room for thirsty people.

Two players scored maximum points: Dave Scott made a welcome return after almost two years off and stomped both his oppo emphatically. Oscar was instrumental in Oxford 3's 4-2 win over Iceni 2, defeating two(!) of their men. Francesca "scored" 2/2 as well, but she was the recipient of two Paris-related defaults - beyond our opponents' control, obviously. Next door, Alex Monev impressed on his Ox1 debut, rescuing a hopeless-looking endgame on Sat and holding a 2320 FM on Sun. Finally, skip reckons Matt's key win on Sat was one of his best-ever games.

I didn't see anything of Ox1 v Cheddleton 1, but looking at the games, I daresay three of them went into the sixth hour and the result was uncertain until quite late on.

Skip Analysis

In Div 1, that win over 3Cs 1 is important. If we assume wins against the Pool A "bunnies" White Rose 2 & Spirit of Atticus [rounds 3 & 5], we're in good shape to maintain our Div 1 status.

In Div 3, it's hard to tell what's going on at this early stage in Pool A. Skip reckons Anglian Avengers 2 & West Is Best 1 look favourites for the Champ Pool. Then it's any one of four teams for the other two places. We meet two of them in rounds 3 & 4, so doubly-important to get a strong team out!

Oxford 1


3Cs 1 2358 Oxford 1 2272
w Bauer, Christian g 2627 1 - 0 Tan, Justin i 2446
b Gordon, Stephen J g 2498 ½ - ½ Martins, David Pires Tavares f 2365
w Ashton, Adam G f 2385 ½ - ½ Harvey, Marcus R f 2341
b Longson, Alexander f 2332 ½ - ½ Claridge-Hansen, William f 2300
w Horton, Andrew P f 2313 0 - 1 Rose, Matthew 2289
b Walton, Alan J c 2194 ½ - ½ Hansen, Hans-Peter 2261
w Abbas, Daniel 2245 ½ - ½ Monev, Aleksandar 2161
b 0 - 1 Matta, Francesca 2020
3½ - 4½

A tough match to start off with, made easier by a default on bottom board, but in sad circumstances – the terrorist attack on Paris; and the team manages to squeak through to a win.

We start on top board, where Justin has a d6 weakness – it’s under attack and it will be pinned soon by c4-c5.

Bauer - Tan
4NCL Division 1a, 14.11.2015

20…. Qc8 Black could aim to play Nbd7 with a view to Ne5 to mask the attack from the bishop, e.g. 20...Nbd7 21.c5 Ne5 22.Na4 looks cool, but Justin opts for a more complicated tactics-based solution: 21.Bxd6 Bg7 22.c5 Nfd7 23.e5 Nxe5 24.cxb6 Nf3+ 25.Bxf3 Bxd4 26.Bc5 Be5 when White’s pieces are better than Black’s rooks. 27.Re1 Bg7 28.Nce4 Bd5 29.Rf1 Qd7 30.h3 f5 31.Nd6 Re6 32.Nc4 [32.Bxd5 cxd5 33.Ngxf5 gxf5 34.Nxf5 might be equal if you believe Fritz 8] 32...Bxf3 33.gxf3 Rae8 34.Kg2 Re1 35.Nd6 Rxf1 36.Nxf1 Ra8 37.Qc4+ Kh8 38.Ne3 Bf6 39.Qf7 Qxf7 40.Nxf7+ Kg7 41.Nd6 1–0

David M reached a position where he seemed to be in control, as the Black queen was out on the rim, looking a little forlorn.

Martins - Gordon
4NCL Division 1a, 14.11.2015

20. Qc2 Nb5 21.e3 Fritz suggests that 21.Nxb5 Qxb5 22.e3 gives the same result while keeping the queen enclosed, for longer. … Ne4 23.Rcb1 Qa6 24.Be2 b5 25.axb6 Qxb6 21...Nxc3 22.Qxc3 Ne4 23.Qc2 Rf6 24.Be2 b5 25.axb6 Qxb6 26.Rf1 Qxb4 27.Rxa7 g6 28.Ra6 Qc3 29.Qxc3 Nxc3 30.Bd3 Ne4 31.Bxe4 Rxe4 … and this double rook & pawn ending was carefully played to a draw: ½–½, 53.

