Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Long and the Short of it

Aberystwyth's last two matches before Christmas brought good results for both the A and B teams. On Monday 8 December, a depleted B team played Cardigan B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. On Board 1, a double-edged position resulted from the exchange variation of the French Defence, an opening often considered drawish. The players had castled opposite sides and were attacking each other's kings; my attack on the kingside with White should have broken through first, but I missed the sacrificial combinations required, after which Tony Haigh consolidated and was heading for a winning ending when I cut the game short with a blunder. Tony Geraghty's game against Seamus Cunnane was a more typical French, a blocked game in which Black's pressure on the queenside decided the issue, as Tony won, first a pawn, then a piece. James Corrigan should have lost a piece in the opening against Howard Leah's Sicilian, but Black's attack ran out of steam soon afterwards. Still trying to break through, Howard overextended himself, and it was James who won a piece instead. With the default on Board 4, the result was a creditable 2-2.

Matthew Francis - Tony Haigh 0-1

Seamus Cunnane - Tony Geraghty 0-1

James Corrigan - Howard Leah 1-0

Two days later, the A team played Haverchess B at the same venue. Rudy van Kemenade was not thrown off balance by Colin Denham's unorthodox opening and speculative sacrifice; he had seen that Black had much better attacking chances from the resulting position, and soon had the White king surrounded for a straightforward win. Adam Robinson failed to make his extra pawn count against Scott Hammett's Latvian gambit. After he had missed an early chance to invade with his two bishops, the game reached a complex rook and pawn ending, which was drawn in more than 70 moves, after many twists and turns. Georgina Gray, in her first game for the club this season, found herself plunged into wild complications from the opening. Ray Greenwood, playing White, made the decisive mistake of castling into her attack, after which she was able to harry his king across the board to eventual defeat. On Board 4, James Corrigan got a comfortable advantage from his Queen's Gambit against the inexperienced Sandra Whitby, but cannot have expected to win quite so soon, as she allowed an unusual form of smothered mate with a bishop on f7 after only eleven moves - quite a contrast to the game on Board 2! Aber won the match 3½-½.

Colin Denham - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Robinson - Scott Hammett ½-½

Ray Greenwood - Georgina Gray 0-1

James Corrigan - Sandra Whitby 1-0

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Umming and Erring

On Monday 24 November, Aber's new-look B team played Haverchess B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Adam Robinson's hesitant play in a King's Indian against Colin Denham didn't seem a serious enough fault to merit the drastic punishment it received, as White invaded dramatically on the d-file, forcing a quick win. Mike Weston's game against Scott Hammett was mostly quiet manoeuvring, with just one moment when White missed a chance to win material before it petered out into a completely drawn ending. There was more indecisiveness on Board 3, where Tony Geraghty's opponent, Ray Greenwood, spent most of the opening moving a bishop back and forth, allowing Black to take control, despite his odd-looking tripled pawns. Ian Finlay managed to get an early knight fork on c7 against Margaret Baron, after which the win was no problem. A welcome win for Aber B, 2½-1½.

Colin Denham - Adam Robinson 1-0

Mike Weston - Scott Hammett ½-½

Ray Greenwood - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Ian Finlay - Margaret Baron 1-0

Aber A's home match against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 2 December was quite a contrast, with players taking the adventurous rather than the cautious approach, not always successfully. Rudy van Kemenade kept calm against Iwan Griffiths's enterprising attack in a Petroff, declining a piece sacrifice, and steering the game towards a won ending. I played a sharp line against Owen Llywelyn's Caro-Kann which has brought me success against him in the past. I got the better position again, but was tempted by an unsound pawn sacrifice and should have been in serious trouble; luckily for me, he made a crucial mistake that let my queen in for the win. Ian was typically aggressive against Tegwyn Jones; his piece sacrifice may have been unsound, but was difficult to defend against in practice. An exciting game finished with the players agreeing a draw in a position where White still faced problems trying to win with the extra piece. Only James Corrigan on Board 4 had a trouble-free attack, breaking through quickly against Emyr Llywelyn's Hippopotamus. A 3½-½ win to Aber A.

Iwan Griffiths - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Owen Llywelyn 1-0

Tegwyn Jones - Ian Finlay ½-½

James Corrigan - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Friday, 5 December 2014

Playing Catch-Up

The Dyfed League has got off to a rather slow start this season, but this blog has been even slower, owing to pressure of work combined with a bad cold. So today's entry is intended to begin the process of catching up.

