Bulletin No 33

 

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 33 (29 April 2010)

This issue appears a little sooner than usual, given that your editor’s annual jaunt to the Highlands is imminent. No doubt about the lead story this month. It is to be found in the

Northumbria League Division 2

where the Tans rounded off a fine season with an exciting and somewhat controversial win over Morpeth B at Morpeth on April 14th. Morpeth skipper Geoff Loxham had advised me in advance that his team would have to default on board 5, so Bruce was spared an unnecessary trip and we entered the match 1-0 up. On arrival at Morpeth, it transpired that the player they were missing was their top board, so the advantage to us could not have been greater. The line-up was as follows:

G. Loxham (140) v D. Blair (131)
J. Chadwick (136) v P. Crichton (130)
A. Welsh (134) v S. Larkin (126)
A. Ashworth (125) v P. Taylor (122)

So Morpeth had an edge, but not an overwhelming one. Phil who, after a mid-season dip, has returned to splendid form, was first to finish, despatching Alex in no uncertain fashion. He writes of his game: “ Probably the best game I’ve played this season. After feeling my way through an e4 opening where my opponent played f4 as well, I manoeuvred my K-side knight over to the Q-side where the two Knights working in combination pinned my opponent back & opened up the centre of the board to my advantage. At one stage he had Bishops on b1 & c1, Rook on a1 & Knight on a2 all pretty much out of the game. At the end I had always planned that my strong Bishop on f6 would pose a problem for my opponent’s a1Rook but what I hadn’t seen following his exchange was the final mating threat on d1 which stopped him from protecting the rook. His resignation was probably as much relief at putting an end to the pressure as accepting defeat was inevitable. (With me – that’s never the case!!)” 0-2 and things are looking good.

Next to finish was your editor, who was comprehensively outplayed. Move after move was forced as he tried desperately to contain his opponent’s block of three passed pawns on two files, backed up by active rooks. There was a glimmer of hope when he succeeded in forcing the exchange of rooks, but then he misplayed the pawn ending and found his own pawns blocked while his opponent had an unstoppable passed pawn. 1-2.

Peter played a very careful game, making sure he gave nothing away, and with both queens and an array of pawns on the board, but with no obvious way through for either player, a draw was agreed. Peter described the game as “stodgy”, but it was precisely the kind of careful play that was called for in the circumstances. 1.5-2.5 and a draw was already in the bag. Could we get more?

On top board, Geoff had a huge time advantage over Derek (c28 minutes to Derek’s 14 when I started watching), but Derek had a massive kingside attack building, with Geoff’s pieces either pinned or forced to stay where they were on defensive duty. By the time Derek’s two rooks eventually kicked in down the h file, there were just five minutes left on Derek’s clock. Now Geoff was having to take time over every move, but he defended very cannily and when all the carnage was over Derek emerged with five pawns to Geoff’s two, but Derek had five seconds on his clock to Geoff’s five minutes plus. There was a pause while Geoff took stock of the situation: his two pawns were isolated and neither had a clear run. Was he about to offer a draw? No! He played on and Derek pushed two pawns, with a view to queening (with the advantage of hindsight, he would have been better gobbling up Geoff’s pawns, thereby enforcing the draw. But he had given everything in this game and was absolutely exhausted). At which point his clock fell and it appeared that he had lost and the match was drawn. Wrong again! Geoff insisted on offering a draw, the offer was accepted and the match won by 3-2. What would have happened had promotion hinged on this result does not bear thinking about! Full marks to Derek for the fighting chess which had put him in such a strong position.

And so the Tans ended the season with an excellent track record: played 12, won 9, drawn 1, lost 2. With clear water between them and the third-placed team in the division, promotion to division one was fully deserved.

Team statistics for the season are as follows:

  P W D L % Ave Board
Derek: 5 1 3 1 50 1.0
Peter: 10 6 3 1 75 2.0
Dave F 4 2 1 1 62.5 1.0
Steve: 9 3 4 2 55 3.4
Bruce: 4 2 2 0 75 4.3
Malcolm: 4 1 2 1 50 5.0
Phil: 9 4 2 3 55 3.7

In addition, Peter Booker lost one game, Jack Bradshaw drew one game and Tim Wrigley won one game.

