Bulletin No 30

 

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 30 (30 Jan 2010)

With a new year underway, I would like to be the bearer of good news, but I fear that all my (strictly limited) powers of spin are insufficient to put a cheerful gloss on developments in

Northumbria League division 1

The Reivers, as ever, are engaged in a desperate fight for survival and, at this stage of the season, it has to be said that the prospects are not good. They have played two matches since the last e-bulletin, and I am indebted to captain David Wrigley for the following reports:

“Gateshead A vs Reivers

Things were looking good as we went into this match against Gateshead – they were the side propping us up. Dave F, on reconnaissance with the Tans the week before, had obtained secret documents which seemed to suggest Gateshead were struggling to get a team together. On paper, the Reivers would have had a small grading advantage against the strongest Gateshead had offered thus far in the season, so the signs were good.

Colin Gilroy handed me his team-sheet and my confidence was tempered. He’d brought in an unexpected face on board 2, so their middle order were all bumped down, all our hundreds of hours of opening preparation seemed wasted and the grades were pretty well balanced.

Gateshead   Tynedale Reivers
D Zdjelar (184) v  D Weldon (160)
A Herskine (158) v D Wrigley (155)
G Abaryan (135) v M L Nicholson (147)
W Noble (133) v D Foster (134)
C Gilroy (114) v  T Wrigley (124)

Dave Weldon had the short straw once again – Dusan is a pretty tough character. The early stages were completely symmetrical, positional manoeuvring and piece exchanges being the order of the day. The critical moment came when Dusan’s queen harassed Dave’s queen from c4, guarded by b5 and d5 pawns – Dave could either swap it off, temporarily releasing the pressure but allowing Dusan a protected passed pawn, or back off and opt for passive defence against the monstrous queen. He chose to exchange queens and his king was thereafter tied to the passed pawn, allowing Dusan to calmly mop up his queenside pawns, whilst Dave couldn’t muster enough of a counter-threat on the kingside

1-0

Dave F was up against an orang-utan on board 4. The centre became blocked fairly early on, and opposite sided-action looked on the cards. Bill expanded rapidly on the queenside, putting Dave under a lot of pressure – his position was cramped and he seemed to be warding off tactics with every move. Mass piece exchanges occurred and Bill ended up with a dangerous passed a-pawn and the more active king. Dave had to sac his last piece (a knight) for the pawn, and Bill’s remaining bishop was on hand to keep Dave’s own passed pawn at bay, after which it was “just a matter of technique”.

2-0

I had met Andrew before, in the NCA rapid-play earlier in the year, and his English had slowly squashed me off the board. When I saw 1.c4 I decided it was going to be a tactical melée at all costs – I played the Grand Prix Attack in reverse, dubiously sacrificing a pawn on f4 in the hope of opening up lines against his king. Instead of castling to safety, he swapped his nicely centralised knight for my fairly innocuous bishop. The time he wasted allowed me to sac the exchange (on f4) to bust up his pawns and install twin knights on g4 and d4. His exposed King was tricky to defend, and he slipped at the wrong moment, allowing me to mate him.

2-1

I’m fairly sure Mike finished just after me (though it may have been just before- my excitement got the better of me): he writes: “In quality terms, this game with Gagik Abaryan was the highest quality game I’ve been involved in this season.  Without making detectable errors, and despite having white, I came under consistent pressure as black poked away here and there.  Finally the crux arose, but instead of conceding black a permanent advantage without compensation, I took courage in both hands, launching a king-side thrust with g4 and following it, when black expected a simple pawn exchange, with a complex combination.  Despite black’s emergence with a passed supported pawn (and a pawn plus) I got a fine position.  We had QR each, but my N was much stronger than his B thanks to my pawns slotting in on the correct coloured squares and giving the N an impregnable position on d5.  So good was it that his passed pawn even became a difficult target to defend.  Sadly and unsurprisingly becoming very short of time I couldn’t complete the necessary calculations, and when I had the chance (after the queens had been exchanged) to forsake the passed pawn and waltz my king through to support R and N in a possible mating attack, my courage deserted me, and I was the one mated. But a great game to play nonetheless.”

3-1 and the match is lost, with Tim bringing up the rear:

Colin played a Kings Indian Defence and managed to grab an early e5-f5 pawn centre much to Tim’s chagrin. Tim was forced to back off which resulted in the loss of his c pawn. However, the knights quickly came off and so Tim’s lonesome d5-pawn managed to hold the show together, restricting Colin’s light squared bishop & queen. Tim tripped into a skewer, and had the option of a loss of the exchange with a passive position, or bishop for pawn whilst maintaining an active queen. He chose the latter, a good practical decision, as Colin was forced to spend time thinking about how to make his material advantage count. Tim kept probing for tactics (whilst shedding the odd incidental pawn) and Colin’s clock kept slipping further behind. Eventually, Tim managed to regain the bishop, and was quick to accept the draw offered to him – the rook & pawn ending was probably losing but Tim had a passed pawn which gave Colin too much to think about in too little time.

