Bedford B avenging

Bedford BMK A
1Qais Karimi16701Richard CP Freeman182
2Alex Taylor16810Phillip Ekhaesomi164
3Nick Collacott17010Robert Whiteside160
4Marc ON Obi16010Peter Edwards157
5Toby Cox1640.50.5Ali Kheyrollahi155e

Bedford B hosted Milton Keynes B, looking to avenge their defeat earlier in the season.

My match was the first to finish.  An early exchange of queens left me with some weak doubled c pawns, but a little more space.  Phillip then overlooked the fact that I could pin his knight to his king and he could not prevent the loss a of a piece for a pawn.  It then was a question of simplifying the game and Phillip advanced his king, only for me to mate with the g pawn.

Marc always seemed to have the edge in his game against Peter.  An attack on the kingside led to the win of the pawn  which Marc held onto in the double rook ending.  After the exchange of one pair of rooks, Marc won a second pawn, and then powered through to win the game.

Nick and Robert faced each other on Board 3.  A Caro-Kann opening saw Nick have a good solid position and he then opened up the centre after the exchange of queens.  Nick won an initial pawn in the centre and then another, and his more active rook and bishop then allowed him to win another.  Despite being very short of time, Nick forced a resignation.

Toby looked to be in control of his game for much of the evening.  He had great pressure down the f file and his opponent’s pieces were all tied up.  In the ending Toby won a pawn on the queenside, but Ali then countered and activated his rook and bishop, which together with a passed e pawn looked to be well on top.  Toby clung on and accepted his opponent’s draw offer.

Qais and Richard’s game was very unclear.  For much of the game the black queen lived on h6 and the white queen lived on a3.  Qais tried to generate something down the open g file, but Richard managed to activate his queen and move into a rook and knight ending a pawn up.  At the end it was a knight and 3 pawns v knight and 2 pawns, and although it looked very drawish, Richard kept pinning Qais’s king and knight back, and eventually managed to win another pawn and the material difference proved decisive.

Overall 3.5 – 1.5 to Bedford B, which moves them to within a single point of the A Team at the top

Bedford D fall short

Bedford DMK D
1Steve C Pike16301James NO’D Alexander157
2Andrew J Chapman16010Paul Endersby119
3Richard McMorran1380.50.5Colin Solloway124
4Lucian Cox1120.50.5John McKeon115
5R David Cox8001Steven Wayne100e

Bedford D welcomed the other other D team in the league to an extremely busy North End club – the B team were also playing, various division matches were happening and even messrs Hill and Hickman were in spotted in the gallery.

Sadly, this good advert for chess in Bedford was not reflected on all boards of the D team, especially my own. Picking a very passive line against the English, I rather randomly castled long and mounted a caveman assault on the kingside. James played calmly and, although we reached a equalish endgame, his edge was manifest and he won well.

Lucian meanwhile was playing his usual expansive stuff. He always seemed to have a bit more space but next time I looked, it was K+N+P v K+N (!) and, although youthful optimism prevailed for a while, the draw was inevitable.

Despite sitting next to Andy, I did not really understand his game (not that surprising given that I didn’t understand my own). Against an open Sicilian, the pieces seemed to be operating at very long range. I was quite impressed that he had his knights on d1 and e1 after about a dozen moves! Clearly, it was too deep for me as suddenly it burst into life, Andy getting a much stronger position forcing his opponent to attack rather wildly rather than face a losing endgame – as often occurs, it was Andy who neatly checkmated his opponent who had given up defending.

David’s game was very messy to my eyes. It looked as though there were too many pieces on the board, an effect that was exaggerated by having an old, undulating (!) rollup board (who’s stolen all the boards?). It was a game where knights were supreme and Steven’s knights were better so he won! (I thi nk that was David’s summary?)

Richard and Colin seemed to be locked in a titanic struggle, Richard’s Dutch leading to a typical kingside attack. Exchanges and pieces were sac’d and sac’d back (I think) and it looked like the attack would succeed. When next I looked, Colin had K+R+4P against Richard’s K+N+5P but Richard’s pawn structure and activity was good and, with time becoming critical, a peace treaty was ratified.

Not the result we were hoping for but some good games and individual performances.

