Thursday, 20 December 2012

Club Championship Resumes

On the last club night before the Christmas break, we managed to play a couple more games of the rather slow-moving Club Championship. Both were hard-fought but won in the end by the higher-rated player. Rudy played his favourite Petroff against James, resulting in a deep strategic battle where Black's queenside pawn majority eventually proved enough to win. Tony and I, meanwhile, were fighting it out in the London System; with both players in severe time-trouble, I exchanged two rooks for White's queen and a couple of pawns, which proved the right decision, especially as Tony got a knight trapped soon afterwards. Next club night will be Tuesday 8th January.

James Cook - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Matthew Francis 0-1

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Jan Sendall

Chessplayers throughout the Dyfed region were shocked and saddened to learn of the unexpected death of Haverfordwest's Jan Sendall last week. He was killed in a road accident on his way to a match on the evening of Monday 10th December. A regular player in league matches and the Dyfed Closed and Dyfed Congress, Jan was a true lover of the game with an ingenious and resilient style, capable of playing well above his grading, as I for one know to my cost. For all his determination as a competitor, he was always a genial and relaxed presence at the board and in conversation afterwards, and will be greatly missed. There are tributes to him on the Haverfordwest and Dyfed League websites.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Shock of the New

Haverfordwest have recently strengthened their A team with the addition of some good new players, as Aberystwyth B found to their cost at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on Monday 3rd December. On top board, I was up against their experienced captain, Colin Denham, and managed to hold off his kingside attack, despite being very short of time, and get my central pawns moving in the ending. When White resigned, faced with inevitable mate, both players had less than a minute on the clock. James Cook tried the English Opening against one of the newcomers, Martin C. Jones, and reached a queen-and-pawn ending which should have been drawn. However he took the wrong decision allowing the exchange of queens, and lost a king-and-pawn ending instead.Tony Geraghty played the opening passively against the other new player, John Miller, and allowed a kingside pawn storm that gave White an extra piece and eventually the game. Finally, on board 4, Ian Finlay was bamboozled by the tricky (though actually unsound) combinations of one of the established players, Jan Sendall. 3-1 to Haverfordwest A.

Colin Denham - Matthew Francis 0-1

James Cook - Martin C. Jones 0-1

John Miller - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - Jan Sendall 0-1

Thursday, 6 December 2012

B / A

Following the A-team's hard-fought win against Cardigan B, Aberystwyth B had the tough task of hosting league champions Cardigan A at the St David's Club on Tuesday 27th November - the first occasion we have been able to take advantage of the new facilities (an electric kettle) to offer tea and coffee to our opponents. On top board, I used a lot of time against Howard Williams, but still dropped a pawn to his persistent queenside pressure. Seeking compensation and with my flag about to fall, I blundered more material and resigned. James Cook, on the other hand, looked well set against Iolo Jones, having outplayed him in the opening. White was about to place an unassailable knight on d5 when some hesitancy seemed to creep into his game and he took a weaker option, giving his strong opponent the chance to show off his endgame technique. On Board 4, Ian Finlay also let his chance slip against Awne Osinga; one moment he was attacking, the next, an apparently minor error left him the exchange and a couple of pawns down and faced with a terminal attack on his king. That left Tony Geraghty on Board 3, playing the higher-graded Howard Leah. Tony has faced the Alapin variation against his French Defence before - it is a favourite of Aber player Julie van Kemenade - but seemed bemused by it now, and got into a position so cramped he felt compelled to sacrifice a piece to relieve the pressure. This time, though, it was the Cardigan player who went wrong, returning the piece and letting Black right back in. Both were now very short of time, and agreed a draw in a position where Tony was clearly winning. Cardigan A won the match 3½-½.

Howard Williams - Matthew Francis 1-0

James Cook - Iolo Jones 0-1

Howard Leah - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Ian Finlay - Awne Osinga 0-1

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A / B...

Aberystwyth's A and B teams were in action on successive nights recently against the B and A teams of Cardigan. On Monday 26th November, in Cardigan, Aber A met some determined resistance from a team outgraded on three boards. Rudy van Kemenade, on Board 1, has a good record against Tony Haigh, and had previously beaten him three times with Bird's Opening. This time Black was ready for it, and played well to reach a complex middlegame. Both sides had chances to win, and Black was ahead in the final position but accepted a draw due to time trouble. Julie van Kemenade played cagily against returning veteran Seamus Cunnane, and the game, unusually for one of hers, never really took off. On the other hand, David Ferguson, who has been a little rusty recently, had an outstanding game against Jamie Sen, clinching it with a combinative kingside attack. Georgina Gray, the only Aber player to be outgraded by her opponent, Nick McIlvenna, also had attack in mind, and came very close to winning on a couple of occasions, especially a missed chance to pick up a rook, but eventually her game too was drawn. 2½-1½ to Aberystwyth A.

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Haigh ½-½

Seamus Cunnane - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

David Ferguson - Jamie Sen 1-0

Nick McIlvenna - Georgina Gray ½-½

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Busy Night

Matches come thick and fast at this stage of the season, so much so that the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, hosted two of them on the same evening, Wednesday 21st November. While Aberystwyth A were playing Carmarthen, Cardigan A were beating by 3½-½. Aber's match was a closer affair, between two well-matched teams. On top board, however, Rudy van Kemenade had a comparatively easy victory against Gerry Heap, who miscalculated a pawn fork, losing a piece, and allowed his king to be overwhelmed soon afterwards. Julie van Kemenade also got a free gift, when Huw Morcom trapped his own queen; though he got a rook and a certain amount of counterplay for it, she made no mistake. Things went against Aber on Board 3, where David Ferguson's King's Indian was slowly strangled by Keith Downey, who picked up several pawns before the inevitable end. Finally, on Board 4 I found that Paul Orton was much too solid a player to allow me to begin the long climb out of my autumn slump, snuffing out my attack very efficiently. Nevertheless the draw helped secure a win for Aber by 2½-1½.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Huw Morcom 1-0

Keith Downey - David Ferguson 1-0

Matthew Francis - Paul Orton ½-½

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

First Win for the B-Team

A B-team looking for their first win of the season had another chance against Haverfordwest B on Monday 19th November at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. On Board 1, I was playing a new opponent in John Miller, whose French Defence led to an exciting position with both sides attacking on opposite flanks. A piece sacrifice gave him the initiative, and he was able to take advantage through more accurate play. Meanwhile, James Cook was several pawns up against Jan Sendall, and looked to be comfortable before allowing some dangerous counterplay, which, fortunately for him, didn't come to anything. Tony Geraghty's game was also difficult, and he let Robbie Coles back in a couple of times before finally prevailing in the rook and pawn ending. Only captain Ian Finlay on fourth board had an easy evening, as Margaret Baron gave away pieces freely before allowing mate. 3-1 to Aberystwyth.

Matthew Francis - John Miller 0-1

Jan Sendall - James Cook 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Robbie Coles 1-0

Margaret Baron - Ian Finlay 0-1

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Club Championship Under Way

The new format for the Club Championship allows games to be played on club nights whenever it's convenient for the players. On Tuesday 13th November, there were inly four players at the St David's Club, but, fortified by newly available supplies of tea and coffee, we drew lots and started the Championship. Tony Geraghty had White against James Cook and played his favourite London System, obtaining an open h-file and a strong attack. His piece sacrifice was by no means clear-cut, but difficult to defend against, and Tony scored a quick and impressive victory against a higher rated opponent. Meanwhile Ian Finlay and I were playing each other for the second time in a few days, after my unimpressive performance in the Dyfed Closed. I also played a favourite system, the Budapest Gambit, and got a well-posted knight and an extra pawn. But I have been finding it hard to close out games recently, and a couple of inaccuracies allowed Ian to cancel out the advantage, leading to another draw.

