Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Break

Aberystwyth Chess Club has adjourned for the holiday season. The next club night will be on Tuesday 7th January.

Monday, 9 December 2013

David and Goliath

One of the best things about this season in the Dyfed League has been the emergence of a number of new players. On Monday 2 December it was the turn of Chris King to make his debut for Aberystywth B against Haverfordwest A. On the way to the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, his team-mates were encouraging him by pointing out that, in club chess, no player is so strong that they never make a losing error. So Chris sat down on Board 3 to play the formidable John Miller, ranked some six hundred points higher, and after what seemed like only a few minutes he was standing up again. Some of us assumed it was a quick defeat, but in fact, in a chaotic opening, he had caught his opponent in a back-rank mate after only eleven moves. However many match games he plays in his life, he will find it hard to top the drama of his debut. The other games were more predictable. I am still learning the Dutch Defence, and, against Martin C.Jones, found myself facing the Staunton Gambit for the first time. I walked into a simple fork early on and never recovered from the loss of a piece. Tony Geraghty tried to take advantage of Colin Denham's delay in castling to work up an attack, and subsequent analysis shows the opportunity was there, but his exchange sacrifice was unsound and he had no compensation for the material deficit. Jamie Friel lost a piece early on against Gavin Jones to a tactic that shouldn't have worked, but the refutation was hard to see over the board. He played on but couldn't find a way back. Haverfordwest A won the match 3-1.

Martin C. Jones - Matthew Francis 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Colin Denham 0-1

John Miller - Chris King 0-1

Jamie Friel - Gavin Jones 0-1

Two days later, the other teams of the same clubs faced each other. For Aberystwyth A Mark Talbot has tended to steer for endgames in his matches this season: here in a rook ending with an extra pawn against John Miller, now playing for Haverfordwest B, he calmly took control of the position for the win. Rudy van Kemenade played more aggressively; a pawn up in his favourite Petroff, he sacrificed an exchange to get at Gavin Jones's weakened kingside. Tony Geraghty won an exchange instead of sacrificing one, getting his knight on to a weak square in Ron Wade's position. Only James Corrigan failed to win for Aber, despite getting a comfortable position against Scott Hammett's English Opening. A miscalculation led to the demolition of his queenside pawns and the unstoppable advance of a White passed pawn. 3-1 to Aberystwyth A, who are still making the running in the Dyfed League halfway through the season, but with Cardigan A still to play most of their games.

Mark Talbot - John Miller 1-0

Gavin Jones - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Ron Wade 1-0

Scott Hammett - James Corrigan 1-0

Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Gain and Again

With Cardigan A having played only a couple of matches so far, Aberystwyth A are the unbeaten current leaders in the Dyfed League. On Wednesday 20th November they took on a strong Carmarthen team at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, in one of the double-header evenings that are a feature there this season - another match was going at the same time, making for a lively (though, of course, quiet) atmosphere. Rudy van Kemenade was able to stop Gerry Heap getting one of his favoured Dragon attacks going, and reached an ending with rook and knight against rook and bishop, where he forced a draw. Meanwhile, Julie van Kemenade was engaged in a fierce struggle with a new and very strong Carmarthen player, Nick Jackson, the sort of game where onlookers are glad not to be playing either colour. Nick, playing White, sacrificed a piece in the complications to get advanced connected passed pawns, while Julie gave back a piece for one of them and was able to create a passed pawn of her own, leading to a draw. My draw on Board Three was tamer; against Paul Orton's Sicilian I allowed an early exchange of queens and saddled myself with a bad bishop. I was able to exchange it off but the resulting position was lifeless. Not for the first time, it was left to Tony Geraghty to win the match for us on Board Four. His active queenside play won him a couple of pawns against another new player, Steve Tanner, before he overlooked a backrank mate threat and dropped a piece. He picked up two more pawns in the process, though, and was left with four extra pawns against the knight in the ending, for a reasonably comfortable win. The match finished 3-1 to Aberystwyth A.

Rudy van Kemenade - Gerry Heap ½-½

Nick Jackson - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis - Paul Orton ½-½

Steve Tanner - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Next week the A team were in action again at the same venue, this time playing Cardigan B. Mark Talbot played quietly against Tony Haigh's French, relying on his endgame skills to clinch the win. But Tony, though lower-rated, is also a very strong endgame player, and was able to hold him to a draw. On second board, Rudy had Black against Jamie Sen, the rapidly improving junior who had beaten him in the recent Dyfed Closed. Jamie got the advantage again and should have won the ending with his extra pawn, but his technique in this area is not yet at the same level as his middlegame play; a draw was nevertheless an excellent result for him. I tried the Ruy Lopez against Howard Leah, inspired by Rudy's and Julie's successes with it, and got the kingside attack I wanted. In time pressure, Black sacrificed the exchange in an attempt to slow it down, but that only worsened his position and the attack soon broke through. It was the only game of the evening that didn't go to an ending, as Tony outplayed Awne Osinga in what looked like a drawn knight- and-pawns position, giving Aberystwyth A another 3-1 win to maintain their place at the top of the league.