On Wednesday 12 November, a strong Cardigan B team were the hosts against champions Aberystwyth A. Rudy van Kemenade went the exchange up against Tony Haigh in a classical French, but Black had counterplay with his strong knight, and the presence of queens on the board made for complications. Rudy missed chances to win and eventually allowed a perpetual. Against veteran Seamus Cunnane, Julie van Kemenade had the kind of aggressive King's Indian-type position she enjoys, Turning down a draw, she went on the attack with her two bishops, winning a piece and the game. New player Adam Robinson has not had the best of starts to the season, and was looking for a win against the lower-rated Howard Leah. After a quiet closed Sicilian opening, the players reached an ending where White had knight against bishop with an extra pawn. It was a long fight but he prevailed in the end. The other new player, Mike Weston, reached a similar ending from a similar Sicilian line, though in his case he was Black and had the bishop. What looked like being a long-drawn out game came to a premature end when Awne Osinga allowed a winning fork. Aber A won an ending-dominated match 3½-½.

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Haigh ½-½

Seamus Cunnane - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Robinson - Howard Leah 1-0

Awne Osinga - Mike Weston 0-1

A few days later, on Monday 17th November, it was Cardigan A's turn to play host to Aber A. Rudy's King's Indian Attack against the league's strongest player, Howard Williams, led to a curious position in which Black had invaded a long way into the White queenside, but with little prospect of further progress. Rudy gave up two pieces for a rook to get a passed pawn on the other wing, then unwisely allowed it to become unpassed again, at which point Howard's queenside invasion suddenly came to life, winning the game. Julie's Philidor looked cramped against Iolo Jones, who had the two bishops and all the time in the world to decide on his attack, which came very suddenly, winning, first a pawn, then the queen. All the pawns stayed on the board till well into the middlegame in Adam Robinson's game against Tony Haigh, causing a blocked position. Tony came close to a breakthrough on the kingside, but Adam had the defensive resources to hold him to a draw. On Board 4 Mike Weston followed a well-trodden path in the Sicilian, so much so that he reached a position against Howard Leah's kingside attack that had already been resigned by Black in a tournament game. Mike played on for a few moves, but there was no defence. Again the result was 3½-½, this time to Cardigan.

Rudy van Kemenade - Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones - Julie van Kemenade 1=0

Adam Robinson - Tony Haigh ½-½

Howard Leah - Mike Weston 1-0

Meanwhile the Dyfed Closed tournament has taken place, at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on the weekend of 8th-9th November. Rudy was the winner with 4½/5, beating frequent winner Gerry Heap into second place. Ian Finlay won the under-1600 grading prize with 3/5, and Jamie Friel was joint winner of the under-1300 prize with Courtney Probert of Cardigan, on 2/5. I'll post the Aber games over Christmas.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A.N. Other Strikes Again

The renamed Haverchess A, formerly Haverfordwest, were unable to raise four players for the match at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on Monday 20 October, but outgraded Aberystwyth B on the three boards they did field. I kept up my 0% record against Martin Jones, who, playing White in a Queen's Pawn opening built up a dominant position on the queenside and never allowed me any counterchances. Mike Weston, in his first match for the club after many years away from competitive chess, played solidly to secure a draw against the strong John Miller, having to defend for a while but never looking in any real danger. The most exciting game was on Board 3, where Ian Finlay, up on material following Scott Hammett's miscalculated combination, got involved in hectic complications, trying to secure a mate before his pinned rook could fall. He missed the win in the end but a draw was a good result against this opponent. With the default on Board 4, the match was drawn - A.N Other is Aber's most consistent player at the moment.

Martin Jones - Matthew Francis 1-0

Mike Weston - John Miller ½-½

Scott Hammett - Ian Finlay ½-½

Sunday, 19 October 2014

All White on the Night

Carmarthen often have trouble raising a full team, and for Aberystwyth A's first match of the season, they were only able to field two boards. Somewhat unconventionally, presumably owing to an agreement between the captains, these were Boards one and three, meaning Aber had White in both. Rudy van Kemenade emerged from a complex Bird's Opening with the better position against Gerry Heap, but perhaps relaxed too soon, allowing a destructive pin that, after further complications, left Black with a winning advantage. Tony Geraghty got the kind of kingside attack he aims for with his London System, but gave up a piece for unclear compensation. The position remained difficult for both players, and Paul Orton eventually erred under pressure, dropping not only the piece but a rook as well. A win for each side plus the two defaults gave Aber a 3-1 victory.

