Robert Shaw vs Alexander Pilakoutas

Stannington vs Nomads 400

Stannington 3 1/2 1/2 Nomads 400
James Allen (b) 1 0 Eric McKenna
Paul Cheshire 1/2 1/2 Jo Woollard
Francis L Kay 1 0 Robert Shaw
Glen Marvin 1 0 Gordon Shaw

Nomads won the toss, and chose white on odd boards.

Playing against the French Defence, Robert lost two rooks in quick succession to knight forks, ending up with a decisive material disadvantage, and resigned. Gordon and Glen both castled king-side, exchanging minor pieces, but after Glen’s queen captured Gordon’s a8 rook he too was faced with a decisive material disadvantage, and resigned.

Eric and his opponent traded off pieces. After 33 moves each, Eric was left with a rook, bishop and three pawns against a rook, knight and five pawns. Recognising his opponent’s pawn majority would be decisive he also resigned.

Meanwhile, Jo and Paul maintained approximate material parity. Jo had a well placed knight, and Paul had doubled pawns, but this did not prove to be quite enough for a win. After both players’ attacks fizzled out they agreed a draw, saving Nomads from a complete whitewash.

Ecclesall vs Nomads 400

Ecclesall 2 2 Nomads 400
John Speck (w) 1/2 1/2 Eric McKenna
Ivan Basarab-Horwath 1 0 Jo Woollard
Mike Howarth 1/2 1/2 Dave Kesteven
Alex Parker 1 0 Robert Shaw

Eric traded minor pieces with his opponent, maintaining material parity, but eventually deadlocked. While one of them might have had a theoretical advantage, they’d have probably run afoul of the fifty move rule trying to exploit it, so a draw was agreed.

Dave’s opponent castled first, kingside. After some tense manoeuvring they ended up with a rook and four pawns each, then quickly agreed a draw.

Robert made some questionable moves early on, but won a knight with a fork, and kept this material advantage throughout the game, ending up with a rook, bishop and two pawns against just a rook and two pawns. He also had an extra fifteen minutes on the clock. A draw might still have been achievable for Alex, but then he lost his rook and resigned.

R Shaw vs A Parker

R Shaw vs A Parker

Woodseats A vs Nomads A, The Red Lion 10/04/2017

There was a time, not that long ago, when this would be a clash of the Titans – but neither side is as strong as it once was and Woodseats’ issues were exacerbated by someone dropping out at around 7pm. All of which meant that Steve and Keith tossed a coin to see who would play, and Keith lost the coin toss… so played. Not sure how that worked but fair enough!

As it happens, Keith was first to finish. He entered a pretty drawish looking endgame with an extra pawn but the same coloured bishop as Dave. At some point, Dave exchanged those pieces and in the circumstances that was a mistake that let Keith invade with his king and make the extra pawn tell. The 2pt gap didn’t last long though. Simon got trapped by Bill’s trappy opening, and lost a piece. He picked up a couple of pawns for it but his own position was reminiscent of the Swiss cheese in my fridge – a second piece was lost and eventually his king was driven to mate in the middle of the board. Sadly for Woodseats, that was to be their only win of the night. Board 5 was next to conclude – Stuart picked up a piece for a couple of pawns during the opening at some point and Brendan found himself on the back foot for most of the remainder of the game – not sure how the game finished but it was our man that carried the day. Jon scored another full point a little later – his knights were causing havoc on Mark’s kingside and he eventually won the exchange before smoothly converting the win.

Mike and Dave on board four had been quite standoffish – a Rossolimo Sicilian had led to a relatively quiet middlegame with neither player making a great deal of headway and the minutes ticking by. A draw offer was accepted and that was the match sealed for us, leaving just myself and Chris still playing. I finished first this time – a potentially very sharp opening was avoided by Peter and we entered a rooks and pawns ending where I felt I had a slight space advantage and a centralised king. Naturally I didn’t play the ending so well, but Peter missed some defensive tricks and eventually I was able to do what I had set out to do and get a pawn to the 7th that was going to win a rook and the game. A fortuitous point. All of which left Chris playing out his match with Nigel. He had been exerting severe pressure on the queenside for most of the game, with Nigel’s pieces clumped together uncomfortably. When he did break through, however, his time was nearly up and Nigel found some tactics with queen and knight, including two mating threats that Chris did well to avoid with a minute or so left on his clock. Nigel then found himself a piece down with no checks and Chris threatening to consolidate – a deep think at just the wrong time saw his own clock tick down and over the line… giving Chris and Nomads the last win of the night and a 6.5 – 1.5 win. Some fun games, interesting positions… and the bonus of being able to do it all again in a fortnight when Woodseats visit us for our final match of the season.

