4NCL: 14 - 15 January 2006

Saturday 14 January

    OXFORD 1   v WESSEX 1  
1 w Savage, Ben D 2310 0 - 1 Simons, Martin J 2293
2 b Ozeren, Kemal 2286 0 - 1 Allicock, Rawle A 2302
3 w Milovanovic, Aleksander 2220 0 - 1 Upton, Ian J 2259
4 b Dickinson, Timothy R 2176 - Webb, Richard M 2302
5 w Shaw, David A 2200 1 - 0 Yeo, Michael J 2217
6 b Smallbone, Kieran 2194 - Tunks, Dominic 2155
7 w Webster, Ian 2119 - Jenks, Bruce 2120
8 b Mangion, Nicola * 1750 1 - 0 Khoo, Selina (F) 1997

I never know whether to laugh or cry when I hear other team captains (usually Midlands based) extolling the virtues of Birmingham as the venue for 4NCL weekends "due to its ease of access". They clearly have no experience of the A34 permanent roadworks nor British Rail's capricious weekend "service". The latter nearly claimed its second default of the season as Rawle only made it with less than 10 minutes to spare before 3 pm. At 1 pm only 3 of our 16 players had arrived and this included the 2 who had travelled on Friday. It is true that some of the problems incurred by Ian's carload of 5 were self-inflicted - Bruce's use of a 2004 timetable; Dominic thinking that 9.40 meant 10.00; one of the two flat tyres. But the other flat tyre and the roadworks combined to delay his arrival considerably. It was something of a miracle that by 2 pm only Rawle was missing.

The fun didn't end there as a number of return jouneys were even worse. The prize for perseverance has to go to Dinah who was forced to use 3 trains and a gridlocked bus, due to engineering works. Fortunately she had left quite early else she might not have got home on the Sunday.

Martin hadn't been due to play this weekend, but when Tony pulled out a few days before, he was thankfully able to reorganise his hectic social life in order to spend the weekend in the delightful suburbs of Digbeth. Due to Ian's late arrival, Martin didn't appear in my room for his pre-game preparation until 1.47. When he left 8 minutes later, we had reached move 16. He then returned to his room for 3 minutes to decide whether to play d6 or d5 on move 17! Come the game and he only had to find a further 5 moves. Fortunately he took his time else Rawle might not have been there to witness Wessex 1's first win with Black this season (5 draws and 11 losses being the dismal record before this!)

Savage,B (2310) - Simons,M (2293) Oxford University 1 v Wessex 1

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.Nd2 cxd4 7.Nb3 Qb6 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qxb6 axb6 10.Nd4 e5 11.Nxc6 exf4 12.Nd4 Nd5

12...Bc5 13.g3 Nd5 14.Nh3 Ne3 15.Kd2 Nxf1+ 16.Rhxf1 fxg3 17.hxg3 Bxd4 18.cxd4 d6 was better for white but later drawn 1/2-1/2 Gunter,D-Simons,M 4NCL 1998(60)

13.g3 When Martin last reached this position he agreed a draw 1/2 - 1/2 D'Costa,L - Simons,M Jersey Open 2000

13...Ne3 14.gxf4

14.Bh3 Bc5 15.Kd2 g5 16.Nb5 Kd8= 0-1 Savage,B-Mankeyev,R/Olomouc 2004 (34) This game understandably attracted our attention during our limited preparation, but it wasn't difficult to guess where White would try to improve.

14...Bc5 15.Kd2 Nxf1+ 16.Rxf1 Rxa2 17.Kc2

17...d5!? This was the result of Martin's 3 minutes of preparation!

17...d6 18.e4 Be6 19.Nge2 Ke7 20.Ra1 Rha8 21.Rxa2 Rxa2 22.Rd1 g6 23.h4 Ra8 24.h5 Bc4 25.Nc1 1/2-1/2 Wells,P-Shaked,T London 1997. Peter Wells said that he thought 17....d5 was new, although I have now found a couple of obscure games with it.

18.e3? White has to play 18.e4 when the position is perfectly playable for Black

18...Bxd4! Looks odd, exchanging Black's best bishop for a knight, but the White king is left exposed with all White's pieces gathered elsewhere.

19.cxd4 Bf5+ 20.Kc3? Better is 20.Kb3 but White's king will still find life difficult after 20....Ra5

20...0-0 21.Ne2? Rc8+ 22.Kb3 Bc2+! 0-1

White signified his resignation by the somewhat unusual action of throwing his scoresheet at Martin, for which he later apologised.

A number of other games were also proceeding along theoretical lines. It looks as though the first 21 moves of Bruce's Maroczy bind had been seen before. In pressing too hard he lost a pawn, but the opposite coloured bishops meant that he was in little danger of losing. Dominic claims that his knowledge of theory ran out at move 6, which makes it even more remarkable that his innovation didn't appear until move 16. I don't suppose it will be repeated, but he was able to maintain sufficient threats with R+B for Q that his opponent bailed out with perpetual. Richard only seemed to have a vey small edge throughout. Ian gained our second Black win of the season after his opponent grabbed the exchange but left his king in the lurch. Rawle made light of his time handicap and pushed his opponents pieces on to the back rank before hoovering up some pawns. 4 - 1 at the time control should really have become 6 - 1 as Selina was a safe pawn up and I was better. Unfortunately, Selina allowed her opponent to queen first while I contrived to get mated.

