4NCL: 16 - 17 September 2006

Saturday 16 September

    OXFORD 1   v WESSEX 1  
1 w Savage, Ben D 2319 - Corkett, Anthony R 2339
2 b Milovanovic, Aleksander 2272 1 - 0 Webb, Richard M 2286
3 w Bilalic, Merim 2288 - Allicock, Rawle A 2308
4 b Rawlinson, Aidan 2183 0 - 1 Upton, Ian J 2259
5 w Smallbone, Kieran 2228 1 - 0 Simons, Martin J 2238
6 b Eckersley-Waites, Tom 2141 1 - 0 Yeo, Michael J 2161
7 w Duggan, Chris 2138 0 - 1 Jenks, Bruce 2100
8 b Messam-Sparkes,Lateefah (F) 1855 1 - 0 Norman, Dinah (F) 2003
        5 - 3    

The new venue in Sunningdale still posed travelling difficulties for Rawle. Having left home in good time at 11.30 am, he had reckoned without engineering works and Charlton playing at home. Nevertheless, 20 minutes late was a half hour improvement on the corresponding match last season. At least he was heading for the correct new venue - Roger Marsh turned up at Wokefield Park about six months early.

This was a match we should really have won. Consider the following positions in which Wessex are White to move. How many points did we get?

The answer of course is zero!

The first position is my game. The easiest moves to win are 28.a7 or 28.Qa5. I chose 28.b7 Qa7 29.Qb5 but after 29....Rc2 30.Qb6 allows 30....Rc1+ (although this is probably only a draw), so I played 30.Qf1? (30.Rf1! is still winning) Bh6 31.Rb3? (31.Kh1!) and lost after further mistakes.

The second position is Dinah's. The imminent arrival of an opposition pawn on b1 means that drastic action is necessary and Fritz is quite insistent that 31.Bxe6 is winning. However, after 31....Qc1+ 32.Nf1 fxe6 33.Qxg6+ Kf8 34.Qf6+ Ke8 35.Nxe6 Nxe6 36.Qxe6+ Kf8 37.Qxb6 b2 there is nothing better than perpetual. Dinah chose 31.Qh7+ Kf8 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.Qf6+ Ke8 34.Nxf7! Nxf7 and now instead of 35.Qxe6+?, 35.Bxe6 does work, but only by finding 35....Qc1+ 36.Nf1 Nh6 37.Qxg6+ Ke7 38.Qf6+ Ke8 39.f4!! although Black can fight on with 39....Qxc3.

The third position is Richard's. Having had a very promising position earlier, most of his advantage had now disappeared. Various moves are possible - Rd8+, Rd7 or even c4. One that isn't is 36.Rxf5?? since after 36....gxf5 37.c3 Bc7 38.Kc2 f4 39.Kd3 f3 40.Ke3 allows 40....Bb6+.

Seeing all these promising positions, Tony understandably took a draw by repetition. Bruce won comfortably after his opponent's queen went walkabout. Martin had pushed both his a pawn and his h pawn by move 9 which left his king nowhere to castle safely. His best chance of the game came in the time scramble when his opponent failed to press his clock properly. A potentially ugly incident was avoided when Martin replied quickly. Ian sacrificed the exchange for 2 pawns which looked rather unclear until he won the exchange back again. Rawle tried his best to create winning chances against a Ruy Lopez exchange variation but it wasn't quite enough.

By way of variation, we dined at a Italian restaurant which was popular both with the locals and our own Italianist. He manged to restrain himself to one starter and one main course, but I am not sure whether the second bottle of wine was a wise move!

Sunday 17 September

1 w Allicock, Rawle A 2308 1 - 0 de Coverly, Roger 2075
2 b Webb, Richard M 2286 - Roberson, Peter T 2122
3 w Corkett, Anthony R 2339 - McGowan, Daniel 2109
4 b Upton, Ian J 2259 1 - 0 Ruston, Mark R 2092
5 w Simons, Martin J 2238 0 - 1 Muter, Donny 2131
6 b Yeo, Michael J 2161 - Purton, Ben J 2091
7 w Jenks, Bruce 2100 0 - 1 Varnam, Liam D 2035
8 b Norman, Dinah (F) 2003 - Jain, Akash (J) 1955
        4 - 4    

Unlike the previous day when we should have won, this was a match that we always looked like winning until .....the very end! Unusually, we were all in position at 10.58 am ready to listen yet again to Ian's unsuccessful attempts to turn his mobile off. The same however could not be said of my opponent who had apparently been in charge of an even heavier night than the Wessex squad and failed to meet the 10am checkout time by over 90 minutes. He suffered further delays on his way to the board, bashed out 13 moves of the most innocuous possible line in the Ruy Lopez exchange variation and then somewhat optimistically made the first of many draw offers.

