Chesterfield A vs Nomads A

Chesterfield A Nomads A
1 6729 190 :12 Mike Alcock W 0 1 Jonathan Nelson 202 :35 7062 S
2 2291 198 :09 Hubert Mossong B 0 1 Chris C W Shephard 191 :23 1603 S
3 1284 186 :19 David Latham W 0 1 Deji Jeje 183 :19 4156 S
4 7693 172 :25 D Martin Howard B 0 1 Kieran O’Driscoll 179 :20 2028 S
5 4223 174 :32 Michael D Johnson W ½ ½ Andrew Hards 168 :26 2268 S
6 6732 157 :27 Andrew J Mort B ½ ½ Geoff Frost 163 :25 1297 S
7 3888 158 :09 David Ashcroft W 1 0 Nicholas Mahoney 146 :46 4179 S
8 1541 161 :26 George Peters B ½ ½ Ray Trigg 147 :11 4199 S

 

Although we have been top of the table most of the season, fact is that Chesterfield A were running at 100% with 6 wins from 6 and level on points with games in hand.  With two draws and a loss already, anything less than victory against our closest rivals would likely see the title as good as ceded with several matches still to play.   So it was the ideal time for Kieran to make his long awaited 2014-15 season debut – and face the same opponent he had taken on in our cup quarter-final tie.   Chesterfield weren’t quite at full strength – but any team with Dave Latham on three and no room in for either Steve, Housley or Bracey, is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

It sort of goes without saying that Geoff’s game was the first to finish.  as Andy mentioned to me after the match, they’ve played each other probably four dozen times over the course of many Woodhouse seasons, and 95% of those games have ended drawn.  This time around, Geoff had an IQP but most of the space to play in – he thought he was worse whilst Andy was of the opposite opinion so a draw was fair enough.  Chesterfield then took an early lead in the match as Dave’s kingside attack smashed Nick’s king’s defences apart.  A well-timed bishop sacrifice stripped any vestiges of hope away and with mate looming, Nick resigned.  That, however, was as good as it got for our gracious hosts.  Jon and Mike appeared to be in for a long, drawn out struggle, and Jon’s protracted fianchetto of his kingside bishop (via f6), together with a knight that went to g6 and then h8, didn’t look overly promising.  Clearly however there’s something to be said for that set up as I didn’t get to see the position again; next time I was free to look the game was over and we had a 1 in our column on the scoresheet.

Kieran had seemed slightly better against Martin for a while, but Martin was getting some play on the kingside; but an over-ambitious stretch resulted in a piece dropping off the board.  A second one followed not too long afterwards and when Kieran managed to force off some of the heavy pieces as well there was only going to be one winner.  On board two, meanwhile, Chris had managed some strong pawn advances and Hubert’s position seemed increasingly cramped – again I missed the denouement but it wasn’t a huge surprise that our man pulled the full point out of the bag.  Three games left and we were now ahead in the match, requiring a point for the win.

At this point, a comedy interlude – in the match on the other side of the room Chesterfield were taking on Stannington and at a crucial juncture in our fixture, the room was deathly silent only for the plea ‘come on mate, give us a draw’ to be heard.  Looking at the match card later on Chessnuts, it appears the plea was in vain…

My third match against Mike had gone the way of the other two – he got his attack in first and I was holding on desperately in the face of rook, queen and knight bearing down on my king – but somehow I came out of the complications with a safe-ish king and an extra pawn.  Ahead on the clock as well, I thought I might even snatch victory from the jaws of defeat but in the final half dozen minutes, despite having two extra pawns, I was unable to stave off Mike’s mating threats sufficiently to convert and a draw by repetition, my first half of the season, was the conclusion.

All eyes to Deji – having sacrificed the exchange earlier in the game he was starting to bring his bishops to bear and Dave’s king looked increasingly at risk.  A draw offer was rightly declined and the resulting endgame gave Deji two connected, passed pawns heading down the board supported by his bishop.   Dave fought to the last, and on another day the flag-falling gods might have been kind; not this time though as Deji queened with check – faced with a second queen about to put in an appearance, Dave fell on his sword and the match was ours.   So, very unusually for Ray, his game was the last one to end – an early pawn sacrifice had been recovered and for the longest time George was shuffling his queen and knight around the board to hold his position together.  Finally, however, there was a breakthrough and both players invaded the other side simultaneously.  It looked like George might make his extra pawns count, but Ray kept checking and threatening and a draw was agreed.

