Saturday, 31 March 2012

European Senior Team Championship, Round 2

Report from Rudy:

Luck can't last forever. We had a downfloat to a Danish team, who on paper are slightly lower than yesterday's Austria, but whose players are more closely graded, providing strength in depth. So everybody was again facing far stronger opposition. Added to which every player seemed to be able to avoid our preferred opening lines.

John Thornton's game was the first to finish, featuring an unusual 2.b4 against the Dutch. A complex Stonewall Dutch resulted when a slight misjudgement meant that the base of the Stonewall collapsed on e6. After that, faced with a Space Invaders array of pawns coming through the centre, John resigned. Colin Gilbert on bottom got a solid position against his opponent's cautious English opening, and after some pieces had swapped off, Colin decided to turn his attention to the Wh K side, which induced his opponent to sue for peace. An excellent result against an opponent rated nearly 500 points higher! Meanwhile in an odd Q side Opening Iolo Jones's opponent found a neat way of piling pressure onto Iolo's K by a Rf6-h6 manoeuvre, and a later pseudo sac of a piece lead to Bl being a couple of pawns up. But Wh held on and it got down to both sides at less than 2 minutes, relying on the increment to keep afloat.Then a nasty exchange sac by Sloth succeeded in gaining access to the Wh K. Richard continued the saga of long games, though this time he was not the last to finish. A Gurgenidze Caro-Kann structure had at one stage a diamond pattern of Bl pawns on e4,d5,e6 and f5. That e pawn was passed, and Richard fought his way to activate his R behind the enemy lines. In the end despite Bl having passed pawns on e4 and d4, he had to concede that Wh's pawn on a6 was a sufficient counterweight. So, in the end a 3-1 loss, but it still leaves Wales well ahead of expectations.

Friday, 30 March 2012

European Senior Team Championship, Round 1

Rudy van Kemenade is currently representing Wales in the European Senior Team Championship in Slovenia, where the team also includes another friend from the Dyfed League, Iolo Jones. Here is Rudy's report on Round 1:

A good day for Wales. Due to some last minute adjustments our seeding was increased by one, so we were drawn against number five seeds Austria 1 instead of the expected Switzerland (with Korchnoy on Board 1). So each was facing an opponent at least 200 to almost 300 points ahead.

Rudy was the first to score. Playing a Dutch reversed (and why not?) his opponent's pieces started drifting towards the K side, and the Wh pieces stated heading towards the K, with the added problem for the Austrian defence of being an hour behind in time.

Resisting several times the chance to play Nxf7, Wh chose to sacrifice the enemy pieces instead (as recommended by Tartakover). Bl resigned when his K got driven into the centre with at least loss of Q to start with.

John Thornton on Board 2 got a good position from a Botvinnik English, and gradually increased the pressure. However some exchanges followed and his higher rated opponent was pleased to be able repeat moves, otherwise he would be far worse.

Meanwhile Iolo was defending his favourite Old Indian against Georg Danner,IM. Wh got some space, but Iolo grabbed and held a pawn,albeit with Wh having some compensating pressure. With time running out rapidly , Wh was happy to accept the offered draw.

That left Richard Miles. From a promising King's Indian for Bl, Wh as usual held more space, but conceded 2 Bs vs 2 Ns. As the other games had now finished, the Austrian player required a win to draw the match overall.With a 30-second increment per move the game could carry on a long time and it did, till 5 past 7, the last game to finish. Wh managed a swap of one N for B, leaving Richard with a baddish bl B and a c7 pawn to defend. After many twists and turns, finally Richard managed to activate first R and then B, losing pawns. but winning them back again, until the last one was exchanged, leaving R&B vs R& N. It's actually more difficult to play a successful defence, than following through with a winning attack.

And so Wales became the only lower ranked team to win a match in the first round.

Rudy van Kemenade - Peter Roth 1-0

Thursday, 22 March 2012

St David's Massacre

The end of Aberystwyth Chess Club's busiest period for some time came on Tuesday 20th March with the match between the A and B teams at the St David's Club. Interestingly, as Rudy points out, none of the pairings from the Quadrilateral Tournament on Saturday were repeated. On top board for the A team, Mark Talbot played the unusual Larsen's Opening, fianchettoing his dark-squared bishop, which exerted a powerful influence on the position. I chose to simplify into an inferior ending to try to reduce the pressure, and held out quite a while without ever coming close to saving the game. James Cook dropped a piece early on against Rudy's Petroff, and resigned when faced with the loss of further material. Julie got a similar position against Tony to the one Mark had against me, even though the openings were different; Tony tried to sacrifice his way out of the bind, but with no success. The closest game was on Board 4, where B-team captain Ian was moonlighting for the A team against John Basterfield. The position was excitingly double-edged for most of the game, but Ian eventually emerged with enough extra pawns to win. The result was a whitewash for the As against the Bs for the second time this season, 4-0.

Mark Talbot - Matthew Francis 1-0

James Cook - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1/

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Geraghty 1-0

John Basterfield - Ian Finlay 0-1

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Aber Quadrilateral

The Club Championship had been much anticipated this year, with some new players promising to make it exceptionally competitive. Unfortunately, when the appointed day came, a combination of illness and pressure of work meant that only four people turned up for the planned weekend tournament at the St David's Club on Saturday 17th March. We decided to go ahead anyway, and make it a one-day round robin tournament.

