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

Richardson Cup Semi Final

Geoff, he had a dream………..

Richardson Cup 09-02-16

Semi Final

Nomads 1 3.5 2.5 Ecclesall 1
Jon Nelson 204 7062 1 0 David Adams 1062
Sam Milson 188 3971 1 0 Jim Burnett 5495
Chris Shephard 192 1603 0.5 0.5 Farshad Ai 2397
Daniel Sullivan 184 3594 0 1 Peter Hempson 1354
Jamie Hillman 186 4353 0.5 0.5 James Marley 2800
Jeremy Hamm 168 3243 0.5 0.5 Gunnar Mallon 3954

The long awaited Semifinal clash with Ecclesall. Thanks to my players for feverish email, statistics and board order suggestions. I could fill a page with analysis, thought process etc….
The teams were evenly matched, we slightly shaded it on grades. At Jon’s suggestion we took Black on ODD, again lots to consider.
Ok, Jon played a modern system against a very classical  set up from Dave. Nf3, Nc3, early h3…this was going to be a long grinding game. Sam played e4 and Jim played his favourite line of the French Tarrasch. Sam had more space but this was not going anywhere quickly. Farshad Chris was 1 d4 Nf6,2 Bf4 play was cautious by both players. In the mmdle of the game and on a full board the Queens ended up at a2 and a7 very cautious.
I do not have a note of Daniel v Peter opening. They were soon in a middle game, Daniel had doubled Rooks on the b file seemed to be going fine. Jamie played a NimzoIndian which soon had a locked position. Finally Jeremy also got a French, Winawer this time. I was very happy about this as I have seen Jeremy win many of these games (Often against me!)
Then disaster. Daniel move his Knight to avoid a fork but put it between the doubled rooks. Lost the Rook Resigned. This was then balanced by a fine win by Sam. Jim lost a piece in an exchange, overlooking an intermediate check. Now we had the win on 2 against the loss on 4 so were in pole position on board count. Jamie then drew, as did Jeremy. It looked like Jeremy had a nice plus but we were unable to find a clear win.
So to Board 1. Jon offered Dave a draw, Dave didn’t hear but said the he would have played on anyway because of the state of the match. Near time control Jon won the exchange and the game. Home with a board to spare. Chris and Farshad played on but it was clear that neither could win without risks so a draw was agreed.
Results above, thanks to my players. Also thanks to Ecclesall for a good and sporting match.
Bring on SASCA…..