Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Poor Stuff - But We Won Anyway!

Week 2 of the C&DCL Trial Online League, and it was KCC v Coventry. Two of our 7 person squad were unavailable so we played over 5 boards with the top 4 counting for the League result. (Any KCC member who is not signed up for the squad is welcome to join if you fancy playing in any of our three remaining games). There was more online club glory, as we registered an even bigger League win than last week, taking the overall match 7.5-2.5, and the League segment, 6.5-1.5.  But as to the quality......... well, there simply wasn't very much on view at all!

I certainly did not set a good example on Board 1 against Bava Manickam. Our first game ended abruptly when Bava suddenly resigned in an equalish position right out of the opening. Turns out his computer had auto-rebooted and this had triggered an involuntary resignation. Which was rather unfortunate, but at least the chess gods were not enraged by crimes against the game, unlike our second game. On the Black side of a London System (boooooo!) I won a pawn with a cheapo. Then I took a second pawn. Then I missed mate in 1! (Queen from c3 takes an undefended rook on e1 - not the most difficult move to spot!!) Then I took a third pawn. And then I started self-destructing. Bava got two pawns back and was very active. Then I missed another mate in 1!! (Qh7-b1 - a rather longer move to spot this time - but still!) And then finally I did spot a mate in two, but not before I had been briefly lost. Embarrassing stuff, but a win is a win. Or in this case, two wins are two wins.

Mike had a very tough evening against Sam Cotterill on Board 2.  He won a pawn from the opening as Black, but allowed a White passed pawn to d6 and a knight to e4 which totally froze his position. Mike defended ferociously, and in the end Sam decided to allow a perpetual check rather than risk an ending of rook against 3 pawns. Which my engine tells me was drawn anyway. But Mike was not so fortunate in Game 2, as his promising/winning position in a very difficult double rook and double minor piece middle game went up in smoke as he totally lost the thread. Even Sam overlooking mate in 1 (are you spotting a theme, here?) at the end could not change the outcome.

It was an all Kenilworth/all Coventry battle on Board 3, where Joshua came up against Ed. The first game was over in no time and almost defied belief. I could describe it, but you wouldn't believe me, so you had better see it for yourselves.

Strange things happen in cyberspace.

As they did in game 2, where Josh at least played far more sensibly, but even so got into a little bit of trouble. Nevertheless, the game came down to an opposite bishops ending, where Ed had three connected pawns, two of them passed on e6 and f5. It was impossible for Ed to lose. But somehow he managed it! Full marks to Josh for perseverance, but this was a ridiculous result.

With one glaring exception, Ben's games against Kate Donegan on Board 4 were much more correct and logical, and he was the third Kenilworth person on the night to end up with a 2-0 score. Game 1 saw a textbook example of how to play against the Exchange French as Black, but after excellent work by Ben to get a totally won position, he left a rook en prise to White's king. Thankfully, however, Kate neglected to take it and the crisis passed, with Ben eventually making his extra piece count in the ending. In Game 2 Ben won a pawn, but Kate got a lot of play against the White king with all three heavy pieces massed on open lines. I felt sure that Ben would have to take a draw - and be glad to do so - but he found an excellent defensive set up (with his queen on h2!). When Kate got careless and let White's extra pawn start rolling down the d file, the Black position fell apart as the White queen emerged from hibernation with devastating effect.

On Board 5 Billy split the point against Pete Smith, with the London System triumphing in both games (booooooo!). With White, Billy didn't hang around, sacking a piece on h7 on move 10. It was totally unsound, but thankfully Black didn't take the piece, and instead Billy was just well on top and after winning a piece a few moves later the result was never in doubt. Though at the end, Billy had under 11 minutes on his clock, so he had had to use up a fair bit of thinking time! Game 2 was a disaster for Billy, as he simply blundered his queen away on move 14. Pete went for the h pawn hack attack, and when he played 14 Bxh5 Billy snapped it off with Nxh5. Unfortunately there was a White bishop on g5 and it just took Billy's queen, which was still on its original square. Somehow Billy briefly got a second piece for the queen, but the material deficit was simply too much to fight against, though it took till move 51 for mate to be delivered. At which point Billy's clock showed 17 minutes left. Not quite up to last week's speed record, but still coming in at an average of under 8 seconds a move!

Next up for us in the League is a match against Warwick University Alumni, but before then we switch platforms to Lichess for a 5 board friendly against Stockport. All of which is keeping me way too busy!!

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