5.5 – 2.5 to us!  A surprising and welcome result against such fine and honorable opponents and one which we’ll need to build on now for the remainder of the season – five more wins and we’ll be guaranteed a play-off!

Ecclesall A vs Nomads A

Our first league match of the year and a return fixture against opponents who pushed us all the way at home.  This time they pushed us that little bit further and we were ultimately fortunate to come away with anything.  In fact, at around about the 9pm mark Jon and I were wandering the boards and Jon asked, in all seriousness, whether ‘I saw any wins for us’.  The answer was a resounding ‘no’.  By that point, his early pressing had fizzled out, Chris had moved most of his pieces back to their original squares (after getting his queen out on move three – and not even with a threat of Scholar’s Mate!), Deji was struggling to break through on the kingside, I was heading towards a slightly inferior endgame, Geoff’s big e5 knight had gone and his backward pawn on e3 was blockading his own position, Nick was struggling to make light of a complicated position, Steve had gambited a pawn but to no apparent advantage, and Jamie was playing a Caro-Kann.  How we scored four points from that position, I do not entirely know… but we did.

Nick and Ken were the first to finish – Ken played a neat bishop sacrifice (which was mate in one if accepted) then offered a draw.  It was still unclear – but the fact of the matter was Nick was a pawn down so accepting the offer seemed entirely reasonable.   Geoff’s position then caved in somewhat spectacularly, with Gunnar’s bishops, rook and pawn proving too much for the king and queen to handle.  There then followed a pause – lots of thinking, a couple of time scrambles, and mild controversy as Deji forgot to notate his moves once he’d made the time control.  James offered me a draw in a position that was slightly better for him – but knowing the match situation I opted to play on in a rook and pawns ending.  7 and 8 were the next to finish – Steve eventually entered an endgame still that pawn down from move two, but Alan’s bishop didn’t dominate as expected and somehow they both queened in succession (with an extra pawn each) – half a point and a bit of an escape.  Jamie meanwhile had done something that I always struggle with in the C-K… attack!  His kingside pawn advances proved increasingly problematic for Chris and just when I thought he might hold on, I returned to my game.  When I looked again, Jamie was queening a pawn and sealing a point.  So split on the bottom four, would we do any better on the top four?

Turned out I made a good choice in declining the draw.. James didn’t play the ending accurately, I managed to get the more active rook and better placed king and when my king made it to g2 I had a decisive advantage – we were somehow in the lead – albeit not for long as Jon had played on far longer than one might expect in the vain hope of maybe being stalemated by David; fat chance – three pawns rolling up the board, it was never going to happen and when the hope of even a stalemate faded, Jon resigned.   Deji more or less immediately countered that with another controlled victory – after it became apparent he wasn’t going to force Ewan’s kingside into premature collapse pieces were exchanged and a switch to the queenside saw him pick up a couple of pawns.  One of those pawns made it to the sixth and that was the end of that.

So all eyes on Chris yet again – for the third or fourth time this season he was last to finish and this time, sadly, it wasn’t on a high note.  Jim had seemingly held all the trumps most of the match; despite not having any material advantage until the endgame Chris’ position was a mess and when Jim gained a passed pawn it looked all over.  However inaccuracy let Chris pick that pawn up (we’re talking SEVERE time trouble by this stage) and it looked like maybe he might hold on.  Alas, no.  Jim’s other passed pawn instead proved decisive, slowly advancing to the queening square and taking a well deserved point for the visitors.  We can’t complain; Ecclesall would have been calling the police in if we had stolen both points!  A rest next week then… followed by a top of the table clash with regular table-toppers Chesterfield…. Continue reading “Ecclesall A vs Nomads A”

Ian Barwick vs Andrew Hards

Kier Morton vs Andrew Hards

12th November, Richardson Cup Rd 2 – Nomads II vs Stannington

Mohammed Aryan vs Andrew Hards

7th August 2012, Summer League, Phoenix vs Nomads A

Paul Cumbers vs Andrew Hards

4th July 2012, Sheffield Nomads Championship

Andrew Hards vs Mike Johnson

Summer League, Round 1. Only the reigning champions to contend with and whilst Dave Latham said he had struggled to get a side together, I still found myself up against Mike Johnson on board 3, who hasn’t lost a league match since last year’s summer league (not counting his defeat in the cup earlier this season!).

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 I remember Mike being a French player from the Barnsley Blitz a year or so ago.

3…c5 4.b4 cxb4 5.d4 Ne7 6.a3 Nbc6 7.axb4 Nxb4 8.c3 Nbc6 I’m happy with this – Mike’s position is a little cramped and I’m already looking at c4…

9.Na3 Bd7 10.Bd3 a6 11.0-0 h6 12.c4 Objectively maybe not the best, but I’m keen to open up the centre of the board whilst Mike’s king is still in it.

