Sunday, 18 December 2011

Dyfed Closed Round 5

It's a miracle we get any competitive chess in Round 5 of the Dyfed Closed, as most of the players have by that time eaten a huge Sunday lunch with all the trimmings, which is one of the traditions of the event. It proved no problem for Gerry Heap, who won comfortably against the lower-graded Roland Spencer to ensure at least a share of first place. Tony Haigh, on the other hand, had Rudy to cope with, a much tougher proposition, and their fiendishly complicated struggle was certainly the game of the round. Rudy had the advantage for most of the game, emerged from the complications a piece down, but managed to draw the ending. That left Gerry the winner, with Tony second. Rudy tied for third with Jamie Sen, who drew with Colin Denham. Of the other games, a special mention should go to Georgina, who for the second time this tournament narrowly missed the chance of a good result against a much higher-graded player. This time she came within a single king move of a draw with Julie. Once again it was a thoroughly enjoyable tournament - always my favourite of the year. Thanks to Iolo Jones for organizing it, the
Emlyn Cafe for hosting it, and Rudy for analysing the games.

Gerry Heap - Roland Spencer 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Haigh ½-½

Colin Denham - Jamie Sen ½-½

Matthew Francis - Jan Sendall 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Georgina Gray 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Paul Orton 0-1

John Basterfield - Scott Hammett 0-1

Margaret Baron - James Cook 0-1

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Dyfed Closed Round 4

For the first three rounds of the tournament, played on the Saturday, we had had an odd number of players, meaning that one player had to have a bye every round, which is always frustrating. On the Sunday, a new player, James Cook, joined us, which gave us the brief illusory prospect of a bye-less last two rounds. Unfortunately, John Florence had withdrawn overnight, so we continued with an odd number. The two leaders, both on maximum points, met in this round, and Tony Haigh did well to hold Gerry Heap to a draw. Jamie Sen continued to do well, with a win against Scott Hammett, and Roland Spencer scored a considerable upset by beating Colin Denham. The last game to finish was a complex ending between Jan Sendall and Tony Geraghty. With all the other players watching (and, rightly, not saying anything) they continued to play for several moves after Tony's flag had fallen. Eventually Jan noticed and claimed the win - but even then Tony, unfamiliar with the digital clock, thought for some time afterwards that he had won.

Tony - Haigh - Gerry Heap ½-½

Roland Spencer - Colin Denham 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Matthew Francis 1-0

Scott Hammett - Jamie Sen 0-1

Paul Orton - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Jan Sendall - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Georgina Gray - Margaret Baron 1-0

James Cook - Ian Finlay ½-½

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Last Match Before Christmas

Aber's last match before the Christmas break was played between the B team and Haverfordwest B in the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 5th December. Playing Black on Board 1, I took advantage of Jan Sendall's blunder - he left a bishop en prise in an even middle-game, after which the win was comparatively easy. James Cook had more problems at first: Tim Kirby broke through his lines with a knight, creating some confusion, before losing control and allowing his own position to fall to pieces. Tony Geraghty was also uncomfortable, in a blocked position where Robbie Coles seemed to have most of the chances. Eventually it resolved into a difficult rook-and-pawn ending where both players, understandably, committed several inaccuracies before agreeing a draw. Ian Finlay should have had it all his own way with his kingside attack against Margaret Baron; in fact, he made a couple of mistakes which a more experienced opponent might have taken advantage of before clinching what was still a quick win. Haverfordwest were heavily outgraded, so the result, 3½-½, was no great surprise.

Jan Sendall - Matthew Francis 0-1

James Cook - Tim Kirby 1-0

Robbie Coles - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Ian Finlay - Margaret Baron 1-0

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dyfed Closed Round 3

I suppose chess is usually a game of missed opportunities, especially at amateur level. There were plenty in Round 3. The top board encounter between the two favourites was a case in point. Rudy emerged from the opening with the better position, but misplayed it, losing material. Ian was on top against Scott Hammett but lost his way in the complications. John Florence had excellent chances against Roland Spencer in a very unbalanced position, and even the lowest-graded player present, Margaret Baron, could have had a clear advantage against the much stronger Colin Denham at one point. Paul Orton and I both took it in turns to throw away winning chances, so the only draw of the round seemed a fair result. At the end of the first day, Gerry Heap and Tony Haigh were the only players left on maximum points.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Haigh 0-1

Paul Orton - Matthew Francis ½-½

Jamie Sen - Jan Sendall 1-0

John Florence - Roland Spencer 0-1

Margaret Baron - Colin Denham 0-1

Ian Finlay - Scott Hammett 0-1

Tony Geraghty - John Basterfield 1-0

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Two Layers of Whitewash

The first match this season between the Aberystwyth A and B teams was, unusually, split by agreement of the captains, to enable both sides to field their preferred teams. Boards 2, 3 and 4 played at the St David's Club on 15th November, while the top boards played two weeks later. On Board 2 for the Bs, James Cook held his own well into the middlegame with his Caro-Kann against Rudy van Kemenade. Both made mistakes in the complications, but it was the lower-graded player who made the fatal errors just before the time control. Tony Geraghty was also punching above his weight, winning the exchange from the new A-team player Matthew Holborow. However he underestimated the potential counterplay in the position and was overwhelmed by a tactical fightback. Julie van Kemenade and Ian Finlay are both aggressive players, and their battles are usually exciting. Julie deserved a brilliancy prize in this one for her spectacular double piece sacrifice, a combination worked out, as Rudy pointed out in his subsequent analysis, eight moves deep. That left the A team 3-0 ahead. In the postponed Board 1 game, I played a line against the Petroff that I had used to score an upset against Mark Talbot last year. This time he was ready for it; a pawn up in a double-edged position he chose to continue attacking rather than try to simplify to a winning ending, and prevailed in the complications. So a whitewash in two instalments to the A team, but the B team put up a good fight.

Matthew Francis - Mark Talbot 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - James Cook 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Matthew Holborow 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Ian Finlay 1-0

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dyfed Closed Round 2

Round 2 saw the first draws of the tournament. Tony's game against Scott Hammett was a close-fought encounter; Tony was an exchange up but ultimately unable to break through. John and I were both lucky to survive. Ian missed a mating attack against John and agreed a draw in a position where he was still winning, while I was two pawns down against Julie but got one of them back, with opposite-coloured bishops discouraging her from playing on. The decisive games once again followed the ratings, though Jamie Sen held his own against Tony Haigh for quite a while, and Rudy's exchange advantage didn't seem to guarantee a win until Paul Orton slipped up.

Colin Denham - Gerry Heap 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Paul Orton 1-0

Matthew Francis - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Tony Haigh - Jamie Sen 1-0

Roland Spencer - Margaret Baron 1-0

Scott Hammett - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Jan Sendall - Georgina Gray 1-0

John Basterfield - Ian Finlay ½-½

Monday, 21 November 2011

Dyfed Closed Round 1

After some tremendous analytical work by Rudy, I am now able to post the annotated games from the Dyfed Closed Championship, which was played over the last weekend in October. As I've done with other tournaments, I'll post them one round at a time, and this time I'll include every game, not just those featuring Aber players.

In Round 1, all the games were won by the higher-graded player, with the exception of newcomer Jamie Sen's win over the experienced Roland Spencer. The winner here had been given a provisional grading of 1200, but, following a fine performance in the tournament, it was clear that this was much too low, and it was retrospectively raised to 1500. Of the other games, it should be said that Tony Geraghty outplayed Colin Denham for much of their game and only lost through mishandling the clock. Georgina Gray had me in a lot of trouble (not for the first time) before I managed to wriggle out - Rudy's annotations, tracing the line we played through games by nineteenth-century champions and fledgeling modern grandmasters, are fascinating. Ian Finlay surprised Rudy with a new gambit in the Budapest, but lost anyway, and John Basterfield, after a disastrous opening against Tony Haigh,very nearly managed to get back on terms.

