4NCL: 20 - 21 November 2004

Saturday 20 November

    WESSEX 1   v BARBICAN 4NCL 1  
1 w Corkett, Anthony R 2310 - Parker, Jonathan 2537
2 b Simons, Martin J 2293 0 - 1 Kelly, Brian 2494
3 w Webb, Richard M 2313 0 - 1 Palliser, Richard 2402
4 b Allicock, Rawle A 2292 - Collins, Sam 2387
5 w Upton, Ian J 2242 - Knott, Simon 2388
6 b Yeo, Michael J 2216 0 - 1 Ferguson, Mark 2395
7 w Clark, Ian C 2109 0 - 1 Devereaux, Maxim 2331
8 b Evans-Quek, Debbie (F) 2013 1 - 0 Lauterbach, Ingrid (F) 2179

This result was pretty much what would have been predicted at the start of the match and never looked like being any better for us.

Ian Clark's opponent had been expecting to play me and I suspect had done yet more extensive preparation on his Pelikan. However, it wasn't wasted as he was able to wheel it out onto Ian and crashed through fairly quickly. I deliberately allowed a knight sacrifice in the 4 Knight's. In a previous game, Nunn's opponent had given the piece back immediately, but my attempts to hang on to the material were spoiled by a couple of innaccuracies. Richard and Martin were both happy enough out of the opening, but both succumbed before move 40.

Debbie provided one bright spot. Despite being under pressure early on, she grabbed a succession of pawns and safely reached an ending. Rawle and Tony both seemed to draw quite comfortably. Ian Upton's game was a much more difficult encounter. Although he managed to play rather more theory than usual (even though it wasn't the theory he thought he was following!), he fell a long way behind on the clock. His focus on his game was so complete that at the end of the game he claimed to be unaware of the presence of "Alexey's Angels" playing for Wood Green I and that Ian Clark had played for us on Board 7. (Presumably if he had still been doing our match reports this report would simply have read "I drew"!) He was however given one chance that he missed in time trouble:

Black had blundered two moves earlier by playing 31....h6 rather than 31....Re7. After 32.Nh5-f6+ Kg8-h8 to reach the diagram, Ian played 33.Qe5? allowing 33....Qg7 preserving the extra pawn. Instead, as Ian Clark pointed out in the restaurant 33.Qa5 wins the exchange (33.Qe3 and 33.Qh4 have a similar effect) since 33....Re7 allows 34.Rd8. Ian reached a double rook ending a pawn down that he was convinced he was going to lose, but his focus paid off and he survived.

Having spent rather longer than sensible keeping Richard company in the bar, I slept later than usual and only just remembered in time that Tony had given me the team list to hand in!

Sunday 21 November

    THE ADS 1   v WESSEX 1  
1 w Chandler, Murray G 2531 - Upton, Ian J 2242
2 b Hennigan, Michael T 2417 - Allicock, Rawle A 2292
3 w Richardson, John R 2309 1 - 0 Webb, Richard M 2313
4 b Lyell, Mark 2230 0 - 1 Simons, Martin J 2293
5 w Snape, Ian 2273 - Corkett, Anthony R 2310
6 b Wheeler, Darren P 2239 - Yeo, Michael J 2216
7 w Anderton, David 2248 - Clark, Ian C 2109
8 b Bellin, Jana (F) 2184 - Evans-Quek, Debbie (F) 2013
        4 - 4    

A highly critical match for our survival chances looked to be lost for almost the entire seven hour playing session until the last two games to finish both turned in our favour to gain us a point.

Ian Upton made his Board 1 debut for Wessex in style reaching a position where he would have stood better if his opponent hadn't taken perpetual. Rawle swapped off into a tricky ending, but managed to create a blockade by sacrificing a pawn. My game was a great disappointment. Having 2 bishops against 2 knights and 45 minutes in hand I was offered a draw. At this stage, I couldn't see any other game where we were better, so declining it was easy. While thinking for some time about what to play, Tony's draw offer was accepted but Ian Clark's was declined. Even though his clock was facing the other way, I guessed correctly that one factor was that he was more than an hour behind on the clock. Richard again looked to be fine out of the opening, but his opponent's powerful d pawn cost him the exchange. I played a series of second best moves and offered a draw when I ran out of ideas as I thought by then that the match was lost. In fact it hadn't even reached half way!

Ian Clark started to play some good moves in time trouble, so much so that with 30 seconds to make 3 moves (this by someone who, on the journey up, claimed that he didn't get into serious time trouble any more!), he was offered a draw.

The opposition Board 3 on seeing the position opined that he wouldn't have taken it. After I pointed out the horizontal position of Ian's flag he had another look and still said he wouldn't have taken it: "Press the gamble button!". I guess 38....Qe2 39.Qxe2 Rxe2 would have left him needing to find just one move but instead 39.Rd2 isn't so clear if you don't find 39....Qb5! threatening 40....Nh4. This left us 3 - 2 down.

Martin's opponent declined a repetition of moves in the time scramble to leave a R+P ending.

41....Rd1+ or 41....Rd2 are probably the safest ways to draw. but instead Black continued to press with 41....d4 allowing 42.Kf1 (42.a4 and 42.b4 may be better winning tries). 2 hours later, it was still a R+P ending, but critically Martin had 20 minutes left to his opponent's 2 in a position where Martin still had some threats. Having missed numerous clear-cut drawing lines, his opponent eventually blundered in this position:

Rook almost anywhere draws, but 83....Kd4?? allowed 84.Rh6 winning the pawn and eventually the game (mate in 35 apparently as Black's king is too far away). Martin has Debbie to thank for this win as he freely admits that without her still playing, he would have given up with a draw hours before!

Debbie lost a piece just before the first time control and was lucky to win it back, albeit at the cost of 2 pawns.

41.Qa4 is the best try, but instead of 41....Qd8 42.Qxc2 Bxe5 which should still win, 41....Qc8 or 41....Qc7 keeps the piece since if 42.Rxb2 Nxe3 43.fxe3 Qc1+ picks up the rook with check. Also 41....Rc7 works since 42.Bc1 allows 42....Na3 winning.

Debbie continued to suffer, in more ways than one, but managed to win a pawn back and swap off into a playable, but still lost, B+P ending. However, she continued to put up strong resistance to reach:

By now, I think the position may be drawn, and after 82....g3?! 83.f5! is the clearest method. Instead 83.Bc5 Kg4 84.Be3?? (84.Bd6 still draws) Bb4 (now the pawn is lost) 85.Bc1 Bd6 86.Bd2 Bxf4 87.Be1 e5 88.Bc3 e4 89.Be1 e3 90.Bc3 Kf5?? 91.Kf3

Now the position is drawn, although White still has to be slightly careful if Black tries 91....g2 or 91....e2.. Instead they played a few more unrecorded moves that included Black sacrificing her bishop before agreeing a draw. A quite extraordinary match!

Last modified: December 2, 2004

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