Sunday, 30 December 2018

Christmas Quiz 2018 - the Answers

For the sake of good order, here are the answers to the 50 anagrams of Grand Masters I left you with in this year's Christmas Quiz. As they could all readily be found in the list of the current top 100 rated players in the world (here for example), and as I gave more clues than you would find in an Agatha Christie novel, there's not really any reason why everyone shouldn't have scored full marks.  So let's just assume that everyone did and move on!

My personal favourites were numbers 10 and 40, even though I made a personal appearance in 28 and 47. I guess 20 and 37 were the least flattering, but as my own name is an anagram of Krap Game, I probably have more to be upset about than anyone!

Anagram Grand Master Country
1 Exhaling dark curse Alexander Grischuk 9,8 Russia
2 Rain I sigh Anish Giri 5,4 Netherlands
3 Moth necked anon Anton Demchenko 5,9 Russia
4 Staid anarchy kid Arkady Naiditsch 6,9 Azerbaijan
5 Ben, maim ass Bassem Amin 6,4 Egypt
6 Grand foibles Boris Gelfand 5,7 Israel
7 Avoid bun lid Daniil Dubov 6,5 Russia
8 Held avid owl David Howell 5,6 England
9 Red lining Ding Liren 4,5 China
10 A dim tiny drinker Dmitry Andreikin 6,9 Russia
11 Tom in jerky vodka Dmitry Jakovenko 6,9 Russia
12 I overtake sinner Ernesto Inarkiev 7,8 Russia
13 Entice baronet Etienne Bacrot 7,6 France
14 Heavens veto sky gym Evgeny Tomashevsky 6,11 Russia
15 Berserk fence Ferenc Berkes 6,6 Hungary
16 I egg librarians ass Gabriel Sargissian 7,10 Armenia
17 Various edging Gadir Guseinov 5,8 Azerbaijan
18 A neon jigsaw Gawain Jones 6,5 England
19 Khaki rum, an aura Hikaru Nakamura 6,8 USA
20 A niche champion nit Ian Nepomniachtchi 3,14 Russia
21 Love a king rook Igor Kovalenko 4,9 Latvia
22 A sin vicar Ivan Saric 4,5 Croatia
23 Trunks of jazzy dad Jan Krzysztof Duda 3,9,4 Poland
24 Quell enigma Le Quang Liem 2,5,4 Vietnam
25 Real onion van Levon Aronian 5,7 Armenia
26 Make lunches Luke McShane 4,7 England
27 Gunmen rascals Magnus Carlsen 6,7 Norway
28 Marks rug rage Markus Ragger 6,6 Austria
29 Thwarted males Matthew Sadler 7,6 England
30 Exclaim, via grave harem Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 6,7,7 France
31 A chisel madam Michael Adams 7,5 England
32 Sanguine drills Nils Grandelius 4,10 Sweden
33 Halt a hair spinnaker Pentala Harikrishna 7,11 India
34 Eke petrol Peter Leko 5,4 Hungary
35 Divert lepers Peter Svidler 5,7 Russia
36 Rosy baron Ray Robson 3,6 USA
37 Trap horrid crap Richard Rapport 7,7 Hungary
38 Unshaken small ad Samuel Shankland 6,9 USA
39 Gas jerkier Yank Sergey Karjakin 6,8 Russia
40 My hairy aardvarks home Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 10,10 Azerbaijan
41 Bait army ant Tamir Nabaty 5,6 Israel
42 Jarred via bum too Teimour Radjabov 7,8 Azerbaijan
43 Vanish lucky visa Vassily Ivanchuk 7,8 Ukraine
44 Involves top ale Veselin Topalov 7,7 Bulgaria
45 Wants an avian hand Viswanathan Anand 11,5 India
46 Evil deformed visa Vladimir Fedoseev 8,8 Russia
47 Dim Mark - rival kin Vladimir Kramnik 8,7 Russia
48 Rival medieval vats Vladislav Artemiev 9,8 Russia
49 A new guy Wang Yue 4,3 China
50 Owls eyes Wesley So 6,2 USA

Since publication of the quiz on Christmas Eve, number 7 has become World Rapid Champion (ahead of 40 and 19) and - less surprisingly - number 27 has retained his World Blitz title in stunning fashion ahead of 23 and 19.

