The A team seal the deal.

Milton Keynes A  Bedford A 
1Richard CP Freeman211801Ravi Arulnandhy2073
2Francesca Matta196001James Gardner2080
3Phillip Ekhaesomi194501Toby Cox2066
4Robert Whiteside18930.50.5Okwose Marc Obi1938
5Thomas Evans168310Theo Jenkins1576

The A team aimed to secure the title against Milton Keynes, but we were missing two of our core squad members, including our top board.

Marc seemed quite cramped out of the opening but managed to gain some activity when pieces were exchanged, and he secured a draw with the black pieces.

I was looking for revenge against Phillip, who I had lost to earlier in the season. I had a bit of a shaky start, and had to go down a pawn to keep activity, but after a some pressing I was able to find some tactics, and win a rook.

Ravi got a very comfortable position out of the opening, and never let his grip on control slip. He converted after a few exchanges allowed him to double up a queen and rook on the eighth rank. This put the team in the position of just needing a draw from two games to win the league.

Theo was making his debut for the A team. He seemed to have an active position, but placed his queen too deep into contested territory. It unfortunately got trapped, and despite setting a few traps, Theo lost.

James was defending early on, but having a solid position he was able to expand after the threats died down. He seemed to smoothly outplay his opponent. By the time he knew the team just needed a draw, he was already winning and about to go a piece up. He converted with ease.

Which puts the A Team three points ahead at the top of the table, meaning we have the league with a game to spare. Good Stuff!

Toby Cox, 27th April 2022

Bedford C v OU

After two successive defeats the C Team returned to winning ways with a comprehensive victory over the Open University. It looks like a battle for second place in Division 2 between our C and D Teams.

After a series of exchanges Oscar quickly and efficiently engineered an endgame a pawn up with Rook and Bishop against Rook and Knight. The Bishop was better than the Knight and with Oscar bound to add a Queen, the OU Captain resigned.
Callum charged his pawns up the board in front of his uncastled King but lost his Queen’s Rook, still on its home square, for Bishop. Also a pawn down he looked likely to lose his 100% winning record for the season. However his Queen, despite spending most of the game on a1, having captured the Bishop, was joined by her own white squared Bishop, gained total domination of the long white diagonal and crashed through, making it 7 wins out of 7 for Callum.
NeIther Richard nor Dave Wells could get an advantage and with only Rooks and 6 Pawns each they agreed a draw.
Meanwhile Robert had won the exchange for a pawn but his King got stuck in the centre and he had to tread very carefully until it was clear that neither side could make any progress.
As I predicted Joe returned to winning ways. He opened lines on the Queenside and after both Knights gobbled up major pieces the dust settled and Joe came out on top. I was so excited I can’t remember exactly how but Joe still wasn’t happy!

Robert Walker 0.5 – 0.5 Luke Singleton
Ricard McMorran 0.5 – 0.5 Dave Wells
Callum Shields 1   –  0 Dave Webber
Jo Valerio 1   –  0 Dave Phillips
Oscar Tucker 1   –  0 Steven Wayne
4  –  1