12…dxc4 13.Nxc4 Dave confided in me here that his immediate thought had been to play 13. … b5. Probably not the best idea though.

13…Nd5 [13…b5?? 14.Nd6# ]

14.Ba3 The idea being to exchange off the bishops and sink my knight into d6.

14…Ncb4 15.Be4 Bc6 At this point, Mike was 35 minutes behind on the clock with around 15 minutes to make the time control. I felt that that as much as anything would give me some chances but the difficulty in this position is that it’s a difficult position!

16.Qb3 a5 17.Rac1 Be7 18.Nfd2 The king is getting away – so I need to be able to open up a new front.

18…0-0 19.f4 b5 I’m probably worse now (Fritz seems to think so). The two passed pawns are starting to become an issue and if I start swapping pieces off they’re likely to run home. I looked (briefly) at ignoring the threat and pressing on with f5 but there are other options – just none particularly appealing.

20.Nb2 [20.Bxb4 Bxb4 21.Nd6 Ra6 22.Qd3 Bxd6 23.exd6 Qxd6 ]

20…a4 [20…Nxf4! 21.Rxf4 Qxd4+ 22.Kh1 Qxd2 ]

21.Qf3 Rc8 22.f5 exf5 23.Qxf5 g6 24.Qh3 Bd7 25.Rxc8 Qxc8 26.Qxh6 A bit of good fortune and some severe time trouble on Mike’s part and I’m back on the board, already threatening Bxg6 and a potential perpetual.

26…Qc3 27.Bxg6 Qe3+ 28.Qxe3 Nxe3 29.Rf3 fxg6 30.Rxe3 Rf4 The time control has been made and Mike has barely a minute remaining – I had 20. The question now though is whether my extra pawn is compensation for Mike’s advanced passers and his bishop pair. Fritz appears to think so but I felt I was on the back foot now.

31.Re4 I thought this was forced, but perhaps e6 was better. [31.e6 Bc6 32.Nd3 Nxd3 33.Bxe7 ]

31…Rxe4 32.Nxe4 Bc6 33.Nc3 Kf7 34.Kf2 Nd5 35.Bxe7 Around abou t here, I thought I might end up having to sacrifice both knights for the two passed pawns and hopefully try and force Mike to mate me with knight and bishop.

35…Kxe7 36.Nb1 Fritz still scores this as less than -1.0 and Dave said afterwards he thought I might still be able to hold it. I wasn’t convinced personally!

36…b4 37.Nc4 Bb5 38.Nba3 This was the only move I could see that would hold things together – anything else seemed to allow at least one pawn a run for home.

38…Bxc4 39.Nxc4 Nc3 [39…b3 40.Na3 ; 39…a3 40.Nd2 ]

40.Ke3 b3 41.Kd3 Nb5 42.d5 a3 Fritz scores me ahead here. I needed to look deeper perhaps, as I saw nothing better than knight for two pawns…

43.Nxa3 [43.Nd2 b2 44.Kc2 Nd4+ 45.Kb1 Now I might be able to hold things together. If Mike’s king comes too close the central pawns march on. If Mike’s knight strays too far away, I pick up both pawns and might even have winning chances.]

43…Nxa3 44.Kc3 Quite probably a lost ending for me, but Mike has 5 minutes or so to win.

44…Nc4 45.Kxb3 Nxe5 46.Kc3 Ng4 47.h3 Ne3 48.g3 Nxd5+ 49.Kd4 Nf6 50.Ke5 Nd7+ 51.Kf4 Kf6 52.h4 Nc5 53.Kg4 Ne6 I thought I was in dire straits here – only the clock is my friend…

54.Kf3 Ng7 55.Kf4 Ne6+ 56.Kg4 Inadvertently I seem to have lost a tempo, which may suit me.

56…Ke5 An error in a complicated position under extreme time pressure… and now I think I force a draw.

57.h5 g5 58.h6 Kf6 59.h7 Kg7 60.Kf5 Nf8 With the offer of a draw which I accepted immediately – there’s no way for either player to win now as the final black pawn will come off and the black knight can stop the remaining white pawn. A fascinating, complex game and one that both Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed. Hopefully the rest of the summer league will be as engrossing! 1/2-1/2

Phil Saxby vs Andrew Hards

Rod Tranter vs Andrew Hards

Vlad Shaposhnikov vs Andrew Hards