Bedford A stay top

MK ABedford A
1Graham Smith1740.50.5Steven C Ledger194
2Adrian G Elwin17201James Gardner187
3Dominic Bartram1630.50.5Paul F Habershon175
4Robert Whiteside1600.50.5Richard T Bodily173
5James NO’D Alexander1570.50.5Darren Reed167

Bedford A travelled to play Milton Keynes A as we reached the half way point in our fixtures. Mindaugas again not available with Darren replacing him on board 5. Steve Ledger had the white pieces for the first time in his 6th league game.

Paul was first to finish, white against Dominic Bartram who had played each other earlier in the season when it was Bedford v MK B and a similar opening resulted, a closed sicilian. Paul had the more passive position from the opening allowing his opponent to gain space on queen side and centre. Black then won a central pawn and had the better chances but erred and Paul was able to win the exchange. However with black seeming to have a very active position a draw was agreed. Fritz still prefers white in the final position but black had ominous threats.

On board one, Steve was up against Graham Smith, opening could be described as a queen pawn opening with black playing Qa5 on move 3. Queens were exchanged early followed by the rooks resulting in a 2 bishops (Steve) v knight & bishop ending with Steve having the worse pawn structure. I didn’t see the ending and Steve confirmed there wasn’t much to play for when a draw was agreed.

On board three James took on Adrian Elwin. Early on in an exchange Slav, James Qb6 attacking the b2 pawn should have been met by sacrificing it with an equal game, possibly even a white advantage but in defending it, weaknesses were created and Adrian had to let the exchange go. There was no way back from there and James finished very nicely (see game below).

On board 5 Darren with white against James Alexander playing against a Sicilian essayed a morra gambit which was declined. There followed a steady manoeuvring game with black infiltrating on the queen side but Darren assured me afterwards that all was under control and so it seemed. Major pieces were exchanged and Darren now seemed to have a slight edge and agreed a draw which assured the win for his team.

On board 4 I was black against Rob Whiteside and another entertaining struggle resulted, I must have played Rob more times than anyone else recently and games are always interesting. I accepted Rob’s Morra gambit against the sicilian and was able to exchange some minor pieces and then queens leaving me a pawn up in the middle game. This transposed to a rook and pawn ending a passed ‘a’ pawn up but i was unable to convert and another draw resulted.

This was sufficient for us to win the match 3-2 and maintain our position at the top of the league.

Richard Boildy, 14th January 2020

Bedford C edged out

Bedford CMilton Keynes C
1Michael T Botteley16001Ray Holland148
2Giuseppe Valerio1400.50.5Alan Heath140
3Peter S Gill1350.50.5Dave Wells138
4Robert S Walker12810Colin Solloway124
5Callum T Shields12801John McKeon115

Outgrading Milton Keynes C by about 6 points a board, and after beating all our opponents so far apart from the mighty Northampton, I was optimistic about this home fixture. After the first hour my optimism looked fully justified. Mike on Board 1 had a lot of pressure on Ray Holland’s castled King, Joe had won a very solid pawn against Alan Heath, and Robert and Callum were on the attack against Colin Solloway and John McKeon respectively. I looked like the only loser, grovelling against Dave Wells’ big centre with my Modern Defence.

I managed to survive Dave’s attack with even material. He was still better but he generously agreed a draw.
Robert managed to break up the pawn shield round Colin’s King and duly won.
But then things started to go wrong! Somehow Joe’s advantage evaporated, material was whittled down and with just a pawn and a bishop each another draw was inevitable.

Callum had trapped John’s King in the middle which in turn deprived John of the use of his rook. Callum’s pieces were all over John’s King but they ended up just getting in each other’s way. If John had taken a piece or two Callum might well have clinched a sparkling win. Instead the King slowly wriggled out of trouble and Callum, having eventually lost material, was left to try and swindle a draw with King and Knight against King, Knight, Rook and pawn. Too tall an order though there was a thrilling moment near the end when John might well have fallen for a stale mate – he did not.

That left Mike, yet to drop even a half point so far this year, but his early pressure had gone, he had lost pawns, and could not hold out for a draw.

Never mind, though Joe thoroughly disapproves of my lack of ambition, I don’t think we really wanted promotion anyway!

Good start to 2020 for the B team

 Leighton Buzzard A   Bedford B
1Stephen Law17810Qais Karimi167
2Peter Hunt1730.50.5Alex Taylor168
3Peter C Clarke1830.50.5Marc ON Obi160
4Kevin J Williamson16801Ravi Arulnandhy170
5Brian J Valentine1670.50.5Toby Cox164

The B Team kicked off 2020 with a trip to Leighton Buzzard, looking to do the double over them.