Sunday 15 January

1 w Allicock, Rawle A 2302 0 - 1 Mah, Karl C C 2425
2 b Upton, Ian J 2259 1 - 0 Moskovic, David M 2284
3 w Webb, Richard M 2302 - Churm, Rohan M 2166
4 b Simons, Martin J 2293 0 - 1 Garner, David 2191
5 w Yeo, Michael J 2217 0 - 1 Valden, Petros 2146
6 b Tunks, Dominic 2155 - Regan, Natasha (F) 2208
7 w Jenks, Bruce 2120 - Low, Ying Min 2010
8 b Khoo, Selina (F) 1997 - Campbell, Mark 2005
        3 - 5    

This was a disappointing result in a match that we looked to have reasonable chances of winning for a lot of the time. As usual, I was the biggest culprit:

Yeo,M (2217) - Valden,P (2146) Wessex 1 v Cambridge University 1

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qc7 5.Nc3 e6 6.Ndb5 Qb8 7.Be3 a6 8.Bb6!? axb5 9.Nxb5 Bb4+ [ 9...Ra5!? is also playable.] 10.c3 Ba5 11.Nc7+ Kf8?

It is over three years since I last looked at this line. I could remember that black's best move is 11...Qxc7 giving up the queen and a pawn for three pieces after12.Bxc7 Bxc7 to reach a genuinely unclear position! Armed with the knowledge that 11....Kf8 was not the best move, I still couldn't find the best reply.

12.Bc5+?! [ 12.Nxa8! Qxa8 13.Qd6+ Nge7 14.Qa3 and the threat of 15.b4 wins a piece.] 12...Nge7 13.Nxa8 Qxa8. White is still a bit better.

I maintained the bind for some while, but eventually one of his knights escaped and started gobbling pawns at an alarming rate.

Our heroes with the Black pieces on Saturday volunteered to try again on Sunday. Ian grabbed a pawn and survived. Martin's extra pawn wasn't so useful as he reached a R+P ending in which his R was unable to move. Richard again got very little from the opening. Rawle struggled to maintain material equality and in the process allowed his opponent's rooks too much activity. Dominic won two pawns with a neat trick, but was eventually forced to give them both back. Bruce overpressed from a good position but held on in a R+P ending. Selina lost the exchange, but had a central wedge of pawns as compensation which after 6 hours she managed to mobilise just in time to persuade her opponent to take a perpetual rather than deliver checkmate.

This puts us back in the relegation zone and still leaves open the possibility that we might swap places with Wessex 2.

Saturday 14 January

1 w Pym, Thomas W 2073 0 - 1 Ghasi, Ameet 2341
2 b Clark, Ian C 2133 0 - 1 Crouch, Colin 2365
3 w Hopkins, Jamie R 2137 - Lindner, Daniel 2259
4 b Gregory, Keith D 2093 0 - 1 Therrien, Alex 2250
5 w Rutter, Nicholas 2133 1 - 0 Chipanga, Takaedza 2223
6 b Taylor, Phil 2063 - Buckley, Melanie (F) 2145
7 w Ferrington, Nigel M 2115 1 - 0 Crombleholme, Alan K 2104
8 b Norman, Dinah (F) 2017 - Parmar, Amisha (F) 1956

Ian Clark reports:

The match against Hilsmark Kingfisher was pretty tough as their board 7 was rated higher than our top player. We did very well though and after Dinah had drawn Nigel had a comfortable win and then Phil drew and Nick came up with another interesting win! Tom blundered against Ghasi and Keith lost a tough game after effectively turning down the chance of a draw as we didn't look too good then. I lost to Crouch after I thought I was in with some chance but forgot about a threat I had seen earlier! Finally Jamie fought on to the bitter end and came up with an excellent draw. This meant we had lost heroically 4.5 to 3.5.

Sunday 15 January

1 w Kemp, Paul 2125 - Clark, Ian C 2133
2 b Winfridsson, Ola 2099 1 - 0 Gregory, Keith D 2093
3 w Bailey, Kevin 2089 - Rutter, Nicholas 2133
4 b Retallick, Lloyd 2080 0 - 1 Pym, Thomas W 2073
5 w McCorry, Rob 2080 0 - 1 Hopkins, Jamie R 2137
6 b Jeffries, Majid 2026 0 - 1 Taylor, Phil 2063
7 w McMahon, Paul 2031 0 - 1 Ferrington, Nigel M 2115
8 b Vann, Monica S (F) 1810 - Norman, Dinah (F) 2017

Ian Clark reports:

The match against Poisoned Pawns 2 looked to be going badly after about a couple of hours. The 2 top boards looked very dodgy and Nigel looked in trouble. Nick had an early draw ( had enough excitement day before) and then Tom won nicely and Dinah drew. I somehow stayed in my game and my opponent ran out of ideas and offered a draw. I went away to look through my game and came back to see a much improved situation. Phil always looked good and came through (on the kingside!). Jamie had won a piece and had a passed pawn on the 7th! Thanks very much. Nigel was by now a rook up and his opponent was still playing but eventually gave up. This gives Nigel 5 out of 6 and equal top in the 4NCL charts. We ended up winning the game 5.5 to 2.5 and now lie 3rd in the table with realistic promotion hopes.

Last modified: January 21, 2006

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