Sunday, 21 October 2018

A Tale of Two Londons

Kenilworth ‘B’ was in action last night against Coventry C. Here is what each of our players had to say.

First Stuart on board One. He is a little miffed at the strength of his opponents!

“I see Ed played on board 3 last year for Cov A!!! I opened with a very modern London system, and got good development of my pieces, eventually I ended up blocked and retreated backwards. Losing a rook for a Bishop was my one mistake while obsessively protecting an isolated pawn. Came close to a draw as he was running out of time with only 2.5 mins left to my 12mins, but alas it wasn’t to be. Quote of the year 2018 by Watson.R. “Cov B division is easy!! Mainly low graded players!!! Played two games against 169 and 154 so far.....!!!”

Moving on to yours truly on board two:-

I played a Scheveningen Sicilian but played the correct moves in the wrong order against Bava. I ended up with much less space, got squashed but had endgame chances with two bishops v Knight and Bishop on an open board – but two pawns down. But in the event I could not prevent Bava exchanging his knight for my Bishop – game over. And I have to show this to Mr Lam tomorrow and justify myself! Hmm.

Edit – post lesson analysis.  I got a good position from the opening but then played too passively (of course the Sicilian is a counter ATTACKING opening) and, with limited tactical awareness blundered my first pawn – then my second. THEN game over.

Jude was on board three. Told by Jude what to write, here is what his mum, Leanne, writes:-

“Jude’s game against Howard Jones – Jude played the London system and later in the game did a pawn sacrifice to make his opponents pawns doubled and isolated and he went on to win a pawn. Jude took advantage with the bishop pair but his opponent forced him to trade bishops and his opponent centralised his knight meaning he was forced to win the exchange. Jude traded a rook for a bishop and the position was blockaded. Jude could have put his knight in an outpost but stopped his opponents king from entering and winning pawns. Jude accepted his opponents offer of a draw and was happy with this in the position.”

And finally on bottom board, Algis who writes:-“Algis had a tedious game with a breakthrough and victory in the very last seconds.  The opponent played a standard Queen’s Gambit opening with a fairly boring development from both sides. After a number of exchanges and a deviation of the ‘d’ pawn, Algis’ opponent had to defend 2-against-1 pawns on the ‘g’ and ‘h’ lanes. However there were only 3 minutes left for Algis (and 40 minutes for the opponent…). The breakthrough came after Algis switched the attack with the knight on pawns on the other side, opponents’ knight, a pawn and the king trying to stop those 2 pawns. Soon, there were 3 pawns marching for the queen on different parts of the board and one finally made it. The opponent resigned with a whole 35 seconds left on Algis’ clock.”

Captain Roy suspects the board order may very well be different in the New Year.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Through Gritted Teeth

Excellent news! The A team hauled itself off the foot of the Coventry League Division 1 table last night by picking up its first points of the season, thanks to a 2.5-1.5 win over Warwick University B. It was almost the perfect match - two wins with White and two draws with Black. Except that I lost to spoil things. Rats.

Ben finished first with a draw on Board 3 against Victoria Sit, after a fairly tortuous struggle where he was suffering for the entire game. Stalwart defence saved the day!  The same could not be said of my performance, as I went down rather horribly to  Louise Head on  Board 1. I rather burned my bridges by going all in with a kingside attack while my queenside fell to pieces. Several more bad decisions led to a total rout.

Which left the match situation looking pretty precarious. But Dave had been winning on Board 4 against Ben Lee almost straight out of the opening, and duly pocketed the full point to level the match. Mike was better and pressing against Andy Pollock on Board 2, but I thought Black was defending well enough to hold the draw. However, while I was busy analysing my game in the bar, things clearly happened as the next thing I knew was that Mike had won. The word "blunder" was uttered by Mike's opponent, but that's all the light I can shed on proceedings.

So never mind my own painful loss, the team won. And that's the important thing isn't it?

