Thursday, 15 November 2018

'Johnson Polish'es his Team

Solihull F faced the might of Kenilworth D last night. As I write I await a game report on his win from first to finish on bottom board Matt. Watch this space.

My game  on board one was a fairly straightforward one helped with the classic 1.d4 d5, 2.c4 Nf6, 3.pxp Nxp, 4.e4 Nf6 giving me a massive space advantage and control of the centre. Pile up down the c-file and a minority attack was then the simple plan. However, Black overlooked some tactical nuances and after my central push Black's position collapsed.

Last to finish, on board two was William, who writes " The match started with my standard d4 e6 and just after four moves our queens were off the board. Due to my lack of development my opponent gained an advantage in the middle game. I was, however, able to turn this around and my opponent fell for a trap which led to the loss of his bishop for a pawn. Poor play on his behalf allowed me to claim another piece and he was unable to stop my pawn due to a nice knight sac'.

Excellent team selection by non-playing Mike - it is three clubs? - Johnson. Well done Mike.

Final result 0-3.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Home and Away

Last night, thanks to the good offices of Drago, Ken B played both Home and Away. Our 'away' match against Cov Uni was played at 'home' in order to accommodate our juniors.

Once again my eternal optimism was confounded.

First to finish was Algis. It looked like a pretty standard Ruy Lopez but I did not see much of it and can only report that Algis lost on bottom board.

Next to finish was Jude playing a London System in which he played his trademark delayed Nf3 move in combination with a devastating h-pawn push - all against a double fianchetto - and winning the exchange before Black decided to try his luck on the Queenside. Sadly for Black this only resulted in dropping his h-pawn, then his rook, then the b-pawn then the c-pawn and the game a couple of moves later.

Ben also played a London System but this time I think an early Nf3 was played.  Ben reports that essentially 'we played out a very complex doubled edged opening. In a tension filled position I miscalculated and simply made the wrong choice. The game was still very tense and tactical for a while, but when my counter-play was eventually extinguished it was game over. Good play from my opponent. Clearly, being at Carlsen-Cajurana the day before did not rub off on me!'

Last to finish was yours truly, needing a win to draw the match. Probably with inadequate preparation I played a Nimzo, got outplayed, dropped two pawns and was only saved from disaster by a blunder by White who, forgetting queen's can move sideways, dropped a bishop for a pawn.  Material equality, my four isolated pawns, my king exposed, rooks and queens flying all over the show - this was too much for me to overcome and a draw was offered by my opponent and accepted - with great reluctance but to press on would almost certainly have resulted in a loss.

Having gloated last week about my Captaincy and claiming unwarranted credit, I must, in the interest of balance, claim at least some discredit for my Captaincy in this match. Must do better!

Final score 2.5 v 1.5 loss.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Pictures at an Exhibition

Our Arts Correspondent Reports:-

We are a multi-talented lot in KCC (myself excluded - I am strictly a one-trick pony, and not a very good one of those) and in the creative arts, Bernard C is our standard bearer.  An exhibition of his work was recently on display at Rugby Art Gallery, and as regrettably few of his club colleagues could seemingly be stirred to make the short trip to view his work, I thought I would give you a brief taste of what you missed.

I won't pretend to be the most sensitive when it comes to appreciating art, but I know what I like, and like isn't exactly the word that springs to mind where Bernard's work is concerned. If you want fluffy kittens, or waiters dancing on the beach, look away now, because Bernard's vision is concerned with rather darker matters. No wait, make that considerably darker matters.  The exhibition was presented under the title "Colour Radicals", and Bernard's accompanying Artist's Statement gives a clear signpost that we can expect to be both unsettled and challenged. (I know I was!)

"The selection of paintings is from a current series of work exploring an imagined collapse of the normal with unexpected results. Each image can be likened to a theatrical event, where the props are caught in a moment of destruction or drama. Yet that same moment yields a surprising contrast. Colour emerges from, ignites or lights this virtual stage. These visual metaphors touch on ideas of dystopia, while at the same time releasing the beauty of colour as an emancipatory radical energy."