Good results from all the more or less regular players, with Peter Crichton’s record quite outstanding. Well done to all for a splendid team effort, and grateful thanks to those who have helped out on the odd occasion.

Durham Chess Congress

Held for the second year at Houghton-le-Spring on April 23-25th, this event attracted five Tynedale players – David Wrigley in the Major (11th highest graded of the 23 entrants), and Matthew (6th), Steve (9th), Tim (14th) and Phil (20th) in a Minor field of 32. Peter Crichton had also entered but was laid low by flu.

All but Steve contested round one on the Friday evening. David lost, Tim and Phil both drew, and Matthew won with a last-minute flourish, his opponent having previously turned down a draw.

On the Saturday, David won his round 2 game thanks to a pawn advantage which proved decisive, but lost the next game – “awful” was the only description your editor could prise from him! Steve had two wins over Gateshead players, the second being a nerve-racking affair, with Steve getting his checkmate in one move ahead of his opponent. Matthew had two draws, the second of which was unusually dramatic, with his opponent claiming that Matthew had played just 35 moves before the time control, not the requisite 36. With some difficulty (Matthew hadn’t been recording his moves in the final 5 minutes, while his opponent’s record was a bit of a mess) the adjudicator reconstructed the game and established that Matthew had indeed played 36 moves, so the game continued and was the very last to finish. A pawn down in the endgame, Matthew took no persuading to accept the draw. Tim drew his round 2 game after castling into trouble, but won the next one comfortably. Phil added two more draws to his tally. The first forced by perpetual check left him rather disappointed but the second was the inevitable outcome of a long, closely contested game.

On Sunday, David had a miserable time, losing twice. “Horrible” was his comment on the morning game. In the afternoon he played better till two blunders sealed his fate. Final score 1/5.

Phil, alias Mr Consistency, notched up two more draws, and was particularly pleased with the second, in which his knight posed all sorts of problems for Stan Johnson. Final score 2.5/5.

Matthew kept up the Taylor unbeaten record, producing two draws of his own. He felt his opponent had an edge in the first game, while the second was a rapid swapping-off affair that was over in an hour. Final score 3/5.

Steve started well enough, holding young Sam Gregory (aged 14 and on 3/3 at that stage) to a draw, but in the afternoon gave an object lesson in how not to play the Benko Gambit and was duly put through the wringer. Final score 3/5.

Pride of place went to Tim, who came with a late run (very late in his final game) to record two wins and so share first place with two others on 4/5. He was very pleased with his pawn ending win in the morning and much relieved to win his afternoon game on time when a bishop down.

So overall a pretty creditable performance from the Tynedale squad.

South Tyne League

This match, between the two contenders for the league title, was expected to be a really tough one. The Monarchs were resigned to the appearance of a 190 plus east European player on board one and were much relieved to learn that he was not playing! So ecstatic was David about this turn of events that he raced to an emphatic win in record time against his more highly graded opponent. Outplaying him in the opening, from which he emerged two pawns up, and with two highly effective bishops which caused his opponent all sorts of problems, he forced an early resignation which gave the Monarchs the best possible start.

Next to finish, on board four, was Steve, whose game against Drew Millar seemed to be going sweetly, with checkmate threats never too far away, when Drew launched an attack of his own and exposed the perfunctory nature of the defences around Steve’s uncastled king. For a moment it all looked ghastly but, fortunately for Steve, Drew left him one square on which his king could not be checked, at which point the pendulum swung once more and the continuation of Steve’s attack brought him a decisive two rooks advantage, whereupon Drew resigned. 2-0.

Not long afterwards, Tim’s game on board three reached a successful conclusion. With a queen and five pawns against two rooks and three pawns, Tim was able to force a way through for his two passed pawns. Such was the pressure that his higher graded opponent had no option but to resign. 3-0.