Traffic meant that 4/5 of the team were a little late,  but Kevin kindly did not start the clocks.

There were no New Year fireworks in my game with Peter Hunt.  After 20 moves or so the game was dead level when Peter offered a draw.  I looked in vain for a plan which could work, but not being able to see one, accepted.

Marc’s game on Board 3 was more interesting.  Out of the opening he had an advantage – although Peter had the open a file, he had a backward pawn on c6 which was vulnerable, plus Marc’s bishop was threatening the kingside.  Marc did manage to win a pawn, but the rook ending looked drawn, but as you can see from the game below, even at the end he missed a chance!

Qais endured a slog against Steve.  From the opening Steve managed to create weaknesses in Qais’s position in the form of two backward pawns on c3 and e3 and then forced the knight to Na2.  Qais tried to generate some activity on the kingside but it was not enough to save the game.

Toby always had a space advantage in his game against Brian, but the position looked equal throughout.  There was a moment of excitement, when Brian (mistakenly) thought that Toby has not made the time control.  Toby did not let himself be distracted, and pressed a slight advantage in a knight and pawn ending.  In the end once knights were exchanged the game was dead drawn.

Ravi’s game against Kevin was a topsy turvy affair.  Slightly worse out of the opening, Ravi was then thoroughly tied up in knots by Kevin.  However, Houdini then turned up and after the sacrifice of the exchange and a pawn, Ravi countered against Kevin’s king on the h file.  After queens were exchanged, Kevin’s pieces were in poor positions and Ravi’s bishop pair started to exert influence.  In time trouble Kevin avoided losing his last bishop, only to lose a rook instead!

A 2.5 -2.5 draw was a really good result for the team to build on.

Alex Taylor, 8th January 2020

Bedford B edged out

 Milton Keynes B   Away Team: Bedford B 
1Richard CP Freeman18210Qais Karimi167
2Francesca Matta1750.50.5Alex Taylor168
3Robert Whiteside1600.50.5Nick Collacott170
4Peter Edwards15710Marc ON Obi160
5Ali Kheyrollahi155e01Michael T Botteley160

Bedford B made a second trip to Milton Keynes looking to improve on their performance against the OU.

Mike was first to finish on Board 5.   I did not see much of the game, but from what I did see, he had a very comfortable position out of the opening and he was able to convert this to victory.

My game was one where there were very few chances for either side.  Out of an English opening the position was level although I was briefly a pawn up in the rook ending, the game petered out to a draw.

Nick initially had a good advantage in his game, and the pressure allowed him to win the exchange with a good position.  However, a slight miscalculation led to him handing back the exchange and the rook and pawn ending was dead drawn.

Marc appeared to have early pressure in his game and had cramped his opponent up.  However, his opponent managed to win a pawn and open up the position, which allowed his bishop pair to dominate.  Marc was forced in a rook ending many pawns down and he ultimately succumbed.

Qais and Richard had an interesting battle.  Out of a closed Sicilian position Qais grabbed a hot pawn and the next time I looked his queen was looking distinctly offside on a3 and his other pieces disjointed.  Richard took advantage of this to manoeuvre his queen to the kingside and put pressure on the king.  This ultimately led to the winning of the exchange, and the endgame was relatively straightforward.

After a promising start to the season, two losses leaves the team in mid-table, but with still plenty to play for.

Alex Taylor, 20/12/19

Bedford D win!

UoBBedford D
1Michael Joseph16301Toby Cox164
2Aleksandar Juhasz12101Steve C Pike163
3Efraim Ie120e01Andrew J Chapman160
4Desmond S Welton95e01Richard McMorran138
5Nicholas Pointon90e01Lucian Cox112

The addition of Toby gave the D team renewed hope of recording our first win of the season. The A6 seemed to be conspiring against us, being closed with no coherent diversion, but everyone eventually arrived before kick off. The University library makes for an excellent venue, which would have been further improved had the Union bar been open (which it normally is during term time) – apologies David!

Anyway, the match started at pace. Andy played the bishops opening with an early f4 and when his opponent swapped off the knight on g1, he simply recaptured with his rook and pushed his kingside pawns, not even stopping to castle long. Meanwhile, Lucian, who had castled queenside, was characteristically hurling pawns at a rather shaky looking Kings Indian setup. Toby’s game started complicated and stayed that way – the refusal of either side to swap material making for a very crowded kingside situation. My game which had started brightly against an advanced French was quickly becoming a familiar grovel. Richard’s middle game, to my eye at least, was looking solid wit more space.

