Division 3n, Weekend 3, Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel, 11-12 Feb 2017 by Andy Mort

 

 
   

 
 

We were expecting a tough match in the first round of the Swiss stage following our successes of the previous weekend, and in Round 5 that challenge was provided by 3Cs 2, always formidable opponents, if less youthful than usual on this occasion. Our prospects did not look too good after an hour, in that we seemed to have no advantage on any board with the White pieces and our Black defences were being ferociously assaulted on the other three boards. Within a few more hours, however, matters would look quite different.

 

This was not so on Board 6, however, where my passive position in a Czech Benoni crumbled when my laborious counter-play on the queenside was no match for the artillery massed on the kingside. Nevertheless, I was a little surprised to have been first to succumb, having watched Colm’s opening on Board 4 with some horror. Deploying his usually reliable French Defence, he missed a tactic in the opening, lost a pawn, and ended up having to deploy his minor pieces in passive positions to set up an ugly-looking defence. Exchanges of pieces didn’t help much, as Black went into a knight and pawn ending two pawns down, both connected. I will leave Colm to tell the tale of how he managed to sacrifice the knight for the pawns and achieve an unlikely draw. One prisoner let out of jail.

 

By this time, John Cooper had agreed a draw in a messy but even-looking position on Board 5, and, on Board 3 Mike drew a after gaining no discernible advantage from the opening, being able to defend pawn weaknesses, which, however, gave him no opportunities to press for anything more.

 

 

Rounds 5 & 6, Weekend 3, 2017

 
   
 

   

Steve’s game on Board 2 had by now become very complex, White having unleashed a ferocious kingside attack as White in a Catalan, which still looked dangerous after Steve won the exchange with an active knight. Steve was able to defend key squares, however, before counter-punching to secure the win that hadn’t at one stage looked at all likely.

 

This left John Hall battling to save his game and salvage a drawn match. In a typical isolated pawn middle-game John was unable to generate a kingside attack and pieces were gradually exchanged in Black’s favour.

 

 

   

In the minor piece ending, Stuart Clarke used his knight skilfully to outmanoeuvre John’s bad bishop, and so we went down, but only after displaying considerable resilience.

 

Only being able to muster 3 team members for the evening meal seemed a bit of a betrayal of the spirit of The Spirit of Atticus. Securing the most desirable booking times is always difficult on this weekend because of the proximity of Valentine’s Day, and a late booking may have encouraged the consumption of more alcohol than usual, but the meal at The Cherry Tree gastropub was of excellent quality, and the service slick and friendly.

 

There is relatively little to say about the Sunday. We were unfortunate to be paired against Enniscorthy, who had only been able to bring 3 players over from Ireland (nothing to do with Trump, one hopes). In the games that were played (to follow), Steve drew a lifeless queen’s pawn game fairly early and Colm mated his opponent’s king on f4 after it had recklessly advanced from e1 to e2 to e3, and this in a seemingly calm queenless early middle-game. Colm has been one of our most reliable players this season, and one should refrain from invoking clichés about luck and the Irish, but after this weekend I’d be inclined to buy a few lottery tickets before he loses the touch.

 

The Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel provides easily accessible and spacious playing conditions
 

The most interesting (and oddest) game was Mike Mc Donagh’s against a talented junior. Mike’s provocative opening move as Black, 1. Nh6, led to a queenless middle-game which had odd features, making the position hard to assess, Black having 4 pawn islands but a passed a pawn, White a bishop hemmed in on a2 behind immobile pawns. Black went on a kingside sortie to net pawns with knight and rook, but a rook exchange undoubled White’s c pawns, and ultimately Black’s pieces were in no position to stop White’s queenside majority. Well played by the young Irish player; young Alice O’ Gorman is clearly a name to look out for.

 

In an increasingly strong Northern League, our mid-table position is respectable, a fair reflection of our personnel and overall play.

 

© 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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