Nomads A vs Woodseats A

Nomads A 5½ – 2½ Woodseats A
Jonathan Nelson W 1 – 0 Alan W Potts
Chris C W Shephard 1 – 0 Nigel Carpino
Samuel Milson 1 – 0 Andy W Lee
Andrew Hards 1/2 – 1/2 Peter Hulse
Henry Withington 0 – 1 David Toft
Steve Withington 1 – 0 Shane Frith
Peter John Morton 1 – 0 Michael Mullin
Selamet Soxsal 0 – 1 Dave L Cook

Our first match at our new venue featured a Nomads A debut for Peter, a return for Pasha, and Henry playing on his highest board in the top flight. Our opponents turned up with only one of their four registered players, a debutant on board seven, and Shane making a return after missing virtually all of last season. No sign of Bill returning to the fold just yet, but I do believe he may have had to be *persuaded* not to turn out just yet as he recovers from his recent health scare.

The match itself was made more interesting by the presence of the local darts league across the room (our guests will have been used to that, having spent a season sharing a room with a darts team a few years ago), the gentle thud of the arrows into the board offering a contrast to the low level hum of 16 brains musing over our chess pieces. Speaking of which… to the match. Alan opted for the black pieces against Jon and a French defence that, oddly enough, was quite sharp after a handful of moves. After only a dozen moves in total, the game was over – I assumed at first a theoretical draw, but actually Alan had blundered a piece and against Jon, even that early in the game, there’s no way back. Not quite a ‘one hunnnerd and EIGHTY’ but not far off for our first point of the season.

There was, at this point, a significant lull in proceedings. Our top boards looked generally pretty good (Sam’s first league match in over a year was very sharp, mine was developing into ‘who can land the first blow’ and Chris and Nigel seemed to have an open queenside to play with that was making for some interesting positions and veiled attacks). Lower down the story wasn’t overly dissimilar, Henry seemed to be gaining an advantage in space, Steve was quietly bettering his side of the board, Peter was under a fair amount of central pressure, and Pasha’s attack looked like it could be problematic. But… Pasha dropped a couple of pawns in complications and his kingside attack was going nowhere fast – Dave’s passed pawn on the 6th was strong and perhaps resignation was slightly premature. A couple of treble twenties from the visitors and things had leveled up.

At this juncture, the top order took over and boards three, two and four were next to conclude. Sam was first – a complex middle-game with multiple pieces attacked and attacking on both sides and some interesting combinations that concluded with Sam a piece up and Andy conceding. Chris’ pressure on Nigel’s back rank then told – his extra pawn on the 7th and mating/piece-winning threats were just too strong. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident that we should see out the match and so after my attack fizzled out and Peter offered first a queen exchange, then his hand, I took the half point and we were suddenly within sight of the finishing line – who would seal the deal with a bullseye?

That honour fell to Peter. Michael had concocted a strong attack but Peter defended staunchly and (I suspect – I didn’t actually see!) when Michael’s sacrificial attack didn’t carry enough weight, the eventual simplification left Peter a whole rook up and able to neutralise any residual mating threats quickly and easily. Game, set…and the match. All of which left the Withingtons playing out two dead rubbers at this point – a point apiece with the father turning a tricky endgame his way as Steve wielded a piece-winning tactic to spoil Shane’s return to competitive action, and the son eventually going down in an ending as Henry’s attempts to force a pawn over the line were deftly defended by Dave until his material advantage told.

A good start to the season against opponents who will likely be significantly stronger in the return match. We’ll take the win, hope to avoid the darts next time around, and look forward to winter with the hope that this season we can compete once again at the top of the table.

Nomads I vs SASCA II

Well SASCA 2 could only raise 3 players for the match. They had to play it to gain access to the Plate. I was able to give Jeremy and Nick the night off. So only 3 games played. On Board 2 Sam’s opponent played a fairly accurate French defence and I thought that this could develop into a reasonable game. When I next returned, Sam had won his opponent’s Queen on a full board…1-0

Daniel was not unduly troubled and won a piece in 6 moves. He just played it out to a win nothing tricky, just winning material as he went…2-0

Paul on Board 1 had a very long game. Black in a Benoni he seemed to have all the chances, but probably failed to note the drawishness of the Bishops Opposite colours in a very locked position. Finally as we were putting the rest of the sets and tables away (assisted by his opponent, thanks !) Paul made a breakthrough and was able to infiltrate with his Rook…3-0, or 6-0

We now have a Bye until the New Year.