First to finish was Andy. He never bothered castling, instead pushing pawns to h5, g5 and f6! Suddenly, the h file opened and mate followed swiftly.

Lucian was next. He maturely converted his attack to a R+N+4p v R+N+2p ending which he converted without trouble.

So 2-0 up but still some uncertainty. Toby’s game had drifted past my level of understanding, Richard seemed to be a pawn or so down but still more active whilst my game was showing some signs of opening up following a queen exchange.

My opponent suddenly lost patience and went for a petite combination which looked to win a pawn but actually lost a piece and, flattering swiftly, the game – I can take little credit but all gifts gratefully received at this time of year.

With Q+R+7p v Q+Rv6p, Richard’s opponent grabbed one too many pawns and suddenly Richard’s Q+R were causing havoc on the 7th rank. With creditable efficiency, Richard converted it to a 4v3 pawn endgame which he was never going to lose.

Toby’s game was still complicated with the added spice of very little time.! Both players had stopped recording the moves, leading to some concern amongst the spectators about how loss on time could be judged but there was no need to worry. With less than 2 minutes on his clock, Toby used the threat of a Knight fork to swap two Rooks for a Queen. The open board and his opponents lack of coordinated defence lead to swift resignation. When I asked Toby afterwards if it was all sound, “I have no idea” came back the reply – oh to be young again!

So a great result coupled with some impressive individual performances. The A6 still tried hard to annoy me on the way home but couldn’t dampen my first taste of victory as captain – Happy Christmas team !

Bedford A go top

Bedford AOU
1Steven C Ledger19410Jake Chan178
2Paul F Habershon17501Graham E Borrowdale175
3Ravi Arulnandhy17010Dominic Bartram163
4Richard T Bodily1730.50.5James NO’D Alexander157
5Darren Reed16710Paul Endersby119

The A team’s 5th match of the season was at home to the Open University, who in their previous match had defeated Bedford B. The usual entrance to the car park being closed caused some early confusion but all players made it to the venue on time. Mindaugas and James again were unavailable with Ravi and Darren replacing them on boards 3 and 5. Steve Ledger therefore had his 5th black out of 5 games played, sorry Steve.

Once again the match was very close, after 2 hours I couldn’t see that any Bedford player was better and some appeared worse.

On board 4 I was white against James Alexander and once again (!) I was first to finish. After yet another opening about which i knew very little, a Kopec Sicilian, black equalised easily but after several pieces were exchanged in the middle game it became clear that no-one held an advantage and a draw was agreed.

Next to finish was Steve on board 1 who was playing a new opponent, Jake Chan (see game below). He defended against d4 with his usual Benko and quickly achieved a standard position with decent play for the pawn sacrificed. He steadily increased the pressure, recovered his pawn following a nice combination and once it was clear he would be 2 pawns up with all the play, his opponent resigned.

Paul was white against Graham Borrowdale and after some initial moves the game transposed into a Tarrasch (I think). After a level opening, black obtained pressure against Paul’s isolated d pawn and following piece exchanges achieved a better major piece ending. With black looking for a mating attack on the back rank, there was a chance for Paul to force queens off into a rook ending with drawing chances but this was missed and black mated nicely 3 moves later.

On board three there was an entertaining struggle between Ravi and Dominic Bartram (see game below). White opened with a Reti and for once Ravi avoided a kings bishop fianchetto but still had a clear advantage after 10 moves – how does he do it? However white was able to generate central play and a king side attack. After some exchanges, Ravi had generated good counterplay against white’s castled king on the queen side and it looked like he would crash through. However queens and rooks were exchanged and advantage passed again to white in the minor piece ending with few pawns. But white elected to support his ‘a’ pawn with the king allowing a nice manoeuvre for Ravi to force his own passed ‘h’ pawn.

Finally on board 5 Darren defended with a Pirc against Paul Endersby. Despite the large grading difference between the 2 players, there didn’t seem to be much between them in the game and after 20 moves all major pieces had been exchanged leaving 8 minor pieces and pawns in a complex ending with white having more space and hence an edge. With Darren looking to open the position, white missed his best chance but still had the better of it with a remote passed ‘a’ pawn with Darren having a passed ‘d’ pawn. However in a long ending, black advanced his passed pawn too far away from support and Paul Darren (!) was able to capture this and enter a knight endgame a pawn up and carefully converted into a win.

