The EGM was called to discuss progress on re-equipping the club with electronic chess clocks, but after dealing with this business, we got down to the serious business of the evening with the old clocks set at 5 minutes.
Your blogmeister had downloaded a nice application for controlling tournaments called Vega, written by Luigi Forlano, which was free for club use, and this was used for pairing each round. With one or two hiccups due to my inexperience with the use of the program (only downloaded this morning!), it worked very well.
Mike Hancock slaughtered all opposition, finishing with 6/6, followed by Ian Bates on 4.5 and Martin Gill on 3.5.
We all had an enjoyable evening, the first social chess in this club for many years. All agreed that we must do it again.
It’s the first match of 2012, and it’s against Macclesfield in the Stoke League Cup over eight boards. And it’s down to business …
Macclesfield did well to hold our top three boards to draws, but they did even better lower down the board order. With one game to go, we were a point adrift, and we needed a full point from Jon Blackburn to tie the match. If he lost or drew, the match was lost.
With everyone else looking on (which makes it easy, of course), Jon checked with his queen. In terrible time pressure, Jon’s opponent had a choice of three king moves, two of which would draw and one which succumbed to checkmate. He chose the wrong one.
Checkmate! Win for Jon, we draw the match, but win on board count. I hope our good fortune extends to the rest of this year!
From our captain of the Stockport League team, John Turner:
I am delighted to advise that Holmes Chapel won the Charnley Cup last
night against Stockport Blues. The Blues turned out a fortified team,
as is their wont on these occasions, but we managed a 3-3 draw,
winning on elimination, and thereby avenging last year’s knock out by
the same process. We have done the double in the Stockport League,
On the night, your skipper won the toss and chose white on odd boards,
a critical factor in winning by elimination, as nobody on either side
won with the Black pieces. Match winner was Bob who splatted Beach’s
pawns and pieces in a welter of checks leading to mate, a joy to
watch, match saver was Ian who finished last, keeping out his opponent
and reaching a drawn bishops of oposite colour ending.
We were outgraded on every board, on average by 16 points, a fine
achievement by all.
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 …
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.
A close tussle ensued, resulting in the match being drawn.
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 e2e4.org.uk, so I was playing just eight boards away from Mickey Adams, with six other GMs and a woman IM on the boards in between.
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
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.
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.
This was our second visit to Wychwood Park, near Crewe, and we were hoping for good results on our home patch. There was even some discussion of whether we should take promotion to Division 2 if we achieved a promotion slot after the final weekend at Hinckley Island.
We took on Atticus, the only team that we had not yet met. They were lying in second place, and we were hoping to supplant them, but it was not to be. I succumbed to a blunder as time trouble loomed, and while Mike escaped with a draw which had seemed impossible to achieve earlier, Bob’s endgame proved insufficient for a win.
1 John Carleton 2307 1-0 Patrick Bennett 2060
2 Peter Ackley 2024 ½-½ John Turner 2071
3 Dave Robertson 1885 ½-½ Robert Clark 2035
4 Dave Stuttard 1920 ½-½ Mike Hancock 2098
5 Mike Driscoll 1914 0-1 Chris Doran 2020
6 Andy Mort 1914 1-0 Dave Bennion 2015
Sunday was the jamboree, with us all playing opponents from different teams. The result was again no match points for us, with Bob Clark our only winner – no games, I’ll just stick to photographs.
1. Aigburth – M Gruca 1-0 J Blackburn
2. P Bennett 0-1 Cheddleton 2 – G Acey
3. BDCA Knights B – A Wainwright 1/2-1/2 J Turner
4. B Clark 1-0 BDCA Knights A – L Brijmohun
5. Jorvik – A Nezis 1-0 M Hancock
6. C Doran 1/2 – 1/2 Manchester Manticores – A Beresford
Us 2 Them 4
Well, no need to agonise over whether we would take promotion for next season! However, we look forward to a festival of chess in the final weekend at Hinckley Island for rounds 9 to 11, where we shall be rubbing shoulders with the Great & the Good – in Divisions 1 and 2 – and competing with the softy southerners in the other Division 3.
In the foreground, Mick Norris of Manchester Manticores – highly delighted that his team picked up its first match points in Round 7.
Bob Clark on his way to our only win in Round 8.
My opponent in the jamboree, an old adversary – Gerald Acey.
After a hearty breakfast, a quick peek into the playing room revealed our two controllers awaiting the day’s action:
I had to photograph one of the chandeliers, in the hope that this would prevent my being distracted by them in play :
Our opponents today, the Manchester Manticores, had yet to gain any match points, but, as we all know, that did not mean that there was any room for complacency. After all, Mick Norris, their board one, told me that they chose the name because it was a mythical beast – and I must admit my ignorance here, as I had never heard of a manticore before. Obviously a learned lot.
In the event, everything went our way, and we ran out 5.5 – 0.5 winners, John Gorman conceding the only draw, nice man that he is.
With 9 points, we now lie third in the 4NCL Northern League, behind leaders Bradford A and Atticus. We meet the latter next round, which will give us the opportunity to improve our standing once again. An extremely important result of this weekend is that we have overtaken Cheddleton, who are now a full point behind us!
A very pleasant weekend, for which we should thank the Majestic Hotel, our controllers, Alex and Lara, and Caissa’s good fortune for providing us with the desired results.
We arrived at the large and aptly named Barcelo Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on a cold and miserable day, through rain, sleet and snow flurries.
Exploration of the venue revealed impressive internal decor in all directions, and an equally impressive playing area and adjacent analysis room, suitable bedecked with an abundance of impressive (3rd occurence) chandeliers.
Our opposition, Jorvik, were just below us in the points table, so it was essential to get a result here. After defeats for myself and Chris and wins by Dave and John Gorman, the result came down to Bob’s game. He was a pawn up in a R & P endgame which fluctuated from a win for Bob to a draw and then back again, while a hungry team looked in at intervals.
Here’s the game:
And so to a quick exit to a local Indian restaurant, and a relieved celebration of the day’s events.
The next weekend is that of February 19th/20th, at the Barcelo Majestic Hotel, Harrogate. Round 5 on the Saturday is against Jorvik, immediately below us in the league table with two wins and two losses so far. We have black on odd boards, and play begins at 14.00 hrs.
Round 6 on Sunday is against Manchester Manticores, who have yet to avoid defeat. We have white on odds, and play begins at 11.00 hrs.
We shall be travelling to Harrogate on Saturday morning (apart from Bob who is going up on Friday), aiming to arrive in good time to check in at the hotel and get settled for start of play at 14.00 hrs. Sunday morning we check out, deposit luggage in vehicles, and get ready to start play at 11.00 hrs.