Marcus wheeled out the French defence and reached this active position, with the immediate threat to g3 causing White to pause:

Ashton - Harvey
4NCL Division 1a, 14.11.2015

16.Kh2 Fritz gives 16.Kh1 with the idea of playing Nh2 after the rook manoeuvres to h6. 16...Re6 17.Ng5 Rh6+ 18.Nh3 Be6 19.g4 Nfd4 20.Nxd4 Nxd4 21.c3 Qd6+ [21...Nxe2 22.Qxe2 d4 23.g5 Rh4 and Black still has a plus.] 22.Kg1 Nxe2+ 23.Qxe2 Rg6 [23...Rh4 24.f3] 24.f3 f5 25.g5 f4 26.Nf2 Rxg5 27.Rfe1 Kf7 Perhaps … Bd7 was better. This bold advance by the king will leave it somewhat vulnerable. Black now needs to be aware of his own king in future planning. 28.Rad1 Re8 29.Rd4 Rf5 30.Qd2 Qc7 31.c4 Rd8 32.Qe2 Qe7 33.Qd2 Qc7 34.Qe2 Qe7 35.Qd2 Qc7 ½–½

Neither side was enthused with winning prospects on board 5, once this position was on the board:

Claridge-Hansen,W - Longson
4NCL Division 1a, 14.11.2015

And some careful play on both sides managed to bring a peaceful end to things: 20. … Qb7 21.Ra3 Qd7 22.Rb3 Rfd8 23.Ra1 Rb8 24.Be3 Qb7 25.Qc2 Rbc8 26.Rc1 Qd7 27.Qc4 Rb8 28.Qa6 h6 29.Bf4 Rb7 30.Be3 Rbb8 31.Bf4 Rb7 32.Be3 Rbb8 ½–½

Game of the Match was played on Board 5, where at first sight it doesn’t seem there’s much going on. Rooks could easily disappear along the a-file and the resulting position seems secure, although white’s knight is well placed for such an ending. Although it looks like the action is on the queen side, Matt has just played … h4

Horton – Rose (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 14.11.2015

and, a bit to my surprise, 30.gxh4 - 30.Rxa7 Rxa7 would be slightly easier on the nervous system ... - 30...Qd7 31.Rab1 curious ... 31...Qg4+ 32.Kh1 Ra2 33.Rc2 Qf3+ 34.Kg1 Bf6 35.Rf1 Qg4+ 36.Kh1 Qf3+ 37.Kg1 g5 38.h5 Qxh5 39.Qb3 Qg4+ 40.Kh1 Qf3+ 41.Kg1 Ra1 42.Rcc1

… R1a7! Black transfers to the other side: 43.Qd1 [43.Nxb6]...Qh3 44.f3 g4 45.fxg4 Rg7 46.Qe2 Rxg4+ 47.Kh1 Rag8 48.Rf3 Qh5 49.Nd2 [49.Rf2]

49...Bh4 50.Rcf1 Bg3 51.Qg2 Rh4 52.R3f2 Bxf2 53.Qxf2 Rhg4 54.Qf3 R8g6 55.h3 Qh4 0–1

A 12-move draw on board 6 leads us to this longer event on board 7, where White has a strong edge, and Fritz points out that 34.a4 Bd8 35.Rc4 is a kind of zugzwang, for example 35...h6 36.Kf3 g5 37.b5 axb5 38.axb5 Na5 39.Rxc7+ Bxc7 40.fxg5 hxg5 41.Kg4

Abbas – Monev (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 14.11.2015

But slower can be just as effective … 34.a3 Bd8 35.Rc4 Kf8 36.a4 Ke7 37.h4 Kd7 38.b5 axb5 39.axb5 Na7 40.Rxc7+ Kxc7 41.Bg8 h6 42.Bc4 Kd7

Now the question is not so much whether the Black pieces are coming in to play, but whether the White pieces can get in past the blockade being built: 43. … b6 44.h5 Fritz suggests 44.g4 Kc7 45.h5 gxh5 46.gxh5 Kd7 47.Kf3 as giving the edge, as the king can now invade on the white squares 44...gxh5 45.f5 d5 46.exd5 Nc8 47.Kf3 Nd6 48.Bd3 Nf7 49.Ke3 Kd6 50.Bc2 Ke7 51.Bc3 Bc7 52.Bd1 Bxg3 53.Bxh5 Nd6 54.Bb4 Kd8 55.Bxd6 ½–½