Rudy van Kemenade - Gerry Heap 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Paul Orton 1-0

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hard Coffee

Aberystwyth B ended last season with a 4-0 defeat to Cardigan A, and have started this season with the same result. On a well-attended club night at the St David's Club on Tuesday 30 September, the lively atmosphere was only slightly tarnished by the fact that the coffee had fused to the inside of the jar over the summer and had to be chipped away with a spoon. On top board, I was quickly demolished by Howard Williams, who whipped up a kingside attack out of a quiet position; when playing such a strong opponent I always find that my pieces seem to gravitate to the wrong squares despite my best intentions. Tony Geraghty had a similar experience against the other FM, Iolo Jones, getting a lost position from the opening, though he managed to survive for longer. Ian Finlay, playing the Black side of a Queen's Gambit Declined, got interesting complications against Tony Haigh, and was equal for a while before miscalculating; White gave up a queen for a decisive material advantage though he could have won more simply. Finally, James Corrigan had trouble defending against Awne Osinga's powerful bishop pair in a Ruy Lopez, and allowed the Black queen into his kingside, with gain of material.

Howard Williams - Matthew Francis 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Iolo Jones 0-1

Tony Haigh - Ian Finlay 1-0

James Corrigan - Awne Osinga 0-1

Saturday, 20 September 2014

John Basterfield

We had the sad news this week that longstanding member of Aberystwyth Chess Club John Basterfield had died after a long illness. John was the first person I met on joining the club nearly eight years ago; a big man with an imposing presence, he was in fact softly spoken, courteous and unfailingly good-humoured, even in later years when he was often in poor health. Before retirement he had been a maths lecturer at Aberystwyth University, and he still had the teacher's mannerism of a slight pause before answering a question while he sorted out a measured and appropriate reply. As a player, he had a solid positional style and an unchanging opening repertoire: e4, the Winawer French and the Nimzo-Indian - if you were playing White and John hadn't pinned your knight on c3, it could only be because you hadn't put it there. Although he was not often able to play for the club in the last few years, he was still capable of some strong performances, including a shared first prize with clubmate Ian Finlay in the Minor section of the Dyfed Open in 2012. When not able to play he liked to attend events to support his friends, and indeed John seemed to have chess friends all over Wales. He will be much missed by us all.

Thanks to Rudy for these two annotated games, which, as he says "seem to exemplify John's careful and persistent style, always to be taken very seriously, no matter by which opponent".

Julie van Kemenade - John Basterfield 0-1

John Basterfield - Roland Spencer 1-0

Colin Denham of Haverchess has put his own tribute, and another of John's games, here.

Meanwhile, the new season has started, and the fixture list is now up on the right.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Summer Friendly

With the Dyfed League taking its summer break, the now-traditional summer friendly match was played at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 16th July. In theory this was between teams representing North and South Dyfed; in practice, however, the games were arranged to pair players of roughly equal strength, and I have no idea which players represented which team, though I gather the result was deemed to be a 4-4 tie. Perhaps this vagueness is all part of being friendly. Of the Aberystwyth players, Rudy beat Tony Haigh, I drew with visiting player Chris Dossett, Julie drew with John Miller, and Tony beat Tegwyn Jones.

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Haigh 1-0

Matthew Francis - Chris Dossett ½-½

Julie van Kemenade - John Miller ½-½

Colin Denham - Gavin Jones 1-0

Howard Leah - Awne Osinga 1-0

Tegwyn Jones - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Eugene Noakes - Ray Greenwood 1-0

