Club championship decider

A suitably exciting game decided the club championship, Steve Ledger defending well despite aggressive attacking play by Toby Cox. Steve wins the tournament with an impressive 7 wins from his 8 games, only losing to Paul Habershon who finished second with a very creditable 6.5 points.

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