Gerry Heap - Scott Hammett 1-0

Ian Finlay - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Haigh - John Basterfield 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Colin Denham 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Jan Sendall 1-0

Georgina Gray - Matthew Francis 0-1

Paul Orton - John Florence 1-0

Jamie Sen - Roland Spencer 1-0

Meanwhile I can report that Aber A are leading Aber B 3-0 in the St David's Club derby, with the postponed Board 1 game between Mark Talbot and myself still to play. Report soon.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

B Team Have Luck on Their Side

The B Team have made a much more encouraging start to the season than last year, and the match against Cardigan B at the St David's Club on 8th November was another success, though it owed something to luck. On top board, Julie van Kemenade was facing an opponent who, though lower rated, has sometimes given her problems in the past. Her Philidor Defence led to a cramped game this time, and Howard Leah was able to invade on the white squares. While the computer shows some counter-attacking possibilities for Black, it was a desperately difficult position, and she eventually allowed the mate. On Board 2, I mishandled my 150 Attack against Roland Spencer's Pirc. Black seemed to hesitate between several ways of gaining an advantage and I was able to create complications in which both sides in turn went wrong. I was fortunate to be the player who, as the old chess adage has it, made the last mistake but one. Jamie Sen against James Cook reached a complex position with opposite-coloured bishops, queens and pawns. White was objectively worse, but ahead on the clock and turned down a couple of draw offers. As often happens in such cases, he then blundered, dropping a piece, which made the win a formality even with only a few minutes left. Finally on Board 4, Awne Osinga played ultra-cautiously against Tony Geraghty's London System, allowing White to build a strong attack. The ending was unexpectedly quick, as Black, in defending a threat to a piece, forgot about the mate threat he had stopped the previous move. The match finished 3-1 to Aber. Once again, it was played on a lively club night with the Heartsong choir singing in the next room. Aber home matches have an atmosphere all their own.

Howard Leah - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Roland Spencer 1-0

Jamie Sen - James Cook 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Awne Osinga 1-0

Friday, 4 November 2011

Difficult Match for the A-Team

Haverfordwest A versus Aberystwyth A was a difficult match for both sides. Against their much higher rated opponents Haverfordwest did very well to earn the draw.

First off the mark was Rudy, who won a couple of pawns and induced a desperado sacrifice. However taking the second piece on offer was too much of a good thing, and he would have faced severe difficulties if Ron Wade had not forgotten about his queen. Georgina had excellent prospects at first when Jan Sendall grabbed a pawn, but the advantage slipped away and in the end her king was in too draughty a room. Julie playing against Scott Hammett was always going to get complicated. Scott got exactly the kind of position he wanted for his pieces, but unfortunately for him there was a tactical loophole which left him a rook down. Despite valiant attempts to blow open the Black king it was the White one that went down. This left Mark with his Caro-Kann against Colin Denham. Unorthodox play led to a position which looked drawish despite some errors on both sides. Trying too hard to win, Mark found that there was a combination that led to the loss of a piece.

Result 2-2

(Report by Rudy)

Colin Denham - Mark Talbot 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Ron Wade

Scott Hammett - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Georgina Gray - Jan Sendall 0-1

Meanwhile the Dyfed Closed Championship was held over the weekend of 29th / 30th October, and Aber, as usual, was well represented. Rudy, the winner for the past two years, finished third this time on 3½/5, behind Gerry Heap of Camarthen (4½) and Tony Haigh (Cardigan, 4), in a tie with an extremely talented new junior player, Jamie Sen (Cardigan), who won a grading prize. Julie and I both finished on 3, Georgina and Ian on 2, Tony and John on 1½, and James, who only played the second day, on 1½/2.

(Report by Matthew)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Another Close Match

After their close first match against Haverfordwest A, the B Team's second match, against on Tuesday 18th October, was also very well contested. Iwan Griffiths and I had a tense if unspectacular battle in an unusual line of the Tarrasch defence, which abruptly resolved into a drawn position. James Cook, returning to the club after several years away, also drew with Owen Llywelyn in the main line Caro-Kann, an opening both players know well. On Board 3, Ian Finlay dropped a piece against David Moore, an evenly matched but inexperienced opponent who showed great composure in driving home his advantage. Only on bottom board was there a significant discrepancy in rating between the two players, and John Basterfield justified his higher rank by working up a fine attack in the Ruy Lopez. Tegwyn Jones didn't seem to do a lot wrong, but he was already lost when he hastened the end by touching his queen in error and resigning immediately. It was the first home match this season to be held in the St David's Club, and it was particularly gratifying that several other players (including some new ones) turned up and played friendly games at the same time. The singing of the Heartsong choir in the next room didn't seem to put anyone off (for my part I find it helps me concentrate). The match was drawn, 2-2.

Iwan Griffiths - Matthew Francis ½-½

James Cook - Owen Llywelyn ½-½

David Moore - Ian Finlay 1-0

John Basterfield - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A-Team Follow Suit

Cardigan B had the normal difficulty at the start of the season in raising a full team, so started one board short. Mark kept a slight edge against Tony Haigh’s favourite Trompovsky, and accurate rook endgame play brought the result
(though of course computers can always find quicker wins). Roland Spencer chose a Black line that was uncommon for him, but unfortunately it allowed one of Rudy’s favourite lines, where the Black side lay passive, waiting for the final onslaught. Dave, perhaps a little rusty after the break, had several good chances to try for tricks, but missed a key defensive move. Perhaps a little fortunately, Awne Osinga seemed impressed by Dave’s higher grade and offered the draw. 3½-½ to Aber, an improvement on last year's rather uncertain start against the same team.[Report by Rudy.]

Tony Haigh - Mark Talbot 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Roland Spencer 1-0

Awne Osinga - David Ferguson ½-½

B Team Win First Match

The first match of the season was played between Aberystwyth B and Haverfordwest A in the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 3rd October. The two teams were well matched on paper and the result was in doubt until the very end of the evening. On Board 4 Georgina Gray scored an impressive early victory, conjuring an attack out of nowhere against Robbie Coles's unorthodox opening, though computer analysis shows that White could have defended it. But Aber was soon in trouble on Board 2, where Ian Finlay lost a piece in a series of exchanges to the higher-rated Ron Wade. He defended resolutely, winning back some material, but eventually succumbed to a passed pawn. On Board 3, Tony Geraghty was involved in an intricate tactical skirmish against Jan Sendall, but his pieces were better co-ordinated, and his opponent's position abruptly fell to pieces. With the score at 2-1 to Aber, that left only the game on top board to be decided. I had started slowly against Colin Denham, but the advantage swung this way and that as the pressure built up. Both players were in time trouble and began to make blunders. Finally Colin was left with rook and king against lone king, but in a desperate time-scramble with all the other players looking on he was unable to force mate before his flag fell, resulting in a draw. So an exciting first match finished in a win to Aberystwyth B, 2½-1½.

Matthew Francis - Colin Denham ½-½

Ron Wade - Ian Finlay 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Jan Sendall 1-0

Robbie Coles - Georgina Gray 0-1

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

More News from Leyland

Julie van Kemenade also played in the Fide rated tournament at Leyland, achieving 2 out of 6, despite being second lowest rated player. Unfortunately this included a full point bye in the 2nd round. Unfortunate because it means you get an even stronger opponent in the next round. However Julie clocked up a win in that next round, though against an opponent without a FIDE rating. She then came up against a promising junior, Henry Broadley, a member of the England U18 squad, rated FIDE 1860 and ECF 2090. A complex game ensued where Henry just managed to escape from an inferior position with the resource of a backward B move.

Overall though Julie managed to gain two points on her Welsh grade from the tournament.

[Report by Rudy]

Henry Broadley - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Monday, 26 September 2011

Leyland and Leek Report

Both Mark Talbot and Rudy van Kemenade played in two recent congresses in Leyland and Leek recently.The Leyland one, over 6 rounds in the late August bank holiday, was a FIDE-rated tournament.Mark, after a bye in round one, and a second round loss, recovered well to finish on 4 points overall, Mark beating Rudy when they met in round 4 with a complex Petroff defence,winning a pawn, and,after Rudy failed to make the most of his dark square compensation, winning the R vs B endgame comfortably.