Margaret Baron - Robbie Coles 0-1

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Summer Break

Aberystwyth Chess Club is now closed for the summer. The next club night will be Tuesday 2nd September.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Aberystwyth A are the new Dyfed League champions, having beaten Cardigan A by a mere half point. With two matches to go, it couldn't have been closer. Aber A were to play Carmarthen, while Cardigan A would play Aber B. The strong Carmarthen team were one player short, a handicap which had also applied to their recent match against Cardigan A. The match was played at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 2 June. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade went all out to attack Gerry Heap, despite having Black, sacrificing the exchange to create complications. Though the position was double-edged, it is always harder to defend against such an onslaught, and Rudy scored an impressive win. Julie van Kemenade had the advantage all game against David Buttell's Sicilian, but found it hard to break through in the blocked position. Reaching an ending with opposite-coloured bishops where she was still winning, she was happy to take a draw as the match was already won. On third board, I had managed to equalize against Paul Orton's Ruy Lopez, after a shaky start, and took the initiative in the rook and pawn ending, winning for the first time against this opponent. With the default, that made the final score 3½-½ to Aber A, clinching the championship with a match to spare.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - David Buttell ½-½

Paul Orton - Matthew Francis 0-1

The early victory was just as well, because Cardigan A were on outstanding form for their match against Aber B at the St David's Club on Thursday 5 June. Julie did her best to stay in the game against FM Howard Williams, sacrificing material to try to get chances against his kingside, but he defended coolly to claim the point. I survived a long time against another FM, Iolo Jones, who played patiently, trusting his superior endgame technique. With both players running out of time, he scrambled to a win in an entertaining finish. Like Julie, Tony Geraghty sacrificed to obtain counterchances against Tony Haigh, but he gave the material back for a winning ending. On fourth board, Ian Finlay dropped a rook trying to defend against Howard Leah's attack. 4-0 to Cardigan A still wasn't enough to retain their championship.

Howard Williams - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Iolo Jones 0-1

Tony Haigh - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - Howard Leah 0-1

Meanwhile, the club championship has also been decided. Congratulations to Rudy, who wins with a 100% score. Three more games are are below. Julie's games against Tony and me are still to be played, but with nothing depending on them and the summer break due to begin, they may not happen.

Tony Geraghty - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

James Corrigan - Mark Talbot 0-1

Matthew Francis - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Drawing to a Close

Aberystwyth A and Cardigan A are neck and neck at the top of the Dyfed League at the end of a long season; everything will depend on the last two matches, to be played next week, Aber A against Carmarthen and Cardigan A against Aber B. On a less exalted level, the two clubs' B teams met at the Emlyn Cafe on 19th May, and it was close here too. Julie van Kemenade tried hard to finish off Tony Haigh with queen for rook and bishop and her clock running down. After one move he gave a groan, and Julie, looking as one does in such positions for a clever fork or mating trick, missed the reason: he had left the bishop en prise. She took a chance to draw soon afterwards. There was no such excitement on Board 2. Players of the French are used to the challenge of trying to make the exchange variation interesting; against Awne Osinga, I tried a system I've used with some success on the internet, but the game soon petered out into a draw. Tony Geraghty also got nothing out of his London System and went in for a speculative exchange sacrifice to try to make something happen; unfortunately the thing that happened was a winning attack by Howard Leah. On fourth board Ian Finlay, playing Black in a Sicilian, took advantage of Roland Spencer's loose position and centrally placed king to launch a successful counterattack. The match was drawn 2-2.

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Haigh ½-½

Awne Osinga - Matthew Francis ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Howard Leah 0-1

Roland Spencer - Ian Finlay 0-1

Two more of the outstanding games in the Club Championship have now been played, resulting in wins for the van Kemenades, though the lower graded players Ian Finlay and Jamie Friel were able to make them work for it.

Ian Finlay - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Jamie Friel - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Catch-Up Time

With the official Dyfed League season nearly over, teams are rushing to catch up with their remaining matches, and I am trying to catch up with the games we have played. On Monday 12 October, Aberystwyth B played Haverfordwest A at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, hoping to do a bit better than in the disappointing fixture against Carmarthen last time out. On top board Julie van Kemenade got a strong attack against Martin Jones's Modern Defence and finally broke through despite missing a win in the opening. I was hoping to improve on my last game with Black against John Miller, when I had blundered horribly in the endgame. This time I got pressure with my Budapest Gambit, and won a piece for two pawns but could not find a win with my time running out, and had to be content with a draw. Ian Finlay lost a strategic struggle in a King's Indian, gradually driven back by Gavin Jones's dominant central pawns. Finally, James Corrigan made the most of an open h-file against Robbie Coles, charging through with his doubled rooks. 2½-1½ was a good result for Aber.