By the time my game started, it was apparent that Bruce was making a big effort to lose his 4NCL unbeaten record by charging his K-side pawns forward without castling. Somehow he survived the initial counterattack when his opponent thematically blew open the centre and he even missed various winning chances before eventually going down in flames with his K and Q trapped in the centre of the board. Dinah saw off her youthful opponent's attempt to get her to lose on time by turning the clocks back at move 40 to reach an opposite coloured bishop ending. Rawle and Ian both comfortably beat the more experienced members of the opposition team. Martin's opponent carefully observed the rule about not having a mobile phone switched on in the tournament hall, but seemed to think it acceptable to spend most of the first couple of hours talking on one outside. When he finally started to concentrate he played some reasonable moves and Martin blundered.

After 4 hours this left the match 2-2. Whereas the day before was about 3 middlegames, this match hung on 3 endings. Despite being a total of 4 pawns to the good, none of us was able to demonstrate the necessary technique:

The first position is mine. I played the abysmal 46....Kc6? after which I am not sure whether it is possible for Black to win. It must be better to play the K to the e-file, waltz round to pick up the pawn on g2 ignoring the loss of pawns to the White R on the Q-side and race home with the f-pawn.

The second position is Richard's. He played 44....Kg7 45.g3 Kf6 46 h4 Ke5 but White was able to blockade with 47.Ke3 and I haven't found a way for Black to make progress. In the diagram position, it must be better to set up a passed pawn while the White king is still tied to the defence of g2 and play 44....b5! immediately followed in due course by either b4 or d4.

The third position is Tony's. He had had to work very hard to convert his extra pawn and by now was feeling extremely tired. His simplest route to victory was probably 68.Ra7 but he decided that the bishops of opposite colour ending was also winning (which it is) and played 68.Rxc4. Unfortunately, having won the e pawn, he then found that Black had various stalemate defences based on sacrificing his bishop and he was unable to find a way to avoid them.

Saturday 16 September

1 w Clark, Ian C 2130 0 - 1 Wallace, Paul A 2242
2 b Tunks, Dominic 2115 0 - 1 Harman, Kenneth B 2231
3 w Rutter, Nicholas 2167 - Sharp, John R 2175
4 b Taylor, Phil 2082 0 - 1 Bennett, Patrick 2128
5 w Pleasants, Allan J 2130 - Hamblin, David J 2070
6 b Marsh, Roger 2054 1 - 0 Edwards, Simon 2037
7 w Gregory, Keith D 2069 - Edwards, Roger J 1975
8 b default   0 - 1 Yu, Yangshan (F) 1890

Ian Clark reports:

Problems began early in the week when it was realised that Jo could not play and despite strenuous efforts by Mike and myself we could not find a replacement. Also Ben Hirsch could not play so had to sort out other players so thanks to Roger for playing both games and to John for playing on Sunday.

The match against Cheddington would have been bad enough without defaulting bottom board. We were well outgraded on the top 2 boards and Dominic had an early bath! I clung on for most of the game and if I had found the right square for my knight may have drawn but in the end lost the end game. Roger did well to turn round his position and secure our only win. Allan ( making a brief comeback this weekend) and Keith had fairly quick draws and Nick had a long drawn out but dull (for him) draw.

Sunday 17 September

1 w Summerscale, Aaron 2484 1 - 0 Pleasants, Allan J 2130
2 b Sheldon, Ruth (F) 2264 1 - 0 Wheeler, John F 2173
3 w Rutherford, Elaine (F) 2093 0 - 1 Rutter, Nicholas 2167
4 b Forbes, Cathy (F) 2076 - Taylor, Phil 2082
5 w Lang, Heather (F) 2050 - Clark, Ian C 2130
6 b Yurenok, Maria S (F) 2064 0 - 1 Marsh, Roger 2054
7 w Kieran, Rosalind A (F) 2076 0 - 1 Gregory, Keith D 2069
8 b Summerscale, Claire E (F) 2027 1 - 0 default  
        4 - 4    

Captain Ian:

The match against Pride and Prejudice was again tricky as the default on bottom board and a game against a GM on top board virtually meant we started 2 down.

After the photo session at the start of the match (obviously wanted to remember the hunks that they were playing !! ) we looked to be doing very well early on. Allan was holding his match, John had a significant advantage and other games were looking good, apart from mine. Unfortunately things did not all go to plan. Allan made a couple of positional errors ( which you cannot do against a GM ) and so was soon in a lost position. I was holding on for grim death and managed to achieve a draw which at the time looked good. Roger was all over his opponent (!!) and soon chalked up his second win of the weekend. Keith had a game where he was on top for all of the game but according to the moves from the website his opponent resigned when only slightly (0.56 per fritz ) down. (Ed: That's because she lost on time!) John had a great opening and was well on top when he moved his bishop on move 13 to d2 when 13. Be3 keeps up the attack and threatens to win material. The game was then very double edged and John lost out in the fracas in the middle game. Nick had another strong game and managed to get in behind his opponent and picked off her pawns with ease and finished off nicely.

This left the match at 3 - 3 with Phil playing Cathy Forbes. Phil had won a clear pawn early on and held on to this but missed telling moves on move 33 with Ne3 which would have forced further weaknesses and then on move 34 Ne8 or Nh5 both would have given a bigger advantage. The end game got down to Phil having 2 passed pawns, but Rook and Bishop pawns which is technically drawn and unfortunately Cathy did not make a mistake so we ended up drawing the match.

Last modified: October 4, 2006

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