Rudy had a decent tournament, notwithstanding missing draws in two games and a win in another, to finish on 3 out of 6, all against higher graded players. Hence an enhanced FIDE and Welsh grading result.

At Leek Mark chose to play in the Major but had a difficult time defending against the lower graded opponents, finishing on 2½ from 5 (with a first rd ½-point bye). Rudy, playing in the FIDE-rated section,had a reprise of Leyland. Again the 50% score was good for enhanced points against the higher grade opposition, 2½ from 5 (with a first round 1/2 bye). The featured game was a successful positional game to avenge a loss from a winning position against the same opponent at Leyland.

[Report by Rudy]

Rudy van Kemenade - Paul Isherwood 1-0

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fixture List

Here are the club's matches for the forthcoming season of the Dyfed League. Monday and Wednesday matches will be played at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, while Tuesday matches will be played on our home territory, the St David's Club, Aberystwyth. For these home games, players not involved in the match are welcome to turn up. All matches begin at 7.30.

Monday 3/10/2011 Haverfordwest A - Aberystwyth B
Tuesday 4/10/2011 Aberystwyth A - Cardigan B
Tuesday 18/10/2011 Aberystwyth B -
Wednesday 19/10/2011 Haverfordwest B - Aberystwyth A
Monday 31/10/2011 Carmarthen - Aberystwyth B
Wednesday 2/11/201 Aberystwyth A - Haverfordwest A
Tuesday 8/11/2011 Aberystwyth B - Cardigan B
Wednesday 9/11/2011 Carmarthen - Aberystwyth A
Tuesday 15/11/2011 Aberystwyth A - Aberystwyth B
Monday 5/12/2011 Aberystwyth B - Haverfordwest B
Tuesday 6/12/2011 Aberystwyth A - Cardigan A
Wednesday 11/1/2012 - Aberystwyth A
Monday 23/1/2012 Cardigan A - Aberystwyth B
Monday 30/1/2012 Cardigan B - Aberystwyth A
Monday 6/2/2012 Aberystwyth B - Haverfordwest A
Wednesday 8/2/2012 Aberystwyth A - Haverfordwest B
Wednesday 15/2/2012 Haverfordwest A - Aberystwyth A
Monday 20/2/2012 Aberystwyth B - Carmarthen
Wednesday 29/2/2012 - Aberystwyth B
Monday 12/3/2012 Cardigan B - Aberystwyth B
Wednesday 14/3/2012 Aberystwyth A - Carmarthen
Tuesday 20/3/2012 Aberystwyth B - Aberystwyth A
Monday 26/3/2012 Cardigan A - Aberystwyth A
Monday 2/4/2012 Haverfordwest B - Aberystwyth B
Tuesday 17/4/2012 Aberystwyth B - Cardigan A
Tuesday 24/4/2012 Aberystwyth A -

Monday, 19 September 2011

AGM Minutes

Aberystwyth Town Chess Club

Annual General Meeting

The 65th AGM of the Aberystwyth Town Chess Club was held in the first floor meeting room St. David’s Club, Eastgate St, Aberystwyth, 7:30 pm on Tuesday 13th September 2011.

Present: M. Francis [in the chair], A. Geraghty, Secretary /Treasurer, I. Finlay, J. Basterfield, R. van Kemenade, J. van Kemenade.

1. Apologies for absence. None.

2. Minutes of the previous AGM were accepted.

3. Matters arising. None.

4. The chairman reported the club on the whole had a successful year. We entered two teams in the Dyfed League and fulfilled our fixtures without a default. The Club Championship, now established as a weekend tournament, had, with the co-operation of members, been played as a seven match round-robin, which was won by Mark Talbot.

The chairman also congratulated members for some fine individual achievements. Rudy and Julie van Kemenade both represented Wales at International level. Rudy also retained 1st place at the Dyfed Closed Championship. Mark Talbot won 1st place at the Heywood Congress. Rudy, John Basterfield and Georgina Gray all won grading prizes during the season.

5. Secretary/Treasurer's report. Tony Geraghty reported the club was in good financial order. The rent to the St David's Club was paid for the next two months and there is £102.00 in the bank. The secretary reminded members that the WCU £10.00 and Dyfed league £5.00 fees are now due. He also took the opportunity to remind team players to share the travelling cost on match nights.

6. Match Captains’ reports. Rudy van Kemenade reported that the A team had a very good season finishing in second place to champions Cardigan despite beating them twice. Alas, points dropped in other games decided it.

Ian Finlay reported that the B team had finished 4th in the league despite a poor start to the season and only failed to retain the Iolo Jones trophy by ½ a point.

7. Any other matters.

The need to attract new members was discussed. Matthew Francis agreed to continue match reports to the Cambrian News, put posters up at the university and maintain the Blog.

8. Election of Officers.

The following were elected:

Chair – Matthew Francis

Secretary and Treasurer – Anthony Geraghty

Match captains:
A Team – Rudy van Kemenade
B Team – Ian Finlay

Blogmaster – Matthew Francis.

Anthony Geraghty, Club Secretary.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Penarth and New Season

The new season has started and the AGM was last week. I will post the minutes when I have them. I am also expecting some games and tournament news, but meanwhile I can report on my own rather patchy performance in the Major section of the South Wales Autumn Congress at Penarth, where I scored 1½/4. Here are two of my games, both featuring nice sacrificial finishes - the winner of the second was eleven years old!

Simon Blackmore - Matthew Francis 0-1

Matthew Francis - Nyasha Katsande 0-1

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Summer Break

The next meeting of Aberystwyth Chess Club, on Tuesday 28 June, will be our last of the season. We will take a break for July and August, and resume on Tuesday 6th September.

Meanwhile chess continues in the form of tournaments, anyway, and club champion Mark Talbot had an excellent performance in the under-180 (ECF grading) section of the Heywood Congress, finishing first with 4½/5, or rather with 4/4, since the half-point was for a bye.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

European Senior Team Championships Rd 9

Rudy concludes his series of reports:

The team played its strongest players in the final round. John’s game finished first. His opponent surprised him by going down a complex line in the Schliemann, where John had plenty of home analysis. However White's piece sacrifice then yielded a draw by repetition. Rudy’s opponent as White played a passive line, setting a King’s Indian against a King’s Indian, but Black actually had more freedom of movement, as only one White piece got into the Black territorial space on g5. The White pieces bunched together around the king and, when an inadvertent advance lost a key pawn, White had had enough. The Finland 2 team only had four players, and the need to play every game had clearly taken its toll. Richard got exactly the kind of niggling edge he had prepared for against his opponent’s Grunfeld. However, seeing the team was ahead, he offered a draw, which was taken. Iolo got interesting play, avoiding the Stonewall Dutch his opponent had used to good effect in the previous round. It transposed to a King’s Indian Attack against a French setup, but after various clearances on the queenside, a draw was enough to clinch the match. Score 2½-1½, and Wales end above their initial ranking of 22nd out of 35 with a 50% match result, level with England 1 on match points (though game points put us a few places below.)

Russia 1
Germany 2
Scotland 11
England1 16
Wales 18
England 2 20
England 3 28

European Senior Team Championships Rd 8

Wales has broken the logjam with a win after 3 drawn matches. Norway left out their top player, but perhaps this was compensated for by the strength of their two bottom players. Although officially listed as 1600, they are at the moment ungraded, but actually both have part-ratings in the bag from a previous Senior event, and should both be in the high 2000s in the next grading list. Rudy played one of these and got a clear advantage on the Black side of a King's Indian, but a breakthrough somehow eluded him(and the rest of the team on looking at the game afterwards). On checking the database, Rudy had the exact same position only last year at the Senior team event in Dresden, and played a far better continuation, which led to a win there. A draw occurred here by repetition. Bob got an excellent position against the Alekhine Defence, sacrificing a pawn on e6 to jam in the Black pieces. He castled long, opened up the h file, and launched a fierce kingside attack. However he then missed several excellent chances, won an exchange but his opponent's two bishops and central pawns were enough, so a draw was agreed. Iolo employed his usual Old Indian, and established a central wedge. When that was loosened, there were too many weaknesses left in the White position, which led to a loss of pawns, the exchange, and finally another bishop as well. John got an excellent position against a French Winawer with an early b6 . The black-square weaknesses, coupled with White’s spatial advantage, meant that John was able to put his pieces into position to demolish the Black kingside. Faced with a number of different mating possibilities, Black resigned. Score, back to 3-1 to Wales.

