Woodseats A vs Nomads A, 15th January 2018

Woodseats A 1 7 Nomads A
Daniel Sullivan (w) 0 1 Jon Nelson
Stuart Jones 0 1 Chris Shephard
Shane Frith 0.5 0.5 Andrew Hards
David Toft 0.5 0.5 Geoff Frost
Steve Moon 0 1 Ian Barwick
Brendan Ashmore 0 1 Mike Newett
Bill Ward 0 1 Stuart Crosthwaite
Stephen Daykin 0 1 Nick Mahoney

And so to Woodseats and the Red Lion for our first match of 2018. Andrew was missing (we wish him and his family well, of course) and Woodseats were also missing one or two others towards the top end of the team that left them comfortably outgraded on nearly every board. However, that didn’t prevent them from making a fight of things and the scoreline, as ever it seems, flattered us somewhat. First to finish were David and Geoff – Geoff forgot the usual continuation in the opening he played and things petered out quickly. But his was the only game to finish (relatively) quickly. Elsewhere, the battles were fought hard and long into the night.

Stuart entered into a King’s Gambit of sorts with Bill and seemed to hold onto the extra pawn, and hold it, and hold it… and eventually his pawn became a thorn in Bill’s position that he wasn’t able to round up as Stuart picked up pawns elsewhere on the board. Nick followed a little while after, also winning a number of pawns in the endgame to break Steve’s resistance.

After this, everything was something of a blur as most of the remaining games finished at a similar point. Mike’s kingside pressing eventually told as he forced his way into Brendan’s position; Ian’s pieces initially seemed to be getting in a bit of a tangle but once he sorted them out he too, was able to eke an advantage and overturn Steve’s brave resistance. On three, I got dragged into a very drawish opening line (I am sure I didn’t play it well but that’s no surprise!) and once everything came off Shane and I were left with a very drawish rook and pawn ending (one where I nearly walked into a mate in 1!) that ended in a draw, unsurprisingly. On two, Chris gradually wore Stuart down and in the ending, Chris’ more active king and better placed pawns were crucial (aided and abetted by a pawn advantage, as I recall). And on top board Jon and Daniel were out of book on around move 4… the game became exceedingly sharp and when I thought Daniel might be lost, he managed to wiggle some more before eventually entering an endgame where he was a piece down. Jon’s technique at this point was flawless, though, culminating in a nice mating pattern without need to promote his final pawn.

A one-sided result, but not so much a one-sided match – and a convincing enough start to 2018.

Phil Ford Memorial Tournament

Disappointed that only Robert & Myself bothered to turn up to Phil Fords Memorial Tournament tonight. Don’t know why nobody else turned up to what normally is a well attended evening in the Clubs calendar. So far the Summer events we planned at our AGM have mostly been poorly attended which I find very sad indeed. Hope the few events we have planned in September are better attended. Cheers Lez

Club League

8 players turned up for our second Club League night. In Division 1 Henry kept up his winning start with a win over Nick, while in Division 2 Eric remained unbeaten with a win over Rob. Steve & Lez played out a draw. Only one match in Division 3 with Lucas playing his first game winning against Gordon. Thanks to all for playing tonight the next Club League night is on Sept 19th, hope to see everyone there.
Cheers Lez

Richardson Cup final replay

For those with long memories, the Richardson Cup final was played on 15th March 2016. on 26th September 2016 the replay was held. By agreement between the captains and Phill Beckett (controller) we played over 4 boards and agreed that board count and board elimination would be used to settle a 2-2 draw. There was no agreement or facility for 4 draws. Cue collective crossed fingers.
The teams were again very evenly matched and probably had their best 4 available players out.
So off we went. That is to say they played and the general retired for a coffee.
Soon Chris and Jonathan walked in to my bunker all smiles. Jonathan was happy to have drawn in 16 moves. Chris likewise, citing that he was after all black and hadn’t played for 3 months. 1 draw down 3 to go. followed quickly by Jamie with another lame excuse for drawing in 18. 2 draws 2 to go. I wonder what Ian’s players told him!!
So off to the front line to observe the remains of the battle. To my amateur eyes we stood better on both games. Jon’s was messy but he has a good score against Oskar. Paul seemed to have more space and an easier position against Peter. Now a win on board 1 would have decided the match there and then. Hence another draw. Jon muttered something about time pressure. 3 draws 1 to go.
So all eyes on Paul and Peter, except mine, I retreated to the safety of the bunker to await reports. Paul was a pawn up but had doubled isolated b pawns. I again ventured forward and concluded that the game would be won or lost by Paul on the kingside or centre. I will not name the pessimist in our side who was strongly betting on Peter.
Finally, finally it was confirmed that Paul had won.
A postscript is that during the match Phill Beckett and I finalised the draw for next year’s Richardson cup. The loser of this game were to play Woodseats, the winner got the bye. Thought it better not to mention it during the game.
Thanks to everyone who played all season, including Pal and his dad who came back from Grantham for this match.

