Thursday, 24 December 2015

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. For my last post of the year, I present the most recent games in the Aberystwyth Club Championship. No big upsets yet (and not a single draw), but special mention must be made of Jamie Friel, who held the much higher-rated Adam Watkin-Jones for a long time, and had drawing chances.

Rudy van Kemenade - Sam Holman 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Matthew Francis 0-1

Jamie Friel - Adam Watkin-Jones 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Watkin-Jones - Sam Holman 1-0

Monday, 14 December 2015

Dragon Variation

Aberystwyth A's plan against Cardigan in our match at the St David's Club on Tuesday 8th December was to get draws against the formidable players on Boards one and two, and win on the other boards. It didn't quite work out like that. Rudy van Kemenade, black on top board, looked for activity against Howard Williams by advancing his kingside pawns, but that only left weaknesses behind, and by the time Rudy had plugged those he was facing a devastating passed pawn. Adam Watkin-Jones, on the other hand, played his Bishop's Opening solidly, and was undaunted by Iolo Jones's endgame technique as he scored an impressive draw. Julie van Kemenade miscalculated a combination against Tony Haigh, and found herself a rook down. She played on for a bit, trying to take advantage of his exposed king, but without success. I missed a succession of chances as Awne Osinga dug in to defend against my Vienna Gambit; it was one of those nights when I couldn't see anything over the board, possibly still stunned by the exceptionally hot Flaming Dragon curry I had just eaten at Wetherspoon's, and in the end I accepted his draw offer. A 3-1 win to Cardigan was not what Aber had planned.

Howard Williams - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Adam Watkin-Jones - Iolo Jones ½-½

Tony Haigh - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Awne Osinga ½-½

There was one more game in the Club Championship, a win for Jamie Friel.

Jamie Friel - Francis Headley 1-0

Monday, 7 December 2015

Missing Dates (and Mates)

I have just noticed that I overlooked one of our matches in my recent blogposts. This was the match between Aberystwyth B and Haverfordwest B on Monday 23rd November at the Emlyn Cafe. On top board, I was facing an opponent who had won all our previous games, Martin Jones. My English system against the Sicilian gave me a comfortable position, but winning the exchange turned out to be something of a positional trap, as he had a well-placed knight and the two bishops while my white-squared bishop was more or less useless. Unable to find a way through I agreed to a draw. Tony Geraghty's game had a nail-biting finish, when Scott Hammett sacrificed a piece for attacking chances. Tony should have been able to win, but his time was running dangerously low, and both sides overlooked Scott's potential mate in two. Somehow the game was drawn with only seconds on Black's clock. Mike Weston had broke up Gwyn Evans's kingside and gave up a knight to force mate on Board 3. Meanwhile, on bottom board there was another missed mate, this time for Ray Greenwood against Georgina Gray, who recovered from her danger to take advantage of the exposed White king, winning what was her first game for the club this season.This almost lost encounter resulted in a 3-1 win for Aber.

Matthew Francis - Martin Jones ½-½

Scott Hammett - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Mike Weston - Gwyn Evans 1-0

Ray Greenwood - Georgina Gray 0-1

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Roland Spencer

We had the sad news recently that Roland Spencer had died at the age of 84. Roland was a stalwart of the Dyfed League, and served as its treasurer for many years. He also ran the annual Dyfed Congress in Fishguard, always a highlight of the Welsh chess year, and it was a moving occasion when he retired from this role in 2012. As a player he was unorthodox and tricky, always at his most dangerous when defending with his back to the wall. Roland was the first opponent I ever played in a Dyfed League match, and we had many battles over the years. Away from the board the ferocious determination vanished, and he was urbane and charming. There is a tribute to him on the Welsh Chess Union website.

On Monday 30 November, Aberystwyth B played a depleted Carmarthen at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Playing Black on top board against Paul Orton, I had a stroke of luck such as I had not known since my Latin O Level more than forty years earlier. On that occasion I arrived at school without realizing the exam was due and revised two passages of text at the last minute, both of which came up in the paper. This time, I found myself in a line of the Scandinavian I had played the night before on the internet and subsequently looked up in David Smerdon's superb book on the opening. Nevertheless, the game became very hard for both players once we were out of the book, and we had little time left when it ended in a win for me after only 23 moves. Mike Weston was also short of time at the end of his complicated game on Board 2 against Robert Narayan-Taylor. Although the ending was now won for him, he settled for a draw, which seemed a fair result after some mistakes on both sides. Ian Finlay had a tough opponent in Richard Thomas, returning to the game after many years, but still a strong player. Ian weakened himself too much on the queenside and in the centre, leaving a technical win for white. With the default by Carmarthen on bottom board, the result was 2½-1½ to Aber.

Paul Orton - Matthew Francis 0-1

Mike Weston - Robert Narayan-Taylor ½-½

Richard Thomas - Ian Finlay 1-0

Meanwhile the new-format Club Championship is continuing. Here are the latest games.

