Bulletin No 23

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 23 (28.2.09)

With the Tans slipping, attention this month moves to the Reivers in their attempts to secure their place for another year in

Northumberland League Division One

The Reivers played two matches in February, the first was at home to Kings A. Mike writes:

“Tynedale Reivers vs Kings A -February 10th, 2009

DJ Weldon 0 1 D Graham
Mark Taylor 0 1 JD Wheeler
ML Nicholson 0 1 M McBeth
DA Wrigley 0 1 R Plater
TJ Wrigley 0 1 A Robinson
  0 5  

Chess can be awfully frustrating. There are few worse feelings than playing a good game and then losing the whole point through some on- the-board misfortune. Similarly for a team, when a great fight ends up with a score like the above. Kings A certainly knew they’d been in a match, but one by one, every game went in their favour and we were left with nothing to show for our efforts. But we ourselves knew we deserved better, and that at least can support us as we approach the crucial last two matches of the campaign.There are no two more positionally-oriented players in the league than Kings’ top boards, Dean Graham and John Wheeler, and Dave and Mark had the unenviable tasks of trying to work out how to get their teeth into two rubber mats without choking. They both made fine fists of the task. Dave maintained material and, apparently, near- positional equality for a very long time before succumbing when down to a piece and a few pawns each. Mark, with white, took the game to Wheeler in the early stages. The position reduced to rooks and knights versus rooks and bishops, but a pawn went, and despite a typical Wheeler pawn structure which might not be expected to favour the bishops, Mark’s knights became beached in their mutual support and the bishops won through. The game of the night had to be David’s brilliance against Ron Plater. In the early middle-game he penetrated a pawn as far as f7 with Plater’s king on f8, and despite supporting it primarily through long-range threats and discovered attacks (rather than by immediate piece protection) there he sustained it for the remainder of the game. Shortly before the end of the game, I was sure that he was winning a piece, but sadly – and David still couldn’t answer the question when it was all over – prospects that he could have won were dashed by an unforeseen Plater queen attack on his pawnless king. But what a game! Tim lost a piece for pawns early on, and despite holding his own for a long time, eventually had to concede. Don’t worry, Tim, your next win is coming closer! Finally I myself was mated, having survived an attack on my king position and then chosen, rightly or wrongly, to sacrifice my way to freedom rather than continue the quiet but not hopelessly cramped defence. But boy, didn’t we all fight!Our league position hasn’t changed significantly, as results are still going the predicted way. We need one more point for possible safety and two to be sure. Reprobates next (still on 2 points), then
University (now on 4). We have 3. Gosforth (2) lost to Trojans.
Alnwick play their postponed match with Kings A on February 18th.
Exciting?”

It certainly is. The Reivers’ second match this monthwas away to Jesmond Reprobates on Friday Feb 27th. At this stage all the Reivers’ matches are crucial, but some are more crucial than others, and this was one of them, as Mike’s e-mail to the team prior to the match makes clear:

“I think we all need to understand some of the key issues affecting
our match with Reprobates. You may need to take an important
decision about your game, and you won’t be able to discuss it in
detail with me or anyone else.
Here’s the table prior to our Reprobates match:
Alnwick P10 GP19 MP4
University P10 GP16.1/2 MP4
Reivers P9 GP14 MP3
Gosforth P10 GP14 MP2
Reprobates P9 GP12.1/2 MP2
I think I’m right in saying that Alnwick are now safe. If we were to draw with University but lose to Reprobates, we would probably be relegated (unless the round 11 Gosforth-Reprobates match is drawn). If we were to lose to Reprobates, we would have to beat University in round 11 to be sure. However, that G-R match is the day before we play University, so we would know precisely what we had to do – a big help!

