Division 3n, Weekend 4, Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield, 19-20 Mar 2016 by Andy Mort

 

 

Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield

On the basis of the opposition’s grading and positions in the League Table, Weekend 3 promised to be very tough for the C Team and relatively comfortable for the B Team. However, teams had been finalised earlier than usual, and we were not this weekend bedevilled by late withdrawals due to illness, so entered the fray undaunted.

 

 
   

Owing to the fact that the two matches were situated far apart, I wasn’t able to follow closely the B Team games v Manchester Manticores 2, all of which finished long before some of our C Team battles. Essentially things went to plan, with draws on the top three boards and wins on the bottom three.

 

As White against a King’s Indian, Dave developed a weakness in the form of a backward pawn on b3, and his opponent created a space advantage, but our man soaked up the pressure to reach a drawn knight and pawn ending. Queens came off early in Roy’s game, and he equalised easily without gaining sufficient advantage to press any harder. Peter’s game began less staidly when he played 2.g4 in a symmetrical English (infected by drunken games with Simon Williams?), but when queens came off, manoeuvrings by both sides led to nothing, and a draw was agreed. At this point Peter began to relish the prospect of a pre-prandial trip to a canal-side pub with his captain – which also led to nothing. Robbo is wont to invoke “The Spirit of Atticus”, a form of bellicose determination; an equally important part of our ethos is “The Spirit of Ackley”, a form of opportunistic hedonism.

 

Mike won a pawn following the liquidation of centre pawns in a Q.G.D., and then netted a rook following a blunder. Queens were exchanged early in Tom’s game, and in a rook and knight endgame he won a pawn, after which his passed h and g pawns won the day, shepherded forward by his more active pieces. After winning a pawn, Lloyd then converted his advantage to complete a comfortable victory for the team.

 

Spirit of Atticus B v Manchester Manticores 2 (foreground). Standing, Martyn Hamer (MM2).

Photo by Lara Barnes

 

The C Team, facing Bradford Knights A, were heavily out-graded and suffered our biggest defeat of the season, whilst offering stern resistance after early setbacks on the bottom boards. Keith succumbed to a ferocious attack on the weakened white squares around his king, and Steve blundered after he achieved a solid King’s Indian set-up which appeared to offer him equal prospects.

 

On Board 3, Mike’s opponent’s cavalier opening play quickly back-fired on him, leaving Black with an active rook and centralised king which won him a passed a pawn. For a long time, it looked as if Mike would win, and although a computer would have done so, over the board his opponent had enough counter-play from his own passed pawn to sacrifice a rook and draw. On Board 1, Colm was able to eliminate his opponent’s dangerous white-squared bishop with a ‘trick’, but his own bishop of the same colour was permanently ‘bad’. Having survived a king-side attack at the cost of a pawn, in the subsequent rook and pawn ending his opponent played cleverly to create a winning outside passed pawn. The crucial point in John’s game occurred when his opponent might have taken a pawn to create his own ‘runner’, but he judged John’s counter-play against his king, with his queen offside, to be too dangerous, and after Black’s unconvincing attempt to create a mating net, a draw was agreed. Unusually, my game was the last to finish (sorry, Peter!). I had looked to be holding Adam Lang for most of the game, though his passed b pawn probably always promised him an ultimate advantage. The later advance of this pawn, and my opponent’s precise play in warding off a number of dangerous tactics I managed to create, settled the issue in his favour. And so, we achieved a sort of ‘creditable battering’.

 

 

Spirit of Atticus B & C (Rounds 5 & 6, 13-14 February)

 

Evening revelry took place at The Kaye Arms, ‘out in the sticks’. Though busy on Valentine’s Day, the service by the young staff was efficient and friendly, and the food enjoyable enough to encourage us to envisage a further visit on Weekend 4.

 

 

Kaye Arms, Wakefield

On Sunday, the B Team beat Bradford C comfortably, again without losing a game. First to finish was Tom, unfortunately owing to a default, but Tony followed shortly after, winning a pawn with his Grand Prix Attack and converting his advantage in the endgame efficiently. Peter then drew a Sicilian position which transposed from a Modern Defence, little exciting having happened.

 

On Board 1, Dave weathered some pressure down the a file, and then created a passed b pawn to match his opponent’s passed d pawn, a ‘monster’ which won Dave a piece for two pawns following a clever tactic. His bishop and rook created mating threats, and the two active pieces and two connected central passed pawns soon settled the issue. Mike agreed a draw in a fairly lifeless position after developing some early pressure, leaving Lloyd to lose the exchange trying to develop some queenside pressure in what looked like an even position. Nevertheless, his two bishops and extra pawn v bishop and rook were sufficient to draw the endgame comfortably.

 

More exciting was the C Team match v 3Cs 2, who had started the weekend equal first in the table on match points. It is hard to be very combative when playing old friends, and, as I played with Phil Adams as a junior some fifty years ago, it perhaps came as no surprise that we agreed a draw in seventeen moves. Almost as quickly, Daniel completed his demolition of his opponent’s French Defence in an impressive display of aggression that indicated genuine talent and promise for the future. We can only hope that he remains happy to play alongside geriatrics. In a Modern Defence, Keith lost a pawn when his kingside was ‘busted’, and then looked to be back in the game following the exchange of queens. However, his opponent doubled on the f file and won a piece, after which the endgame was not defensible.

 

 
   

Honours even, then, and the top three boards to finish. ‘Supersolid’ John more than equalised with his Centre Counter defence, and a draw was agreed. On Board One, matched against a very strong opponent, Mike became embroiled in a complex English v King’s Indian middle-game. When the air had begun to clear, Mike sacrificed the exchange, whereupon his opponent offered a draw, testifying to the soundness of his decision. Colm’s position did not entirely settle our nerves. In an unusual Modern Benoni, he had never really generated much kingside play as White. His opponent took the initiative, giving up the traditionally strong black-squared bishop for dominance of the c file. Following the exchange of both sets of rooks, Colm won a pawn on the queenside, but his queen and knight were then not in a position to defend weak squares around his king, and a draw was agreed when perpetual check was inevitable.

 

And so we achieved a 3-3 draw, very much our best result of the season. We remain in good spirits; in the final two weekends we can expect less formidable opposition, and hope to climb up the table.

 

Team B | Rd5 results | Rd6 results | Division 3nb Crosstable | All Division 3n games in PGN |

Team C

| Rd5 results | Rd6 results | Division 3na Crosstable |

 

© 4NCL | Steve Connor

 

 

© 4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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