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Friday, 27 November 2015

Combined and Divided Resources

Wahltuch Cup Second Round           Marple 2 v Blue Club 2

Blue Club are a combination of Rochdale and Oldham and we knew we would be facing a strong team. So it was unfortunate we also had a  Stockport League game on the same night.  Jeff and I managed to find thirteen players and selected two teams each with an average grade of about 120.  Unfortunately Blue Club were, as we expected, about twenty points stronger on every board.

The Navi looked good with thirteen boards in play and a few visitors as well.  The visiting players also played a part in helping the bar takings, but not to the point were it affected their chess.  We gave all their players  a competitive game and no one finished early.  Terry continued his good form and Nigel got a great win on top board.  Toby also got a good draw with a 32 point grade deficit. The rest of us unfortunately didn't. 

I got into a mess when my intended King's Indian became a Pirc Defence.  My opponent had a queen-protected Bishop on h6 for much of the game and I managed to turn things with a very nice pin.  His queen was also  protecting the pinned knight and I won a piece.  However I was also in time trouble, spotted a queen-winning move a split second too late and then, with six seconds on my clock, moved my own Queen to the only forbidden place.

1. N Livesey  (145)       1-0    A Catz  (160)

2.  C Baker  (134)         0-1     M Taylor  (159)

3.  T Cowling  (133)  0.5-0.5  D Aspinall  (145)

4.  M Cutts  (122)          0-1    A Dunkerley  (143)

5.  N Dainty  (112)        0-1     R Gavin  (134)

6.  T Doust  (107)          0-1     D Atherton  (132)

7.  T Brown  (100est)     0-1    B Stapleton  (132)

             Marple 2        1-5-5.5       Blue Club 2

Marple B v Macclesfield B Thursday 26th November 2015

1.  Andy Jenkins (143)        0-1        Tony Soames (160)

2.  Alan  Hall (~150 est)      1-0        Dave Risley (162)

3.  Holly  Jacobson (122)    0-1        Phil Cattermole (153)

4.  Jeff  Barlow (118)          0-1        John Paul Taylor (151)

5.  Trefor  Thomas (100)     0-1        Anthony Brough (142)

6.  Ben  Jacobson (92)         0-1         Denzil Lobo (143)

Total                                   1-5

This was always going to be a tough night for Marple with a Waltuch Trophy cup tie and our B team playing a strong Macclesfield side the night after an A team match. Our resources were stretched considerably and I would like to thank everyone for their efforts, especially Holly and Ben for coming over from Ashton. Thanks also to Neil and Glenn for their assistance in recruiting players.

Given the large grading deficit, I was amazed how even most of the games were; it was not nearly as one-sided as the score would suggest. I can't comment on most of the games as I was rather preoccupied with mine, either side of me Holly and Trefor appeared to be doing well in very open games.  My own game should have been a draw or a win but time trouble got the better of my judgment and I simplified into an endgame I thought winnable but then realised immediately that it was losing!

Alan was last to finish so I was able to see the end of his game.  Alan won once again, this time on time, but he was about to deliver mate anyway. This saved us from a total whitewash. He is fast becoming the Jamie Vardy of Marple Chess Club!

Thursday, 26 November 2015


Played at East Cheshire Chess Club last evening -

East Cheshire A       V     Marple A   :Stockport Lge Div One: 25/11/2015

1 S Tranter             0-1      A Longson
2 J Reed               0.5/0.5   M Fernandez
3 P Ramsey          0.5/0.5   G Trueman
4 K Newell              0-1       P Kirby
5 D Newell           0.5/0.5    A Jenkins
6 D Taylor              0-1       A Hall