3½-1½

Gateshead A v Tynedale Reivers
D Zdjelar 1 0 D Weldon
A Herskine 0 1 D Wrigley
G Abaryan 1 0 M L Nicholson
W Noble 1 0 D Foster
C Gilroy ½ ½ T Wrigley
10 Dec 09 3½ 1½  

Not an ideal result, but Gateshead aren’t likely to pick up many more points over the course of the season, and both Tynemouth teams are (slightly surprisingly) bumbling around on one point. There is hope yet.”

The Reivers’ next match was against Tynemouth Trojans. David reports:

“The Reivers played their third (sixth?) relegation 4-pointer on Tuesday night – a trip to play Tynemouth Trojans, who had identical game & match points. Dave Foster was first: he writes

“The opening went thus: 1. e4 c5 2. f4 e6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 h6 6. Nbd2 Be7 (translated by DW from descriptive, so apologies Dave if this isn’t correct!) All well and good and I am fairly happy after castling on move 7, He castled king side which was a surprise as he castled into an open diagonal having potential repercussions later, he could have sorted any attacks later on by simply moving his king into h1. However he spent a couple of moves preventing the perceived threat on the diagonal and never regained control.  As the game progressed he made threats of mate which fizzled out and he used a lot time in changing the line of attack.  My attack which centred on the black diagonal mentioned earlier forced him into a spurious Knight sacrifice which I accepted and his failed attack leading to Queens and rooks coming off then led to him resigning. Bit of a surprise really as I had made no checks and had not advanced further than g3.  The deciding factor (I imagine) was that my first move 1..c5 later led to him having three pawns on white squares and he had swapped his white diagonal bishop for a Knight, once Queens and rooks were swapped off then my white diagonal bishop got behind them and wiped them off. My first victory for the Reivers.”

1-0! The rest of the Reivers, quite unaccustomed to being in the lead, decide to show Dave how chess should really be played.

Tim played his usual queens pawn game, but Chris offered an exchange of queens on move 2! Tim declined this, allowing Chris to set up an e5-f5 pawn duo to hold a share of the centre. Tim, a little uncertain, lost a bit of time but rallied well, disrupting Chris’s play and developing a good-looking position. Just when it seemed his pressure was about to reap a long-lasting advantage, he had a lapse and left his queen en prise, a bitter end to an otherwise convincing performance. 1-1

And now to Mike:

“I expected, prepared for and got a Dragon from John Morton.  Then he  played for a trap which I didn’t know and fell into.  With the  consumption of much effort and time, I escaped two pawns down,  recovered one, and got into an opposite colours bishop ending just  the one pawn in arrears.  Even that was too tricky for me under the  inevitable pressure from the clock.  It was worse than it sounds.   Some of the moves I never saw were unbelievable.  I’m 71, but he’s 

74 …”

1-2, and things are looking a bit tricky. I asked Dave F the score at this point, and he calmly told me we were 2½-1 down, which I accepted without question!

I was next to finish, flagfall coming just before I was wiped off the board. I had been squeezed mercilessly by my opponent in a Benko declined. The game was a positional affair, Gary gained a dominant position in the centre by move 7 and all my efforts to undermine it came to naught. He was able to calmly concentrate all his firepower at my kingside whilst my pieces trod on each others toes, and I was a little relieved when the clock put me out of my misery. 1-3

Dave W had the unenviable task of bringing up the rear, the match result no longer in doubt. His position looked finely balanced for long periods, isolated pawns strewn across the board with plenty of space for major pieces to manoeuvre and potential outposts for minors. Dave was matching blow with blow, but his opponent’s king had slightly better shelter, so Dave was forced into using more time to keep the tactics at bay and time trouble was his eventual undoing.

Trojans 4-1 Reivers
David Henderson 1 0 Dave Weldon
Gary Cornwall 1 0 David Wrigley
John Morton 1 0 Mike Nicholson
Dave Jarema 0 Dave Foster
Christian Smith 1 0 Tim Wrigley

The loss leaves the Reivers firmly at bottom of the league. We have 5 tough matches with which to extricate ourselves from the relegation zone, but there are reasons to be cheerful – we’re still within touching distance of a couple of teams and a late-season charge is yet possible.”Many thanks to David for those reports, even if they don’t make particularly cheerful reading! But the resilience of the Reivers is by now legendary and we shall keep our fingers crossed for another Houdini-like escape from the R word!

