Weekend 2 – Oxford 1

[games, pgn]

Tim writes:

All, the second half of the split weekend was completed at the weekend. Oxford 1 almost got the two wins skip optimistically "forecast", beating White Rose 2 6-2 before losing 3½-4½ to Guildford 2. After being third-top on Saturday evening, we are now third-bottom of Pool A. Shucks. Still, we have a small chance of making the Championship Pool if we can defeat Barbican 1 in round 6 or WGHK in round 7.

You may recall Ox1 3½-4½ Cheddleton 1 in round 1 last season, where we reached 3½-3½ with the last game optically looking good. We reached that same scoreline on Sunday with Henrique's tricky but favourable-looking endgame still in play. Sadly winning it, as in 2014, proved much easier said than done and his attempted combination hit a snag when Black's knight rudely gave check at an inopportune moment. Oh well.

Top marks to ...

  • David M, Justin, David Z & Tom who all recorded 1½/2, with Tom doing his absolute best to confuse the computers with an extraordinarily complex Poisoned Pawn Sicilian on Sunday. If you haven't seen it, play through below (thanks, Kieran for uploading). Do have a look, and admire his brilliant 28. … Qxg2+;
  • Francesca who maintained her 100% record for the season, moving to 3/3. OK, two of them were defaults, but hey, who's counting?;
  • Benjamin & Henrique who both opened their accounts on debut with wins;
  • and finally the Balliol College porter who averted a mini-crisis on Sunday morning by acting as an impromptu alarm clock.

There is much chess happening over the next three weeks, with 4NCL's next FIDE-rated event taking place at Birmingham on 29-31 Jan, Kidlington on 6-7 Feb and the next edition of 4NCL proper on 13-14 Feb.


White Rose 2 2133 Oxford 1 2299
w Brown, Martin 2216 0 - 1 Martins, David Pires Tavares f 2408
b Gantner, Matthias f 2274 0 - 1 Tan, Justin i 2446
w Weller, Jean-Luc 2247 ½ - ½ Harvey, Marcus R f 2335
b Shaw, Peter 2116 1 - 0 Rose, Matthew 2300
w Sucikova, Svetlana 2177 0 - 1 Zakarian, David f 2380
b Burnett, Jim 2170 ½ - ½ Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2306
w O'driscoll, Kieran 2069 0 - 1 Aguiar, Henrique Rui Neves 2201
b York-Andersen, Anna 1796 0 - 1 Matta, Francesca 2020
2 - 6

A strong Oxford team registered its first result, in line with the ratings disparity. On top board, we join the position just after White has plopped a strong knight onto d6:

Brown – Martins
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

Well … it looks strong, but after 16. … Nxd3 17.Qxd3 Rd8 18.Rad1 a5 19.Qe3 Ba6 20.Rfe1 Be5 and by now it’s becoming clear that the Nd6 isn’t quite the gun player, and doesn’t have a clear retreat: 21.Bxe5 Qxe5 22.Qd4 f6 23.Qxe5 fxe5 24.Rd2 Ra7 … and it looks like both sides are going to line up their tactics on the d-file.

Instead 25.Nc4 This looks like a snappy way to break the pin, but fails. Instead Fritz shows it’s another snappy idea that rescues the knight:: 25.Red1 Rad7 26.h4 Nc8 27.Nf7! … Rd4! Winning a piece 26.Rxd4 exd4 27.Ne2 Bxc4 28.Nxd4 Rd7 29.Nf3 … and 0–1, 58.

