One of our own

Probably Bedford’s strongest ever player (?) Andy Ledger, produced this impressive vignette on the 4ncl final weekend.

Of course, it does not qualify for the game of the season competition – please vote now!

GOTS final call

As the club AGM draws closer, the Game Of The Season competition becomes ever more tense! – ok, it doesn’t really but anyway, I’m doing my best. We have 13 games thus far which maybe viewed Games played by club members in the 2021-22 season – Bedford Chess Club, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, the important to the trivial, the accurate to the error-strewn and the brilliant to the hilarious – something for everyone in fact, tears and laughter etc.

However, there is still chance for late entries. The 13 games only feature 8 different winning/drawing players so that leaves plenty of you who still have the opportunity to share your brilliance, embarrassment, triumph or heartbreak with a wider audience. I will be taking entries until Sunday of this week (26th June) – don’t be shy – PGN is good but I will accept a bad photo of a scoresheet if I must.

Steve

Ledgers in Prague

Steve Ledger and his brothers are playing at the Prague International Chess Festival. He had an especially good win in the first round against a strong Polish FM.

All the results may be found at https://chess-results.com/tnr645719.aspx?lan=1&art=1&turdet=YES&flag=30

In Stockfish we trust

I’ve had a bit of feedback on my last post so thought I’d better close this subject off before I go back to my normal website activity – fiddling with font sizes etc.

To put this in a bit of context, I have a lot of respect for Chris Ross – I have been duffed up by him on a number of occasions before and since this game which he obviously won fair and square in the end. Clearly his achievements are admirable and, as he suggests in the introduction to this book, he may well be “one of the strongest completely blind chess players in the world and within English history”.

Conversely the Steve Pike that now plays for Bedford D and is about to be relegated from Bedford club division 1 does play “ugly moves”, does put his pieces on “unattractive squares”, doesn’t “consider the consequence of his pawn structure” and all too often does play with “bemused .. desperation” but, I would humbly suggest, not in this game!

I know that Chris likes to explain what he was thinking about at the time, rather than just regurgitating a lot of engine moves in hindsight, which I like, but I think you need to cross check your evaluations, however good you are!

Anyway, you judge:

Blind faith versus objectivity

I am indebted to Peter for bringing Chris Ross’s new book ‘Blind Faith’ to my attention.  It may be purchased at https://steelcitypress.co.uk/product/blind-faith-ebook/

In particular, I would like to draw your attention to game 40.  In this game, Chris demonstrates improvements that Dmitry Andrekhin could have made against Sergey Karjakin in the 2014 candidates.  He plays almost blemish-less chess, “secures a huge advantage” as early as move 19, shows “superior piece positioning” throughout,  and “exploited his positional understanding”.  He justifiably awards himself four exclamations marks in the first 31 moves.

By contrast, his opponent puts his pieces on “unattractive” squares, makes “ugly moves”, is lured into creating “easy weaknesses”, does not “consider the consequences of his pawn structure”, played with “desperation”, was “bemused” and by move 19,  although it was “too harsh to begin questioning all of White’s moves, … had now obtained a very poor position”.  He was “verging on the stage of being positionally lost” at move 19, “indeed, positionally lost” by move 21, “should resign, as there is nothing salvageable” at move 43 and as for his draw offer, there is “no good reason to accept the draw, especially so when Black had played so well”!  A level of restraint is shown by only awarding his opponent’s first 18 moves with three question marks.

Ironically, I considered this one of my better games against Chris.  When I blundered in time trouble in a dead drawn rook and pawns ending I took some solace from the fact that I had executed an opening novelty well and (Fritz assured me) had kept the game more or less  level for the first 47 moves. 

I guess it’s always nice to be published!?

Game of the season competition open for business

As another season draws to a close, its worth remembering the annual “Game of the Season” competition. For the uninitiated, this is where you get to air your brilliant or ridiculous or funny or chaotic or important or whatever-you-might-think-might-entertain-others games that you’ve played competitively during the season. Just send me something and a bit later we’ll vote and there might even be a trophy if anyone can remember where it is!

To give you an example that incorporates a number of the categories, here is a game Marc sent me recently. It’s unclear to me why he doesn’t give up on move 9 but I guess you never win anything by resigning!

