Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Gain and Again

With Cardigan A having played only a couple of matches so far, Aberystwyth A are the unbeaten current leaders in the Dyfed League. On Wednesday 20th November they took on a strong Carmarthen team at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, in one of the double-header evenings that are a feature there this season - another match was going at the same time, making for a lively (though, of course, quiet) atmosphere. Rudy van Kemenade was able to stop Gerry Heap getting one of his favoured Dragon attacks going, and reached an ending with rook and knight against rook and bishop, where he forced a draw. Meanwhile, Julie van Kemenade was engaged in a fierce struggle with a new and very strong Carmarthen player, Nick Jackson, the sort of game where onlookers are glad not to be playing either colour. Nick, playing White, sacrificed a piece in the complications to get advanced connected passed pawns, while Julie gave back a piece for one of them and was able to create a passed pawn of her own, leading to a draw. My draw on Board Three was tamer; against Paul Orton's Sicilian I allowed an early exchange of queens and saddled myself with a bad bishop. I was able to exchange it off but the resulting position was lifeless. Not for the first time, it was left to Tony Geraghty to win the match for us on Board Four. His active queenside play won him a couple of pawns against another new player, Steve Tanner, before he overlooked a backrank mate threat and dropped a piece. He picked up two more pawns in the process, though, and was left with four extra pawns against the knight in the ending, for a reasonably comfortable win. The match finished 3-1 to Aberystwyth A.

Rudy van Kemenade - Gerry Heap ½-½

Nick Jackson - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis - Paul Orton ½-½

Steve Tanner - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Next week the A team were in action again at the same venue, this time playing Cardigan B. Mark Talbot played quietly against Tony Haigh's French, relying on his endgame skills to clinch the win. But Tony, though lower-rated, is also a very strong endgame player, and was able to hold him to a draw. On second board, Rudy had Black against Jamie Sen, the rapidly improving junior who had beaten him in the recent Dyfed Closed. Jamie got the advantage again and should have won the ending with his extra pawn, but his technique in this area is not yet at the same level as his middlegame play; a draw was nevertheless an excellent result for him. I tried the Ruy Lopez against Howard Leah, inspired by Rudy's and Julie's successes with it, and got the kingside attack I wanted. In time pressure, Black sacrificed the exchange in an attempt to slow it down, but that only worsened his position and the attack soon broke through. It was the only game of the evening that didn't go to an ending, as Tony outplayed Awne Osinga in what looked like a drawn knight- and-pawns position, giving Aberystwyth A another 3-1 win to maintain their place at the top of the league.

Mark Talbot - Tony Haigh ½-½

Jamie Sen - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis - Howard Leah 1-0

Awne Osinga - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Late Start

Aberystwyth B needed a good result against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 12th November to get their season going at last after losses in the first three matches. I don't have a very good record against Iwan Griffiths, and had prepared the sharp Leningrad Dutch for a change against his usual d4, guessing he would not be comfortable with it. His bishops on f4 and d3 proved to be good targets for my advancing pawns and I forced a quick win. Ian Finlay lost material early on against Owen Llywelyn's King's Indian, and his hoped-for counterplay didn't turn up; instead it was Black who found tactical possibilities, opening up the king in addition to his numerical advantage. James Corrigan is becoming known as a fearless player. Here, he could have done with being a bit more fearful as Tegwyn Jones had chances in the complications for a devastating attack. Somehow they got down to an ending, with White still better but missing several more opportunities to finish it. Eventually, with opposite-coloured bishops on the board and the position looking drawn, it was Tegwyn, with only a couple of minutes on the clock, who made the fatal error. Some of those present thought James's flag had already fallen, but he had nearly a full hour left: his clubmates are doing their best to persuade him to slow down a bit in future, as Rudy van Kemenade's high-speed chess is not for ordinary mortals. Jamie Friel is still less experienced, but took advantage of Emyr Llwyelyn's passive play to pick up material and invade the Black position for a comfortable win. It was good to see the two newest members making a vital contribution to the B team's 3-1 victory.