Oxford 1 2284 Cheddleton 1 2377
w Tan, Justin i 2446 0 - 1 Hawkins, Jonathan g 2563
b Martins, David Pires Tavares f 2365 ½ - ½ Fodor, Tamas Jr. g 2491
w Zakarian, David f 2379 ½ - ½ Hamitevici, Vladimir i 2430
b Claridge-Hansen, William f 2300 0 - 1 Eggleston, David J i 2399
w Harvey, Marcus R f 2341 0 - 1 Colovic, Aleksandar g 2456
b Hansen, Hans-Peter 2261 0 - 1 Kirk, Ezra f 2287
w Monev, Aleksandar 2161 ½ - ½ Radovanovic, Jovica f 2320
b Matta, Francesca 2020 1 - 0

Lots of instructive chess, but the final result mirrors the view from the FIDE ratings list - Francesca’s second default helped to add a touch of respectability

We start on top board, where a Sicilian in the French style has emerged, and the e5 pawn is vulnerable. Fritz suggests 13.Bf4 g5 14.Bg3 g4 15.Nd4 Ncxe5 16.Qe2 where White loses the pawn with the advanced g-pawn as a potential bonus.

Tan – Hawkins (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.11.2015

13.Qe2 this loses the pawn more straightforwardly 13...Ndxe5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Qxe5 Qxd2 16.Ne4 Qb4 17.Rfd1 Qb6 18.Rac1 and White has more development for the pawn, but Black lacks an essentially weak area – the question is whether one can be winkled out in the play. Alas …Rd8 19.h3 a5 20.Rxd8+ Qxd8 21.Rd1 Qf8 22.a4 b6 23.Nd6 Ra7 24.Ne4 Rd7 25.Rc1 Qd8 26.Rc3 Rd3 27.Rxd3 Qxd3 28.Nc3 Bd6 29.Qg5 Bc5 30.Qf4 Qd4 31.Qf3 Bb7 32.Qg3 e5 33.Nd1 Bd5 34.Kh2 Bxb3 35.Qxb3 Qd2 36.Qf3 e4 37.Qg4 g6 0–1

David ends up in a rook and pawn ending in the higher altitude called 2400 Fide. He’s a pawn adrift but an active rook lends uncertainty to the outcome.

Fodor – Martins (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 15.11.2015

45.Rh7 Rxa2+ 46.Kf3 b6 47.Rc7 Rb2 48.g4+ Kg5 49.Rxc6 Rxb3 at which point Fritz is recording +0.19. 50.Re6 a5? … Rb5 51.Re5+ Kg6 52.Rxd5 a4 a lot healthier now for White 53.Kf4 a3 54.Rd6+ Kf7 55.Rd7+ Ke6 56.Ra7 b5 57.e4 b4 58.Ra6+ Kd7 59.d5

… Rc3 60.g5? This loses the advantage: 60.e5 Rc1 61.e6+ Ke7 62.Ra7+ Kd6 (if 62...Kd8 63.d6 and the mate threats provide the cover for an earlier promotion) 63.Rd7+ Kc5 64.Rc7+ Kxd5 65.Rxc1 Kxe6 66.Rc6+] 60...Rc1 61.g6 Rg1 62.e5 b3 63.e6+ Ke7 64.Ra7+ Kf6 65.e7 Rf1+ 66.Kg3 Re1 67.Rxa3 Kxe7 68.Rxb3 Rg1+ 69.Kf4 Rxg6 70.Rb7+ Kd8 71.Ke5 Rh6 72.Rg7 Ra6 73.d6 Ra1 ½–½

David Z was an exchange down but very coolly defended the reduced material endgame:

