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Friday, 17 April 2015

I Can't Tell a Waltz from a Tango

Played at the Navigation last evening -

Marple A           V   East Cheshire A   -  Stockport Lge. Div 1   -   16/04/2015

1 A Longson       1-0      J  Reed
2 A Walton         1-0      P Ramsey
3 J Bentley         1-0      S Tranter
4 J Horton          0-1      T Rickards
5 I Lentzos         1-0      D Taylor
6 G Trueman    0.5/0.5  P Bamford


We began this match hoping not just for a win but a win by a high margin in order to improve our board points difference ahead of our critical final match of the season. Ultimately we went some way towards achieving our goal but the match was not without problems.

One was my game. Originally fourth reserve I ended up playing as several higher graded players became unavailable. I had previously beaten Paul in a Pirc but this time he chose a very solid Rubinstein French which he knew well. This was illustrated by the fact that on move 14 I spent some time analysing what would have been ultimately a suicidal two piece sacrifice. After the game Paul told me this was still a theoretical position and I fortunately for me I had played the recommended move. We reached an ending where I thought I had a slight advantage. I had Knight V Bishop but with a healthy 3-2 Queenside pawn majority. Pauls 4-3 Kingside majority was "spoilt" somewhat by doubled f pawns.I could also force Blacks queenside pawns onto the same colour squares as his Bishop making it appear somewhat bad and my King was one square nearer the centre. For some time I thought I was playing a "Petrosian" ending but all my  winning attempts seemed to be leading nowhere. Eventually we repeated the position three times and the game was drawn.(0.5/0.5) When I got home after the match, totally exhausted, I went to bed. But I couldn't sleep, where had I missed the win?. At about 1.30  I couldn't stand it anymore  got up and asked Mr Fritz to show me. What I find fascinating is my perceptions were all wrong. Paul, despite his low grading had played virtually perfect chess up until move 38 of a 41 move game. At no time in the ending was I winning, it was equal at best.The only "mistakes" Paul made were on moves 38,39 and 40 where instead of allowing the repetition Paul  had missed winning, if very hard to see, moves. What I had thought was a dropped half point was actually a half point gained.

My comments on the other games will have to be brief as I saw very little of the play. Alex as in our last match showed his superb technique and achieved one of the most difficult tasks in chess by winning with Black against the London system. Particularly  so here as it was essayed by a top 1d4 player in John (Reed).

Ioannis then won but despite playing on the next board I was aware of virtually none of the play.He had met a quiet system with an e5,c5 set up. (2.5-0.5). John then beat Steve in a pawn ending  but what preceded it is unknown to me. (3.5/0.5). Alan beat Phil  when Phil ran out of time but by that point Alan was already winning. In this game Phil had met one of Alans favourite systems with a KID formation but I suspect never quite equalised. (4.5/0.5).

The final game to finish produced an unexpected result but Tudor has "form" having previously beaten both Paul and myself. Here Jamie seemed to secure a small advantage against an Alekhine but as he said to me afterwards, it was one of those positions where it was very difficult to know what to actually "do" with the advantage. Ultimately Jamie overpressed and advanced his Kingside pawns too far. Aided by Jamies lack of time Tudor was able to take control and ultimately took the full point.  (4.5/1.5)

Many thanks to all who played/drove. We now play Stockport in two weeks time. The mathematicians tell me there are three ways we can win the League  -by winning,drawing or even by losing, providing we secure at least 1.5 points.So we hold the advantage but nothing is decided yet.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Long and Windlehurst Road

Played at the Navigation last evening -

Marple 1  V Chorlton 2 - Manchester Lge. Div. One  - 09/04/2015

1 I Lentzos      0.5/0.5     J E Horner
2 S Hegarty       1-0        A Elliot
3 G Trueman     1-0        J O'Neil
4 N Livesey       1-0        L Gregg
5 A Jenkins     0.5/0.5     S Stokes
6 C Baker        0.5/0.5     A Beresford
7 T Cowling      0.5/0.5     R Nurse


At 6.45pm just as I was getting ready to leave I received a text from Andy warning of roadworks on the A626 between Stockport and Marple. Although this was helpful information I was left with the dilemma of whether I should try and contact everyone who would be using this road, or would this just cause confusion?.I opted for the 3H's route - Hazel Grove,High Lane and Hawk Green. It's been many years since I saw Hawk Green and as I drove through the village on a beautiful spring evening I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about the time I played cricket there over three decades ago - O my Hornby and my Benaud long ago...  

I still managed to get to the Navi for 7.20 and was relieved to find the whole team there, regardless of the route they took. The good fortune continued when I won the toss and chose to bat, sorry I mean have White on odd boards. I do feel having an extra White is a significant advantage. At the highest levels of team chess getting a draw with Black is considered almost on a par with a White win.That's one reason why I'm always 100% satisfied when one of our players draws with the Black pieces.

Looking at the way the teams were constructed I made Chorlton marginal favourites. They have a lot of strength in depth at their club and whilst our players had slightly higher grades on boards 1-3 on boards 5-7 we were outgraded on average by 24 points.