Which left Captain Blair battling to the wire with Syd Cassidy and having much the better of it this time. Derek writes: “My game against Syd, who I had not beaten in the last three encounters, was last to finish. He played rather passively, fortunately, but he established a fortress type position with two fianchettoed bishops which was difficult to crack, especially as I drifted into a stonewall type of attack with white. All pieces were concentrated on the kingside towards the end and Syd had to weaken his king side pawn structure to defend a mating threat. This created the risky chance of a sacrifice break through by white, which black probably could have defended better. However, white exchanged queens and won a minor piece so that when the smoke cleared, he was ahead. Then Syd kindly blundered his remaining bishop and resigned.”

So, with the handicap position dead level, Monarchs strode to a 4-0 win. To say that Cap’n Blair was pleased would be a wild understatement. As he observed, “I was delighted by the conclusiveness of the result, which I believe confirms our pole position as ST champions for this season.”

[This story should probably have been the lead in this issue, but it came in late and so computer-illiterate is your editor that he was unable to promote it to top spot! For which he offers profuse apologies, emphasising that he in no way wishes to imply that events in the South Tyne League are somehow unworthy of lead status!]

Club Championship

In the quarter-finals, Peter has beaten Malcolm, so once again we shall have a new club champion this year. Peter writes of the game: “playing white I was able take advantage of the exposed position of Malcolm’s queen to acquire a lead in development which in turn allowed a decisive attack on the e file against his uncastled king.”

In other games, Derek despatched Steve and Jack beat Bruce, while Phil and Dave drew, leading to the first replay since the new format for the championship was introduced. I have no details of the latter two games, but Derek played the Scandinavian, castling long while Steve castled short. In the middle game, both overlooked the chance for Derek to win a piece. Derek eliminated Steve’s queenside pressure by two forced exchanges, then launched an attack down the d file. That pressure, allied to an acute shortage of time, led to a fatal blunder on Steve’s part.

Miscellanea

1.  The Sell championship. David Wrigley has sent me this report: “I had white in my final Sell game against the clear tournament leader and rising star Amarvansh Singh. Evans gambit time! He was obviously on unfamiliar ground and played a couple of funny looking moves, but I messed up my theory, so he hung onto his extra pawn for nowt. I lifted my rook to the third rank, made it dance left and right in (what I thought was) a perpetual attack on his optimistically placed queen, but it turned out she could squeeze out of it at the cost of the extra pawn. Armavansh was determined to win the tournament outright on the night, but in light of what followed he’ll be kicking himself for refusing the draw. His freshly escaped queen was misplaced, and he cosied her up to mine, guarded by his bishop. Unfortunately for him, his bishop was also meant to be guarding his c7 pawn, and I picked it up with check before swapping off queens. The position was calm enough that I had time enough to pick up another (previously poisoned) hanging pawn, and my two extra pawns won the day.
So I finished 2nd-5th= on 4/7 behind Stefan Hartmann, who squeaked past the post on 4.5.”

Congratulations to David on an excellent performance overall. To finish second equal in a tournament of the quality of the Sell is no mean achievement and is certainly a far better indicator of his true ability than more recent events in countyDurham.

The Newcastle championship

. In the final round, your editor had a very close game with Robert Stead of Tynemouth, in which he typically dissipated such attacking potential as he had, permitting his opponent to exchange key pieces. However, he managed to pick up a pawn at the end of the middle game and eventually queened it. So, much to his astonishment and delight, he ends up on 4.5/7 – a very different story from his 1.5/6 in the club championship!

3.  Correction. In the season’s statistics for the Reivers, published in the last e-bulletin, Dave Foster’s record should read: played 9; points 3; ave 33.3%.

4.  Forthcoming events.

July 2-4 Harrogate Chess Congress

September 24-26 Northumberland Chess Congress

October 1-3 Whitby Chess Congress

October 22-4 Scarborough Chess Congress

That concludes this issue. There will be one more, probably in June, when there should be further news of the club championship and also of the summer knockout.

Steve Larkin

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