Bedford A keep up the pressure

For the second time in consecutive weeks Milton Keynes A travelled to Bedford this time to take on the A team. Bedford were strengthened by the return of Mindaugas on board 1 for the third time this season.

In order of finishing:-

Mindaugas was black playing a Pirc against Graham Smith and after a level opening and queens exchanged with if anything a small edge to white, accurate play was needed. Graham made a small error and the position quickly rebounded against him with black’s remaining pieces very active. Graham resigned more in general disillusionment with the position rather than an immediate loss of material (see game below).

I played Robert Kowalczyk on board 5 and defended a c3 Sicilian, won a pawn in the opening and maintained this through to a double rook and bishop ending. Steadily all the pieces were swapped off leaving me to slowly work out how to win the king and pawn ending which i managed in the end with some difficulty.

Paul took on Ali Kheyrollahi on board 4, the game beginning life as another Pirc, transposing to a sort of Kings Indian and what seemed to be a blocked position although some scope for attack on the kings side by Paul and queen side by Ali. Black then played quite defensively allowing Paul to open up first the kingside and then the centre crashing through for a well deserved win.

On board 3 James played a Petroff defence to Josue Estevez Fernadez e4 who played an aggressive king side attacking line in exchange for doubled pawns although James then castled on the queenside. In a very level position, James erred and dropped a central pawn and in trying to stave off a mating attack had to give up a second pawn a few moves later. He survived to a rook and pawn ending but the result was never in doubt and he he had to concede the point.

Finally, Steve was up against Adrian Elwin on board 2 and a Trompowsky resulted. Having quickly swapped bishop for knight, Steve then found himself in the early middlegame with rooks and a bishop v rooks and a knight as Adrian decided that it was in his best interest to reverse the exchange and more. However Steve always had more space and slowly advanced his queen side pawns in a minority attack. Steve was able to penetrate the position with a rook on the seventh rank, winning a pawn and obtaining a passed pawn, then winning the exchange whereupon Adrian resigned.

All in all a good result and maintains the league position for now.

Richard Bodily, 23rd February 2020

Bedford C share the spoils

 Bedford C   Northampton 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Ravi Arulnandhy17001Chris Ross211
2Darren Reed16710Szabolcs Fulop145 E
3Giuseppe Valerio1400.50.5Nigel Young146
4Robert S Walker12810David P Curran136
5Callum T Shields12801Graham Heilbuth139
   2.52.5  

Northampton arrived with two new faces, but as usual with the formidable Chis Ross on board 1.

Knowing that Mike might have work difficulties I had again picked myself as a reserve. Mike did indeed have to work but as I read his email on the train who should appear but Ravi: problem solved!

In my other role as equipment monitor I was busy for the first few minutes. When I returned there were only 4 games still going. Callum’s Queen had gobbled up what turned out to be a fatally toxic pawn. So one down after 10 minutes!

On board 2 Darren was playing newcomer Szabolcs Fulop who quickly won a pawn on a2 with his Queen and seemed to be on the verge of winning another. Darren was not at all bothered and launched an attack on the Kingside which to my untutored eye seemed far too slow. I was of course entirely wrong. A Knight which appeared to be simply en route to join the attack subtly set a trap for a deadly attack on the wayward Queen – which could only take down the Knight and a pawn in return.

Meanwhile neither Joe nor Nigel Young could get anywhere and with the major pieces eyeing each other down the only open file and no weaknesses elsewhere they settled on a draw.

Robert is definitely a changed man. For the second match running he and his opponent Dave Curran were deep into the game before either ventured far into enemy territory. After 20 moves or so neither had a pawn beyond the third rank. Robert has gone (in his style) from Fisher to Carlsen, playing for a small advantage in the endgame. It worked again! Once the pieces started to come off it became apparent that Robert’s pawn structure was better, he won a pawn, and duly cashed in for a win.

That left top board where Chris had been pressing down the Queen file all evening and Ravi had been skilfully rearranging his pieces to form an impenetrable defence. Ravi’s Queen went from d8 to b6 to b4 to e7, and his Knight danced around before settling on e6. Eventually Chris’s attack ground to a halt and, taking a deep breath I imagine, Ravi set his pawns rolling powerfully down the e and f files. In a thrilling finish, with both players short of time, Ravi gave up material in order to Queen a pawn but just failed to do so. After that the sacrificed material proved fatal. I don’t think anyone checked afterwards but Chris commented that you would need a computer to see through the complications. No less an authority than Joe was sure that Ravi missed a clear win by aiming to promote on e1 rather than on f1.