Meanwhile the B team went down by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5 against  a strong Coventry C who fielded two players who were virtual ever presents in Division 1 last season.  Our junior participation was halved last night, so well done to Roy for getting a full team out. Jude notched another draw (he's a points machine!), while Algis weighed in with another win, taking him to 2/2 for the season in the Coventry League. Keep up the good work guys - that first match win is just around the corner!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Two Ronny Rosenthals in One Match!!

Not that obscure a title for me, but I guess it might need some explaining for the younger members of the club.....

So when we managed two misses of such proportions in last night's match against Warwick University A, you'll understand why it was so galling to end up as 2.5-1.5 losers. The match was there for the taking, and we blew it. Indeed, this was the weakest Warwick Uni A side we've encountered for several seasons, with their monstrously strong Board 1, Dimitar Daskalov (228!), backed up by 3 x 150 players - a far  cry from the juggernauts we have been crushed by in recent years.

I was the first to finish on Board 1, and was responsible for the first Ronny Rosenthal moment of the evening. After resolutely neutralising my super-strong opponent's attempts to complicate the game,  he let his guard drop for a moment and I flashed out a Qxh6+ pawn grab, when Kxh6 would have been answered by Nxf7+ and Nxd6 (Black queen!), leaving me two pawns up in an overwhelming position. He didn't take the queen, but instead allowed me to make an immediately winning knight sac on g6 … except that I didn't win. I couldn't find the right sequence of moves, which should have won back the piece leaving me 3 pawns up, and instead had to settle for perpetual check. So what would normally have been an excellent result, turned out to be a massive missed opportunity.

Mike drew almost immediately afterwards on Board 2, after a tense struggle where he was seemingly perpetually on the verge of making a breakthrough against a very draughty White king, but was never able to get in the killing blow. But if that was a half point lost, Ben's draw on Board 3 against his female opponent from Turkey felt like a half point gained, as he had a very ropey looking position from the opening, which hardly got much better all the way into the ending. Resolute defence kept the material balance, though, and when he was finally able to bring his king over to the queenside to shore up his vulnerable b2 pawn, the draw was agreed.

And so to Dave, just back from New York, and hopefully full of American get up and go! Unfortunately not. His opponent seemed to play the opening rather well, as in typical Catalan style, Dave just couldn't get his light squared bishop into the game satisfactorily. After some time I looked back and it had become a rook and knight ending where Kenilworth were 2 pawns down. Our only hope was that Dave was a couple of minutes up on the clock with play well into the final 10 minutes. But in trying to capitalise on his time edge, Dave blundered his knight and was totally lost. His opponent then gave a seemingly killing check which drove Dave's king to h6 right into the path of the white g and  pawns which were set to give forced mate.  Except that the Black king - for one crucial move - was in stalemate. Rook takes pawn check would have been an instant draw if the rook was captured, and if it wasn't White's extra piece was going to fall off with a stone cold drawn rook and pawn ending - especially given White's time situation. But instead it was Ronny Rosenthal moment number two, the fleeting opportunity passed, and the game and the match were lost.

That Ronny's got a lot to answer for! Not least that KCC are now bottom of Division 1 with no points from two matches. Its a hard life in Division 1.

But better news from Division 2 where our youthful B team scored their first point of the season with a 2-2 draw against Coventry D. Heroes on the night were the mighty Jude and Coventry League debutant Algis. Well done chaps!

And news has also reached me of another Cup success for the club in the Leamington League competitions. After our ground-breaking win in the U-120 tournament last week, this time round we have progressed through to the semi-final of the U-700 Cup after a nail biting 2.5-2.5 draw against Shirley went our way on board elimination. In this respect, Ben's win on Board 2 counted for more than Shirley's win on Board 3. Special mention also to Jude (yet again!) for his draw against 126 rated Jon Asbury, and Bernard for finally getting on the scorecard in his comeback campaign. The first win cannot be far away!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes......

…….. 24 little hours etc etc.