Tony Geraghty - James Cook 1-0

Ian Finlay - Matthew Francis ½-½

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Repeat Performance

After the A-team's disappointing draw against, Aberystwyth B had the opportunity to show them how it should be done at the St David's Club on Tuesday 6 November. Playing Black on Board 1, I was a bit tentative against Iwan Griffiths's Queen's Gambit, but had two bishops and some pressure against his king, when an unexpected reply to a move I had thought decisive flustered me, and I blundered an exchange, losing soon afterwards. When James Cook and Owen Llywelyn play each other they always face the same problem: each is a Caro-Kann devotee, and no one wants to refute their favourite opening. This time James, as White, played a potentially dangerous line once used by Bobby Fischer, but missed the sharpest possibilities and the game resolved into a drawn position. New club member James Corrigan, playing his first ever competitive match on Board 4 against Emyr Llywelyn, attacked confidently and soon had what should have been a winning advantage, when he overlooked a fork and dropped a piece. He had some compensation, however, and the game was eventually agreed drawn. That left team captain Ian Finlay on Board 3, a pawn up in a difficult rook ending, to try to level the match. Tegwyn Jones managed to reach a drawn position but his flag fell before he could claim it, an unfortunate way to lose. So this match also ended in a 2-2 draw, which appears to be Aber's default result at this stage of the season.

Iwan Griffiths - Matthew Francis 1-0

James Cook - Owen Llywelyn ½-½

Tegwyn Jones - Ian Finlay 0-1

James Corrigan - Emyr Llywelyn ½-½

Congratulations to Rudy van Kemenade, joint winner of the Dyfed Closed Championship. He tied with Gerry Heap of Carmarthen on 4½/5. Full report to follow.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Another Draw

An A-team missing regular players Julie van Kemenade and David Ferguson found it tough going against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 30 October, despite having a grading advantage on all boards. First to finish was my game on Board 2. Having found Owen Llywelyn's Caro-Kann difficult to break down in earlier games, I had prepared a dangerous variation with some hidden traps. Black's natural replies soon got him into trouble, and he was a rook down before getting out of the opening. At this point, things looked good for Aber who were up on Boards 1 and 4, and holding their own on Board 3, where James Cook was Black against the relatively inexperienced David Moore. Then he misjudged an exchange combination, losing a piece and a pawn, and White played the ending out calmly to secure a good win for Gwyddbwyll. On top board Rudy van Kemenade had taken the initiative with his Dutch Defence, winning the exchange and exerting pressure against the king, but Iwan Griffiths was making things as difficult as possible for him. Meanwhile, disaster had struck on Board 4, when Tony Geraghty picked up his queen without stopping to check his planned move and found that his only legal option was to sacrifice it - the kind of mistake every chess player makes at least once in their life, which doesn't make it any easier to get to sleep afterwards. Tegwyn Jones seemed a bit nervous as he tried to force mate before his clock ran down, but got there in the end. Fortunately for Aber, Rudy finally broke through to level the match. The result was the third successive draw for the club, and the second successive draw for the A-team against lower-graded opposition - not the start we were hoping for.

Iwan Griffiths - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Owen Llywelyn 1-0

David Moore - James Cook 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Tegwyn Jones 0-1

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Battle of the Bs

Aberystwyth B's first match of the season was away to Cardigan B on Wednesday 15th October. On top board, facing Howard Leah's Philidor, I soon came under pressure on the queenside, and chose a line that dropped the exchange but gave me a solid fortress position and a useful passed pawn as compensation. Black turned down a draw offer, but was unable to find a way through and eventually offered the draw himself, in a position that was now rather worse, but with White short of time. The Board 2 game was a quieter draw, as James Cook quickly neutralized any initiative from Jamie Sen's London System. Tony Geraghty also played the London, but Awne Osinga made the mistake of looking for a counterattack before he was fully developed, getting a bishop trapped and succumbing to an unstoppable passed pawn. Finally on Board 4, Ian Finlay had some trouble defending his isolated queen's pawn position against Nick McIlvenna's Queen's Gambit, and lost the exchange to an easy-to-miss tactic. They played on, but Black dropped a piece not long after, making the deficit a whole rook, and resigned. The result was a 2-2 draw between evenly matched teams.

Matthew Francis - Howard Leah ½-½

Jamie Sen - James Cook ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Awne Osinga 1-0

Nick McIlvenna - Ian Finlay 1-0

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A-Team's Progress Stalled

After a good first match of the season, Aberystwyth A found themselves facing the A-team of their previous opponents, Haverfordwest, at the Emlyn Cafe, Tayngroes, on Wednesday 10th October. Despite strengthening the side with the addition of James Cook on Board 4, Aber found the opposition much tougher this time. Not on top board, however, where Rudy van Kemenade emerged from an unusual line of the French Winawer into a queenless middlegame where he had the two bishops, a superior development and a dangerous attack down the h-file. Ron Wade capitulated quickly, though he might well have played on against a less formidable opponent. Julie van Kemenade's game was the longest of the evening, and characteristically wild, as Colin Denham countered her trademark kingside attack with an unexpectedly successful foray against the queenside-castled king, picking up queen for rook. The position was still complicated however, and Black was able to sustain enough pressure to secure the draw. David Ferguson, playing his first match in a long time, seemed a bit rusty against the new Board 3, John Miller. While he hesitated between queenside and kingside development, Black worked up a fierce attack against the king, leading to a quick mate. Finally, James Cook carelessly dropped a pawn with his Caro-Kann, but kept his pieces active, and Jan Sendall was content with the draw. 2-2 represents a rather disappointing result for Aber, and a good performance by Haverfordwest.

Rudy van Kemenade - Ron Wade 1-0

Colin Denham - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

David Ferguson- John Miller 0-1

Jan Sendall - James Cook ½-½

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Aberystwyth Town Chess Club

Annual General Meeting

The 66th AGM of the Aberystwyth Town Chess Club was held in the first floor meeting room St. David’s Hall, Eastgate St, Aberystwyth, 7:30 pm on Tuesday 11th September 2012.

Present: M Francis {Chair}, A Geraghty {Secretary-Treasurer}, R Van Kemenade, J Van Kemenade.


1.Apologies for absence. Ian Finlay.

2.Minutes of the previous AGM accepted.

3.Matters arising. None.

4.The chairman's report.

Matthew Francis reported that the club had had another good year competitively. Once again we were able to sustain two teams in the Dyfed League and had competed well there as the A team match captain would report. Members had also had a good season in tournaments. Eight Aberystwyth players took part in the Dyfed Closed Championship, where Rudy finished third, and seven in the Dyfed Congress, where Matthew finished in a six-way tie for second in the Major section and Ian Finlay and John Basterfield shared first place in the Minor. Rudy represented Wales in the European Senior Team Championship in Slovenia and achieved the best score of the Welsh team. The Club Championship this year was hit by illness and pressure of work, and was played as a four-player one-day tournament, won by Rudy. Tony, Julie and Matthew all made significant rating gains over the season. In the summer we said goodbye to our regular Board 1 and 2011 Club Champion Mark Talbot, who was graduating from Aberystwyth University, with a friendly chess evening at the Club with Mark, his father and brother. He will be much missed. Despite all the success, however, attendance on club nights remained a concern.

5.Secretary/Treasurer's report.

Tony Geraghty reported the club had a good start from September to Christmas. Attendance was up on previous years and the Home League matches were a boost to the club income. However, we were unable to sustain attendance numbers and once again took a summer break. Financially the club was in the same position as last year. The rent was paid in advance to the end of November and we have a small surplus in the bank.

The secretary also reminded members WCU £10.00 and DCA £5.00 fees are now due.

6.Match Captains’ reports.

Rudy reported Aberystwyth 'A' team had once again finished runners up to Cardigan 'A'. The 'B' team had managed to gain 3rd place. The club had also won the lolo Jones Trophy for the 2nd year.

7.Any other matters.

Tony Geraghty proposed the club championship be reinstated on club nights. The proposal was seconded by Julie, and passed.
Rudy reported that Roland Spencer had given up his position as Treasurer for the DCA and Tony Haigh had taken the post. Our thanks to Roland for the fine work he has done.

8.Election of Officers.

Chair – Matthew Francis.
Secretary and Treasurer – Tony Geraghty.
Match captains:
A Team Rudy Van Kemenade.
B Team Ian Finlay.
Blog Master Matthew Francis.

Anthony Geraghty, Club Secretary.