Andrew Hards vs Peter Hulse

Barnsley A vs Nomads A

I woke up on the morning of this match with 6 players and the fear that we were going to turn up for the second season in the past 3 or 4 with only 3/4 of a team. Miraculously we had managed to win with 6 players the last time that happened, but I didn’t foresee that happening again so it was with a pretty big sigh of relief I secured the Woollards (yes, John too!) around mid-day and knew we wouldn’t be defaulting any boards. Barnsley had sportingly moved the fixture back a week when I realised I’d be defaulted 5 boards the previous Tuesday – this time around we were still missing most of our middle order with Jamie, Ian, Mike, Geoff, Henry, Arjun and Stuart all otherwise indisposed but we had a side, with B team captain Keith filling in to free Ian up for a vital match for the Bs on the same evening. Oven-related difficulties meant I was late turning up (with Nick in tow) and by the time I was settled at the board John and Neil were already into a queenless middlegame which was agreed drawn around about 8.15pm; Jo’s game finished maybe 15 minutes later when Anthony blundered his queen – after being the last to join the team, the Woollards were the first to leave, out the door well before 9.00pm with 1.5/2 pts in the bag. It wasn’t a whole lot later that Keith managed to turn his game around – Paul had had a good opening and was pressing on the queenside but Keith’s black-squared bishop and queen combined nicely for a mating attack, giving us a healthy lead. Nick and Ken drew shortly afterwards in what looked to be a fairly even and quite blocked-up position. That left the top three boards and Simon on 6 still playing. Jon had opted for complications in what had looked a pretty quiet middlegame – his king was dangerously exposed to mating threats but interposing his spare bishop to prevent Andy landing a knockout blow meant they eventually exchanged queens and were left with a rooks and pawns ending – all of which are drawn, right?

Speaking of draws, Pete and I have a habit of playing those out and this time around we had a slightly different game but the same outcome – once the queens were off there didn’t seem to be a huge amount left in the position for either of us and that’s now P3 D3 in our head-to-heads. Simon, on the other hand, was making headway in his game on the queenside – with Richard having castled long his king was gradually coming under sustained assault and although I missed the ending, it did seem likely that either Simon would crash through and win quickly or Richard would spend a significant time grovelling before possibly escaping into an ending. Judging by how soon the game finished, I would assume the former outcome. That took us over the line, with a 5-2 lead unassailable and only Chris left to finish. It wouldn’t be Chris without a little bit of time pressure, but once he had successfully reached 30 moves, and once Martin had generously adjusted the clocks by giving Chris 15 mins back and himself only 10 (which Chris realised and corrected not long after, for the record!), a draw offer followed shortly afterwards. A nice win, with all top five boards drawing and the bottom three winning, was done and dusted around 9.45 for what must have been our earliest finish of the season. Fair play to Barnsley, for letting us move the match, and whilst the title has already been decided, we move on now to a back-to-back matches against Woodseats to round off the season.

Pete Micklethwaite vs Andrew Hards (Round 3)

Pete Micklethwaite vs Andrew Hards (Round 3)

Nomads B vs Rotherham A

Nomads B 2 4 Rotherham A
Ian Barwick (w) 1/2 1/2 Chris Williams
Ken Dewhurst 1/2 1/2 Pete Ballard
Lucas Roshani 0 1 Ed Sowerby
Steve Withington 1/2 1/2 Chris Willey
Les Day 1/2 1/2 Phil Sharp
Eric McKenna 0 1 Mick Snowdon

Usual captain Keith was playing for the A team in Barnsley, so Steve stood in.

First to finish was Les, with a short brutal game that ended in a draw. Meanwhile Steve allowed Chris an early threat of checkmate that could only be stopped by giving up a bishop. This, however, was met shortly after with a nice counter-blunder from Chris, and a draw was agreed in a game both players would rather forget. New Nomad Lucas crumbled early and things weren’t looking good. A draw on board two and defeat for Eric meant Nomads had lost the match.

Ian was last to finish with an interesting queens and pawns endgame from which he secured a draw.