So if you are sitting comfortably, prepare to be shaken out of that complacency.

I am immensely impressed by Bernard's work, but I can't say I would want to have any of it on my living room wall. I find it far too disturbing for that.  This is powerful stuff, and those like me who in our advancing years have retreated to a smaller, largely self-contained/private world, will naturally shy away from confronting the dramatic/cataclysmic events presented in Bernard's art. But thank goodness there is one amongst us who, at an age when he could be excused for resorting to jigsaw puzzles or daytime TV, has the energy and vision to produce such striking images. I think I would call these paintings loud, not just because of their striking colours, but because they demand your attention so forcefully it almost seems as though they are shouting at you.

Whatever's happening here, it is not going to end well!
But behind that forceful element, and the accompanying sense of motion/change/drama, Bernard also captures a still/precise moment amongst the chaos - and it is that which I find particularly disturbing, because its a moment when bad things are happening, but which heralds even worse to come. Cheerful stuff, eh?

Apologies to Bernard if I have massively misrepresented his vision. But after all, the views expressed here are those of the reviewer not the artist!!

Portrait of the Artist as a not so Young Man

And to see more of Bernard's work, visit his website.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Blog Inserts

Does anyone out there know how to insert a position diagram into a Blogg?

WUC Whacked!

For reasons which should not be allowed to deflect the reader from the substance of this report a team of six turned up for the home match on Tuesday against Warwick University C.  So, with apologies to Rod - who was left on the bench - I can only take my hat off to the Captain whose managerial and man-management skills were fully revealed for the first time. Watching from the side-line I can reveal that:-

First to finish was Mr Shurrock who as White on board two was "playing Ben Lee for the second time this season. A different variation of c3 Sicilian allowed White to establish a knight on e5 and cramp Black's position. Black pressed too hard to equalise and allowed an attack against f7 which lost him an exchange. A queen foray into the white queenside only served to pull the queen away from defending the king and White subsequently won the h-pawn. A long drawn out ending was avoided when Black allowed an undefended piece to be taken".

Hurrah! One Nil

Second was Mr Shearsby as White on board four and facing a Dutch. Mr Shurrock comments "the black-squared bishop exchanged immediately. Out of the opening Black had the bishop pair but doubled kingside pawns. White was allowed to advance his queenside pawns and created space and restricted the bishop. The resulting pressure placed on Black's position allowed him to win material and ultimately the game". A very mature performance from Mr Shearsrby.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Two Nil.

Next, on board three, Black, was Mr Morris. A London System was played and the middle game position looked almost losing. BUT, as, Mr Shurrock advises that 'Black traded dark square bishop but this allowed the opening of the rook's file against the black kingside castled position. However, White was too slow to launch a kingside attack and this allowed Black to force weakness in the White camp on the queenside. The exchange of a knight on e5 proved the turning point and it allowed the black queen into White's position via c3. Further exchanges left White with a difficult ending, Black's passed h-pawns allowed him to get his king amongst the white queenside pawns and winning'.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Three Nil

And in the final few minutes Mr Graff  'done us proud'. He writes that 'After a near symmetrical flank opening I managed to get my pawn break in first and took a slight initiative. My bishops ended up with a little bit extra room to manoeuvre and my pawn structure was slightly more robust than my opponents. Essentially, it was all more or less still equal but White needed to find the right moves and under pressure on the board and on the clock seemed to lose the thread a bit. I was on the brink of winning a pawn when in a desperate attempt to hold on to it White miscalculated and I was able to win both his bishops for my rook with the queens coming off. In the resulting endgame my bishops had terrific diagonals and my remaining rook was well placed whereas his rooks had no open lines to work with. It took a while but my bishops, rook and pawns built a fantastic net completely controlling all the squares. White resigned when it was clear I was going to mop up'.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Four Nil!

'Clean Sheet'! Job Done!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Small Earthquake in Chile

Nothing too dramatic to report from last night's fairly routine 3-1 win for the A team over Leamington. The players of the white pieces, Andrew and Joshua, annexed the full point, while the players of the black pieces, myself and Mike D, contented themselves with draws.

