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