Zakarian - Hamitevici
4NCL Division 1a, 15.11.2015

41.g3 in order to remove Ne2+ threat 41...Nd5 42.Kg2 a3 43.Bc5 Bxc5 44.Qxc5 a2 45.Qa3 Qe6 46.Kh1 e4 47.Qxa2 exf3 48.Rd1 f2 49.Qxf2 Nf6 50.Qc5 Kg7 51.Qc7+ Kh6 52.Qf4+ g5 53.Qd4 Kg6 54.Kg1 g4 55.Rf1 Kg5 and White remains perpetually vulnerable to queen checks. 56.Rb1 Qe2 57.Rb6 Qe1+ 58.Kg2 Qe2+ 59.Qf2 Qe4+ 60.Kg1 Qe5 61.Qd2+ Kg6 62.Qd3+ Kg7 63.Rb5 Qa1+ 64.Rb1 Qa7+ 65.Kf1 Qa8 66.Kf2 Qa2+ 67.Ke3 Qxh2 68.Rb7+ Kh6 69.Kd4 Qh1 70.Rb5 Qa1+ 71.Ke3 Qe1+ 72.Kf4 Qe6 73.Qf5 Qc4+ 74.Ke3 Qc1+ 75.Ke2 Qc4+ 76.Kd1 Qd4+ 77.Kc1 Qe3+ 78.Kb2 Qd4+ 79.Kb3 Qe3+ 80.Kb2 Qd4+ ½–½

An original position – please don’t say this is book ! – where both sides have segued from a Sicilian through Dutch and English/Nimzo themes to reach this position, as early as move 13. Who is better? Search me, guv, said the writer, as he headed for the Fritz analysis button.

Eggleston - Claridge-Hansen,W
4NCL Division 1a, 15.11.2015

It says that Black is marginally better, but it’s hard to appreciate the reason why: 13. … Ne5 The machine prefers 13...Rf8 [not 0-0 as this allows Qd5+ simplifying] and after 14.g4 e3 15.Nxe3 Nxe3 16.Qxe3 Ne5 Black has the better structure to develop his pieces. 14.Rh3 Be6 (still Rf8) 15.g4 Bxc4 16.Bxc4 Nxc4 17.Qe2 Ne5 missing 17...Nfe3! 18.Rxe3 Nxe3 19.Qxe3 Qd5 and Black is more compact 18.Qxe4 Nh4 19.Rxh4 Qxc3+ 20.Kd1 Nd3 21.Qd4 Qxd4 22.Nxd4 Nxf2+ 23.Ke2 Ne4 and Black’s 3 pawns for the piece weren’t enough – and the game ends with a long pursuit of the remaining pawns … 1-0, 54.

Oxford 2


Oxford 2 2019 Midland Monarchs 1 1919
w Dickinson, Tim R 2116 ½ - ½ Grinsell, Lee A 2095
b Truran, Michael C 2147 0 - 1 Manelidou, Maria 2081
w Scott, David A 2055 1 - 0 Serbanescu, Diana-Maria 2053
b Brackmann, Hendrik 2029 1 - 0 Munshi, Aditya 1937
w Neatherway, A Philip 1860 0 - 1 Holton, Jake 1702
b Terry, Sean 1910 0 - 1 Guha, Chirag 1650
2½ - 3½

A bad start to our season – with blunders a-plenty on board 2, 5 and 6 putting a dent in the machine.

After a quick draw by Tim on top board, there was better news on board 3, Black’s decision to retreat his queen to h5 a few moves prior to this position allowed Dave a nice combination based on its lack of available space:

Scott – Serbanescu (W)
4NCL 3, 14.11.2015

22.Ng5 h6 23.Bf3 [23.Bxf6 hxg5 24.Bxe7 may be even stronger] 23...Ng4 24.h3 hxg5 25.Bxg4 Qh8 26.Bxg7 Qxg7 27.fxg5 Qe5 28.Qf4 and White was completely in control (1-0, 39)

On board 4 Hendrik had wound his way down to a mostly major piece ending, which looks at first glance to have a slight advantage, but nothing to get excited over. Here, Black has just played … Bg4, and 19.f3 looks like a plausible way forward, but loses immediately to the very cute 19...Bh3; but 19.Rae1 is an option. White decides to bite the bullet and look for salvation in the ending...

