Bulletin No 38

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 38 (31.1.11)

Much time has elapsed since the last e-bulletin and there is much to report, beginning with

Northumbria league division one

The Tans have played two matches since the last e-bulletin. The first was at home to Tynemouth Castles on Friday 12 November. David Wrigley has kindly provided the following report:

“The Castles have had a tough start to their season. Promoted last year, they’d yet to register a match point, and we probably looked like a decent prospect for them. We were the stronger side on paper. Victory for us would propel us back into the upper echelons of the league (doubling the Reivers’ haul last season with 6 games still to play!) and go a long way towards avoiding relegation.

Dave Foster and Dave Mear traded blow for blow on board 4, before DM slipped and dropped a pawn, with little compensation. Perhaps irritated with himself, DM tried to force the issue, and sacrificed a full rook, only for DF to defend coolly and snuff out his attack. 1-0

David Wrigley struggled to make any early impression against Keith Marshall. Keith made all the early running, but the plan he chose was too slow, allowing David to reorganise his poorly placed pieces. The centre was thoroughly blocked and Keith was rattling his sabres on the queenside. David defended calmly but was struggling to find a plan. Keith castled kingside, but his pawn protection was weaker there than it was in the centre, and David found the plan he’d been looking for. Keith kept trying to pour down the queenside but neglected his kingside and David sprung a mate on him. 2-0

Dave Weldon was up against Dave Hair. Captain David had irresponsibly left the room to discuss his game with Keith, so DW picks up here: “Dave Hair as White played the Ruy Lopez exchange variation and traded in his opening initiative to simplify the position towards the draw. During wholesale piece exchanges Black’s thematic doubled c-pawns became undoubled and the final position was a drawn rook and pawn ending.”  2.5-0.5 Another match point in the bag!

Peter Crichton writes: “I played the white side of a Grunfeld which led to a early exchange of a number of pieces; I remembered my opponent, Keith Rockett, as a strong player and when the game was drifting towards a fairly level end-game, and with the team needing another half-point to win the match, I was happy to offer a draw which was accepted.” 3-1, and the Tans take all the spoils.

Peter Booker (only drafted about 2 hours earlier, as Tim was fluey) brought up the tail. He played the earliest stages solidly, but let a knight out of the stables and it made a nice meal for Ray Garside’s carnivorous infantry. Undeterred, Peter made a good fist of it, organised his remaining pieces well and for a time it looked like Ray might struggle to break him down. It wasn’t to be, however. Ray snapped off a couple of loose pawns and the ensuing endgame left Peter with no chance.

Tans 3-2 Castles
Dave Weldon ½-½ Dave Hair (139)
Peter Crichton ½-½ Keith Rockett (136)
David Wrigley 1-0 Keith Marshall (129)
David Foster snr 1-0 Dave Mear (115)
Peter Booker 0-1 Ray Garside (109)

The Tans find themselves with 6 points from 5 matches! Big thanks to the team, especially Peter B for stepping in at short notice.”

The next match was away to Tynemouth Hobbits. Again thanks to David for the following report.

“The Tans were all over the Hobbits from the off. Each and every player had fair-to-promising positions on the board, certainly no one was worse. Except on the clocks…

Dave came out of the opening well against Clive Waters. They liquidated their central pawns early, and whilst Clive had the bishop pair with decent long term prospects, Dave’s pawn structure was better, his rooks more active and his minor pieces more comfortably placed. Dave’s queen and knight generated pressure against Clive’s chewed-up kingside, but time was running short. Dave allowed Clive to manoeuvre himself some breathing room, and thereafter his clock disadvantage was too great, Clive found a string of forceful moves and Dave threw in the towel. 0-1

Peter had the biggest grading mountain to climb, and he acquitted himself well:

“I survived the opening [the black side of a Grunfeld] and the middle game reasonably well and after 28 moves had a level position. Unfortunately I had allowed myself to run a little short of time and the pressure exerted by that combined with a bit of complacency led me to a mistake [forgetting to exchange queens before playing the next move] that allowed my opponent Michael Hubbard to force a mate.” 0-2

I was swearing to myself at this point, partly because Peter and Dave had both had good positions, and partly because the couple on the other side of the restaurant were loudly discussing the merits of a nightclub they’d just been to. Or bought. Or been kicked out of.  Fortunately, their enthusiasm was short-lived, and I could continue fretting about the match in peace.