This was the first point Northampton had lost but it is another step towards their promotion and more or less puts an end to any chance we might have had of winning Division 2. Still a great effort and a thoroughly interesting evening.

Bedford B keep up the pressure

 Bedford B   Milton Keynes A 
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Qais Karimi1670.50.5Graham Smith174
2Alex Taylor1680.50.5Adrian G Elwin172
3Ravi Arulnandhy17010Dominic Bartram163
4Toby Cox1640.50.5Josue Estevez Fernandez170
5Marc ON Obi16010James NO’D Alexander157
   3.51.5  
Played: 13/02/20     

Bedford B took on Milton Keynes A on Thursday as they looked to keep the pressure up at the top of the table.  The gradings suggested that it would be a close match.

Marc always looked to have an edge in his game on Board 5.  Pressure on John’s king led to the gain of a pawn, and although Marc’s knight looked temporarily exposed on e2, after the exchange of queens, he won another pawn in a 2 knights v two bishops ending.  After winning one of the bishops, the game was won.

Ravi was up against Dominic, whose grade has been improving rapidly.  An early win of a pawn gave Ravi the initiative and he pushed hard against Dominic’s king.  By his own admission, Ravi got slightly carried away in the search for a pretty win, which made life a little harder than it could have been.  However, in the end the pressure was maintained for victory.

Toby faced a Sicilian Defence on Board 4 against Josue.  For much of the middle game it appeared to me that Toby’s position was solid, but he was having to work hard in defence.  Once the major pieces were exchanged, the position became much simpler and a draw was agreed.

My game against Adrian was a cagey affair.  After a Caro-Kann opening I had much more space and seemingly the possibility of launching an attack against Adrian’s king.  However, my edge was never really enough to convert into a clear advantage and a draw was agreed at the time control.

Qais was up against Graham on top board.  Graham appeared to have all the attack, with significant pressure down the e-file, however Qais’s position did not have any real weaknesses and he was able to manoeuvre his knights to great defensive effect.  Draw offers started flying around after the position simplified,  but perhaps unaware of the overall match score (we had already won!) they kept going.  However, peace did eventually break out.

A 3.5 – 1.5 victory sees the A Team’s lead cut to a single point, although we have now played a game more –even so could lightning be about to strike twice?

Alex Taylor, 14th February 2020

‘Twas a cold night in Leighton Buzzard …

Leighton Buzzard BBedford D
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Brian J Valentine1670.50.5Steve C Pike163
2Peter Taylor15101Andrew J Chapman160
3C Fred H Dorn13801Richard McMorran138
4Tony Readman10610R David Cox80
5def 01RW (Mac) MacKenzie68
   1.53.5  

The evening started somewhat earlier than expected when I spotted an email in my overflowing inbox late afternoon informing me that they couldn’t field 5 players – coming from Bedford with up to 25 players to call upon, it’s difficult to understand the problem but we have certainly seen many clubs recently struggling to put teams together. Luckily, I was able to stand Mac down before he set out but this is the second match in a row when he has had not had a game.

Anyway, a traditionally warm welcome awaited us in Leighton Buzzard, 9 degrees to be precise, according to the thermostat! A radiator was coaxed into life and the temperature soared to about 16 by 9pm – coats were not removed!

Andy arrived a little late but wasted little time swapping queens off and achieving, to my eyes anyway, a rather cramped position. It was obviously all too subtle for me as suddenly, a pair or rooks was swapped, his other rook was bearing down an open c file and his knights were threatening forks all over the place. Pawns were gobbled up for fun and Peter threw in the towel with a hopeless endgame in prospect.

David played the “normal” Cox Dutch and an open game resulted with chances for both sides. His opponent had control of the g file but David looked to be defending well and had counter-attacking chances in the middle. Unfortunately, a momentary lapse saw the loss of a queen for rook and knight and the position quickly collapsed.