Except that in my case, I didn't. I was completely winning against Andy Collins, but my disastrous clock situation led - once again - to a total meltdown where I frittered away my two extra pawns and overwhelming attack through gross incompetence. Mike's game featured the inevitable Tom Darling sacrifice (only a pawn, but its the thought that counts!) which he neutralised easily enough, but at the expense of a rather balanced position that did not induce either player to persevere for long.

However short that game, though, it looked like War and Peace next to Joshua's. Once again the British rail network conspired to make him arrive late, but that didn't seem to matter one iota. In no time at all he was simultaneously threatening mate on h7 and the Black queen on d7 after a nice, but rather obvious, exchange sac on f6.

Andrew's win was more of a technical effort against Rob Gill. He put his pieces on good squares to attack Black's horribly weak queenside pawns, which eventually fell off. Rob managed to generate some counter-play but Andrew played precisely to defuse the threats, and secure the victory.

Match over. Move along. Nothing much to see here.

Monday, 5 November 2018

High Apple Pie In The Sky Hopes

Like Frank Sinatra I had high hopes for this one with Bernard on top board. But also like Frank, they turned out to be apple pie in the sky hopes.
First to finish was Jude. I did not see the opening but early on Jude established a powerful attack on Mike [Two-Clubs] Johnson's King position, winning  a pawn. Jude missed some possible middle game chances. In the endgame he felt Mike Two-Clubs was threatening to win the pawn back in a four v five pawn endgame and offered a draw which was duly accepted by Two-Clubs.
Next finish was me. Lazy thinking on my part - once again - resulted in me playing like a lemon mixing up two King's Indian Systems. My opponent, Nigel, played his usual mechanical opening stuff and completely annihilated me. Our pie was now in desperate need of some cream to pour over our troubled waters! I do love a mixed metaphor.
Could this be poured on by Matt? No. In his own words " I played a Scandinavian as Black and received a lot of early pressure on the e6 pawn. Avoiding the threat of a scary looking sacrifice around and uncastled King cast me my favourite pawn and White more than maintained the advantage through the middle game, with my rooks unable to move to the second rank. There was still some hope going into the endgame but then I lost'. In fact the last move was a simple king/rook fork, costing Matt the rook at which point he resigned after what looked to me a well-fought game.
With all hope of a victory now revealed for the pie in the sky it perhaps always had been all pressure was off Bernard who in any case had slightly the better of it on board one at this stage - better pawn structure and the opponent King slightly exposed. I only saw the final, exciting, stages of the game in which Bernard's opponent made a - not obviously - unsound sacrifice. Bernard, as is his custom 'saw all' and won a knight. To be fair if Black had not gone for the sac he would probably have been ground down in the endgame anyway. I understand this was Bernard's first competitive win since 2011.

Friday, 2 November 2018

A beer festival that doesn't get much more local than this

The church hall next to our venue is holding a small beer festival on Saturday 17th November at 6.30pm to raise funds for the church.

It might not be a festival to set the world of CAMRA alight but it's a good cause.

All the beers are local.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Nick of Time

Phew! Last night's crazy, topsy-turvy match against Solihull B ended in a dramatic 2.5-1.5 victory for the A team, but only one man was able to walk away from The Blossomfield Club with his head held high. Step forward our peripatetic hero, Joshua Pink. What a glorious day that was when he walked back into KCC to become our commuting saviour. And how amazing that a man who nominally lives in Manchester can be a more regular player for us than most of those who live in Kenilworth!

He cut it rather fine last night, having been delayed on his return from London by the inevitable train problems. The clock ticked on to past 8.00 pm when he finally made his dramatic entry  - well, what else would you expect from a noted amateur thespian? But thank goodness he made it in the nick of time - which gives me an excellent excuse to present a great song by the absolutely magnificent Bonnie Raitt.

For most of the game he seemed to be about to crash through with an attack down the a file against Ray Carpenter's queenside casted king, but Ray defended cleverly and when I took my last look at the position, I feared any hopes of victory were gone. But in trying to force a draw, Ray apparently sacrificed a rook, only to discover it wasn't perpetual check after all.