Julie van Kemenade - Matthew Francis 1-0

Francis Headley - Sam Holman 0-1

Rudy van Kemenade - Damien Clarke 1-0

Matthew Francis - Sam Holman 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Alexander Cooney 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Alexander Cooney 1-0

Sunday, 22 November 2015

New Blood

Last year's club championship was not well attended, so this year we have decided to hold it on club nights, as and when the players are ready to play. The first night of this new event coincided with an influx of new players to the club, courtesy of the newly reinvigorated university club, to which several of our regular players already belong. My own game against Adam Robinson lasted longest, and was a fierce struggle, ending in a win for Adam.

Matthew Francis - Adam Robinson 0-1

Sam Holman - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Damian Clarke - Joel Greenwood 0-1

Alex Cooney - Francis Headley 1-0

Joel Greenwood - Jamie Friel 0-1

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 17 November, the A team took on at the St David's Club. Our opponents were outgraded on all boards but put in a strong performance. Rudy's Ruy Lopez against Iwan Griffiths resulted in an incongruous black rook sitting on a1. It was not clear for a while who this favoured, but eventually Rudy was able to unmask a battery against it for a winning advantage. Adam was soon in trouble against Owen Griffiths, who offered an enterprising piece sacrifice against his Sicilian and went on to win an exchange. Owen's next combination went wrong, however, and he offered a draw though analysis shows he still had good chances. I missed a winning chance early on against Tegwyn Jones with my Vienna Game, and then let my intiative peter out and agreed another draw. Ian Finlay on Board 4 dominated the centre with his Sicilian against Emyr Llywelyn, and when White allowed his kingside to be weakened too, the win was sealed. A 3-1 win to Aber.

Rudy van Kemenade - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Owen Llywelyn - Adam Robinson ½-½

Matthew Francis - Tegwyn Jones ½-½

Emyr Llywelyn - Ian Finlay 0-1

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Onward and Upward

After their thrashing by Cardigan in the first match of the season, Aberystwyth B were looking to get their first points when they faced at the St David's Club on Tuesday 20 October. Adam Watkin-Jones,returning to competitive chess after a long absence, faced Iwan Griffiths on top board, and had a gentle reintroduction, trapping a bishop to win the game when scarcely out of the opening. Tony Geraghty achieved nothing with his pawn sac in a London System against Owen Llywelyn, and found himself defending a very cramped position, but it was difficult for Black to break through, and a draw was agreed. Mike Weston had a heartbreaking game against against David Moore on Board 3. Poised for what looked like a devastating attack with his major pieces on the kingside, he had hardly any time left to calculate it, and was fatally down on material when his flag fell. Jamie Friel's calculations, on the other hand, were spot on, as he saw his way through some sharp tactics to a win against the higher-rated Tegwyn Jones. Aberystwyth B secured their first win of the season, 2½-1½.

Iwan Griffiths - Adam Watkin-Jones 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Owen Llywelyn ½-½

David Moore - Mike Weston 1-0

Jamie Friel - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Aber A have started the season well with a win against Carmarthen, and were in confident mood against Haverfordwest A at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 4 November. However, Rudy van Kemenade, just back from the European Club Cup in Macedonia,surprisingly went wrong in his King's Indian Attack Sicilian against Martin Jones, and was in some trouble when his opponent overlooked a threat of mate in two. I took advantage of Scott Hammett's misplaced bishop to set up a series of threats in an English opening, winning material early, though it took a long time to clinch the win. Tony Geraghty also won a piece early by virtue of Gwyn Evan's trapped queen and sealed the victory soon after. Mike Weston dominated against Robbie Coles, grabbing first a pawn, then a piece in a much more comfortable game than his last one. A whitewash to Aber, 4-0.

Rudy van Kemenade - Martin Jones 1-0

Scott Hammett - Matthew Francis 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Gwyn Evans 1-0

Robbie Coles - Mike Weston 0-1

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Win with White, Draw with Black

Aberystwyth A's first match of the season was against Carmarthen, the team who beat them into third place last season, at the Emlyn Cafe, on Wednesday 14 October. On Board 1, Rudy van Kemenade did well against Gerry Heap's surprise choice of the Bishop's Opening,helping to create the kind of complex position both players enjoy. However, it quickly resolved into an ending neither really fancied, and they agreed an early draw. Julie van Kemenade was facing an unknown quantity in Robert Narayan-Taylor, who had not played over the board for many years, and was probably playing too high up the order - a player's current strength is always difficult to assess in such circumstances. Julie happily accepted his pawn sacrifice in a Ruy Lopez, and soon found a tactic that won a piece and the game. Adam Robinson seemed to have chances in a King's Indian against David Buttell, who had taken too many moves to bring his king to the queenside. But Black's pawn sac produced nothing, and Adam could only take advantage of the exposed king to force a draw. On bottom board, my English-type formation against Paul Orton's Sicilian gave me a big space advantage after he lost his stronghold on d4, and I was able to clinch the game quickly with a kingside attack. Wins with White and draws with Black gave Aber a 3-1 victory.