But that's enough quizzing for 2018, so all that remains is to wish a Happy New Year to all our readers.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas Quiz 2018

Maintaining a proud tradition that started way back in 2017, I am pleased to present the second KCC Christmas Quiz.

This year, our theme is once again those players who inhabit the chess stratosphere - namely Grandmasters. But this time, it is all A listers we are talking about - oh alright, there are some B listers too - but nevertheless, the answers to the following anagrams can all be found in the current top 100 rated players. So they all know the moves, and the odds are that most of you will have heard of most of them!

The questions are presented in alphabetical order of the GM's first name - except for those strange creatures (aka Chinese/Vietnamese) who will insist on having their names back to front! To make life easier, the clues also show the number of letters in each GMs name, and because this is, after all, a time for giving, I have made it considerably easier by giving their nationality as well. If you want to make it more of a challenge, simply squint and refrain from looking at the right hand column!

Answers to follow in a few days. The maximum score is 50. Anyone who can't get No 27 should be taken out and shot, so I expect everyone to get at least one right! Number 3 is possibly the most obscure.

Happy quizzing!

1 Exhaling dark curse 9,8 Russia
2 Rain I sigh 5,4 Netherlands
3 Moth necked anon 5,9 Russia
4 Staid anarchy kid 6,9 Azerbaijan
5 Ben, maim ass 6,4 Egypt
6 Grand foibles 5,7 Israel
7 Avoid bun lid 6,5 Russia
8 Held avid owl 5,6 England
9 Red lining 4,5 China
10 A dim tiny drinker 6,9 Russia
11 Tom in jerky vodka 6,9 Russia
12 I overtake sinner 7,8 Russia
13 Entice baronet 7,6 France
14 Heavens veto sky gym 6,11 Russia
15 Berserk fence 6,6 Hungary
16 I egg librarians ass 7,10 Armenia
17 Various edging 5,8 Azerbaijan
18 A neon jigsaw 6,5 England
19 Khaki rum, an aura 6,8 USA
20 A niche champion nit 3,14 Russia
21 Love a king rook 4,9 Latvia
22 A sin vicar 4,5 Croatia
23 Trunks of jazzy dad 3,9,4 Poland
24 Quell enigma 2,5,4 Vietnam
25 Real onion van 5,7 Armenia
26 Make lunches 4,7 England
27 Gunmen rascals 6,7 Norway
28 Marks rug rage 6,6 Austria
29 Thwarted males 7,6 England
30 Exclaim, via grave harem 6,7,7 France
31 A chisel madam 7,5 England
32 Sanguine drills 4,10 Sweden
33 Halt a hair spinnaker 7,11 India
34 Eke petrol 5,4 Hungary
35 Divert lepers 5,7 Russia
36 Rosy baron 3,6 USA
37 Trap horrid crap 7,7 Hungary
38 Unshaken small ad 6,9 USA
39 Gas jerkier Yank 6,8 Russia
40 My hairy aardvarks home 10,10 Azerbaijan
41 Bait army ant 5,6 Israel
42 Jarred via bum too 7,8 Azerbaijan
43 Vanish lucky visa 7,8 Ukraine
44 Involves top ale 7,7 Bulgaria
45 Wants an avian hand 11,5 India
46 Evil deformed visa 8,8 Russia
47 Dim Mark - rival kin 8,7 Russia
48 Rival medieval vats 9,8 Russia
49 A new guy 4,3 China
50 Owls eyes 6,2 USA

Thursday, 20 December 2018

A Star Shines in Stratford

On the same day Mourinho was given the push, under the somewhat less illustrious leadership of yours truly, on Tuesday it was Stratford D v Ken D at Stratford's very new and very posh venue. Easily the best venue in the league.

