Robert Shaw vs Steve Withington

Nomads B vs Barnsley A

Nomads B 5 1/2 – 2 1/2 Barnsley A
Paul Cumbers 1 – 0 Andy Butterworth (w)
Jeremy Hamm 1/2 – 1/2 Pete Micklethwaite
Ian Barwick 0 – 1 Ken Hunter
Mike Newett 1 – 0 Neil Todd
Arjun Babu 1/2 – 1/2 Richard Hall
Stuart Crossthwaite 1 – 0 Brian Holdsworth
Ken Dewhurst 1 – 0 Paul Lea Kyme
Joel Thiruchelvan 1/2 – 1/2 Ernie Soar

Nomads A vs SASCA A

Steve and Henry were unavailable for this one so we welcomed back erstwhile Nomad, Oliver Phipps, to the fold – and ultimately he proved to be an inspired selection. SASCA were missing their regular boards 2 and 3 in the shape of Peter Shaw and Ryan Burgin, and Jon Arnott as well – so we had to fancy our chances but… this season has already demonstrated that there are simply no easy matches in the first division and it’s fair to say that at around 9.00pm I looked around and only saw one player with an outright plus in their game and a Nomads shirt, figuratively speaking, on their backs. So how did it all turn around?

Well… our sole remaining 100% scoring player was the first casualty of the evening. Nick reached an endgame a bishop to the good but two passed pawns to the bad against Alan and Alan’s king was the more active. Both pawns couldn’t be stopped and that was 1-0 to the away team. We then had to write off the board 6/7 table altogether as Ray’s position went from aggressive, to loose, to lost as Nat steadily exchanged off when it best suited him to turn a small positional plus into a completely winning endgame. 2-0 down is not the best way to start the match and fortunately Geoff was in the mood for some fireworks on board 5. As tends to be the case in any game against Paul, you’ll get chances and Geoff was able to build a very strong centre, with his minor pieces moving into threatening territory. A counter punch from Paul, late on, was never going to be enough and although eventually the position simplified Geoff was a piece up and ultimately ran out a comfortable winner.

Chris pulled the scores level shortly afterwards – the only real danger he faced was the clock at one point as he slowly turned the positional screw on Tom before winning a piece. His king was slightly exposed but some fancy geometric manouevring with bishop and queen ensured all the entry points were covered and eventually Tom capitulated. Two more draws followed – Oliver’s first competitive game in 2, maybe 3 years and a double-edged ending where he was going to queen first, but Claes was going to queen second and with check was agreed drawn (a perpetual check was sure to have followed if they had played on). And then on two with both players pushing pawns deep into enemy territory, Deji’s passer on the 6th, supported by a black-squared bishop, was enough to earn him a draw with Miles despite Miles being the exchange up.

So it all came down to me and to Jon. I had been worse (slightly, then much, then slightly again) for pretty much the whole evening so had written off my chances. I offered a draw when I thought that Steve might have problems converting his single pawn advantage but he played on and it seemed likely I would eventually be ground down. However… I do tend to keep fighting in these situations and a couple of inaccuracies let me get a pawn to the seventh…at which point I then managed to take control of the queening square and Steve gave up the exchange. A rook and one vs a bishop and three, I still thought I’d struggle to win but a rook sac picked up one of the pawns and actually gave me the chance to force the bishop off for my last remaining pawn – against two pawns on the fifth with my king behind them it was all over once I found Rd1. All of which meant Jon was finally able to offer a draw in a complex but double-edged position with barely 10 minutes left of the match. Oskar accepted and somehow, despite Geoff commenting that he had lost count at 10 when checking my bad moves, we had won. Next up… a rematch with our upstart rivals who were beating Barnsley in the same room by, I think, a slightly more convincing scoreline.

Postscript – I can’t really end this review without a nod towards Paul Blackman. Early in the night it was apparent he was struggling somewhat but fortunately he was able to settle down and play most of the game out against Geoff (albeit I am sure he was none too happy to have lost). I am sure I speak for the whole club and Sheffield chess as a whole when I say that we continue to wish him all the best.

Nick Mahoney vs Neil Todd

Gunnar Mallon vs Nick Mahoney

Nomads E v Clay Cross B

Nomads E 2.5-1.5 Clay Cross B
John Woollard 1-0 Kieran Redhead
Duncan Chambers 0.5-0.5 Mike Colclough
Eric McKenna 0.5-0.5 Brian Lever
Jo Woollard 0.5-0.5 Keith Myhill

With the A & B team both at home I wasn’t sure whether we had the room or equipment to squeeze the E team in as well, so took up Clay Cross on their kind offer to play the game at their venue. John was first to finish, winning after being under the cosh for most of the game, followed by a draw for Eric who decided beforehand he was going to play a fun game. Duncan and Mike also agreed a draw as Mike became short on time which left just Keith and I playing. A few minutes later Keith offered the draw, he had the slightly stronger position so I was happy to accept. He then stated that that meant Clay Cross had won the game. Fair enough I thought, until I picked up the score sheet which someone else had filled in for me on the next table along. Although John had finished first, I hadn’t seen the result of his game. There he was, listed at the top 1-0. Unfortunately for Keith, when he had a cursory glance over at the score sheet he hadn’t realised I had listed our team on the left, it being our home game. He had seen the 1-0 and thought they had won, meaning a draw for him would be sufficient. So a third win out of three games and top of the table so far, great start team!