Good luck to Rudy and the other Dyfed players who are currently in Skopje, Macedonia, representing Cardigan in the European Club Cup.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Julie van Kemenade - Robert Narayan-Taylor 1-0

David Buttell - Adam Robinson ½-½

Matthew Francis - Paul Orton 1-0

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Cardigan are unable to field two teams this season, but they remain extremely strong, with FIDE masters on the top two boards. Predictably, they were too good for Aberystwyth B in the first match of the season at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 5 October. Adam Robinson tried the English Opening for the first time against Howard Williams; the strategy of this subtle system takes a while to learn, and he was soon under pressure. After going a pawn down, with an objectively lost position, he resigned, no doubt sooner than he would have done against a lesser opponent, but Howard doesn't make mistakes in such situations. My game against Iolo Jones followed a similar course, as I mishandled his anti-Dutch variation and found myself terribly cramped. Iolo characteristically went for quiet moves, trusting his superior understanding and technique, and it seems I might have held out with best play, but I was ground down in the end. Mike Weston's game on Board 3 was the most exciting. Even though he lost a piece in an early tactical skirmish, his superior development gave him chances against Tony Haigh and a nice combination put him right back in the game for a while before Tony regrouped and took control. Ian Finlay lost a strategic struggle on Board 4 in a Sicilian against Awne Osinga; though only a pawn down he could find no counterplay, and Awne played solidly to push his central pawn mass through for victory. A 4-0 win for Cardigan.

Adam Robinson - Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones - Matthew Francis 1-0

Mike Weston - Tony Haigh 0-1

Awne Osinga - Ian Finlay 1-0

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Chess Resumes

The first Club Night of the new season will be on Tuesday 1st September, usual time and place. As always, new players of any standard are welcome and there is no charge for a first visit.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Summer Break

Aberystwyth Chess Club will be adjourning for the summer at the beginning of July. The last club night of the season will be on Tuesday 30th June, and the first club night of the new season will be on Tuesday 1st September.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Club Championship 2015

The long-postponed Club Championship was held this year as an end-of-season finale, over the weekend of 6th-7th June. Disappointingly, only five players turned up, and we held a five-round all-play-all, with each player getting a bye.

Round 1

I had my most interesting game of the tournament against Rudy van Kemenade. Forced after a disastrous opening to give up my queen for two pieces, I got a surprising amount of compensation and missed a couple of winning chances in the complications before succumbing. Against Sally Rowles, a former member of the club making a return this weekend, Julie van Kemenade won a pawn and brought the king-and-pawn ending to a successful conclusion, though analysis showed some inaccuracies by both players.

Matthew Francis - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Sally Rowles 1-0

Round 2

Rudy's King's-Indian-style play against Sally paid off as he opened the g-file for a winning kingside attack. James Cook, also returning to the Club after an absence, played an enterprising piece sacrifice to get linked passed pawns against Julie, and had some chances thereafter, but the material deficit decided the game in the end.

Saly Rowles - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

James Cook - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Round 3

This round produced the first draws of the tournament. The battle of the Van Kemenades was a ferociously complicated King's-Indian, reaching an unbalanced position with Rudy's two rooks against Julie's queen. Julie had the best of it but was short of time and allowed the draw by repetition. I won a pawn against James in an exchange Ruy Lopez, but followed up wrongly and had no advantage in the end.

Rudy van Kemenade - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

James Cook - Matthew Francis ½-½

Round 4

With tiredness perhaps setting in, both games in this round were decided by blunders. James dropped a piece against Rudy. I was disappointed by the failure of my attempted attack against Sally's Caro-Kann, and walked into a winning check when a simple alternative would have kept me in the game.

Rudy van Kemenade - James Cook 1-0

Matthew Francis - Sally Rowles 0-1

Round 5

In the final round, I had a disaster against Julie, winning a pawn with what should have been a comfortable position but overlooking a later knight fork, while Sally and James played out a quiet draw in the Colle System. The Championship this year was tied between Rudy and Julie, on 3½/4, with Sally third (2), James fourth (1) and me fifth (½).

Julie van Kemenade - Matthew Francis 1-0

Sally Rowles - James Cook ½-½

Default is Ours

Aberystwyth B's last match of the season was against a depleted Cardigan B at the St David's Club on Tuesday 26th May. On top board, Tony Geraghty made a tired-looking late-season blunder against Tony Haigh, dropping a piece for nothing, and had no chance thereafter against such a strong opponent. Mike Weston got a dominant position on the queenside against Howard Leah, but settled for a draw as both players became very short of time. Ian Finlay got a passive position against Awne Osinga, who took all the time he needed to build up a winning attack With Cardigan defaulting on Board 4, Aber lost the match 2½-1½. The league title went to Cardigan A, with Aberystwyth A third behind Carmarthen. Aberystwyth B finished fifth.