The obvious thing is that we need to draw at least against Reprobates. If we do draw, we could not overtake either Alnwick or University without beating University. If we then lost to University, say 2-3, we would have reached 18.1/2 GP. Reprobates could overtake us by defeating Gosforth to reach 5 MP. Conversely, Gosforth could overtake us only by beating Reprobates 5-0 and equaling us on GP. But of course, a heavier defeat against University would increase Gosforth’s chances. The point is that a draw against Reprobates will mean we need a draw against University to stay dead level with them on GP and MP. That draw against University would leave us in a play-off with them if Reprobates had won 4.1/2-1/2 or 5-1 against Gosforth the previous evening. So one scenario is that we may still need to beat University, either in round 11 or in a play-off, if we draw (or lose) against Reprobates. The whole issue becomes vastly simpler if we beat Reprobates. We would then be safe, and the only other team in danger, apart from Gosforth and Reprobates, would be University, though we would need to inflict a heavy defeat for U to be overtaken by G or R on match points. Our match strategy for Reprobates is as follows. Our first target is 2.1/2 points. Until we have achieved that objective, we do not take risks in the hope of winning the match. Once we have reached 2.1/2 points, any extra half point is all we need, whatever the advantage in the game in question, so take risks if necessary and if the position or clock warrants it. You don’t have to offer a draw if you’re a queen up and have a good clock advantage, but if you do choose that way out, we are home and dry! During the match I will try to keep the match score up to date. Don’t forget that you can consult me over, say, a draw offer, so long as you don’t give me information about the game other than what I ask for, and don’t expect me to look at other games before answering. I will try to keep abreast of progress in the later stages, but I won’t be hovering at every opportunity! The message is concentrate, concentrate, concentrate! PLEASE try to keep a good clock position, and in particular try to build up a time advantage before you enter the last five minutes. Remember that if you’re down on time in the last minute, there’s almost nothing that can save you. Play the
clock as well as the board. Our chances are good, so let’s enjoy ourselves! Play positive chess. Put the pressure on. Don’t get dragged into passivity!”

And so to the match itself. Mike writes:

M Beaty ½ ½ DJ Weldon
R Archer 1 0 Mark Taylor
T Rogers 0 1 ML Nicholson
A Williamson 0 1 DA Wrigley
P Jorgensen 1 0 TJ Wrigley
  2½ 2½  
     

In my pre-match circular to the team, I had foreseen the possibility that one of us would be left playing, with the match score 2-2 and the result – and our league fortunes – dependent on the outcome. Because of the tightness of the relegation struggle between five teams, I had judged that a draw was substantially better than a loss, and that although a win would guarantee us safety, we would still have a very good chance if we only drew. It was Dave who drew the short straw. Within the last five minutes on the clocks, but still with a complicated position, Dave stood a piece to the good and had a minute or two’s advantage on the clocks. Surely we were home and dry? Never the best at reading other people’s positions, I grew increasingly anxious as Dave pondered the position with his clock advantage steadily disappearing. Then he shook hands! He was then able to explain that after various checks and exchanges, it was likely that his opponent would get a very advanced and perhaps
unstoppable passed pawn, and bearing in mind my policy statement, he
had opted for the draw and the match point. A brave and correct decision.

And what a match it had been. Mark, normally searching for and thriving in simplified positions, got into a horrible bit of tactics, lost a piece and then another and resigned. Just the start we didn’t want. On my other side, though, I was pleased to see David continuing his fine form. He managed to connect a couple of advanced central pawns and then capture with one of them on f3 (he was black), simultaneously hitting the h2 pawn with his queen. After he had taken the h2 pawn, his opponent’s king on f1 was in a mating net, but it was a double-edged position, because white’s queen and rook were threatening nasties in the centre of the board. Forsaking my own game, I tried unsuccessfully to work out a winning way for David. Two things then happened. Returning to my own game, I saw for the first time that I too could push a centre pawn and win my opponent’s a7 pawn with his king on c8 – so thanks for that, David. Having done that I returned to watch David’s beautiful solution. He checked Qh1, forcing white to interpose Qg1. Then he played Qxh3+, forcing the king to the e-file because g1 was now occupied by the queen and interposing Qg2 was impossible because of the pawn on f3. David was now able to complete a rook exchange on the e-file with check, and his now-active queen and rook were confronted only by the unprotected king, since the white queen was hidden on g1 and the remaining rook was still on its own square at a1. What a finish! One-all.The remaining three games were all going to the wire. I had come under a strong attack on my king, culminating in the arrival of my opponent’s knight on f3 supported by a rock-solid phalanx of pawns on h5, g4, f5 and e4 – so solid that it actually protected my castled king rather than threatened it. I slipped a pawn on the a-file but recovered it with a pin in the centre, after which the material reduced to my light-squared bishop against his knight. That pawn phalanx, all on white squares, made the juiciest of meals for a hungry bishop, and the ending played itself. Tim continued to play great chess but still had things turn against him in a rook and pawn ending, and so it came down to Dave’s game and the finish already described.Two more things to mention. Reprobates were almost identically rated from board 2 through to board 5. And at my request they had found alternative accommodation for us in the refectory, excellent conditions and a relief from the junior school desks. The home team agreed!