Mike writes: “I was very pleased to gain the advantage and hold the initiative in an incredibly open and complex game with John Clarke.  I seemed to have winning prospects throughout, though around move 20 we both missed best moves – mine when the position was crying out for an unimpeded rook’s pawn advance against his king, and his when he missed the most aggressive reply to my inferior choice.  However, I then stayed well on top.  Although there was no dramatic conclusion available, I was able to simplify to an endgame with a pawn advantage with a rook each and bishops of opposite colours.  Sadly I misplayed the continuation, failing to see that … Rc2+ would have won another pawn and given me 3-2 on the queenside and 1-0 on the kingside.  After that there was nothing left to play for.” 0.5-2.5

David had some early success. He doubled his Antonio’s g pawn, picked up a bishop with a lot of tempi invested in it for a knight which had barely left the stables and was disappointed to reach the middle game without any advantage whatsoever. Both players had solid position, but David struggled to find a plan and wasted a lot of time in the process. With eight minutes to Antonio’s forty, David started striving for mass exchanges, leaving opposite coloured bishops and rook and queen each. Antonio was a bit too casual in his piece play and he allowed David to swap the remaining heavy pieces, leaving a stagnant drawn ending. 1-3

Tim had an excellent early position. Lara sacrificed a centre pawn and could neither remember the reasoning behind it nor work it out at the board, so Tim had his pawn for free. He had a promising looking centre, but Lara pulled off a very effective minority attack on the queenside, sacrificing another pawn but undermining both Tim’s central and his queenside structure. Tim’s extra pawns on the queenside were doubled, disorganised and difficult to defend, Lara’s heavy pieces rent them asunder and the game was balanced once more. The curse of the clock struck again, Tim spent a lot of time trying to maintain his early advantage, so he had to launch an attack or lose by flagfall. Lara had a solid enough position that she could launch an accurate counterattack, and Tim was about to be mated when his time ran out. 1-4

Hobbits 4-1 Tans
Clive Waters (184) 1-0 Dave Weldon
Michael Hubbard (183) 1-0 Peter Crichton
Antonio Moneva-Jordan (171) 0.5-0.5 David Wrigley
John Clarke (150) 0.5-0.5 Mike Nicholson
Lara Barnes  (152) 1-0 Tim Wrigley

The scoreline does a disservice to the Tans, the Hobbits owe their victory really to their excellent clocks, which clearly tick at double time when touched by western hands. Mike deserves credit for keeping time better than the rest of the team, and even his opponent!”

The Tans are currently in sixth place in division one, with six points from six matches, so it really is clickety-click!

Division two

Three Tans matches to report. First was an away match against Alnwick on Dec 15th. Having won their first and third matches and lost their second and fourth, the Reivers were due to win this one. Both sides put out strong teams and the line-up turned out as follows:

1. Mike Trolan (144) v Mike Nicholson (147)
2. David Wallace (144) v Derek Blair (139)
3. Ralph Firth (131) v Bruce Reed (127)
4. James Pharoah (121) v Steve Larkin (121)
5. Hugh McLaughlan (56) v Phil Taylor (120)

Save on board 5, close games looked to be the order of the day, and so it proved. Hugh and Phil set about clearing the board in rapid fashion, Phil emerging a rook up to claim an early victory. 0-1

At this stage, the other games all looked pretty level. Mike, not in time trouble for once, was next to finish. He writes: “I came away pleased with my effort against Mike Trolan. Both he and I felt I had held the initiative throughout, and although I had managed only a draw, at least I hadn’t ever been behind and hadn’t let the advantage slip. Then I came home and consulted my silicon friend. Whilst not coming up with anything really strong for Mike, the general artificial opinion was that things had been pretty level. What was more frustrating was that I had missed the sort of two-move combination to win a pawn which I would have expected to see in a 5-minute game. Anyway, from a Queen’s Gambit Accepted the game resolved into a queen and opposite-colour bishop ending in which I hadn’t quite enough to get a breakthrough. Enjoyable game, decent result, not good enough but far better than a loss!” 0.5-1.5 and it was looking good for the Reivers.