On a stormy evening Marple ventured to Cheadle Hulme for an encounter with East Cheshire. You could say the East Cheshire boards one and two had looked at life from both sides as they have both played with distinction for Marple in the Manchester League over the last eighteen months.I also knew boards three and four were very strong and even boards five and six were very experienced chess players.  In short this was probably the strongest line up East Cheshire could field. By contrast probably six highly graded Marple players who might have been able to play were  absent for a variety of reasons.I thought as I wrote out the matchcard that this was not going to be an easy victory and a defeat for us was certainly possible.
I'll try and write something about each individual game but I was putting so much effort into my game with Phil, which didn't finish until about 10.30, that  I saw little of the match as a whole, even on adjacent boards.
The first game to finish was Andys, although he was ahead on the clock if anything I preferred his opponents position when the peace treaty was signed so this was in my view a good solid start. (0.5/0.5)
Alan then beat David Taylor although I saw virtually nothing of the game apart from Alans passed Queenside pawn marching down the board to secure  the victory. Alan is a terrific recruit to our squad with what seems to be an encyclopedic knowledge of chess and I look forward to him scoring many more points for our teams over the coming months. (1.5/0.5).
Paul played a very nice game to beat Kieran, who, although he doesn't play a lot these days, is a high quality chess player. Kieran adopted a double fianchetto strategy. Theory tends to be a little sniffy about such things but I think its a very interesting way to play. After all it might be possible to set out your pawns to thwart one fianchettoed Bishop but how do you do it against two? In this encounter Paul played lovely positional chess to leave his opponent with serious structural weakness which I presume was eventually the decisive factor. (2.5/0.5)
Even by my standards I've had a lot of draws recently and my battle with Phil proved to be another one.I thought I had secured something of an advantage on the Queenside  but Phil kept finding defensive concepts that I hadn't really considered. A retreat of his Queens Knight to it's original square on move 21 took me totally by surprise. Try as I might my advantage, if it was there, slipped away and we reached a Q+R ending where I thought I might be slightly worse as my isolated b pawn was the only weakness on the board. By this point though we were both down to a few minutes and I was able to navigate my way to what was a clearly drawn R+4 V R+4 position. (3.0/1.0).
Both the top two board games were epic encounters. Steve played lovely chess against Alex who might if anything have been slightly worse at one point. Gradually though Alex enormous strength shone through and eventually Steve lost a Bishop for inadequate compensation and Alex, though very short of time, converted in his usual elegant fashion. (4.0/1.0).
The final game to finish was Michaels dual with John (Reed). From what I saw this game looked well balanced for most of its long length.As the players got down to the last couple of minutes I suspected Michael, with his youth and tremendous ability at blitz, would break through. However John did extremely well to keep finding very good moves very quickly and ultimately the players shook hands on a draw. (4.5/1.5).
So a good victory for Marple in a match where every one of our players made a significant contribution. As always many thanks to those who played/drove, especially Andy and Alan who stood in at very short notice.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Two Become One

Played at the Navigation last evening -

Marple 1                  V      Stockport 2    :   Reyner Shield  :   19/11/2015

1 A Longson         1-0      M Taylor
2 M Fernandez     1-0      M Crowther
3 S Hegarty           1-0      A Coe
4 G Trueman       0.5/0.5  M Tunstall
5 J Reed                0-1      D Sheppard
6 P Kirby            0.5/0.5  D Pardoe
7 A Jenkins           1-0     M Jackson


I'm in severe zeitnot this morning so this will have to be a briefer report than I would like.
It's a testament to the strength in depth of Stockport that they are able to field what looks more like a first team than a second team for Manchester Federation matches. Here they had players of 160-170 strength virtually all the way down the scoresheet and I didn't expect anything other than a tough battle, which is what we got.
There were four good wins for Marple. Sarah and Michael both overpowered their opponents and won relatively quickly. Andy was making a welcome return to first team action and after winning the exchange was able to reach a completely won position. Alex played a very nice ending to defeat Mike Taylor , with his King marching all the way from g8 to g2 to secure the win
Things were much tougher on boards 4-6. I came up against a computer inspired plan on move 10 when Mike (Tunstall) played Qb6 in a position where you would normally expect Black to be playing for b5. I spent quite a bit of time searching for a refutation that wasn't there and then compounded the error by avoiding what looked and were drawish lines. Consequently I reached a position where I really couldn't see a plan at all and was very fortunate that Mike accepted my draw offer. It was never going to be easy the last time I beat Mike was, I think, in 1984.
Paul was unable to break down resilient defence from Dave Pardoe but when the draw was agreed it made certain we would win the match. John was unfortunate to come up against Dan Sheppard. Dan was always a strong player but having given up playing for a couple of years has returned and looks if anything to be playing even better. John did very well to conjure up what looked like a good attacking position  on the Kingside but ran into a very interesting pseudo-sac Bh6: concept that most players would never have seen. It was a shame for John who had played superbly at the weekend scoring 2/2 in the 4NCL.
As always thanks to all who played/drove, as soon as I am aware of who our next opponents are in this competition I'll let everyone know.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Plus 17 or Minus?