My own game was an all too typical grovel – why do I still not know how to play against 3 …Nge7 with the Spanish? Anyway, I went all passive and Brian achieved a pleasant game with ..Bg7, ..0-0, ..f5 etc. Just when it all looked a bit hopeless, I saw a freeing resource, exchanging pawns and offering to swap minor pieces (in a unexpected move order). Luckily for me, neither of us saw that had Brian accepted the swap, mate or heavy material loss would have befallen me quickly (as he explained to me in an email this morning!). As it was, we moved into an 2B’s+6P v B+N+6P endgame and the cramped nature of the position meant my bits were a reasonable match for the bishop pair – a peace treaty was agreed.

All this left Richard needing only a draw to seal the match. He had opened with the Bird and tried to flood the centre with pawns. An unusual queen exchange, involving the threat of a knight fork resulted in quite a simplification of things but Richard always looked to be on the front foot. When next I looked at it properly, he had converted his advantage into a N+B+4P v 2B+3P ending. Again, the horsie looked the trickiest but the best piece was the clock – as Richard explained in the pub later, “I thought Fred would either blunder or lose on time” and sure it enough, the latter ensued.

All in all, a much needed and welcome result. Thanks to all involved, especially Mac who will definitely play in the next game!

Bedford C win again!

Bedford CMK D
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Michael T Botteley16010Dominic Bartram163
2Giuseppe Valerio14010Richard Keane118
3Robert S Walker12810Colin Solloway124
4Callum T Shields12810John McKeon115
5Andy Evans100E0.50.5Steven Wayne100e
   4.50.5  

As I arrived at the club on Thursday, having picked myself on the bench, I was alarmed to see Milton Keynes C team regulars Colin Solloway and John McKeon as well as rising young star Dominic Bartram.  Our D Team’s match against Milton Keynes C had been called off because they couldn’t raise a team. No wonder if most half the C Team were playing for the D Team!

I understand they are struggling to run four teams, and I hope they didn’t take my allegations of hanky-panky (straight out of the Eddie Jones rule book) too seriously!

First to finish was Callum on board 4 against John McKeon. Playing quickly as usual he stirred up a Tsunami of a pawn centre, compared to which John’s pair of passed pawns on the Queen side looked rather puny. There was only one winner.

Meanwhile something very odd was happening on board 2. Joe was ahead on the clock! Having won a pawn early on, as he often seems to do, and with time on his side for a change, he made it count. He was on the brink of winning a piece for ages. Richard Keene kept wriggling but he was only delaying the inevitable. I doubt if many players would hold out against Joe when he manages to enter an endgame well placed and with time on his side.

Meanwhile on board 5 Andy, sporting his new grade of 138, up from my estimate of 100, was having a tough time. He was cowering behind a rather flimsy looking wall of pawns, his pieces scurrying backwards and forwards as Steven Wayne shifted the point of attack. But when Andy ventured out, Steven missed the chance to exchange Queens, and that allowed a draw by perpetual check.

With two hours gone nothing much seemed to have happened on board 3 where Robert Walker and Colin Solloway, playing each other yet again, both had apparently forgotten how to capture pieces – all 32 were still on the board. When pieces did start to fall Colin seemed to have some pressure and more space but Robert spotted what I thought was a dodgy pawn grab. I was wrong and Robert comfortably converted to a won ending.

That left board 1 which was looking very tight. Mike’s Knights were snapping at Dominic’s Kingside but to my eye the King looked pretty safe. Mike’s Queen was nowhere near and there was no prospect of a mating attack. I thought the daring Knights were going to trip over each other and couldn’t see them both surviving. But Mike kept finding good moves and when the dust settled he was a pawn up having stripped the pawn shield from Dominic’s King. Dominic may have missed the chance to secure at least a draw when he hastily touched his Queen and lost the chance to gain some initiative but with Queen and Knight and an extra pawn against Dominic’s Queen and Bishop Mike still had to be very careful especially as he had only seconds left. Finally he was able to exchange Queens and Dominic finally cracked and allowed Mike to exchange off the Bishop into an easily won ending. A great game to watch!

We are now equal top of Division 2 with Leighton Buzzard B and Northampton but Northampton, our next opponents, have 2 matches in hand, so I doubt we are at risk of promotion. 

Beds County Championships

Bedford hosted round 2 of the county championships last week. The full results may be found here but one “reasonably decent game” (his words) was played by Steve:

News from abroad

Many of you will probably recognise this smart young man who has just sent me a report as to his Christmas activities.