Tony Haigh - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Mike Weston - Howard Leah ½-½

Awne Osinga - Ian Finlay 1-0

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Mopping-up Operations

With the season practically over, the clubs have been racing to squeeze in their last few matches. For Aberystwyth's teams, this meant two one-sided encounters, with the A team dominant and the B team well beaten. The A team's match was against Haverchess A at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on Wednesday 13th May. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade played a line of Bird's Opening in which he has long experience. Martin Jones's position looked OK, but he is lacking confidence after a poor season by his standards, and went in for a flawed sacrifice which soon lost him the game. By contrast, Haverchess's Board 3, Colin Denham, has been playing well recently. I felt my central passed pawn gave me an edge, and steered for an ending, only to find the win was never there. Tony Geraghty was looking for revenge after a painful defeat against Scott Hammett not long ago, and it duly came when Black miscalculated a tactic, losing a piece. It looked for a while as though the position was too blocked for the win, but Tony found his way through. Much the most exciting game was on second board, where Julie van Kemenade ran short of time in a very complex position against John Miller. White had a dangerous passed pawn, Black an attack against the exposed king. Julie handled the situation with admirable calmness and reached a winning ending with just under two minutes still on her clock. Aber won the match 3½-½.

Rudy van Kemenade - Martin Jones 1-0

John Miller - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Colin Denham ½-½

Scott Hammett - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Also at the Emlyn Cafe, on Monday 18 May, the B team played a Carmarthen side who were unable to field a fourth board. Adam Robinson played sharply against Gerry Heap on the White side of a Sicilian, but this is precisely the sort of game Gerry likes best, and he was always in control of the complications. Tony was also facing a strong opponent in David Buttell and tried a King's Indian, but his inexperience in the opening showed as White overwhelmed him on the queenside. Finally, Ian Finlay made a positional misjudgement in his Queen's Gambit against Paul Orton, allowing Black to get a dominant position in the centre, and material loss soon followed. With the default on Board 4, the match finished 3-1 to Carmarthen.

Adam Robinson - Gerry Heap 0-1

David Buttell - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - Paul Orton 0-1

Friday, 8 May 2015


For a club whose home is the internet, are very consistent when it comes to raising a team. On Tuesday 28th April, two weeks after their match against Aberystwyth A, they were again at the St David's Club with the same four players, this time to play the B team. On Board 1, I played the same quiet line of the Scandinavian that had brought me a draw against Owen Llywelyn in the earlier match. My a5 pawn break didn't look particularly threatening, but Iwan Griffiths retreated awkwardly before it, getting his bishop trapped in the process, an error which soon proved fatal. Meanwhile Mike Weston made no more progress against the solid Owen Llywelyn than I had, and settled for a draw. Tony Geraghty was more ambitious with his French Defence, opening the g file for a kingside attack. Tegwyn Jones's response was a bit indecisive and a miscalculation in defence cost him his queen. Ian Finlay's game on Board 4 was similar: Emyr Llywelyn was too slow to develop, and had no answer to the White attack when it came. The B team achieved the same result as the A team in the earlier match, a win by 3½-½.

Iwan Griffiths - Matthew Francis 0-1

Mike Weston - Owen Llywelyn ½-½

Tegwyn Jones - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Ian Finlay - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Monday, 27 April 2015

Past, Present and Future

The A team were missing a couple of strong players when they hosted at the St David's Club on Tuesday 14th April, but still outgraded their opponents on every board. The match had its share of surprises, though, and three of the games could easily have gone the other way. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade got his queen trapped against Iwan Griffiths, and had to give it up for two pieces. Converting that particular imbalance to a win is not always straightforward, however, and Rudy was able to keep things complicated till his opponent, neglecting the chance to bail out for a draw, ran out of time and lost - competitive chess can be tough. My game was the only dull one, as I played an unambitious line of the Scandinavian against the solid Owen Llywelyn, getting a slight advantage in the ending, but not enough to give me a realistic chance of winning. James Corrigan also had a small ending advantage against Tegwyn Jones; in fact he might have thrown it away as he allowed the possibility of a tactical coup, but Black didn't see it, and let James take control for the win. On fourth board, both Jamie Friel and Emyr Llywelyn suffered from chess blindness in the early middlegame. Jamie cannot have expected his opponent to put his queen en prise, and simply didn't notice it. Fortunately for him, he emerged from the complications a piece up anyway, and made no mistake in enforcing the win. 3½-½ to the A team, but not one of their more impressive victories.