On board 2, Justin had plenty of space but no clear breakthrough:

Tan – Gantner (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

33.Rc2 Fritz throws out the suggestion 33. Re4, without confiding the details. … Ne5 34.Rcc1 h4? [34...Nd7 35.Nxd7+ Bxd7 looks equal 35.Rcd1 Rxd1 36.Rxd1 hxg3 37.hxg3 g4 38.Kf2 Bd7 39.Rd6+ Kg5 40.a6

40…. f4?? 41.Ne4+ Kh5 42.gxf4 1–0

On board 3, Marcus went for broke early on:

Weller - Harvey
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

15.Bxh6 f5 16.Qe3 gxh6 17.Qxh6 Nf8 [17...Qf6 avoids the perpetual] 18.Qh8+ Kf7 19.Qh5+ Kg8 20.Qh8+ ½–½

Matt found himself struggling early doors on board 4 – the two bishops aren’t up to much and he’s just played c4 – slowly, Black demonstrates his plus

Rose – Shaw, P
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

25…. bxc4 26.bxc4 Ne4 27.Rf1 Rab8 28.cxd5 cxd5 29.Rd3 Rb2 30.Bf3 Nf2+ 31.Rxf2 Rxf2 and Black was on the way to 0–1, 72.

A similarly long game on the next table sees another pair of bishops also not doing so well, though David’s position is a lot healthier than Matt’s was.

Sucikova,S – Zakarian (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

42.a5 Fritz likes this, but I doubt Kelly would bxa5 43.Rc2 Nf6 44.Bc1 Rb3 45.Bc4 Rb1 46.Bd3 Rb4 47.Re2 Nd7 48.Bd2 Rd4 49.Bc2 a4 50.Bc3 Rc4 51.Bb2 f6 52.Bd3 Rb4 53.Rc2 Ne5 54.Bxe5 fxe5

The only problem now is that the a-pawn is now in deadly mode: 55.Bc4 a3 56.d6+ Kf8 57.Bd5 Rb1+ 58.Kf2 Rb2 59.Rxb2 axb2 60.Ba2 Be6 61.Bb1 a5 62.Ke2 a4 63.d7 Ke7 64.Kd2 a3 65.Kc3 g4 0–1

A top game in a top treatment of the Winawer led to this position where Tom EW seems to be slowly converting… :

Eckersley-Waites, T - Burnett
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

34.Re1 Rxa5 35.Qb8+ and not as I initially thought 35.Rxe6+ Kf7 which isn’t mating 35...Kf7 36.Qc7+ Ne7 37.Qxa5 h4 38.Qa3 Ng6 39.Bd3 Qg5 40.Bxg6+ Kxg6 41.Re2 e5 42.Qd3+ Kg7 43.Rf2 e4 44.Qd6 e3 45.Rb2 h3 46.Qg3 Qxg3 47.hxg3 hxg2 48.Rxg2 [48.Re2 leaves some chances for White, but this leads to a well calculated draw] 48...Bxg2 49.Kxg2 Kg6 50.Kf3 Kf5 51.Kxe3 Kg4 ½–½

Henrique played as well on the Saturday as he had a few days earlier against myself:

O'Driscoll – Aguiar (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

19…. g5! gives Black an edge, one that doesn’t go away – though it changes its form before the final mating attack 20.f4 gxf4 21.Qxf4 b4 22.Na4 Nb5 23.Rh3 Kh8 24.Nb6 Rb8 25.Nc4 Nxc4 26.bxc4 e5 27.Qf5 Nd4 28.Nxd4 exd4 29.h6 Qe7 30.Rdd3 Rg8 31.Kf1 Rg6 32.Rdf3 Ra8 33.Rhg3 Rxh6 34.Rh3 Rh4 35.Rf2 d3 36.Rxd3 Rh1+ 37.Ke2 Rxa2+ 38.Rd2 Raa1 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.Qg4+ Kf8 41.Kd3 Ra3+ 42.Kc2 Ra2+ 43.Kd3 Rxd2+ 44.Kxd2 Rh4 45.Qc8+ Kg7 46.Rf3 Qe5 47.Qd8 Qb2+ 48.Ke3 Qd4+ 49.Ke2 Rxe4+ 0–1

Francesca wins when one natural enough looking move turns out to be poisonous:

Matta,F - York-Andersen,A
4NCL Division 1a, 23.01.2016

23. … Qf6 24.Bxf5 ouch Be7 25.Bg6+ Kd8 26.Nge4 Qf8 27.Qxg4 Rg8 28.Nxe6+ Bxe6 29.Qxe6 1–0


Oxford 1 2286 Guildford 2 2355
w Martins, David Pires Tavares f 2408 ½ - ½ Zhou, Yang-Fan i 2458
b Tan, Justin i 2446 ½ - ½ Fernandez, Daniel Howard i 2474
w Zakarian, David f 2380 ½ - ½ Suarez Real, Alberto i 2397
b Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2306 1 - 0 Milliet, Sophie i 2369
w Harvey, Marcus R f 2335 0 - 1 Martin, Andrew D i 2368
b Foo, Zhi Rong Benjamin 2231 1 - 0 Wall, Gavin i 2336
w Aguiar, Henrique Rui Neves 2201 0 - 1 Wadsworth, Matthew J 2252
b Varney, Zoe 1982 0 - 1 Kalaiyalahan, Akshaya 2187
3½ - 4½

Such a close run thing – so nearly, … so far. Great viewing on Chess24!

Top board sees a careful series of exchanges, and in the diagram position it’s David M (White) to move, with his Rd2 en prise:

Martins – Zhou (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 24.01.2016

28.f4 This cuts off the diagonal attack so Black wins a piece… 28...Qxd5 29.Qxd5 Rxd5 30.Re1 and now the f4 pawn prevents a defence of the now pinned Be2. [FWIW the machine initially punts 28.Bxf7+ Kxf7 29.Rxe2 Rxe2 30.Qf3+, which looks sensible enough, but today’s problem is what if 28. … Kh8? … Rb5 31.Rdxe2 Rxe2 32.Rxe2 f5 33.Kf2 Rb3 34.Rd2 Kf7 35.Ke2 Ke6 36.Bc1 Rc3 37.Bb2 Rb3 38.Kd1 Kd5 39.Kc2 Rb8 40.Re2 Bf6 41.Re1 Ra8 42.Re2 Rb8 43.Re1 Ra8 44.Ra1 Bd8 45.Rb1 Be7 46.Kb3 ½–½

Board 2 was a perpetual check, once again hosted by players from Planet FIDE (2400), this time after a long probing game played by both players. On Board 3, DZ was up to his tricks again, with more sharp play clarifying to a perpetual:

Zakarian - Suarez Real
4NCL Division 1a, 24.01.2016

25.Bxc5 Bxf5 26.exf5 Qe2 27.Bxf8 Rexf8 [27...Kxf8 28.f6 gxf6 29.Qh4 Qxb2 30.Raf1 Re6 31.Qc4 Ke7 32.Qc5+] 28.f6 e4 29.fxg7 exf3 30.gxf8Q+ Kxf8 31.Qc8+ Kg7 32.Qg4+ Kf8 33.Qc8+ Kg7 ½–½

Tom’s poisoned pawn adventures led to fascinating complexities, and a favourable and aesthetic outcome but … this position has a White to Play and … look about it.

Milliet,S - Eckersley-Waites,T (B)
4NCL Division 1a, 24.01.2016

17.Rb4 My version of Fritz says 17.Bxa6 is worth 0.16, but according to Chess24 software on the day it was seen as much more valuable! 17...Qxa2 18.Nxh4 b5 19.Ng6 Bb7 20.Nc3 Qa5 21.Nxb5 axb5 22.Nxf8 Kxf8 23.Qxd6+ Kg8 24.c3 Qa1+ 25.Kd2 Kh7 26.Bc4 Qxh1 27.Bxf7 Rhd8 28.Bd5 Qxg2+ 29.Bxg2 Nb6 30.Qxd8 Rxd8+ 31.Ke2 Bxg2 32.Rxb5 Nd5 33.Kf2 Nf4 34.h4 Rd2+ 35.Ke1 Re2+ 36.Kd1 Be4 0–1