Mark Talbot - Tony Haigh ½-½

Jamie Sen - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis - Howard Leah 1-0

Awne Osinga - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Late Start

Aberystwyth B needed a good result against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 12th November to get their season going at last after losses in the first three matches. I don't have a very good record against Iwan Griffiths, and had prepared the sharp Leningrad Dutch for a change against his usual d4, guessing he would not be comfortable with it. His bishops on f4 and d3 proved to be good targets for my advancing pawns and I forced a quick win. Ian Finlay lost material early on against Owen Llywelyn's King's Indian, and his hoped-for counterplay didn't turn up; instead it was Black who found tactical possibilities, opening up the king in addition to his numerical advantage. James Corrigan is becoming known as a fearless player. Here, he could have done with being a bit more fearful as Tegwyn Jones had chances in the complications for a devastating attack. Somehow they got down to an ending, with White still better but missing several more opportunities to finish it. Eventually, with opposite-coloured bishops on the board and the position looking drawn, it was Tegwyn, with only a couple of minutes on the clock, who made the fatal error. Some of those present thought James's flag had already fallen, but he had nearly a full hour left: his clubmates are doing their best to persuade him to slow down a bit in future, as Rudy van Kemenade's high-speed chess is not for ordinary mortals. Jamie Friel is still less experienced, but took advantage of Emyr Llwyelyn's passive play to pick up material and invade the Black position for a comfortable win. It was good to see the two newest members making a vital contribution to the B team's 3-1 victory.

Iwan Griffiths - Matthew Francis 0-1

Ian Finlay - Owen Llywelyn 0-1

Tegwyn Jones - James Corrigan 0-1

Jamie Friel - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Monday, 11 November 2013

White to Play and Win

Haverfordwest can draw on a strong pool of players these days, and the A-team match against Aberystwyth, at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 6th November, was a close one, despite Aber having the higher gradings. On top board, Mark Talbot was unable to make any headway with his Grunfeld against one of Haverfordwest's recent finds, Martin Jones, who knew the theory well and steered the game to an early draw. The Board 2 game was more dynamic; Rudy van Kemenade won a piece for two pawns in a Bird's Opening, but weakened his king in the process. Rudy thrives on complicated positions, but even he had his work cut out here, and Colin Denham fought long and hard before losing on time in a position that was now hopeless. Julie van Kemenade has played her Philidor several times against Ron Wade, but this time her usual attack didn't come to much and the game drifted into an ending with opposite coloured bishops where she missed some winning chances before settling for a draw. On bottom board, Tony Geraghty whipped up the kind of kingside attack he often seems to get with his London System. A tactical trick left his queen hovering over Black's weakened kingside, and Scott Hammett baled out, allowing his king to be chased deep into enemy territory before being mated. Wins with White and draws with Black made it 3-1 to Aberystwyth A.

Martin C. Jones - Mark Talbot ½-½

Rudy van Kemenade - Colin Denham 1-0

Ron Wade - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Scott Hammett 1-0

The annual Dyfed Closed Championship was held at the Emlyn Cafe over the weekend of 9th-10th November. Gerry Heap (Carmarthen) won again, with a perfect score of 5/5. Cardigan junior Jamie Sen was second with 4, despite having missed the first round. Third place was shared between David Buttell (Carmarthen), Tony Haigh (Cardigan), Colin Denham (Haverfordwest) and me on 3. The under-1600 grading prize went to Awne Osinga (Cardigan) on 3/5 including a bye, and the under-1300 prize was shared between James Corrigan, 1/5, and Jamie Friel, 2/5 including a bye (both Aberystwyth). Congratulations to Dyfed Closed and Dyfed League organiser Iolo Jones, who has been awarded the FIDE Master (FM) title - fifteen years after he earned it! It turns out he was entitled to it as a result of his 65% score for Wales in the 1998 Chess Olympiad, a fitting reward for someone who has done a tremendous amount for chess in Wales over many years.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A-Team Dominant

The last couple of weeks have been quiet in the Dyfed League. No matches were possible as some of the strongest players, including Aberystwyth's Rudy and Julie van Kemenade, were playing for Cardigan's Welsh Premier League Team in the European Club Cup in Rhodes. (Rudy scored 1½/6 and Julie 1/6, against very strong opposition.) Before they left, however, there was time to play the first of the season's A vs B team derby matches, over two successive club nights because of illness. In the first leg, on Tuesday 15 October, Mark Talbot for the A team had pressure all over the board against Tony Geraghty's Owen's Defence, bringing about a defensive error that dropped the exchange, with the game following soon afterwards. Rudy was similarly dominant with his Budapest against Ian Finlay, occupying all the best squares and leaving White's pieces hopelessly tangled. James Corrigan played energetically to avoid a similar fate against Julie's Ruy Lopez, seeking an open game by sacrificing pawns; ultimately, however, he just did not have enough compensation. That left the score at 3-0 to the A team. In the postponed encounter, Jamie Friel, playing his first ever competitive game, did well in the opening, reaching a level middle-game position. Unfortunately he then miscalculated a tactical exchange, missing a pin on his knight and allowing me to win a rook. The result was 4-0 to Aberystwyth A.

