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Friday, 9 October 2015

Captain Blunder

We set off for  our first MCF game this season knowing the venue was easy to miss and so it proved.  The top five boards were closely graded, but we had an advantage on the bottom two.  Tony did his bit on 7, but the Captain blundered a piece from a winning position for the second time in three days.  My dismal run of form continues and we lost as a result.

David told me his opening play was "defeated by a skilled duellist.  My pieces in the early middle game were tangled.  However I obtained a minor piece.  This proved at the expense of my pawn structure and I was only able to draw by counter sacrifice.  An exciting tussle".

Jeff played a French defence against 1. e4. His opponent played the advanced variation, but with 5.c4.  This was a new experience for Jeff but he won a pawn after a pawn exchange.  Jeff eventually lost an exchange and what was a very open game.

Tony also played a French Defence, Rubinstein variation.  His opponent, ungraded and not shown as registered on the MCF site, created a very dangerous-looking attack.  Tony defended stubbornly and eventually created some counter-play.  He eventually won Queen for Rook and won.

I didn't see much of Martin's game, but he tells me: "I played White with a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Unwisely sacrificed a bishop for two pawns but he was able to refute my plans for a queenside attack, and then a knight errant finished me off in brutal style".

We were 3-2 down with Alan and Terry still playing when Alan asked me if he should accept a draw offer.  As Terry looked certain to win I asked Alan to play on, although it looked a certain draw.  Next time I looked Alan had lined up Alekhine's Gun against against the a-pawn and soon took it.  But Peter won a pawn back and a draw was eventually agreed.  We were now certain to lose the match.

Terry had won a piece early on and carefully and gradually increased the pressure on the white king.  His opponent defended resolutely but without disturbing the cool calculating play of our leader.

So a 4-3 defeat at one of the best venues we visit.   Once you find it!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Roll out the Barrel

Played at the Navigation last evening -

Marple 1                  V    Blue Club 1         01/10/2015  Manchester League Division One

1 M Fernandez  (B)   1-0       M Whitehead (W)
2 I Craft                      1-0       R Newton
3 G Trueman           0.5/0.5  M Searles
4 P Kirby                    1-0        M Taylor
5 N Livesey                 0-1        D Aspinall
6 D Preen                    1-0        D Taylor
7 A Hall                      0-1        AT Dunkerley


Isaac and I arrived slightly early to set things up and discovered a large proportion of our usual playing area had been converted into an ale holding area for the impending Marple Beer Festival. There was still room to play though and Mike was very helpful in rearranging the lighting.
This was our first fixture in the Manchester League this season and like several of our matches in the spring looks on paper like a relatively easy victory. It was anything but and the main thing that struck me in the limited time  I had to peruse the games was just how difficult Black was finding things on all boards. Ultimately only one player (Michael) was able to win with the Black pieces and even here his position looked difficult early on.
Both sides were a couple of players short of their strongest sides and they looked evenly matched to me. I lost the toss thus condemning the team to one less White and myself to my fifth consecutive Black in matches for Marple. This is certainly not as a result of self sacrifice on my part but rather appalling coin tossing technique. I really must improve this aspect of my game  but it's difficult to know how. The great writers such as Nimzovich and Reti are totally silent on this.
Alan(Hall) had nobly stepped in at less than two hours notice and faced a difficult first team debut as Black against the very experienced Allan Dunkerley. Ultimately Mr Dunkerley prevailed although I didn't really see any of this game so I don't know what actually happened. (0-1).
The next game to finish was Isaac' on Board Two. He had won material relatively early in  what looked like a very sharp battle and his opponent resigned after about two hours play. Since Bob Newton is not only a top bloke but also a top player this was no mean achievement. (1-1).
Nigels game was another where Black suffered from an early stage. David Aspinall won the exchange and this plus passed pawns on the Queenside proved decisive. (1-2)
The score was levelled when David concluded what looked to be a very nice game against Derrick Taylor. David said he would publish the game on the blog if he has the time and I hope he will as it looked well worth playing through.(2-2).
My game was a strange one. Matthew played what I knew was considered to be an inferior move on his twelfth turn although I have since discovered it scores 90% on the Fritz database! The truth I suspect is it leads to a position with equal chances but I overpressed in the search for a big advantage that wasn't really there. I then got into serious trouble by occupying a nice outpost square for my Knight on c4. The problem was that this Knight soon became in danger of being trapped and the only way to avoid this was to sac a pawn for virtually nothing. Fortunately I manage to bluff my opponent into returning the pawn to avoid allowing my Rook achieving what would only have been limited activity. The resulting Rook ending was still slightly worse for me though largely as a consequence of my Kings location on g8 as a result of castling. When will I learn from Daniel and Michael?  However if both players played the first thirty moves of this game inaccurately at least the last sixteen seem to have been well played and my opponent offered a draw when neither side had any chances to play for a win. (2.5/2.5).
I was pleased to accept as we seemed to be doing well on the remaining two boards. As previously mentioned Michael had come out of the opening with a position I wasn't too sure about but the next time I looked he had somehow engineered  what looked to be a tremendous attack. Mark (Whitehead) then seemed to me to defend tremendously well against an opponent of Michaels calibre to reach an ending with some drawing chances. It wasn't to be though as Michael swooped on an error from Mark to win the game and ensure we couldn't lose. (3.5/2.5).
Paul had built up both a promising position on the board and also on the clock as Mark (Taylor) struggled to stay in the game. He managed it though through some very good defensive play  and Pauls time advantage slowly started to diminish. As the last game to finish  a large crowd gathered around the board. Paul still had the initiative on the Kingside but  Marks passed Queenside pawns would win the day if "nothing" happened. Paul marched his h pawn towards the Black Monarch and with very little time left Mark played the wrong defensive move. ....Paul mated the Black King with less than twenty seconds left on his clock. (4.5/2.5).
So ended our first Manchester League Match of the season. A very exciting match played in good spirit (or should that be ale?). Many thanks to all who played/drove. Our next match in this competition is away to Stockport on the 13th of October.