Northumberland League Division 2

Here the story is of possible promotion rather than relegation, though it should be noted that the Tans’ fixture list regularly reserves all their strongest opponents for the second half of the season. On the face of it, newcomers to the league Leam Lane Comets were not to be included in that category, their performance thus far being no more than average. So this looked like a fixture we should win, but it proved to be one of those days when the form-book went out of the window. The line-up was as follows:

1. C. Wardle (162) v Dave Foster (134)
2. J. Marsh (144) v Peter Crichton (130)
3. A. Young (127) v Phil Taylor (122)
4. R. Ratter (111) v  Steve Larkin (126)
5. C. McGarty (110) v Malcolm Reid (113)

First to finish was Phil, in a game where rapid, wholesale swapping off led to an early draw. Next was Dave, who went the exchange up before making the mistake of grabbing cheap pawns, thereby opening up the board for a mating attack by his opponent. On board 4 Steve was struggling, having thrown away a knight for nothing on move 11. However, his opponent made the mistake of switching his heavy artillery to the queenside, where it was largely ineffectual, allowing Steve one desperate kingside attack which produced mate on move 22. Phew! Peter likewise dropped a piece early on to his opponent’s Max Lange attack but, unlike Steve’s opponent, Peter’s did him no favours and the handicap eventually proved too much for Peter to overcome. So the match stood at 2.5 to 1.5 in Leam Lane’s favour and, not for the first time this season, the match result hinged on the outcome of Malcolm’s game on board 5. Here, both players had made early mistakes which cancelled each other out and the game came down to an intriguing contest, with two rooks, knight and bishop on either side. When Malcolm forked his opponent’s rooks, it looked as though he had a decisive advantage, but then the initiative swung the other way and the game appeared to be slipping away from Malcolm when his opponent offered a draw, which Malcolm readily accepted.

The end result – 3-2 to Leam Lane (and it could so easily have been 4-1) – left us duly chastened. With our next four matches looking altogether tougher, we shall really have to raise our game!

Our next opponents, on January 19th, were Forest Hall B. After last year’s match against this side, when the result had to be modified by the league conductor, there was an extra frisson of anticipation for this year’s version. Forest Hall were performing unevenly – invincible at home and very shaky away. Fortunately for us, they were away! Indeed, the team they turned up with was clearly not at full strength, but then neither was ours, with Derek, Bruce and Malcolm all unavailable. So with the following line-up, it looked quite a close call:

1. Dave F (134 v J. Wall (140)
2. Peter C (130 v J. Bentham (130)
3. Phil (122) v S. Bowey (110)
4. Steve (126) v D. Shippen (u)
5. Peter Booker (u) v P. Walker (86)

We got off to a good start. Steve’s opponent played very cautiously and the first attack of the game trapped his king in the corner. 1-0 after 45 minutes. Peter C’s game was a mirror image of that one. His opponent threw everything at him, restricting Peter to the back three ranks, but in so doing over-reached himself, Peter pounced and the game was won. 2-0. Meanwhile Dave was being squeezed very hard and had virtually every available piece tucked into his kingside corner to protect his king. His opponent sacrificed a piece to try and find a way in, couldn’t and Dave went on to win – a fine victory in his final game for the Tans this season. 3-0. The last two games went to the wire. Phil’s was a roller-coaster, with the initiative swinging first one way and then the other. Eventually, he pushed his king up the board, won one pawn, then another and, using king and rook together, looked poised to deliver mate. At the critical moment, he picked up his king instead of his rook and the game was lost! 3-1. Peter Booker showed real grit in his first ever Northumbria league game. Unfortunately he dropped a bishop early in the middle game and, as the pieces disappeared, the handicap proved too much. Nevertheless, he battled to the bitter end and really made his opponent work for his point. 3-2 and the Tans continue to occupy second place in the division, though for how long given the tough matches ahead remains to be seen.