Mark Talbot - Tony Geraghty 1-0
Ian Finlay - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1
Julie van Kemenade - James Corrigan 1-0
Jamie Friel - Matthew Francis 0-1

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Losing Your Balance

Following the previous week's whitewash against Cardigan A, Aberystwyth B had the slightly less demanding task of a home match against the same club's B team at the St David's Club on Tuesday 8 October. Playing Black on top board, Julie van Kemenade was under pressure all game against the strong junior Jamie Sen, who, finding himself short of time against a higher-rated opponent, settled for a draw. Tony Geraghty was also in trouble against Howard Leah, who whipped up a strong attack on the queenside and won the exchange. Again time-trouble played a part as both players made mistakes, and Black eventually agreed a draw in a position where he was still winning. The Board 3 game was yet another unbalanced draw. Ian Finlay went a pawn down against Awne Osinga with his Sicilian but had excellent counterchances, and missed a winning combination at the end. That left the inexperienced James Corrigan to try to hold off Nick McIlvenna, graded some 300 points higher: he put up a good fight, but lost the exchange without sufficient compensation, and his weakness on the back rank proved fatal. The match finished 2½-1½ to Cardigan B.

Jamie Sen - Julie van Kemenade ½-½
Tony Geraghty - Howard Leah ½-½
Awne Osinga - Ian Finlay ½-½
James Corrigan - Nick McIlvenna 0-1

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Mixed Fortunes

Aberystwyth B started their Dyfed League season with the most demanding encounter they are likely to have all year, an away match against serial champions Cardigan A on Monday 30th September, and team captain Ian Finlay accordingly picked the strongest team available to him. Top board Julie van Kemenade was surprised by Howard Williams's unusual response to her Veresov Opening, and never seemed comfortable afterwards, even though she got a reasonable position. Lacking a clear attacking plan, she gave up a couple of pawns for no compensation and resigned on losing further material. My game followed a similar pattern: I responded hesitantly to Iolo Jones's unorthodox Queen's Gambit and was soon under pressure, which led to a blunder and the loss of several pawns, giving White an easily won ending. Tony Geraghty scored very well last season with a bold attacking approach, and played in similar risk-taking style against Jamie Sen. He had a clear advantage after only a few moves, but overplayed his hand with an unsound piece sacrifice; though he continued to press in the blocked position, Black's defence held firm for the point. Ian Finlay's Sicilian against Howard Leah was predictably wild, both players enjoying sharp tactical positions. At one point there seemed to be knights all over the place, but Ian had a material deficit as well as the less convincing attack, and had to concede defeat. A whitewash to Cardigan A, 4-0.

Julie van Kemenade - Howard Williams 0-1
Iolo Jones - Matthew Francis 1-0
Tony Geraghty - Jamie Sen 0-1
Howard Leah - Ian Finlay 1-0

The St David's club was filled to capacity next evening with a number of friendly games going on as well as the home match between Aberystwyth A and First to finish was the Board 4 game: James Corrigan developed his pieces quickly and set up a pin on the e-file which Emyr Llywelyn underestimated, unable to recapture his queen in what he had misread as a straightforward exchange. On the top board, Aber's returning Board 1 Mark Talbot played a patient game against Iwan Griffiths, content with equality till the endgame, when his superior technique was enough for the win. By contrast, Rudy van Kemenade went for a sharp line against Owen Llywelyn's Caro-Kann, and was much more comfortable in the complications, winning two pieces. On third board, Ian Finlay was playing the Sicilian again; this time he won an exchange but then went into his shell, allowing his opponent to start what should have been a winning attack. However, Tegwyn Jones missed the best line and settled for a draw. The match finished 3½-½ to Aberystwyth A.

