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