We end with Finland 2, having started with Finland 1.

European Senior Team Championships Rd 7

Another mixed bag today. Richard didn’t quite get the variation in his King’s Indian that we prepared for, and, having had a restless night, agreed to a threefold repetition. John as White played a complex line in the Winawer, but forgot to play the exact move, and was a rook down albeit for several powerful pawns. His opponent, surprised by this, offered a quick draw, which was accepted. Rudy had an unfortunate experience. Playing a Leningrad Dutch reversed, he quickly broke through on f5 and d5, winning a pawn in the process and gaining passed pawns on the e and d file. One slow move, followed by another not quite correct, meant that a loss of an exchange was inevitable. His opponent missed a mate in two and let Rudy struggle trying to get a pawn through until he ran out of them 23 moves later. This left things up to Iolo. His normal Old Indian defence led to two bishops for Black, and the queen came in, picking up first the e4 pawn, then mating the king in the corner.

So, 2-2, and in the next round again we have avoided the Bye caused by Belgrade not turning up.

European Senior Team Championships Rd 6

A tale of mixed fortunes. Iolo and Rudy ended up after a few transpositions, with the same Catalan position. Rudy missed a chance (Iolo more so as he could have won a pawn early on), and was offered a draw on move 23. Carrying on with a bishop against a knight, he missed several possibilities and ended up losing. Iolo was getting into difficulties, headed for an opposite-colour bishop ending a pawn down, where his opponent had chances of another passed pawn, but after Black went astray a draw ensued. Bob played for a mobile pawn attack when the kings were castled on opposite sides. Eventually a complex position was reached where both sides had advanced pawns and pressure against both kings on the back rank. A draw by repetition was reached. Richard came under some long-term pressure in a closed Sicilian, and after some exchanges offered a draw, which was declined. His opponent seeking a quick win, missed a neat in-between move by Richard, so went a pawn down. As he was seeking to recover it, Black was now able to start a successful king hunt with queen and rook, whereas against the White counterattack, Richard's K was able to move out to freedom.
So, 2-2 another draw.

The afternoon saw the team go on a bus trip up to 1,000 metres of the snowcapped Mount Olympus, which rises to 2,900 metres in total.A long winding road with magnificent views of the countryside below. On the way back called in at the monastery of St Dionysius, a multi-levelled quiet site, a little reminiscent of Portmeirion(well some of Clough's ideas did come from around here). Calling in a Litichoro, a town on the lower slopes was a little disappointing- a pleasant enough place, but it being Sunday shops were closed, so had to settle for a taverna. Called in via the coast on the way back to St Pantaleimon. But rather than a traditional Greek village with cobbled stones as mentioned (well it may have been somewhere there)it was more like Blackpool or Great Yarmouth. The more you move around, the more it remains the same.

European Senior Team Championships Rd 5

A tale of mixed fortunes against Denmark 2,slightly below us in ranking.
Rudy was first off the mark, finishing after two hours' play, having played 53 moves in total,11 more than Iolo who took another hour and a half to reach that. In the end Rudy had more time at the end than he started with. A positional game where the White pieces moved into good squares, and the Black position just collapsed as the White pieces moved further in. John looked good initially in a Stonewall Dutch, but an incautious f4 lead to White having enormous kingside chances, finishing off with a queen's pawn moving through to queen. Iolo had excellent pressure throughout in a kind of Catalan position. Winning a pawn, Iolo finished off neatly when his king came in to f6,to join with rook on the 7th and the white-squared bishop to force a mating sequence. The tragedy was in Bob's game. In a From Gambit turned to King's Gambit, he won the d pawn with a precise tactic, against a player rated 1990.
White got some counterplay, holding up the advance of the extra pawn, so Bob offered a draw ,which was declined. White then pushed too hard, and reached a losing position, with Bob having a very advanced c pawn. Unfortunately he decided he could give up a b to get the pawn through, but got blocked by the rook and knight. Eventually Bob found himself in a lost position with rook versus rook and two pawns.
Result 2-2.

After lunch the team retired to the taverna, where,after looking at the games played earlier, a five-player game ensued, people always alternating colours with each time they got to play. Bare kings was the final result here.

European Senior Team Championships Rd 4

We are at a sideroute in Greece, looking up at the Olympus mountain range covered in snow at some 9,000 plus feet. It might have something to do with the server continually breaking down, so we only get snatches of elections in Wales and Scotland.

Wales was a little unlucky in the draw. Having lost 3-1 the previous round to the number 11 seeds, the gods sought to challenge us with a pairing against the no 9 seeds, Sportfreunde, Katernberg, which translates as Sport friends from a place in Germany, 3 of them well into their seventies and FMs clocking in at 2200 plus.Even their bottom board, now at 1600 was playing at 1930 standard only a few years ago. And while us oldsters might be prone to blunder, we might just play that perfect game from long ago.

Rudy was the first to finish, playing a risky line of the Budapest against a 2243. His opponent failed to force Rudy down a rather dubious piece sacrifice at move 7. The position evened out, but Werner, intent on winning a bishop on f2 by forcing Black’s queen away from its protection, missed seeing that 13...Bh3 was mate. (Robert awarded him as many Welsh grading points as the game lasted, so maybe he should have kept it going a bit longer?) Richard started off fine with a rook on d6, but felt unable to maintain it there. Almost out of nowhere the Black pieces began to infiltrate and Richard decided not to wait for the inevitable mate. Although a little surprised by the exact line chosen, Bob got a good position against his opponent's Petroff, and looked to be better with an advanced pawn on e6. However Black was able to chisel away at the edges, and won a pawn or two when Bob failed to find the most active continuation. The rook and pawn ending could not be held. The last game to finish went nearly the full length. Actually with 30 seconds increment per move they could go on for a very long time. From a Benoni, John’s pieces got a bit hemmed in on the queenside, and a consequent kingside raid by Black merely resulted in the opponent having bishop and knight for a rook. After a great deal of manoeuvring, with John down to about 2 minutes, the White central pawns, backed by a potential bishop check, broke through to queen. Score, once again 3-1, but on the losing side.

Fortunately lunch is served from 1 to 5 pm. The team has also discovered a local tavern.

Monday, 9 May 2011

European Senior Team Championships Rd 3

Wales was drawn against a still strong Switzerland team, even after missing Korchnoy, who unfortunately has had a little spell in hospital.

Iolo playing a slightly higher graded FM got a nice manoeuvring position from a Queen's Indian type game, turned down a draw,but after exchanges a draw ensued. Richard played the veteran IM Edwin Bhend, facing an odd early Rb1, a3 and b4 against his Sicilian, but his pieces ,though defensive ,were well placed, and he happily accepted the draw offer from his higher rated opponent.Rudy played a Ruy Lopez with d3, and got good pressure against f7. However Black got a knight in at f4, and, since the king's position was untenable, he let his opponent finish with a mate. Robert was also playing against a 2100 + player, and unfortunately missed a queen moving from a4 to h4, losing a rook in the process, which his opponent then duly won.

We seem to be having a pattern of rain in the early morning, with quite good sunshine later.

European Senior Team Championships Rd 2

Rudy reports from round 2:

It ended 3-1 to Wales, the reverse of round 1. But though on paper Norway 2 was an easier team, in practice the gods make life difficult. (They are looking down from Mount Olympus above us as we go about our destined moves.)

