No new year relief for what must be Bedford A’s worst ever start to a season. We have yet to win a match and we’re at the halfway point.
The evening started badly when James Gardner, untypically, forgot the fixture and defaulted. It was some perverse consolation that even if he’d turned up and won we would still have lost the match.
In the other lost games Mike and Andy never quite had enough compensation for an exchange sacrifice and lost piece respectively. Even in my drawn game I was largely on the back foot in an opening that Peter Clarke (Black) knew more about than I did (1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 e5 4 dxe5 dxe5 5 Qxd8+ Kxd8….).
Steve reached an ending with R + g and f pawns v R and g pawn, but Richard Freeman easily held on to draw.
Our next match is v Bedford B on Feb. 15th and I think the bookies have the B Team as favourites. I’m lucky not to be a Premiership football manager.
Paul Habershon, 12th january 2018
An away trip to play the mighty Leighton Buzzard is not the most appetising of prospects particularly in the depths of the winter. And when in the morning Joe Valerio had to pull out with what sounded like a very nasty case of flu it didn’t look any better. As luck would have it however young Toby Cox’s teachers had decided not to set him any homework and he turned up, complete with chauffeur, to ensure we didn’t default. Actually he did a lot more than that! I didn’t see much of his French defence as black on Board 4 but against new Leighton Buzzard member Titas Vdovycia (not all Lithuanians are International Masters!) he seemed to equalise comfortably, won a minor piece. and then efficiently exchanged off into an easily won ending.
I got so excited that I can’t say who finished next. Both Richard McMorran and Robert Walker on Boards 2 and 3 managed to win pawns against the wily duo of Fred Dorn and Ted Brown. Richard had also saddled Fred with isolated doubled pawns but meanwhile Fred had doubled his rooks on Richard’s second rank and compared with that the material advantage counted for nothing. With material reduced (I think) to bishop and rook and a handful of pawns I thought Robert had a win with a pin of Ted’s bishop. He would have won the exchange ( to add to his extra pawn) but for the inconvenient fact that the bishop took Robert’s own bishop with check, winning both Robert’s pieces – a nasty end!
Meanwhile our other Walker, Nigel, who looks a lot better this season than his grade of 86, appeared to have an overwhelming position as White against Tony Readman with his major pieces lined up against Tony’s King supported by what looked to me like a gigantic Knight on e6. But the Knight was a disappointment, his opponent had his own attack on the Queenside, and it petered out into a draw.
As a reluctant Board 1 again I found myself in the unaccustomed position of playing alongside Tupketov and Kenworthy playing in a Division1 match (apparently Leighton Buzzard’s A and B home games are all played on the same nights). Perhaps that inspired me because after a pretty feeble start against Adrian Matthew’s Pelikan I managed to win a safe pawn. Expecting Nigel to win, and being the wimp that I am, I duly offered a draw to ensure a drawn match. Perhaps Adrian didn’t hear it or perhaps he didn’t believe his ears because we played on. At this point Robert appeared and told me that Nigel had drawn but should have won. Fortunately I wrongly thought he said “You should win”. It would of course have been improper but nevertheless I could hardly agree a draw after that! I managed to convert the extra pawn into an attack on Adrian’s King and though (according to our next door neighbours) I missed several mates along the way it was still good enough to win his Queen (see game below).
Even though Leighton Buzzard were without Brian Valentine and Peter Taylor they outgraded us by around 15 points a Board so we have to be happy with a draw, a whilst a tiny bit disappointed that it wasn’t a win.
Before Christmas, I set a couple of “find the winning move”s that at least a few people solved but, for the record, here are the answers:-
Hitchin Congress 1983, Sandy Corden v C Lean
London FIDE Open 2017, Mindaugas Beinoras v Roman Mitra
Neil has continued to squirrel away vaguely memorable British games and this one, while it doesn’t make the cut for his collection of them, offers a little gentle amusement for Christmas. (And possibly the reflection that anyone who annoys Nigel Short can’t be all bad? – NH).
Most of us have experience of the “bitter-ender”, the player who refuses to resign even though a Queen or so to the bad. This game of Nigel Short’s shows that sometimes an opponent who resigns too soon can be even more irritating…
A number of club members recently visited the London Classic at Olympia. Aside from Mr Carlsen and chums in the Elite event, we were also impressed by the very strong Open event. 38 of the 288 players were GrandMasters of whom 11 were rated above 2600 ELO (roughly 253 ECF!).
The top board for Bedford A, Mindaugas Beinoras, competed and finished tied 44th with the very creditable score of 5.5/9. Here, he kindly shares his round 2 game (and more interestingly his thoughts) with us – I have missed off the final move which I will publish in the New Year (my Fritz doesn’t really agree with Mindaugas but his move gets the job done instantly so I do!).
Steve Bennett passed this to us recently via Paul Habershon. Its from a newspaper column citing a game played by Sandy Cordon at the Hitchin Congress in 1983. It was referenced on this website, shortly after Sandy’s death, when Paul mentioned that Jim Plaskett had called it stunning, and I agree. I will reproduce a snip of the column (slightly dodgy quality for added authenticity!) here and then publish the position properly with the solution in the New Year.