Thursday night saw our third game this week against Stockport who brought a strong team to the Navigation.  As we knew they would.  The bottom three boards were evenly matched, but they had three one sixty plus players at the top, none of whom played for their first team on Tuesday.

After an hour or so I heard "I didn't see that!" from the other end of the room and knew Andy had lost before he gave me the thumbs down.  David was the next to fall, so 0-2.  Martin was sitting next to me and his offer of a draw to Peter Taylor was initially rejected, but eventually agreed.

 I was on Board 6 against Ian Anderson, having lost to his clubmate Anthony Prime on Tuesday.  I've had a dismal run since June and described my form as "even worse than the English cricket and rugby teams combined". My shaky confidence wasn't helped when Ian played g6 in reply to my 1. e4 - not in my repertoire.   As I like to play the King's Indian as black I decided I knew enough about it to play the white side.  After a sound opening I gained space on the queen-side and managed to play sensible moves, eventually getting control and a significant advantage.  Ian eventually blundered under the pressure but made me play on, probably because I only had ten minutes on the clock.  He eventually resigned when completely overwhelmed.

On board 4 Alan was playing in his usual calm and cool manner and once again showed he had been in control all along. A nice win against Marc Jackson.  We now had two and a half points from the bottom three games, but the match was level.

That left Terry on two against Andy Coe.  Terry told me afterwards that a thirty point grading difference doesn't bother him.  (It doesn't bother me either, I just don't expect to win.)  Anyway, he continued his excellent form and won his game and the match.

Oh and by the way -  in case you're wondering about the heading -  at the point Ian resigned, Fritz has me +17.  The same number of games I have lost since June!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

(C)andy Crush

Notes to my game from last night.  By move 15 I am completely winning but it is really enjoyable to play such positions and some of the variations are quite pretty.  Kudos to Andy who allowed me to demonstrate the checkmate at the end of the game.

(840) Longson,Alex (221) - Reeve,Andy (192) [B07]
Stockport League, 11.11.2015

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.h3 Bh5 6.Qe2 Bg6!? 7.Bg5 [7.Nh4]

7...Qa5 8.0–0–0 d5? [8...e5 Andy was taking ages on his 8th move and though I had plenty of time to decide what to do against 8...e5 I still wasn't really sure 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Nd2 finally we came to this in the post mortem which seemed to us the most promising 10...Nbd7 11.Nc4 Qc7 12.f4 b5 (12...exf4 13.e5 Nd5 14.Nd6+ Bxd6 15.exd6++–) 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxb5 (lovely suggestion from Alan Smith) 14...cxb5 15.fxe5 Qxe5 (15...Nd7 16.e6 (I want my bishop to capture on b5 so this creates a way to bring the queen to g4 with tempo) 16...fxe6 17.Qg4 Kf7 18.Bxb5 Ne5 (18...Nc5 the computers defence) 19.Rhf1+ Kg8 20.Qxe6+ Bf7 21.Rxf7 Nxf7 22.Rd7 is how we concluded the post mortem) 16.Qxb5+ Qxb5 17.Bxb5+ Ke7 18.e5+–]

9.Bxf6 dxe4 [9...exf6 10.exd5++–; 9...gxf6 10.exd5 cxd5 11.Qb5+ Qxb5 12.Bxb5+ Nc6 13.Nxd5±]

10.Nxe4 [10.Ne5 gxf6 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qxe4 f5]

10...Bxe4 [10...gxf6! I think we both underestimated this 11.Kb1! (11.Nd6+ Kd7 12.Nxb7 Qxa2; 11.Nxf6+ Kd8 12.d5 exf6 13.dxc6+ Kc7 14.cxb7 Kxb7) 11...Bxe4 (11...Nd7 12.Nd6+ Kd8 13.Nxb7+) 12.Qxe4 which is the same as the game except white has played Kb1 instead of Bc4.  This favours black but the position is still much better for white 12...Qd5; 10...Qxa2 I was slightly more concerned about this than the game move but only because it had the potential to be more messy.  However white can coordinate quite easily with Qe3 and Bd3 11.Be5 Qa1+ 12.Kd2 Qxb2 13.Qe3 e6 14.Bd3 Bb4+ 15.Ke2+–]