Despite his opponent choosing the Qe2 'drawing' line against Iolo's Petroff, the endgame provided Iolo with pawn after pawn, to safeguard the win against Jan Arne Bjorgvik. John had more trouble against a solid Sicilian setup, where development was the key. Bard Standal missed a breakthrough(which of course the chess engines spotted easily), and was happy to accept the draw offer. Richard suffered similarly: a little inferior from the opening, he went for a draw. Odd Birkenstrand turned it down, but then overpressed and Richard's king moved into the centre and queenside, making further resistence futile. Robert Hurn was fortunate in that his opponent, Gunnar Bue, gave up a pawn eaely. But Robert absorbed any ensuing counterplay easily enough, and looked set to win; however his opponent got some compensation, so a draw resulted.

Walking along the beach alongside the Aegean Richard suddenly found a White Knight chess piece.Maybe this will enable the Welsh Marchog to ride on to victory.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

European Senior Team Championships - Round 1

Rudy reports from the European Senior Team Championships, where he is representing Wales:

In the European Seniors Team event, Wales faced a strong Finland side, who were able field two GMs and two middle 2200 players. The GMs duly struck. Iolo Jones faced Rantanen , who bit by bit increased his space advantage. At the end material was still level, but a Black pawn on g2 was too powerful. John Thornton faced Heikki Westerinen, who played a passive White opening, seemingly running scared of any violent counterplay that John might unleash. However an ever so slight imprecision meant the White pieces successfully overran the Black king. Richard Miles faced a tough 2200 + player (FM Harri Hurme), and got strange variations against the Swedish version of the Tarrasch defence. The opponent got an extra pawn on the queenside in a rook and bishop ending, Richard pushed through in the centre, eventually going a pawn up. However he was unable to hold it and the rook and pawn ending was drawn. Rudy faced a double fianchetto against the King's Indian, and turned it into something resembling a Leningrad Dutch, with a knight well placed on f7 to hold up any central advances. When his opponent grabbed an a-pawn it took his away from the fray, and a series of tactics in the centre meant that White was happy to accept the draw, especially since he was running short of time. A 3-1 loss in a seeded Swiss where we are lying no 22 out of 37, is a decent result. Most of the other lower rated teams went down 3½-½ or even 4-0.

It's quite a superb hotel, but few other local facilities, though there is a pebbly beach.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Last Match of the Season

Aberystwyth's B team had their last match of the season on Monday 18th April, a repeat of the previous week's contest against, with both teams unchanged. On board one I got revenge for last week's defeat by Iwan Griffiths, though not in such fine style, winning a pawn and taking control of the ending. John lost an exchange against Owen Llywelyn but had some compensation for it, and might have played on but for a mistake at the end. Ian had an easier win than last week's against Tegwyn Jones, winning a piece with a queen fork, with mate to follow soon afterwards. Finally Tony had a harder game than expected against the lower-rated Emyr Llywelyn in a congested English Opening, but eventually managed to push his passed pawns through and trap his opponent's king on the back rank. 3-1 to the B team, who finish with four wins and can be pleased with their first season, while the A team also did well, finishing a close second to the reigning champions, Cardigan A.

Matthew Francis - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Owen Llywelyn - John Basterfield 1-0

Ian Finlay - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Emyr Llywelyn - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Four club members took part in the Welsh Championships in Cardiff over the Easter weekend. In the Championship itself, Rudy scored 2½/7, a disappointing score by his standards. In the Major Open, Julie scored 3½/7 and I scored 3/7, while in the Minor John's 2½/6 wiped out the rating gains he'd made in an excellent early part of the season.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A-Team Just Fall Short

With just a few matches to go in the Dyfed League, it is clear that Aberystwyth A have fallen short in their bid to dethrone Cardigan A as League champions. Aber have beaten Cardigan in both their head-to-heads, but dropped too many points in other games. On Wednesday 13th April, Aber's opponents were Carmarthen, who, as so often this season, were fielding some strong players but not quite enough of them. On Board 1, Rudy played a Dutch Defence (his national opening) against Gerry Heap but allowed a devastating invasion by the White queen. He wriggled ingeniously but succumbed in the end. David lost a pawn against Huw Morcom's Sicilian, won it back, then seemed about to lose the ending before his opponent went wrong and allowed the draw. Julie's game against Paul Orton also swung backwards and forwards, and in the end a draw seemed the right result. With Carmarthen defaulting on Board 4, the match ended 2-2.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

David Ferguson - Huw Morcom ½-½

Paul Orton - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

B-Team Wins Again

As the season draws to a close, the B team now have their third win of the season, this time against Aber also had the rare luxury of a home match actually played at home - that is, the St David's Club. (Nearly all our matches are played at The Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes.) On top board I experienced the mixed emotions of a player on the receiving end of a fine combination. Iwan Griffiths showed great coolness and precision in calculating his attack. John seemed under some pressure against Owen Llywelyn's Caro-Kann, but the players agreed a draw in a position where White still had to tread carefully. Ian picked up a piece early on against Tegwyn Jones and played very cautiously thereafter; he was only beginning to look confident when his opponent lost on time. Finally, Tony played a strong positional game against Emyr Llywelyn seizing control of most of the board and taking material when the chance arose. 2½-1½ to Aber.

Iwan Griffiths - Matthew Francis 1-0

John Basterfield - Owen Llywelyn ½-½

Tegwyn Jones - Ian Finlay 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Club Championship (Conclusion)

At last I am able to conclude the report on the Club Championship. Georgina and John played their game on the next available club night. Georgina's Bishop's Opening produced a balanced position in which she gave up a piece for no real compensation. Nevertheless, she continued to press and reached the ending with John still unable to find a clear win; he offered a draw as he was low on time. That left just Julie and Rudy, who played on the evening of the B team's match against (report to follow). I cannot describe this opening: the first move on each side was a Pirc, but heaven knows what the rest of it was. It didn't work out well for Julie, at any rate, as her pieces were forced back on to the first two ranks, allowing Rudy to choose his time and method of attack. This he did with some panache, breaking open the kingside with a bishop sacrifice.

Mark Talbot, Aberystwyth Club Champion So the Club Championship is completed, and we have, as reported earlier, a new champion in Mark Talbot, who finished with the excellent score of 6½/7. Rudy came second with 5½, I was third with 5, then came Julie (3½), Tony (3), John (2), Georgina (1½) and Ian (1). Once again it was a really enjoyable championship, with some good fighting games and a few upsets. The system of playing the games over a weekend, which we were only trying for the second time, works very well, and playing in spring rather than winter made it easier to keep warm! Many thanks to Tony for organizing it. The full-size pictures can be seen here.

Georgina Gray - John Basterfield ½-½< br />
Julie van Kemenade - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Fishguard Round 5

John finished his tournament in style with a fine example of an attack on the queenside-castled king against Brenda Miles. His form has been excellent this season. Ian, who had a disappointing tournament, had an up-and-down game against Jan Sendall; in the end they agreed a draw with Ian a pawn up, but subsequent analysis shows Jan could have won. Georgina is another player who has made great strides recently; against William Fairbairn she had kingside pressure for a while but allowed her queen to be trapped. In the Open, Rudy's results were below his usual standard, but he finished well against Huw Morcom, patiently besieging a blockaded position and then invading at the right time. Julie's performance was about par, though she is never satisfied with that. John Waterfield took control of the game with his strong central pawns. I didn't put up enough of a fight in my first Open, and here, against the other backmarker, Dave Conolly, we agreed a quick draw. It was eleven moves rather than the one move Rudy has on record, but there is not much point in posting it either way.