Friday, 28 September 2012

A Perfect Start

The new Dyfed League season is underway, and Aberystwyth A began with a match against Haverfordwest B on Wednesday 26th September at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Aber were strong favourites on paper, with a grading difference of several hundred points per board, and the match took the predicted course, though only after some lengthy resistance on Boards 2 and 3 in particular. On top board Rudy van Kemenade was far too well prepared to be fazed by Scott Hammett's King's Gambit. He was soon up an exchange and a couple of pawns, and when White got a bishop trapped as well, it was only a matter of time - and it is never very much time in Rudy's case as he plays with computer-like speed. Julie van Kemenade's game on Board 2 had reached a balanced Sicilian position when Jan Sendall overstretched himself trying to generate a kingside attack, giving away his queenside pawns in the process. Though both sides made mistakes thereafter, Julie was able to push a pawn on to queen, and hold her kingside together till the reinforcement arrived. I weakened my king's position against Tim Kirby's Reti opening, but had compensation in the form of a strong centre and two bishops. He overestimated his chances in sacrificing a knight for the attack, and while, again, both players committed further inaccuracies, White never had enough for the material. The game on Board 4 was the first to finish as Tony Geraghty established a deadly pin on Margaret Baron's queen's knight, and then used it as the basis of an assault on the queenside-castled king, ending with a pretty mate.The final score was 4-0 to Aberystwyth.

Meanwhile the club held a special evening at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Bookshop on 25th September, when members took on all comers. Tuesday evening meetings have now started again at the St David's Club, Eastgate, Aberystwyth, 7.15. Players of all levels of ability are welcome to drop in for a game - there is no charge for a first visit.

Scott Hammett - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Jan Sendall 1-0

Tim Kirby - Matthew Francis 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Margaret Baron 1-0

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Chess at the Bookshop

The AGM has been held, and I will be posting the minutes soon, as well as the Dyfed League fixture list for the new season. Meanwhile, please note that there will be no club night at the St David's Club on Tuesday 25th September. Instead we will be having a special evening at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Bookshop, from 5pm to 8pm, when members of the club will take on all comers. Everyone welcome, regardless of playing standard, and admission is free.

One decision taken at the AGM can be mentioned in advance of the minutes. We have decided to hold this year's club championship on club nights. All members will play each other twice, and matches will be arranged on an ad hoc basis over the season. We hope this should make for some more varied and competitive club nights.

I have updated the fixture list for the first half of the season - see right.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

AGM and New Season

The Club has resumed meeting after our summer break. The AGM will be held on Tuesday 11th September, 7.30, at the St David's Club. As always, it will be a fairly short meeting with chess afterwards. Meanwhile our friendly rivals at Haverfordwest Chess Club have started an excellent blog of their own. Take a look. As well as extensive material on the club, they have some good photos of this year's Dyfed Congress.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Summer Friendly

With the Dyfed League season over, a seven-board friendly match took place at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on Monday 11th June between a team representing North Dyfed and consisting entirely of Aberystwyth players, and a South Dyfed team drawn from members of the Haverfordwest and clubs. On top board for North Dyfed, Rudy van Kemenade won a rook at a fairly early stage against Colin Denham, but had to negotiate a few complications before finally landing the point. Julie van Kemenade won a couple of pawns against Ron Wade, and kept up the pressure in a position with only major pieces left before clinching the win with a passed pawn. James Cook also had pressure, against Iwan Griffiths's split pawns, prompting his opponent into an unsound exchange sacrifice, after which the ending was comparatively easy. The next two boards were more difficult for North Dyfed. Tony Geraghty miscalculated Scott Hammett's intended exchange sacrifice, gifting him a piece, and soon afterwards allowed a fork which made the deficit a whole rook; he played on, but there was no way back. And Ian Finlay got a knight trapped against Tegwyn Jones, who came close to winning the ending but had to agree a draw as he was running out of time. On the bottom two boards, North Dyfed again dominated. John Basterfield sacrificed a knight to open up Emyr Llywelyn's king position, with mate inevitable soon afterwards. Finally, Georgina Gray had the easiest win of the evening, as Margaret Baron walked into a version of Scholar's Mate, losing in only five moves. The match finished 5½-1½ to North Dyfed.

Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Ron Wade - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

James Cook - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Scott Hammett - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - Tegwyn Jones ½-½

Emyr Llywelyn - John Basterfield 0-1

Georgina Gray - Margaret Baron 1-0

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Summer Break

Aberystwyth Chess Club is taking a break for the summer. The first club night of the new season will be Tuesday 6th September, at the usual time of 7.15. This blog will continue when there is anything to report. (At the moment there are plans for a friendly match against Haverfordwest.) Meanwhile we wish all our readers a relaxing summer.

Farewell to Mark Talbot

Mark Talbot Aberystwyth's regular Board 1 and 2011 Club Champion, Mark Talbot, is about to graduate from Aberystwyth University, and will be returning home to Lancashire after three years here. An extremely strong player (currently fourth in the Dyfed Rating List), he has been a huge asset to the team, and a welcome presence on club nights. Modest, sportsmanlike and always willing to share his knowledge of the game, he will be missed both at the club and in the Dyfed League generally. We wish him well for the future and hope that at least some of us will encounter him across the board at some future event. Mark has said his goodbyes in a very gracious email, which I quote below:

"...I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Aberystwyth Chess club and I will certainly miss it.

"During my three years here in Aberystwyth I have felt very welcome at the chess club and have enjoyed the company of everyone. I have learned a lot about chess through playing different club members and against other clubs, and hopefully taught a few tricks too! I have also enjoyed testing myself in the Dyfed league playing against other clubs.

Thank you all for taking the time to make me feel very welcome and thank you Rudy for giving me the opportunity to play for the team. I'll enjoy reading the aberchess blog and playing through all the games. Hopefully I'll see you again at a tournament some time.

Best wishes,


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Positively Final Match of the Season

As Carmarthen had been given a couple of weeks' grace to catch up on their missed matches in the Dyfed League, Aberystwyth A played their last match of the season at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on Monday 14th May. Carmarthen fielded a full-strength side, while Aber were without top board Mark Talbot. That left old rivals Rudy van Kemenade and Gerry Heap to contest the Board 1 game, an English Opening, in which White had a fierce kingside attack, but Black had counterchances in a complex position. In the end it was Rudy who lost his way, allowing a White passed pawn to break through. My game against David Buttell had reached a level middlegame position when he allowed a simple tactic that exposed his king. After that I had the better chances, and clinched the win soon afterwards. Julie van Kemenade's Philidor Defence against Keith Downey resulted in a difficult queenless middlegame where White had doubled rooks on the seventh rank but Black had a counterattack. Later analysis showed that Julie could have broken through but she understandably took the draw that was available. On Board 4 James Cook dropped a pawn early against Huw Morcom's Najdorf and never managed to get back into the game; the extra pawn, on the kingside, proved a destructive weapon in breaking into the White position. The final score was 2½-1½ to Carmarthen. Cardigan A are Champions again, with Aberystwyth A second. Aberystwyth B finished third, and won the Iolo Jones trophy for the best results by players graded under 1700.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - David Buttell 1-0

Keith Downey - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

James Cook - Huw Morcom 0-1

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cardigan A Win Again

Cardigan A confirmed their domination of the Dyfed League on Monday 30th April with a sweeping home victory against nearest rivals Aberystwyth A. Aber's only success was on top board, where Mark Talbot, playing White, was never in trouble against FIDE master Howard Williams in an Alapin Sicilian, and achieved an early draw. Rudy van Kemenade tried to unbalance his game with an unorthodox formation of isolated and doubled pawns and an exchange sacrifice which Iolo Jones chose to decline. Black could reach equality in some lines, but never really had an attack, and White was able to regroup and exploit the weaknesses in his position. Julie van Kemenade played a King's Indian Attack type formation against Tony Haigh's Franco-Sicilian. The players ended up castled on opposite sides and her pawns eventually succumbed to Black's pressure. On Board 4 I was facing the King's Gambit for the first time. Howard Leah had a dangerous kingside attack, but I managed to get counterplay; with both players short of time, I baled out into an inferior ending instead of continuing to try for a win, and compounded the error with a blunder just after the time control. 3½-½ to Cardigan A. It is not quite clear at time of writing if the League has now finished for the year, or if Carmarthen will be able to catch up on at least some of their outstanding matches, but Cardigan A, with a record of twelve wins and only a single draw, are worthy champions again.