Iwan Griffiths - Mark Talbot 0-1
Rudy van Kemenade - Owen Llywelyn 1-0
Tegywn Jones - Ian Finlay ½-½
James Corrigan - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Friday, 13 September 2013

Dyfed League Fixtures

The fixture list is now up for the new season of the Dyed League. (See right.) We are looking forward to another exciting season, and maybe an Aber win at last. The AGM has been held, and the minutes should be posted soon. Meanwhile, one of Rudy's games from last year is currently featured in Gary Lane's column in Chess Cafe - take a look.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Back to Chess

Aberystwyth Chess Club resumes again on Tuesday evenings at the St David's Club, beginning this Tuesday, 3rd September, at 7.15. In the events of the summer, Rudy took part once again in the European Senior Team Championship at Dresden, and scored 4/7, while our former Board 1 Mark Talbot played in the British Championship and scored 5/10. Mark is coming back to Aberystwyth to do an MA and we are looking forward to having him back at the club and in the team, especially as he seems to be even stronger than before. Talking of the British Championships, they are to be held in Aber next summer, which will be a great occasion for chessplayers throughout the area. It should be an exciting year.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Summer Adjournment

Aberystwyth Chess Club is now adjourned for the summer. The next club night will be on Tuesday 3rd September. We're looking forward to a good new season, with an influx of promising young players having taken place recently. Meanwhile, as a sign-off, here is a friendly game won by Ian against me on one of our last club nights.

Ian Finlay - Matthew Francis 1-0

Saturday, 18 May 2013

End of Another Season

For Aberystwyth's last match of the season, the B team travelled to the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes to play champions-elect Cardigan A on Monday 13th May. I played the Veresov against Iolo Jones, but was uncomfortable with my position from move five onwards. It proved impossible to hold it together against his remorseless play, and I resigned when faced with the prospect of a hopeless ending three pawns down. James Cook was also uneasy from the outset against Tony Haigh's Trompowsky, and allowed a knight fork, which finished the game a few moments before the one on top board. Tony Geraghty has had good results against Howard Leah in their recent meetings; this time they had reached a middle game that looked completely lifeless when Howard, trying to stir things up, walked into a 'family fork', losing his queen - a horrible come-down after his excellent performance in the rapidplay the day before (see below). Finally, John Basterfield made a welcome return on Board 4 for Aber after illness. Understandably a bit rusty, he dropped a rook early on, and Nick McIlvenna enterprisingly gave some material back for chances against the Black king. John made a good fight of it, looking for complications, but the Cardigan player prevailed in the end. The match finished 3-1 to Cardigan A, who win the Dyfed League again, with a perfect score of fourteen wins in fourteen matches. Aberystwyth A finished second and Aberystwyth B fifth.

Matthew Francis - Iolo Jones 0-1

Tony Haigh - James Cook 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Howard Leah 1-0

Nick McIlvenna - John Basterfield 1-0

The previous day, Sunday 12th May, the Emlyn Cafe hosted a well attended one-day tournament, the Jan Sendall and Paul Clark Memorial Handicap Rapidplay, in memory of two Haverfordwest players who sadly died this season. Games were limited to thirty minutes, and, where there was a substantial difference in the gradings of the opponents, the time was divided unevenly to compensate the weaker player. This unfamiliar format made for some exciting games. Aberystwyth's Rudy van Kemenade, a player who seldom takes more than five minutes for his moves anyway, was the predictable winner, with a perfect 7/7. Second was Howard Leah with 6, and third prize was shared by Paul Hatchett and Robert Taylor of Malpas with 5. The under-1700 grading prize went to Carmarthen's Paul Orton with 4½, and the under-1400 prize to Aberystwyth's James Corrigan, playing his first tournament, with 4 - an outstanding result. Here is Rudy's last-round win against Paul Orton, showing the kind of energetic attacking play necessary to win when you only have five minutes against the opponent's twenty-five.

Rudy van Kemenade - Paul Orton 1-0

Saturday, 4 May 2013


A week after their 3-1 defeat to Haverfordwest's A team, Aberystwyth B had the less demanding-looking task of playing the same club's B team at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 29th April. On top board, I got a good initiative with my Sicilian against John Miller, and, after tactical oversights by both players, reached a favourable ending with an extra pawn and the two bishops. Not for the first time this season, I frittered away the advantage with inaccurate play and had to settle for a draw. Tony Geraghty arrived at a quiet-seeming middle-game from his London System against Scott Hammett, with both players castled on the queenside. Then the complications started and Tony - again following recent precedent - went in for a slightly dodgy piece sacrifice. His opponent missed the best line and Tony played the attack vigorously to secure the win. Ian Finlay also reached a level position with his King's Indian against Robbie Coles, who then made a number of small slips, any one of which would have been enough to give away the advantage. After missing some opportunities, Ian finally took control, and White resigned, perhaps a bit prematurely, though certainly in a lost position. Finally, on Board 4, playing his first away match for the club, James Corrigan had an easy game against Margaret Baron, picking up a steady supply of material before giving mate. The match finished 3½-½ to Aberystwyth B.

John Miller - Matthew Francis ½-½

Tony Geraghty - Scott Hammett 1-0

Robbie Coles - Ian Finlay 0-1

James Corrigan - Margaret Baron 1-0

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jan Sendall and Paul Clark Memorial Rapidplay

Colin Denham of Haverfordwest Chess Club writes:

"I would like advise everyone about a Memorial Handicap Rapidplay Tournament that I am arranging for Sunday 12th May please.

