Monthly Archives: May 2011

One blunder deserves another …

It’s the crucial match in the Stoke league, Holmes Chapel v Stafford. Stafford are a point ahead of us, but we have a game in hand, so a drawn match would leave us an opportunity to win the championship by beating Cheddleton in our remaining fixture.

Stafford turn up with their full complement of big guns, all tooled up, aggressive chess capability barely concealed under bulging clothing. They eschewed dark glasses and hats pulled down over their eyes.

My opponent is Laurence Cooper. Laurence Cooper! He hasn’t played for them all season, and now they dig him out to come and squash poor little me. However, he doesn’t have my Modern defence sorted out, and emerges from the opening the worse for wear.


After 22. … Rxf2 23. Rxf2 Ng4 24. Rf1 Bxd4+ 25. Qxd4 Qe3+ 26. Qxe3 Nxe3 27. Rc1
I had a very comfortable position, which I managed to mishandle and leave Loz with a dangerous outside passed pawn:


Here he played 39. Kf2, missing a pretty win which I leave you to find. Matters progressed to the final position, which was as follows, with Black to move:


So I counted how many moves it would take for Loz to queen his h pawn, and it came to 7. I did note the fact that his king would be on my pawn’s queening square. I then counted how many moves it would take to queen my c pawn, and it came to 8. With increasing despondency, I counted squares several more times before resigning. Perhaps it was because I was Black that my befuddled brain didn’t catch on that it was my move first, so I would queen with check.

So we lose the match 2.5 – 3.5, and Stafford win the league. Congratulations! Humph.

So last night it’s our last match in the Stockport League (apart from the Charnley Cup final) and our visitors are Marple. I get to the Vic club and find that Marple, eager for the fray, are here already, and among them is – Loz Cooper! And this is the first time he has played for them as well! I did agree, some time ago, to be his friend on Facebook, but disappointed by my negligible contribution to that organisation’s cyber space, he is obviously determined to get to know me better!

This time, he has obviously done some homework on how to deal with the Modern defence, because he comes up with a line which is far more testing than in our previous game. This is the position after White’s 15th move :


In my reference database on Chessbase, there are four games with this position, with GMs on both sides of the argument. Hillarp Persson, Nakamura and Almeida Quintana played 15 … Nf6, gaining 2 out of 3 between them. Bacrot and I played 15 … e4.

Bacrot lost and so should I, but for the intervention of Caissa on my behalf. In this position, I had played 18 … Ng4 in desperation :


Moving his bishop almost anywhere wins, but Caissa’s distracting hand on his shoulder induced Loz to take my rook with 19 Nxf8. Gleefully, I took his bishop, thinking for a moment that I might even win this, but after 20 Nd7, there was nothing else for me but the draw by perpetual :

20 … Rxc2+  21 Kb1 Rxb2+  22Kc1 Rc2+  0.5 – 0.5

We beat Marple, but then we had won the Stockport league with two matches in hand. Easy …

Last weekend at 4NCL

So there we were at Barcelo’s Hinckley Island Hotel, a vast establishment that could accomodate all three 4NCL divisions, plus us northerners, plus a wedding. Our opponents in Round 9 were The Rookies, who had exactly the same average grading as ourselves.

Round 9A close tussle ensued, resulting in the match being drawn.

Malcolm Roberts in play against David Maddams

Piper, Stephen J 2106 0 – 1 Bennett, Patrick J 2060
Jones, Christopher M 2024 ½ – ½ Turner, John M 2071
Compton, Alistair 2046 1 – 0 Clark, Robert G 2035
Jaszkiwskyj, Peter 2002 0 – 1 Doran, Chris 2020
Gibson, Christopher A 2002 ½ – ½ Soames, Anthony R 2050
Maddams, David R 1810 1 – 0 Roberts, Malcolm A 1754

Round 10 pitched us against KJCA Kings, and promised to be another tight match with us being outgraded for the top three boards and vice versa for the others. We were in illustrious company, with the next match in our row of tables being the Division 1 clash between Pride & Prejudice (the eventual champions) and, so I was playing just eight boards away from Mickey Adams, with six other GMs and a woman IM on the boards in between.

Mickey Adams in play during Round 10.

Another tight match, but this team a defeat for us:

Bennett, Patrick J 2060 ½ – ½ Jones, Victor GL 2119
Turner, John M 2071 0 – 1 Jones, William EG 2115
Clark, Robert G 2035 ½ – ½ Foord, Dominic 2045
Doran, Chris 2020 ½ – ½ Maguire, Robert 1925
Soames, Anthony R 2050 1 – 0 Bayliss, Lyall CP 1963
Roberts, Malcolm A 1754 0 – 1 Jones, Laurence AG 1752

Round 10 in progress

And so to the last day, when our opponents were Bristol 2. This time, playing conditions were not the usual excellent, as the hotel had double-booked us with a wedding, and 4NCL were spread around a number of conference rooms, and our room was a little cramped.

John Turner watching Chris Doran's game.

After playing an extremely bad opening, I fought back to a position where I had some play, and achieved the time control without blundering. Looking around, I found, to my surprise, that everyone else had finished, and we had won the match, whatever happened in my game. So there was some consolation, as my opponent brought matters to a successful conclusion.

Dilleigh, Stephen P 2098         1 – 0       Bennett, Patrick J 2060
Humphreys, Jerry G 2066     1 – 0       Turner, John M 2071
Thompson, Robert 1916          0 – 1      Clark, Robert G 2035
Dunlop, Neil J 1875                  0 – 1      Doran, Chris 2020
Bromilow, Edward T 1930      0 – 1      Bates, Ian W 2010
White, Martin 1798                  0 – 1      Roberts, Malcolm A 1754

We have enjoyed our chess in the 4NCL Northern League, and particularly this final weekend. The combination of new opponents, time limits that allow a full game of chess (endgame and all), and excellent playing conditions give a very different experience to a weekday evening’s league chess.

Bob Clark will captain the team next season, and I wish him, and the rest of us, the very best of luck.

A few more photographs:

Bob Clark and Chris Doran, Round 9.
Tony Soames and Bob Clark, Round 10.
Malcolm Roberts and Ian Bates, Round 11.