Benjamin won an exchange and then coolly stopped the b7 pawn in its tracks before converting:

Wall - Foo
4NCL Division 1a Birmingham, 24.01.2016

44...Rb5 45.Rxg7 Kh6 46.Rd7 a5 47.Kg1 a4 48.Bxa4 Rxb7 a brave decision to allow double rooks continue on an open board, but R v B doesn’t allow the same scope for game-saving blunders. 49.Rd6+ Kg5 50.Bc6 R7b6 51.a4 Kf4 52.Rf6+ Ke5 53.Rh6 Rc2 54.Rh5+ Kf4 55.Bb5 h6 56.Rd5 Rg6+ 57.Kf1 Rg3 58.Rd4+ Ke5 59.Rh4

Ra3 60.Rh5+ Kf4 61.Be2 Raa2 62.Rh4+ Ke5 0–1

On board 8 Zoe was in a pickle of sorts:

Kalaiyalahan,A - Varney,Z (W)
4NCL Division 1a, 24.01.2016

20.Rfd1 A bit circumspect: viewers on Chess24 were looking at this variation: 20.Bxb6 Qxb6 21.Rc8+ Bxc8 22.d7+ Bd6 23.Nxd6 20...Kg8 21.Qb3 [21.Nc5 Bc6 22.d7 Bxg2 23.Ne6] 21...Ba4 22.Bxb6 axb6 23.Qe6 brings us to here:

Which still looks bad, and after 23 … Bxd1 it gets worse. Instead, though 23...Bd7 24.Qc4 f5 would have dissolved most of White initiative; instead now it’s game over time: 24.Rc8 Ba7 25.Rxd8+ Rxd8 26.d7 Bb8 27.Nxf6+ gxf6 28.Bd5 Rdxd7 29.Qxd7 Bh5 30.Bxf7+ Bxf7 31.Qd8+ Kg7 32.Qxb8 1–0

This looks like the remains of a Nimzo, or other QP opening, but it started life as a Centre Counter:

Harvey – Martin
4NCL Division 1a, 24.01.2016

It’s a mess for Marcus, as his minor pieces can’t move anywhere without losing material or position.

20.h3 Fritz 8 gives this (and White’s next) as a first option, but also suggests 20.Nb3 Ng4 21.c5 Bxf1 22.Rxf1 20...Nh5 21.h4 Qg6 22.Qf2 Ng3 23.h5 Nxh1 24.hxg6 Nxf2 25.gxf7+ Kxf7 and 0-1, 53.

Somehow, then, we’re all square an one game left – Henrique on board 7.

Aguiar - Wadsworth
4NCL Division 1a, 24.01.2016

Watching on Chess24 … in case any FIDE arbiters are watching this, I’m sure I had finished my own game in Telford by this point - its analysis mode was suggesting White was better – a combination of the pressure he has against g7 and d6, and the effect this has on Black’s mobility. 35.Kf3 b5 36.axb5 Rxa3 37.bxa3 Rxb5 38.Ke3 Rb3 39.Kd4 Rxa3 40.Kxc4 Ra4+ 41.Kd3 Ra1 42.Rg2 a5 43.c4 a4 44.Bd2 Ra3+ 45.Kd4 Ra2 46.Kc3 Nc7 47.c5 the wrong plan. Fritz suggests Rg1 and relocating to the west is a plus of sorts. … dxc5 48.d6 one brings two … Nb5+ 49.Kc4 Nxd6+ 50.Kd5 Nf7 51.Rf2 Ng5 52.Be3 the start of a nice combination that wins a pawn back Rxf2 53.Bxc5+ levels material Kf7 54.Bxf2 a3 but doesn’t save the game. 55.Bd4 a2 56.e5 fxe5 57.Bxe5 Nf3 0–1

28 April 2016