On Monday the A team was in Leamington League action away at Shirley, and came away with a  thumping 3.5-0.5 win. Andrew finished first by virtually forcing Keith Ingram to make a piece sacrifice on g6 which resulted in immediate perpetual check. Keith didn't need a second invitation and so Andrew was on his way home for an early night with a half point in the bag. Then the wins started coming in. First Mike D crashed through against Frank Jimenez's Maginot Line defensive strategy, via a knight sac to get his pieces flooding into the passive White position, and soon after Joshua's extra pawn and bishop v knight saw him comfortably home against Jonathan Dale in an ending. I wrapped up the evening by beating Phil Purcell in an interesting game where I ended up with 3 extra pawns - which he decided was about 3 too many.

So it was with confidence sky high that two of those players set off for our Coventry League season opener against Rugby the next night. Regrettably that confidence was somewhat misplaced. With Dave swanning around in New York, and Carl also somewhere in the States, seemingly keeping the global economy going single handedly, Rod stepped into the breach to supplement our normal team. He held an interesting game with Black against Simon Turner on board 4, and Ben also drew, after appearing to be making the running, on 3 against Jonathan Cox.  Mike then followed with another draw against Bob Wildig, leaving me to decide the match against Rugby's newcomer Paul Colburn on Board 1. Regrettably I was not up to the task, and after being equal or slightly worse the whole game, I gave the match away by failing to hold a difficult rook and knight v rook and bishop endgame, even though the draw was within reach until very near the end. So a loss by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5, and a disappointing start to the season.

Meanwhile, on the same night at the Abbey Club our B team was making its debut in Division 2 of the Coventry League against a very strong Nuneaton B team, which was 75% comprised of regular Division 1 players. While our team's grey beards (literally in one case!) Roy and Stuart went down on the top boards, our two juniors, Will and Jude, distinguished themselves with fighting draws on Boards 3 and 4. Will's draw against 148-graded Bob Buckler was especially impressive. Not every league match will be this tough, for sure!

And while I'm wrapping up the week's results, mention must be made of the U-120 Cup team which scored a 2.5-1.5 win over Leamington - our first win in this competition for many a year! Jude and Matt scored wins and together with Tony's draw saw us through to a semi-final against either Daventry or Stratford 2 in the New Year. Well done team, and especially well done Jude, on becoming possibly/probably Kenilworth's youngest ever match winner!!

Friday, 28 September 2018

It's not all chess

The Shirley & Wythall chess club venue is holding a beer festival.

They hold it every year and by all accounts, it is quite good. Details below provided by Gordon Christie.

Friday Oct 5th 18.30 - 23.30
Saturday Oct 6th 12.00 - 23.30

Britannia Room, Wythall House, 52 Silver Street, Wythall, B47 6LZ

This year there'll be 20+ Ales and 4 ciders, hand picked from 16+ brewers, including local breweries.  We'll have live music from the Old Companions Jazz Band on Friday and Karmelyte a 60s, 70s, 80s Duo on Saturday. There's also local food available (whatever that means!?).

Gordon may well be there and so you may need your sunglasses !

If there is any blood on the carpet don't panic - it's not a sign of disorderly behaviour, but a result of the A team's 3.5-0.5 win over Shirley this week!

Stuck in the traffic

There was a slightly auspicious start to our match against Olton before we have even left Kenilworth en route to Tyseley. Ben phoned to tell us that he was stuck in traffic on the M40 and wasn't going anywhere (sounds like the story of the B team).

Upon arriving at Olton there was still no sign of the normally very early Ben. Luckily, Olton were in no particular hurry to start and answered our question about the railway museum. Rob explained his preferred method for gaining entrance - it involved fences and climbing.

All worked out well. Just as we started the clocks, Ben arrived.

Mike had the white pieces against Richard Liszewski. Richard defended Mike's King side and queen side attacks very solidly but fell badly behind on time in doing so. White took advantage of black time position and kept the game complicated enough to consume his remaining time. When black's flag fell white already has a winning position.

Phil was playing Trevor Holt in another scandinavian defence. Is there a Scandinavian defence declined, well there is now. It didn't seem to yield white any sort of advantage and Phil emerged out of the opening with a good position. Unfortunately white subsequently lost a piece accidently and resigned. Phil just didn't seem to appreciate winning quickly as he then had tp spend the next hour and half having to watch the other games. Some people are never happy.

