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