Julie van Kemenade - Martin Jones 1-0

John Miller - Matthew Francis ½-½

Ian Finlay - Gavin Jones 0-1

Robbie Coles - James Corrigan 0-1

Meanwhile the Club Championship had got going at the St David's Club over the weekend of 10th-11th May. With eight players entered, we decided on an all-play-all, which involved some games being finished off on subsequent club nights. At least we got most of the games out of the way, despite the fact that Rudy and Julie could not be present on the Sunday. The games proved very exciting, with upsets almost every round.

Round 1

I had a bye, so Tony also sat out. The shock result was Ian's win over Julie, though his aggressive style has sometimes given her problems in the past.

Mark Talbot - Jamie Friel 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - James Corrigan 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Ian Finlay 0-1

Round 2

The two favourites met in this round, and Rudy won a difficult ending. Every game was won by Black.

Mark Talbot - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

James Corrigan - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Ian Finlay - Matthew Francis 0-1

Jamie Friel - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Round 3

No upsets this round, though James had his chances against me in a complicated struggle.

Rudy van Kemenade - Jamie Friel 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Mark Talbot 0-1

Matthew Francis - James Corrigan 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Ian Finlay 1-0

Round 4

The first round of day 2 brought wins for the two lowest-rated players, James and Jamie, against Tony and Ian.

Mark Talbot - Matthew Francis 1-0

James Corrigan - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Jamie Friel - Ian Finlay 1-0

Round 5

Order was restored again in this round, with all games going according to rating.

Tony Geraghty - Mark Talbot 0-1

Matthew Francis - Jamie Friel 1-0

Ian Finlay - James Corrigan 1-0

Round 6

Another upset as Tony beat me for the first time in a rated game. Jamie was crushing James when he got his queen pinned; James's subsequent draw offer was sympathetic rather than pragmatic. Rudy and Julie played their game on the subsequent club night.

Ian Finlay - Mark Talbot 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Matthew Francis 1-0

Jamie Friel - James Corrigan ½-½

Rudy van Kemenade - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Rudy is thus the only player on 100%, with a handful of games still to be played.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

I'll Get My Coat

Aberystwyth B got nothing out of their match against Carmarthen at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on Monday 28th April, except a default on Board 4 and a coat. Against Gerry Heap on top board, I lost with the Stonewall Dutch for the second time in succession, but as before it was not the opening's fault. Even after allowing a weakness on the c file, I might have reached equality, but once White had invaded there I had no way back. Tony Geraghty often gets a kingside attack with his London System, but this time he seemed more interested in the queenside, where there was no real target. Meanwhile Nick Jackson built up the pressure on the kingside and eventually broke through to give mate. Ian Finlay got a comfortable position with his Sicilian against Paul Orton, then overlooked a move that pinned his queen. With the default, it was a 3-1 win to Carmarthen. The coat belonged to Paul Orton, and I took it on leaving, despite having arrived without one, only discovering my mistake next day when I found his car keys in "my" pocket. I will aim to confine my blunders to the board in future matches.

Gerry Heap - Matthew Francis 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Nick Jackson 0-1

Paul Orton - Ian Finlay 1-0

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Double Whammy

Aberystwyth's A and B teams both suffered setbacks in their most recent matches. The A team, looking to confirm their position at the top of the league, had every reason for confidence against Cardigan B at the St David's Club on Tuesday 8th April, when the visitors turned up a player short because of a misunderstanding over lifts. On top board, Mark Talbot got nothing much out of his irregular defence to Tony Haigh's 1.d4, and should have settled for a draw; instead, he overpressed and lost the ending to a lower-rated but very solid player. Julie van Kemenade nearly suffered a similar fate against Awne Osinga. Her typically aggressive piece sacrifice was sound, but the follow-up was not, and she was fortunate that Black misplayed the defence when he looked about to score an upset. I was playing the same player, Howard Leah, and opening, the French, as in the previous week's match against Cardigan A. This time I got a better middlegame but a worse result. With both players short of time, I lost the exchange, missed a winning line in the complications and finally allowed a mate in one just before the time control. A 2-2 draw, including the default on bottom board, was not the result Aber wanted.

