After Mark’s somewhat depressing report from Tuesday’s Coventry League game, I feel the need to bring you somewhat better news from the A team’s Leamington League game on Monday, where we took on Banbury B. Some people might say that this report coming out after Mark’s from a later game shows him to be more efficient than me; I would argue it shows I have more worthwhile things to be doing with my time. Gratuitous abuse aside, let’s move on to the games:
On board one, Andy was playing black against Neil Staples’ English Opening, and succeeded in offering a gambit on move 5, not the easiest to do with black in any opening, least of all the English. Despite Andy’s reassurance to the contrary after the game, I still maintain that Neil should have tried grabbing and holding onto the pawn, but instead he gave it back and Andy came out with a clear advantage from the opening. From then, after an exchange of queens, he just kept grabbing pawn after pawn until he was four pawns up in the endgame when Neil finally decided to call it a day. A very clean victory, provided the opening was sound.
Mark played the Moscow variation against Chris Evans’ Sicilian Defence (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+), and got the usual slight space advantage that results from this variation. He had an advanced pawn on e5 which was cramping his opponent’s position, but always ran the risk of falling off if not properly looked after. However, Chris got slightly overexcited by the prospect of attacking this pawn and ended up fatally neglecting the safety of his own king. You know when there are white knights on f7 and g5, with a black king on f8, that things aren’t going to end well for black and, despite some mild time pressure, Mark collected a whole bunch of material towards the time control, forcing a resignation almost immediately after.
Bernard’s battlefield promotion to board 3 seemed to be well justified during the opening of his game, as his Sicilian defence ended up in a position resembling a French Defence, but with the light-squared bishop outside the pawn chain. Whilst most chess books will tell you this is a considerable success for black, in practice it often turns out that black would rather retreat the bishop back behind is pawns, as the queenside can end up rather unprotected. The game degenerated into a random tactical mess as both players ended up very short on time approaching the 35 move mark. Fortunately, however, Bernard’s problem was less severe than his opponents. When Nick asked how many moves he had left to make (answer, 5) and looked down at his clock to see 2 seconds remaining, not even some Paul Lam still desperate blitzing could save him from defeat. As a postscript to this report, both players managed to commit rules violations during this game. To prevent embarrassment I shall refrain from providing details of their various indiscretions, but perhaps we should consider investing in a copy of the rules for them as a Christmas gift.
Finally, my game provided yet another example of how not to play the opening, although unusually on this occasion it was provided by my opponent. As black, he played an early b6 and Bb7, and then transposed into a modern Benoni structure, where neither of these moves serves any real purpose. In some slow systems you could perhaps get away with this loss of tempi, but the Benoni is so sharp that giving away two moves more or less guarantees black a lost position. I don’t think I played particularly precisely after that, but my advantage never truly went away, and a fairly routine victory was achieved.
Final score: Kenilworth A 4 – 0 Banbury B
Now that is a solid result; bring on Leamington next week.