Mark Talbot - Howard Williams ½-½

Iolo Jones - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Haigh 0-1

Howard Leah - Matthew Francis 1-0 1-0

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Struggle on the Middle Boards

Aberystwyth A played their penultimate match in this season's Dyfed League against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 24th April. Two of the games were clinched quickly for Aber. On top board Rudy van Kemenade won a piece in the opening against Iwan Griffith with an underestimated pawn thrust. Soon a clever tactic had transformed the material advantage into a whole rook, and there was no way back. On Board 4, Ian Finlay was much too strong for Emyr Llywelyn, who, finding he must lose a rook, gave away his queen instead and resigned in only thirteen moves - one of a number of miniatures for Aber this season. With just half a point needed for victory, however, the home players on the middle two boards were not having things their own way. I went wrong early against Owen Llywelyn's Caro-Kann, allowing him to win an exchange. Seeking compensation, I threw my minor pieces forward, and, while I didn't find the best attacking options, my show of aggression was enough to persuade him, first, to give the material back, then to offer a draw, in a position which later analysis showed was still winning. With the outcome decided, the players gathered round the Board 3 game, where Julie van Kemenade had given up a couple of pawns against the much lower rated Tegwyn Jones for an attack that didn't really seem to be there. With both sides down to queen, rook and pawns (always a volatile combination) she at last got the complications she was after, only to become uncharacteristically diffident in attack. White was able to exchange queens, and was still ahead in the ending, but with almost no time left on his clock. At this point, rather than take advantage of his inexperience in such tight situations, Julie sportingly made it clear she would take a draw, which was a fair result. The match finished 3-1 to Aberystwyth A.

Iwan Griffiths - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Owen Llywelyn ½-½

Tegwyn Jones - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Ian Finlay - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0 1-0

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tony to the Rescue

With the season drawing to a close, Aberystwyth B had to face a rematch against league champions Cardigan A at the St David's Club on Tuesday 17th April. In the earlier fixture, the B team had managed a very creditable 1-3 defeat despite being heavily outgraded, and hoped to achieve something similar this time. On top board I had prepared a sharp line of the Leningrad Dutch against Howard Williams, who drew on his long experience to play an idea of his own invention involving a pawn sacrifice. I should probably have declined, when the position looked equal. Instead I took the gambit (also probably OK if played correctly) and soon found myself under pressure, leading to a lost ending. On Board 2, Julie van Kemenade was also trying out a risky opening, the Veresov. Unfortunately, she didn't castle in time, and Iolo Jones was able to counterattack strongly against her centre, mating in only 18 moves. On third board, James Cook was suffering from a bad cough and had to leave the room twice in his short game; it must have been this that distracted him, causing him to leave his queen en prise. He resigned immediately, an easy win for Tony Haigh. That left Tony Geraghty to try and salvage something on Board 4. He has become very proficient at the London System, and worked up a dangerous kingside attack, sacrificing a knight on g6. Howard Leah should have taken it, when play was unclear; instead he declined and Tony was able to force Black's king across the back rank, ending in mate. This was an outstanding win against a player graded around 300 points higher, and confirms Tony's recent improvement, as well as enabling the team to match their earlier result against Cardigan A, 3-1 to the champions.

Howard Williams - Matthew Francis 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Iolo Jones 0-1

Tony Haigh - James Cook 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Howard Leah 1-0

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Short and Sweet

Rudy has now kindly annotated the games below.

Aberystwyth B won a one-sided match against Haverfordwest B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 2nd April. The game on Board 3 seemed to be over almost before the players had sat down. John Basterfield played an orthodox Advance Variation against the French Defence, but Robbie Coles tried to undermine White's centre too early, leaving his king in the centre. The result was a devastating coup by John to win Black's queen after only fifteen moves. The game on Board 4 was equally drastic. Georgina Gray developed calmly against the inexperienced Margaret Baron, who was shuffling her pieces around aimlessly on the back rank. Nevertheless, White could have profited by an exchange combination at one point; instead, though, she dropped her queen in short order and allowed mate soon afterwards. On Board 1 for Aber I was faced with a sharp and unusual reply to my Vienna Opening, but steered it into a line closely resembling the Two Knights Defence, where both sides seemed to have chances. Scott Hammett then went wrong, losing a piece, and,instead of digging in, allowed me to open lines against the Black king. Another win of a piece followed, before Black succumbed to a mate in three. The night was still young, and only the Board 2 game was still in progress. Tony Geraghty played a French-type formation against Tim Kirby's Reti Opening, and soon had a superior position. He missed a chance to win material with a queen fork, but remained very comfortable, with an extra pawn and the two bishops, before White walked into two pins in succession, the first losing a piece, the second his queen and the game. 4-0 to Aberystwyth B.

Matthew Francis - Scott Hammett 1-0

Tim Kirby - Tony Geraghty 0-1

John Basterfield - Robbie Coles 1-0

Margaret Baron - Georgina Gray 0-1

Thursday, 5 April 2012

European Senior Championship Round 9

VenueRudy's final report. I have added Rudy's games to some of the reports of earlier rounds. I have also now added his wild (Rudy's word) final round game. All the games of the Welsh team can be found on the Welsh Chess Union site. Congratulations to the Welsh team, and especially to Rudy, on an excellent performance.

The third time, draw with Bl, and win with Wh. The team strategy since after a tough preceding round we played one of three teams weaker than us, was to sit on the position and wait for someone to break through. It didn't quite work out like that.

First to finish was Richard. Playing against a solid London System various minor pieces were swapped on e4, and his opponent offered a draw. Unfortunately Richard wasn't at all sure what was happening in Rudy's game, so continued after ten minutes consideration. However, since things might have been drifting against him, he decided to offer a draw himself, which was accepted.

Rudy chose the Dutch Leningrad reversed again, since he had met the same opponent, Dr Jurgen Fritsch at the EU Seniors teams in Dresden two years ago, losing that one despite having established what should have been a winning central pawn mass. All the more so since Bl had gone down the same route in Round 1 of this tournament. Trying for activity with a pawn break on e5, this lost the B on standing on f5. Wh could have just won a pawn on the K side. but there are styles in chess, so Rudy chose a line where Wh gathered material for his Q. Those materialists in the team reckoned that Bl's Q plus 3 K side pawns were equal to Wh's R, B, & N. However Rudy had judged that the Q was inactive on the Q side, a R unable to contest an e file, a passive Bl N & B. While Bl gobbled up two more pawns, Wh won an exchange and then the four Wh pieces around the K forced mate (even, to the team's satisfaction, in lines not played)

John had a good position from that English that became more a Catalan.When piled up the pressure up against d5 and Bl's underdeveloped Q side, Bl succumbed as one does in an inferior position, dropping two pieces for a R. Coupled with a passed d pawn, Wh's R, B & N soon forced a decision against the two passive rooks, giving John a win.

Given the state of the match, Iolo settled for a draw when John had won. His usual Old Indian had lead to a rather blocked position, in which, however, Bl had a protected passed pawn on c5. This might have been enough to win in the long run, but it seemed not completely necessary since Iolo had scored a good draw the previous round.

Wales 3 Germany Freibauern Niedersachsen 1

Although we finished on 24, seemingly only four places above our initial ranking of 28, a closer inspection is worth doing. We finished with one match more than last year. We are 1 match point behind England 1, England 2, and Belgium. We are level with the best performing Dutch team Netherlands VAS from Amsterdam, and 1 match point above Scotland 1. Thanks to beating Austria 1 in Rd1 we played teams ranked Nos 5,7,9,15,17 & 21, which finished in places 6,7,14,16,21, 27. Colin could have won against Michael Yeo, who ended up ranked No2 on % points in the whole tournament. Rudy had the best overall performance of the Welsh team being ranked No36 on % points(a default not counting either for him or Michael Yeo of England1).