Chesterfield C vs Nomads C

There was a beautiful sunset (picture above) as the Nomads set off for Chesterfield.

Henry lost fairly early on, and Dave turned down a draw from a commanding position only to lose. Les, Peter and Eric all secured wins. Nomads only needed a draw to win from here. Steve was in a queens and pawns endgame with two extra pawns. Despite the advantage, the game was sharp and there were a few times when it looked like Mr Amarnath was going to salvage a draw or even win. In the end he timed out after a very interesting endgame. So a great start to the season for Nomads C.

Chesterfield C 2-4 Nomads C
Brian Crofts 1-0 Henry Withington
T Amarnath 0-1 Steve Withington
J Devine 0-1 Les Day
J Lindebaun 0-1 Peter Morton
G Allen 0-1 Eric McKenna
John Riley 1-0 Dave Kesteven

cfield

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”

Nomads A vs Phoenix A

Nomads A 6.5 – 1.5 Phoenix A
Jonathan Nelson (w) 0.5 – 0.5 Denis Molofej
Chris C W Shephard 1 – 0 Carl Walker
Deji Jeje 1 – 0 Qais Aryan
Andrew Hards 1 – 0 Szilaod Tamas
Geoff Frost 0 – 1 John R Mercy
Nicholas Mahoney 1 – 0 Steven Moxon
Henry Withington 1 – 0 Shahram Jahromy
Ray Trigg 1 – 0 DEFAULT

A personal bogey team of mine, Phoenix made the trip to Nomads a player short which was a good start, but a pity for Ray who had missed out on a game last time around when I couldn’t find him at the pick up point on the way to Barnsley. Still, it did relieve the pressure a little (and also suggested Phoenix might well be under strength) – a good chance to potentially avenge the thrashing meted out to our B team the week before and also, maybe, get our run of wins up and running again after dropping three points in two matches. On the night, there were a number of interesting games and some tricky looking positions – so it was something of a surprise that the top board was first to finish and potentially the game with the least amount of fireworks (note: possible contribution of yours truly in forgetting to remind Jon of a fixture until the night before…). A fairly innocuous looking exchange of pieces in the centre and a draw offer and that was that one done and dusted. Henry followed not too long afterwards – he got a threat against f7 that was only ever going to lead to one result and whilst Shahram held on longer than he might have done, the final score was never going to be in question – Henry’s outstanding form continues for Nomads.

Deji was the next one to chalk up a point – a belated birthday present as he unwrapped Qais’ centre and hunted his king down – the piece exchanges when they came left him a large number of pawns to the good and winning a piece in an already won ending. I was the next to finish, and that was enough to take us over the line. A (very) early d4 in what started as a Caro-Kann gave me an apparent space advantage after nine pawn moves in the first ten of the game. Eventually I seemed to have something of a vice over the position without any real threats, despite winning a pawn, but a tactical shot in the centre gave me the exchange advantage and a neat move, which I thought was winning a rook (Fritz rather disappointingly points out that actually, I’m just winning a pawn and entering a rook vs bishop endgame with what would be a winning advantage), brought instant resignation. And we were home and dry. The one game that seemed destined to finish early (particularly as Geoff had explicitly stated he needed to finish early) had taken a turn for the worse from a Nomads perspective – Geoff’s exchange sacrifice wasn’t quite enough (although a draw by repetition was there for the taking) and when John’s king marched across the board, Geoff’s position suddenly collapsed and we had our first defeat of the night. Nick then converted, albeit on time in a winning position. At first glance, I thought he had had his rooks forked but he had a check to buy him time to free them and a passed f-pawn was going to prove decisive if the clock did not.

And finally to Chris, once again the last player to finish having barely scraped over the time control (his flag had been horizontal for at least 4 moves so he must have been down to a handful of seconds). A tactic had won a piece but the position was dangerously open and Carl tends to thrive in those situations – with the heavy pieces still on it looked as if he might not break through but if someone is going to, it’s going to be Chris. A couple of inaccuracies and his queen invaded the position to bring Carl’s resistance to an end, and the match was over.

A flattering scoreline, but this season the wins are all going to be hard fought, so we’ll take it, of course to maintain our position at the head of the table a little longer. Next we face an ominous looking Chesterfield team, with a 100% record and a team that could conceivably feature a player in the 170s on bottom board!