On board 2, Derek dropped a pawn early on, and with doubled pawns as well felt he was on the back foot throughout the game. His opponent never allowed him a chance to get back on terms and took the game. 1.5-1.5

Bruce started on the offensive and, when I looked at his game after about an hour, he seemed to be dominating two-thirds of the board. As Bruce writes, “The game was even for the first two hours, with my having a slight edge in terms of four queenside pawns advanced, good occupation of key squares and active pieces. Gradually, however, my opponent managed to get his pieces into play (which means I gave him time to do so!), connected up, and combined in a decisive attack. With a well-balanced position in the middle game, both kings castled kingside, the game turned on the control of the e-file, and attack and defence of my advanced d-pawn. We both had doubled rooks on the e-file. In an effort to liberate my queen from a defensive role as one of the protectors of the d-pawn, so as to move it to strengthen my queenside attack, I fatally removed one of the doubled rooks to move it behind my queen (in preparation for taking over its role). My opponent found a good move to add to the attacks on the d-pawn. Instead of moving my rook back (which would have countered his threat, as I realised when I looked at it later), I tried a more risky exchange of pieces, and went a pawn down. As time ebbed away I then went for an attack instead of playing for a draw – for which I no longer thought I had sufficient time in hand – lost another pawn, and then on time.
A typical game where a fight for control of space, then a central file, then the build up of an attack on a single square (incorrectly repulsed) lead to a small material advantage that ultimately decided the outcome.” 2.5-1.5

Which left Steve, whose game went to the wire. A misplaced bishop caused him a lot of problems, and a queenside push of pawns by James compounded them. In an attempt to salvage something, Steve swapped his rook for a bishop and pushed two passes but unconnected pawns. These were doomed, but a hectic finish saw him pick up enough of James’s pawns to convince the latter to accept a draw, which was certainly the most Steve could hope for. So, 3-2 to Alnwick and deservedly so. Life in division 2 seems to have got tougher since last year!

The Tans’ next match, away against Tynemouth Warriors, had been postponed from November, and was played on January 11th. The line-up was

1. R. Oxnard (134) v  Mike Nicholson (147)
2. P. Jackson (121) v Matthew Taylor (130)
3. R. Batten (111) v Bruce Reed (127)
4. M. Robson (99) v Steve Larkin (121)
5. P. Combellack (?) v Phil Taylor (120)

We looked to have the edge and so it proved. Phil was first to finish, getting a knight in behind his opponent’s central pawns and steadily cranking up the pressure to achieve material and positional advantage. His opponent thought long and hard but could do nothing about it. 0-1

Next up was Bruce, who steadily steamed through his opponent’s position, eventually going two pieces up en route to an unstoppable mate. 0-2

Matthew emerged from the opening a pawn up and proceeded to dominate the board. His opponent, finding himself with precious few squares available, not much time and two pawns adrift, fell on his sword. 0-3

Mike spent a fair part of the return journey lamenting (in a light-hearted way) the fact that his opponent had flouted all the rules of good chess and got away with it. He writes: “Richard Oxnard met my quick development with what looked like a premature queen foray. Early on, I had the chance to win the exchange for a pawn, but since this would have left my knight stuck irretrievably (though safely) behind his lines, I opted to gambit a centre pawn and try to capitalise on that loose queen. I failed to appreciate how uncoordinated my developed pieces were. Although his queen continued to operate almost single-handedly, and although I penetrated as far as to recover my pawn and put both rooks on the seventh, I really should have lost! He missed three winning chances, the first two when decoy moves would have won him a piece, and the last, only just before we agreed a justifiable draw, when he had a more difficult chance to exploit a back-rank mate threat. Why is chess so unpredictable?!” 0.5-3.5
Steve’s game ran on and on to well over 60 moves. Ignoring the old adage to bewrae of poisoned pawns, Steve gleefully picked one up, only to lose a rook for a knight as a direct consequence. On the back foot thereafter, he could and should have been finished off more than once by his opponent. Fortunately, the opportunities went begging and in a protracted endgame a passed pawn proved decisive. 0.5-4.5

So, a resounding, if somewhat flattering, victory which should ensure that the Reivers do not slip into the lower half of the division.

