4NCL: 24-25 November 2001

Saturday 24 November

    SLOUGH 1   v WESSEX  
1 w     0 - 1 Poulton, James 2409
2 b McNab, Colin A. 2431 - Webb, Richard M. 2361
3 w Wohl, Aleksandar H. 2379 1 - 0 Corkett, Anthony R. 2300
4 b Houska, Miroslav 2293 - Upton, Ian J. 2238
5 w Thiruchelvam, Murugan 2269 0 - 1 Yeo, Michael J. 2217
6 b Howell, David W.L. 2247 1 - 0 Willmoth, Robert 2169
7 w Smith, Andrew P. 2216 0 - 1 Neil, David R. 2222
8 b Chevannes, Sabrina (F) 1824 - Howard, Emily (F) 2017

A difficult match, but not necessarily in the manner we would have expected or wanted. This was the first major chess event since the death of Tony Miles, a Slough stalwart. Less than a week before the weekend, Tony Corkett and the captain of Wood Green (who Slough were due to play on the Sunday) were approached with a request that in Tony Miles' memory, Slough be allowed to play a junior on Board 1, infringing the 80 point rule. This was rejected by both captains as being inappropriate for the occasion. It was hinted that Slough would therefore choose to default the board, but we were still surprised when the team lists were published as we were under the impression that it was against the rules, and that the default should have been on Board 8 rather than Board 1. The controller stated that he had allowed it as a strong player (Kevin Spraggett) was present but not playing (and presumably also not prepared for his name to appear at the top of the team sheet).

This was very frustrating for us. One would have thought that one of the main aims of the 4NCL was to facilitate the playing of chess matches. James Poulton had gone to considerable time, trouble and expense to be present that afternoon only to find that he wasn't allowed to play his prospective opponent. Tony Corkett was even more upset because our original Board 1 had dropped out due to ill-health less than 24 hours before - he would in fact have been the ideal selection for the game as he could have gone back to bed. It is also debateable whether Tony Miles himself would have approved of the gesture, particularly one which infringed the rules.

Slough were weaker on the other boards than they might have been although their juniors were probably still favourites to win against our group of wizened has-beens. Apart from some stronger players in the Slough 2nd team, I also spotted Geoff Lawton in the audience at 2 o'clock. (He could also have fitted the bill as the missing player). Boards 3 & 7 chose to show their respect for Tony Miles (or possible disrespect for us) by opening 1.a3, not an opening I could remember Miles playing as White. (I have now discovered that he lost a game with it against Almasi at Biel 1996.) Tony Corkett's opponent followed this with 2.b4 and won quite prettily after Tony never looked like getting enough compensation for a pawn sacrifice. Dave cut across this plan with 1.....g6!, but was met with a most un-Miles-like 2.h4?! Dave concentrated on the centre and won appropriately by pushing his e-pawn as far as e2. Ian drew quite quickly; Richard with a bit more difficulty. I was quite lucky.

This left us 4-2 up. Rob looked to be a bit better, but with both players in time-trouble it became random and he lost. Emily had looked completely lost out of the opening, but she fought back to the following position:

Howard,E - Chevannes,S

A number of our team (no names!) were now hoping that Emily would play 1.Rxg6+?? fxg6 2.Qh6 followed by mate. Fortunately, she had spotted that this is adequately dealt with by 2....g5! winning. Play continued :1.R4g2 Bf8 2.Ne2 Qb4 3.Qg5 Bg7 4.Nf4 Qxb2? [As Kevin Spraggett pointed out in the bar afterwards 4...Qd2 is the best defence. After 5.Nxh5 Qxg5 6.Rxg5 Black is a lot better in the ending] 5.Nxg6 fxg6 6.Qxg6 Qxe5 7.Qxg7+ [Now 7.Rg5! wins instantly, but Emily knew that a draw would be enough..] 7...Qxg7 8.Rxg7+ Kf8 9.Rxb7 d4 10.Rgg7 d3 11.Rgf7+ 1/2-1/2

Sunday 25 November

1 w Poulton, James 2409 1 - 0 Dishman, Stephen 2323
2 b Webb, Richard M. 2361 - Collins, Sam 2261
3 w Corkett, Anthony R. 2300 0 - 1 Shikerov, Stefan 2298
4 b Upton, Ian J. 2238 0 - 1 Duncan, Christopher R. 2336
5 w Yeo, Michael J. 2217 - Hodgson, John H. 2297
6 b Willmoth, Robert 2169 1 - 0 D'Costa, Lorin A.R. 2210
7 w Neil, David R. 2222 0 - 1 Berry, Neil 2255
8 b Howard, Emily (F) 2017 0 - 1 Regan, Natasha (F) 2185
        3 - 5    

Rob was only five minutes late, but I suspect he was slightly surprised to find that I had already reached move 20! We had had the first 18 moves in a game in 1977 and my opponent had spent some of the previous evening preparing. He then created a record for my games by thinking for 55 minutes over his 20th move. Elsewhere Board 8 was looking nasty, and Dave's King's Indian Attack missed its target. Richard scrambled a draw from a worse position. By the time we reached move 30, I had caught up on the clock and run out of ideas when my opponent offered me a draw. While I anguished over this for a further 20 minutes, I took some comfort from the fact that Rob turned down a draw offer from his opponent. He went on to win well. Ian's game demonstrated that 2 Bishops are worth more than a Rook. Jim's game had an odd moment:

Poulton,J - Dishman,S

Developing the QN to c3 looks natural, but Jim came up with Na3!? I couldn't see the point of this, but neither did his opponent as after c5?, Qc1! attacked the N and picked up the c pawn which eventually told in a R+P ending.

This left us 4-3 down. Tony's game looked unclear for a while, but having won a pawn he was obliged to ditch the exchange. He struggled on for the full 7 hours, eventually losing on time around move 113 with K+B v K+R in a drawn position (with his king in the right corner). Only on the drive home did it occur to him that he couldn't have been given a win on time due to his lack of mating material. The controller has subsequently confirmed that he could (and should) have stopped the clocks at some time during his last two minutes and claimed a draw, which would have been given due to the lack of demonstrable progress. Fortunately the match position was not affected.

Last modified: November 28, 2001

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