Tony Haigh - Mark Talbot 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Awne Osinga 1-0

Howard Leah - Matthew Francis 1-0

Next week, on Monday 14th April at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, it was the B team's turn to put in an unconvincing performance, against Haverfordwest B. I seemed to have the game under control against John Miller, eventually reaching an ending with an extra pawn and a bishop against a knight. After a long hard struggle, though, I blundered horribly, dropping the bishop to a knight fork. Tony Geraghty went wrong against Gavin Jones after some slow manoeuvring, giving Black what should have been a winning ending, but inaccuracies by his opponent allowed him to salvage the draw. Ian Finlay seemed to have equalized with his Sicilian against Scott Hammett, but gave away the crucial c-pawn, after which White's dominant central pawns proved too difficult to stop. Finally, Georgina Gray, a bit rusty after a season in which she has not had much competitive chess, miscalculated her queenside attack against Robbie Coles, dropping material instead of winning it. A 3½-½ defeat was a very disappointing result for Aber B.

John Miller - Matthew Francis 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Gavin Jones ½-½

Scott Hammett - Ian Finlay 1-0

Georgina Gray - Robbie Coles 0-1

Friday, 28 March 2014

Tough at the Top

With Aberystwyth A in the unfamiliar situation of leading the Dyfed League, the match against champions and nearest rivals Cardigan A at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 24th March, was a crucial one. Top board Mark Talbot has an enviable record with White against the League's strongest player, Howard Williams, having drawn every game; this time Howard surprised him with a prepared piece sacrifice in the Modern Steinitz defence to the Ruy Lopez, but it only led to another draw. Rudy van Kemenade sacrificed a pawn in a Pirc Defence against Iolo Jones in an attempt to free his cramped position; in the difficult queen-and-pawn ending that followed, he missed the chance of a perpetual check which would have secured a draw. Julie van Kemenade, after a complex struggle, reached an ending with rooks and bishops of opposite colour against Tony Haigh, but missed the only defence against his advanced passed pawn. I was uncomfortable with my French Defence against Howard Leah, but he never managed to get an attack going, and I was able to take the initiative in the resulting rook-and-pawn ending. Despite Cardigan's 2½-1½ win, Aber A remain in the lead at this stage.

Mark Talbot - Howard Williams ½-½

Iolo Jones - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Haigh 0-1

Howard Leah - Matthew Francis 0-1

The next evening, the B team was in action at the St David's Club against Tony Geraghty on Board 1 took advantage of Iwan Griffiths's weakened king position to invade on the dark squares and force the win of a queen for a rook. Iwan defended well, getting his knight on to a dominating square, and, though Tony found the way through, he was now short of time and offered a draw. Ian Finlay's Sicilian gave him active pieces against Owen Llewelyn, but there was not enough of a king's side attack to offer more than the chance of an early draw, a good result against a higher-graded player. James Corrigan's game against Tegwyn Jones followed a well-trodden opening path. (One of the games from the legendary Spassky-Fischer World Championship match was among its predecessors). James got an advanced passed pawn which might have proved either a strength or a weakness; it became a strength when a mistake by his opponent allowed him to use it to win a piece. Chris King, playing only his second game for the club, had a complicated battle against Emyr Llewelyn till the latter miscalculated and lost two pieces in quick succession. 3-1 was a good result for Aberystwyth B.

Tony Geraghty - Iwan Griffiths ½-½

Owen Llewelyn - Ian Finlay ½-½

James Corrigan - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Emyr Llewelyn - Chris King 0-1

Several club members have formed a new club at Aberystwyth University, which is having its first match on Saturday 28th March, a friendly against Bangor University.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Dyfed League champions Cardigan A have been looking unusually frail in recent matches, conceding a defeat to Carmarthen that has left in-form Aberystwyth A in the lead. On Wednesday 19 March, Aber A took on Haverfordwest B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, a week after whitewashing the same club's A-team. The top-board encounter was a repeat of the previous week's second-board game between Rudy van Kemenade, playing Black, and John Miller, and, despite a different opening, took a similar course. Once again Rudy won an exchange and had some difficulties against his lower-rated opponent, though this time the problems came before the win of material, after which he was able to secure the point comfortably. I failed to find the textbook refutation of Scott Hammett's unusual defence to my Vienna Gambit, but developed normally and took advantage of a tactical opportunity soon afterwards, leading to a quick win. On Board 4, Jamie Friel won Margaret Baron's queen, and both players overlooked the fact that she could later have won it back, but the result would have been no different. Board 3 was the last game to finish: Tony Geraghty had made no headway against Robbie Coles's Queen's Gambit, and looked to have a long fight ahead from a slightly worse position when White allowed a simple knight fork and resigned, not wanting to play on with the match already lost. It was Aber A's fourth successive 4-0 victory.

