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Slaughter of the innocents
Steve Giddins reports on round 5 of the 4NCL
The fifth round of this season’s 4NCL first division saw a number of extremely one-sided matches, as the two Guildford teams, in particular, emphasised the large gulf between themselves and the opposition.
The leaders, Guildford ADC 1, allowed Bristol just half a point, with Hebden unable to get anywhere in an Exchange KID against Charles Cobb. Amongst the other games, Berzinsh never equalized with his 4 Qc2 Nc6 Nimzo, and later dropped a pawn in a difficult position, whilst Dan King won a model Ruy Lopez against Jim Sherwin. The most striking game came on board 3. Tony Kosten’s book The Dynamic English is possible the best-selling opening repertoire book ever written (if it isn’t, it deserves to be), and he proved an excellent salesman for his product, reaching a winning position after just 10 moves, against the talented, but highly variable Jack Rudd:
1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.a3 e5?! 6.b4! cxb4? 7.axb4 Nxb4 8.Ba3 Nc6 9.Nb5 Kosten’s book stops here, with the comment that the position “is catastrophic for Black”. 9…Nge7 10.Bd6
Black must already lose a whole rook. Jack preferred to donate the queen, and resigned after 10…0–0 11.Bc7 Qe8 12.Nd6 Nf5 13.Nxe8 Rxe8 14.c5 e4 15.Ra4 Nfd4 16.e3 Ne6 17.Bd6 1–0
Guildford’s second team faced the ADs, who had strengthened their squad with the inclusion of Jonathan Speelman and David Smerdon. However, it did them little good, as the former was crushed by England’s newest, and youngest-ever GM, David Howell, who sacrificed a whole rook, for a lasting attack. Smerdon also went down, to Chernaiev, whilst lower down the order, veteran Bernard Cafferty suffered an embarrassment against Povah:
In this typical Hedgehog structure, chances are about equal, but Cafferty now produced the howler 21 Qe2??, only to find that after 21…e5, his knight on d4 has no retreat square – so much for alleged mobility of centralised pieces!
The other big winners of the day were 3Cs Oldham, who mashed SW Dragons 7-1. Oldham’s Stephen Gordon seems to get stronger by the day, and he won convincingly as Black against the experienced John Cooper.
Barbican 4NCL beat Betsson 5.5 – 2.5, thanks to wins by Collins, Cox and Lauterbach, whilst Wood Green beat NW Eagles 4.5 – 3.5. Eagles’ John Carleton continued his good start to the season, by beating Malcolm Pein. Black looked to stand better early on, but dawdled in the early middlegame, and by the time Carleton had managed to triple his heavy pieces on the half-open g-file, the writing was on the wall. However, the match result could easily have been reversed, since Eagles’ Charlie Kennaugh lost after being a safe pawn up from the opening.
The final match of the day saw Hilsmark Kingfisher beat Slough Sharks 5-3. Sharks’ Gawain Jones beat Peter Wells on top board, but Gormally levelled the scores by crushing Rendle, and Williams, Greet and Houska all won lower down for Hilsmark.
Thus, as we approach the halfway mark of the season, Guildford ADC1 head the table with a maximum 10 match points, and look pretty unstoppable. Their closest pursuers are their own second team, plus Hilsmark Kingfisher and Barbican, all on 8 points. At the other end of the table, SW Dragons and The ADs already look destined for the drop, with Bristol and 3Cs Oldham likely to fight out the remaining relegation place.
Speelman,Jonathan S (2533) - Howell,David W L (2501) [A21]
4NCL/Div1/ADS1–GUI2 Coventry ENG (5.131), 13.01.2007
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Nd5 Be7 4.d4 d6 5.Nf3 e4 6.Nd2 f5 7.Nb1 Nf6 8.Nbc3
Howell has previous experience of the position, the game Williams-Howell, Gibraltar 2005, having seen 8.Nxe7 Qxe7 9.Nc3 Be6 10.e3 c6 11.b4 d5, with approximate equality (Black went on to win in 62 moves).
