4NCL: 27-28 January 2001

Saturday 27 January

1 w Hunt, Adam 2431 - Poulton, James 2368
2 b Broomfield, Matthew 2206 0-1 Rossiter, Philip 2361
3 w Taylor, Martin 2164 0-1 Corkett, Tony 2287
4 b Trent, Lawrence 2218 - Yeo, Michael 2207
5 w Addison, Bret 2216 1-0 Simons, Martin 2226
6 b Frost, Nick 2141 1-0 Neil, David 2244
7 w Rendle, Thomas 2133 1-0 Willmoth, Robert 2236
8 b Gilbert, Jessie (F) 2061 1-0 Howard, Emily (F) 2031

We went into the weekend with a great deal of confidence, fielding the strongest side (in Elo-rating terms) ever put out by Wessex.

Disaster! Faced with the problem of fitting 9 players onto 8 boards, our captain unselfishly decided to turn himself into the non-playing variety. Unfortunately, it never looked as though the rest of the team would justify his non-selection!

Our new Board 1, recently returned from South America, held his own fairly comfortably and drew quite quickly. David had been having some lessons (his first?!) from Ian on how to play against the French, but more homework is clearly necessary as it looked horrible from an early stage – probably not disassociated from Dave’s varying from the preparation around move 7. Martin and Rob both looked to be slightly worse, and died in the time-scramble. Rob’s opponent played an interesting opening innovation (allowing capture on e3), and benefited greatly from the resulting semi-open f-file. Some work was done on the journey home to patch this up, and black can continue to play the variation. Still, it took only one slip on the black side to run into difficulties. Martin fell into a variation that allows white, with best play, to squash much of black’s counterplay. The line often results in a draw, but white can very slowly play for a win.

Philip worked hard to score the full point, gradually causing his opponent problems from a fairly equal opening and grinding him down. Emily fell into a line she didn’t know, and struggled against black’s thematic plan. Time trouble also intruded.

A comment from Ian: "I’ve tried the role of non-playing captain, and decide it has all the disadvantages of a playing captain (i.e. worries about other games) without a nice intense game of chess as a counterbalance. Not recommended!"

My own game was quite interesting. I was allowed to play a line against the Dragon that I first lost with against Tony Miles back in 1975. It has had a few successes since then (including a 23 move win in the British Championships in 1986) and having got to over an hour ahead on the clock at one stage, this really should have been another. The most obvious mistake was in the following position after Black played 25....a5 :


26.a4? [ 26.Nxe6! (The move I wanted to play, but I couldn't make it work) Qxd2+ 27.Kxd2 fxe6 ( 27...Rxc3 28.bxc3 Bd7 29.Rxg6+ (The move I had overlooked) fxg6 30.Nc5+ Kg7 31.Nxd7 Rd8 32.Be6+-) 28.Bxe6+ Kg7 29.Bxc8 Rxc8 30.Rg5+-] 26...Qh1+ 27.Qd1 [ 27.Nd1? (This was my original intention, but luckily I spotted that it lost to:) Rxc2+ 28.Bxc2 Bxa4 29.Nxg6 Rxc2+ 30.Qxc2 Bxc2 31.Nh4+ Kf8 32.Kxc2 Qh3-+] 27...Qxd1+ 28.Kxd1 The ending is probably still winning for White, but after some further inaccuracies (and turning down two draw offers) I decided I had had enough. Had Emily looked as though she might be drawing, it would have been possible to grind on, but she didn't.

The curry that evening was full of the usual optimistic guff about how we were going to run a second team when (not if!) we got promoted. It was also the first time the entire team has ever gone for a curry together. Could this be bad luck!?

Sunday 28 January

    WESSEX     BRISTOL 1  
1 w Poulton, James 2368 0-1 Sherwin, James 2351
2 b Rossiter, Philip 2361 1-0 Cobb, Charles 2305
3 w Corkett, Tony 2287 - Beaumont, Chris 2290
4 b Yeo, Michael 2207 0-1 McFarland, Robert 2271
5 w Neil, David 2244 0-1 Jakubovics, Nick 2229
6 b Willmoth, Robert 2236 0-1 Buckley, Simon 2237
7 w Simons, Martin 2226 - Collier, David 2239
8 b Howard, Emily (F) 2031 0-1 Chevannes, Sabrina (F) 1584

An even bigger disaster, against one of the favourites for promotion. On paper, we were fairly evenly matched (except on Board 8) thanks to our opponents missing a couple of their usual first team and for about the first 3 hours I thought we still had good chances of winning. Our captain once again declined to play, (presumably because it was impossible to choose who to drop! … [captain] nope, it was because I wanted to give a chance to those losing on the Saturday to get some pride back) and once again the rest failed to justify his exclusion. Some of them even seemed reluctant to make it to the board to start with as at 11 o'clock we were outnumbered 8-3. This wasn’t quite as bad as it seems, as all players had got to bed the previous evening at a reasonable hour, as per captain’s instructions, and all were sighted well before the start of the round. The favourite reason for being late seemed to be going for a walk in the clear air, as witnessed by the captain.

All the games were still in progress after 3 hours but Ian was very concerned about Philip's health. Usually at this stage of the game, he has a long think about move 17, thereby leaving himself 5 minutes for 22 moves. Here, he had not only taken less time than his opponent, but also less time than anyone else in the Wessex team! He was seen on a number of occasions happily sauntering around, spectating on the very interesting Division 1 matches. None of this stopped him from playing an extremely impressive game, leaving him with 100% over the weekend. A natural board 2 player perhaps?

Where there were definite health problems was with the opposition Board 6. I was unaware until later that Rob had been offered a draw early on. Had he had the rest of the players’ interests at heart, we would have been spared the extremely distracting cacophony of coughs, sneezes, sniffling and throat clearing usually without the benefit of a handkerchief that we all had to endure for the next 3 hours! In his defence, he asked the captain whether he should take a the draw, but was left to decide himself. He made the brave decision to make up for Saturday, but once more came up against an inspired junior.

David had a "quiet" King's Gambit but having reached a very promising position after move 20, proceeded to make 3 bad moves in a row such that his position collapsed. My position was also very promising, until I allowed my opponent to release his entombed bishop and make a temporary queen sacrifice. Jim seemed to have a reasonable game until there was a sudden banging of clocks which signalled his end. Martin was in some trouble until his opponent chose an ending with equal pawns rather than one with an extra pawn. Emily's game was the biggest tragedy - having won a piece she failed to survive a fierce counterattack in time-trouble.

Remarkably, this result made no difference to our league position. We are still 5th, but the teams ahead have got further away.

Last modified: January 31, 2001

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