Peter Gill, 15th April 2022

Bedford C edged out

The old codgers of Bedford C headed for Leighton Buzzard on Tuesday needing to win to keep our hopes of finishing top of Division 2 alive. 
I faced the Scandinavian defence on Board 5 – something I don’t believe I’ve met for over a hundred serious games. I wasted a lot of time before deciding to accept a gambit pawn. It took 20 moves for my opponent, Lee Davies, to regain the pawn at which point, having overlooking a winning resource, I meekly agreed a draw.  
Meanwhile Joe was struggling with his Modern defence in what looked to me like a very cramped position. He also missed a winning move, before going on to lose. Joe has had a bad run for a player of his pedigree but “after every valley there is a hill” – hopefully in Joe’s case on Thursday when we play at home against the OU.  
Robert on Board 1 had the unenviable task of playing Brian Valentine, a regular for Leighton Buzzard A. He got off to a promising start in a Run Lopez, managing to double his rooks on the d file, but Brian interjected his Bishop and was able to to establish a passed pawn on the Queen side which proved decisive.
That left Richard doggedly hanging on a pawn down – and a passed pawn on the 7th rank at that. To me it looked inevitable that Adrian Matthews would promote but Richard kept finding saving moves and as exchanges took place the pawn fell and a draw was agreed.  
Callum, obviously not an old codger, travelled independently and after struggling to find somewhere to park, finally sat down to play Peter Taylor on Board 3 with only about 30 minutes left on his clock. Very sportingly Leighton Buzzard captain Adrian Matthews and Peter himself agreed to waive their entitlement to a forfeit. They may well have regretted that. I didn’t see how how he managed it but Callum engineered two connected pawns opposed by Peter’s solitary one and a Bishop each. It looked pretty drawish to me but Callum, turning down Peter’s draw offer, was able to promote to a Queen with seconds left on his clock. He has now won all 6 of his games for the C Team this season!
Realistically however finishing top is now likely to be beyond us.

Robert Walker        0    – 1        Brian Valentine 
Richard McMorran    0.5 – 0.5        Adrian Matthews
Callum Shields    I     –  0        Peter Taylor
Joe Valerio        0    –   1        Dominic Watson
Peter Gill            0.5 –      0.5        Lee Davies 

Like London buses …

The B Team headed to Milton Keynes to play their penultimate match of the season, hoping build on their first win of the season last time round.

Richard was up against Graham Smith on board 3, looking to improve on his less than impressive record against him.  The opening was a Sveshnikov Sicilian and changes were pretty even throughout the game.  Once queens came off the position remained level with Richard perhaps having a little edge.  In the final position, Richard had the chance of winning a pawn on the queenside, but worrying about Graham pushing his kingside pawns agreed a draw.

My game against Dominic was a cagey affair.  There was plenty of manoeuvring of pieces, but with no pawns off the board the cramped position did not make it easy for either of us to make progress.  I did finally manage to open the e file and get control of it, but there was not really anything in it and a draw was agreed.

Paul was up against Adrian on board 2 and was in control for pretty much all of the game.  After 11 moves Adrian had a very long think and drifted into severe time trouble – leaving about a minute plus increments for about 17 moves!  Paul was able to capitalise on this an calmy started to pick up pawns to leave a winning position.

Marc always seemed to have a solid position against Alan.  After queens came off he was able to establish a strong bind down the a file against the a7 pawn and also had the advantage of a good knight against a very bad bishop which ended up stuck on d8 with not many squares to play with.  Having activated his king Marc won a pawn and simplified the position and was poised to create a decisive passed pawn on the kingside.

With the match won, attention turned to Qais’s game against Peter on board 4.  The position always looked better for Qais – with doubled rooks controlling the a file and Peter’s pieces uncoordinated.  As the game headed to the endgame Qais had a clear advantage as he had tied Peter’s king into the corner and his bishop on h2 with almost nowhere to go.  It was then a case of attacking and winning the weak queenside pawns and then creating passed pawns.  By the end it was a question of which of Qais’s four pawns were going to queen first – the honour falling to the g pawn and with it the game.

Overall an impressive 4-1 score line made it back to back victories (having waited so long for a first win) and lift us of the bottom of the table.

Alex Taylor, 11th April 2022

Bedford A crucial victory

 Leighton Buzzard A   Bedford A 
1Gary Kenworthy228301Steven C Ledger2185
2Peter Hunt20650.50.5Toby Cox2066
3Stephen Law20580.50.5Ravi Arulnandhy2073
4John R Sharp194501James Gardner2080
5Brian J Valentine192410Okwose Marc Obi1938
Played: 05/04/22      

Bedford A scored a crucial win on Tuesday. After losing to Leighton Buzzard earlier in the season, we needed to come away with points to keep in contention for the title.