Not many of us get to play this sort of combination in a game of skittles, let alone a congress! It’s Sandy (White) to play and win.
Good luck – first correct answer wins a mince pie!
It has been pointed out to me that there is no games page for this season. There was but there was no way of accessing it! (this website really needs a new webmaster?).
It can be accessed now from here – obviously take the 2017-18 option.
There are some good, interesting and funny games on the page already but more are required. Just send me any serious game that you have played this season that you think might be of interest. Team captains, please encourage/persuade/bully your team into sharing their best stuff.
Facing the prospect of two 207 graded players on Board’s 1 and 2, without Richard McMorran and possibly without Joe Valerio, I was very grateful when Richard Bodily and Steve Pike agreed to stand in. In the event Joe recovered and this was the strongest C Team I can recall, but still outgraded by over 40 points on the top two boards and around 17 points a board on average. So I was not optimistic but how wrong I was!
First to finish was Steve playing Sratsimir Kostov. Steve got his Knight on the 7th rank and grabbed a Rook which was still at home while his opponent launched a King side attack. I sort of assumed Steve was bound to regret his daring raid. But far from it – he beat off the attack and held on to his material advantage. The last time I saw his game he had two Rooks and a minor piece for a Queen, and soon after I saw him rise in triumph. Polished off a 207 inside two hours! [modesty forbids publishing the game – no it doesn’t, see below – Ed]
Joe opened as black with g6, which I don’t recall seeing him play before, and got a solid game. His opponent grabbed what he thought was a loose pawn only to lose a piece instead. Two up and with a Walker still to finish – a won match surely.
Fortunately I had a comfortable opening and for once I was ahead on the clock but I was so excited I could scarcely focus on my game and I missed a check which would have produced a nasty attack for my opponent. Happily so did he! After that my enduring pressure down the Queen file led him to lash out sending his rook into my territory and to a sorry end.
On the next board was Robert Walker who I assumed would win as usual. However he did not manage to post an aggressive Knight in the centre as his custom. Indeed I’m not sure he got any piece beyond the fourth rank. He eventually succumbed after a dour defensive struggle.
Last to finish was Richard who, apparently against a player graded over 200 for the first time, had got to an ending with three pawns, Rook and minor piece on each side. I could see that Chris Ross was better but having played all evening without losing material surely Richard could hold out for a draw. At least Chris would have to go to the trouble of promoting a pawn to get winning chances. However Chris had other ideas. He conjured up deadly mate threats from his limited resources to make the score Bedford C 3, Northampton 2. So Richard lost but his presence on top board was surely crucial to a great result!
For once Bedford A were on the right side of an upset. Travelling to Milton Keynes without our two strongest players we were outgraded on every board.
Andy was first to finish, agreeing a draw in a middlegame where he had seemed to be under pressure with an inferior pawn structure.
Then Mike went for broke but lost a tactical battle.
The remaining games all went beyond 35 moves. I was very fortunate to win (see game) after Graham Borrowdale failed to convert a winning position. I even gave him a second chance when I fancied attacking his queen before picking up the exchange he had blundered. Unsurprisingly the clock was a factor in our highly inaccurate sequence.
Raymon desperately fought on in an ending a piece down but was inevitably doomed.
This left Qais to perform the heroics and draw the match. He reached a rook ending a pawn up, eventually getting to R+P v R and a potential Lucena position. When he ensured that the enemy king was forced two files away from the pawn I thought he knew exactly what he was doing. However, after a lot of experimenting, he somehow contrived to win by another method. Exciting stuff for the spectators and an unexpectedly drawn match. Perhaps we’ll get our first win after Christmas.
A top of the table clash saw the B Team take on the mighty Leighton Buzzard A with Nick and Robert making their season debuts.
All the games were competitive and it proved to be a real nail-biter!
Richard and Kevin were first to finish. Out of the opening Kevin had a slight edge, but after a lot of exchanges the ending saw Richard holding a slight advantage with the bishop pair, but there was nothing clear-cut and a draw was agreed.
Nick had a strong game against Steve Law. He created pressure on the kingside and this led to the win of a pawn. Exchanges simplified the positon to a rook ending, where Nick’s active rook was able to penetrate the black defences and it was going to win further material when Steve resigned.
Steve was involved in an interesting battle on board 4 against Peter. He appeared to have a strong attack. A complicated position arose, but it suddenly simplified to a rook and pawn ending which was pretty level and a draw was agreed. [In reality, I think I missed a strong move near the end and was subsequently fortunate that Peter accepted the draw – Ed]
My game on board 1 was frustrating. Worse out of the opening I managed to create some activity and with correct play probably had a draw. However, I went wrong and overlooked a trap which lost the game.
This left the scores level. Robert was fighting an epic rear-guard action against Brian on board 5. Despite being under severe pressure Robert managed to exchange pieces and reached a knight v bishop ending. Some ingenious defence allow Robert to prevent Brian making any further progress and a draw was agreed, which was a really impressive result
The overall score was 2.5 – 2.5 (mainly due to Nick and Robert – well played guys!).
The B team therefore reach Christmas unbeaten and ahead of the A team (for now)