John Miller - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Scott Hammett 1-0

Robbie Coles - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Jamie Friel - Margaret Baron 1-0

Saturday, 15 March 2014


Aberystwyth A continued their recent good form on Wednesday 12 March with a win against Haverfordwest at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. On top board, Mark Talbot finally broke his jinx against Colin Denham, a player he had never beaten despite a rating advantage of around 500 points. His advanced d-pawn gave him a useful space advantage, which he used to win material with a tactical trick. Rudy van Kemenade won the exchange early on with his King's Indian against John Miller, but took some time to wear his opponent down, eventually reaching a winning rook ending. I was under pressure in the opening against Gavin Jones's Sicilian, but once I had castled into safety the game swung round remarkably quickly, and Black had no answer to my powerful bishops and domination of the half-open f-file. Finally, Tony Geraghty had reached a level position with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops against Scott Hammett when he was presented with the gift of a back-rank mate. A whitewash to Aberystwyth A, 4-0.

Mark Talbot - Colin Denham 1-0

John Miller - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Gavin Jones 1-0

Scott Hammett - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Derby Day Again

Aberystywth A had whitewashed the B team in the first leg of their home derby this season, and, with more than a 600-point grading advantage on each board, were looking for a similar result in the sequel at the St David's Club on Tuesday 25th February. And so it turned out, but not without some adventures on the way. On top board, however, Tony Geraghty's 1.b3 met a well-prepared Mark Talbot, who sometimes plays Larsen's Opening himself, and won a piece almost at once as White neglected his development to go after a pawn. Rudy van Kemenade looked in control against Ian Finlay, an exchange up in a Sicilian, but Ian is at his most dangerous when looking for counterplay, and hustled his strong opponent into a difficult queen-and-pawn ending, where he had drawing chances almost to the end. Julie van Kemenade took a long time to get her attack going in a slow manoeuvering game against James Corrigan, but eventually broke through with the help of a passed pawn. Jamie Friel set me some problems with his unorthodox Petroff, but I was able to steer the game into an ending where my two bishops and strong centre made the difference. 4-0 to Aber A, who remain in contention for the League title.

Tony Geraghty - Mark Talbot 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Ian Finlay 1-0

James Corrigan - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Jamie Friel 1-0

A few days earlier, four Aberystwyth players had taken part in the annual Dyfed Congress at the Fishguard Bay Hotel over the weekend of 21st-23rd February. In the Open Section, Rudy van Kemenade scored a solid 3½/5 to finish in a five-way tie for third place, I improved my grading with 1½/4 against strong opposition, while Julie van Kemenade, who has not played much competitive chess recently, scored ½/4. But Aber's best result came in the Minor section, where Georgina Gray finished in joint first place with 4/5. The games from the Open are below.

Rudy van Kemenade - David Williams 1-0

Paul Hatchett - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Richard Miles 1-0

Sven Zeidler - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Anthony Hughes - Julie van Kemenade

Matthew Francis - Paul Hatchett 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Haigh 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Keith Downey 0-1

Paul Bridges - Matthew Francis ½-½

Paul Hatchett - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

John Waterfield - Matthew Francis 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Peter Bevan ½-½

Julie van Kemenade - Jonathan Ayres ½-½

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Crossed Wires

Chess players often go astray in the opening, but not usually before the game begins. On the evening of Tuesday 4th February, Aberystwyth's A team turned up at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, to play, and found it in darkness. A quick phone call revealed that the gwyddbwyll team were at the St David's Club in Aberystwyth, where at least they got some friendly games as it was club night. The match was postponed to the following week, 11th February, in Aberystwyth. A strong Aber team had too much firepower for their opponents, despite some resistance on the top two boards. Mark Talbot grabbed a pawn against Iwan Griffiths's French, allowing some dangerous counterplay in a complex game where Black was a little unlucky not to get at least a draw. And Rudy van Kemenade was under pressure against Owen Llywelyn's Ruy Lopez, but benefited from an unfortunate oversight. White picked up a rook to make what looked like a decisive move, not realizing he was in check. The only legal move he could now make would have lost the rook, so he resigned instead. Tony Geraghty had an easier time on Board 3, catching out Tegwyn Jones with a couple of simple tactics, and James Corrigan also got on top quickly, taking advantage of Emyr Llywelyn's uncastled position to win material.4-0 was a result worth waiting for.