In Round 1, Ian Finlay didn't seem to make any major mistakes against Rudy van Kemenade's Budapest Gambit, but Black's counter-attack can come very suddenly in this opening against an unprepared White player, and before Ian could get safely castled Rudy's pieces were all over him. Meanwhile Tony Geraghty and I had an epic struggle in the London System, the play moving all over the board as the advantage switched from one player to the other. I thought I had clinched the win with queen, bishop and pawns against queen, knight and pawns, but misplayed the position and found myself with a nasty-looking bishop versus knight ending. By now we were both short of time and I was happy to accept Tony's draw offer.

In round 2, Tony tried his French Winawer against Rudy for the first time in a rated game, and got an excellent position from the opening. Unfortunately for him, a tactic went wrong immediately afterwards and he dropped a piece, at the same time opening lines against his king in a failed attempt to get counterplay. Ian again developed a bit too slowly, this time in a Sicilian, and I was able to take advantage of his undeveloped queenside to win a rook. We played on, and I missed several chances to finish his resistance before eventually finding the winning tactic.

Finally, in round 3, I couldn't find a coherent plan against Rudy's kingside counterattack in the Modern. Attempting to stay active, I merely lost material and opened up my king's position with no compensation at all. I have seldom known Rudy to spend so long thinking, but he was only looking for the most efficient way to finish me off. Ian lost an exchange in the Queen's Gambit Declined, and Tony gave it back again, reaching a bishop ending with an extra pawn which he converted quite comfortably. So ended what we are calling the first Aberystwyth Quadrilateral Tournament, in a victory for Rudy van Kemenade with 3/3. Congratulations to him. Tony and I were equal second with 1½/3, while Ian finished last with 0/3.

Ian Finlay - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Matthew Francis ½-½

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Matthew Francis - Ian Finlay 1-0

Matthew Francis - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Ian Finlay - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Friday, 16 March 2012

Two for the Price of One

It's an exceptionally busy week for Aberystwyth Chess Club, with matches for the A and B teams, to be followed by the Club Championship at the weekend and a match between the A and B teams almost immediately afterwards. At the time of writing, only the first two of these events have taken place, both with very satisfactory results. First, on Monday 12th March, the B team played away to close rivals Cardigan B. On top board, I got an advanced passed pawn against Tony Haigh, but, with only queens left and my king a long way from the action, could not find a way to promote it (needless to say, there was one) and offered a draw. James Cook also missed a chance against Jamie Sen, with a dangerous attack against the queenside-castled White king - a well-timed sacrifice would have broken through. It was a similar situation on third board, except that Tony Geraghty made his well-timed sacrifice, giving up an exchange to open lines against Nick McIlvenna's king, but missed the correct follow-up. So three good positions for Aber and three draws, but team captain Ian Finlay clinched the match, 2½-1½, with a comfortable win on Board 4 against Jamie Sen's father, Alex. The result keeps Aber B in third place in the league.

Matthew Francis - Tony Haigh ½-½

Jamie Sen - James Cook ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Nick McIlvenna ½-½

Alex Sen - Ian Finlay 0-1

On Wednesday 14th March at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, Aber A (featuring a couple of the players from the B team's match two days earlier) played a strong Carmarthen team. Aber had quick wins on the top two boards. In a queenless middlegame Mark Talbot harried Gerry Heap into undeveloping his pieces, causing Black's position to collapse abruptly, while Rudy van Kemenade got a crushing kingside attack from his Leningrad Dutch against Keith Downey. On third board, I continued my recent good form with a positional win against Huw Morcom. That left Tony Geraghty, who had successfully defended against Paul Orton's pawn sacrifice and looked to have a certain draw against his higher-rated opponent when his concentration slipped, losing him a piece and the game. 3-1 to Aber, who remain in contention for the league title.

Mark Talbot - Gerry Heap 1-0

Keith Downey - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Huw Morcom 1-0

Paul Orton - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Friday, 9 March 2012

B Team Below Par

The B Team were well below their best against in the unfamiliar setting of the Ffostrasol Arms on Wednesday 29th February, perhaps still tired after taking part in the Dyfed Congress the previous weekend. On top board I launched a kingside attack against Iwan Griffiths, who countered on the queenside and in the centre; I missed a couple of winning chances, and when the smoke cleared after the time control Black's cool defence had left him with an easy ending. In the battle of the Caro-Kann players, James Cook moved his king off the e-file in the misguided belief that he had an attack there against Owen Llywelyn, but found that it was his position that collapsed. Ian Finlay lost through a similar miscalculation; in a strong position, he played a combination against Tegwyn Jones that just didn't work. Finally, Georgina Gray may well suspect that Emyr Llywelyn, one of the lowest-rated players in the Dyfed League, has been taking lessons from his Welsh International brother Iolo Jones; she found White's defence very difficult to break down, and eventually went wrong trying to find a way through. A whitewash to, 4-0.

Matthew Francis - Iwan Griffiths 0-1

Owen Llywelyn - James Cook 1-0

Ian Finlay - Tegwyn Jones 0-1

Emyr Llywelyn - Georgina Gray 1-0

It was a happier story in the Dyfed Congress at Fishguard on 25th-27th February, where Aber was well represented, with seven players taking part. In the Open section, Rudy van Kemenade scored 3/5, and Julie van Kemenade scored 2. In the Major, I finished in a six-way tie for second, with 3½, and James Cook scored 1. Finally in the Minor, John Basterfield and Ian Finlay shared first prize on 4, while Georgina Gray scored 3. I hope to put some games up at some point.

The club championship will be held at the St David's Club on the weekend of 17th /18th March.