And finally, on January 18th a home fixture against Morpeth C, with a close match in prospect.

1. Mike Nicholson (147) v J. Chadwick (135)
2. Bruce Reed (127) v A. Ashworth (131)
3. Steve Larkin (121) v D. Patterson (117)
4. Phil Taylor (120) v J. Hill (109)
5. Malcolm Reid (115) v D. Watson (96)

First to finish, as ever, was Phil who pressed hard for a win. He writes: “It was an interesting game which had lots of tricks and traps from both of us. I started with my normal Queens Pawn opening but in response to my d4 and c4 he replied d6 & Nf6 following up with a very cautious c6 so it took a while before we got to grips with one another’s pieces. I managed to isolate his d-pawn & we soon got a locked position where I couldn’t take it and he couldn’t move it forward, so on move 35 he offered a very sensible draw. Unfortunately I thought I could see some possibilities to move one of his defending pieces & so declined. My plan was good & it resulted in an endgame where I appeared to have the upper hand with passed pawns on my queenside. I don’t know if I failed to play it properly or if there was never a chance against best play but he used his King and Knight to good effect moving across the board to thwart my advances. In the end I offered the draw on move 64 seeing no way in which I could make use of my extra pawns. At least I didn’t lose a drawn position!”  0.5-0.5

Next up was Bruce, who writes: “I had a strong opening position, and a balanced position when I made a week move that allowed him to win a rook for a bishop. In trying to find a counter I sacrificed a rook for a knight and a strong attack. My opponent held the attack, and forced a material exchange that left me no option but to resign.” 0.5-1.5

Much later, Malcolm evened things up, winning a scramble against the clock in which his two-pawn, and then three-pawn, advantage proved decisive. 1.5-1.5

Steve’s game likewise involved a time scramble, but only on his clock, not his opponent’s. A piece up but with considerable work to do positionally to make it tell and not enough time, Steve offered a draw, which was declined, and duly lost on time. 1.5-2.5

Mike’s game, which started later than the rest, also went to the wire and so was the last to finish. With bishop, knight and a couple of pawns to his opponent’s rook, Mike played with his hallmark serenity and precision under time pressure, while his opponent buckled and eventually resigned after allowing Mike to fork his rook. 2.5-2.5

In the end, the result was a fair one. Certainly, the Reivers did not deserve to lose the match on a time-out. They currently lie fourth in division 2 with seven points from seven games, but there are several teams below them who could easily overtake them.

South Tyne League

Plenty to report here, starting with Monarchs v Austins on December 13th. Skipper Blair reports:

“Monarchs had an easier than expected win (3.5 vs 0.5) against Austins. Austins’ Captain Syd rested himself but they still fielded a strong side with Terry Nabbs back from University heading the quartet.

However, Steve on Board 4 was quick out of the blocks and smartly overcame a foreign Polish (Orang Utan) Drew Miller opening which he countered with aplomb winning pieces, and quickly the match with enough time to fit in another 2 or 3 ‘friendlies’, whilst the rest of us laboured.

Tim too performed very competently to beat Marco Ho shortly after.

David opened with his aggressive white king side favourite and did well to win 2 pawns which meant his opponent struggled in vain to hold his position when it came down to single rooks at the end.

My opponent, Alan Hiatt, made me suffer long and hard with a squeeze on my suspect interpretation of the Pirc but I managed to persuade him that, despite my inferior time position, the position was draw-ish and in any case my more successful colleagues had already won the match for us.”

Next came an internal clash between Dyvels and Monarchs on Jan 4th, and a pretty classy affair it was too. Top board saw club champion Peter Crichton up against stalwart Mike Nicholson, an intriguing prospect. Peter writes: “I was on the black side of a Slav Defence against Mike and was able to establish a queenside bind early in the game when he sacrificed a pawn to try to gain the initiative in the centre. When the initiative stalled Mike spent a lot of time trying to develop an alternative strategy and in his ensuing time trouble dropped a further pawn which left him with a lost position in the endgame.”

