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