Bill Ward vs Geoff Frost

Woodseats A vs Nomads A

In my time playing for Nomads, our main rivals have historically been Chesterfield and, of course, Woodseats, boasting as they do the top rated player in the Sheffield league and a guy on board two who is a pretty damn fine attacking chess player in his own right. Fortunately for us, Andrew was missing this night and Allan came up against a guy on board one who is also a pretty damn fine attacking chess player – Potts vs Nelson was absolutely not for the faint hearted and for the second season in a row I could only watch the game and wonder how exactly Allan’s knight ended up THERE and what was Jon’s queen doing moving to THAT square. But these guys play chess on a different level entirely to me so I left them to it and went back to my own disaster.

There’s not a great deal to be said about the match itself. The result suggests a rout but it was never anything like that and flattering in the extreme for us. I left before the end, so missed wins for Chris (who mentioned subsequently he had offered a draw which his opponent had apparently not heard!) and Deji, neither of whom appeared to have had particularly advantageous positions when I exited stage left. My own game (and the solitary 1 on the Woodseats scoreboard) was no great shakes – a gambit that Nigel essentially played around neatly and precisely until I overstretched, missed a tactic, then missed another tactic trying to get counterplay to emerge two pieces down for my first S&DCA defeat of the season.

It’s hard to be too down on yourself though when the rest of the team pull through. Nick maintained his 100% record; Steve and Henry both had neat wins and Geoff overcame Bill in a French Defence I get the feeling both had encountered in previous battles – and more than once at that. And that game on board one? Jon eventually emerged from complications a piece to the good and although Allan was able to win a pawn or two it wasn’t enough to turn the tide. Three wins from three, and we’ll take on SASCA next.

Postscript: Thanks are due to our hosts and Mr Ward in particular, who arranged a buffet spread in honour of Woodseats’ first match of the season. As I sit typing this still awaiting my takeaway dinner ordered an hour ago, I’m inclined to think I really ought to have eaten more of it!

Richardson Cup Nomads III

Woodseats I 6 0 Nomads III
Andrew Ledger 1 0 Les Day (w)
John Toscano 1 0 Eric McKenna
John Trafford 1 0 Robert Shaw
Andy Lee 1 0 Jo Woollard
Nigel Carpino 1 0 Duncan Chambers
Bill Ward 1 0 Gordon Shaw

For our first cup match of the season we had many familiar faces, and one not seen for 20 years: Duncan Chambers.

We won the toss, and chose to play white on odds. After that, it went downhill.

Eric was the first to succumb. After swapping off one pair of knights, he lost his queen to a discovered attack with check by the remaining knight, and resigned. Gordon went next. OBill’s Knight and bishop penetrated deep into Gordon’s position within the first dozen moves. Facing inevitable mate in two, he resigned.

Meanwhile, Robert offered up a knight in an attempt to lure his opponent into a draw by perpetual check, but John saw through this, avoiding the draw but taking the knight. Robert struggled on for a bit, still looking for a draw, but resigned when it was clear his position was hopeless.

After the initial exchanges, Les was left with two rooks, doubled on the d file, a bishop and six pawns, against two rooks, a bishop, a knight and four pawns, a slight material disadvantage. Andrew then outmanoeuvred Les, getting a pawn to e2. Facing inevitable promotion, Les resigned.

Jo began by swapping knight for bishop on f3. Further exchanges eventually left her with a knight and four pawns, one of them passed, against two bishops and five pawns, a significant material disadvantage.  Unable to push her passed pawn to promotion, or stop the advancing white pawns, Jo resigned.

Duncan was the last to finish.  After most of the pieces had been swapped off, starting with the queens, the game  came down to a knight, bishop and four pawns against a knight, bishop, and five pawns.After much manoeuvring, Nigel forced his way to inevitable promotion, and Duncan resigned.

Overall, while this was another whitewash for Nomads III, most of the games were closer than the scoreline might suggest. Duncan put in a particularly good performance, after his long absence.

 

 

 

Sheffield Deaf vs Nomads E

Sheffield Deaf 1½-2½ Nomads E
Michael Freund 1/2 – 1/2 John Woollard (w)
Pete Sharpe 0-1 Eric Mckenna
M Simmonds 1-0 Robert Shaw
David Whiston 0-1 Jo Wollard

Robert blundered early on, losing a couple of pieces. He defended as best he could for a while, then resigned once there was no longer any prospect of recovering material through pins, forks, or skewers.

John and his opponent both castled king-side, and swapped off bishops. A subsequent queen swap left John with a slightly stronger looking position, but no clear lines of attack. After some probing showed the position was deadlocked, a draw was agreed.

Eric and his opponent began by exchanging minor pieces, ending up with the queen, two rooks, and a knight each, but Pete was forced to double pawns on both the c and f files, giving Eric a slight advantage.