On board two, Jeremy Handley was slugging it out with David Wrigley, another intriguing pairing. Thanks to Dyvels non-playing captain Dave Foster for forwarding the following two reports: “Jeremy got the initiative early on, developing smoothly whilst David tried to ease early weaknesses in his pawn structure. Jeremy won a pawn, but in doing so gave David a plan! The fresh-opened g file gave David’s previously lazy rooks something to do, and things looked a little dangerous for Jeremy’s king. He gave David a choice: regain the pawn, swap queens and go into a drawish (2 rooks each with opposite coloured bishops) ending, or press on for tactics a pawn down. David took the cowardly route. Jeremy could’ve (once again) snatched up yet another lonely pawn, but it was probably poisonous and both players were content to call the whole thing off.”

Board four had Raoul Weston up against Tim Wrigley. “Newcomer Raoul had a tough time in his first league match against a rather unforgiving Tim! Both started cagily, Raoul perhaps overawed by the occasion, Tim wary of reports of Raoul’s fine games against Peter and Derek. Raoul spent a little too much time organising his pieces in the opening, and Tim had time to roll his kingside pawns menacingly towards Raoul’s king. In return Raoul pushed forward in the centre, hoping to hack through to Tim’s uncastled King, but a pawn exchange left him vulnerable to a fork, his bishop was no more. The heavy pieces came off fairly quickly, and Tim contrived to pick off Raoul’s other bishop. An unfortunate end for our newest member.”

No report on the board three game, but the match ended as follows:

Dyvels h/c res res h/c Monarchs  
Peter Crichton 2 4 0 2 Mike Nicholson
Jeremy Handley 3 2 2 2 David Wrigley
Matthew Taylor 3 2 2 3 Derek Blair
Raoul Weston * 4 0 4 3 Tim Wrigley
  12 20 18 10 04.01.11

Shortly after that encounter, Skipper Blair departed these isles, leaving Tim Wrigley to lead the Monarchs into battle against Friars on 17 January. Tim reports:

“The Monarchs travelled to Hallbankgate to play Friars without Derek who has abandoned us for the Algarve. After checking the team-sheets, we realised we needed to win 3-1, which seemed a little harsh.

First to finish was Tim v Bill Burgess. Bill played a Queen’s Pawn, with a b6 fianchetto, which Tim sorted without ever really knowing what he was doing. Bill lost out in a tactical exchange, and then lost his Queen, to an elegant discovered attack. 1-0.

By this time Malcolm was struggling, so the pressure was on David & Mike. Next to finish was Mike, who won the exchange early on, and then always seemed comfortable against Bruce Wallace. 2-0.

Malcolm had sacrificed an early bishop, for a King-side attack, but the attack came instead from Bill Hardwick, who was already ahead and caught Malcolm’s exposed King. 2-1.

And so to David, the exchange and a pawn down. Daniel played a little too quickly in time trouble, blundered away his material advantage, and then David’s endgame technique won the day.

So, all praise to Derek, whose midas touch works even from Portugal!”

Friars H/c Result H/c Monarchs
Bruce Wallace 3 0-4 2 Mike Nicholson
Daniel O’Dowd 3 0-4 2 David Wrigley
Bill Burgess 5 0-4 3 Tim Wrigley
Bill Hardwick 5 4-0 4 Malcolm Reid
  16 4-12 11  
    20-23    

And finally, the Dyvels entertained HaydonBridge on January 25th. Skipper Foster (not playing again! Rumour has it he is preparing for the next world championships!) has kindly sent the following report:

“With beating Monarchs a few weeks ago, a win against Haydon would keep us in the title race, however it was not to be. We needed to win this game 3/1 to beat the “Bridge”. Although the teams looked fairly well matched on paper Dyvels went down to a fighting HaydonBridge, 25 points to 33.

Board Four was a Peter Booker versus Ralph Fawcett rematch. As I was playing a very tense  club game against Malcolm I was too engrossed to observe much of the game but when I had a chance to see how Peter was doing he was obviously winning, with pawn advantage and equal rooks and Ralph was in time trouble. However, as Ralph played quicker moves so did Peter, managing to lose his advantage in the process and find his lone King against King and Rook, which is an obvious win….not! Ralph couldn’t find the winning line and his flag fell. A drawn board as Peter had insufficient material to win.

