The first thing to note is that we comfortably outgraded Ecclesall on all boards. The second thing is to note that was by and large irrelevant!
Having won the toss there was a long debate between all 6 of us about choice of colours. Jon eventually took black and Paul white.
And so we set off. It was very cagey for a long time with no-one clearly doing well (or otherwise). Jamie eventually drew after about an hour and a half, in a position that looked slightly unfavourable for him. Then Chris won and mood in the camp brightened, until Jon lost.
I have played many Cup games against Ecclesall where Dave wins on 1, they win on 2, previously Pete but now Jim, and so only need 2 draws from the remaining 4 boards. Keep a close eye on Paul on board 2.
I eventually won on 6, having played a very forgettable first 25 moves before finding some tactics to win Safdars Queen.
Sat next to me, Jeremy was grinding out a nice ending which he was firstly unlikely to lose, then won with good technique. This was as well because finally Paul lost to Jim. I thought that he was at least drawing but of course I only play on board 6!
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
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.