Division 1 gets interesting.

Two big games in Division 1 last night saw Nick draw with Richard and Marc draw with Robert. With only 3 games to go, Steve Ledger looks favourite but Richard or Marc could still take the trophy.

Marc and Robert share an interesting game :

Bedford at the Beds individual

Eight Bedford players took part in this years event, which ended last Sunday. Steve Ledger finished runner up but there were a number of good performances. Full details may be found at here. Paul sets the scene, Toby adds a battling game and Steve demonstrates a couple of fun wins!

Paul Habershon – Although the county championship ended rather predictably with Gary Kenworthy first on 5 and Steve Ledger second on 4.5, it was an exciting final day, particularly notable for seeing Toby Cox on top board in the final round against Kenworthy.

The drama started days earlier when the sole leader, James Gardner, on 3.5/4 had to withdraw for work reasons. This left four players in joint lead on 3. The top Round 5 pairings were Habershon(3)-Kenworthy(3), Borrowdale(3)-Cox(3), Ledger(2.5)-Freeman(2.5). Kenworthy arrived nearly fifteen minutes late but still needed only about 25 minutes thinking time to dispose of me (see game). Cox drew with Borrowdale and Ledger beat Freeman. Thus Round 6 was: Kenworthy(4) v Cox(3.5), Borrowdale(3.5) v Ledger(3.5), Habershon(3) v Karimi(3). I beat Qais in a sacrificial game starting 1e4 g5!?, thus ending up sole 3rd on 4 points. Ledger mated Borrowdale. Toby put up a terrific fight(see below) , impressing Gary (‘my toughest opponent’), but eventually succumbed. Typically of a Swiss finish, Toby, despite a great performance, ended up out of the top three places.

Steve ledger – just to show that all my games aren’t turgid grinds or endgame swindles, here are the last two rounds games. The 2nd, especially, was a right mess, ending in an amusing king hunt …..….. Though would have been better if I’d sacrificed a few pieces to get his K right up the board (!)

Blackthorne Russia in 4NCL

Steve Ledger’s 4NCL team struggled in their 4NCL pool at the weekend, facing the likes of Guildford 1 (all GM’s including Adams, Fressinet, Hou Youfin …), Wood Green (Speelman, Houska …), Cheddleton (Howell, Hawkins ..) and others, but his brother Andy had an impressive draw against super-GM Ettienne Bacrot which is well worth a look.

Full details of results may be found at http://www.4ncl.co.uk/ (scroll down to
Weekend 5, 4-6 May 2019 , divison 1, pool C).

Bedford A narrowly miss out

Leighton Buzzard ABedford A
1Evgeny Tukpetov20701Mindaugas Beinoras229
2Stephen Law17701Steven C Ledger186
3Peter C Clarke18510Paul F Habershon180
4Andy Tinker17610Ravi Arulnandhy169
5Peter Hunt1750.50.5Richard T Bodily178

Disappointment for Bedford A in the league decider which we had to win. We went two and a half points up very quickly with wins for Mindaugas and Steve and a draw on 5 for Richard, so just a draw was needed from Boards 3 and 4. Ravi succumbed first when his preferred active play did not succeed. This left me supposedly to play a captain’s innings but I could not counter Peter Clarke’s accurate play in an ending where his knight was much superior to my bishop and eventually lost on time in a resignable position (see game). The tiny consolation is that the drawn match guarantees 2nd place above Milton Keynes A. Paul Habershon

James shares top spot in EACU Championship

Our own James Gardener continued his impressive season by sharing first place, with John Anderson and Graham Moore, at the EACU Closed Championship last weekend – very well done!

He shares a couple of his games:-

C team edged out by strong Leighton Buzzard

This fixture ought to have been played before Christmas but Leighton Buzzard couldn’t raise a team and we agreed to reschedule. This time they had no such problem – they turned up with County Captain Kevin Williamson on top board.

With black against Peter Taylor’s e4 I played the Petroff. I have been trying for a year or two to “Lure my opponent into the Philidor Swamp” but after some early successes I found I was usually the one in a swamp so I decided to revert to the Petroff. I spent too long remembering the right moves but not – sadly – in the right order. For a moment or two I thought I had trapped white’s Queen, only to find I was losing a pawn and in danger of shedding more material. Fortunately Peter counter blundered into a dead drawn ending and for once it was my opponent who offered the draw, gratefully accepted.

Mac on board 5 was next to go. Playing Black he got a cramped position in the Pirc, lost (or sacced?) a pawn early on in a vain attempt to get some activity and went slowly down hill until 3 connected passed pawns down he resigned. 

Robert on board 4 managed to win a minor piece against the always tough to beat Fred Dorn but with all Fred’s remaining pieces focussed on f2 and Robert’s King cowering on g1 he had to be be very careful as he chased Fred’s Queen away from the attack. He managed to do so and thus, something he has not always been able to do of late, converted a winning position into a win.

So all square with everything to play for. Joe’s game against Kevin was down to King, Rook and several pawns for both sides heading I thought for a quiet draw, and Richard’s was far too complicated for me to follow, so I decided to take a short break in the bar. There however I was soon joined by Joe himself who told me that he had nodded off with two moves to go and lost on time. When you have Joe’s talent I suppose you are easily bored by a quiet position.

