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