So we are now down to the last round, with five teams still in the relegation battle. Gosforth Empire are on 2 points, Reprobates on 3, and Alnwick, University and ourselves on 4. To compound the complexity, final round pairings are Empire versus Reprobates and ourselves versus University, with Alnwick away to title-chasers Morpeth. Alnwick can only be relegated by a freak combination of unlikely results, but the rest of us are all vulnerable, with an incredible range of possibilities. Fortunately the Empire-Reprobates match takes place the evening before we host the University. If Empire and Reprobates draw, we are safe provided we get 1.1/2 game points against University. If Empire beat Reprobates, we are safe provided we get enough game points against University to stay ahead of Empire – and we are already 2.1/2 game points up. The worst scenario is if Reprobates beat Empire, which would put them on 5 match points. In that case we stay up if we beat University, but may have to play off with them if we draw (we have identical records at the moment). We would also stay up after drawing with them but without a play-off if the Reprobates’ victory over Empire was by 3.1/2-1.1//2 or 3-2, when Reprobates would be relegated on game points. So if Reprobates win, we must at least draw, come what may!”

Many thanks for those reports, Mike, and congratulations on the splendid job you are doing as captain. We await next month’s results with acute interest and not a little trepidation!

Northumberland League Division Two

Like the Reivers, the Tans had two matches this month. Before the first, they were in the mix for promotion. After the second, they had slipped to fourth place in the division, with three more teams breathing down their necks (and two of these they have yet to play). Here is what happened between those two points in time.

Eldon Leisure v Tynedale Tans Monday Feb 16th

1. S Hartman(138) 0.5 0.5 P. Crichton(112)
2. P. Robson(131) 1-0 D Blair(109)
3. M. Beardsly(115) 1-0 M. Reid(92)
4. G Shearing(89) 0.5-0.5 S. Larkin(87)
5. P Hubbard(82) 0.5-0.5 D Foster(u)
  3.5-1.5  

Eldon Leisure put out all but one of their strongest players, outgrading us substantially on the top three boards and proceeding to pick up two and a half of those three points. From the Tans point of view, Peter was man of the match, achieving an excellent and early draw on board one. On two and three, both Derek and Malcolm battled hard, Derek’s game being the last to finish. In both cases, the handicap of being slightly down on material eventually told, Malcolm succumbing to an unstoppable passed pawn and Derek to a queenside assault where he was simply outgunned. Dave’s game on board five saw a blitz start as both players swapped off fast and furious. The resulting endgame, with rook and six pawns on either side, gave no advantage to either player and a draw was agreed. Steve miscalculated in the early middle-game and went behind by a rook and two pawns to a knight and a bishop. In due course one of the pawns went but he managed to keep the position closed and a draw was reached by repetition of moves. So the promotion bubble finally burst, but the Tans can take comfort from the fact that they put up a good fight on all five boards.

Tans v Morpeth B, Tues Feb 24th.

Well, this one really put our thoughts of promotion into perspective. Your editor had convinced himself that the Tans stood a chance of winning this match, but in the event Morpeth put out an even stronger team than Eldon Leisure had done and we were simply swamped. Bruce on board three was first to finish, an uncharacteristic lapse being punished by an instant checkmate. Next up was Steve on board five. After emerging from the opening two pawns to the good, he too suffered a lapse, frittering away half his advantage, only for his opponent to accept a poisoned pawn and succumb to a back-row mate. On board four, Malcolm battled on grimly after going two pieces down in the middle-game, but eventually there were just too many passed pawns for him to be able to keep them all out. On board two Derek sacrificed knight for pawn in the hope of a king-side attack which, in the event, yielded very little. Thereafter he was on the back foot and resigned when loss of further material became inevitable. Last to finish was Peter, whose game against Les Whittle was always very close. However, Les’s queen and rook were much better co-ordinated and by the time that Peter’s flag dropped the game was lost on the board. So, a rather sobering 4-1 defeat.

1. P. Crichton(112) 0-1 L Whittle(127
2. D Blair(109) 0-1 J Handley(128)
3. B. Reed(96) 0-1 G Loxham(126)
4. M. Reid(92) 0-1 J. Chadwick(113)
5. S. Larkin(87) 1-0 A. Ashworth(96)

Of our four remaining matches, all of them to be played in March, three look testing – Morpeth C, Tynemouth Warriors and Gateshead Knights – so we shall need to be on our mettle if our slide down the league table is not to get out of control!

South Tyne League

Two results to report here. Firstly Tynedale, now captained by Peter Crichton, took on Friars at Hallbankgate. Peter writes:

“The handicap system required us to win the match to win the match if that makes sense! Sadly we failed to do so going down 2.5/1.5. On top board Mark had a good game against George Glover and was unlucky to lose when his opponent found an unlikely resource to counter Mark’s promising attack; Phil was next to go down succumbing to a strong king’s side attack by Bill Hardwick; I won when my opponent, Daniel O’Dowd, launched a premature initiative which left his king exposed to a forced mating attack, following which Mike, on board 2 and clearly attracted by the prospect of an early evening, agreed a draw with Bruce Wallace in what appeared to be a level position.”

