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