Rudy van Kemenade - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Owen Llywelyn - Matthew Francis ½-½

James Corrigan - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Emyr Llywelyn - Jamie Friel 0-1

The next week, Tuesday 21st April was the occasion of the A versus B team match, an event that often produces a whitewash for the A team. Tony Geraghty got a lesson in the vulnerability of the queenside-castled king from Rudy on top board; the Black rooks broke into the position, giving themselves up for a queen which proved to be much more powerful than the White rooks. For the A team, Julie van Kemenade built her attack quite slowly against Mike Weston's Modern Defence, but the strong f-pawn and Black's vulnerability on the dark squares proved decisive. It was left to Ian Finlay on Board 3 to provide an upset for the B team; Adam Roberts allowed his pieces to become unco-ordinated, and Ian's central control gave him a positional win. On Board 4 I also broke through in the centre against James Corrigan's Sicilian, but then missed my way in the subsequent kingside attack. Just when I was preparing to settle for a long-drawn-out ending he opened a line to his king, and lost quickly. A 3-1 won to the A team.

Tony Geraghty - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Mike Weston 1-0

Ian Finlay - Adam Robinson 1-0

Matthew Francis - James Corrigan 1-0

We received a reminder of the Club's history recently when we learned of the death of a former member (indeed, a Life Member) and Welsh Champion, Briant Bourne. None of the current members knew him, but the obituary on the Welsh Chess Union's site gives an account of a strong player who made a great contribution to Welsh and British chess. Our condolences to his family and friends.

The date of the Club Championship has finally been fixed for the weekend of the 6th and 7th June. We hope to see a good attendance and the usual very competitive chess.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Castling Out of It

As mentioned in my last posting, I have been away for a month, staying in a castle in Scotland to get some non-chess-related writing done. In my absence, the A and B teams have had a match each. The A team, current league champions, played a crucial home game against all-conquering Cardigan A at the St David's Club on Tuesday 24th March, needing to win to have any real chance of retaining their title. On top board, in a King's Indian, Rudy van Kemenade allowed Howard Williams to get his queen into a dominant position on d6; a slight miscalculation seemed to throw him off-balance and he followed up with a most uncharacteristic blunder, dropping a piece and resigning immediately. Julie van Kemenade retained parity for a long time against Iolo Jones in a Bishop's Opening; both players became very short of time, and Iolo, as I know from my own experience, seems to play nervelessly in such situations. He took charge of the ending and eventually won on time with a minute to spare. Adam Robinson had prepared against Tony Haigh's Trompowsky Attack, but got the moves in the wrong order - his neat tactic was foiled by a mate threat, leaving him a simple piece down, a fatal disadvantage against such a strong player. On fourth board, Tony Geraghty was able to get a point for Aber, working up a strong queenside intitiative against Awne Osinga with his London System and eventually pushing his pawns through to victory. A 3-1 victory to Cardigan who are surely heading towards the league title.

Howard Williams - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Iolo Jones 0-1

Tony Haigh - Adam Robinson 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Awne Osinga 1-0

On Monday 30 March, the B team had an away match against Haverfordwest B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Tony's London System proved less successful on top board; he is usually the one giving up pieces for a kingside attack, but on this occasion Scott Hammett got in first with a sacrifice that didn't look sound but was certainly unsettling. In defending, Tony not only gave back the piece, but lost another into the bargain, leaving defeat inevitable. In an interesting irregular opening that offered chances for both sides, Mike Weston got the positional advantage against Gwyn Evans, putting a knight on a strong outpost at d3 - the game tends to play itself in such positions, and victory soon followed. Ian Finlay plunged into complications against Robbie Coles in a Queen's Gambit Accepted, but hadn't looked into them deeply enough; the combination didn't work out in his favour, and he lost material instead of winning it. Georgina Gray had more success with tactical play against Sandra Whitby. In this case, the combination was defensible, though not unsound, but the inexperienced White player didn't find the best defence. Four wins for Black meant the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

Tony Geraghty - Scott Hammett 0=1

Gwyn Evans - Mike Weston 0-1

Ian Finlay - Robbie Coles 0-1

Sandra Whitby - Georgina Gray 0-1

Friday, 13 March 2015

Last Post (For a While)

Aberystwyth B had a close match against Haverchess A on Monday 9 March at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Adam Robinson looked in trouble against Martin Jones's Sicilian after his pawn sacrifice came to nothing, leaving Black dominating the centre. But he was able to turn the tables as both players ran short of time, eventually prevailing in the ending. After my fierce battle against Howard Leah in the last round of the Dyfed Open, I had a similarly stressful encounter with another old rival, Colin Denham. It was one of those games where nothing is what it appears: my "blunders" turned out to be good moves, while several of my "good moves" were errors. Fittingly, I was relieved to end up with a draw in a position where I actually had an easy win. Mike Weston has generally played cautiously in his games for the team so far, but had a rush of blood against John Miller, sacrificing a piece in a good position, and not only getting no advantage but actually letting Black in for a winning attack. Ian Finlay was disappointed with his defeat on fourth board, but it has to be said Scott Hammett played a really good attacking game, and is looking a very dangerous player now he has a more consistent opening repertoire. The match finished 2½-1½ to Haverchess A.