1. G. Glover 1-0 M. Taylor
2. B Wallace 0.5-0.5 M. Nicholson
3. D O’Dowd 0-1 P Crichton
4. W. Hardwick 1-0 P Taylor

Next was an in-house affair, Tynedale playing Monarchs on Feb 17th. Peter writes that

“my mind went blank after the trauma of resigning what was probably still a winning position (having lost a pawn and not my queen as I instinctively thought)!  [This was on board 3 against David Wrigley Ed.] I think that Mark overlooked a manoeuvre by Colin that led to the loss of his queen and that Mike eventually agreed a hard fought draw with Tim; I have no recollection of Derek’s game against Phil other than it seemed to be over quickly! “

Your editor can confirm that Mike and Tim battled to the wire and that Mike, despite having gone the exchange up, was unable to press his advantage.

1.Colin Davison 1-0 Mark Taylor
2. Tim Wrigley 0.5-0.5 Mike Nicholson
3. David Wrigley 1-0 Peter Crichton
4. Derek Blair 1-0 Phil Taylor

So the Monarchs march on undefeated and it would seem that nothing can now stop them winning the title.

Club Championship

Mike Nicholson 5.5/7
Peter Crichton 3/5
Bruce Reed 3/6
Phil Taylor 3/7
Derek Blair 2.5/5
Jack Bradshaw 2/2
Steve Larkin 1.5/5
Mark Taylor 1/2
David Wrigley 1/2
Malcolm Reid 1/3
Matthew Taylor 0.5/1
Dave Foster 0.5/2
Tim Wrigley 0.5/2

Bruce Reed and Derek Blair have climbed up the table since last month. All players now have exactly one calendar month in which to improve their positions before the cut is made into Major and Minor. As things stand, Mark and David would have to battle it out for eighth place!

Spotlight on Jack Bradshaw

When and where did you learn to play chess?

I learnt from my dad when I was about 8 years old. I was living in Hampshire at the time.

Have you played more or less continuously since? If not, please give details.

No. Although I began to take more interest around the age of 11-12 years when I got a computerised chess board to play against.

When and where did you start to play competitive chess (leagues and congresses)?

When I was 13, I took part in the British Land Chess Challenge reaching the ‘Gigafinal’ in Manchester. A few months afterwards, in late 2005, I joined Tynedale Chess Club.

Have you ever had chess coaching? If yes, please give details.

No.

What has been your highest and your lowest grade to date? Please give year and grade.

Highest – 2008 (113)

Lowest – 2007 (103)

On average, how many hours a week would you say you devoted to chess?

About 6 hours these days, although it was probably more a couple of years ago – about 12.

Do you play internet chess? If so, roughly how often?

I used to play every day if I had the chance about a year ago, not so much now.

Do you use computer chess programmes (e.g. Chessbase)? If so, which programmes? How useful do you find them? Roughly how often do you use them?

I have a Fritz 9 which I find very useful. If there is an interesting game which I have just played, I will usually analyse it.

Do you use a computerised chess set? If so, how useful do you find it? Roughly how often do you use it?

Yes, but I don’t really use it any more now as the levels are very easy.

What do you like most about chess?

The fact there are so many possibilities, and there is scope for personal preference of style and openings, for example. You don’t get this in other board games e.g. draughts.

What do you like least about chess?

Some opponents (none from Tynedale!) can be annoying.

Do you have any current targets in chess?

To regain the Tynedale Club Championship!

Which chess player, past or present, do you most admire, and why?

Vasily Smyslov. I have a book on his best games, and some of the positional and

Endgame play is terrific!

It’s good to be reminded, in his absence, of  Jack’s impact on the club and his huge potential. Let’s hope that the pursuit of the club title will see him back in action soon.

Your editor has no further copy for this series, so unless some of you unsung heroes submit an entry, this item of the e-bulletin will go into abeyance.

Miscellanea

Forthcoming events:

1.Sun 29 March NCA Rapidplay Champs Jesmond. Contact John Wheeler.

3-5 April Edinburgh Congress

17-19 April Co Durham Congress at Houghton-le-Spring

2. In the Newcastle championship your editor has continued his natural downward momentum and now stands on one point from five.

That concludes this month’s issue

Steve Larkin

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