Ben's game against Robert Wallman was the most interesting of the evening with each side attacking on opposite wings. Ben's attack was slightly more advanced but he had to sacrifice his knight for two pawns to open up the white position. Unfortunately, he couldn't find a clear way to break through. However, it was enough to get white to agree a draw rather than risk trying to pursue his own attack.

Dave had the white pieces against Richard Reynolds. Unfortunately he got stuck between two different plans and so his king side attack was too slow and allowed black to get his pieces in good defending squares. black's counter attack allowed him back into the game. With both side down to their last five minutes, black got the upper hand and some excellent sacrificial play proved decisive.

A good result for the B team and against a strong team just relegated from the top division.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Promising start to the season

It never rains unless it pours. The opponents for the first game against a different club turned out to be our promotion chasing friends from Banbury. With both clubs having two teams in division two, we are regular visitors to each other's clubs.

Our new look board order now features Mike on board one and he was playing Gary Jackson. Gary played the opening very quickly and Mike didn't. In a subtle manoeuvring game where both sides establish knights on c4 and c5 respectively, Mike gained a slight but lasting positional plus. Black's 30 minute time advantage ultimately disappeared leaving him short of time in the new time control world of all moves in 75 mins. In a few hurriedly played moves, black sacrificed an exchange to trap a rook. Unfortunately this activity allowed white to sacrifice the rook and promote a pawn on the other side of the board giving him a winning position.

On board two, Phil played a Scandinavian defence against Paul Rowan. Black gained a pawn in the opening but then had difficulty with his development. Ultimately, white regained the pawn and then another. The exchange of major pieces led to an opposite colour bishop ending with Phil was able to hold on for a draw.

Board three was Dave playing Dan Rowan. An Open Sicilain led to a complex position in the cnetre with black having an isolated pawn. Initial exchanges left black a pawn up but then allowed white to regain the pawn and enter a bishop and rook ending where he had a queen side majority. When the oppertunity arose white traded rooks and exchanged his queenside for a kingside one leaving a drawn ending.

Our new grade driven board order leaves Ben as a player floating between the B and C teams. On board four he was playing Francesco Poderico xxxn with the black pieces. White's over aggressive played allowed black to win a pawn and gain the bishop pair. White continued to attack relentlessly on the king side whilst black created threats on the queen side. An exchange sacrifice by white didn't quite work leaving black an easier tactical win.

All in all, it was quite an impressive result against strong opposition.

Classical Chess is Dead!

A dramatic claim I know, but what other explanation can there be for the A team's experience in our first match of the season away against Banbury A last night? All four games drawn - its obvious to me that when players of this strength (?) face off, its impossible for there to be a decisive outcome to any game. We just see everything; there are not even any slight errors; and certainly not any blunders!

And in fact, the writing was on the wall from the moment the team sheets were exchanged, and (I subsequently discovered) the two sides had exactly the same average grade. And when I say exactly, I mean exactly!

The first half point of the season was chalked up by the seldom-seen (except at curries and booze-ups) Andy after an interesting struggle against Carl Portman on Board 2. I was rather annoyed, as I thought Andy was clearly better with his bishops raking across the board and the white king looking rather draughty. Shows how much I know, though, as our man assured me afterwards that he was worse and glad to get out with a half point!

The return of Joshua to the Leamington League promises to generate some interesting chess - but it seems as though he used up too much of his creative juices last week in checkmating Bernard in the B v C team match, as here his best efforts to stir up a battle were resolutely defused by Neil Staples. Eventually the potential weakness of Josh's IQP were such that he felt he had to liquidate into an obviously drawn position.

Still, two draws with Black can't be all bad but in fact the omens were not that favourable, as Andrew seemed to be having a bit of an off day on Board 3 (maybe because he's become so used to the rarified atmosphere on Board 1 in recent seasons?) Arran Gundry snaffled a pawn with a fairly obvious cheapo, and the few times I went to check on progress, the material count was still not in our favour. But then I became rather fixated with my own game, and I lost track of Andrew's. Things must have happened, though, because I then heard him decline a draw offer. Either he was wildly optimistic or the pendulum had swung in our direction. Whatever, the potential of a precious victory didn't last long, because in two shakes of a lamb's tail, the third draw of the evening had been agreed.