Adam Robinson - Martin C. Jones 1-0

Colin Denham - Matthew Francis ½ - ½

Mike Weston - John Miller 0-1

Scott Hammett - Ian Finlay 1-0

This will be my last report for the blog for a month or so. I leave you with a report from Rudy on the recent Town versus Gown match

A recent Town vs Gown evening proved a success, with an interesting first round set of results. This was followed by a lot of random mixing of partners in a number of subsequent games. With an odd number it was decided to have board one doubled up.

Rudy van Kemenade- Adam Robinson 1-0

ditto - James Corrigan 1-0

Julie Van Kemenade-Jamie Friel 0-1

Tony Geraghty-Robbie Wright 0-1

Mike Weston-Josh Edwards 1-0

Garfield Williams-Alex Cooney 1-0

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Dyfed Open

Here are the games of the Aberystwyth players in the Open Section of the Dyfed Congress 2015, at the Fishguard Bay Hotel.

Round 1

In which Julie neglects her development and pays the price, I get a lesson in the Queen's Gambit Declined, Rudy crashes through on the d file and Mike is undone by a fatally weak d3 square.

Julie van Kemenade - Lloyd Powell 0-1

Tom Brown - Matthew Francis 1-0

Rudy van Kemenade - Dewi Jones 1-0

Mike Weston - Roger Greatorex 0-1

Round 2

In which Rudy's rook can't compete with two pieces, Julie takes a gambit pawn and holds off the attack, and I drop a pawn to Mike without serious consequences.

Sven Zeidler - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Howard Leah - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Mike Weston ½-½

Round 3

In which Rudy wins in eleven moves by a margin of one real piece and one imaginary one, Julie arrives at an equal ending after mass exchanges, I fail to make the most of a positional superiority and Mike takes advantage of an unexpected blow to offer a quick draw.

Rudy van Kemenade - Les Philpin 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Roger Greatorex ½-½

Matthew Francis - Mike Whale ½-½

Mike Weston - Martin Jones ½-½

Round 4

In which Rudy loses a middlegame advantage but holds a difficult ending, Julie goes a piece down but checks her way to victory, Mike succumbs to a rapid kingside attack and I spend most of my game in time trouble before missing a win at the death.

Jane Richmond - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

John Waterfield - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Mike Whale - Mike Weston 1-0

David Buttell - Matthew Francis 1-0

Round 5

In which late tournament tiredness has its various effects: Rudy plays out a quiet draw, Julie misses a win in the ending before dropping material, I have a fierce struggle against an old rival, just missing the win at the end, and Mike takes a draw in a superior position.

Rudy van Kemenade - Lloyd Powell ½-½

Julie van Kemenade - Paul Bridges 0-1

Howard Leah - Matthew Francis ½-½

Mike Weston - Jamie Sen ½-½

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Nervous Moments

There's a special kind of pressure in chess that comes with being the higher-rated player. After all, the pieces are the same for both sides, and no one can be beaten unless they actually make a mistake. The longer the game goes on, the more nervous the favourite tends to feel. Aberystwyth A outrated Haverchess B on all boards in their match at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 25 February, but it didn't all go smoothly for them. Rudy van Kemenade is an exception to the comments above; he never seems to feel any nerves, and his game against Colin Denham was the least troublesome, as Black gave allowed a destructive fork and compounded the error by overlooking the more powerful of the two threats, to a rook. Adam Robinson, on the other hand, had the kind of heartbreaking experience most of us have had occasionally. He got a strong attack from the Black side of a Queen's Gambit Declined, but an inaccuracy let Gwyn Evans in with a dangerous counterattack against his king; such double-edged positions always seem to be easier for the less fancied player. Mike Weston won a pawn, but Ray Greenwood had an active position in compensation, and Mike's king was vulnerable to checks; he had little alternative but to take a draw. The tables were turned for James Corrigan when he found himself the underdog against the lower-rated Robbie Coles, after losing his queen for a rook and piece. Such unbalanced positions are technically challenging, and in this case it was Robbie who had the heartbreaker, as he turned down a draw and immediately played a losing move. (How often that happens!) The match finished 2½-1½ to Aber, but it was not one of their more comfortable experiences.

Rudy van Kemenade - Colin Denham 1-0

Gwyn Evans - Adam Robinson 1-0

Mike Weston - Ray Greenwood ½ - ½

Robbie Coles - James Corrigan 0-1

Things went a lot more smoothly for the A team in their home match against Cardigan B at the St David's Club on Tuesday 3rd March, where, once again, they were higher-rated on all boards. Rudy gradually got the superior position in his queenless middlegame against Tony Haigh, who then allowed Black to take over the g-file with doubled rooks for a mating attack against the king trapped on the h-file. Julie van Kemenade sacrificed a pawn against Jamie Sen's Caro-Kann, getting a dangerous passed f-pawn in return. Black spent so long working out how to counter it that he lost on time. Adam kept complete control in his attack against Awne Osinga's passive formation, winning a couple of pawns and then neatly exchanging all the remaining pieces for a won ending. Most comfortably of all, on Board 4, I had my quickest ever win in a rated game. Courtney Probert was surprised by my early queen sortie, a book move in the little-known Vienna Game, and lost a piece in the opening, leading to a rapid collapse of his position and defeat in eleven moves. A 4-0 victory to Aber.