And that night, it was not just over Bethlehem that a new star was shining brightly!

First to finish was the one and only Billy Fellowes - White on board three. Aged seven - yes seven - he tore his opponent (Simon Payne) to pieces with a London System, playing it as if Mr Lam was stood next to him telling him what to play. Frightening! I saw the first half-dozen moves - which were played impeccably. I next looked 20 mins later - Billy was a knight and two pawns up! Massive grin on his face in the direction of his dad. But another hour before the game finished in the face of some dogged defence by Black.
1-0

Next to finish was me, playing very poorly in a exchange variation of the queens gambit against William Langley, White on board one. Utterly boring. I lost comfortably because I did not follow through consistently on any one plan
1-1

Upon my resignation, Chris Adlridge agreed a draw with Richard Buxton. I did not follow the game but Chris must have been reading Joshua's earlier blogg. Five pawn moves in the first six in an original opening from Chris.
1.5-1.5 was the final result.

Not great but, still, a better result than Mourinho has been managing! Ken D looks forward to the New Year almost certainly in better spirits than leaderless Man U.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Shock News - 'A Team' Play a Good Match!

A 3-1 home win over a strong Solihull A team last night, took us (temporarily?) clear of the chasing pack at the top of Division 1, and ensured we ended the first half of the season unbeaten. Olton trail by 2 points with a match in hand, and Banbury are 4 points back with 2 matches in hand.

Andrew P was first to finish, drawing on the Black side of a London System (yawn) against Tony Sadler on Board 3. White had an open h file, but could eventually find nothing better than to castle kingside himself. Andrew went the other way (definitely not a comment on his sexuality, by the way) but any prospect of excitement from  opposite castled kings was summarily ended when our man, quite uncharacteristically, offered a draw.

Andy B, making one of his infrequent starts on Board 2, was next to finish with a draw against Andrew McCumiskey. (Lot of Andrews around last night, weren't there?!) He freshened up his trusty Reti/English set-up with a very early f4, but Black seemed to defend pretty well, and an interesting rook lift from f8-f5-h5 got considerable counterplay against the White king. But our Andy neutralised the threats and an interesting encounter ended with honours even.

Then almost simultaneously, the remaining two games finished - with Kenilworth victories in each game. Mike D beat Ray Carpenter on Board 4 after a seemingly exemplary game with White in a Catalanesque position where Black was very passive, and struggled to solve the eternal problem of his light squared bishop. Mike amassed his forces in the centre, threw in a kingside pawn thrust and eventually broke through with d5 to win material - 2 rooks to be precise in the final position!

And I beat Mike Surtees on Board 1, to thankfully stop my losing streak at 3. He unleashed his patent opening I e4 c5 2 Nh3 (well he is from Manchester - see Joshua's recent article!) but I reacted surprisingly well, especially as I wasn't prepared for it, and was better until White was eventually able to unravel his position and get some very dangerous kingside play going. However, in a very complicated position he then wrongly sacrificed a piece, but after I also made a big mistake, he delayed giving a queen check for one fatal move and instead of having a perpetual I was able to defend my king. With both of us short of time, White then blundered into mate to bring the game to a swift end.

On which happy note, may I wish a Merry Christmas to all our readers, and give advance notice that the Traditional KCC Xmas Quiz (running non-stop since 2017) will be appearing on the website in a couple of days, promising hours and hours of mental fun over the festive period! I bet you can hardly wait!!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

What Day Is It?

A fighting 2-2 draw for the A team against Olton A on Tuesday night, (temporarily?) put us top of a very congested Division 1 of the Leamington League. But as we were much closer to winning the match than losing it, there was not really cause for too much celebration.