This was a massive boost, as we were reeling from the sad ending of the Board 4 encounter, where Bernard C had played an exemplary game with Black against Ian Brodie, winning a pawn, then a second, then an exchange before discovering that his remaining pieces were all being dominated by White's small, but perfectly co-ordinated army. Bernard returned the exchange, but to no avail, as this was one game that did end in perpetual. So a point I had mentally chalked up for most of the evening, ended up as just a draw.

Another draw was then concluded on Board 2 where Andrew P's attempt to hang on to the c4 pawn ultimately failed and left him in a slightly dubious position. At one point in the late opening/early middle-game he still had every piece still on  the back rank, but found it necessary to play the move f6. You know something is not quite right when that happens! Somehow, though, he then marshalled his forces rather cleverly to not only avoid disaster, but to establish a slight edge thanks to two superbly centralised knights. But it wasn't enough to gain any decisive advantage and a rook ending was eventually agreed drawn.

Which left me to wrap up the match on Board 1 against Neil Clarke. Which I did, but not in a way which reflects any credit on me whatsoever. After an offbeat French Defence, Neil enterprisingly sacrificed a pawn for the two bishops and some initiative, and steadfastly refused to win back the pawn in favour of keeping the bishops.  However, I gradually unravelled, took over the only open file and blotted the bishops out with my 3-1 queenside majority Or at least that was what I thought was happening, but as both clocks ticked under 5 minutes I snatched a second pawn (leaving me with 3 connected passers!) but crucially gave Black the opportunity to free his pieces which he did to marvellous effect as I completely collapsed. A piece fell off (in my shock I failed to see I could have given up my queen for a rook and minor piece instead) and I must have been totally lost. But Neil possibly misjudged how much time he had left and took a perpetual check (yes another one!) when in what must have been a completely winning position.

So a very close shave, and a less than convincing performance. Memo to self - and rest of team - buck your ideas up!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Big Mo

That's momentum, in case you are wondering, and nothing to do with either a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or a bartender from The Simpsons.  And we've got it, as the A team notched up its second consecutive win in the Coventry League last night, with a resounding 3-1 win over Coventry A.  Indeed, if we hadn't missed those two Ronnie Rosenthals against University A and I hadn't lost a drawn ending against Rugby, we'd now be top of the table!

Mike was first to finish last night after a rather unexciting encounter with Dave Ireland, and I followed shortly after with a scarcely more interesting game against Coventry's new addition, Henrik Stepanyan. Yes, as if having 300,000 people to choose from wasn't enough, Coventry now need to recruit from distant Sutton Coldfield to take on the mighty resources of Kenilworth's 22,000.

Which left the evening's adrenaline quota all riding on Boards 3 and 4. Luckily, they each provided far more in the way of dramatic content. I was on hand to witness the dramatic climax of Dave's win over Ed Goodwin, where an apparent infiltration/attack by Black's queen to g4 rebounded in the most horrible way, as the queen found itself with no escape squares and about to be rounded up by a White rook. In trying to avert this catastrophe, Ed instead walked into the loss of a rook.

Ben, meanwhile was a pawn up against Bernard C (unlike Joshua, our dual-loyalty member had not absented himself from the opposition for the evening - and I bet he's applied for an Irish passport, too!) after a very enterprising opening with Black, and with Bernard's rook almost stranded on a5 things were looking very good for us. Even so, I was surprised at the speed with which matters concluded, but full marks to Ben on an energetic game. Some welcome compensation for the pain he suffered against Bernard last season!

So two valuable points for us, and since there are only 6 teams/10 matches in the first division this season, every point is especially precious.  And when you are out-graded on every board, even if not by all that much, then its particularly satisfying.

And - not that anybody's counting - I hope you've all noticed that this report went on-line just after 11.00 on the morning after the match. A full hour earlier than Roy managed last week with his B Team report. And where is he this week? I'll tell you, where he is - nowhere to be seen! He'll have to up his game another notch or two if he thinks he can steal my blogging crown!