So another win moves Bedford A to top of the league but with some tough matches to follow in the New Year.

Bedford C continue to impress

Bedford CBedford Uni
1Michael T Botteley16010Pete Montgomery146
2Giuseppe Valerio1400.50.5Marek Gladysz140
3Peter S Gill13510Efraim Ie120e
4Robert S Walker12810Humayun Mirza94
5Andy Evans100E0.50.5Nicholas Pointon90e

The latest addition to Div 2 of the Bedfordshire League turned out to strongly resemble a Luton B team – I guess the average age was well into the 40s if not the 50s.

Despite the table collapsing, fortunately without any injuries, first to finish was Board 5. As he often does Andy organised his forces behind an imposing wall of pawns. I didn’t see much of it but his opponent Nick Winton did much the same thing so I was not surprised to hear that they had agreed a draw.

Robert flung his pawns at Humayan Mirza’s King. Robert is a fierce player, more Beast of Balsover than Cuddly Corbyn.  His aggression paid off with a decisive gain of material.

My opponent was I suspect the only student, Efraim Ie. He got off to a tame start allowing me to gang my pieces up on his castled King, though at the expense of leaving my own King in the middle. I wasted a lot of time trying to decide between several promising lines. Pretty much ignoring my attack he started to threaten my uncastled King with a series of sharp moves played very quickly. By the time I took the plunge I was very short of time but he was always a move behind. Visiting former member John Harbour harshly rebuked me for announcing check mate when in fact it was only mate in two.

Next door I saw that Joe was a pawn down against Marek Gladysz but he had plenty of activity and I expected at least a draw. With Joe’s clock where it usually is with plenty of moves to go (ie soon to fall) Marek offered a draw which, to my relief, Joe accepted to clinch the match. John slightly spoiled the moment by pointing out that Joe had missed a forced win – I am not sure whether that was still on by then or not.

So a win on top board for Mike against Peter Montgomery would be the icing on the cake, though apparently Mike hadn’t had any time for cake or indeed anything at all having rushed from a late finish at work. Peter had yet to lose this season having drawn all his games for Luton A against players averaging 170. Mike, against similarly strong opposition however, had yet to drop even a half point in league matches (or indeed anywhere). When I first started watching the position seemed blocked but Mike had an imposing Knight in the heart of Peter’s position and was soon able to undermine the base of his pawn chain. Peter, no doubt feeling the heat, put his Knight en pris to Mike’s advancing pawn. He didn’t let go so was able to find another square for the Knight but resigned a move later.  I am not sure but I suspect his position was lost anyway. 

Bedford B falter

Open UniversityBedford B
1Jake Chan1780.50.5Qais Karimi167
2Graham E Borrowdale17510Alex Taylor168
3Dominic Bartram16310Marc ON Obi160
4James NO’D Alexander15710Steve C Pike163
5Paul Endersby11901Toby Cox164

The B Team headed to face the Open University looking to maintain their good start to the season.

Qais was first to finish.  From the opening Qais had managed to win a pawn, although being doubled h pawns, their usefulness was limited.  The position simplified to a rook and pawn ending, with Qais’s rook being more active.  However the position looked drawish, which became a reality when Qais unintentionally allowed a threefold repetition.

My game was next to finish, and really the less said about it the better.  I went wrong early on and although there was no material loss, my position was dreadful and I never had an opportunity to get into the game and Graham squeezed the life out of me.

Steve had a solid, if cramped position in his came out of English opening.  His opponent resourcefully sacrificed the exchange in order to open up Steve’s king.  Deciding attack was the best form of defence, Steve looked for a knock-out blow, but unfortunately succumbed first.

Toby played a really good game on Board 5.  He gave up a pawn in the opening to give himself much more space and play in the game.  He was able to re-gain the pawn and continue to turn the screws on his opponent.  He won a further pawn in the ending and ran out a comfortable winner.

For much of the evening, Marc looked to have much the better of the game on Board 3.  At one point it looked like he was going to catch his opponent’s king in the middle of the board, but it managed to escape and with it much of Marc’s advantage.  The bishop and pawn ending looked drawn, but a mistake meant a vital pawn was lost, and subsequently the game.

A 1.5 – 3.5 reverse saw the Team lose their first match of the season, but still in the hunt at the right end of the table