Friday, 24 April 2015

Marple B 3 - 3 ECB

Our last match of the season was a crucial relegation battle.  We needed to score at least one and a half points on the night to send Marple B down.  If we only scored one point  (or less) then it was ourselves who would be relegated.  No inspirational speeches were required this time -  we knew what we had to do.....

David was first to finish.  After his lengthy lay off, he has been able to regain match fitness really quickly and scored a very solid draw.  Man of the moment, Tudor, was next to finish.  Apparently the first 15 moves of his Kings Indian were all book moves but when the gloves finally came off, the middle game led to some sharp play.  Unfortunately, Glenn took a few risks and his bold play paid off earning him the full point.

Keven managed to play his trusted Trompowsky and earned a valuable half point against a strong player.  As per Kev: "Checked it on Fritz and a certain draw with Black never having an advantage throughout. Given we only needed 1.5 points to stay up, I played a conservative line of the Tromp  which was not seriously tested by Black. If he tried to force things on the Kingside, I would have been left with winning chances by generating an outside A pawn -- hence he agreed the draw".

So we were 1-2 down - but were looking in good shape on the bottom 3 boards.  I had got an edge in the opening against a Petrov and was able to transfer it into a winning same colour bishop end game.  It secured a full point and made it 2-2 on the night - we were safe.  I felt like Alastair Cook scoring the winning run!

Meanwhile, Bill was up against a Catalan specialist and did really well to equalize as black and then tried to set up a raid with Q and B but just couldn't quite break through and a draw was agreed.  Nick seemed to be winning for long stages in his match and ended up a passed outside pawn up but the centre was quite blocked and his B couldn't get through against a strong defensive N - another important draw on the night though, and the match score finished 3-3.

So, we're obviously pleased to be staying in Division 2.  The prospect of relegation was not a good one, not least because it would have meant playing on only 5 boards next season.  We're fortunate that we have a good squad and we can rotate if necessary but juggling only 5 boards next season would have been difficult.  I think we'll be stronger next season and obviously looking forward to playing our noisy neighbours from the A team.

A big thanks to everyone who turned out for us this season!

1/2  Paul Kirby (164) v Keven
1-0  Glenn Trueman (163) v Tudor
1/2  Andy Jenkins (130) v David
1/2  Terry Cowling (127) v Bill
0-1  David Preen (125) v Paul
1/2  Jeff Barlow (124) v Nick

Friday, 17 April 2015

Marple A 4.5 East Cheshire 1.5

Our final match of the season was the rather tricky matter of Marple A away. With relegation already certain all we could do was hope for a good battle and overall I think we achieved that.

1. A Longson (222) 1-0 John

John played a solid Colle System against his titled opponent but allowed Alex to snatch a Queenside pawn and was then ground down.

2. A Walton (202) 1-0 Phil

My King's Indian faced a kind of Veresov Attack which then transposed into a sort of French Defence position! I was cramped but played the classic f5 break and according to the computer I was doing OK until I rashly gambited a pawn for an open file against his King. I then managed to release my bad White square Bishop and things became interesting but I had no time to find the best moves. A fun game in any case.

3. J Bentley (202) 1-0 Steve

In a sharp game Steve won material but his King was vulnerable. His opponent managed to penetrate with Queen and Knight with a decisive attack.

4. J Horton (190) 0-1 Tudor

In what must be one of his finest wins Tudor played the tricky Alekhine's Defence and got a playable middlegame. He then outplayed his opponent to win a pawn and the endgame.

5. I Lentzos (192) 1-0 David T

David's trusty Reti only yielded a passive position and his opponent gradually advanced and took over the board.

6. G Trueman (163) 1/2 Paul

Paul equalised out of the opening with a solid French Defence. He managed to get a pawn ending with Bishop against Knight but was not able to find a winning plan.

So there ends a challenging season with one win, one draw and eight defeats. We didn't win a couple of matches that we could have won and paid the price. However we are all ready for some easier matches next season!

Denton B 4 - 2 ECB

We had to default a board on Wednesday night due to holidays etc so we knew we were going to need some luck or inspiration.  As we arrived at Denton Conservative Club we were greeted by our great (?) leader, David Cameron, giving sincere and inspirational speeches on the big screen downstairs on a continuous loop.  As I climbed the stairs I was trying to remember some of Keven's stirring Churchillian speeches to try to rally the troops.  When I finally made it upstairs the best I could manage was "listen lads, we're a board down before we start - but there's still 5 to play for".

Luckily Edwin had remembered his new glasses and seemed to be seeing the board well and was in an at least equal position.  Unfortunately he miscalculated a forcing sequence which ended up losing his game - it happens.  Meanwhile Nick was playing a very solid game against an English and then launched an attack which pressurized his opponent into a mistake -  a fine game by Nick.

At this point, even though we were 2 - 1 down, it looked like the unthinkable could happen - we might even win the match.  Keven was in very good shape in a complicated unbalanced position, Tudor was a full piece up and I was just about to go a pawn up.  However we were just unable to get over the line.  Tudor unfortunately blundered his extra piece back and at the same time presented his opponent with an unstoppable attack.  Tudor was obviously disappointed but took his unexpected defeat with great class.

Keven said of his game: "Classical  Dutch. I was robbed of my Tromp!!  However, I managed to get in an early e4 that  worked. I risked winning a pawn, allowing an attack but this fizzled out after winning the exchange. I then had a draw that he made easier by sacrificing another pawn for activity but B and 4P .v. R and 2P Fritz rated as + for me."

