Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Long and the Short of it

Aberystwyth's last two matches before Christmas brought good results for both the A and B teams. On Monday 8 December, a depleted B team played Cardigan B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. On Board 1, a double-edged position resulted from the exchange variation of the French Defence, an opening often considered drawish. The players had castled opposite sides and were attacking each other's kings; my attack on the kingside with White should have broken through first, but I missed the sacrificial combinations required, after which Tony Haigh consolidated and was heading for a winning ending when I cut the game short with a blunder. Tony Geraghty's game against Seamus Cunnane was a more typical French, a blocked game in which Black's pressure on the queenside decided the issue, as Tony won, first a pawn, then a piece. James Corrigan should have lost a piece in the opening against Howard Leah's Sicilian, but Black's attack ran out of steam soon afterwards. Still trying to break through, Howard overextended himself, and it was James who won a piece instead. With the default on Board 4, the result was a creditable 2-2.

Matthew Francis - Tony Haigh 0-1

Seamus Cunnane - Tony Geraghty 0-1

James Corrigan - Howard Leah 1-0

Two days later, the A team played Haverchess B at the same venue. Rudy van Kemenade was not thrown off balance by Colin Denham's unorthodox opening and speculative sacrifice; he had seen that Black had much better attacking chances from the resulting position, and soon had the White king surrounded for a straightforward win. Adam Robinson failed to make his extra pawn count against Scott Hammett's Latvian gambit. After he had missed an early chance to invade with his two bishops, the game reached a complex rook and pawn ending, which was drawn in more than 70 moves, after many twists and turns. Georgina Gray, in her first game for the club this season, found herself plunged into wild complications from the opening. Ray Greenwood, playing White, made the decisive mistake of castling into her attack, after which she was able to harry his king across the board to eventual defeat. On Board 4, James Corrigan got a comfortable advantage from his Queen's Gambit against the inexperienced Sandra Whitby, but cannot have expected to win quite so soon, as she allowed an unusual form of smothered mate with a bishop on f7 after only eleven moves - quite a contrast to the game on Board 2! Aber won the match 3½-½.

Colin Denham - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Robinson - Scott Hammett ½-½

Ray Greenwood - Georgina Gray 0-1

James Corrigan - Sandra Whitby 1-0

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Umming and Erring

On Monday 24 November, Aber's new-look B team played Haverchess B at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes. Adam Robinson's hesitant play in a King's Indian against Colin Denham didn't seem a serious enough fault to merit the drastic punishment it received, as White invaded dramatically on the d-file, forcing a quick win. Mike Weston's game against Scott Hammett was mostly quiet manoeuvring, with just one moment when White missed a chance to win material before it petered out into a completely drawn ending. There was more indecisiveness on Board 3, where Tony Geraghty's opponent, Ray Greenwood, spent most of the opening moving a bishop back and forth, allowing Black to take control, despite his odd-looking tripled pawns. Ian Finlay managed to get an early knight fork on c7 against Margaret Baron, after which the win was no problem. A welcome win for Aber B, 2½-1½.

Colin Denham - Adam Robinson 1-0

Mike Weston - Scott Hammett ½-½

Ray Greenwood - Tony Geraghty 0-1

Ian Finlay - Margaret Baron 1-0

Aber A's home match against at the St David's Club on Tuesday 2 December was quite a contrast, with players taking the adventurous rather than the cautious approach, not always successfully. Rudy van Kemenade kept calm against Iwan Griffiths's enterprising attack in a Petroff, declining a piece sacrifice, and steering the game towards a won ending. I played a sharp line against Owen Llywelyn's Caro-Kann which has brought me success against him in the past. I got the better position again, but was tempted by an unsound pawn sacrifice and should have been in serious trouble; luckily for me, he made a crucial mistake that let my queen in for the win. Ian was typically aggressive against Tegwyn Jones; his piece sacrifice may have been unsound, but was difficult to defend against in practice. An exciting game finished with the players agreeing a draw in a position where White still faced problems trying to win with the extra piece. Only James Corrigan on Board 4 had a trouble-free attack, breaking through quickly against Emyr Llywelyn's Hippopotamus. A 3½-½ win to Aber A.

Iwan Griffiths - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Matthew Francis - Owen Llywelyn 1-0

Tegwyn Jones - Ian Finlay ½-½

James Corrigan - Emyr Llywelyn 1-0

Friday, 5 December 2014

Playing Catch-Up

The Dyfed League has got off to a rather slow start this season, but this blog has been even slower, owing to pressure of work combined with a bad cold. So today's entry is intended to begin the process of catching up.

On Wednesday 12 November, a strong Cardigan B team were the hosts against champions Aberystwyth A. Rudy van Kemenade went the exchange up against Tony Haigh in a classical French, but Black had counterplay with his strong knight, and the presence of queens on the board made for complications. Rudy missed chances to win and eventually allowed a perpetual. Against veteran Seamus Cunnane, Julie van Kemenade had the kind of aggressive King's Indian-type position she enjoys, Turning down a draw, she went on the attack with her two bishops, winning a piece and the game. New player Adam Robinson has not had the best of starts to the season, and was looking for a win against the lower-rated Howard Leah. After a quiet closed Sicilian opening, the players reached an ending where White had knight against bishop with an extra pawn. It was a long fight but he prevailed in the end. The other new player, Mike Weston, reached a similar ending from a similar Sicilian line, though in his case he was Black and had the bishop. What looked like being a long-drawn out game came to a premature end when Awne Osinga allowed a winning fork. Aber A won an ending-dominated match 3½-½.

Rudy van Kemenade - Tony Haigh ½-½

Seamus Cunnane - Julie van Kemenade 0-1

Adam Robinson - Howard Leah 1-0

Awne Osinga - Mike Weston 0-1

A few days later, on Monday 17th November, it was Cardigan A's turn to play host to Aber A. Rudy's King's Indian Attack against the league's strongest player, Howard Williams, led to a curious position in which Black had invaded a long way into the White queenside, but with little prospect of further progress. Rudy gave up two pieces for a rook to get a passed pawn on the other wing, then unwisely allowed it to become unpassed again, at which point Howard's queenside invasion suddenly came to life, winning the game. Julie's Philidor looked cramped against Iolo Jones, who had the two bishops and all the time in the world to decide on his attack, which came very suddenly, winning, first a pawn, then the queen. All the pawns stayed on the board till well into the middlegame in Adam Robinson's game against Tony Haigh, causing a blocked position. Tony came close to a breakthrough on the kingside, but Adam had the defensive resources to hold him to a draw. On Board 4 Mike Weston followed a well-trodden path in the Sicilian, so much so that he reached a position against Howard Leah's kingside attack that had already been resigned by Black in a tournament game. Mike played on for a few moves, but there was no defence. Again the result was 3½-½, this time to Cardigan.

Rudy van Kemenade - Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones - Julie van Kemenade 1=0

Adam Robinson - Tony Haigh ½-½

Howard Leah - Mike Weston 1-0

Meanwhile the Dyfed Closed tournament has taken place, at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes on the weekend of 8th-9th November. Rudy was the winner with 4½/5, beating frequent winner Gerry Heap into second place. Ian Finlay won the under-1600 grading prize with 3/5, and Jamie Friel was joint winner of the under-1300 prize with Courtney Probert of Cardigan, on 2/5. I'll post the Aber games over Christmas.