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Division 2, Second Weekend, Staverton Park, 12th-13th Jan 2013 by John Carleton

 

 

De Vere Staverton Park

A regular reader [there is one] of our reports has expressed a mixture of amazement and admiration at the ability of the Spirit of Atticus team to be so joyful at involvement in the 4NCL that they assume an optimism that is almost unfathomable. And so it was, firmly in last place of our mini-league, that we arrived for round 3 in this season's competition convinced that we were in better shape than at the same stage last season and relishing the prospect of a tough work-out against a potentially strong Oxford team.

 

 

Captain: John Carleton

We had already received something of a lift when rumours that Oxford's resources were stretched and this would affect their line-up percolated through. In the event, although Oxford 3 in the third division had big problems, hopes of an easy ride were quickly ditched on the publication of the team line-ups : Atticus were out-graded by an average of 86 points per board. I was taking a well-earned [Editor's comment "Oh yes?"] rest from the front-line and was reasonably content with the early progress of the match. Only Nick on top board had had to recognise that he had been out-manoeuvred in the opening phase and headed for a queenless middlegame a pawn down.

 

So, although taking my match monitoring duties very seriously, I decided to avail myself of the excellent swimming facilities present on the premises. On my return to the playing room my mood dipped; we were two games down. Steve on board 6 had played an apparently plausible queen sortie but his opponent engineered an exchange into a semi-ending where Steve could not develop and faced ruinous losses. Martin on board 2, making his debut for us, had allowed his opponent an isolated and passed queen pawn from the early stages, a type of structure traditionally hard to evaluate [this means I don't understand them]. On this occasion the player of the white pieces, Endre Ambrus, was fully vindicated and a snap finish saved any protracted suffering. Peter on board 5 dropped the exchange and this done finally managed to generate some initiative. Alas, from our point of view this initiative did not dent opponent Kieran Smallbone's defences, and following further material losses, Peter resigned. Dave Latham on board 4 had given up a pawn for what seemed good compensation but when he swapped two pieces for rook and pawn his endgame initiative proved illusory and Dave gave up the ghost faced with a rampant passed pawn.

 

 

Rd4: Spirit of Atticus (left) v e2e4 2

0-4 is not the best place to start from but Dave Robertson on board 8 got us on the scoreboard. Having won a pawn, Dave played well to drive his young opponent backwards and smoothly translated his central initiative to a winning attack on the white king. Andy Mort on board 7 was well in contention until his opponent generated overwhelming threats with the onset of the time control. This left Nick on board 1 and Sheila on board 3 in play. Nick although almost certainly lost at one point had continued to create problems for his opponent and gained his just reward of a draw some 10 moves into the second session. Sheila fought hard but had to concede to opponent Jan-Peter Schmidt's finely played bishop v knight ending, which ending had flowed naturally from the opening and early middlegame.

 

 

Windmill Inn, Badby

For the evening meal we adjourned to the Windmill Inn in Badby to lick our wounds after our record defeat. No team before had ever given us such a mauling, including the four teams who were in our section last year who are currently playing in the first division. Our previous visit to the Inn had been on a happier occasion. At the end of season 2010-11 on a lovely May evening we had enjoyed the ambience of the 17th century Mill site. On that occasion too Dave Robertson had been our only winner in the afternoon chess match but in that instance his victory had given us a win in the match and ensured our promotion from Division 3. Under new management the restaurant has been refurbished but the much diminished wine list has probably diminished the prospects of a quick return. Nonetheless we arrived at the hotel with stomachs full and spirits replenished, and pausing only to sample the wares of the bar, we retired to rest before the must-win match of the morrow.

 

Our opponents in round 4 were e2-e4 2nd team and this time we were very much the higher rated squad. Although confidence could not be said to be high determination levels were never better in the Atticus team. Promising early positions from Andy and Peter on boards 6 and 7 fizzled out and each player sensibly negotiated a draw so we were up and running in the pursuit of the minimum target of four and a half points. Dave Robertson, our only player rated higher than his opponent in the previous round was the only lower rated Atticus player in this match but the result was the same: a convincing win for Dave. This was an entertaining game to boot with an unusual demonstration of a good v bad bishop ending; Dave, not distracted by the possibility of gaining a pawn, hunted down the bad bishop with his king forcing resignation. In winning this game Dave became the first Spirit of Atticus player to score 2/2 in a 2nd division short weekend.

 

Sheila came close to winning her defence of the Lopez but a draw had to suffice; once again the ECF were quick to act this time ruling that the Berlin Wall could not be designated the Berlin Stonewall even in Ms. Jackson's case. Seeing the lie of the land I agreed my game on board 3 drawn without really coming close to ruffling my young opponent's feathers. It was not long before Dave Latham added our second victory on board 4 following a Carlsenesque opening, which as happens so frequently with the great man when he rouses from his apparent slumbers, proved decisive when Dave came to life, went on the offensive, grabbed a pawn, defended stoutly and then, by now the exchange ahead launched a decisive counter-attack.

 

The County Suite at Staverton Park is ideal for 8-board 4NCL matches

 

Nick, on board 1, perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by the ease with which he gained a slight edge with the black pieces gave his opponent Adam Taylor a chance of a pseudo-sacrifice which the young e2-e4 player seized and followed up with aplomb. The last word was left with Martin on board 2 who had accepted a couple of pairs of doubled pawns in the opening but then convincingly demonstrated that his formation was far stronger than his opponent's. A dominant middlegame led naturally into an easily won bishop and pawn ending. Thus the must-win victory has been attained, we have crawled off the bottom of our mini-league, albeit only on game points scored, and we eagerly await the next rounds: less than six weeks to go!

 

Photos Steve Connor

 

Rd3 results Rd4 results

Spirit of Atticus team page

Division 2a Table Games in PGN

This report is also available here

Previous Spirit of Atticus reports

 

 

4NCL

 

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