Bulletin No 15

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no. 15 (28.2.08)

No problem about pride of place this month. As if chastened on being overshadowed last month by the Tans, the Reivers have responded in fine style. So without more ado, here is what has happened in

Northumberland League Division 1

The first match of a busy month was on Feb 5th against Kings B, one of the strongest sides in the league. This is how it turned out.

J Young 0-1 DJ Weldon
J King 1-0 C F S Davison
G Murphy 1-0 ML Nicholson
R Ditchburn 0-1 Mark Taylor
M Holborow 1-0 TJ Wrigley
  3 2  

Mike Nicholson wrote:
Phil wished us luck for this one. We did have some, but on the whole our good fairy was still away on business elsewhere. But we did give  them a good fight … so far.Kings B stand at the top of Division 1, and were clearly out to stay  there. Andy Lawson was unavailable (scared of playing his old Tynedale colleague Dave?) but they were able to bring in John Young  for only his second game of the season. Otherwise they were at full strength, out-grading us by around 20 points all the way down.We got off to a great start, thanks again to Mark. At first, with black, he came under some awkward pressure, but a series of brief  combinations saw him come out a piece ahead, with no problems thereafter. I was next to finish, coming out the worse against Gary Murphy’s Najdorf. Post-match discussion revealed that both of us thought I was well on top in the middle-game, but it was a mirage. For all my positional strengths, I was never better than equal, and when he mounted counter-play, I failed to find the necessary moves. One all, but we were still in the match. Dave had conceded queen for two minor pieces early on, but positionally was still in with a shout, Colin was congested with Jon King and apparently level, and Tim was standing better against Matt Holborow. Decent chances of a drawn match. Tim however was counting his chickens too early, and Holborow’s fighting response induced a blunder, and our chances seemed to have gone. Not so! The good fairy paid us a fleeting visit. Dave had a bishop on a square from which his knight could have forked king and queen. He moved the bishop to skewer an important pawn and a crucial knight, and that proved sufficient of a distraction for Young not to notice the discovered fork. 2-2! Colin’s board was still barely visible, so little material had been removed, but he was down badly on the clock, and the first aggressive move of the game cost him a piece.

The next two weeks are crucial for Reivers. On the 12th we play our postponed match with fellow relegation strugglers Morpeth B, who have pulled off a remarkable draw with their A team in a match postponed from the beginning of the season. A loss to them would mean almost certain relegation, a win almost certain safety, because a week later they play the third team in the relegation dog-fight, Gateshead Libraries.

So the scene was set for a nail-biting match against Morpeth B on Feb 12th, which produced the following result.

DJ Weldon ½-½ G Loxham
Mark Taylor 0-1 J Chadwick
C F S Davison 1-0 J Horton
ML Nicholson 1-0 A Cooper
TJ Wrigley ½-½ D Watson
  3 2  
     

Mike wrote:

And so we avoid relegation. Well, relegation is still mathematically possible, but I think celebration is in order! After our consistent failure to produce team consistency or to get sufficient lucky breaks, it seemed to be time for a re-think about batting order. Mark’s better-than-the-rest-of-us performances were therefore rewarded with a jump from 4 to 2, with Colin and myself dropping down a board. We still didn’t deliver what we could hope for on a good night, but it was enough to secure the win we needed, and we’ll stay with this order in our final matches against Leam Lane next week and University a fortnight later.

It was those middle three boards which decided the match outcome. Tim had started the scoring with a draw against David Watson, queen and rook pressure against the king compensating for a wobbly queen- side pawn unstructure. David had a solid but lifeless game with Geoff Loxham, and a draw was the seemingly inevitable result there too. My own game was embarrassingly easy, Alan Cooper playing the Latvian Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5?!) which neither he nor I knew. He lost pieces through tactics or exchanges at the rate of one every three moves, until he resigned with just a few pawns left on move 22 with only a minute or two remaining on his clock. Mark had a typical Mark game with James Chadwick, except that he managed to recover only one of the pawns he had lost earlier, and this time lost the game – but knowing Mark, he will come back with better outcomes against higher rated players. That left all our futures hanging on Colin’s game with John Horton, for a loss would have meant a lost match and almost certain relegation, and even a draw might not have sufficed if Morpeth B were to beat Gateshead Libraries (the other relegation contender) in the next round. However, although he had only one pawn against two on the a/b files, Colin had ample compensation down the open e-file, where John’s knight on e2 was pinned by Colin’s bishop on g4 against his queen on d1. Colin piled up the pressure, and when his queen transferred to h5 it not only won the knight but also carried unstoppable threats down the h-file. 3-2, and great relief all round!