“I’d been having a bit of a break from chess recently after changing clubs in Germany and getting tired with Sunday matches, but I decided to get back into it around Christmas and I went to Stockholm to play in the Rilton Elo tournament. It turned out quite well! The report is in Swedish – but Google Translate isn’t that bad 😀

Have attached a link to the games, if you fancy a laugh (the game vs Uwe Arndt was particularly appalling but he somehow managed to lose in the end, and messed up an overwhelming position vs. Todorovic to then win again anyway – time trouble)

Please do give my regards to all!” – Patrick

The original report can be accessed here but the not-too-bad translation goes something like –

Goldsworthy defeated Rilton Elo in the final round

There was no Swedish victory in this year’s edition of Rilton Elo, although both Haroon Azizi and Hugo Wernberg before the final round had the opportunity to take home the victory. Wernberg, who had a very small chance of winning, played a quick rematch against American FM Alexander Betaneli and thus crowned his fantastic tournament where the 13-year-old not only took 7 points and 76 new Elopo points but also a ranking prize.

Thus, it was clear that the winner of the party between Azizi and Englishman Patrick Goldsworthy would be the winner of Rilton Elo and it eventually became Goldsworthy who rowed the party and one, given that he fought at the top the entire tournament and only released two remies, a lot well deserved tournament victory.

Goldsworthy scored 8 points on the nine rounds and had a full point down to a quintet of players who shared second place. After distinction, however, it was Betaneli who finished second before Azizi, Wernberg, the Greek Georgios Alexakis and 43rd ranked Filip Björkman who also stood for a fantastic performance and finished with a victory over second-ranked Dan Eriksson.”

More news from the sticks

We haven’t heard from Neil for a while but, following his recent visit, he pens the following …

I was rooting around in back numbers of CHESS and the BCM the other day and turned up a couple of snippets from CHESS in 1948.

Firstly , for those who regret Kents Luton’s recent travails:

“Luton, with a population not exceeding 100,000, has ten teams (minimum eight players each) competing in the Luton Chess League, which has been strengthened by the addition of teams representing AC-Sphinx and Kent’s Social Clubs. T W Sweby, champion of the Luton Club, who is known to possess a kind of hunting horn, gave a simultaneous display at Kent’s social Club, winning against all ten challengers”

[AC Sphinx Spark Plug Co. changed its name to A C Delco Division of General Motors Ltd in 1952, part of Vauxhall. And yes, the last time I played in the cupboard at Kent’s you couldn’t have fitted ten players in there]

And, speaking of Mr Sweby, whose long-running column in the Bedfordshire Times was probably second only to that of Barden in the Guardian, here he is in action in a correspondence game for Bedfordshire. Yes, a correspondence game…

Mindaugas’s success in Gibraltar

Further to Mindaugas’s exploits on the rock (see earlier post), he has now completed the tournament with a very creditable 5.5/10. His tournament rating was 2481 (about 237 in old money I believe!) which compares very favourably with his actual rating of 2355.

I am hopeful that we may get to see some annotated games in the future.

Zeroes to heroes (second game added)


Leighton Buzzard A
 Bedford A
BoardNameGradeScoreScoreNameGrade
1Gary Kenworthy2110.50.5Steven C Ledger194
2Stephen Law17810James Gardner187
3Peter C Clarke18301Paul F Habershon175
4Kevin J Williamson16801Ravi Arulnandhy170
5Peter Hunt1730.50.5Darren Reed167
  23  
Played: 28/01/20     

Bedford A extended their lead at the top of Division One with this tight defeat of the current champions. They were missing their Russian and we were without our Lithuanian.

I didn’t see many details of games other than my own. First to finish was Board 5 where Darren thought he had an advantage then agreed a draw when he realised he hadn’t. Board 2 was a highly tactical skirmish which reached a level ending,  but when I next looked James was resigning. Steve had an extra passed pawn in a double rook and bishop ending but it was going nowhere so a crucial draw was agreed. I did not have a good opening as White (see game) but there was suddenly at move 26 a tactic which neither player had seen the move before. Ravi’s vital game was last to finish, a feast for the spectators. After castling on  opposite sides Ravi staked everything on an advanced passed d pawn and back rank mate threats. With little time left Kevin possibly missed the best defence and Ravi then just about had every counter attack covered. It would be great if he could post his game – he has done (below)

Considering that at the end of last season Ravi and I both lost against Leighton Buzzard when we needed just half a point more to win the league, this was quite a  zeroes to heroes evening.  

Paul Habershon (Acting Captain), 30th January 2020