11.Qxe4 gxf6 [Apparently Andy reached this position in his calculations on move 8 and thought black was OK - in which case he has seriously mis evaluated the position as I thought white was virtually winning here with much better development and blacks king will not be safe]

12.Bc4 e6? [12...Nd7 13.Rhe1 Nb6 is more stubborn though white is still dominating the position]

13.d5 [13.Bxe6 fxe6 (13...Bh6+ I think Andy was going to play this which is a bit ridiculous as well 14.Kb1 0–0 15.Bf5+–) 14.Qxe6+ Be7 15.Rhe1 Qc7 16.Nh4 also looked very strong to me but I decided I didn't need to sacrifice pieces to win 16...Qd7 (16...Rf8 17.Nf5 Rf7 18.Nd6++–; 16...Kd8 17.d5 Qf4+ 18.Kb1 Qxh4 19.Qxe7+ Kc8 20.d6 Na6 21.d7+ Kc7 22.d8Q#) 17.Nf5 Qxe6 18.Rxe6+–]

13...cxd5 [13...e5 14.Nxe5; 13...f5 14.Qe5]

14.Bxd5 Nd7 15.Bxe6 Ne5 [15...Nc5 16.Bd7+ Kd8 17.Qe8+ is the prosaic solution (17.Bf5+ Kc7 18.Qf4+ Kb6 (18...Kc6 is a touch more stubborn though still clearly hopeless) 19.Rd6+! Bxd6 20.Qxd6+ Kb5 21.Nd4+ I calculated this far and assumed there must be a mate somewhere (21.Bd7+ is quicker 21...Nxd7 22.Nd4+ Kc4 23.b3+ Kc3 24.Ne2#) ) 17...Kc7 18.Qxf7 Covers a2 and wins]

16.Bd7+ [16.Qxb7 Bh6+ 17.Kb1 0–0 is blacks idea]

16...Ke7 17.Nxe5 fxe5 [17...Qxe5 18.Qb4+ Kd8 19.Qxb7 Rb8 20.Ba4+ Bd6 21.Qd7#]

18.Rd5 Qc7 19.Rhd1 [19.Rxe5+ Kxd7 20.Qf5+ Kc6 21.Qf3+ Kd7 (21...Kb6 22.Qb3+) 22.Qxf7++–]

19...f6 [19...Bg7 20.Qb4+ Kf6 (20...Kd8 21.Be6+ Ke8 22.Rd7+–) 21.Rd6+ Kg5 22.Qg4#; 19...Bh6+ is probably the most stubborn but of course hopeless 20.Kb1 Kf8 21.Bg4 Bg5 22.Rd7 Qc6 23.Qxe5 Qf6]

20.Bg4 Bh6+ 21.Kb1 Qc6 [21...Qb6 22.Rd7+ Kf8 23.Qd5+–]

22.Qb4+ Kf7 [22...Ke8 23.Bh5#]

23.Rd7+ Kg6 [23...Kg8 24.Qb3+ Kf8 25.Qf7#]

24.Bf5+ Kxf5 25.Qg4# [a satisfying crush !!]


Young Guns (Go For It)

Played at Stockport Chess Club last evening -

Stockport A             V      Marple A   :Stockport Lge. Div. One: 10/11/15

1 A Reeve               0-1      A Longson
2 P Siddall              0-1      A Horton
3 P Cawley             0-1       M Fernandez
4 D Toole                0-1       I Craft
5 M Taylor           0.5/0.5   G Trueman
6 D Sheppard      0.5/0.5    S Hegarty


Like last weeks Charnley Cup match the final score doesn't really reflect the intensity of the contest. Stockport are a strong team but as I exchanged teamlists with the Stockport Captain the thought crossed my mind that only one Marple player was over fifty (your aged correspondent) whilst probably only one of the Stockport line up was under fifty. Ability does decline with age but not as much as motivation and perhaps most importantly of all energy levels.