Like last week my game was the first to finish. I was berating myself for a somewhat limp choice of opening when in an even position one injudicious pawn move from Jim transformed my Knights into Arkle and Red Rum. (For younger readers I should perhaps point out that Arkle was a magnificent racehorse and is not to be confused with Keith, who is a magnificent chessplayer). The speed with which Jims game collapsed was remarkable, he could find nothing better, and indeed there was nothing better, than a line where he not only lost the exchange but also two pawns as well.Although Jim played on for several moves as long as I didn't do anything stupid there could only be one result and Jim resigned on move 31. (1-0)

Some time later Terrys game ended. This had been a typical Terry manoeuvering game. Although he had contracted an isolated e pawn he obtained enough piece activity to encourage Richard to eventually offer a draw which after some thought Terry accepted. (1.5-0.5).

Meanwhile Chris and Alan were  having an epic battle. I have great respect for the fearless way Alan meets the Najdorf with the main line Bg5 variation. This was a typical game in this line with Alans Kingside pawns marching up the board but Chris retaining the counterplay that has kept this opening top of the pops for the last fifty years. Eventually Chris '  Queen cleverly  invaded   behind the lines and best play for both sides seemed likely to end in either repetition or perpetual check. A draw was then agreed. (2 - 1)

Andys game was next to finish. I didn't see too much of the early play but a position was reached where although there were opposite coloured Bishops Stephen had a passed d pawn that looked dangerous. Fortunately by a very nice pin on the seventh rank Andy was able to tie down both the opposing Rook and King making progress for Stephen impossible. (2.5- 1.5)

So the match was still in the balance but I was delighted that we had managed to draw all the games on boards 5-7.

Ioannis' game then ended in another draw but it certainly wasn't for any lack of effort. John is a very resourceful defender and always seemed to be just about holding Ioannis' winning attempts. They went all the way to a Bishop V Knight ending with Ioannis having the Bishop. However Ioannis' Queenside pawns were all on the same colour as his Bishop . With Johns King and Knight both very well centralised there was no way to make progress. (3-2).

Nigel had seemed to me at times to have problems against Louie but the position always remained sharp and double edged. I suspect Louie felt the match situation demanded he play for a win and with only a Q and B left for each player he attacked on the Kingside. Nigel calmly saw his opportunity to invade into the vacated space with his Queen. In the ensuing melee Louie went wrong somewhere and ended up allowing Nigel to mate in one. He resigned before Nigel had the chance to make the move. We had won. (4-2)

In the last game to finish for the second week running Austin launched a Grand Prix attack against a Marple player. Although objectively Black may have been fine I wouldn't have liked to face the attack after Austin played f5 but Sarah calmly defended and went on to obtain what looked to be the better position.Austin still had play though and running short of time missed the opportunity for a very interesting exchange sacrifice. Subsequent analysis has seemed to reveal that Sarah would still have been ok but the line involving a move of the Knight to a8 would have been difficult to find over the board. As played Austins lack of time became the overriding factor and he resigned with just 17 seconds left on his clock. (5-2).

The final score was I thought very harsh on the Chorlton team who took defeat in a very sporting manner.It was a good team effort on our part with everyone making a significant contribution. As always thanks to those who played/drove.

Although this win improves our position in this League, we are still in a relegation dogfight.. Our next match on the 14th of May will be very important in determining our fate.

Friday, 3 April 2015

It's a Heartache

Played at the Navigation last evening -

Marple A         V      Chorlton A   Stockport Lge. Div. One     02/04/2015

1 A Longson    1-0    D Lee
2 J Bentley      0-1    R Doney
3 I Lentzos      0-1    S Foulkes
4 S Hegarty     1-0    D Owen
5 P Kirby         0-1    A Elliott
6 G Trueman   1-0    A Beresford


A very solid Chorlton team arrived at the Navi and a full-blooded battle ensued. As far as I am aware there was only one draw offer made throughout the evening.I saw very little of the first two and half hours play so some of my perceptions may be inaccurate.
The intense nature of the match can be shown that my game was the first to finish and that was on move 47. Alan inadvertently allowed me to play a little combination involving a Bishop sacrifice. He found the best response though which kept his arrears to one pawn with all the minor pieces exchanged off. The best I could do was reach a Queen ending where I had an extra b pawn. It wasn't going to be easy though but fortunately, as I was trying to remember how Botvinnik beat Minev at Amsterdam in 1954, Alan enabled me to grab a second pawn after which the winning technique was  not too difficult. (1-0).
Alex then showed what a superb technical player he is by winning on the Black side of a Lasker QGD against strong opposition. Danny ultimately dropped a Knight and although he ended up with about five passed pawns on the Kingside Alex convincingly demonstrated that his less dramatic Queenside pawn majority got home first. (2-0).
So 2-0 looked good on paper - but we appeared to be losing on three boards with one game unclear.Both Ioannis and John then  resigned in quick succession. Ioannis had lost his Queen for inadequate compensation and John had always been struggling against a Ron Doney Knight embedded deep in his position. (2-2).
With Paul clearly in difficulties it was left to Sarah to ensure we did not lose. She had a promising position early on but Dennis had wriggled his way to a position where a draw was certainly possible. With very little time left Sarah played a beautiful piece sac that was many moves deep but ultimately left Dennis with a choice of losing his King or Queen. He chose the latter but Sarah mated Dennis with less than a minute left on her clock. (3-2).
Chorltons strength can be shown by the fact that Austin Elliott was playing on Board 5. Austin is a superb attacking player and he launched a vigorous attack on Pauls King. With an open g file and no dark squared Bishop I feared the worst for Paul. Although he resisted for a long time ultimately Austin broke through. (3-3).
So a drawn match in the end. Although we obviously hoped to win we are still in a very strong position in this league provided we win our next match at home to East Cheshire on the 16th of April.
Many thanks to all who played/drove.