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Guildford juggernaut on a roll

Steve Giddins reports on round 4 of the 4NCL

The Guildford juggernaut rolled on in convincing style in this round, as both of their teams won again. The first team faced perennial relegation candidates The ADs, whose team was further weakened by the absence of Jonathan Mestel. There was to be no fairytale giant-killing, as the favourites thrashed the veterans 7-1, although both Ian Snape and Darren Wheeler held GM opposition. The former was highly fortunate, mind you, as Joe Gallagher unaccountably spurned an obvious one-move win, in favour of transposition into a drawn ending!

Meanwhile, the Guildford ADC second team won an important match against Hilsmark Kingfisher, who look likely to be their main rivals for second place in the league. For Hilsmark, Peter Wells successfully renewed an old theoretical argument with Hebden in the Vienna QGD, but four straight wins on boards 3-6 saw Guildford home comfortably.

Defending champions Wood Green finally found some form, thrashing Bristol by 6.5-1.5. The latter’s only winner was Jack Rudd, who annotates his win against Andrew Martin elsewhere on this site. The top board game was a wild encounter between Baburin and Berzinsh, which saw Black’s king chased all the way to b2, in the middlegame, whilst Wood Green’s experienced lower order won all the bottom five boards.

Betsson have had a disappointing start to the season, but today they despatched South Wales Dragons 6-2. Yesterday’s Welsh hero Tim Kett played the opening in the style of the late Simon Webb’s immortal advice on “How to trap Heffalumps”, but on this occasion, the Heffalump in question, IM Andrew Ledger, emerged with the spoils. He might have done so rather more rapidly, had he spotted the computer’s fiendish 19...Bf5! – perhaps he needs to visit the bathroom more often...Meanwhile, on board 2, John Cooper and Richard Pert indulged in an orgy of time-trouble, the net result of which was two illegible, and probably incomplete, scoresheets, and a win for the younger man.

Slough Sharks and Oldham fought out a close match, which the former won by the odd point. The most interesting encounter came on board 2, where old junior rivals Gordon and Rendle faced off against each other. For some years, Rendle overshadowed his opponent in junior events, but in recent times, Stephen Gordon has made tremendous progress, including a GM norm in the EU Championships in Liverpool recently. Here, he made full use of the White pieces, finishing off with a stylish combination, which netted half the Amazon rainforest for his queen. Another in-form youngster is Gawain Jones, who made two GM norms over the summer, and he won against Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant.

In the day’s remaining match, NW Eagles and Barbican 4NCL 1 fought out a 4-4 draw. Max Devereaux’s early piece sacrifice looked tremendously strong, but he mishandled the follow-up and lost. John Carleton beat Sam Collins to leave the Red Roses two up, but wins by Jonathan Parker and Ingrid Lauterbach, on top and bottom boards respectively, saved the Londoners’ bacon.

Snape vs. Gallagher

Snape – Gallagher

Instead of the obvious 29...Bxf2+, when White can resign with a clear conscience, the GM hallucinated, and played 29...Rxf2?? and a draw resulted after 30 Bxh3 Rf3+ 31 Kg2 Rxf1 32 Kxf1 Kg7 33 Be6 Bg5 34 Kf2 Bd8 35 Rg4+ Kf6 36 Ke3 ½ - ½

Kett,Timothy (2234) - Ledger,Andrew J (2411) [C44]
4NCL/Div1/BET1–SWD1 Coventry ENG 12.11.2006

1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 Nc6 5 Nf3 c2 A prudent way to decline the pawn. 6 Qxc2 d6 7 Nc3 Nf6 8 Bg5 Be7 9 0–0–0 Ng4 10 Bxe7 Qxe7 11 Nd5 Qd8 12 h3 Nge5 13 Nxe5?! The immediate 13 Bb5 is better. 13...Nxe5 14 Bb5+ c6 15 f4 0–0 16 fxe5 cxd5 17 exd6

Kett vs. Ledger

White’s determined attempts to wrench his opponent out of his comfort zone have succeeded, but at high cost. Had he been facing my pet German silicon dachshund, he would now have been put to the sword in short order, after the spectacular 17...Bf5!, with horrible threats. Instead, Ledger misses the chance of the immediate knockout, but even after the move played, his safer king and better pawn structure leaves Black clearly better, and he went on to win. 17...Qxd6? 18 Rxd5 Qb6 19 Kb1 Be6 20 Rc5 Rac8 21 Rc1 g6 22 h4 Qa5 23 Qa4 Qd2 24 R5c2 Rxc2 25 Qxc2 Qf4 26 Rh1 Rc8 27 Qe2 h5 28 Bd3 Rd8 29 Qc2 Qg3 30 Rd1 Qxh4 31 Qc7 Bg4 32 Rf1 Be6 33 Bc2 Rc8 34 Qxb7 Qg3 35 e5 Qe3 36 Qe4 Qc5 37 Bb3 Bf5 38 Bxf7+ 0–1