John Basterfield - Brenda Miles 1-0

Ian Finlay - Jan Sendall ½-½

Georgina Gray - William Fairbairn 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade- Huw Morcom 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - John Waterfield 0-1

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Another Cardigan Match

The Aberystwyth and Cardigan teams are pretty used to each other by this stage of the season. On Monday 4 April it was the B teams, fairly closely matched on paper, playing each other. On top board Cardigan's Howard Leah got his revenge against me for an unlucky defeat earlier in the season. I allowed my bishop to be imprisoned; the position was still double-edged but my defence was difficult in time-trouble and Howard found the winning combination. John Basterfield looked to have chances on the kingside in a Ruy Lopez but allowed his centre to be undermined and dropped several pawns. Ian Finlay, in an unorthodox Sicilian, got a vulnerable passed pawn at e3 and was determined to hang on to it, even sacrificing a bishop in the cause. When it finally dropped he was two pawns up in the ending and managed to secure the draw. Tony Geraghty's game against Nick McIlvenna was full of enterprising play by both sides. Tony had rook against bishop in the endgame, but dropped a pawn unnecessarily and was glad he still had a draw. A fairly comfortable victory for Cardigan, 3-1.

Howard Leah - Matthew Francis 1-0

John Basterfield - Roland Spencer 0-1

Awne Osinga - Ian Finlay ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Nick McIlvenna ½-½

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fishguard Round 4

On the last morning of the congress, John missed a chance for a breakthrough against Scott Hammett's English Opening, and the players agreed a draw in a position where Black still had the advantage but no clear win. Ian might have trapped Alan Spencer's queen, but got another opportunity to win a few moves later and made no mistake. Georgina was presented with a gift when Tom Bennett left his queen en prise. Rudy was faced with Bird's Opening, which he plays himself, and the kind of complex manoeuvering game in which he usually excels, but somehow it didn't work out for him against Chris Dixon. Julie allowed the game to be opened up with her king still in the centre, and suffered the consequences. I became pessimistic early on in my game against Mal Kingman, although the position was not at all bad; I started throwing pieces at him in a vaguely aggressive way, losing material with no compensation.

Scott Hammett - John Basterfield ½-½

Alan Spencer - Ian Finlay 0-1

Tom Bennett - Georgina Gray 0-1

Chris Dixon - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Johnathon Bourne 1-0

Matthew Francis - Mal Kingman 0-1

Fishguard Round 3

In the Minor, John sacrificed a piece for two pawns against Howard James in an attempt to break through against an insecure-looking king, and they agreed a draw in a complicated position. Ian's game was, I think, a Yugoslav King's Indian (or a Modern Benoni by transposition?); he miscalculated an exchange combination and went a piece down, a bad result for him against a lower-rated opponent. Georgina's attack quickly overwhelmed Alan Spencer, whose handling of the opening showed inexperience. In the Open, Rudy, like Ian, lost to a player he would have expected to beat - in a blocked position he went for a queenside attack but an uncharacteristic oversight caused his position to collapse. Julie won three pieces for a rook against Guy Wagner. Never one to be content with a material superiority, she sacked the other rook, then won an exchange. It was one of those games where you have to keep counting the pieces to see who's ahead on material. Fortunately it was Julie, who had picked up a few pawns in the process and had a won ending. I got a strong queenside attack against Roger Greatorex, and, after looking in vain for a quicker win, settled for a double-bishop ending a pawn ahead. It was fairly easy, but a combination of depression about my results so far, lack of confidence in my endgame skills and the opportunity to watch the second half of the England-France rugby match induced me to accept his draw offer.

John Basterfield - Howard James ½-½

Ian Finlay - Tom Bennett 0-1

Georgina Gray - Alan Spencer 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Bob Moore 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Guy Wagner 1-0

Roger Greatorex - Matthew Francis ½-½

Monday, 28 March 2011

Fishguard Round 2

We're still waiting for the result of the final game in the Club Championship, so here, meanwhile, is the second of my reports on the Aber players at the Dyfed Congress in Fishguard. In the Minor, John's opponent allowed a knight to be trapped, and later missed a chance to get back in the game. Scott Hammett against Ian Finlay was a repeat of their recent encounter in the Dyfed League, but with a different result. This time Ian neglected his development and lost material to his opponent's kingside attack. Georgina, after her impressive victory in the first round, had an anticlimactic game here, shedding a lot of pawns before being finished off by doubled rooks on the seventh. In the Open, Rudy sacrifice an exchange but never had enough compensation. Julie's Modern Defence led to a position where White was attacking on the kingside and Black on the queenside, but an exchange of queens killed both attacks. I played a nice move against Huw Morcom and was deluded into thinking it ought to give me a winning attack instead of a slight positional advantage. In the end my aggressive moves ran out, and I ended up on the losing side for the second round in a row, the only Aber player still without a point.

Alan Spencer - John Basterfield 0-1

Scott Hammett - Ian Finlay 1-0

Brenda Miles - Georgina Gray 1-0

Paul Byway - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Gordon Cadden - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis - Huw Morcom 0-1

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A-Team Made to Work

Following last week's comprehensive defeat by Carmarthen, the A-team faced a much lower-rated team, Haverfordwest, on Wednesday 23rd March and achieved the desired result, but were made to work for it. The top-board game was a good example of the resilience of the French Defence. Mark Talbot gained a typical kingside attack, but his combination backfired and allowed Black an overwhelming counterattack. The winner, Colin Denham, has enjoyed an outstanding run of form recently. Rudy van Kemenade had things much easier on Board 2: Ron Wade's Vienna Opening went horribly wrong, and he blundered his queen trying to extricate himself after only thirteen moves. David Ferguson didn't seem to have much at first against Jan Sendall's Sicilian, but when he eventually got his attack going the effect was devastating. On bottom board Haverfordwest's Scott Hammett sacrificed a knight in the opening against Julie van Kemenade. It didn't look promising, but the position became very complicated, with chances - and time pressure - for both sides. Finally Black gained the initiative, though she had only three minutes on her clock when her opponent resigned. Aberystwyth won the match 3-1.

Mark Talbot - Colin Denham 0-1

Ron Wade - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

David Ferguson - Jan Sendall 1-0

Scott Hammett - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Club Championship - Sunday

Georgina GrayThe best performance of Round 5 came from Georgina, without a point so far, who outplayed the higher-rated Ian on the Black side of a Nimzo-Indian, tying down all his pieces to the defence of his king before delivering the coup de grace. Mark played either the Reti or the English against Julie (I'm a bit vague about the difference), and she left her king too long in the centre, losing a rook. Her counterplay soon proved insufficent. Tony played a weak line of the French against me, but I soon dissipated all my advantage, learning a few strategic lessons in the process. John got nothing against Rudy's Petroff but tried a sacrificial attack anyway, leaving him with even less.

At the end of Round 5, the scores were: Mark Talbot 4½/5, Rudy van Kemenade 3½/4, Matthew Francis 3/5, Julie van Kemenade 2½/4, Tony Geraghty 2/5, Georgina Gray, John Basterfield 1/4, Ian Finlay ½/5.

Ian Finlay - Georgina Gray 0-1

Mark Talbot - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Tony Geraghty ½-½

John Basterfield - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

John BasterfieldJohn suffered his second quick defeat in a row, allowing his kingside pawns to be shattered and then losing a rook to a queen fork against my Sicilian. That allowed us more time to watch Tony's game against Rudy, which was proving sensational. Rudy had walked into a tactical storm against a player rated 700 points lower. Just when he seemed certain to lose, he found a cunning resource which Tony understandably didn't anticipate, and turned the tables with a rook sac. Julie's game against Ian was another thriller, a Sicilian in which Ian seemed to be ahead most of the time but Julie had dangerous counterplay. Eventually they settled on a draw. Mark, whose opening play this tournament had been nothing if not enterprising, tried the Polish Opening against Georgina and soon overwhelmed her with pawns, queening two of them on the way to the win.

At the end of Round 6, the scores were: Mark Talbot 5½/6, Rudy van Kemenade 4½/5, Matthew Francis 4/6, Julie van Kemenade 3/5, Tony Geraghty 2/6, Georgina Gray, John Basterfield 1/5, Ian Finlay 1/6.