A splendid result, but there was more to come! On Feb 19th the Reivers played their third match in three weeks and, far from being exhausted by their previous efforts, they gave the strong Leam Lane side a real scare.

J Hawkins 1-0 DJ Weldon
R Doyle 1-0 Mark Taylor
J Marsh 0-1 C F S Davison
A Young ½-½ ML Nicholson
R Forsythe 0-1 TJ Wrigley
  2½-2½  
     

Once again, Mike provided an excellent commentary.And so we steer clear of relegation with one match to go, our success made ‘even surer’ by a drawn match between our two relegation rivals, Gateshead Libraries A and Morpeth B, the night before.Two great games were responsible for this fine result against the champions of 2005 and 2006. Colin, playing white for the first time for a while, was involved in an early exchange of material which put him a piece up but with a knight seemingly precariously placed on d6. I noted with relief that the knight had one escape square, but was much more interested when I realised I had seen far less than Colin himself had. The tactics continued, and miraculously the knight held its ground throughout, eventually playing a key part in forcing resignation after the f-file had been opened and John Marsh’s king exposed.The finish to Tim’s game was even more spectacular. Poor Tim had been relegated to the basement bar at the Working Men’s Club to play Robert Forsythe, now too disabled to manage the stairs to the club- room. Despite his isolation and the noise from other bar users and a loud radio, Tim must have played a blinder (of course we tried to visit from time to time, but it was still a very unsettling environment). When I saw the game shortly before the end, Tim was just playing a discovered check which isolated Robert’s centrally- placed queen from the defence of his king. Tim’s attack was being conducted with queen, both knights and a bishop, and not a single piece of Robert’s (and there were no pawns either) defended any of the squares in the king’s corner. Not surprisingly, mate soon followed!The rest of us had all had decent games which in our various ways we had contrived to spoil. Mark, in his second game on board 2, had controlled his game with Richard Doyle throughout, and was well on top with a winning position when tiredness and a concentration lapse caused him to leave a mate in one. Dave held a level position for a long time despite his major grading deficit against Jonathan Hawkins, and just one false move cost him the game too, In my case the luck went the other way: after declining a draw offer because I didn’t know Tim’s position and didn’t have time to go to look, I over- reached and went into a bad board and clock position, only to get a repeat draw offer which I had no option but to accept – and did so with enormous relief!

So in two matches we’ve doubled the points scored in the first two matches of the season, and look forward to entertaining University in our last match.

All the Reivers deserve our hearty congratulations on this excellent outcome to the season. After the rigours of last year, few of us believed that the Reivers’ continued existence in division one of the league would be assured without more wrangling at the league AGM, still less that it would be all settled before the final match had been played! It is a great morale-booster, not only for the players involved but for the club as a whole, to know that we will continue to be represented at the highest level in the county for another year at least.

Northumberland League Division 2

By contrast with the Reivers, the Tans had a relatively relaxed month, with just one match, away to Tynemouth Castles, on Feb 12th. Given that the Tans had already beaten Tynemouth Warriors and that the latter were having a better season than the Castles, hopes were high for another victory which would have put the Tans firmly in the top half of the table. Alas, it was not to be.

Tynemouth Castles   Tynedale Tans
G Cornwall  1-0 D Wrigley
D. Hair  ½-½ P Crichton
K Marshall  0-1 Matt Taylor
D S Mear  1-0 B Reed
R Garside  1-0 P Taylor
  3½-1½  

Peter Crichton provided the following report:

The Tans went down 3.5/1.5 to a strong Tynemouth team. Phil on board 5 lost quickly to Ray Garside having, in his words, played “his worst game for a very long time”. On board 2 Peter with black always had a slightly worse game against Dave Hair but with the exchange of pieces reached an ending with each side having two knights and an equal number of pawns which looked drawish and was agreed as such. The remaining 3 games went down to the wire with David W, despite being heavily outgraded by Gary Cornwall [150], looking to have an even game until the closing stages when, with time running short, he was unable to counter a kingside breakthrough by Gary. Bruce on board 4 also looked to have an even game but went astray in a complicated position and lost to Dave Mear. Finally Matthew continued his fine run of form with an excellent win on board 3 against Keith Marshall. The result leaves the Tans just above the Division 2 relegation zone so there will be no complacency for the final match of the season against Gosforth Regents.