Dave started the evening off with a fairly inevitable draw on Board 4 against Rob Reynolds, who seldom loses, especially with the white pieces. Much later, though, things shifted decisively in our favour as Andrew P suddenly cheapoed Alan Lloyd on Board 2 with a crushing Nxf2+, winning an exchange and a pawn, and probably something else as well. Alan decided not to find out and resigned immediately. Meanwhile, Mike D was seemingly easing to a win over Mark Cundy on Board 3 to wrap up the match for us, but somehow he failed to bring home the bacon in a knight v bishop ending and had to settle for a draw.

While this meant that we couldn't lose, it also put the responsibility to win the match firmly on my shoulders. Thanks guys! For most of the evening things weren't going well for me against Phil Holt, and I found myself with two knights against two bishops plus all the heavy pieces. However, Phil seemed to lose the thread of the game and I managed to exchange a few pieces and stabilise my position, so that I was about equal after we came down to a Q&N v Q&B ending. Unfortunately, the after effects of my flight home from Hong Kong the previous day had contributed to some woefully slow play by me, and I found myself in terminal time trouble - not helped by the fact that we were playing with an antique analogue clock that gave little clue as to how much time I had left. So while my body clock thought it was the early hours of Wednesday, I was actually managing to lose on Tuesday evening. In fact I had lost on time about 10 or more moves before Phil noticed, but it didn't matter as by that time his rather unnecessary decision to sacrifice his bishop had paid off. He had queened a pawn and then easily avoided my desperate attempts to secure a perpetual.

So 2-2 it was, and a third successive loss for me. Still, Peter Svidler recently lost four in a row at the European Club Cup, so I am at least in good company!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

No theory used in starting this game

It almost Christmas and the time for gifts. Joshua bought a theory free game for his opponent Arthur Hibbert. Very kind of him and he has even shared the start of it on this blog for you all to see and gasp at it! I'll leave that as an exercise to the readers! Hopefully he will include the rest of the game at some point but for those that always skip to the end of a book - he won.

Meanwhile, in the theory burdened section of the team Mike was playing Dan Rowan and had accidentally strayed in to an inferior line that ultimately left him a pawn down. However careful re-positioning off his pieces allowed him to hold the position.

Phil was playing yet another Scandinavian defence, this time against against Nick Martin. Out of the opening Phil lost a pawn but still had a solid position. Unfortunately towards the end of the session Phil missed a tactical trick that allowed white to mate him. This was a shame since it was Phil who had more time and white was getting increasingly desperate due to his time position.

However, prize of the night for being late went to Mal Waddell who arrived 30 minutes late for his game against Dave. You never really get over starting 20 minutes down on the clock and he was still 20 minutes adrift when he resigned, two pawns and an exchange down.

Another good result for the B team as they reach the half way point with seven wins from seven games.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Manchester school of chess - lesson 1

I realise it's been a while since I've posted anything on the site, so I thought it was about time I shared with you some of the wisdom I have learned from my sojourn in the North. I feel chess has been crying out for a new set of guiding principles for the modern age, now the writings of Nimzowitsch and Botvinnik have been shown to be unsound by computer analysis. Just like My System therefore, I intend to share with you some average to poor chess advice, but given in a sufficiently insulting and sarcastic style that people will hopefully be tricked in to thinking it is insightful.

We'll start with an illustrative example from my game yesterday against Banbury. For those ever alert for spoilers I shall avoid telling you the result of the match, partly so as not to pre-empt Dave's report, but mainly because I'd left before the end and, since the league website is currently down, I can't check what it was.

The game began with what seems to me the fairly standard opening presented below, and I will leave you to consider white's optimal 9th move.


I have no doubt all our club members are strong enough to rule out the obviously incorrect approach of developing a second piece; it is clearly too early in the game for that, as I realised at the time.

A future post in this series is likely to cover the more advanced topic of the importance of undeveloping pieces, but sadly I can't bring that to you this time since 9. Ng1, with the threat of f3, although a tempting and logical move, doesn't quite succeed in trapping the black knight on g4.