Clean sweep for Bedford in County Championship

The final two rounds of the Beds. Championship were played on May 14th at the Open University. Bedford members Steve Ledger, Toby Cox and Paul Habershon emerged as joint winners with 4.5 points out of 6. The original entry of 20 was somewhat reduced by withdrawals and byes but in the last game to finish Marc Obi held Steve Ledger to a draw, thus denying Steve an outright championship win.

I (PaulH) had a lucky day, typical of the inaccurate but exciting nature of amateur chess. In the morning Round 5 I was outplayed by Qais Karimi (White) who reached this position with plenty of time on his clock. 

Now 40 d6! Is an easy win, but he played 40 Ke4? Then after 40…Kg7 41 d6  exd6 42 e7

would run  into the crucial check 42…f5+! So Qais played 41 b5 and the game was eventually drawn with bishops of opposite colour.

Here is my continued good fortune in the last round.

Paul Habershon

Nothing to lose leads to great D team win

 Leighton Buzzard B   Bedford D 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Kevin J Williamson195301Evan Lewis1746
2Adrian Matthews18780.50.5Andy Evans1585
3Peter Taylor18250.50.5Theo Jenkins1576
4Dominic Watson1882e01Ramsey Dairi1500e
5Lee Davies1791e01George Griffiths1383
   14  
Played: 03/05/22      

(not only can Evan beat Kevin, he can write this report and submit a game!!)

If Bedford D were vulnerable at any time, it was during last night’s match. When we turned up to our away game against Leighton Buzzard B, the team was in disarray:

We’d lost to this team 4-1, exactly 3 months prior. Our unbeaten board 1, was not playing. Our board 4 was in a sling! 

If matters could get worse, our board 5 was unable to find the venue! No chess had started and yet already it seemed the match was psychologically lost.

However, once George arrived, play began swiftly. Perhaps due to the team’s starting instability, it seemed as if every position quickly developed into a vicious battle. George was on the white side of a Scandinavian and was able to build a big center. After an unfortunate counting problem from his opponent, he was up a knight before move 10. I’d love to say black put up a fight but George was relentless. An incredibly clean conversion led to a resignation. 1-0

My own game (below) was a Chigorin Queen’s Gambit. Kevin and I entered theory, but his sharp theoretical knight sacrifice was known to me. Having prepared this line beforehand, I saw many games where a selfish white loses [Praggnandha-Dale (2017)]. So instead I gave the piece back for a long-lasting initiative. It proved too much for my opponent to handle and with 2 different threats of promotion, Kevin threw in the towel and Bedford D were up two games. 2-0

Theo’s game was next to finish and also reached a variation named after Chigorin! In a Closed Ruy Lopez, play deviated from theory with Theo’s 12.Bg5 and soon he’d established a stronghold on f5. Otherwise condemned to passivity, black was forced to trade bishop for knight. A queen bishop vs queen knight endgame ensued and the bishop seemed superior. Unfortunately for Theo, even with an extra passed pawn, there was no way to make progress and a draw was agreed. 2½-½

Andy and Ramsey were playing against the Alapin Sicilian on boards 2 and 4, respectively. Ramsey opted for the mainline with …2.d5 and achieved rapid development. A pleasant but precise position. It appears his left arm is just as good at chess as his right because regardless of the sling, he equalised and kept pressuring. In a rook and pawn ending, his opponent fell asleep at the wheel but Ramsey kept his foot on the gas. Finding a quiet winning move, to activate his rook, Ramsey wins another for Bedford D. 3½-½  

Andy attempted the force the issue with an immediate …2.e5!?, controlling d4 but creating a weakness on d5. As pieces developed, Andy had to concede some space and doubled h pawns but had the bishop pair against the knight pair. Rather than opening up the board for counter-play, he responsibly decided to trade all the minor pieces and defend a heavy piece endgame. When I left the venue, they were still playing and it seemed a gruelling and depressing task, reaching far past time control. As always with Andy’s solid defensive play, he made no further concessions and his opponent was unable to convert the remaining space advantage. A draw was agreed. 4-1

Impressive stuff from the team and a nice way to finish the division, especially considering we were on the back foot going into the match. We finish this year with 5 wins and 3 losses. Thank you to Andy, Evan, George, Lucian, David, Ramsey, Steve and Theo for playing for us and of course we have to congratulate Leighton Buzzard B for winning the league.

Good luck to a strong-looking Bedford D for next year.

