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 (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.
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:-
Oh dear. I knew it would be a tough week – two matches against Northampton in 3 days but I thought we might sneak a win or two.
For the away fixture last Tuesday we were boosted by Ravi who however got no change out of Chris Ross, and resigned when loss of a piece was inevitable. Joe gradually ran out of time and his flag fell in what was a difficult but playable position. Richard McMorran played most of the game a pawn down but was always confident of recovering it and duly did so to draw. Their Captain Dave Curran and I both had our moments, and I even showed some aggression with Black, but after the major pieces came off we fairly soon both settled for a draw. That left Robert playing Sean Ashley who earlier this season played on Board 2 to battle out another draw.
Never mind we soon would have a chance for revenge at the home fixture. Richard Bodily, who ran Chris close last year, came in on top board, and Nigel Walker on Board 5. Northampton were forced into one change – but my hopes for an easier match were dashed when I heard the replacement explaining how he had lost quickly to Jim Plaskett but beaten Jon Speelman (albeit in simuls).
First to go was Richard McMorran. It always seems to me that Richard’s games are on a knife edge with pieces and pawns all over the place but more often that not he is in control. But for once on this occasion he was not – he missed an early mate.
A few minutes later and Nigel who. despite lacking match practice, looked to have come though his opening with a very solid position showed he was a little rusty and simply left a piece en prise for nothing. Dave and I were now playing with colours reversed and again it was Black who was attacking but his pawn storm against my Kingside fizzled out into another draw. Joe ran short of time as usual at present and I watched the seemingly inevitable and unwelcome appearance of the dreaded black flag.
That left Richard to try to get our only win of the week. As he did last year he held on into an endgame which, against a lesser player, he could easily have won. Indeed with Knight and 5 pawns against Bishop and 5 pawns I understand he missed a fleeting opportunity to win a pawn. That having been missed Chris relentlessly exploited the slight edge his Bishop gave him to complete the near whitewash.
Northampton won Division 2 last season but were allowed to decline promotion because they expected to lose Chris Ross and their other over 200 grade player. Since the New Year however Chris is back and any club running a team in both Divisions will struggle to match them – we certainly couldn’t!
Ravi Arulnandhy 0 – 1 Chris Ross
Joe Valerio 0 – 1 Greg Smith
Richard McMorran 0.5 – 0.5 Nigel Young
Peter GIll 0.5 – 0.5 Dave Curran
Robert Walker 0.5 – 0.5 Shane Ashley
Richard Bodily 0 – 1 Chris Ross
Joe Valerio 0 – 1 Nigel Young
Richard McMorran 0 – 1 Chris (?) Sykes
Peter GIll 0.5 – 0.5 Dave Curran
Nigel Walker 0 – 1 Shane Ashley
The outgoing Champions faced Leighton Buzzard A looking to improve on their heavy loss earlier in the season.
Marc faced the daunting task of facing Evgeny. Out of the opening the position was unbalanced with kings castled on opposite sides. Marc’s position looked playable, but after the exchange of queens Evgeny managed to win the exchange by exploiting the open a file and converted this to a win.
On Board 5 Toby was facing Adrian Matthews. His position from a French opening was solid and led to Adrian looking to press on the king’s side, while Toby looked to break through on the opposite flank. Toby was able to blunt Adrian’s attack, and aided by his opponent’s time trouble launched a deadly attack to win the game.
Qais played the English opening against Kevin. With kings castled on opposite flanks the position both sides were looking to attack. Qais’s position always looked solid and he benefited from a better knight v bishop. Ultimately the pressure and Qais first won a pawn,then the exchange, which coupled with an unstoppable attack led to a win.
Nick had an interesting battle against Steve. After a Caro-Kann opening we saw kings castled on opposite sides and both sides attacking. The position proved to be very complicated with Steve starting to get the upper hand. Confusion then reigned as it appeared that Nick had lost on time, but it was not entirely clear if and when his flag had ‘fallen’. Nick felt the position on the board was losing anyway, so any real controversy was avoided.
With the scores level, my game against Peter Clarke would decide the match. For once i was not worse out of the opening and although I went slightly wrong in the middle game, I managed to get to and ending with a rook and knight v rook and bishop slightly better. After exchanging rook it was level and I was worse and a desperate pawn push to e7 led to me having a knight v two connected pawns, with my king away from the action. I was almost certainly lost but somehow managed to reorganise and draw.
The 2.5-2.5 draw almost certainly guarantees Division 1 survival, barring freakish results in our last two matches. It also puts the A Team’s title chances in their own hands – only the small matter of beating Leighton Buzzard A and Milton Keynes A and the title will be theirs!
This fixture ought to have been played before Christmas but Leighton Buzzard couldn’t raise a team and we agreed to reschedule. This time they had no such problem – they turned up with County Captain Kevin Williamson on top board.
With black against Peter Taylor’s e4 I played the Petroff. I have been trying for a year or two to “Lure my opponent into the Philidor Swamp” but after some early successes I found I was usually the one in a swamp so I decided to revert to the Petroff. I spent too long remembering the right moves but not – sadly – in the right order. For a moment or two I thought I had trapped white’s Queen, only to find I was losing a pawn and in danger of shedding more material. Fortunately Peter counter blundered into a dead drawn ending and for once it was my opponent who offered the draw, gratefully accepted.
Mac on board 5 was next to go. Playing Black he got a cramped position in the Pirc, lost (or sacced?) a pawn early on in a vain attempt to get some activity and went slowly down hill until 3 connected passed pawns down he resigned.
