Chess-players should know all about touching wood, but I have been guilty of hubris in my last couple of posts and omitted the usual supernatural prophylaxis. The crunch match of the early part of the season for Aberystwyth, as so often in the Dyfed League, was against Cardigan A, at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 12th November, and, though we arrived feeling competitive, it did not end well for the club. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade played a sharp variation against Howard Williams's Sicilian and went on to open the centre on the principle that Black hadn't castled yet. It turns out that there was a winning line for him in the complications that ensued, but it was very hard to see, and he came out of them an exchange down, a deficit from which he was unable to recover. Adam Watkin-Jones was bamboozled by Iolo Jones's hypnotic manoeuvres in an English Opening, and allowed White a grip on d6, after which he, too, lost the exchange and the game. Against Tony Haigh, I found myself playing the White side of a French MacCutcheon, for only the second time in a rated game. Afterwards we both discovered that we only knew the theory as far as move 8. I cautiously exchanged out of danger, arriving at a knight-versus-bad-bishop endgame, which, according to Rudy's analysis, was winnable, but I could only find a draw. Finally, James Cook, after his good start to the season, had the worst of a Bogo-Indian against the rapidly improving Ben Brewer, dropping a pawn and allowing White's passed pawn to advance deep into his position for the win. Cardigan A's 3½-½ victory means they are now clear leaders of the League.
The club championship continued next day with a game between me and Sam Holman. Emerging from an O'Kelly Sicilian with a dangerous looking central passed pawn, Sam daringly sacrificed the exchange to foil my attempt to force a draw by repetition. In the difficult ending that resulted I failed to find the best defence and lost a tense and interesting game.