Sarah had very kindly allowed me to swap boards to bring to an end a long sequence of Black games.I then proceeded to squander any possible White advantage with a  very poor game of chess. My only defence is that after working all day plus driving 200 miles I was simply too tired to calculate anything properly.I should also point out that Mike was very tired too. I did miss an opportunity for a significant advantage (+1.15 according to Fritzy) on my 17th move, though it does perhaps show just how difficult chess is when an intensive post-mortem  with Mike, David Hulmes and myself didn't come anywhere near  revealing what the best play for both sides was. Between us we must have at least fifty years experience of playing this particular line of the Queens Gambit!. The line I did play led to what I now think is an equal position. However at the time I thought I was a bit worse and also being  fifteen minutes down on the clock was happy to agree to a draw. (0.5/0.5).On the way home I learnt that Helmut Schmidt had died, it brought to mind one of his quotes "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement"

On board one Alex was involved in the latest instalment  of his battle with Andy  Reeves favourite defence. With typically powerful play it seemed to me that Alex was building up a big advantage with excellent central control. It wasn't too much of a surprise when I learned that Andy had resigned. Although I have now seen it many,many times the apparent ease with which Alex defeats very strong opponents is still astounding. (1.5/0.5).

Meanwhile Sarah was battling with Dan Sheppard. Dan is a very interesting creative player and I was somewhat worried when he seemed to have the advantage. I then missed quite a lot of the game but discovered Sarah had somehow navigated her way to a R+P ending in which  she was a pawn down but clearly drawn. (2.0/1.0)

So we were a point up but the remaining three games were all difficult to call. Worryingly the Marple players were all behind on the clock. I consoled myself that they are three of the best quickplay exponents in the UK and  this factor came increasingly into play. Isaac had been playing a very unclear position but showed remarkable sang-froid in a difficult Rook ending allowing Dave a protected passed a pawn and then demonstrating it wasn't really going anywhere. Soon Isaacs better King became the deciding factor and Dave had no choice but to resign. (3.0/1.0).

Andys (H) board location prevented me from seeing too much of the action but it seems that Phil sacrificed too many pawns for an attack that wasn't going to break through against the correct defence. However at one point Phil had 20 minutes left to Andys 5. Fortunately though Andy was able to secure a won position and Phil resigned with Andy having 92 seconds left on his clock. (4.0/1.0).

In the final game to finish Paul Cawley had been playing very solidly for a long time, no mean feat against Michael with the Black pieces. As the time started to run out though Michaels remorseless technical skills came to the fore and in the twinkling of an eye Michael was clearly winning a Bishop ending. (5.0/1.0).

As always many thanks to all who played/drove. I do appreciate the efforts everyone made to play, although the result looks comfortable it required a good turnout from our higher graded players to make this score possible.

Finally Alan Smith didn't play for Stockport  in this match. I do want to thank him though for the marvellous book he has given me "The Classical Era in Modern Chess" (McFarland). Its a sumptuous work full of wonderful information which I will be able to regale you with over the coming months.


Friday, 6 November 2015

Love for Sale

Played at the Navigation last evening -

Marple      V    Sale       Charnley Cup     05/11/2015

1 M Fernandez  1-0  L Taylor
2 G Trueman     1-0  J Thompson
3 D Hardy          0-1   P Gledhill
4 N Livesey        1-0   J Hennessy
5 C Baker           1-0   A Parry
6 D Preen           1-0    L Lougheed


We had the pleasure of entertaining Sale chess club last evening for a Charnley Cup encounter. One of their players explained to me before the match that Sale have no high graded players but are a bunch of chess enthusiasts who play for the love of the game. This showed as although they were outgraded on every board they gave absolutely everything they had in the hope of causing an upset. The match was closer than the scoreline suggests. The visitors very nearly got something on boards 2,4 and 5 and obtained the full point on board three where Paul Gledhill seemed to me to play well  above his grading  to secure the win. This turn of events was admirably accepted with good grace by Dave.
Many thanks to all who played/drove . I know some of you eschewed pyrotechnical displays  to attend which was much appreciated.
There was also a very exciting B team match taking place on the same evening. I won't write about it here as I don't want to steal the Captains thunder but I do want to commend Neil for a very generous sacrifice (off the chessboard) when he offered to step down after we discovered that somehow we had too many players. This after setting all the equipment up!