South Tyne League

One match to report here, Friars v Monarchs at Hallbankgate on Jan 25th. This top of the table clash looked to be a very tight match, with just one handicap point separating the two sides. As that difference was in Friars’ favour, Monarchs had to record at least 2.5/4 to win, and anything less would be a defeat. The line-up was as follows:

1. Goerge Glover h/p 1 v Colin Davison h/p 1
2. Bruce Wallace  h/p 3 v David Wrigley h/p 2
3. Daniel O’Dowd h/p 4 v Tim Wrigley h/p 4
4. Bill Hardwick  h/p 4 v Steve Larkin h/p 4

Colin, in his swan-song for the Monarchs, was first to finish, notching up a business-like draw on board 1, which was quite an achievement, considering that he hadn’t looked at a chess board in weeks. On board 3, Tim’s first sustained attack prompted the collapse of his opponent’s position. As Tim put it afterwards, “Daniel seemed to give up”. On board 4, Steve made all the running and eventually unleashed what was meant to be a decisive attack, only to lose his way and find himself in a lost end-game, powerless to prevent Bill from queening a pawn. So all was down to board 2, where David was a pawn up in a tense end-game, having four pawns and a knight to Bruce’s three pawns and a bishop. David’s tenacity and ingenuity won through and the match was won by the narrowest of margins. Can the Monarchs make it a second successive league title? It’s all down to team captain Derek Blair, who will return to the fray after an extended rest cure in Portugal, but who will have to lead a team now deprived of the invaluable services of Colin Davison. 

Club Championship

Such is the confidence of the leader that he has gone off to sun himself for weeks on end in Portugal while us lesser mortals trail in his wake! Mike Nicholson and Jack Bradshaw have both moved up the table. Our current club champion remains out of the reckoning at this stage.

Derek Blair 5/7
Phil Taylor 3.5/6
Peter Crichton 3/5
Mike Nicholson 2.5/3
Jack Bradshaw 2.5/5
Dave Foster 2/3
Bruce Reed 2/4
Matthew Taylor 1.5/2
Steve Larkin 1.5/5
Malcolm Reid 1/4
David Wrigley 0.5/1
Peter Booker 0/5

Miscellanea

The Sell championship. David Wrigley has sent me these two reports on his progress:

“I have played my third game in the Sell . Dave Walshaw and I met the Monday before Christmas, I’d been desperately shopping all day and he’d had a hard day at the office after a wild weekend in London so neither of us was particularly in the mood. I showed attacking intent without actually getting anywhere and he’d just about equalised when he blundered an important pawn. Dave resigned on the spot, mistakenly thinking I’d pick up a Bishop too (which I couldn’t) – my advantage was far from decisive. This victory takes me to 2/3, and, bizarrely, makes me sole leader of the competition. There are 6 players on 1.5 and one poor soul on 1/3.” In his fourth round match, David faced Stefan Hartmann. He writes:“Stefan didn’t like the look of my french and met it with 2. Qe2, a move he later admitted he’d never played before. Out of book and rattled, I wasted the next 80 minutes playing only 12 moves to reach a fairly passive position. My clock was ticking increasingly insistently and I made a positional slip, followed quickly by a tactical one, losing my queen and two pawns for rook and bishop. Stefan got a little too comfortable with his material and time advantages and he played a couple of innocuous queen moves whilst my bishop and rook to took up threatening positions. I was able to throw in a pretty (flawed) knight sac which Stefan failed to meet properly. Equality! For precisely 2 moves and about ten seconds! Instead of simply reaping the exchange & a centre pawn, I played a silly check which threw it all away. A scrappy game, but a deserved victory for my opponent, who will now be joint Sell leader on 2.5/4.”

The Newcastle championship. In round 3, your editor played Alex Ashworth in a game which has been reproduced in the county bulletin. It is noticeable for the number of ? marks which your editor’s play attracts. Despite this fact, he won thanks to a terminal error by Alex. In round 4, he faced Bob Heyman, against whom he had scrambled a very lucky draw in a league match in November. This time, he scrambled a slightly less lucky draw and so finds himself on 2.5/4.

Christmas contest. Peter Crichton has kindly sent me details of this improvised event which occurred on Dec 22nd.

Half a dozen hardy souls [aka eejits!] braved the elements last night to fight for the Xmas “hamper”; in the end it was no contest with David Wrigley sweeping all before him in imperious fashion, ending with maximum points in the 10 minute each player all play all competition. Finishing early, we had a rerun with 5 minutes per player which David Foster won, again with maximum points.

To mark Colin Davison’s final appearance at the club (he relocates to Buxton, Derbyshire, next week), the seven members present held an all-play-all tournament, with each player having 10 minutes for each game. The order of play was determined purely on a musical chairs basis as we all moved one seat to the right after each game, with one player resting for each round. Amazingly, this haphazard arrangement brought together for the final round the top two players – Colin on 5/5 and Phil on 4.5/5. Colin duly nailed Phil and so departed Tynedale Chess Club on a wave of euphoria and clutching a bottle of wine kindly donated by Peter Crichton. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. Perhaps we should consider a rapid-play club championship, decided on a single night? Food for thought at the next AGM?

Steve Larkin

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