The link to the entry form: Jan Sendall & Paul Clark Memorial Rapidplay Tournament already appears on the Dyfed Chess Association site.

I would also like to post the following words regarding the recent death of Paul Clark please:

It is with deep regret that I have to inform everyone that Haverfordwest Chess Club has lost another competent player this season - Paul Clark, who passed away on the 11th April 2013 at the age of 62.

Paul was a very keen and inventive player and was arch rival to the late Jan Sendall (who was tragically killed in a car crash on the 10th December 2012) - like Jan, Paul had a cunning ability to manufacture checkmates from almost drawn positions.

I had several tough battles with Paul over the board and will miss being able to play any more challenging games with him.

Hopefully, they can now both continue their battles in the heavens above..."

Business End of the Season

It seemed as if every player in the Dyfed League was gathered at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Monday 22nd April, when Aberystwyth B arrived to find players from Cardigan A and Carmarthen there as well as their opponents for the evening. This is the business end of the season, with clubs rushing to get through their last few matches. Haverfordwest A are a strong team these days, with all four players graded in the 1600s. On top board, I was paired against one of the season's form players, Martin Jones, and got a nice position against his Pirc Defence, before letting the advantage slip. I was a bit surprised when he turned down my draw offer and, finding myself with some more thinking to do and very little time to do it in, panicked and dropped a rook right away. James Cook was faced with an unusual response by John Miller to his Caro-Kann which produced a sharp position early on. Black came off worse in the tactics, losing material. Tony Geraghty has been playing very well recently and once again got a promising kingside attack with his London System against Colin Denham. However, he allowed the tension to dissipate and neither side had a way through in the resulting blocked position. Ian Finlay is another player who has had an excellent run. He dropped a pawn with his Sicilian against Ron Wade, but had a good initiative in compensation. Missing the best chance of attack, he compounded the error by allowing a fork on queen and rook, after which the game was soon over. The match finished 3½-½ to Haverfordwest A.

Matthew Francis - Martin Jones 0-1

John Miller - James Cook 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Colin Denham ½-½

Ron Wade - Ian Finlay 1-0

Next evening, the A-team were in action, a home match at the St David's Club against Cardigan A. The Dutch Defence is an uncompromising opening that can give Black a ferocious attack or fall apart dramatically: Rudy van Kemenade is a great exponent of it, but it all went wrong for him against Howard Williams, whose pieces were suddenly dominating the board, leading to a quick demise. Julie van Kemenade is another player who likes a fight; finding herself in trouble with her Four Knights Opening against Iolo Jones, she went for an enterprising exchange sacrifice which gave her attacking chances. Unfortunately she missed the best move and lost further material in the complications. I have been making a habit of bamboozling Tony Haigh in the opening recently, though it would be more satisfactory from my point of view if I could do the same in the other phases of the game. This time he was surprised by my Tarrasch Defence to the Queen's Gambit, and quickly got a worse position. I looked hard for the winning continuation, but couldn't see it (Rudy and Howard soon found it afterwards), and settled for a draw by repetition. Finally, James Cook went a pawn down in his English Opening against Jamie Sen but was able to hold the difficult ending for a draw. 3-1 to Cardigan A.

Howard Williams - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Iolo Jones 0-1

Tony Haigh - Matthew Francis ½-½

James Cook - Jamie Sen ½-½

Monday, 22 April 2013

Friendly Fire

At Rudy's suggestion, I'm posting an example of a typical Club Night friendly game, of the sort we regularly play on a Tuesday evening. "Typical" in that Rudy sacrifices both rooks in the spirit of Anderssen's Immortal game against Kieseritsky, London, 1851; "friendly" in that, unlike Anderseen, he lets me get away with a draw on this occasion. The postmortem quickly revealed the winning line.

Matthew Francis - Rudy van Kemenade ½-½

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Old News, Newer News

Two reports this time, one dating from the middle of last month. For once, team captain and regular annotator Rudy van Kemenade didn't play in the A-team's match against on Tuesday 12th March, and he and the scores have been narrowly missing each other ever since. Finally they have managed to be in the same place at the same time, so that the rest of us can see what happened. The Aberystwyth team were in reckless mood, it appears, as all of the top three boards tried speculative piece sacrifices. On top board, David Ferguson's Nxf7 against Iwan Griffiths in an exchange French ignored the weakness of his own back rank, leading to instant defeat. James Cook fell for a common trap on the Black side of a Ruy Lopez, dropping a pawn, which may have induced him to play more aggressively than usual in a search for compensation: his Bxh2+ against Owen Llywelyn didn't get anywhere as the queens came off immediately afterwards, snuffing out his chances of an attack, another defeat for Aber. There were better results for our in-form lower boards. Tony Geraghty's Bxf2+, in a London System against Dewi Jones, at least couldn't be accepted safely, but Black could decline it with good chances; he did, but missed the best line and was beaten in the ending. Only Ian Finlay refrained from sacrifices, saddling Tegwyn Jones with weak doubled pawns and exploiting his positional advantage to grind his opponent down. The match finished 2-2.