I was white in my game against a Sveshnikov and ended up a pawn up in a R and P ending but with the match lost and time running out, I accepted a draw offer from my opponent.

The really good news for us though is that Marple B lost the night before which (I think) now makes us safe from relegation.

Tim Hilton (158)  1/2  Keven
George Kolbusz (155)  1 - 0  Tudor
Dave Bouldon (143)  1/2  Paul
Dave Holt (146)  0 - 1  Nick
Phil Boyd (117)  1 - 0  Edwin
Ivan Urwin  1 - 0  Default
4 - 2

Next match:  Marple B away next Thursday (last match of season).

Friday, 10 April 2015

EC C 2 - Sale 3 (Wed 8th Apr)

1  Bill Tait                        1/2 - 1/2 Vijay Kumar (142)
2  Kieran Newell                 1 - 0 Lionel Taylor (125) 
3  Geoff Clarke                   0 - 1 Peter Ning (120)
4  Ian Vaughan               1/2 - 1/2 Paul Gledhill (111)
5  Geoff Smith                    1 - 0   Andrew Parry (94)
Result  East Cheshire C    2 - 3   Sale
We had hopes of winning what was in effect the wooden spoon match but just came up short.
Geoff Smith’s opponent managed to get a fierce attack on his kingside-castled king whilst keeping Geoff’s defenders deflected, and in the end Geoff had only a choice of ways to get mated by white’s well-lined-up pieces.
Geoff C spotted that he had the opportunity to claim a draw by threefold repetition with his opponent a pawn up (with rook, pawn + minor piece also on each side) but with a powerful pin on his opponent’s bishop not seeming to be readily solvable, played on with hopes of winning it. But his opponent found a way to untangle his position and Geoff was soon on the defensive. In the end, the key feature seemed to be that his opponent’s pawn was on the 6th rather than the 5th rank and therefore in various lines not catchable in time…otherwise it seemed the position would still have been drawn. But then you can’t will them backwards sadly (I know I’ve tried).
Ian found himself a pawn down (4 v 3) with all pieces off the board but managed to get one of his 3 away from the rest of the action and so it eventually became a runner. Pawns promoted on consecutive moves, both without check, and his opponent agreed to a draw, still a pawn up but without the time to find a winning continuation.
In Bill’s game…
playing as Black it was a QGD and strangely I had no attacks to defend until the end. I exchanged my KB for his QN in the opening giving him doubled QBPs with no means of correcting his position. This allowed me to attack the backward QBP, his exposed QRP and then switch sides to attack his Kside castle. He managed to defend all this successfully and gained the initiative for a time against my exposed K. I dovetailed all the Ps (none were exchanged in the game) and with me reluctant to play my QNP forwards it was a drawn game with no other possibility of breaking the stalemate. This game had little excitement.
Kieran was disappointed to not be able to repeat the ‘Newell Mega-gambit’ from his only other game as white (inadvertently “sac” a bishop on move 6, somehow win anyway) as his opponent played a different first move, but when his opponent was tempted by a poisoned pawn in the middlegame, Kieran managed to win it back with another pawn and the momentum. Which was more than enough as Kieran closed it out without any fuss.
So we end up propping up Division 3, but end up still smiling and with the feeling we’ve got our money’s worth over the course of the season in the way of combative games and interesting positions. Our stand-out performer has been Kieran, who with an impressive 5 out of 6 mostly on board 2 may alas now have too high a grading to have a C-team future.
Cheers to all who played, and for next season we can prepare an assault on the giddy heights of mid-table!

Altrincham 5 - EC C 0 (Tue 31st Mar)

Board    Altrincham B    5     0  East Cheshire C 
1  Karl Lockett (142)      1     0  Bill Tait
2  Richard White (134)    1    0 Myles Heywood
3  Bill McCartney (137)  1    0 Geoff Clarke
4  Thomas Hague (104)  1     0  Edwin Cooke
5  Wayne Kranz (63)      1     0   Hartley Oldham
Result  Altrincham B    5     0  East Cheshire C
It looks a lot worse than it was! I would say that, wouldn’t I, but we were left slightly scratching our heads at the end as to how from 5 well-poised matches we scored not even a draw.
The general theme seemed to be that our opponents got what seemed an oh-so-slight edge and then converted very efficiently.
Geoff came closest, making mate threats before his opponent found a clever idea to turn the tables. Hartley and Edwin had no better luck – I wasn’t able to follow too much of their games though.
In Bill’s game against Karl Lockett…
to my e4, black played e3 with a QI type defence. I didn't have much difficulty but neither of us seemed to have the initiative - I certainly didn't. I did however try to push forward but neither side got over the half way line until the end game. All pieces swapped off however with his remaining N (5Ps each) he took my QRP. This resulted in his N becoming trapped by my K. (Interestingly this is the 3rd game this season against strong opposition where their N has become trapped in a corner.) In swapping Ns I regained the P however Black had the opposition resulting in a straightforward end game win for Black. No obvious advantage (until the end) in a lengthy game, so disappointing not to get a draw.
And as for me, as black in a King’s Indian defence my mistake was to allow white to build a little too easily and then bolster a fortress with a knight on d5. I tried to create counterplay, a little desperately, with h5, and swing my queen through the centre while white’s back was turned preparing a queenside attack, but with time short, didn’t find the now-essential best moves and the position caved in.