Which normally would have been curtains for us, as I was in play against James Jackson on Board 1. Fortunately, though, I had made the game sufficiently turgid that he felt forced to sac a pawn to liven things up. He got a great knight established on c5 which dominated my rather pitiful bishop on c2, which was hemmed in by my collection of pawns all on white squares. Still, I had control of the open b file and we seemed to be on the verge of repeating moves, when at the last minute he deviated and on we went. It came down to queen and bishop v queen and knight, but I still had my extra pawn. As we both came under time pressure I took my chance to open up the Black kingside, and just in time my bishop liberated itself onto the h3-c8 diagonal and helped me force perpetual check. And for the record, I was still a pawn up!

So our hopes for a 100% season didn't even survive match one, but on the bright side we won't be scoring 0% either. Which for a glass half empty man like me, is a success in itself!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

I've been thinking

They say that the devil makes works for idle hands.

You know that when footballers are interviewed on tv about away games , they always refer back to the fixture at their home ground. However, they never just say their home ground name, they always some descriptive title for their venue - The Bridge, The Emirates, Anfield, Camp Nou or San Siro etc.

The grounds are always set out to be overtly unfriendly towards the visiting team and their supporters.

Well I've been thinking. Shouldn't we have a name for our venue. We could just use 'The Abbey' although I'm sure that other names are available.

We've already got a hostile home crowd - the snooker players. We are half way there!

Just a thought. Hopefully the chess fixtures will pick up a bit soon. Answers on a postcard please!

Chess Boxing?! Is He Completely Mad??

News reaches me of a dangerous venture into the unknown by our very own Paul Lam, as he is going to bravely go where no KCC member has ever gone before - into the boxing ring with the number one contender for the British heavyweight title! But there is method in his madness, which is best explained in Paul's own words:-

The big match is coming up! No, not Carlsen-Caruana…. On 26th September, I will be lacing up the gloves and stepping into the boxing ring with heavyweight pro and British boxing cult hero, Dave ‘The White Rhino’ Allen.

[This is where I thought about posting a picture of Dave 'The White Rhino' Allen, but just in case he might think it doesn't show his good side, I decided to be cautious. This way he can focus all his fighting instincts on Paul. Google him at your own risk!]

Why in God's name would I be doing such a thing?

Six-year-old Ben Crowther, the son of my good friend Scott, was recently diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. For those of you involved with the Coventry Chess Academy, Ben's name might ring a bell. That’s because Ben’s older brothers James and Harry have been members of our club and Ben enjoys a game or two as well, going back to when he used to play with the chess pieces on the floor as a baby in the pokey little room where it all began in 2013.Their whole family have been fantastic supporters of the CCA from the start, even before we opened.

You can only imagine the tough times Ben and his family are going through right now, but the strength and positivity they’re showing is awe-inspiring. I'm just doing my bit in support.

All funds raised from the boxing event with Dave will go towards the charities supporting Ben as he undergoes treatment, which are CLIC Sargent, Birmingham Children's Hospital and Charity, Molly Olly's Wishes, Children with Cancer UK and the Chris Lucas Trust Rhabdomyosarcoma Appeal.

In addition to doing rounds with Dave, we will also be having a chess match (he’s seriously motivated!).

You can read the full story and make a donation online here.
Any amount donated, whether large or small, will go towards making a big difference, but please don't feel under any pressure to do so. Simply sharing the link, spreading the word or passing on a message of support would also make a difference. In the words of Ben's family:

‘During Ben’s long road to recovery, we know that smiles, laughter and general silliness is helping him through, so we are raising money, generating pledges and increasing awareness so we can all do something to ‘Pass The Smile’ to others.

Paul's fund-raising effort is already making impressive progress, and hopefully KCC members can help push him above and beyond his target. With any luck, there will be enough left over to buy some smelling salts, which I fear will be needed - for Dave Allen, of course, after Paul has floored him with a swift kingside attack!

Good luck, Paul - and make sure the headguard is on nice and tight.