Jeremy was playing against Ian Mackay on Board One. I witnessed very little of the action (poor captaincy!!!!!) but Jeremy finished first and claimed he had made a mistake and a blunder which lost him the game.

Raoul was on three against the very experienced David Tulip. It had seemed pretty even throughout the opening and middle game, but I arrived just in time to see Raoul’s blunder which gave David a decisive two-move mate.

This report from Bruce, with white on Board Two: “Christine Moorcroft is a regular member of the Wednesday afternoon Hexham Golf Club, where HaydonBridge and Tynedale club members enjoy what Derek Blair calls ‘coffee house’ chess. So games against Christine are frequent events, and our ways of playing are well known to one another.Christine’s favourite opening as white is the English. As I had white I played it, and she responded to c4 with the symmetrical c5. The attacks and counters swung across the board – from the centre to a possible kingside assault to mutual attempts to break through queenside pawns, then back to the centre, and then – as time pressed, Christine and I both swung our pieces across to the kingside for the final stages of the game. As time ran down she launched an ambitious foray with queen and knight on the kingside. Unable to make her attack count (with her rooks in place defending against a queenside push), and facing complicating counter threats on the kingside she had insufficient time to get enough of her pieces into play where she needed them, hesitated too long over her moves as she tried to find a way to bring enough pieces into play, and lost on time. It was a game we both enjoyed, with lots going on on both sides, and it was a pity that someone had to lose.”

Dyvels H/c Result H/c HaydonBridge
1. Jeremy Handley 3 0-4 3 Ian Mackay
2. Bruce Reed 4 4-0 5 Christine Moorcroft
3. Raoul Weston 4 0-4 6 David Tulip
4. Peter Booker 8 2-2 9 Ralph Fawcett
  19 6-10 23  
    25-33    

As a result of all this activity, Monarchs find themselves in second place in the league, with six points from four games, and just one point behind Austins. Dyvels, with four points from five games, are in fourth place.

Club championship

More activity here, with Bruce Reed, Peter Crichton and Malcolm Reid moving up the table, but Dave Foster senior remains in charge.

Dave Foster sr 4.5/5
Derek Blair 4.5/7
Steve Larkin 3.5/7
Bruce Reed 3/6
Jack Bradshaw 2.5/3
Peter Crichton 2.5/4
Mike Nicholson 2.5/5
Jeremy Handley 2/4
David Wrigley 1.5/2
Malcolm Reid 1.5/5
Tim Wrigley 1/1
Phil Taylor 0.5/2
Peter Booker 0.5/7
Dave Foster jr 0/2

Miscellanea

Individual championships.

David Wrigley sends this report on his round 3 game in the Sell competition: “I had white against Paul Costello. Having neglected to prepare, and worried that he’d combed through our previous games, I deviated on move 1! We both found ourselves lost in unfamiliar territory pretty quickly. I missed a tactical shot for a big positional advantage, and we reached the middle-game on equal terms. Paul relaxed at this point, and he allowed a pawn lever which unhinged his bishop. He got a bit of play for the piece, but his initiative soon dissipated and he fell into a mate in a hopeless position. Back to 50%!” Well done, David!

Your editor has played two games in the Newcastle competition. In round 3 he faced Kevin Cox. There was nothing in it till the end-game, when a misjudgement by your editor under time pressure led to his position collapsing like a pack of cards. When his time ran out, the game was well and truly lost.

In round four he faced newcomer to the event Dennis Beagarie (estimated grade 100) and proceeded to give a master-class in ineffectual and indecisive chess, with no coherent plan and hardly ever a piece in his opponent’s half of the board. Add to that an oversight which cost him a rook and the writing was on the wall, as white wrapped things up with quiet efficiency. Just one point from four rounds and already it is impossible for your editor to equal his score last year. Oh dear, oh dear!

Forthcoming events:

Feb 25-27 Cumbria Chess Championships, Penrith

April 15-17 Durham Chess Congress
Steve Larkin

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