My game was the first to finish. After a boring first 20 moves of a French exchange, I had a tiny advantage with better pawn structure, which I quickly wasted by overcommitting my own pawns. A draw was agreed.

The highlight of the night was on board 1. When I first saw the game, it was already in a knight endgame, with Steve a pawn up. However, he had less than a minute in the clock, to Garry’s 40. Despite Garry’s attempts at a swindle, Steve managed to simplify into an N+2 vs N situation, with connected E and F pawns. This was classily converted with a fork to force the exchange of knights.

After this, Ravi agreed a draw. Having less activity, but better structure for most of the game, he had managed to trade down into a N vs B endgame. Ravi had a passed A pawn, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the bishop’s dominance over his knight in the endgames.

Marc had a very interesting middlegame, with both players simultaneously having pawns reach the seventh rank in the early middlegame. However, when exchanges were made, Marc’s opponent played well to squeeze an advantage from nothing, and win a complex N vs B endgame.

That put all of the pressure on James. From a very closed position, neither side had seemed to gain much of an advantage, until James’ opponent left the defence of the long diagonal and allowed James to push his passed pawn. From there, he just needed to escape the perpetual checks, which he did with ease.

This puts the A team in prime position to win the league, being a point ahead of the competition with fewer games played.

Toby Cox, 10th April 2022

Bedford D top the table

Not a headline I’ve been able to use for a while so thought I’d grab the opportunity!

 Open University   Bedford D 
1Dave Wells17050.50.5Steve C Pike1840
2Paul Endersby158501Evan Lewis1746
3David Webber1300e01Theo Jenkins1576
4David Phillips13520.50.5Andy Evans1585
5Steven Wayne130810Ramsey Dairi1500e
Played: 31/03/22     

Bedford D made it a hattrick of wins last night.

When I first had a look around the boards after about an hour, Theo was a piece up, Evan was the exchange up and Ramsey had trapped his opponent’s queen! You can rely on these kids!?

My own game was a passive affair. I hate playing against the French so try to avoid mainlines which isn’t much of a plan. Lots of stuff got exchanged, I always thought I had an edge (deluded) and then when we only had a few minor pieces left, Dave offered a draw which I accepted.

By that point, Theo had converted his advantage and Evan’s exchange up quickly became a rook and the game.

Ramsey’s advantage had become complicated. His opponent had got two pieces and a lot of activity for the queen and suddenly there were tactics and a new queen and the game was unfortunately gone.

Attention turned to Andy’s game. As far as I could see, he had been up against it for much of it but had held on to reach an equal rook and pawn ending. His opponent still had the initiative but Andy showed what we have been missing when he hasn’t played, to hold out for the draw and the match.

Toby to play and win!

Thanks to Paul Habershon for noticing this. Hot(ish) off the press: Toby’s recent win over IM Neil Bradbury at the EACU Championships has been used in this month’s Chess magazine’s “Find the Winning Move”.

For those interested in the full game, see below. The Winning Moves puzzle is taken from white to play move 35.

Never in doubt

After Milton Keynes B’s unexpected defeat of Leighton Buzzard A on Tuesday, the wooden spoon is definitely between the B Team and our opponents on Thursday, MK A.  With both teams struggling, it was likely to be a close affair.

Marc seemed to have a good position after the Sicilian opening.  He had made good use of his queenside space and his opponent’s attack on the kingside did not seem to be going anywhere.  Once queens were exchanged, the ending looked pretty level, and a draw was duly agreed.

Paul and Rob had a closed Sicilian type opening after transpositions, and the game appeared to be pretty level.  Rob had decided to concentrate his pieces on the queenside and had a rook well positioned on d4 contesting the open file.  However, Paul set his sights on the kingside and Rob’s king.  He established a knight on f6, which could in theory be taken by  a pawn on g7, but not without consequences.  Paul then advanced his h pawn, took on g7 which left Rob facing mate in one of a few ways, so a much needed win for us!