As things stand, the bottom five teams in division two are, from the top down, the Tans with 7 points from 8 games, Tynemouth Warriors with 7 points from 9 games, Gateshead Libraries Knights with 7 points from 9 games, TynemouthCastles with 6 points from 8 games, and Gosforth Regents with 5 points from 8 games. The Tans should be safe, but Phil is taking no chances and has picked the strongest possible team for the final match.

South Tyne League

There is just one match to report here. On Feb 18th Monarchs played Friars at Hallbankgate. The result was as follows.

B Wallace 0-1 C Davison
D D’owd ½-½ D Blair
S Lewis 1-0 M Reid
B Hardwick ½-½ S Larkin
  2-2  
Handicap result 25-21.  

Captain Derek Blair reports:

Last night’s match between Monarchs and Friars was eventful. Colin experienced for the first time in his playing career a phantom opponent who failed to appear  to reply to his e4 opening, so after 45 mins he made the cold trip back home rather cheerless (with apologies). Malcolm took an early bath with his assassinated queen and Steve and I offered draws due to extreme time pressure (and some wimpishness, to pinch a local author’s expression, on Bd 2) but with winning ? positions. So Monarchs continue to confound the pundits with another defeat (or was it really a draw?!).

The Club Championship

Derek’s magnificent run here has been brought to a halt by Bruce, who has also notched up a win over Mike to move into equal second place. The only other change to the pecking order is Malcolm Reid, who brought your editor’s unbeaten run to an end and who in consequence moves up three places. There is one month to go before this phase of the championship draws to a close, so for those in the lower regions there is still everything to play for.

Derek Blair 7.5/9
Jack Bradshaw 6/10
Bruce Reed 6/10
Mike Nicholson 5.5/8
Peter Crichton 5/8
Steve Larkin 4.5/7
Phil Taylor 4/9
David Wrigley 2.5/3
Dave Foster 2/8
Malcolm Reid 2/8
Mark Taylor 1.5/3
Matthew Taylor 1.5/6
Will Higgs 0/7

 

Miscellanea

Mike has sent the following about things on the postal chess front:

On the postal front, I forgot to mention that I offered a draw (accepted) to SM Paul Timson in the Ward-Higgs. Despite having what looked superficially like much the stronger position (he had multiple isolated pawns, all on the same colour as his bishop) there was no way I could unravel things without allowing him to equalise. So now I can concentrate more on my other two events …

No more results in the world semi-final, but things have been going so much my way that not only am I expecting wins against Spain and the CzechRepublic, and feeling safe against losing to Russia, but the other three games are all starting to give improved winning chances. That’s making my SM norm look pretty secure (7.1/2 points), making me optimistic of getting the SM title (8 points) and even (hostage to fortune) making me consider the possibility of my first grandmaster norm (9). There must now be serious chances of promotion to a world championship candidates tournament (the last stage before a world championship itself) but one slip or one piece of bad luck and all that can go by the board.

Today (Jan 31st) is the first official day of my new Argentinian event, which has been slowly getting under way during January. I have decided to use it to broaden my opening repertoire, so a big score is unlikely. As I said previously, the games should be available for viewing (with a five move delay) on the ICCF webserver site. I don’t know if it will work if you aren’t registered to use the site, but try logging on to http://www.iccf-webchess.com/EventCrossTable.aspx?id=13691 (I have checked out the site and you don’t need to be registered to open it. Ed) . To see a game, click on the dot in the result cross-table. Don’t expect to see any of my own game scores yet, as I haven’t passed move 5 in any game, but some other games are well ahead of that.

To pass from the sublime to the mundane, your editor has finally managed to chalk up a win in the Newcastle championship and now stands on one and a half points from five games, with two rounds to go. There is even a remote possibility that he will not finish up propping up the table!

And finally, a reminder. The Durham chess congress is being held on April 25-27th 2008. Details from Graham Marshall on 01429-426374.

Steve Larkin

 

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