Andrew Hards vs Kier Morton

The big match – Tue 15th March

Both Nomads and SASCA had pulled out all the stops for this Richardson final. The two teams each had an average (live) grade of 193 – and remarkably, players were almost equally matched board for board.

30 minutes in and the quality of the chess was apparent. Jon’s game on 1 was becoming interesting: he’d played …c6 and …b5 to disrupt Oskar’s central pawn setup – and followed up by playing …Nd4, sacrificing a pawn – though there was nothing immediate, we’ve seen Jon play like this before, seizing weaknesses in opponents’ positions, in this case with White’s under-development and exposed king in the line of fire. On the other boards, Paul was a little better against Peter’s Dutch Stonewall, Sam was doing fine in a kind of non-d4 Grunfeld, Chris was a little passive in a kingside fianchetto and d3 setup, Jamie was holding on in the face of Ryan’s Colle, and Daniel was developing a nice positional edge (facing another Dutch Stonewall).

Interestingly it was our top two Black games (Jon on 1 and Sam on 3) which first looked they were potentially tilting our way. Jon’s pressure was starting to pay dividends, while Sam was enjoying more space in a position which now resembled a reversed Benoni. But other games were more worrying: in particular, Paul’s position was turning in his opponent’s favour (Paul later said he’d made a key mistake in allowing Peter’s central pawns to go forward) – and on board 5 Ryan had unleashed a nasty-looking g4 to disrupt Jamie’s d5-e6-f5 pawn formation. Daniel was still better.

And then, Jon’s game exploded into life. Some wonderful piece play – with his opponent’s king still in the centre of the board, his queen, rook and knight appeared to swarm on strong central squares, joined by his black-squared bishop: before too long, the position was overwhelming and Oskar resigned. Something of a relief, with other games definitely more worrying by this stage – including Sam’s increasingly complex game, where nobody watching had a clue of what was going on!

Chris on 4 managed to reach the time control, in spite of his huge time deficit. Paul was in trouble, a pawn down now and positionally worse. Meanwhile Jamie was valiantly attempting to counter his opponent’s initiative, playing on both the king and queensides: but his position was getting very stretched and when Ryan successfully swapped black-squared bishops, it looked very difficult. Daniel was still better, his bishop greatly superior to Deji’s: but his position was simplifying by now and it wasn’t clear how he was going to make further progress.

When Paul resigned and Daniel agreed the draw, it was 1½-1½, with 3 games to go. Sam was clearly on top now – his advancing passed a pawn was posing Yang with enormous problems. But at this stage, we could easily be losing both the remaining two games and with it the match. In fact, things weren’t so simple. In enormous time trouble, Chris was defending Jonathan’s initiative heroically – and on board 5, Jamie was finding great squares for his bad bishop, putting pressure on Ryan and his clock: both players were bashing out moves at this stage. The position was lost but with not more than 20 seconds left Ryan may well have been forced to concede a draw – but then in the chaos Jamie moved into check, giving his opponent an extra 2 minutes to finish things off. Sam had won by now – so 2½-2½, with just Chris’s game left. Opposite coloured bishops meant it was extremely difficult to make any progress: Jonathan graciously conceded the draw, even though he could have run Chris out of time.

So after all the drama (and a great buffet organised by Les), 3-3 and a replay in a few weeks time: can’t wait!

     Nomads I                         SASCA I
1.  Jonathan Nelson  1-0     Oskar Hackner
2.  Paul Cumbers      0-1     Peter Shaw
3.  Samuel Milson    1-0     Yang Guo
4.  Chris Shephard   ½-½ Jonathan Arnott
5.  Jamie Hillman    0-1      Ryan Burgin
6.  Daniel Sullivan  ½-½   Deji Jeje
3-3