John Basterfield - Matthew Francis 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Ian Finlay ½-½

Mark Talbot - Georgina Gray 1-0

Matthew FrancisThe result of the championship was determined by Rudy's and Mark's games in this round. Rudy played Bird's Opening against me and a double-edged position resulted. His king seemed the more vulnerable, and, although I misplayed my attack, he missed the only defence. I had mate in two but couldn't find it because my mind had gone blank - all I could think about was that I was beating Rudy. For a while I wondered if I was going to keep on looking for the winning move till my clock ran down, but in the end I found an alternative and the game was won. That meant Mark needed at least a draw against Ian to win the championship. He won a solid positional game, using a passed pawn on the queenside to win material. Tony also had a comfortable win in his game against Georgina, winning a pawn with a well-known trap in the French Advance Variation, and never losing control thereafter. John's game against Julie was another outing for her Philidor, and a quiet draw

At the end of Round 7, with two games still to be played, the scores were: Mark Talbot 6½/7, Matthew Francis 5/7, Rudy van Kemenade 4½/6, Julie van Kemenade 3½/6, Tony Geraghty 3/7, John Basterfield 1½/6, Georgina Gray 1/6, Ian Finlay 1/7. A report on the final two games, and final summing-up of this year's championship, will follow shortly.

Rudy van Kemenade - Matthew Francis 0-1

Ian Finlay - Mark Talbot 0-1

Georgina Gray - Tony Geraghty 0-1

John Basterfield - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Club Championship - Saturday

Club Championship Rounds 2-7 of the Aberystwyth Club Championship took place at the St David's Club over the weekend of 12-13 March, 2011. Cai Lewis, who had played in the first round the previous week, was unable to take part, allowing the remaining eight players to have an all-play-all (though a couple of games would be left over for the next week). Here is the report of Saturday's play.

Rudy van KemenadeRudy van Kemenade against Georgina Gray was a Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defence. Rudy took control as expected, but surprisingly missed a chance to win a piece. He got a nasty pin instead, which she failed to break. Mark Talbot unexpectedly chose Alekhine's Defence against John Basterfield and was outplayed in the opening. Finding himself a pawn up against the stronger player but beginning to come under pressure, John offered a draw, which was declined, and Mark went on to win the ending. Julie van Kemenade also varied from her usual repertoire in her game against me, playing a Philidor. I had the advantage for a while but allowed it to fizzle out and the draw was agreed. Tony Geraghty's win against Ian Finlay was the only result to go against grading, as Tony worked up a powerful kingside attack from his London System. He missed several easier wins, but eventually won the ending.

At the end of Round 2 (with Round 1 still not completed), the scores were: Mark Talbot 2/2, , Matthew Francis 1½/2, Rudy van Kemenade 1/1, Tony Geraghty 1/2, Julie van Kemenade ½/1, Georgina Gray, John Basterfield 0/1, Ian Finlay 0/2.

Rudy van Kemenade -Georgina Gray 1-0

John Basterfield - Mark Talbot 0-1

Matthew Francis - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Ian Finlay 1-0

Ian FinlayThe key game of Round 3 was between the two highest rated players, Rudy and Mark. Both Petroff specialists, they met in their favourite opening, and Rudy, playing Black, got the advantage. It came down to a knight versus bishop ending, where Rudy missed several opportunities, and eventually they agreed a draw after more than 80 moves. I won a rook early on against Georgina Gray in a Sicilian. Tony was bemused by Julie's unorthodox treatment of his French and soon lost the thread of the position. Ian agreed a draw against John in a complex Nimzo-Indian position where he was in fact winning.

At the end of Round 3, the scores were: Mark Talbot, Matthew Francis 2½/3, Rudy van Kemenade, Julie van Kemenade 1½/2, Tony Geraghty 1/3, John Basterfield ½/2, Ian Finlay ½/3, Georgina Gray 0/2.

Mark Talbot - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Georgina Gray - Matthew Francis 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - John Basterfield ½-½

Julie van KemenadeIn Round 4 the two current leaders met. Mark played a Sicilian, his fourth defence to e4 in recent games. I had my chances but was eventually outplayed. Ian found himself on the receiving end of the Queen's Gambit for once. Rudy won a pawn but had to work hard for victory. Georgina lost material early against Julie's Philidor, and her attempts at counterplay were futile. Tony and John played a quiet London System game and agreed an early draw.

At the end of Round 4, the scores were: Mark Talbot 3½/4, Rudy van Kemenade, Julie van Kemenade 2½/3. Matthew Francis 2½/4, Tony Geraghty 1½/4, John Basterfield 1/3, Ian Finlay ½/4, Georgina Gray 0/3.

Matthew Francis - Mark Talbot 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Ian Finlay 1-0

Georgina Gray - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - John Basterfield ½-½

Friday, 18 March 2011

Fishguard Round 1

As promised, here is the first of my reports on the recent Dyfed Congress at Fishguard. In Round 1, all three Aberystwyth players in the Minor section were successful. John Basterfield had the easiest game, quickly winning his opponent's queen. Ian Finlay won with a vigorous kingside attack. But the outstanding performance of the round came from Georgina Gray, up against the highest-rated player in the section. After struggling for a long time against a wave of Black pawns that threatened to engulf her on the kingside, she was able to take advantage of her opponent's inaccuracies and win a long ending. It was one of the last games of the round to finish, with spectators clustering round it, and set her up for an excellent tournament.

Meanwhile, in the Open section Rudy van Kemenade demonstrated to his lower-rated opponent the dangers of leaving your king in the centre. Julie van Kemenade positioned a knight badly in an Italian Game and allowed Jane Richmond to invade on the g-file. And I too found that positional misjudgements can quickly lead to a mating attack at this level.

John Basterfield - Roger Lockyer 1-0

Ian Finlay - Chris Smith 1-0

Georgina Gray - Howard James 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Mal Kingman 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Jane Richmond 0-1

Robert Taylor - Matthew Francis 1-0

Setback for the A Team

Carmarthen have one of the strongest line-ups in the Dyfed League, but their results have suffered this season because of player unavailability. On Wednesday 16th March, they were, for once, able to field their best team against Aberystywth A, who were missing their highest-rated player, Mark Talbot. The top-board game between Rudy van Kemenade and Gerry Heap was a complex Sicilian battle in which White reacted wrongly to his opponent's piece sacrifice. Once the piece was regained he was a pawn down, and struggled in vain to recover. David Ferguson, under pressure against Keith Downey's English Opening, missed a queen fork to lose a piece, and resigned immediately. In another Sicilian game, Julie van Kemenade was pushed back by Huw Morcom; once he had a rook on the second rank, her position collapsed quickly. On Board 4, I had my first ever game as Black against David Buttell after seven successive Whites. In a cramped and passive position I missed a simple tactic and lost a piece, after which he won the ending with no difficulty. So Carmarthen, beaten by Aber's B team only a week ago, won 4-0, dealing a blow to the A team's hopes of a first League title.

Rudy van Kemenade - Gerry Heap 0-1

Keith Downey - David Ferguson 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Huw Morcom 0-1

David Buttell - Matthew Francis 1-0

Meanwhile the Aberystwyth Club Championship is almost completed. With one game still to play, Mark Talbot is the clear winner on 6½/7. A full report will follow.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Club Championship 1st Round

With the main part of the Club Championship due this weekend, we decided to hold a first round on Tuesday 8th March with the six eligible players who were present. Tony Geraghty was in the daunting situation of playing Black against Mark Talbot's Torre Attack (by transposition) and did well in a queenless middle game until a tactical oversight cost him a piece. Cai Lewis at least had White against Rudy van Kemenade's Petroff and seemed to have chances, though Rudy's pieces were very active. It was all over very suddenly as Cai dropped a piece and was mated immediately after. Neither Ian Finlay nor I will remember our game with much affection. Ian dropped a bunch of pawns against my Budapest Gambit, and I then missed the chance to swap off into an easy ending and instead laboured for thirty more moves before clinching the win. Apologies to the three visitors who turned up that evening to find there were no club players free to play them - everything will be back to normal next week.