David Ferguson - Iwan Griffiths 0-1

Owen Llywelyn - James Cook 1-0

Tony Geraghty - Dewi Jones 1-0

Tegwyn Jones - Ian Finlay 0-1

The A-team's latest match was against Cardigan B at the St David's Club on Tuesday 9th April. Rudy dropped a pawn against Tony Haigh's Trompowsky, but managed to get counterplay. In the resulting difficult rook ending, both players missed chances but finally Tony was left with a desperate race to give mate with king and queen against lone king before his flag fell, which he just managed to do. Julie van Kemenade also lost a pawn against Awne Osinga, who would have been quite content with a draw against his strong opponent, but she played on to reach the potentially explosive situation of queen, rook and pawns for each player. This was well suited to her tactical style, and Black quickly fell into a trap. After being uncomfortable at first against Nick McIlvenna's Larsen's Opening, I won a pawn and had the better position, but could see no way through till he obligingly swapped off a bishop that was doing a good defensive job for him, leaving me with a clear endgame advantage. On bottom board, James Cook won Alex Sen's queen within the first ten moves; there were still a few problems to overcome before he could get to Black's king, but the outcome was never in doubt. 3-1 to Aberystwyth A.

Tony Haigh - Rudy van Kemenade 1-0

Julie van Kemenade - Awne Osinga 1-0

Nick McIlvenna - Matthew Francis 0-1

James Cook - Alex Sen 1-0

Monday, 1 April 2013

Deadly Enemy

With the season drawing to a close and Cardigan A once again looking invincible at the top of the Dyfed League, Aberystwyth A travelled to Tanygroes on Wednesday 27th March for an away match against a depleted Carmarthen team. Rudy van Kemenade emerged from middlegame complications against Gerry Heap's Modern Defence with an extra pawn but the less active pieces. Trying to secure a clear advantage he allowed the Black counterattack to break through, and was mated. Julie van Kemenade, on the other hand, despite not getting her customary kingside attack from the Philidor, reached a comfortable endgame with knight versus bad bishop against Huw Morcom, and claimed the point. Tony Geraghty's London System game against Paul Orton was very stodgy for a while, both sides having two very uncomfortable bishops; it was Black who broke out first, only to drop a piece through a misjudged tactic. The position was still not easy for Tony, however, and he finally succumbed to his deadliest enemy, the clock. With Carmarthen defaulting on bottom board, the match was drawn 2-2.

Rudy van Kemenade - Gerry Heap 0-1

Huw Morcom - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Tony Geraghty - Paul Orton 0-1

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Missed Chances

Cardigan A are the perennial champions of the Dyfed League and are unbeaten again this season. But when Aberystwyth A played them on Monday 18th March, it looked for a while as though the long trek to Cardigan might have been worth it. The top-board encounter between Rudy van Kemenade and the league's strongest player Howard Williams exploded into tactics right away, surprisingly in view of the opening, the usually quiet Catalan. When the smoke cleared Black was an exchange up and the game didn't last much longer. On second board, though, Julie van Kemenade had worked up a dangerous attack against Iolo Jones's king with her favourite Philidor system. He seemed to be weathering it, however, and she took the opportunity to draw by perpetual check against her strong opponent, only discovering afterwards that the win was still there. I had learned in the car on the way to the match that I was due to play White against Tony Haigh; there followed a desperate analysis with Rudy's pocket set as I tried to remember a gambit line I'd prepared against his Franco-Benoni some months earlier. I managed to reproduce it successfully, and though it didn't all go to plan I reached the middle-game with a superior position, only to squander half a dozen winning chances in succession before being outplayed in the ending. Meanwhile, on board four, Cardigan's Howard Leah had been unavoidably detained, and Awne Osinga was summoned instead, arriving twenty-five minutes behind on the clock. James Cook got a big space advantage on the queenside with his Caro-Kann, but couldn't break through, and a draw was agreed. 3-1 to Cardigan, but Aber would have won if Julie and I had taken our chances.

Rudy van Kemenade - Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones - Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis - Tony Haigh 0-1

Awne Osinga - James Cook ½-½

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Aberystwyth B faced a depleted team from at the St David's Club on Tuesday 5th March, so only three boards took part, with Aber captain Ian Finlay standing down. On top board I got nothing against Iwan Griffiths's French (by transposition) - he seemed to play all the aggressive moves, but, for no very clear reason, turned out not to have anything either, and an early draw was agreed. On board 3, James Corrigan scored his first win for the club in only his second competitive game, against Emyr Llywelyn. Both players made mistakes but James will draw a lot of confidence from his success. But it was the board 2 game that provided the drama. Owen Llywelyn seemed to be cruising against Tony Geraghty's Owen's Defence - a couple of pawns up, with aggressively posted rooks, and a generally superior position. When he carelessly let his opponent's bad bishop back into the game, he was still OK, but Tony had a sneaky trap prepared and Owen walked right into it, losing a piece. Shellshocked, he compounded the error by choosing the wrong option of the two available and dropped a rook into the bargain - an outrageous swindle for Aber, who won the match 3½-½ (including the defaulted game).