Evan Lewis, May 4th 2022

May the fourth be with you

 Leighton Buzzard A   Bedford B 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Gary Kenworthy22830.50.5Okwose Marc Obi1938
2Stephen Law20580.50.5Alex Taylor2050
3Peter Hunt20650.50.5Richard T Bodily1968
4Brian J Valentine192410Qais Karimi1949
5John R Sharp19450.50.5Robert S Walker1758
   32  
Played: 03/05/22      

The B Team completed their season with a trip to Leighton Buzzard A knowing that they would finish fourth regardless of the result.

Marc kindly stood up to the challenge of facing Gary on board 1.  Playing a Morra gambit he built up a really good position, but it was quite hard to see how to turn the advantage into a clear winning one.  In the end, he opted for safety first and a draw (see attached game).

My game against Steve on Board 2 was a tight affair.   From the opening, Steve had an isolated pawn on d4 and I managed to get a knight planted on d5.  Steve countered by getting knights on c5 and e5 which threatened to strangle my position.  After exchanges, it boiled down to a rook and knight ending and a draw.

Peter and Richard’s game on Board 3 never really sparked into life.  Both players fianchettoed their kingside bishops out of a Sicilian opening and Peter managed to created some pressure down the c file, but once this had been neutralised the game rather fizzled out.

Qais played Brian on Board 4 and had one of those games we have all experienced.  A miscalculation early in the game lead to the loss of a piece with little compensation.  Although Qais tried to generate some counterplay, Brian calmly exchanged off pieces to simplify the ending and win the game.

Our super-sub Robert played John on Board 5 and the game turned out to be an interesting one.  After a relatively quiet French opening, Robert played a temporary sacrifice which netted him a couple of pawns and a strong initiative against the black king.  After queens came off, it looked like Robert’s passed e-pawn and rooks on the d file would be decisive.  John flung his passed a pawn down the board, and this point things started to change as perhaps Robert made the wrong choice in how to stop it.  In the end after exchanges, the game petered out into a draw.

A narrow 3-2 loss to end a trickier season than the B Team have experienced recently.  However, the team had a couple of good wins and came close in other games.  Many thanks to all who played this season.

Alex, 4th May 2022

C team season ends, not with a bang but a whimper

 Bedford C   Milton Keynes C 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Robert S Walker17580.50.5George Ward1759e
2Richard McMorran165301Michael Page1600e
3Callum T Shields16600.50.5Colin Solloway1593
4Giuseppe Valerio17280.50.5John McKeon1585
5Peter S Gill172810Sumit Bhalla1250e
   2.52.5  
Played: 28/04/22      

Having comfortably won the away fixture against Milton Keynes C we might have been forgiven for expecting an easy evening last Thursday but it was anything but! It didn’t begin well when we struggled to find enough chairs (several had been taken downstairs for a recent event) and only just managed to find enough sets for the two matches against Milton Keynes B and C as well as half a dozen or so Club Tournament games. To make matters worse the Social Club juke box was going strong, much to the annoyance of at least one MK player – I had to tell him there was nothing we could do about it.

But the biggest problem did not become apparent until we approached the end of the evening, when Joe on Board 4 realised that his clock was not adding the required 10 second increment after each move. Given that Joe was (really!) very short of time this was not an easy problem to address. The resulting discussions made it difficult or impossible for his neighbours to concentrate. I was unable to watch what was happening in the other games so cannot comment on the chess itself.

On Boards 1, 3 and 4 draws were agreed. I believe Robert’s game on Board 1 was probably heading for a draw anyway – but I think Callum and Joe’s draws were more a recognition of the unsatisfactory circumstances. 

On Board 2 Richard who had been on the verge of victory went from better to worse during and because of the kerfuffle and resigned. If he had stopped playing rather than resigning a draw might have been a fair outcome.

I was fortunate on Board 5 since my opponent had lost a piece for a pawn in the opening and when it all kicked off I was already on the verge of a forced mate.  

We end the season with 4 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws. Bedford D play Leighton Buzzard B on Tuesday and if they win they will catch us on 10 points in 2nd place in Division 2. (Leighton Buzzard B cannot be caught). Thank you to all the players named above who were so reliable and to Oscar who stood in very ably when Joe or I had a night off.  

I will spend Thursday night tidying up our equipment, and checking the clock settings. Any help will be very welcome.