Richard and Philip played out a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, and Philip played 3 e4 in his customary aggressive style.  Richard responded with 3…e5 and the game then looked very complicated with Philip leaving his king uncastled and Richard’s king slightly unprotected once Philip had exchanged bishop for the knight on f6.  The ending was balanced with Richard having slightly more active pieces but Philip had an edge, which ultimately he converted (I am afraid I missed the end so cannot give precise details).

To be honest, I did not know what was happening in my game after move 3.  The position was almost like an Alipin Gambit in reverse, but I certainly had the better position with my g7 bishop having the long diagonal and a king on c1 to have a go at and Richard did not really have any attack on the kingside.  I temporarily sacrificed a pawn to open up the c file and managed to double my rooks, but Richard managed to just hold off my attack.  As we both slipped into time trouble the position simplified and we were left with a double rook ending with me having an extra pawn.   We then reached a position with Richard’s king stuck on the a file and my king stuck on the back rank and it looked like a draw was inevitable.  Only after the draw was agreed was it pointed out Richard has missed a simple mating chance!

Qais was playing Graham Smith on board 4 and had built up a very solid position.  Indeed, the position was so solid it looked like a nailed on draw and Graham offered a couple of early proposals.  However, fearing for his colleagues’ positions (which given the season the team have had, very understandable) Qais declined these and they played on.  Qais then sacrificed a rook for knight and pawn, and for a moment it looked like Graham might break through on the kingside.  However, once queens came off  the position looked drawn again as set up a fortress on the black squares, making use of the opposite coloured bishops and there was no way that Graham could use his rook to break through.  A draw seemed likely, until Graham forgot about his clock and lost on time.

This meant that the B Team emerged as 3-2 winners so our long wait for a win is over!  We are still bottom on board points but at least we have broken our duck.

Alex Taylor, 25th March 2022

P.S. A good night for Bedford Club was completed by Bedford D who won well away at MK C.

You can’t win anything with kids!?

… and just as Alan Hansen was wrong about Man United in 1995, so he would have been wrong about Bedford D in 2022.

In the second division 2 derby of the season, Bedford D upset the form books by beating Bedford C.

 Bedford D   Bedford C 
1Steve C Pike184010Robert S Walker1758
2Evan Lewis174610Richard McMorran1653
3Theo Jenkins157601Callum T Shields1660
4Lucian Cox153710Giuseppe Valerio1728
5Ramsey Dairi1500e01Peter S Gill1728
Played: 17/03/22      

Against a rather wild French Defence, Robert kindly over-pressed and I was able to trap his queen or win a piece. For once, I played the subsequent ending efficiently.

I’m afraid my recollections of the other games are a little sketchy as I was actually concentrating on my own game for a change. Please comment below to correct my speculations.

Theo’s game looked fairly wild from the outset but, despite an appreciative audience, Callum played calmly to secure the point.

Ethan resumed his rivalry with Richard. From where I sat, f7 seemed to be the key square, multiply attacked and defended. Richard appeared to have equalised and then suddenly he hadn’t and Ethan converted a nice victory.

Ramsey’s normal assuredness seemed to desert him against a well-prepared C team captain. Peter amassed material and won without error.

Lucian appeared to be struggling against Joe (and his squeaky shoes) but in a Q+2P v Q+P endgame, Lucian showed maturity to take the game and, his side, the match.

Northants County Junior Chess Championships

A message from Ian Rose from Northamptonshire Schools Chess Association:-

We are very pleased to inform you that we are going to be holding the Northants County Junior Chess Championships at Wellingborough School on Saturday 14th May 2022.

This will be the first tournament that we have held for some time, and so we are very excited to get playing over the board chess once again.

Please find attached two documents – a covering letter from our chairman Alan Bailey, and an entry form for the Championships themselves.

We look forward to hopefully seeing many of you there soon.

Kind regards,

Ian Rose (Northamptonshire Schools Chess Association)