Meanwhile, a belated summary of our exploits in the Dyfed Congress in Fishguard. In the Minor, John Basterfield finished 2nd= with 4/5, Georgina Gray had 3/5 including a win against the highest-rated player, and was unlucky to miss out on a grading prize, while Ian Finlay had 2½. In the Open, Rudy van Kemenade scored 2/5, Julie van Kemenade 1½, and I, playing my first Open, scored 1. I'll put the games up round by round over the next couple of weeks.

Mark Talbot - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Cai Lewis - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Ian Finlay - Matthew Francis 0-1

Monday, 7 March 2011

Second Win

In the very first match after their first win of the season, the B team have their second, all the more welcome for being unexpected. On Monday 28 February their opponents were the strong Carmarthen team. On top board Carmarthen's Gerry Heap, one of the best players in the League, overreached against Julie van Kemenade's solid King's Indian position and played a knight sacrifice that was never on, resigning soon afterwards when further material loss was imminent. Meanwhile, on Board 4, Georgina Gray had acquired a dominant position against Clive Boaler, eventually pressuring him into giving up a piece, which did nothing to alleviate his situation. On second board, I was facing an old opponent in David Buttell. Noticing Clive Boaler's resignation on Board 4, I immediately offered a draw in a level Maroczy Bind position, which David accepted, giving us the match. He and I have now played seven times, with honours even, but by some statistical freak I have been White each time. Ian Finlay was once again last to finish, having outplayed the higher-rated Paul Orton and gained a material advantage in a position where there was nevertheless still a fair bit to do to clinch the win. He now offered a draw as well, and the match finished 3-1 to Aberystwyth B.

Gerry Heap - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - David Buttell ½-½

Paul Orton - Ian Finlay ½-½

Georgina Gray - Clive Boaler 1-0

Monday, 21 February 2011

Champions Downed

On Wednesday 16th February, the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes was the scene of yet another chess confrontation between Cardigan and Aberystwyth. This time it was the A teams who took part, but Cardigan were at a disadvantage, being a player short. On top board Mark Talbot played a Benko Gambit against the League's strongest player, Howard Williams, who eventually prevailed in the complications. Rudy van Kemenade surprised Iolo Jones with the Bishop's Opening, which soon transposed into an Italian Game, and got a decisive kingside attack. Tony Haigh against David Ferguson was another transposition, from a Trompowsky into a Sicilian. White was left with a favourable ending, and forced Black to give up a piece for two pawns, but finally had to settle for a draw. With the default on fourth board, it was a second win this season for Aber A against the League champions, 2½-1½.

Howard Williams - Mark Talbot 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Iolo Jones 1-0

Tony Haigh - David Ferguson ½-½

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

St Valentine's Day Massacre

On the evening of St Valentine's Day, Aberystwyth's B team, still without a win in their first season and whitewashed in their last match by Cardigan A, faced Haverfordwest, who had also whitewashed them in the autumn. This time the result was different. Two of the games finished fairly quickly, leaving the players to watch the more entertaining struggles on the other two boards. Tony Geraghty on Board 4 was first to finish, attacking the weakened black squares round John Florence's king and forcing a win of material followed by mate. On second board, I won a piece early on against Jan Sendall and sealed the win after some ultra-cautious play, having blown some good positions in earlier games against the same opponent. A single draw from the remaining games would be enough to break Aber's duck. Julie van Kemenade on top board was two pieces up against Colin Denham, after his attempted combination went wrong, but he had an advanced passed pawn and aggressively posted rooks, and with time control approaching it wasn't easy to see the way forward. Finally she broke free with the counter-attack that forced his resignation. That left Ian Finlay, who was a piece up but three pawns down in the ending against Scott Hammett. It seemed he must lose, but his opponent missed a succession of wins and eventually walked into a one-move mate. So the B team have their first win, and by the satisfying score of 4-0.

Colin Denham - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Jan Sendall 1-0

Scott Hammett - Ian Finlay 0-1

Tony Geraghty - John Florence 1-0

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Club Championship Looming Again

It has been some time since the last Club Championship (it was in fact held in 2009, which still counts as last season), and a new one is looming. It will be held in our usual venue of the St David's Club over the weekend of Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March. There may also be a first round on the evening of Tuesday 8th March, depending on the number of entries. Please let Tony know if you would like to play:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bs Whitewashed

Cardigan A were not the ideal opponents for a B team seeking to end their run of games without a win. On Monday the Bs suffered their second whitewash of the season, though at least this time it was to a much stronger team rather than the (on paper) closely matched Haverfordwest. Julie van Kemenade came under pressure early on against Howard Williams, and a miscalculation left her a pawn down in a lost ending. I also lost a pawn defending against Iolo Jones's English Opening, and rather capitulated after that when I could have set him a much harder task. Ian Finlay made an excellent fight of it against Tony Haigh, eventually losing an ending with a bad bishop against a good one, which he might have held. Cardigan's Caerwyn Owen, taken apart by Mark Talbot's French Defence last week, faced the same opening again, but Tony Geraghty is relatively new to it, and soon had to deal with some classic French headaches, a locked-in queen's bishop and a dominant White knight on d6. It was only a matter of time before he lost material and the game.

Julie van Kemenade - Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones - Matthew Francis 1-0

Ian Finlay - Tony Haigh 0-1

Caerwyn Owen - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Another Instalment

With two teams each, and playing home and away matches, Aberystwyth and Cardigan are scheduled to meet eight times this season in the Dyfed League. The match between Aberystywth B and Cardigan B hardly seemed over when Aber's A team sat down again to play the same line-up. Mark Talbot on top board got a big opening advantage from the Classical Variation of the French Defence, winning a couple of pawns and destroying White's centre. Caerwyn Owen played on only a few more moves before accepting his inevitable defeat. Rudy van Kemenade also dominated from the opening, getting a crushing position from Howard Leah's inaccurate defence to the Ruy Lopez. On Board 3, I played the Scandinavian against a Cardigan player for the second week in a row, and emerged from the opening with a more comfortable position than I achieved against Howard Leah. Nevertheless Roland Spencer had some pressure for a time, before succumbing to a counterattack against the White king. The most complex game was played on bottom board, where Ian Finlay won Awne Osinga's queen for rook and knight with a knight fork, but had to deal with a dangerous passed pawn. After several more twists, the game was drawn. Aber won the match 3½-½.

Caerwyn Owen - Mark Talbot 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Howard Leah 1-0

Roland Spencer - Matthew Francis 0-1

Ian Finlay - Awne Osinga ½-½

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Bs Go Down Fighting

The B team suffered another defeat this week against Cardigan B, despite playing some adventurous chess - all four games could have gone the other way. On Board 1, Julie van Kemenade won a pawn against Caerwyn Owen but had to negotiate a long and difficult rook ending, eventually losing on time in an attempt to level the match score with a win. I managed to create some complications against Howard Leah, despite being comprehensively outplayed in a Scandinavian Defence. At one point, desperately short of time, I moved my queen to an illegal square to claim checkmate, withdrew it when my error was pointed out, then moved another piece, an infringement of the touch-move rule which neither player noticed in the heat of the moment. After several more adventures I scored a lucky win. John Basterfield was just back from the South Wales Winter Congress in Penarth, where he finished joint first in the Minor Section. He might have trapped Roland Spencer's queen, then went the exchange down but with excellent compensation in the form of two connected passed pawns. He missed several winning chances to let the game slip, a no-doubt temporary setback in his recent run of good form. Finally, Georgina Gray took the initiative against the higher-rated Awne Osinga but overlooked a pin which won him a piece, a disadvantage from which she could not recover.

Julie van Kemenade - Caerwyn Owen 0-1

Howard Leah - Matthew Francis 0-1

John Basterfield - Roland Spencer 0-1

Awne Osinga - Georgina Gray 1-0