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)