Tony Haigh - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Jamie Sen 1-0

Awne Osinga - Adam Robinson 0-1

Matthew Francis - Courtney Probert 1-0

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Going Down Fighting

Aberystwyth B's away match against Cardigan A on Monday 16 February looked something of a mismatch, especially as Aber was below strength while the formidable hosts, unbeaten this season, fielded their best team. The result was as expected, but the manner of it was much less so, as Aber put up an excellent fight. Nowhere was this truer than on top board, where Tony Geraghty held out for some sixty moves against multiple Welsh Champion Howard Williams, and made him work really hard for the win. Tony's decision to give up a piece for a couple of pawns to free his cramped position was not the best, but it was still a difficult ending for Howard, despite all his experience and technique. Mike Weston came under pressure following White's e6 sacrifice in a Pirc Defence, a rare example of Iolo Jones going for a middlegame win. Eventually White won the exchange, and Mike resigned - perhaps rather early, but Iolo doesn't blow advantages like that. Ian Finlay was totally in character, playing for a kingside attack against Tony Haigh in a Nimzo-Indian, but his piece sacrifice only opened his own king's position for a quick finish. James Corrigan was also aggressive, keeping his king too long in the centre in a Sicilian, and allowing Howard Leah to smash through. A 4-0 whitewash to Cardigan A, but Aber showed good fighting spirit.

Tony Geraghty - Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones - Mike Weston 1-0

Ian Finlay - Tony Haigh 0-1

Howard Leah - James Corrigan 1-0

Four club members took part in the annual Dyfed Congress at the Fishguard Bay Hotel, Pembrokeshire, on the weekend of 20-22 February, all of them in the Open section. Rudy van Kemenade scored 3/5, Julie van Kemenade 2½, and Mike Weston and I both 1½, including a draw against each other. Meanwhile, over the same weekend, the Aberystwyth University team, featuring several players who are also members of the town club, performed superbly at the British Universities Chess Association Championship, held in Birmingham, winning the Shield. There were outstanding performances from Adam Robinson (Silver on Board 1), James Corrigan (Gold on Board 2) and Robert Wright (Silver on Board 3 and Gold on Board 4.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Business as Usual

Aberystwyth A is looking unlikely to repeat last season's success in the Dyfed League, as they lost a second match, on Wednesday 4 February at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. The beneficiaries this time were Carmarthen, a strong club which regularly has trouble raising a full team. This match was no exception, but three players were enough for Carmarthen to take the match. Rudy van Kemenade misjudged the transition to an endgame against Gerry Heap in an English Opening, allowing a bank-rank pin that bogged his pieces down long enough for White to gain a winning advantage. Julie van Kemenade, with characteristic sang-froid, turned down a draw against David Buttell in a double-edged position where she had an extra pawn. Both players were soon short of time, and both missed mates in the ensuing scramble before Black managed to land one. Mike Weston was also involved in time-trouble complications, and missed his way, wrongly sacrificing the exchange against Paul Orton before losing on time. With the default on Board 4, the match finished 3-1 to Carmarthen. Meanwhile, perennial champions Cardigan A have won all of their matches so far.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - David Buttell 0-1

Paul Orton - Mike Weston 1-0

Saturday, 24 January 2015

To-ing and Fro-ing

Aberystwyth B's match against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 20 January was a good example of the vicissitudes of club chess. The games on the top three boards could all have gone either way, as the players took it in turns to make mistakes. I played a slow positional game against Iwan Griffiths, building up to an e4 break, but my impressive pawn centre only lasted a move as I miscalculated and lost a pawn. With both players scrambling to make the time control, my desperate bid for counterplay paid off and I got the pawn back with a winning rook ending to follow. Mike Weston got a rook trapped against Owen Llywelyn and had to give up the exchange. Instead of getting the rooks going, White created a weakness on the kingside which Mike exploited with a bishop that turned out to be very useful in the ensuing counterattack. Ian Finlay likes to use his Queen's Gambit to launch a kingside attack. Against Tegwyn Jones, he was too inflexible in this strategy, passing up several opportunities to invade via the weak white squares on the queenside. In a complex game, both players missed a succession of tactical chances, till Black, now very short of time, brought matters to an end by putting his queen en prise. Only the game on board four was one-sided throughout, as Jamie Friel rolled his kingside pawns forward in a Dutch Defence. Emyr Llywelyn tried to escape by castling queenside, but got a bishop trapped, after which his king came under attack anyway, leading to a quick victory for Black. A useful 4-0 win for Aber, but it could easily have been 3-1 the other way.