Iwan Griffiths - Matthew Francis 0-1

Ian Finlay - Owen Llywelyn 0-1

Tegwyn Jones - James Corrigan 0-1

Jamie Friel - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Monday, 11 November 2013

White to Play and Win

Haverfordwest can draw on a strong pool of players these days, and the A-team match against Aberystwyth, at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 6th November, was a close one, despite Aber having the higher gradings. On top board, Mark Talbot was unable to make any headway with his Grunfeld against one of Haverfordwest's recent finds, Martin Jones, who knew the theory well and steered the game to an early draw. The Board 2 game was more dynamic; Rudy van Kemenade won a piece for two pawns in a Bird's Opening, but weakened his king in the process. Rudy thrives on complicated positions, but even he had his work cut out here, and Colin Denham fought long and hard before losing on time in a position that was now hopeless. Julie van Kemenade has played her Philidor several times against Ron Wade, but this time her usual attack didn't come to much and the game drifted into an ending with opposite coloured bishops where she missed some winning chances before settling for a draw. On bottom board, Tony Geraghty whipped up the kind of kingside attack he often seems to get with his London System. A tactical trick left his queen hovering over Black's weakened kingside, and Scott Hammett baled out, allowing his king to be chased deep into enemy territory before being mated. Wins with White and draws with Black made it 3-1 to Aberystwyth A.

Martin C. Jones - Mark Talbot ½-½

Rudy van Kemenade - Colin Denham 1-0

Ron Wade - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Scott Hammett 1-0

The annual Dyfed Closed Championship was held at the Emlyn Cafe over the weekend of 9th-10th November. Gerry Heap (Carmarthen) won again, with a perfect score of 5/5. Cardigan junior Jamie Sen was second with 4, despite having missed the first round. Third place was shared between David Buttell (Carmarthen), Tony Haigh (Cardigan), Colin Denham (Haverfordwest) and me on 3. The under-1600 grading prize went to Awne Osinga (Cardigan) on 3/5 including a bye, and the under-1300 prize was shared between James Corrigan, 1/5, and Jamie Friel, 2/5 including a bye (both Aberystwyth). Congratulations to Dyfed Closed and Dyfed League organiser Iolo Jones, who has been awarded the FIDE Master (FM) title - fifteen years after he earned it! It turns out he was entitled to it as a result of his 65% score for Wales in the 1998 Chess Olympiad, a fitting reward for someone who has done a tremendous amount for chess in Wales over many years.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A-Team Dominant

The last couple of weeks have been quiet in the Dyfed League. No matches were possible as some of the strongest players, including Aberystwyth's Rudy and Julie van Kemenade, were playing for Cardigan's Welsh Premier League Team in the European Club Cup in Rhodes. (Rudy scored 1½/6 and Julie 1/6, against very strong opposition.) Before they left, however, there was time to play the first of the season's A vs B team derby matches, over two successive club nights because of illness. In the first leg, on Tuesday 15 October, Mark Talbot for the A team had pressure all over the board against Tony Geraghty's Owen's Defence, bringing about a defensive error that dropped the exchange, with the game following soon afterwards. Rudy was similarly dominant with his Budapest against Ian Finlay, occupying all the best squares and leaving White's pieces hopelessly tangled. James Corrigan played energetically to avoid a similar fate against Julie's Ruy Lopez, seeking an open game by sacrificing pawns; ultimately, however, he just did not have enough compensation. That left the score at 3-0 to the A team. In the postponed encounter, Jamie Friel, playing his first ever competitive game, did well in the opening, reaching a level middle-game position. Unfortunately he then miscalculated a tactical exchange, missing a pin on his knight and allowing me to win a rook. The result was 4-0 to Aberystwyth A.

Mark Talbot - Tony Geraghty 1-0
Ian Finlay - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1
Julie van Kemenade - James Corrigan 1-0
Jamie Friel - Matthew Francis 0-1