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 C struggle against a very strong Leighton Buzzard B

With James Gardner on board 1 we travelled to Leighton Buzzard for our last game with some hope but I can’t help feeling that standards in Div 2 have rocketed when County Captain Kevin Williamson, and National Manager of Grading Brian Valentine, can’t get in their A Team.

James having got off to a bad start against Kevin had to invest a lot of time trying unsuccessfully to disentangle. When I saw his Kingside Rooks pawns had been doubled (rarely a good sign I imagine) I correctly feared the worst.

I was also struggling on position but well ahead on the clock. Having lost a pawn and facing multiple threats I thought it wise to offer a draw. When I made the offer my opponent had about 2 minutes left for 16 moves to my 30 minutes. He used most of that considering the offer, by which time I’d have withdrawn the offer if I could. Subsequent analysis showed my position was completely lost but even with increments he might have struggled to avoid defeat.

Richard had a big pawn centre against Fred Dorn but it appeared to be under terrific pressure. After a long think he adopted attack as the best form of defence, thrust his Queen deep into Fred’s position and wouldn’t let go until the threat of a neat mate forced the win of a piece and an easily won ending.

When I first looked at Robert’s position all his pieces were developed and all his opponent’s were still at home. Somehow however his opponent managed to get all his pieces into the game only to succumb to a Queen sac and a bank rank rate.

That left Joe who seemed to have a drawn Rook and pawn ending against Brian Valentine and, a miracle, plenty of time on the clock. However there was still some play in the position and Brian pounced on one small error to clinch a win and draw the match – not good enough I’m afraid to lift us off the bottom of the table just behind the D Team who beat us twice!

James Gardner 0 – 1 Kevin Williamson
Joe Valerio 0 – 1 Brian Valentine
Richard McMorran 1 – 0 Fred Dorn
Peter Gill 0.5 – 0.5 Thomas Evans
Robert Walker 1 – 0 Tony Readman

Bedford B finish on a winning note (game added)

Bedford B played their last game as defending champions in the finale to the season against Milton Keynes A.  Nothing was riding on the match with both sides being in mid-table.

Marc was up against Gary Kenworthy. Despite initially having a solid position Gary opened up Marc’s kingside and his attack proved to be overwhelming.

Qais again had a solid position against Graham Smith and if anything had a slight advantage.  Ultimately an oversight by Graham lost a piece and the game (game added).

Jame was always under pressure against Graham Borrowdale after accepting a pawn sacrifice.  The exchange of queens did not help relieve the position as Graham’s bishop pair and active rooks ultimately proved decisive.

On board 5 Nick won an early pawn out of a French , and never really looked in trouble.  He won another pawn, and then another and although there were opposite coloured bishops on the board, the result was never in doubt.

My game against Adrian was a scrappy affair.  The position opened up in the middle game, and short of time Adrian shed a pawn.   I made very heavy work of winning the endgame, missing lots of easier ways to win, but managed to!  (despite a scuffle on the terraces – Ed!)

The 3-2 victory was a good way to end the season.

Many thanks to all who contributed to the effort over the year!


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

“Dismal saga” for Bedford C

Another dismal saga!

We travelled full of hope. MK C occupied bottom spot in Division 2 and are the only team we have beaten this season.

On board 3 I faced the formidable young Dominic Bartram whose grade for Division 2 games (mainly for the OU) is a whopping 170, having won all but one of his 10 previous games and drawn the other. Last time we played I managed to lose from a position given by Hiarcs as over 5 in my favour. This time I won a piece in the opening and – to my surprise – Dominic immediately resigned. Hiarcs only put my advantage at about 3! 

Jubilant, but careful not to show it, I started a long evening of spectating. I noticed that Nigel on board 5 was a piece for a pawn down, but for some reason he looked remarkably unworried. On closer inspection I saw that he was about to win John McKeon’s Queen and pawn for two Bishops – obviously a win I thought. My spirits soared, but those Bishops were demonic and his doubled rooks were brutal. Nigel’s plan was to triple his major pieces behind his extra pawn but I suppose if you have a big plus in material it’s not ideal to devote all your pieces to the defence of a humble pawn even if you hope one day to promote it. The  trouble was it was pinned and before it got going John’s pieces, unencumbered by Nigel’s trio, got at his back rank. Nigel battled ingeniously but eventually his King was cornered. 

Joe meanwhile was nominally playing Mastermind champion Alan Heath, but in reality playing against his usual opponent, The Clock. The loss of a meagre pawn was nothing compared with the 30 minutes it took in a vain attempt to avoid it. Another couple of long thinks and defeat was inevitable.

Richard was into a minor piece and pawn ending against Dave Wells but when it got down to opposite colour Bishops he couldn’t make his extra pawn count.

So it was down to Robert Walker to salvage a drawn match. He seemed to have chances against Colin Solloway, but he shipped a pawn, and then a Knight fork of his Rooks brought the proceedings to an end. 

Joe Valerio         0 – 1     Alan Heath
Richard McMorran  0.5 – 0.5     Alan Wells 
Peter Gill         1 – 0     Dominic Bartram
Robert Walker     0 – 1     Colin Solloway
Nigel Walker         0 – 1     John McKeon 
                1.5 – 3.5

Yours sadly, Peter

Bedford A still on track

We beat MKA 4-1. Great game by Ravi on 4 (see below). He’d requested Black. Order of finishing was quickish draw by Bodily on 5 v Whiteside. Double-edged draw on 1 where Kenworthy played an enterprising gambit v Beinoras and got a perpetual. Then Ravi made it 2-1. I was always plus v Elwin on 3 and turned Q side pressure into a K side mating attack. Lastly Steve on 2 ground down Graham Smith in R and N ending with better pawn structure.

This sets up a thriller away v Leighton Buzzard on 30th April. League will definitely be won outright – they just need a draw, we have to win.

Bedford B win at last!

Bedford B (still champs!) headed to Luton looking for the 1 game point required to remove any relegation fears.  Historically we have struggled, so another close match was expected.

In the event, it proved a rather one-sided affair.

Mike was first to finish his game.  He always had all of the play and after pressurising the queenside, he then pushed on the kingside and broke through with ease, and Mike assured me he was restrained!

Marc built up pressure against Andrew in his game and prevented his opponent castling.  This provided him with a sustained attack, which firstly led to the win of a pawn, and subsequently Andrew blundered in the ending dropping a rook.

Qais was looking for revenge for his defeat against Peter in the reverse fixture.  Sustained pressure on the queenside gave him space and pressure, which led to the win of a pawn and later on the exchange, which proved enough for victory.

I payed Samir on board 2 and quickly went into an endgame.  I was lucky to get control of the b file before my opponent, and once I achieved this I trapped one of his rooks on a3 and then manoeuvred my rooks to form a deadly mating net.

James was last to finish.  Out of a Queen’s Gambit opening Damon looked to have the slight edge, although James did not have any obvious weaknesses.  In trying to be active, Damon trapped his bishop on e4, allowing James to re-group and then play f3 winning it.  After that a win was assured.

An unexpected 5-0 victory gave us our first victory of the season and guaranteed Division 1 chess for next season.

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:-