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