Munshi – Brackmann (W)
4NCL 3, Telford, 14.11.2015

19.Bxa6 Be2 20.Qxe2 Rxe2 21.Bxe2 Rc8 22.a4 Rc2 23.Bf3 Qd4 24.Ra3 Qc5 25.Raa1 and the position looks equal; White’s problem as ever is how to maintain it. … Qa5 26.Rfb1 Kf8 27.Rb5 Qxa4 ouch 28.Rb8+ Ke7 29.Rab1 Qd4 30.R8b7+ Kf6 31.e5+ Qxe5 and the writing was about to be entered onto the wall (0-1, 45)

On my board, I found myself looking at a position that looked quite all right for Black. … Bb7 looks natural enough, and although Rc7 may happen, it doesn’t have any sting or impact, as after (say) … Qb8 it will need to retreat or otherwise deal with the threat of Bxd5.

Guha - Terry
4NCL 3 Telford, 14.11.2015

So, having considered ... Bb7 (tick) as giving a slight advantage (tick), I decided on a 2-minute think on: 22...Bxf5 (tick) 23.Rc7 Qb8 24.Nxd4 (tock) Bg6 25.Nc6 (BOOM) 1–0


Shropshire 1 2141 Oxford 2 2019
w Ferrington, Nigel M 2290 1 - 0 Dickinson, Tim R 2116
b Rutter, Nick J 2215 ½ - ½ Truran, Michael C 2147
w Whyte, Brian G 2155 0 - 1 Scott, David A 2055
b Hopkins, Jamie R 2080 ½ - ½ Brackmann, Hendrik 2029
w Gostelow, David W 2072 1 - 0 Neatherway, A Philip 1860
b Bryant, Richard B E 2035 0 - 1 Terry, Sean 1910
3 - 3

Another match draw, which could have been worse, as I rescued a wretched position into an ending which quite fortunately was strong for me.

On top board, White’s performance in downing Tim was an object lesson in technique – here’s a flavour of the later stages (which aimed to liquidate bishops and eat pawn):

Ferrington - Dickinson (B, 46)

While Mike got a quick Sunday draw.

Dave showed how to punish mistakes from a McCutcheon:

Whyte – Scott (W)
4NCL 3 Telford, 15.11.2015

18.Bf3? (a connecting rook move which allows a king retreat to the first rank needs considering…) … Nxd4 19.Bxd5 19.cxd4 Qxd4+ 20.Ke2 g4 21.Bxd5 Qxd5 is the grovel …Nf5 20.Qa6 Rd8 21.Ke2 Qe5+ 0–1

Oxford 3

Oxford 3 1703 Iceni 2 1651
w Idle, Oscar 1765 1 - 0 Szymanski, Mark 1864
w Sheremetyeva, Elizaveta 1757 ½ - ½ Jones, Robert L 1841
b Gentry, Alan E 1753 1 - 0 Woodward, Vivian 1701
b Idle, Oscar 1765 1 - 0 Balakrishnan, Kathirvel 1535
w Bentham, Sam 1585 0 - 1 Somton, Anita 1474
w Riley, Adrian K 1595 ½ - ½ Collicott, Peter J 1495
4 - 2

A good win kicks off the Oxford 3 season.

Top board was a great struggle and admirable play by Oscar in defending the Benko pawn, and emerging triumphant into the late middlegame. The ending was (to judge from the pgn) a curious matter:

Idle - Szymanski (W)
4NCL Divsion 4 South Telford, ENG(1.33), 14.11.2015

34.Re7 Qa1 35.Qxe6 Nf6?? 36.Qf5+ Kg8 37.Nxh6+ Kh8 38.Qg6 Ne8 39.Nf7+ Kg8 40.Nh6+ Kh8 41.Nf5?? 1–0

And perhaps some eyes could be raised in analysis… once or twice.

Sam on 3 came up with a self-mate which Anita didn’t miss:

Bentham - Somton,A (W)
4NCL Divsion 4 Telford, 14.11.2015
17.Ng2 Qh5 18.Bf4 Qxh3 19.Bxc7 Ng4 0–1

BCM Hippos [3] 1823 Oxford 3 1795
w Lees, Fraser A 1827 ½ - ½ Lim, Wei Xinq Sean 1764
w Towers, Nigel S 1807 ½ - ½ Cole, Graham 1870
b Cooke, Charlie 1847 1 - 0
b Homolka, Vincent 1812 ½ - ½ Gentry, Alan E 1753
2½ - 1

28 April 2016