Gordon,Stephen J (2445) - Rendle,Thomas E (2430) [A96]
4NCL/Div1/SSS1–3CS1 Coventry ENG (4.2), 12.11.2006

Gordon and Rendle are almost the same age, and were rivals for junior selection for many years. Since one lived in Oldham and the other in Hastings, they rarely ever played in the same events, so the junior selectors had little to go on in the way of direct comparisons. Through no fault of his own, it was Thomas Rendle who got the selectors’ nod on most occasions, much to Stephen Gordon’s frustration, and the latter even gave up chess for a year or two at one point, such was his disappointment. Happily, he returned to the game, and has really broken through in a big way over the past 18 months. This game therefore sees two of Britain’s most promising young players going head to head.

1 d4 e6 2 c4 f5 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 Be7 5 Nf3 0–0 6 0–0 d6 7 b4 Ne4 8 Qc2 Nd7

This line has been explored by several English players, notably Simon Williams, but including Richard Pert and Craig Hanley. Rendle’s last move in fact departs from a game Kunte-Hanley, Blackpool 2003, where Black preferred 8...Bf6. The two games then continued in similar fashion for some moves.

9 Bb2 a5 10 b5 a4 11 a3 Qe8 12 Nc3 Nxc3 13 Bxc3 Qh5

In Kunte-Hanley, with Black’s bishop on f6 and his knight still on b8, Black continued 13...e5, but after 14 dxe5 dxe5 15 e4 f4 16 gxf4 exf4 17 e5 Be7 18 e6!, White was well on top, and won quickly. Rendle’s move continues the Route One plan of mating the White King, but with Black’s queenside undeveloped, it is hard to believe that such an assault should succeed.

14 Bb4 Nf6 15 Rfd1 g5 16 Nd2 Rf7 17 Nf1

Bent Larsen was once quoted as saying “With a knight on KB1, you never get mated”. Stephen Gordon obviously agrees.

17...f4 18 c5

Gordon vs. Rendle


Black’s position starts to go sharply downhill after this. 18...Nd5 looks more sensible.

19 c6 Bd8 20 Bf3!? Qh3?!

I presume Black rejected the obvious 20...g4 because of 21 Bh1 bxc6 22 Qxc6 Rb8 and now simply 23 gxf4, which does look strong. On the other hand, the text loses quickly, thanks to White’s surprise 23rd, which I presume Rendle overlooked.

21 Rac1 bxc6 22 Qxc6 Rb8

 Gordon vs. Rendle

23 b6!

A very nice trick, easy to overlook. If 23...Rxb6, White wins a piece by the surprise sequence 24 Qa8 e5 25 g4.

23...cxb6 24 Qd6!

Another easy-to-miss tactical idea.

24...Nd7 25 Qxb8!

A final stylish touch.

25...Nxb8 26 Rxc8 Nc6 27 Rxc6 1–0

White wins too much material for the queen. Very impressive tactical alertness by Stephen Gordon. It is probably just as well for him that Thomas Rendle is not managed by Silvio Danailov, as otherwise, an accusation of computer assistance would probably have followed!

Division 1

Pride and Prejudice
Barbican 4NCL 1
White Rose 1
Guildford-A&DC 1
Cambridge Univ. 1
The ADs
Barbican 4NCL 2
Oxford 1
Pandora's Box Grantham
S. Wales Dragons
Guildford-A&DC 2
Poisoned Pawns 1
Jutes of Kent

Division 2

Sambuca Sharks
Warwickshire Select 1
e2e4.org.uk 1
Barbican 4NCL Youth
AMCA Dragons
Kings Head
Poisoned Pawns 2
Anglian Avengers
Wessex 1
Celtic Tigers 1
Bristol 1
White Rose 2
Brown Jack
Guildford-A&DC 3
FCA Solutions 1

Division 3

Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg
Sambuca Black Sheep
Cambridge Univ. 2
Wessex 2
Warwickshire Select 2
KJCA Kings
FCA Solutions 2
The Full Ponty
Sussex Smart Ctls.
e2e4.org.uk 2
Nottinghamshire 1
Nottinghamshire 2
Oxford 2
AMCA Rhinos
Braille Chess Assoc.
AMCA Hippos
Glos. Gambits
Bristol 2
KJCA Knights
Guernsey Mates
Bristol 3
e2e4.org.uk 3
Beauty and the Beasts
Celtic Tigers 2
Oxford 3
Guildford-A&DC 4
AMCA Cheetahs