Matthew Francis - Iwan Griffiths ½-½

Owen Llywelyn - Tony Geraghty 0-1

James Corrigan - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Two-Act Drama

Only 24 hours after their match against Carmarthen, the B team were in action again in the club derby against Aberystwyth A at the St David's Club on Tuesday 26th February. The board 4 players, Georgina and I, having both taken part in the Dyfed Congress at Fishguard over the weekend, and thus played competitive chess four days in a row, decided to take the night off, and played the following Saturday. The top three boards set up this final confrontation nicely. Rudy had things his own way in a Bird's Opening against James Cook, winning the exchange and controlling the endgame to score a relatively easy win. On second board, however, Julie went wrong in a superior position against Ian, missing the fact that her f-pawn was pinned so that she could not recapture when he took her knight with a rook. Not only did this win him a piece, it also gave him a crushing attack on the kingside, and he duly scored another excellent result to follow his draw against Keith Downey the previous evening. Tony also did well, fending off a dangerous-looking attack from David Ferguson, which left a drawn bishop versus knight ending. Surprisingly, then, the two teams were tied when Georgina and I played our postponed game. She went on the attack against my Sicilian, as the lower-rated player should, and continued to move forward on the kingside despite my space advantage on the other wing and in the centre. At some point, though, she should have started to defend; as it was I broke through, winning a piece with mate following quickly. The final score was 2½-1½ to the A team.

Rudy van Kemenade - James Cook 1-0

Ian Finlay - Julie van Kemenade 1-0

David Ferguson - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Georgina Gray - Matthew Francis 0-1

Closer Than It Looked

A full-strength Carmarthen team were always likely to prove too strong for Aberystwyth B, and the match at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on 25th February finally went according to the form book. Nevertheless, Aber put up a brave fight, and only the encounter on top board was really one-sided. I generally pride myself on my opening preparation, but this time got into a horrible mess against Gerry Heap's English Opening. With all my pieces tripping over each other on the back rank, I vainly tried to imagine I was Julie van Kemenade, who frequently manages to start a winning attack from such positions, but was soon put out of my misery. Tony Geraghty, on the other hand, reached an equal middle-game position with his London System against David Buttell, but allowed a dangerous central pawn to move forward, the start of an invasion that picked up a piece, with defeat following inevitably. Ian Finlay has had an excellent string of results recently but looked to be in trouble when Keith Downey invaded his second rank. White was too impatient, however, and tried to force things with a dubious piece sacrifice. Up on material, but still with a lot to do against a very strong player, Ian was happy with a draw. Georgina Gray has come close several times against much higher rated opponents, and this time reached what looked like a drawn position against Paul Orton, who dominated the d-file but could make no further progress. Unfortunately Georgina, just back from the Dyfed Congress with its longer time-limits, forgot about her clock, conceding an unlucky defeat on time. 3½-½ to Carmarthen.

Gerry Heap - Matthew Francis 1-0

Tony Geraghty - David Buttell 0-1

Keith Downey - Ian Finlay ½-½

Georgina Gray - Paul Orton 0-1

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

The St David's Club was the venue for a rare Sunday match on 10th February when Aberystwyth took on Cwmbran in first round of the Welsh Under-1800 Knock-out Cup. On paper the two teams were fairly evenly matched, but it didn't work out like that, though all the games were interesting. First to finish was the Board 3 encounter, where James Cook was surprised by Brian Heath's unorthodox response to the Alapin variation in the Sicilian. The position quickly became double-edged, and, though James should have been OK he lost his queen to a trap rather similar to the one he had sprung on Jamie Sen in his most recent match, resigning after only twelve moves. On bottom board, Georgina Gray also went wrong in the opening against the strong junior Nyasha Katsande, dropping three pawns. She did her best to complicate the position but there was no way back. And it was a similar story on top board, where Julie van Kemenade unsoundly sacrificed a piece in pursuit of a kingside attack. Dennis Jones was too experienced to allow her back into the game. Meanwhile, I was involved in another double-edged struggle against Steven Williams's Torre Attack, each player controlling a powerful open file. In time trouble, I missed a chance for a clear advantage, and, seeing the match had gone, I was happy to offer a draw in a position that was now rather worse. Cwmbran won the match 3½-½, and now go forward to the second round, while Aber have a chance to redeem themselves in the Plate.