Eric then won a knight with a pawn fork, leaving him with a rook, knight and four pawns against just  a rook and four pawns.  Pete resigned shortly afterwards, when it became clear he couldn’t prevent promotion.

Jo gained a bishop early, then traded a rook for a bishop and knight, before using a promotion threat to win a rook outright. heading into the  endgame with two knights and three pawns against just two pawns.  After considerable manoeuvring , Jo was able to force promotion, so her opponent resigned.

 

Novelty in the Sicilian

I suffered a bad loss in a Sicilian mainline recently when I ran into an opening novelty that I was unprepared for. The move should not present White with serious problems but you might want to look in to this in case you face it over the board:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 d5!?

My game continued:

5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Bc4 Nb6 7. Bb5 cxd4 8. Nxd4 a6 9. Nxc6 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 axb5 11. Nd4 b4 12. Nce2? after which I got into trouble (Ncb5 is better).

After the game my opponent told me that IM Jon Rowson won as White in the line 6. dxc5 Nxc3 7. Qxd8+ Kxd8 8. bxc3. Despite the extra pawn I’m not attracted to White’s structure but who am I to argue with an IM?

 

Nomads A vs Ecclesall A

Wednesday 1st October at Eten Cafe

Nomads A 5 1/2 – 2 1/2 Ecclesall A
Jon Nelson (w) 1/2 – 1/2 Dave Adams
Deji Jeje 0 – 1 Jim Burnett
Chris Shephard 1 – 0 Pete Hempson
Andrew Hards 1 – 0 Ewan Cormack
Geoff Frost 1/2 – 1/2 James Marley
Nick Mahoney 1 – 0 Gunnar Mallon
Henry Withington 1 – 0 Ken Norbury
Steve Withington 1/2 – 1/2 Chris Marley

Last season this was the showdown, top vs second and the points shared after two away wins. This year, both teams have been weakened and perhaps it won’t prove to be quite the top of the table clash it was before… but it was still a fantastic battle. We were outgraded, again – this time by an average of 5 points and particularly Nick and Henry who were conceding more than 10 points to their opponents – so to come away with only one defeat on eight boards was an exceptional performance… and of course, both Nick and Henry secured stunning wins to boot.

So how did it happen? Geoff was a doubt even on the morning of the match but was eventually persuaded to turn out. His game against James seemed pretty even and although his queen and bishop buzzed around the black holes in James’ kingside, there were no real threats and nothing to prevent the draw offer being accepted. This was followed not too long afterwards by another draw on top board – a complicated middle game with Jon’s queen centralised and Dave’s central pawns providing a barrier to his attacks. Queens off, bishop and knight and a pair of rooks each, draw eventually agreed. The first underdog victory was to follow – Henry and Ken were at each other from the early middlegame but Henry’s attack eventually resulted in Ken’s central pawns being doubled. Henry’s rooks were then doubled on the adjacent file and Ken resigned rather than face the inevitable pawn chopping that was likely to follow. Another great scalp for Henry who continues to improve rapidly. His father then followed with another hard fought draw against Chris – this time on the back foot for pretty much the entire duration of the game before managing to swap off everything but a pair of knights each for another half point.

Nick then edged us closer to a win – the game against Gunnar was a maelstrom of attacks, possible sacrifices, open king positions and menacing pieces. Nick’s queen was nearly trapped more than once…Gunnar’s queen eventually was as it was forked with check to end a fascinating competition. Definitely one to see again if you ever get chance.

Half a point from the win… it was left to Chris to nudge us over the finish line – a very slow, methodical build up around the centre eventually crashed through and although Pete limited the damage, materially, to a couple of pawns, there was no coming back from that and the only danger was that Chris’ scoresheet, where it looked like he had marked move 32 instead of move 30 for the time control, might rush him into a time-control error. It didn’t. Game over.

Jim’s match had looked won against Deji for some considerable time – a massive kingside attack that there seemed no way to repel. Yet repel it Deji did… for several moves and an hour or so. The h file eventually cleared though, and Jim’s heavy artillery found its way onto that file and into Deji’s position – score one for the visitors. And that just left my game against Ewan – dead drawn last time we played this time I managed to eke out a pawn in the early middlegame. Several attempts to try and activate my pieces seemed destined for failure but when Ewan pushed a pawn one square too far I was able to win it with check, exchange a set of rooks and break out of the position; eventually entering an ending with a rook and three pawns versus a rook there was only going to be one outcome.

So a second consecutive win – well played Nomads! I’m sure revenge will be keenly sought in the return leg…

Les Day v Barry Shaw

Henry Withington vs Ken Norbury

Sheffield Individual Championship: 2014-15

  • open to anyone in the S & DCA area
  • 6 rounds Swiss or all-play-all, depending on turnout
  • one game per month at Black’s or Junior’s choice of venue
  • free entry
  • playing speed: 24 moves per hour, then 12 each half hour
  • your details by text,  please, or call 07763938623 by 31 October
  • current champion: Chris Shephard
  • I would like more entries than last year, please!
  • “regulars” whom I am phoning individually need not apply separately

John Fryer