In the game therefore, I followed another principle we are likely to return to later, namely that it is usually better to develop 1 piece twice than 2 pieces once, and played Ng5. This is a decent enough move that leads to a complicated position which I won fairly swiftly (28 moves), whilst never being worse at any time by more than -1.9 as a computer evaluation, which frequent team mates of mine will know is a comparatively successful outing for me.

However, my computer, ever keen to mock my best efforts, suggests that the best move in the position above is in fact 9. dxc5, giving up the e5 pawn and the centre in return for playing b4 and getting a large queenside pawn majority. Not an obvious decision, unless of course you remember the first principle of the Manchester school of chess:

"It is better to make 8 pawn moves in 9 rather than 7 pawn moves in 8."

A lesson I shall make sure not to forget in my future games, and one I advise you all to remember as well.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

What a difference two weeks make...

Mark Twain wrote that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes... How right he was, if the start of our campaign to defend the Coventry KO Cup, is anything to go by.

Back in the spring, when we approached the final against Rugby, the omens were not good. Mark was overseas. (Page that is. Mark Twain's chess playing days, if there ever were any, are now sadly behind him.) The Rugby team out-graded us on every board. Yet somehow, against all odds and thanks to a win from Dave we won! A night that will live long in the memory. Well my memory anyway. Celebrations on the streets of Kenilworth (and one street in Leamington) and all that.

This season in round 1 against Nuneaton A, pretty much the same thing happened. Mark was overseas. We were conceding an average of 15 grading points a board... Oh, and we had lost 4 - 0 at Nuneaton in the League only two weeks ago. The only positive I could think of as stand in captain was we might have lulled them into a false sense of security...

Yep, you've guessed it - we won! 2.5 - 1.5, with the only decisive game coming from Dave as in last years final. Astonishingly, for most of the night, this really looked like the most likely score. (Bar 3-1 to us, more of which later..)

On Board 1 Mike Donnelly was up against Phil Briggs. As ever, Phil's opening choices were "unorthodox" and Mike faced a position he had never seen before after just three moves. However, Mike's experience of related defences meant that he knew to move a knight to the ideal c4 square, threatening a central e5 break and putting Phil under strong pressure. To prevent this, Phil felt obliged to weaken his pawn cover around his king, which gave Mike attacking opportunities. However, Phil appeared to be holding and with both players short of time a draw was agreed. I think Mike definitely had the better of this one, a nice game...

On Board 3, Dave Shurrock was playing out the only direct re-match from the League debacle, against Colin Green. Up against a Pirc, the opening was essentially level. However, Dave was able to establish a knight on d6 which exerted increasing control over the position. A kingside break with h4 and h5 followed and Colin's defences crumbled. With material falling off, Colin resigned. I have to say, this one always looked like a win for us, from fairly early in the proceedings.

On Board 4, Rod Webb playing Dave Kearney faced a Reti and played an f5 setup against it. With an early e4 from white, Rod opened up the f file and looked to build a kingside attack. After a number of exchanges though, the initiative was gone and the game fizzled out. Another good result for us and Rod always looked very comfortable.

I was the last to finish on Board 2 against Paul Davies (the only Nuneaton player involved I had not faced before.) If I tell you we agreed a draw when I had 50 seconds left on my clock and he had 30 seconds, it probably gives you some idea as to the absolutely brutal nature of the encounter. I have no idea what should have happened... We needed the draw to win the match, but I was pressing for the win, or at least I thought I was... After a wild opening and quite strong attacks from both of us, Simon blundered and I picked up the exchange just before the time control. (Which we had both reached on vapors.) However, Paul's two bishops and Queen on an open board were very powerful. My own attempts to unravel and mobilise always a little slower. I felt sure the win was there, but Paul proceeded to sac his second rook for my knight, to create a bizarre position of queen + 2 bishops (him) vs queen + 2 rooks (me.) My king was chased around the board, mating threats and perpetual check threats abounded (actually for both of us) but Paul just held the tempo and forced the draw. I will be looking at this one on Fritz closely. I'm sure I could have won, but equally when we analysed the game afterwards, there was plenty of scope for me also to lose. It was certainly a lot more complex than I thought. All in all a draw was a fair result. And enough to take us forward.