Matthew Francis - Iwan Griffiths 1-0

Owen Llywelyn - Mike Weston 0-1

Ian Finlay - Tegwyn Jones 1-0

Emyr Llywelyn - Jamie Friel 0-1

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Larsen's Opening

In their first match of 2015, Aberystwyth A faced Haverchess A at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 7 January. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade got an advantage with his Leningrad Dutch against Martin Jones, with connected past pawns on the queenside, but still looked to have some way to go to clinch the win when White blundered, allowing the win of his queen. Julie van Kemenade gave up a piece for three pawns against John Miller's French in the hope of unblocking the position. However, her attack never got going, and her static pawns proved to be a target for Black's light-squared bishop. Mike Weston's game against Scott Hammett was a cagey draw in the English opening, with the players choosing to repeat moves early in the middlegame. Finally, on bottom board, Tony Geraghty was too strong for Ray Greenwood, exposing the king with a capture on f7 and eventually pinning the queen on the same file. The match finished 2½-1½ to Aber.

Martin Jones - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - John Miller 0-1

Scott Hammet - Mike Weston ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Ray Greenwood 1-0

Next week saw the first of the two scheduled matches between the A and B teams, at the St David's Club on Tuesday 13 January. On a stormy night, not all the selected players were able to turn up, and a new member on his very first visit was pressganged into the A team, while I switched from Board 4 of the As to Board 1 of the Bs. That left me facing Rudy, and his unfamiliar Tennison Gambit against my Scandinavian. Recognizing it as a reversed form of my beloved Budapest, I found a reasonable line, but dropped two pawns in the complications and later missed a good chance to equalize. Against Julie, Tony tried the same sort of speculative piece sacrifice that had got her into difficulties in the previous match, with similar results. As his attack ran out of steam, he threw in a rook as well, but with no success. Adam Robinson built up an imposing central position against Ian Finlay's Sicilian and was heard to murmur that he was sure there must be something there for White. There was, but it was not easy to find, and he eventually settled for a draw in a slightly superior position as he was running short of time. That left James Corrigan to face the newcomer on Board 4, only a short time after they had played in a tournament in London. For players of an earlier generation than these two, the prospect of a game against B. Larsen has a menacing sound to it, but in this case the B stands for Bror rather than Bent, and he is Norwegian, not Danish. He is a strong player, nevertheless, and took advantage of James's inaccurate handling of the White side of a French Advanced to put pressure on the queenside, picking up material for an early win. Ian's draw was the only success for the B team, as Aber A won 3½-½.

Rudy van Kemenade - Matthew Francis 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Robinson - Ian Finlay ½-½

James Corrigan - Bror Larsen 0-1

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Dyfed Closed 2014

Here at last are the games of the Aberystwyth players from the 2014 Dyfed Closed Championship.

Round 1

All the Aber games went with grading, apart from a commendable draw for Jamie Friel with Adam Robinson.

Rudy van Kemenade - Scott Hammett 1-0

David Buttell - Ian Finlay 1-0

Jamie Friel - Adam Robinson ½-½

Julie van Kemenade - Courtney Probert 1-0

Margaret Baron - Matthew Francis 0-1

Round 2

Adam Robinson lost a difficult and hard-fought ending against the always resilient Colin Denham.

Gerry Heap - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

Matthew Francis - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Robinson - Colin Denham 0-1

Scott Hammett - Jamie Friel 1-0

Ian Finlay - Margaret Baron 1-0

Round 3

Julie fought out a typically complex draw with Tony Haigh.

Rudy van Kemenade - Colin Denham 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Haigh ½-½

Awne Osinga - Matthew Francis 0-1

Ian Finlay - Jamie Friel 1-0

Margaret Baron - Adam Robinson 0-1

Round 4

Gerry Heap blundered in a complex position, giving Rudy the sole lead. Jamie should have won against Howard Leah, but a draw was a good result.

Gerry Heap - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Colin Denham - Ian Finlay 1-0

Tony Haigh - Matthew Francis 1-0

Adam Robinson - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Jamie Friel - Howard Leah ½-½

Round 5

A draw against David Buttell was enough to give Rudy first place. Ian Finlay won the under-1600 grading prize with 3/5, and Jamie was joint winner of the under-1300 prize with Courtney Probert of Cardigan, on 2/5. Julie finished on 2½, and Adam and I both scored 2.

Rudy van Kemenade - David Buttell ½-½

Julie van Kemenade - Scott Hammett ½-½

Adam Robinson - Tony Haigh 0-1

Matthew Francis - Howard Leah 0-1

Ian Finlay - Courtney Probert 1-0

Sandra Whitby - Jamie Friel 0-1