Playing HallA special mention should be made of Russia 2, composed of women players who only narrowly lost to Russia St Petersburg in the last round.

The final ceremony took place in the Rogaska Cultural Centre in the presence of its Major and MEP.

Rudy van Kemenade - Jurgen Fritsch 1-0

European Senior Championship Round 8

Report by Rudy

A tricky round

Due to our draw yesterday we got to play a stronger team. Despite them being a player short they still presented a formidable challenge as 9th ranked team. (Dr Reinhard Zunker was forced to withdraw a couple of rounds ago due to ill health. Colin is also not that well, which makes his performance thus far even more impressive)

So, one game up to start with.

Iolo played surely and efficiently from a Reti with Closed Sicilian overtones to neutralise any chances his IM opponent might have by welltimed exchanges. And when all the Rs were coming off as well, Bl accepted the draw.

Richard played for a complex line against the Chigorin, that he had been analysing on behalf of Colin, but Georg Haubt had some previous experience with it, plus some helpful anaysis by GM Rustem Dautov, and headed for a line with only one exemplar. Richard then played an innovation,0-0, the move recommended by Fritz13,but after Qxh4, despite a longish think failed to find the Fritz13 follow-up of 18.Qa4! when Wh maintains some advantage.Instead Bl was able to finish off with a raging attack against the Wh K.(All this for one pawn, as Georg said in post game analysis). So no luck on this one.

Nor on the other. John got a decent position from a Reti/Queen's pawn game, but despite a potential Q side pawn majority, he had a N offside on a5, and a B on b7. Bit by bit his 2300+ opponent increased the pressure onto the weakened K side, leading eventually to the win first of one pawn, then another. When the last tactical chances proved to be of no use, John resigned.

Wales 1.5 Germany-Hessen 2.5.

The consolation was that a draw would have left us facing an even stronger team in the last round with a risk of losing, thus only gaining one match point. Whereas now we have a weaker team, with good prospects of a win to end with.(Keeping everything crossed).

Four people went for another walk up the hill trails behind our hotel, to enjoy the sunshine and the excellent Slovenian hospitality in a pub along the way.We would all like to say we very much appreciate that people here have gone out of their way to make it a memorable experience.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

European Senior Championship Round 7

Report by Rudy:

The first draw- the draw that didn't slip away.

Richard was first to finish. Facing a Closed Sicilan setup, Wh seemed unsure of how to continue, with a slightly misplaced Nf4 move. Exchanges left Wh with some Q side space, but that would need to be abandoned in order to get any K side attack, while Bl meanwhile could get pressure against the Wh centre. A draw was a reasonable result.

Colin got an excellent position, offering a B on g5, when Bl went h6 with h4, an offer Bl could scarcely accept.Perhaps it should have been left there a little longer, though Colin got in a g4 move (opposite side castling in an Old Indian defence). Unfortunately Wh played g5 too soon (Rdg1!) letting a B into g4, and losing a pawn. In the end Bl won by threatening to triple on the d file and mating the K standing on c1.

John (perhaps heeding some observations made in Mihalchishin's talks) played a Botvinnik English. Some very complicated manoeuvres ensued, with plenty of alternative opportunities for both sides (which kept them happy for an hour or two in analysis afterwards).The exchange of all minor pieces led to a position where Bl had a little more play, perhaps,with just heavy artillery left, any form of mobilization can be spotted well in advance. Drawn.

Iolo's opponent Alexander (Lex) Jongsma is a known 1.Nc3 specialist but chose instead to prepare a lesser known line against Iolo's trusty Petroff. Wh got a good game, with Bl's pieces a little passively placed. However, when he tried to storm the Bl position with an f5, it was slightly overpressing, and Bl won a pawn and an exchange. Not the end of the road, because Wh held two dominating Bs vs R&N. But Bl untangled and got rid of one of the the Bs and was about to win the other (with the K to follow, when Wh decided to call it a day. (Rudy ,who was watching, saw a mate in two for Bl that both players, down to a few minutes missed. But then kibitzers always know better, don't they?). A tough fighting game.

Netherlands VAS 2 Wales 2

In these days of intertextuality and hyperlinks, the official tournament website (listed on the Welsh Chess Union website) now contains a link to these comments that are to appear on the Welsh site. Byd bach (small world) as they say in Wales.

European Senior Championship Round 6

Report by Rudy:

On track again.

After yesterday's loss, Rudy with another Bl played safe with the Petroff vs a cautious 4.Nc4. Despite getting a good development and opposite sides castling, both sides protected all the entry points and a draw was agreed. Even Iolo,when asked afterwards, thought there was not much chance of making any headway.

In any case in a complex Accelerated Dragon, Richard was by now a sound pawn up. However a little inaccuracy gave his opponent some counterplay, with both sides trying to maximize their R activity. A Bl K move when checked to the wrong square, h6 rather than f6 as played, dropped the h pawn, and with Richard's h pawn advancing to h7, the end was a pretty mate with the K on f5.

John's Dutch Stonewall didn't move very far, and initially Bl stood much worse as Wh obtained a protected passed p on e5. However some neat play by Bl yielded a two to one majority on the Q side, enough to lure the Wh K away. Despite John winning both the e and f pawns, it was down to B & 2 vs B and 1. The problem was the B was the wrong colour for John's h pawn, so a draw was agreed with John relying on increments to survive onto move 70+. (there may be a tactical trick found by Iolo that saves crucial tempo and keeps the Wh K from f1).

Iolo won a long endgame, lasting 84 moves, again needing the increments of 30 sec per move, when his opponent was an hour ahead on the clock. In a complex Dutch position Iolo found a way to win a pawn, but there was counterplay. Faced with the disruption of his K side, Bl chose to sacrifice the exchange, which eventually boiled down to R & b pawn vs B & e pawn, with the Bl K on the b file. Iolo found the way to drive the Bl K towards the back rank and death.(Those so minded can check out Iolo's technique with that found in the Nalimov Endgame tables)

So a classic style of winning matches, draw with Bl and win with Wh.
Wales:3 - Austria Wien 2: 1.

Tonight features the second of two lectures by Mihalchishin, the Russian National Trainer, commemorating recently deceased great players.

Herbert Titz - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

European Senior Championships Round 5

Report from Rudy:

Another might have been.

Iolo took a deserved rest day, so it was the lower four boards battling it out.

On top board John got his usual Dutch Stonewall, and came under a bit of pressure after Qs were exchanged, but then further exchanges eased his position, and a draw resulted against a higher rated opponent.

Something similar happened on board two. Richard was happy to face a Chigorin defence, since he had been helping Colin prepare for that eventuality in an earlier round.However in the 3.cxd4 line Bl declined to go down the sharpest route with a Bxf3. The resulting position , with just 2 R's and some pawns left nothing much to play for.Drawn.

Colin had another go with a King's Indian attack, but was a little slow in mobilizing his K side for attack, allowing his higher rated opponent to unravel and threaten to infiltrate. A desperation sacrifice by Colin failed to avert the end.

The might-have-been was Rudy's game. Alastair White as White had focussed on a 4NCL game where Rudy had played an inferior d3 (albeit via a Petroff rather than as here, a Bishops opening.) A near cousin of the Max Lange arose when Rudy played dxc3 instead, where Bl was minus a d pawn, but Wh minus a g7 pawn.In order to shake off the attack Rudy returned the pawn, ranging two Bs and two Rs against the Wh K side. When Wh held on, Bl took a pawn on b2 creating a passed c4 pawn, Wh then doubled R's on the 7th,Bl gave up an exchange to keep two Bs vs R & N plus running Q side pawns. With Bl missing several winning chances, fatally the Wh K got to b6, where both the Bl Q side pawns went before a mate on move 50, giving White's first win & Bl's first loss.

So, Scotland 1: 3 Wales: 1 (but...)

The delay in writing a report was that four of the team went on a trip further up in the hills to an old monastery and other buildings in Olimje, via a couple of trains that ran along the road (rather like the one at Mumbles). The Slovenian hills are unlike the Welsh ones, more circularities around circularities, with houses and churches perched high up at or near the tops. Almost everywhere there are planted vines, and we can vouch for the excellent quality of Slovenian wines. The weather has been kind as well.

