The Aberystwyth team is off to a good start in the New Year. On Monday 14 January we faced Steynton B at the Emylyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Rudy van Kemenade, playing the White side of a Sicilian on top board based his strategy round the domination of the black squares, especially d6, and it paid off in the end, though Mark Paffard missed his chance to get back in the game. I'm not sure why a positional player like Adam Watkin-Jones is so keen on the sharp Modern Defence, but it serves him well; this time he grabbed a pawn early against Jon Coles, and went on to dominate the game. Julie van Kemenade, on the other hand, loves double-edged positions, and she certainly got one against John Miller's French, with both players trying to queen pawns. In that situation, you'd generally back Julie to win, and she succeeded here after an exciting struggle. James Cook was thrown by Scott Hammett's choice of Larsen's Opening rather than his usual Bird's, and went wrong as early as move 2, dropping a pawn. As often happens in such situations, the setback made him reckless and he followed it up with an unsound piece sacrifice. The match finished 3-1 to Aber.
Our first home match of the season was against Cardigan B, who were missing one player. Rudy had a hard fight in a Dutch Defence against the rapidly improving Ben Brewer, reaching an equal middlegame with chances for both sides, but his greater experience told as White made an error that allowed him to invade the king position with his major pieces. It was a similar, but quieter story in the English Opening game between Adam and Josh Brewer. There was nothing in it till White seized his chance to win a key central pawn, after which Black fought hard but in vain to save the endgame. I don't often win positions with a good bishop against a bad one - somehow the so-called bad bishop usually turns out to be more useful than its reputation. Against Awne Osinga in a Sicilian, however, I took advantage of a bishop so bad that at one point all seven of White's pawns were on the same colour. With White reduced to passivity, I was able to take control of the position and force a won ending. With the default on Board 4, this was a 4-0 win to Aber.