Division 3n, Weekend 1, Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield, 26-27 Nov 2016 by Andy Mort

 

 
   

 
 

Despite having entered one fewer team this year, we were not at full strength this weekend, three regular players having been recruited by the A Team to play in Division 2 the previous weekend. Like many teams, our lengthy Registrations list is more notional than fully operational. Nevertheless, we were able to field a respectable team, more likely to be successful on the Saturday than the Sunday, given the teams we had been drawn against.

 

For several players involved, a match against Ashfield/Breadsall is a bit like a local derby, potentially pitting players who have played each other on many occasions against each other. Although such matches are always amicable, Keith was a bit too friendly in donating a piece to his opponent fairly early in the match without gaining any significant compensation.

 

My opponent on Board 5 decided to liquidate the centre on move 10, granting me easy equality but offering me few prospects of playing for a win. My response was to lose concentration and allow a dangerous attack on f7, after which I had to struggle to draw a rook ending a pawn down several hours later. Meanwhile, on Board 4, John, playing an old friendly foe, had achieved some space advantage, but agreed a draw after cagey manoeuvrings in a complex position left neither player confident that he had a significant advantage.

 

 

Round 1, Weekend 1, 2016-17

 
   
 

 

Mezze starter, bruschetta

and marinated chicken

On Board 1, Peter played a King’s Indian Defence which he has employed successfully several times already this season where he arranges his knights in a pretty formation to hold his queenside, whilst attacking down a kingside file. Although the position was only equal on move 20, White drifted into horrendous time-trouble during which Peter overran his opponent’s position to emerge four pawns up in a rook ending. White might have resigned long before he did.

 

On Board 2, Steve established a formidable-looking centre against his opponent’s Sicilian Dragon, but Black’s f5 move undermined his centre, achieving a crippling of White’s kingside pawns and ensuring consequent passivity. Although Black’s active pieces nurtured his advantage and led to the win, Steve might have missed the opportunity for a perpetual check (with 40.Be5!) on his last move before the time-control.

 

And so to our man-of-the-match, Colm. Employing the French Defence, Colm gradually took control of the centre, establishing a powerful knight on e4. Although White’s pawn advance on the kingside looked threatening, ultimately it undermined his own centre, and not having succeeded in castling, he could not bring his queen’s rook into the game; White’s position collapsed suddenly. A 3-3 draw, then, and, considering that the two teams were fairly equally matched in terms of ratings, both sides will have been satisfied with this result.

 

In the absence of our two main ‘marathon men’, we had finished early enough – for a change - to relax before heading off to the Delphi, more café than restaurant, but with a lively atmosphere and prompt service. Greek food made a refreshing change, and, directed by Peter, bringing his cosmopolitan experience to The North, we worked through the mezze with gusto.

 

Cedar Court Hotel's second floor Oak and Cyprus suites provide bright and spacious playing conditions

Photos by Steve Connor

 

Whilst we had been evenly matched with our opposition on Saturday, we were heavily out-rated on Sunday by Manchester Manticores 1, who, perhaps conscious that a large city now fielding four teams cannot boast a team above Division 3, had recruited an I.M. to their squad as a special treat for Peter. Although ultimately we lost heavily, 1-5 did not represent the ‘battering’ that the score-line suggests.

 

 

Round 2, Weekend 1, 2016-17

 
   

We achieved two draws on the lower boards after John equalised as Black in a Reversed Sicilian, and after I also agreed a draw, feeling I was running out of steam in a position where I had well posted pieces after putting my opponent under a great deal of pressure in the opening. I needed a pawn break, but judged, rightly or wrongly, that my centre would become undermined if I pressed much harder. Meanwhile, Keith, playing the King’s Indian, had succumbed to a ferocious attack on his king that had been brewing for some time.

 

That left the top three boards in play, marathon affairs in which our men battled heroically. Peter’s King’s Indian attack won him the exchange for a pawn in a complex middle-game, but Black’s rook and knight combined effectively to net a couple more pawns, one of which became unstoppable.

 

 
   

The middle game in Colm’s encounter resolved itself very quickly in a time-scramble (which I missed whilst analysing my game) into a rook and pawn ending which Colm would have drawn but for a tired aberration.

 

Steve’s game was to last yet longer. As Black facing an unusual Stonewall Attack in which White’s black-squared bishop was initially outside his pawn chain, Steve sacrificed a piece for two pawns to strand his opponent’s king in the centre, and subsequently succeeded in doubling rooks on the 7th. After his opponent repulsed this attack, he was left with rook, knight and pawn against Steve’s rook, bishop and two pawns.

 

This eventually became rook and knight against rook and pawn, but by the end Steve’s increments were only ‘topping up’ his remaining minute, and he went astray in the drawn position. Nought out of three on the top boards ultimately seemed a harsh outcome. One consolation was that, had these games taken place on Saturday, we might have gone to bed hungry!

 

There are fresh teams in Division 3 North this year, notably a couple of strong Irish teams, but with a strengthened team, we have hopes of greater success in the remaining rounds.

 

© 4NCL | Steve Connor

 


 

Engine Analysis

In the above games you can activate the engine analysis board by clicking the E8 (assuming White on bottom, D1 otherwise) shortcut square on the main chessboard.

 

User commands for the engine analysis board:

  • explore variations by clicking the from and to squares for the intended move

  • click the arrow buttons to move back/forth through the variation being analyzed

  • click the plus button at the right of the arrow buttons to force the engine analysis board to auto update following the position of the main chessboard; this is useful for instance when following a live broadcast; limitations: some pages might not offer this functionality and some browsers do not support this functionality

  • click on the side to move indicator to switch the side to move; this is useful to check for threats in the given position

  • click on the principal variation to execute its first move on the engine analysis board

  • click on the evaluation mark to activate/deactivate the engine

 

 

© 4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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