Alastair White - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Monday, 2 April 2012

European Senior Championship Round 4

Report by Rudy:

Back on track, and the 50% mark.

In our first match against a lower ranked team,things worked out in the end. Winning with Wh and drawing with Bl.

Colin was first off the mark. getting a Benoni against an inferior line with Wh playing g3(scoring in the process only 11% from 13 games) Bl got into a slight tangle at first. However the higher rated Wh player was unable to make much of any opportunities and soon offered a draw.

Richard started well with a Hyperaccelerated Dragon and got good play against a passive response.Failing to make the most of it, he drifted into dangerous waters, where he then had to find six accurate moves on the trot to ensure equality. Happy then to draw although he might have had some chances in continuing.

Rudy van KemenadeRudy continued in good form. Playing a King's Indian Attack vs a Sicilian (just to confuse the opposition) he was able to get a good position by making developing moves that had some possibility of winning tactics, when Bl put pieces on slightly odd squares. It might still have been a draw, but with Bl short of time (Rudy his customary hour ahead on the clock) Bl failed to appreciate that Wh could infiltrate on a8 with the Q and come down the h file with a R. Bl actually lost on time on move 38 (even with increments on offer), though there was no saving the position.

Iolo finally got into his stride, playing like the old Iolo to get his first win. A position from a Staunton vs Dutch leading to Wh having Q and B vs Q & N, but with six pawns each still on the board. After 20 moves of patient probing backwards and forwards, Wh finally got a decisive g4 in on move 50. A desperate piece sac failed to save Bl, so it was all over on move 60.

There was some superb action on table two where Russia 1 faced Switzerland, with Korchnoy vs Vasiukov. (Russia 1 had had to concede a draw to Italy in Rd3). A complex Dutch was played. 1.d4, f5 2.Bg5,g6 3.c4,Nh6. Vasiukov followed up a little later with a Na6 as well. All K side pawns disappeared and it was 4 pawns to 3 for Bl, but with a tangle of pieces around the K side and centre. By now the crowd was not just around Board 1 but surrounding the entire table of 4 players as spectators craned their necks to get a look in. Vasiukov found a decisive exchange, so, without looking at his opponent, Korchnoy disdainfully flicked his K over and signed the scoresheet.

As a consequence of mature planning ahead our Captain has ensured that his first rest day occurs the day after tonight's wine tasting of Slovenian wines, to take place shortly.

Rudy van Kemenade - Sven-Olof Andersson 1-0

Sunday, 1 April 2012

European Senior Championships, Round 3

Report by Rudy:

A near miss(almost a triumph)

The game of the match and the best played so far was that of Colin. Playing against one of the youngest players in the tournament(some 350 points higher graded)
his King's Indian Atack initially held Michael Yeo. When Bl began to put his pieces on some slightly unusual squares seeking tactics, Colin sidestepped all of these and began to dominate the board. Playing safe Colin then offered the draw, which realistically Michel should have taken. Colin continued playing vigorously, but both sides ran into extreme time shortage with less than half a minute in Colin's case, being saved by the increments. Then tragedy struck. Coming up to the time control, instead of taking a B and giving up a N, he went for a mating attack, missing a crucial Bl defence, and shortly after the time control had to accept defeat.If he had simply taken the B then his Q & B would have been far superior to Bl's Q & passive N, especially with a line of Bl pawns on c6,b5,and a4 ripe for the picking. An unfortunate end to what should have been an excellent win.

Before Colin's game ran to its conclusion, there were two earlier results.

In a Fianchetto King's Indian Ken Norman and Rudy played quite quickly in the opening to reach a position both were comfortable with. Rudy then played an agressive f4, ceding all the wh e4 square for Wh, but strongly barricaded on all the bl squares. Wh pressurised d6, Bl kept an eye out for K side chances. A slight misstep meant Wh could have won an exchange for a messy position, but then it looked as if Bl had winning chances, until Wh started swapping of the dangerous pieces.There was play possible , but risky, so a Q swap lead to peace.

John's game featured a Ruy Exchange with a rare Na3 move. When things cleared Bl was behind in development and it looked good for Wh. However exchanges brought it down to heavy artillery only battle, Wh being slightly better, but a draw most likely result anyway.

As usual the captain leads from the front, and endures the heaviest gunfire.Lately returned to active chess, Anthony Stebbings chose not to play his normal e4 and have to face Iolo's sturdy Petroff. Instead it went to an Old Indian. It looked as if Bl was getting good K side chances, but these were contained, and instead attention turned to the Q side where Iolo was unable to hold the a6 pawn, leaving Wh with a passed B pawn. And despite struggling for counterplay, Iolo had to admit there was no preventing a Wh K march to b7 picking up a B on b8.

So, England1 3 Wales 1 (but ....)

The team is not disheartened because we have now faced teams no's 5,7, and 19 to our no 28. And tomorrow we face our first lower ranked opponents.

Ken Norman - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Saturday, 31 March 2012

European Senior Team Championship, Round 2

Report from Rudy:

Luck can't last forever. We had a downfloat to a Danish team, who on paper are slightly lower than yesterday's Austria, but whose players are more closely graded, providing strength in depth. So everybody was again facing far stronger opposition. Added to which every player seemed to be able to avoid our preferred opening lines.

John Thornton's game was the first to finish, featuring an unusual 2.b4 against the Dutch. A complex Stonewall Dutch resulted when a slight misjudgement meant that the base of the Stonewall collapsed on e6. After that, faced with a Space Invaders array of pawns coming through the centre, John resigned. Colin Gilbert on bottom got a solid position against his opponent's cautious English opening, and after some pieces had swapped off, Colin decided to turn his attention to the Wh K side, which induced his opponent to sue for peace. An excellent result against an opponent rated nearly 500 points higher! Meanwhile in an odd Q side Opening Iolo Jones's opponent found a neat way of piling pressure onto Iolo's K by a Rf6-h6 manoeuvre, and a later pseudo sac of a piece lead to Bl being a couple of pawns up. But Wh held on and it got down to both sides at less than 2 minutes, relying on the increment to keep afloat.Then a nasty exchange sac by Sloth succeeded in gaining access to the Wh K. Richard continued the saga of long games, though this time he was not the last to finish. A Gurgenidze Caro-Kann structure had at one stage a diamond pattern of Bl pawns on e4,d5,e6 and f5. That e pawn was passed, and Richard fought his way to activate his R behind the enemy lines. In the end despite Bl having passed pawns on e4 and d4, he had to concede that Wh's pawn on a6 was a sufficient counterweight. So, in the end a 3-1 loss, but it still leaves Wales well ahead of expectations.

Friday, 30 March 2012

European Senior Team Championship, Round 1

Rudy van Kemenade is currently representing Wales in the European Senior Team Championship in Slovenia, where the team also includes another friend from the Dyfed League, Iolo Jones. Here is Rudy's report on Round 1:

A good day for Wales. Due to some last minute adjustments our seeding was increased by one, so we were drawn against number five seeds Austria 1 instead of the expected Switzerland (with Korchnoy on Board 1). So each was facing an opponent at least 200 to almost 300 points ahead.

Rudy was the first to score. Playing a Dutch reversed (and why not?) his opponent's pieces started drifting towards the K side, and the Wh pieces stated heading towards the K, with the added problem for the Austrian defence of being an hour behind in time.

Resisting several times the chance to play Nxf7, Wh chose to sacrifice the enemy pieces instead (as recommended by Tartakover). Bl resigned when his K got driven into the centre with at least loss of Q to start with.

John Thornton on Board 2 got a good position from a Botvinnik English, and gradually increased the pressure. However some exchanges followed and his higher rated opponent was pleased to be able repeat moves, otherwise he would be far worse.

Meanwhile Iolo was defending his favourite Old Indian against Georg Danner,IM. Wh got some space, but Iolo grabbed and held a pawn,albeit with Wh having some compensating pressure. With time running out rapidly , Wh was happy to accept the offered draw.

