4NCL online

For those that are interested, 4NCL games can be viewed online on a Tuesday evening (there are 3 rounds left). 3 Bedford members are taking part for MK Phoenix teams 1 and 2, James Gardner, Toby Cox and Lucian Cox.

To view the games, go to https://www.4ncl.co.uk/ and then to online and individual pairings which will be announced at around 6.30 every Tuesday. There is a link attached to each paring from which the game can be viewed.

I believe there are other ways to watch. Danny Gormally who is top board for Steve Ledger’s team Blackthorne Russia actually commentates on his game as it progresses! You can find that at https://www.twitch.tv/elgransenor12/

Please share more thoughts on this by replying to this post.

Take care, Steve

Chess club closed

A s I am sure everyone will have assumed the NEWMC has closed and so the Chess Club will not now be open until further notice.

I personally have never played online chess but I understand that there are plenty of options – see for example the ECF Site and Chess 24 for details. If anyone has a favourite site which they can recommend do please let everyone know here.

I hope all our members and their families manage to stay healthy and let’s hope we can get together to play over the board chess again before too long. 

Peter Gill, 25th March 2020


Editor’s suggestions:-

Amazingly, the candidates are still going strong. Chess24 have a very good line up of comentators including Svidler, Short and Magnus himself! – a very good distraction if your homeworking is becoming tiresome.

4NCL are going online if anyone wants to organise some teams – might be worth a look.

Be lucky, Steve

Chess season suspended

As most of you already know the Beds League and the schedule for the Club’s Div 1 and Div 2 are both suspended (but see below) and the County Individual has been cancelled. We shall keep the club tournaments open  for continuation, hoping they can eventually be completed. It is obviously impossible currently to make predictions about resumption.

However, the North End Club remains open at present. Members will still be able to play serious or casual games there, including Div 1, Div 2 and Rapid Play games, if having considered the Government’s advice they consider it acceptable to do so. The cabinet key should be available from the bar – ring Peter Gill if there is any problem. If you are planning to go it would be wise to check that you won’t be on your own by arranging an opponent or announcing your intention. Meanwhile here’s wishing you all the best of health and perhaps you might play some more online chess!

Peter Gill, Paul Habershon, 17th March 2020

More corona than chess!

Before Round 5 on Tuesday the Czech government banned gatherings of 100+, so with 400 players in two adjacent hotels the organisers got round it by using partition walls. Thus we were using exactly the same space but divided into ‘rppms’ with players having to keep to their own, though there was still mingling in the refreshment area and toilets I played an uneventful draw in Rd  5, sat out Rd 6, then before Round 7 on Thursday the Czech government reduced gatherings from 100 to 30.

We were told that Round 7 would be the last round and prizes awarded accordingly. There are all sorts of rumours about Prague airport being closed, but although some of the English have changed to earlier flights home, most of us are holding our nerve and hoping our Sunday flights won’t be cancelled. I;m on Easyjet to Luton and I had a reassuring email from the company. Their website shows the flight as normal but I suppose it could be at the mercy of more stringent government measures. My hotel has changed dinner time from 7-9.30 to 5-8.

I had another draw against a supposedly weaker Sweden 2 opponent in the last round. I’ve been tending to get to a balanced middle game, but shorter on time, and then being offered a draw. The England 1 team has performed poorly P7 W2 D2 L3, well below their seeding. All I can claim is being unbeaten, P5 W1 D4 L0, and to have lost fewer rating points (just 4) than my team mates

A bit of light relief …

Last season I got rather severely mauled by Mark Nettleton of Lowestoft when I allowed him to attack me in the Icelandic Gambit (1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. c4 e6!?). This season, I decided to get my retaliation in first…

Neil Hickman

Rounds 3-4 at the seniors

In Round 3 i played an uninteresting short draw but at least the emasculated England 1 won the match 3-1 against a Welsh team. My Round 4 game against Czech Republic 3 was much more interesting and I was losing most of the time. However, my opponent did not find several key winning moves and eventually succumbed in a tense fight. Unfortunately my three colleagues all lost so we are in the bottom half P4 W1 D1 L2.

Paul

Paul has more senior moments

I’m in Prague for the World Senior Teams, my first such foray for some years. With 400+ old codgers from many countries gathered in close proximity FIDE have been criticised for taking on the Corona risk and not cancelling. The threat of the virus caused some crucial England withdrawals before the tournament started on Friday 6th March. We originally had three squads (of five players but four-board matches) in the Over-65 section and I was comfortably nestled at Board 4 in England 2. However, of the proposed England 1 team of Nunn, Povah, Stebbings, Snape and G.H.James, all but Stebbings withdrew for ‘specific medical conditions relating to the Corona virus’. I now find myself on ‘Board 5’ for England 1 thus coming in on Board 4 as each player takes his turn for a rest day. The team is now Stebbings, Page, Stokes, Bowmer, Habershon and I am the weakest by over 100 Elo points. We still have an England 2 captained by Brian Valentine, but no England 3.

There are 51 teams in the O-65 and 55 teams in the O-50 where England have a strong first team: Hebden, Arkell, McDonald, Flear, now reinforced at a late stage by Plaskett replacing Speelman who withdrew. Also in the O-50 are England 2 and England Women headed by Sheila Jackson who had to play Yusupov in Round 1. Among the other famous old GM names here are Andersson, Vaisser, Balashov, Knaak, Sveshnikov, Rashkovsky, Hort, Kaidanov, Shabalov, Ftacnik, Benjamin, Yermolinsky. 

I sat out Round 1 and my team drew all 4 games against a Czech regional team we should have beaten. In Round 2 today we lost 1.5-2.5 against Switzerland. I drew but had my chance to win and make it 2-2 (See game). Disappointing for me and the team but I was glad not to lose first time out. There are 9 rounds, finishing on Saturday 14th March.

