Saturday, 1 June 2019
Monday, 27 May 2019
As the season draws to a close, Aberystwyth has played its last two Dyfed League matches, with good results. On Monday 13 May, the club had a home match against Carmarthen. Top board Rudy van Kemenade played an unusual formation against Gerry Heap's English Opening, hoping to lure his opponent into a premature attack. The White king became exposed and the game ended with a sudden tactical coup, a good win for Rudy against a very strong opponent. Adam Watkin-Jones's game against David Buttell was also an English, this time by transposition, and once again the Carmarthen player overpressed, creating too many weaknesses and allowing White to invade his position. It was an evening for the hypermodernists, as Julie van Kemenade faced Paul Orton's 1.Nf3 and a slow, careful White development, which didn't allow her an entry point for some time. When things opened up, however, the game finished quickly with a tactical error by White. My own use of an English-like system against the Sicilian is beginning to feel counter-productive. Against Robert Narayan-Taylor, I expanded my position slowly and found weaknesses appearing all over the board. A Black error left me a piece up in a game I should already have lost, but by now I was very short of time, and agreed a draw, The match finished 3½-½ to Aber.
Adam Jones was left without a Board 2 opponent in the match against Cardigan B on Monday 20 May, as Howard Leah was missing. On top board Rudy had a tough battle in the Petroff, playing the White side for once, against Ben Brewer. Black's miscalculated combination left White a pawn up but the knight versus bishop ending required careful play before Rudy was able to secure the point. The bottom board game between James Cook and Awne Osinga was a quiet draw in the Caro-Kann. My Board 3 game against Joshua Brewer was another draw, but anything but quiet. I played the fork trick in the Three Knights Game, and got a strong attack, but a series of weaker options allowed him to counterattack on the kingside. In desperation, I sacked the exchange and looked for a while as if I was forcing mate, but it wouldn't have worked out, even with best play. An exciting game in which both sides made mistakes eventually settled into a drawn ending. The match finished 3-1 to Aber with the default on Board 2. With one match still to play in the League, Cardigan A have already regained the championship, which Aberystwyth held last year. We finish second, and Aberystwyth University are an excellent third, after a fine first season which included a win in their first ever derby match against the town team.
Friday, 12 April 2019
With the Students' Union closed for the Easter holiday, the return match between the Town and University teams, following the latter's unexpected victory earlier in the season, took place at the Marine Hotel on the Promenade. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade showed that strong players can get away with oversights that the rest of us get punished for, when his miscalculated Nxf7 sac against Marcus Perry in a Ruy Lopez was met almost immediately by Black dropping a rook, leaving him the exchange up with a simple win. On Board 2 Adam Watkin-Jones managed to trap Dan Hardman's queen in a Sicilian, and White was only able to escape by giving up too much material. The bottom board was also a Sicilian, where Sam Holman's strategic dominance in the centre led to material advantage and an eventual win against Kit Barker. The longest game, on Board 3, was a repeat of last week's friendly between Kieran Judge and myself. Once again, the result was a draw after the lower-rated player had the best of the struggle; at one point under the pressure of time and tactics, I made an illegal move, which led to a welcome intermission as the remaining players retired to the other room to try to add the statutory two minutes to Kieran's clock. Digital clock technology being what it is, the process took about ten minutes, which was a useful breather for both of us. The match finished 3½-½ to Aberystwyth Town.
The club is now adjourned for the holiday, and our next club night will be Tuesday 30 April.
Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Once before this season I posted about how well Aberystwyth was doing and then immediately had to retract after an unexpected defeat. Now the same thing has happened again: our shock victory over Cardigan A was followed by an equally surprising loss to Steynton A, a serious setback in our attempt to retain the Dyfed League title. Rudy van Kemenade weakened his kingside against Martin Jones's Bishop's Opening, and found himself under pressure. Though he got back on terms at times during the game, he eventually lost a difficult ending. Adam Watkin-Jones's game against Mark Paffard was one of those where hostilities never really get started, and finished early in a draw. Julie van Kemenade found herself in an awkward pin against David Pinch, and only emerged in a losing ending. On the plus side for Aber, James Cook won a pawn early against Scott Hammett's Latvian Gambit, and picked up several more for a comfortable win. The match finished 2½-1½ to Steynton A.
As a reminder that chess is not all about matches, I throw in an entertaining club night game between Kieran Judge and myself.
Thursday, 21 March 2019
After a couple of hiccups early in the season, Aberystwyth are getting back into contention for the Dyfed League title 1n 2019. On Monday 4 March at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, Aber were in imperious form against Steynton C, helped in places by some convenient errors from their opponents. Rudy van Kemenade was unfazed by Colin Denham' unusual (perhaps improvised?) variation of the Sicilian, which simply lost a pawn without compensation, after which White remained in firm control. Adam Watkin-Jones had reached a level position against Scott Hammett's Stonewall Attack when a miscalculation by White dropped a piece, with the game following soon after. James Cook's Ruy Lopez against Ray Greenwood was a fierce struggle; White won the exchange but Black had two powerful bishops and found some counterplay before being outplayed in the ending. Sam Holman went a pawn up in another Sicilian against Gwyn Evans, but the ending with opposite-coloured bishops should have been drawn till White dropped his bishop to a pawn fork. The result was 4-0 to Aber.
A couple of weeks later, Aber entertained league leaders Cardigan A at home. Rudy's unusual opening brought about a position that may have bemused Iolo Jones, since he soon lost a pawn in a complex game which I don't even begin to understand. At any rate Black retained the advantage and went on to win the ending. Adam, bizarrely, was the beneficiary of a very similar error to the one which had won him a piece and the game against Scott Hammett in the previous match, and Tony Haigh resigned at once. After a quiet Queen's Pawn Game opening, Julie van Kemenade found a kingside attack against Ben Brewer, but White's position didn't seem to have any weaknesses, and his sudden counter-attack was devastating. I built up a strong central position against Awne Osinga's Modern Steinitz Defence to the Ruy Lopez, and broke through with my e-pawn to win a piece. After that I had some problems with a blocked-in bishop but was able to sacrifice it back to reach a winning position. Aber's 3-1 win avenged their defeat earlier in the season, and keeps them close behind Cardigan A in the League.