Julie van Kemenade - Dennis Jones ½-½

Steven Williams - Matthew Francis ½-½

James Cook - Brian Heath 0-1

Nyasha Katsande - Georgina Gray 1-0

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Two Out of Two

When the A and B teams play on successive nights it can put a strain on the club's limited supply of players. So far, however, we have managed to raise the necessary teams without conceding any walkovers, and the matches on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th February produced heartening results. The B team were in action first, playing at home against close rivals Cardigan B. I tried team-mate Rudy van Kemenade's favourite Leningrad Dutch defence against Cardigan's strong top board Tony Haigh, and, though I didn't get the kingside attack I was hoping for, did a reasonable job of defending my weak pawns, and even gained an advantage in the ending before the position resolved into a draw. James Cook, under pressure early on from Jamie Sen's queen, set a little trap for it, which Black duly walked into and resigned in disgust, though he had compensation and could have played on. Tony Geraghty equalized and even took the initiative against Awne Osinga's conservative play with White, but with both players running out of time in a difficult queen-and-pawn ending, a draw was the safest option. Finally, on Board 4, Ian Finlay won the exchange against Nick McIlvenna's overoptimistic opening play and had a dominant position when his opponent abruptly ended the game with a blunder. The match finished 3-1 to Aberystwyth.

Tony Haigh - Matthew Francis ½-½

James Cook - Jamie Sen 1-0

Awne Osinga - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Ian Finlay - Nick McIlvenna 1-0

Next evening, at the Emyln Cafe, Tanygroes, an A team borrowing a couple of players from the victorious team of the night before had a similar succes against Haverfordwest A. It was not without difficulty. however. On top board, Rudy van Kemenade found himself in a fearsomely complex struggle (admittedly the kind of game he loves) against the much lower-rated Martin C. Jones, who stayed on terms right till the end, when he allowed a passed pawn to get through. Julie van Kemenade's game was also dramatic, though not in a way she will have enjoyed. In another complex position, she was distracted by her attacking possibilities and allowed the win of her queen. She played on to make a fight of it, and John Miller, perhaps still stunned by his good fortune, dropped his own queen in return. After that Julie was ahead, and soon finished the game off. Tony Geraghty showed no fear playing Black against the higher-graded Ron Wade, and looked to have the better position, but was content to construct a pawn blockade to secure the draw. And Ian Finlay played confidently, too, in a sharp queen's gambit, in which he had attacking chances before reaching a drawn rook ending. Again the result was 3-1 to Aber.

Martin C. Jones - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - John Miller 1-0

Ron Wade - Tony Geraghty ½-½

Ian Finlay - Colin Denham ½-½

Friday, 8 February 2013

Rudy in Gibraltar

Rudy recently played in Gibraltar, scoring 3.5 out of 10,against a strong field, only two weaker opponents. Full details available in reports to main Welsh Chess Union website. An accompanying evening entertainment was a Team Blitz,played at four minutes plus thirty seconds increment. Mark Talbot(ex-Aberystwyth) and his brother, Nathan, were playing in the Challengers' U2300(where both scored 2.5 out of 5). Therefore a team, E4Effort, was formed of Rudy, Nathan, Mark and their father Paul Talbot (2043 FIDE, 2098 ECF correlate, 2130 also and 1850 also). The highlight was in the first round when the team played against 4 Queens, consisting of IM Valentina Gunina (2490) from Russia, IM Elizabeth Paehtz (2482) Germany, IM Salome Melia (2403) Georgia & GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant(2405) from Scotland, originally Georgia. To our surprise we got a draw, both Rudy and Nathan winning their games. On examining further it transpired that Valentina Gunina (who gained a GM norm in the main Masters daytime) actually has a FIDE blitz rating of 2614! (Our team went downhill after that.)

Valentina Gunina - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

New Year Derby

The first match of the year was also the first of two scheduled encounters between the A and B teams, and all eight regular players were available. On top board for the B team, James Cook tried Bobby Fischer's old favourite, the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation, against Rudy van Kemenade, who has plenty of experience in it, going back to the 1970s. White attacked prematurely on the kingside, allowing Black to co-ordinate his pieces for a more convincing counter-attack, which won a rook with mate following shortly. Tony Geraghty sidestepped Julie van Kemenade's opening preparation by playing the unusual Owen's Defence, and was not far behind when the players reached a knight versus bishop ending. Then his concentration slipped and he left the knight en prise, resigning immediately. So the top two boards both went to the higher graded player, and that was the story on Board 4, too, as I picked up a pawn in the opening against Georgina Gray, followed by another as we exchanged into a double-rook ending, which was comfortably won. Only B-team captain Ian Finlay was able to buck the trend in a sharp King's Indian encounter with David Ferguson, who grabbed the exchange at the cost of leaving his king wide open, and suffered the consequences - an excellent win for Ian against a player graded much higher. 3-1 to the A team.

James Cook - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade - Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay - David Ferguson 1-0

Matthew Francis - Georgina Gray 1-0