What might have been …!?

 Bedford D   Northampton 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Steve C Pike16301Chris Ross211
2Andrew J Chapman1600.50.5Nigel Young146
3Richard McMorran13810David P Curran136
4Lucian Cox11201Szabolcs Fulop145 E
5R David Cox8001Shane Ashley126
   1.53.5  

Bedford D predictably lost to top of the table Northampton last night but they could have drawn had boards 1 and 2 kept their heads!

Lucian, playing on board 4, tried to play his normal expansive stuff but his opponent seemed determined to keep it tight. Lucian threw his kingside pawns at his opponents castled king but, for once, failed to open up the position and eventually lost a piece (I’m not sure whether this was a sac or a blunder). Although he had activity in the endgame, it was not enough.

David’s game looked very interesting. Employing a Dutch setup, he gambited (I think!) a pawn which seemed to give him space and activity. Ultimately, pieces were swapped off and his opponent gave up a knight for more pawns which were enough to see the game out.

Richard’s game was a sort of wing gambit as the Sokolsky took on the Sicilian! An interesting queenside melee led to Richard playing a nice tactic to bring home the points.

My own game was quite odd. I have a terrible record against Chris over the years but things did seem to be going against him. He had forgotten his special pieces and his clock stopped working after a while so I was wondering if it might be my chance to shine! In a Queen’s Indian setup, he seemed to have the edge and won a pawn but this was later returned. Fritz gives 0.00 at move 40 and this stays constant until move 62 where I finally mess up in time trouble (really hate shouting out my moves in time trouble but I realise this sounds churlish) – Chris makes no mistake when given the opportunity but I was an idiot.

Black to play and draw with ease (or go horribly wrong …?)

Andy seemed to be in control in his game – I can’t say I understood the opening (Bishops game maybe) but it seemed to give him space and activity. I missed quite a bit cos I was busy but when next I looked he seemed to have a winning pawn ending. I got busier so missed the critical bit where he swapped the wrong pawns off to be left with the a-pawn against the king – draw!

So some good performances, interesting games and a respectable result (but we should have drawn!) – maybe next time ….

Steve Pike, 6th March 2020

NCL thrills and spills

Steve Ledger recounts …

As far as I can recollect this was my first ever rated game against someone from Mexico  (though studying at Cambridge Uni, graded 202 )

Haven’t analysed it much with a metal monster but ……

The board next to me had a somewhat amusing finish.

The game itself isn’t that exciting but white has probed away in a rook ending for a while and finally gets himself good winning chances around move 73  (+2.5) then, apparently, errs to equal on move 74, so the challenge is then for a 203 graded player to now somehow contrive to lose this position.

I am told the look on the guys face after 80 Ra5  was something to behold as it slowly dawns on him that not only have the winning chances evaporated but he is now dead lost as the B king will eat first the e pawn then head over to the h pawn then win !  

All square for D v C

 Bedford D   Bedford C 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Andrew J Chapman16001Michael T Botteley160
2Richard McMorran1380.50.5Robert S Walker128
3Lucian Cox11210Andy Evans100E
4RW (Mac) MacKenzie6801George Griffiths110e
5Anthony P Lawrence4510Doug Page50e
   2.52.5  

Any realistic chance of the C team winning Div 2 having gone when we dropped a point against Northampton in our last match the club couldn’t really lose in this fixture so Steve and Peter took the chance to rest some regulars and give others a chance to shine.

George Griffiths on board 4 for the C team certainly did do. Mac Mackenzie challenged George’s Bishop on g4 with h3 expecting, as anyone would, that the Bishop would retreat. George had other ideas playing h5, leaving the Bishop en pris. Mac could not resist the offer of a piece for a pawn, reckoning as did I that his King could wriggle away from the resulting attack down the h file. It could not and mate quickly followed. George has played a lot of lightning chess and can’t break the habit of moving very quickly. I had urged him to take his time but, though he claims to have done that, he used only 15 minutes for this miniature masterpiece (see game below).

On board 5 Tony Lawrence was playing Doug Page, who was making his team debut for the C team. Tony had his eyes on Doug’s f2 from the outset and, having won the pawn, used the square to infiltrate Doug’s second rank picking up the odd piece as he went. The resulting mate must have been a relief for Doug!
So with half the evening gone it was one all and nothing much between the players in the remaining games..

Lucian Cox did have a slight edge having doubled the pawns in front of Andy’s King but Andy was able to hang on until what seemed like a routine pawn swop trapped his Bishop. Lucian, seized the opportunity to introduce a Rook to the attack on the King, leaving his other Rook en pris with check. Andy’s Queen just had to pop out to take the Rook and then return his Queen to home defensive duties. However, reckoning that Lucian must have something planned, he thought he saw a trap and missed the chance fo a Rook for nothing. After that he did well to survive into an ending and get close to stalemate but Lucian was too good a player to fall for that and efficiently clinched mate.

Robert Walker and Richard McMorran had barely got going by this stage, having exchanged a solitary pawn after 20 moves or so. However, spotting a chance to win the exchange, Robert was tempted into abandoning his recent policy of grinding out endgames. The trouble was that with Robert’s Queen away from home Richard’s Queen went into a very menacing attack. All hell was let loose at either end, pieces tumbled, and Richard was able to give perpetual check.

That left the D team needing a draw on board 1 to win the match. I must confess I had not really understood the game well enough to decide if either player was better. Andy Chapman had infiltrated his Knights into Mike Botteley’s King position but Mike seems to be able to handle pesky Knights. As material reduced it came down to a time scramble and with only seconds left Andy allowed mate in one.

So a drawn match. What could be better!?

Peter Gill, 29/02/2020