When I returned I still thought a drawn match was possible as both Richard and Adrian Matthews were threatening bank rank mates with hot spots on all four corners of the board. The only result that looked unlikely to me was a draw. However Richard lost a Bishop and the central passed pawn he got in return was never going to be enough for a win. He did well to exchange off all Adrian’s pawns leaving Adrian with only a few seconds – a few hours would not have been enough for a win as he was down to a solitary Bishop. 


Joe Valerio              0 – 1          Kevin Williamson

Richard McMorran  0.5 – 0.5  Adrian Matthews

Peter Gill                0.5 – 0.5  Peter Taylor

Robert Walker        1 – 0          Fred Dorn

Mac Mackenzie      0 – 1          Tony Readman

                                2 – 3

Youth triumphs

No revenge for the old codgers as the young whippersnappers of the D Team completed a double against us.

Unfortunately our top board Joe Valerio had to pull out on the day because of illness, so Nigel Walker who, as luck would have it, had just returned after a 6 month break from chess was able to step into the breach, playing on board 4. Lucian Cox never got enough for his gambit pawn and Nigel eventually cashed in for a win.
However gone are the days when you could pretty much say two Walkers – two wins. Robert Walker, having achieved a winning position, blundered twice against Callum Shields. He might have survived one blunder but not two.

Mac MacKenzie got into a King and pawn ending a pawn down against Ben Pike and eventually succumbed. I couldn’t work out what was going between Richard McMorran and John Harbour. At one stage I think Richard had two minor pieces for rook and pawn but then he seemed to have cornered John’s King with a tasty choice of dangerous discovered checks. It ended in a draw – perhaps by a perpetual check for one or other!

Regular readers will have noticed more than the usual lack of detail in this report. Playing on Board 1 for only the second time in decades I had my hands full playing rising star Toby Cox. I knew he would play the French and decided to follow our last game (in which I managed to scrape a draw) but carelessly played e5 instead of Nc6 on move 3 and found myself in unfamiliar territory. He soon equalised and throughout the middle game he was better but never by very much. As the first time control loomed I wasted a lot of time pondering a Knight sacrifice to get at his King. (It would have been a disaster.) In the end I opted for exchanging off the rooks and got to a drawn ending which, short of time and endgame technique, I duly lost.

Peter Gill 0 – 1 Toby cox
Richard McMorran 0.5 – 0.5 John Harbour
Robert Walker 0 – 1 Callum Shields
Nigel Walker 1 – 0 Lucian Cox
Mac Mackenzie 0 – 1 Ben Pike
1.5 – 3.5

January gradings are out!

Old news really – sorry, I was throwing myself down a mountain last week – but worth a look if you haven’t already.  Very little movement but praise should go to all the Cox’s and Qais who hit all-time highs.  Toby managed a 10+ increase also which is always impressive in this context in 6 months!

Name Standard Grade January 2019 Standard Grade July 2018
Ravi Arulnandhy 168 D 169 D
Mindaugas Beinoras 227 D 229 D
Richard Bodily 176 B 178 B
Mike Botteley 153 B 154 A
Andy chapman 166 C 169 C
Nick Collacott 166 C 164 C
Ben Cox 130 A 124 A
David Cox 74 A 63 A
Lucian Cox 111 A 107 A
Toby Cox 150 A 139 A
James Gardner 171 B 167 C
Peter Gill 133 C 138 C
Paul Habershon 183 A 180 A
John Harbour 141 C 139 C
Chris Hill 146 B 140 B
Qais Karimi 164 A 159 A
Tony Lawrence 49 C 54 D
Steve Ledger 188 A 186 A
Mac Mackenzie 67 C 71 C
Richard McMorran 138 A 132 A
Gerry Nolan 127 D
Marc Obi 167 A 167 A
Ben Pike 102 D 103 C
Steve Pike 168 C 170 C
Callum Shields 137 D 134 E
Alex Taylor 164 C 163 C
Giuseppe Valerio 149 C 150 C
Robert Walker 128 C 128 B

Bedford A slip up


Home Team: Milton Keynes B Away Team: Bedford A
Board Name Grade Score Score Name Grade
1 Richard CP Freeman 181 0 1 Mindaugas Beinoras 229
2 Francesca Matta 178 0 1 Steven C Ledger 186
3 Phillip Ekhaesomi 166 1 0 Richard T Bodily 178
4 Peter Edwards 160e 0.5 0.5 Paul F Habershon 180
5 Robert Whiteside 160 1 0 Andrew J Chapman 169
2.5 2.5
Played: 24/01/19
Bedford A slipped up again and were indeed lucky to draw the match. First to finish was Mindaugas whose central control proved too much for Richard when short of time. Mindaugas was then dismayed to see his four colleagues under time pressure and with poor positions. On Board 3 Richard at first seemed to have better development but once his opponent had untangled his pieces it was Richard whose king was more exposed and he reached a lost Q and N v Q and N ending two pawns down. On Board 5 Andy had a promising position but once the ending came his pawns were scattered  and weak. So we were 1-2 down with my game looking dire and Steve at best level in a rook ending after being a pawn up for most of the game. However, my opponent missed the killer punch (see game) and in the ending I even declined a draw in a level position in the hope of something good happening with both of us short of time. Eventually I thought I’d better not push my luck, agreed a draw, and then was delighted to see Steve pull off yet another trademark swindle with each side down to a rook and one pawn each. Steve’s h pawn was motoring and Francesca’s f pawn was going nowhere. Indeed the pawn soon fell and Francesca would have had to give up her rook when Steve’s pawn queened.
Paul Habershon