That left Richard Miles. From a promising King's Indian for Bl, Wh as usual held more space, but conceded 2 Bs vs 2 Ns. As the other games had now finished, the Austrian player required a win to draw the match overall.With a 30-second increment per move the game could carry on a long time and it did, till 5 past 7, the last game to finish. Wh managed a swap of one N for B, leaving Richard with a baddish bl B and a c7 pawn to defend. After many twists and turns, finally Richard managed to activate first R and then B, losing pawns. but winning them back again, until the last one was exchanged, leaving R&B vs R& N. It's actually more difficult to play a successful defence, than following through with a winning attack.

And so Wales became the only lower ranked team to win a match in the first round.

Rudy van Kemenade - Peter Roth 1-0

Thursday, 22 March 2012

St David's Massacre

The end of Aberystwyth Chess Club's busiest period for some time came on Tuesday 20th March with the match between the A and B teams at the St David's Club. Interestingly, as Rudy points out, none of the pairings from the Quadrilateral Tournament on Saturday were repeated. On top board for the A team, Mark Talbot played the unusual Larsen's Opening, fianchettoing his dark-squared bishop, which exerted a powerful influence on the position. I chose to simplify into an inferior ending to try to reduce the pressure, and held out quite a while without ever coming close to saving the game. James Cook dropped a piece early on against Rudy's Petroff, and resigned when faced with the loss of further material. Julie got a similar position against Tony to the one Mark had against me, even though the openings were different; Tony tried to sacrifice his way out of the bind, but with no success. The closest game was on Board 4, where B-team captain Ian was moonlighting for the A team against John Basterfield. The position was excitingly double-edged for most of the game, but Ian eventually emerged with enough extra pawns to win. The result was a whitewash for the As against the Bs for the second time this season, 4-0.

Mark Talbot - Matthew Francis 1-0

James Cook - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1/

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Geraghty 1-0

John Basterfield - Ian Finlay 0-1

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Aber Quadrilateral

The Club Championship had been much anticipated this year, with some new players promising to make it exceptionally competitive. Unfortunately, when the appointed day came, a combination of illness and pressure of work meant that only four people turned up for the planned weekend tournament at the St David's Club on Saturday 17th March. We decided to go ahead anyway, and make it a one-day round robin tournament.

In Round 1, Ian Finlay didn't seem to make any major mistakes against Rudy van Kemenade's Budapest Gambit, but Black's counter-attack can come very suddenly in this opening against an unprepared White player, and before Ian could get safely castled Rudy's pieces were all over him. Meanwhile Tony Geraghty and I had an epic struggle in the London System, the play moving all over the board as the advantage switched from one player to the other. I thought I had clinched the win with queen, bishop and pawns against queen, knight and pawns, but misplayed the position and found myself with a nasty-looking bishop versus knight ending. By now we were both short of time and I was happy to accept Tony's draw offer.

In round 2, Tony tried his French Winawer against Rudy for the first time in a rated game, and got an excellent position from the opening. Unfortunately for him, a tactic went wrong immediately afterwards and he dropped a piece, at the same time opening lines against his king in a failed attempt to get counterplay. Ian again developed a bit too slowly, this time in a Sicilian, and I was able to take advantage of his undeveloped queenside to win a rook. We played on, and I missed several chances to finish his resistance before eventually finding the winning tactic.

Finally, in round 3, I couldn't find a coherent plan against Rudy's kingside counterattack in the Modern. Attempting to stay active, I merely lost material and opened up my king's position with no compensation at all. I have seldom known Rudy to spend so long thinking, but he was only looking for the most efficient way to finish me off. Ian lost an exchange in the Queen's Gambit Declined, and Tony gave it back again, reaching a bishop ending with an extra pawn which he converted quite comfortably. So ended what we are calling the first Aberystwyth Quadrilateral Tournament, in a victory for Rudy van Kemenade with 3/3. Congratulations to him. Tony and I were equal second with 1½/3, while Ian finished last with 0/3.

Ian Finlay - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Matthew Francis ½-½

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Matthew Francis - Ian Finlay 1-0

Matthew Francis - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Ian Finlay - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Friday, 16 March 2012

Two for the Price of One

It's an exceptionally busy week for Aberystwyth Chess Club, with matches for the A and B teams, to be followed by the Club Championship at the weekend and a match between the A and B teams almost immediately afterwards. At the time of writing, only the first two of these events have taken place, both with very satisfactory results. First, on Monday 12th March, the B team played away to close rivals Cardigan B. On top board, I got an advanced passed pawn against Tony Haigh, but, with only queens left and my king a long way from the action, could not find a way to promote it (needless to say, there was one) and offered a draw. James Cook also missed a chance against Jamie Sen, with a dangerous attack against the queenside-castled White king - a well-timed sacrifice would have broken through. It was a similar situation on third board, except that Tony Geraghty made his well-timed sacrifice, giving up an exchange to open lines against Nick McIlvenna's king, but missed the correct follow-up. So three good positions for Aber and three draws, but team captain Ian Finlay clinched the match, 2½-1½, with a comfortable win on Board 4 against Jamie Sen's father, Alex. The result keeps Aber B in third place in the league.

Matthew Francis - Tony Haigh ½-½

Jamie Sen - James Cook ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Nick McIlvenna ½-½

Alex Sen - Ian Finlay 0-1

On Wednesday 14th March at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, Aber A (featuring a couple of the players from the B team's match two days earlier) played a strong Carmarthen team. Aber had quick wins on the top two boards. In a queenless middlegame Mark Talbot harried Gerry Heap into undeveloping his pieces, causing Black's position to collapse abruptly, while Rudy van Kemenade got a crushing kingside attack from his Leningrad Dutch against Keith Downey. On third board, I continued my recent good form with a positional win against Huw Morcom. That left Tony Geraghty, who had successfully defended against Paul Orton's pawn sacrifice and looked to have a certain draw against his higher-rated opponent when his concentration slipped, losing him a piece and the game. 3-1 to Aber, who remain in contention for the league title.

Mark Talbot - Gerry Heap 1-0

Keith Downey - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Huw Morcom 1-0

Paul Orton - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Friday, 9 March 2012

B Team Below Par

The B Team were well below their best against in the unfamiliar setting of the Ffostrasol Arms on Wednesday 29th February, perhaps still tired after taking part in the Dyfed Congress the previous weekend. On top board I launched a kingside attack against Iwan Griffiths, who countered on the queenside and in the centre; I missed a couple of winning chances, and when the smoke cleared after the time control Black's cool defence had left him with an easy ending. In the battle of the Caro-Kann players, James Cook moved his king off the e-file in the misguided belief that he had an attack there against Owen Llywelyn, but found that it was his position that collapsed. Ian Finlay lost through a similar miscalculation; in a strong position, he played a combination against Tegwyn Jones that just didn't work. Finally, Georgina Gray may well suspect that Emyr Llywelyn, one of the lowest-rated players in the Dyfed League, has been taking lessons from his Welsh International brother Iolo Jones; she found White's defence very difficult to break down, and eventually went wrong trying to find a way through. A whitewash to, 4-0.

Matthew Francis - Iwan Griffiths 0-1

Owen Llywelyn - James Cook 1-0

Ian Finlay - Tegwyn Jones 0-1

Emyr Llywelyn - Georgina Gray 1-0

It was a happier story in the Dyfed Congress at Fishguard on 25th-27th February, where Aber was well represented, with seven players taking part. In the Open section, Rudy van Kemenade scored 3/5, and Julie van Kemenade scored 2. In the Major, I finished in a six-way tie for second, with 3½, and James Cook scored 1. Finally in the Minor, John Basterfield and Ian Finlay shared first prize on 4, while Georgina Gray scored 3. I hope to put some games up at some point.