8…0–0 9.g3 Be6 10.Nxe7+ Qxe7 11.d5 Bf7 12.Bh3 Ng4 13.Bxg4!?
A radical decision, weakening Black’s pawn structure, but at the cost of the kingside light squares. 13 0-0 looks safer.
13…fxg4 14.Be3 Nd7 15.Qd4 Bg6 16.0–0?!
Leaving the king in the centre looks safer. 16 h3, for example, is interesting.
Tempting White with the lure of a pawn. 16…a6 should offer reasonable chances, but the text is more ambitious.
With the inestimable advantage of hindsight, this looks too risky. Perhaps 17 b4 was better, planning an offensive with Rac1 and c5m whilst preventing Black’s queen transfer to h5, via e5.
Having said “A”, White declines to go the whole hog and say “B” as well. After 18 Qxb7 Qh5 19 Qxc7 Ne5 20 b3, my silicon friend is initially not at all impressed with Black’s compensation, but he has an unfortunate habit of changing his mind rather suddenly, when shown a few more moves in such positions. Such is the case here; after 20…Qh3 21 Kh1 Rf5 22 Rg1 Nf3, he becomes much less keen to defend the white position.
18…Qh5 19.Kf1 Nc5
It is suddenly clear that Black has a winning attack, for almost no material investment.
20.Qa3 Qxh2 21.Ke1
Going for the attack. Black could win material at once with the immediate 21…Nd3+, when White’s only hope is to give the exchange by 22 Kd2, since 22 exd3 exd3 (threat 23…Qxf2+) is crushing. After 22 Kd2 Nxc1 23 Rxc1 Rxf2! 24 Bxf2 Qxf2, Black should win easily enough, but David prefers to force White into accepting the sacrifice on d3.
22.Qb4 Nd3+! 23.exd3 Qg1+ 24.Kd2 Rxf2+ 25.Ne2
On 25 Bxf2, Qxf2 26 Ne2 (27 Kd1 exd3 forces mate), exd3 and the rook will return to e8, with a decisive attack.
25…Rxe2+ 26.Kxe2 Qg2+?
A slight lapse, which allows White to fight on. Instead, 26…exd3+! 27 Kd2 Qg2+ 28 Kc3 d2 28 Rd1 Qe4 would have crowned a fine attack.
27.Kd1 exd3 28.Qe1 Rf8 29.Bf4
White’s position resembles that of a boxer, trapped on the ropes, and desperately trying to fend off the punches.
29…Re8 30.Be3 Rf8 31.Bf4 Be4!
After gaining some clock time by a repetition, Howell resumes his decisive attack.
A second, more serious error, after which White is back in the game. 32…g5 would have decided things, since there is no perpetual after 33 Rxd3 Bxd3 34 Qe6+ Rf7 35 Qe8+ Kg7.
33.Kc1 Bg6 34.Qd1 Re2 35.Bd2 Rf2
Continuing the Ali-Foreman, “Rope-a-Dope” tactics by 36 Be1! leaves Black with nothing better than to force a draw by 36…d2+ (or 32…Re2 33 Bd2 repeating) 37 Bxd2 Rxd2 38 Qxd2 Qh1+ 39 Qd1 Qh6+ etc. The text gives him a vital tempo to bring another piece into the attack.
37 Be1 is tougher, although after 37…Rxa2 38 Rxa2 Qxa2 Black should win.
37…Rf1+ 38.Kb2 Qxd2+ 39.Ka3 Bf5 40.Qh4 Rxa1 0–1
Pride and Prejudice
Barbican 4NCL 1
White Rose 1
Cambridge Univ. 1
Barbican 4NCL 2
Pandora's Box Grantham
S. Wales Dragons
Poisoned Pawns 1
Jutes of Kent
Warwickshire Select 1
Barbican 4NCL Youth
Poisoned Pawns 2
Celtic Tigers 1
White Rose 2
FCA Solutions 1
Sambuca Black Sheep
Cambridge Univ. 2
Warwickshire Select 2
FCA Solutions 2
The Full Ponty
Sussex Smart Ctls.
Braille Chess Assoc.
Beauty and the Beasts
Celtic Tigers 2