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