Bring on round 2, when hopefully I will be able to quote some other famous writer, in order to illustrate another triumph! Fingers crossed and happy Christmas.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Find Another Place

Hi All,


As many of you know, my first book Find Another Place, was published earlier in the year. I always wanted to write and in the end I ran out of excuses not to try. The experience has been amazing. While not a chess book, Find Another Place, does have a lot of chess in it. There was a nice feature in Chess magazine back in the summer and there have been good reviews in a number of other outlets.


I love writing almost as much as I hate marketing, but one of the hardest challenges writers face, is actually selling enough copies... So this is a one time plug. If you or anyone you know, might be interested, it takes one click to buy a copy on Amazon (or book shops will order it in.) It could also make a Christmas present for someone perhaps? I personally make very little from the sales, but they really help in terms of building a platform for future work. So if you are able to get one, I am hugely grateful to you. Right that's my marketing capacity exhausted!


Just to also let you know, I am working on my second book, The Greenbecker Gambit, which will be published (most likely) in 2020. This really will be a chess novel - Tennessee Greenbecker was once one of the greatest chess players in the world. Now he lives in penury in London, remembering his glory days and plotting a comeback. Yet, as the story unfolds, the question arises as to whether he is really who he claims to be... The book is all about how we make sense of the world around us and the life we happen to find ourselves in. I'll keep you posted on progress...


Thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging this year, your kind words and support mean a lot to me.


Thanks


Ben

Friday, 30 November 2018

Time waits for no man at Daventry

When all your games in a match finish after 10pm, you know it has been a long day in the office.

First to finish was Mike who was down to his last few seconds when he resigned. Playing Steve Willets in a kings Indian with the Kings castled on opposite wings he had to endure an attack against his king which took its toll on his time. His successful defending of this led him into a rook and pawns ending a pawn down with only two minutes on the clock. It always difficult to defend a position like this against board one opposition.

Next to finish was Dave although he did have the luxury of a full ten minutes at the end whilst his opponent had only a couple of minutes. Black had deployed a slow double fianchetto defence which left his centre week. With all major pieces on the centre files, white pushed with e5. Unfortunately, black didn't defend this well and lost a piece rather than an exchange. However, he did emerge from this with some attacking chances as his queen got into white position. Once again, time proved a decisive factor as whilst black captured queen side pawns white got his queen and knight into black kingside and black didn't defend accurately enough.

The remaining two board almost finished simultaneously with all players down to their last minutes. When the dust settled, it turned out that we had won on both boards and the final score was 1 - 3 to Kenilworth.

Phil had played yet another Scandinavian defence against a fourteen year old opponent. Careless play in the opening by white left him with doubled isolated centre pawns. Black won one of these pawns but white generated some counter play against the black king. Unfortunately, white was trying too hard to win and allowed black to skewer his rook and queen. With both side desperately short of time a massive time scramble ensued in white the chess clock took one hell of a beating! Note to Daventry - don't trust these players with expensive analogue or digital clocks ever again and consider buying a replacement Garde clock.

Ben had black against Andy Johnson and looked to be winning out of the opening. However, Andy defended well and reached an active middlegame position a pawn down. From this point on, both sides pursued their individual attacks and it was just a case of who would mate who first. Fortunately, Ben had sacrificed his extra pawn to gain the initiative, had an extra tempo and mated white just before he got mated. Quite impressive considering the sheer racket that was emanating from board two as they wrecked Daventry's clock!

At 10.10, the game could have gone either way. At 10.15 we had won. Well done everyone.

Finally...

Playing for the B team this season has been all fast cars, champagne and night after night of revelry as victory has followed victory. In contrast the C team has felt more like hanging out in the cafĂ©, the losing team in "The Apprentice," are banished to after another failed attempt to chalk up a task win.


Until last night that is...


We went to a freezing cold Banbury and won 3-1!