Mark Talbot - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Owen Llywelyn - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Emyr Llywelyn - James Corrigan 0-1

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Picking up the Pieces

After an encouraging start in their first match of the New Year, Aberystwyth B were looking to continue their improvement away to Haverfordwest B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Tuesday 29th January. I returned to a line against John Miller's French that we had explored in an earlier match, where Black had eventually prevailed after a sharp struggle. Sacrificing a pawn, I got some pressure against his kingside but found no way through, and as he castled out of danger it looked as though the result might be the same as in our previous encounter, when, perhaps relaxing too soon, he dropped a piece and resigned at once. The second-board game was also decided by a blunder; Tony Geraghty had reached a comfortable position against Gavin Jones's unusual opening (the Grob), when he too made a move that dropped a piece. The match was clinched by two strong performances on the lower boards. James Cook has been out all season with a (non-chess-related) injury, but was at his positional best in a Ruy Lopez against Ron Wade, keeping firm control as the game moved into a rook and pawn ending. And Ian Finlay did equally well in his very different style against Robbie Coles in a King's Indian, sacrificing a knight to strip the defence from the White king. The match finished 3-1 to Aber B.

Matthew Francis - John Miller 1-0

Gavin Jones - Tony Geraghty 1-0

James Cook - Ron Wade 1-0

Robbie Coles - Ian Finlay 0-1

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Drawers Suit Cardigan

Aberystwyth A lost their unbeaten record this season in their first match of the New Year, against champions Cardigan A at the St David's Club on Tuesday 21st January. Captain Rudy van Kemenade, on second board, gambled by taking the chance for an early draw against Iolo Jones's Petroff; his reasoning was that Mark Talbot's Board 1 game also looked drawn while Julie van Kemenade and I both had promising positions. It didn't work out like that. Mark's Grunfeld went bad as Howard Williams pushed forward with his pawns on the queenside, turning a quiet-looking position into an overwhelming one quite suddenly. Similarly, Julie lost control of her typical double-edged middlegame against Tony Haigh, giving up a couple of pawns without compensation. Meanwhile I had missed several chances to turn my kingside attack against Jamie Sen's rather passive handling of the French into a win; the last was an opportunity to exchange into a better ending, instead of which I reached a dangerous one where I had no alternative but to force a draw. 3-1 to Cardigan A.

Howard Williams - Mark Talbot 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Iolo Jones ½-½

Tony Haigh - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Jamie Sen ½-½

Sunday, 19 January 2014

New Year Honours Even

The Christmas holiday cuts the Dyfed League season in two, and, as a new rating list is published at the end of the year, January can feel like a chance to start all over again. After a lacklustre autumn, Aberystwyth B needed a break, and it wasn't till Monday 13th January that the team had its first match, against a very strong Carmarthen at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. The first surprise was that none of the games was over quickly, despite a ratings mismatch on all boards. I tried an Open line for the first time against Gerry Heap's Sicilian, and was soon in trouble, having to give up a pawn to castle safely. Black kept up the pressure, but there was no easy breakthrough and I was even allowed to win the pawn back, though still clearly worse. Suddenly, though, Black lost patience, and was tempted by a tactical trick that didn't work, dropping a rook for an unexpected defeat. Tony Geraghty is becoming a specialist in piece sacrifices, some more successful than others. In a French Defence, he gave up a knight to destroy Nick Jackson's centre, but White was able to shore up the position and make his extra material count in the end. On bottom board, James Corrigan was involved in a hard struggle with Paul Orton, an exchange down but with dangerous advanced pawns. As in the Board 1 game, the Carmarthen player unexpectedly went wrong, dropping a rook, though in this case time pressure was a factor. For a while, then, it seemed that Aberystwyth could pull off an unlikely victory; Ian Finlay had given up a couple of pawns against David Buttell and was trying to get counterplay with an advanced passed pawn and some pressure against the king. Ultimately, though, it wasn't enough, and White lost a hard-fought game. 2-2 represents an encouraging start to the New Year for Aber B.

Matthew Francis - Gerry Heap 1-0

Nick Jackson - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - David Buttell 1-0

Paul Orton - James Corrigan 0-1