Robert on board 4 managed to win a minor piece against the always tough to beat Fred Dorn but with all Fred’s remaining pieces focussed on f2 and Robert’s King cowering on g1 he had to be be very careful as he chased Fred’s Queen away from the attack. He managed to do so and thus, something he has not always been able to do of late, converted a winning position into a win.
So all square with everything to play for. Joe’s game against Kevin was down to King, Rook and several pawns for both sides heading I thought for a quiet draw, and Richard’s was far too complicated for me to follow, so I decided to take a short break in the bar. There however I was soon joined by Joe himself who told me that he had nodded off with two moves to go and lost on time. When you have Joe’s talent I suppose you are easily bored by a quiet position.
When I returned I still thought a drawn match was possible as both Richard and Adrian Matthews were threatening bank rank mates with hot spots on all four corners of the board. The only result that looked unlikely to me was a draw. However Richard lost a Bishop and the central passed pawn he got in return was never going to be enough for a win. He did well to exchange off all Adrian’s pawns leaving Adrian with only a few seconds – a few hours would not have been enough for a win as he was down to a solitary Bishop.
Joe Valerio 0 – 1 Kevin Williamson
Richard McMorran 0.5 – 0.5 Adrian Matthews
Peter Gill 0.5 – 0.5 Peter Taylor
Robert Walker 1 – 0 Fred Dorn
Mac Mackenzie 0 – 1 Tony Readman
2 – 3
Bedford A dispatched a heavily outgraded Luton side, but need to win their last two matches against MKA and Leighton Buzzard A to have any hope of winning the League.
Board 4 was the first game to finish. It was quite double edged but Richard prevented the Black king from castling and won nicely (see game below). Qais came in for the unavailable Andy Chapman and duly won, making it 4/4 as a sub for the A team this season.
I won a pawn against Pete Montgomery but failed to convert after allowing some spirited counterplay in the ending. Next Steve clinched the match with a breakthrough when Damon was short of time.
Last to finish was Board 1 where Mindaugas gave a masterly demonstration of pressure against pawn weaknesses. Game below.
The B Team hosted Milton Keynes B, still looking for points to avoid relegation. The fixture earlier in the season has seen the sides draw and another close match was anticipated.
Marc played the From gambit in response to Richard’s opening f4 and seemed to have more than adequate compensation for the pawn. Richard’s pieces were very cramped, but he was able to hold on and the game was drawn.
My game against Francesca proved a little hairy. Out of the opening I stood worse and had to rely on pressure on the open h file to counter the pawn grabbing on the queenside. Eventually I managed to regain my pawns and simply to a drawn endgame.
Steve played actively against Rob and tried to launch a kingside attack. Rob equalised and seemed to have a bit of pressure in the endgame, but eventually the position was blockaded and peace terms were agreed.
Qais seemed to have a cramped but compact position. However, eventually he dropped the exchange, which proved crucial as his opponent simplified into a won endgame, despite Qais’s valiant attempts to hold the game.
James was left with the task of winning his game in order to tie match. In the middle game he created a lot of pressure and at one point it looked like he could break through. Some good defence by his opponent led to a rook and pawn ending which looked unpromising for James, until a mistake allowed him to create a passed pawn on the kingside which allowed him to clear the queenside and force through a pawn.
Overall result was therefore 2.5 -2.5, meaning that all Bedford A and B matched against Milton Keynes this season were drawn! A valuable point earned which increases our survival hopes.
This was a match we really needed to win, but MKB held us to a draw for the second time. With Andrew shedding pawns on Bd 5 and Ravi always on the back foot we went 0-2 down. Then Rob Whiteside failed to convert a winning position and Richard wrapped up the point (see game). Steve did not seem to be making much progress on Bd 1 but eventually his persistence paid off. This left me playing the deciding game, but I had already missed a simple exchange into a won pawn ending (see below). I was still a pawn up in a bishop ending but Francesca defended well and it simplified to a dead draw.
Captain misses open goal (Paul is overly hard on himself here but it’s worth a look, what would you play? – Ed)
Having drawn the away fixture, just missing out on a win, and bolstered by Mike Botteley on top board, I had high hopes for this fixture against the leaders in Division 2 last night particularly when they turned up without Graham Borrowdale. We comfortably out graded them but it was not to be!
I failed to convert a middle game rated by Hiarcs at one point as 5 points better and when still just about level I left a Rook en prise to a pawn. My opponent Dominic Bartram has won 7 games in the league so far with one draw and no losses mostly against much higher rated opponents. He didn’t play the opening at all well but outplayed me in the ending. I think I was the first to fall but Joe soon followed. I can’t say much about his game against Josue Fernandez – one moment it looked fine and the next he and his opponent were analysing a mate. And to complete the rout of our middle order Richard had all his major pieces aiming at Colin Solloway’s King but got nowhere and ended up in a pawn and minor piece ending a pawn down against an opponent he had beaten twice before this season. He battled on but could not resist a monstrous pair of connected passed pawns in the centre which hatched into a Queen – more than enough to squash Richard’s own hopes of promoting a pawn.
Mike did the business on Board 1 against James D’Alexander converting pressure from a pawn advantage to a classic bank rank mate against the fianchettoed King position with Rook and Bishop. That just left Robert playing on board 5. (When did we last have a Club Div 1 Player on bottom board for the C team?). He didn’t have things all his own way but eventually managed to free his extra pawn to promote.
So a very disappointing 2-3 defeat.
Mike Botteley 1 – 0 James D’Alexander
Joe Valerio 0 – 1 Josue Fernandez
Richard McMorran 0 – 1 Colin Solloway
Peter Gill 0 – 1 Dominic Bartram
Robert Walker 1 – 0 Paul Endersby
2 – 3
Peter Gill, 8th February 2019