Bernard C got us of to a great start by winning very quickly against Dan Rowan on top board - a really good effort. Some feeling afterwards that Dan had strayed into unfamiliar opening territory, but Bernard didn't half convert well.


On board two, I was playing Arthur Hibbitt for the first time in about six years, since our last encounter in the Worcester Major. (A game I have always felt a little guilty about as Arthur hammered me for hours on that occasion before blundering at the very end and losing.) Nothing quite so dramatic last night, but Arthur built up a decent looking position and appeared to stand better. I found a way to neutralize and get the Queens off. Arthur immediately offered a draw and I was happy enough to take it to put us 1.5 - 0.5 up.


Particularly as on board three, Bernard R (bought out of retirement now that he is approaching retirement!) showed us again what we have been missing. You're wasted on The Gauntlet Bernard! A really crushing win against Paul Friend.


On Board 4, Roy Watson was up against Nick Martin. All the other games were long finished when these two were just getting going. I must confess I didn't see the end, but Roy held the line for a very good draw.


So two wins with white, two draws with black and finally two points in the bank. Possibly not time to crack open the champagne just yet, but we've definitely earned ourselves more than a coffee and a telling off from Alan Sugar/ The Club Organiser!



Tuesday, 27 November 2018

White to Play and Win

Consider this complex study (M. Page, 2018) and see how long it takes you to solve it. The task is very straightforward - it's White to play and win.


How did you get on? If you were present at last night's A team match against Rugby A, you will have found this to be  a very easy problem, with multiple solutions.  Any of 1 Nf3; 1 e4; 1 d4; or even 1 Nc3 seem to lead inexorably to a win for White. No need for further analysis, they just do! In fact, I really don't understand the problem that Carlsen and Caruana have been having in trying to eke out even a single, solitary win between them.  Mind you, they have been trying to play good moves, which two of our team signally avoided last night. Regrettably, I was one of them.

But while I lost horribly to Jonathan Cox on Board 1, I still somehow did not play the worst game of the evening. That honour went to the normally rock steady Andrew P, who perhaps sulking from finding himself languishing on Board 3 at times this season, went down in excruciating - but rapid - fashion to Simon Turner. I glanced at the position after about 10 moves and noticed to my surprise that Simon was threatening to win a piece by playing Bxb8 (a knight on its home square). Then I noticed he was also threatening to play Qxg7 (only a measly pawn) followed by Qxh8 (a far from measly rook). Surely our man couldn't have overlooked something as elementary as a double attack could he? Surely he had a clever response up his sleeve?? As the game ended soon after as a White win in what can best be described as a rout, you can guess the answers to these questions. Why he didn't play like that for Nuneaton against us in the Coventry League last week, I can't imagine! Still, we're all allowed the occasional off night, I suppose.

We then struck back in rather less one sided games, as first Joshua (against Alan Phillips - nice to see you, Alan!) and then the infrequently sighted Andy B (against Patrick Reid) also proved the power of having the first move to put us 2-1 up. Joshua seemed to play remorselessly against Alan's hopeless clock handing (there may have been the odd good move in there, too, though I can't vouch for that), and Andy finally crashed through when his third or fourth plan of the evening actually worked, though I had a bit of a scare when I saw a knight sac against Andy's king, but luckily it could be ignored and Andy eventually powered in against the Black king on the g file. Any thoughts of a match victory were not realistic though, as I had been slightly worse for the whole game before collapsing appallingly and walking onto a crushing mating attack. Well of course I did - I had the Black pieces. (See diagram above!) Still, as I may have said before, we're all allowed the occasional off night.

So honours even at 2-2, and all four games won fairly convincingly by White!

Ultimately this was a very disappointing result, as on paper we should have won comfortably. In fact, maybe that's what I need to propose at the next League AGM - we play the matches on paper, rather than on the board. That way we can all stay at home and watch the telly, while avoiding damaging calamities such as befell two fine fellows last night. Still, in case I haven't already mentioned it, we're all allowed the occasional off night!