The club championship will be held at the St David's Club on the weekend of 17th /18th March.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

It's Default That Counts

Aberystwyth B took on formidable opposition on Monday 20th February at the Emlyn Cafe, but were helped by the fact that Carmarthen could only raise three players. (It was unfortunate, however, for Tony Geraghty, who didn't get a game.) On top board, Julie van Kemenade underestimated Gerry Heap's queenside attack - she sacrificed a rook to try to get some play on the kingside, but it was never enough. Buoyed up by some recent good form and the chance to get my live grading over 1700, I went after Keith Downey's Sicilian with uncharacteristic aggression, sacrificing a pawn, then a piece, then the exchange. The advantage was not always clear in the complex position, and both players used a lot of time, but it was harder in practice to defend than to attack, and the gamble paid off. James Cook got a comfortable position from his Caro-Kann, but when Huw Morcom began to probe for attacking chances he unwisely weakened his kingside and was quickly finished off. With the default on Board 4, the match was tied at 2-2, an excellent result for the B team.

Gerry Heap - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Keith Downey 1-0

Huw Morcom - James Cook 1-0

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Back to Tanygroes

Match venues have been more varied this season - it seemed a long time since our last match at what had previously been our regular venue, the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, when Aberystwyth A took on Haverfordwest A on Wednesday 15th February. On top board Rudy van Kemenade may have been slightly surprised by Colin Denham's choice of 1...e5 instead of his usual French, but he is very comfortable in the Ruy Lopez. Black attempted to seize the initiative with an unsound sacrifice, but Rudy offered the piece back shortly afterwards. Black's position was hopeless either way, and he was soon two pieces down. Julie van Kemenade seemed under pressure on the kingside against Ron Wade for a while, but when he dropped a central pawn his own kingside was suddenly the more vulnerable and he was overwhelmed. Meanwhile, on Board 4, Georgina Gray had quickly succumbed to Jan Sendall's classic open-game attack against the uncastled king. My Board 3 game against Scott Hammett was the last to finish, even though I had won an exchange before we were out of the opening. I missed several opportunities to break through and finally offered a draw with only five minutes left on the clock, clinching the win for Aber, 2½-1½.

Rudy van Kemenade - Colin Denham 1-0

Ron Wade - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Scott Hammett ½-½

Jan Sendall - Georgina Gray 1-0

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Cardigan Strengthen Their Position

Cardigan A increased their lead at the top of the Dyfed League on Tuesday 7th February by beating their nearest rivals Aberystwyth A at the St David's Club. Strangely, Aber matched their opponents on the top two boards, despite being outgraded, but conceded points on the lower two, where the grading advantage lay with them. On top board, Mark Talbot played the King's Indian against Howard Williams, who had pressure on the queenside for a while, but it dissipated leaving a drawn position. Rudy van Kemenade played the Bishop's Opening to avoid Iolo Jones's Petroff, but his kingside chances were neutralized. Neither player could make much headway in the resultant position with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops. Matthew Holborow got hit by a couple of clever tactics in his game against Tony Haigh, losing first a pawn, then the exchange, and was given no chance to recover. Finally, on board four, Julie van Kemenade forced her dangerous and much-improved opponent Howard Leah into a double-edged sacrifice; she has never been one to shrink from a fight, but has struggled for form recently, and had the worse of the complications before losing on time. The result was 3-1 to Cardigan A.

Howard Williams - Mark Talbot ½-½

Rudy van Kemenade - Iolo Jones ½-½

Tony Haigh - Matthew Holborow 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Howard Leah 0-1

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Quick, Quick, Slow, Slow

On Monday 6th February, Aberystwyth B played Haverfordwest A at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, a return match of the first fixture of the season, which Aber won by 2½-1½. this time Aber got off to the fastest possible start. Ian Finlay, playing White on Board 4, had too much fire-power for Robbie Coles and forced his king into the open board, winning in only fourteen moves. Not long afterwards I achieved a similar result when Ron Wade overpressed in the opening, got his attacking pieces into a compromising situation and ended up dropping his queen. Though the game lasted a slightly longer time than the first to finish, it was even shorter in moves played - only twelve. The middle two boards were much more leisurely. James Cook, playing the exchange variation against Colin Denham's French Defence, picked up a pawn early on and improved his position patiently to obtain a winning ending - a fine example of positional play. That left Tony Geraghty, also playing the French, against Jan Sendall. He had pressure against the king but couldn't find a way through, and he was concentrating so hard he lost track of time, allowing his flag to fall with a couple of moves still to make before the time control. The clock has caused Tony a few problems in recent games, and he lost in a similar way to the same opponent only a few months ago. The match finished 3-1 to Aber, a good result against evenly matched opponents.

Ron Wade - Matthew Francis 0-1

James Cook - Colin Denham 1-0

Jan Sendall - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - Robbie Coles 1-0

Friday, 3 February 2012

Mirror Image

The match on Monday 30th February was, in effect, a mirror image of the one the previous week between Cardigan A and Aberystwyth B. This time it was Cardigan's B team trying to see if they could match the good result achieved by their counterparts against an opposing A team. On top board, Aber's Mark Talbot dropped a pawn with his English Opening, and had to face an attack as well. Looking for activity, he sacrificed the exchange and Tony Haigh reacted too passively, allowing him to force the draw. Rudy van Kemenade's experience told against Jamie Sen, who was facing the Budapest Gambit for the first time, and did a reasonable job of defending Black's attack, but lost too many pawns. Julie van Kemenade picked up a couple of pawns early on against Roland Spencer, and looked to be comfortable. But as the time pressure began to build, she went in for some risky complications in search of a quick kill and allowed Black to get back into the game, which was eventually drawn. Finally, Awne Osinga returned the compliment for Cardigan; Tony Geraghty had a lost ending but White misplayed the position, and this game too finished in a draw. Overall, Cardigan B did slightly better than Aber B managed last week, 2½-1½ to Aberystwyth A.

Mark Talbot - Tony Haigh ½-½

Jamie Sen - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Roland Spencer ½-½

Awne Osinga - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Cardigan Made to Work

Aberystwyth's B team made the long trek to Cardigan on Monday 23rd January for a match against the strongest team in the Dyfed League, Cardigan A. Aber's top two had swapped boards for the occasion, so I had White against Welsh Champion Howard Williams. I had prepared an unusual line against Alekhine's defence and was able to set my opponent a few problems. Nevertheless, the game was gradually slipping away from me when he made an uncharacteristic error, reversing the advantage and allowing me to offer a draw from a position of strength. Julie van Kemenade had pressure against Iolo Jones on Board 2 for a while but lost a pawn to a neat tactical trap, which seemed to throw her: she walked into a still more devastating move soon afterwards. James Cook's game was a very quiet one; Tony Haigh was unable to impose his usual positional stranglehold and had to accept a draw early on. Finally, Georgina Gray, playing Black against Howard Leah's Italian Game, worked up a terrific counter-attack but went wrong in the complications; White found the winning move seconds before the time control. Georgina has come within a hair's breadth of a win against a much higher-rated player several times now, and it surely won't be long before she nails one. 3-1 to a Cardigan team who were much higher rated on all boards was a satisfactory result for Aber, especially as it helps our A team by preventing Cardigan from pulling clear at the top of the league.

Matthew Francis - Howard Williams ½-½

Iolo Jones - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

James Cook - Tony Haigh ½-½

Howard Leah - Georgina Gray 1-0

Thursday, 12 January 2012

First Match of the Year

An Aberystwyth A team missing a couple of strong players was nevertheless too good for on Wednesday 11th January. Gwyddwyll's young top board Iwan Griffiths put up a good defence in the French against Rudy van Kemenade, who was playing a line he first played nearly fifty years ago, but finally missed a tactic. The game between Owen Llywelyn and Julie van Kemenade was double-edged and both players were soon short of time. In the difficult ending, Julie lost a piece, missed an opportunity to regain it, but was still fighting when her opponent offered a draw in view of the time situation. The clock was also a factor on Board 3, where James Cook dominated the centre and had a decisive material advantage by the time Tegwyn Jones's flag fell. Georgina Gray got her queen trapped against Emyr Llywelyn, but it didn't make any difference because her development was so much better by that stage that she had a choice of winning lines. Aber won 3½-½, but Gwyddbwyll fought hard and made the first match of the year an exciting one.

Rudy van Kemenade - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Owen Llywelyn - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

James Cook - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Emyr Llywelyn - Georgina Gray 0-1