Monday, 26 January 2015

New grades

January 2015 grades are now available:

Kenilworth grades

I couldn't see any particularly major changes, with the most obvious probably being Phil's slow climb back towards the grade he really should have been on all along. There is usually very heavy traffic on the site the first couple of days, so don't be surprised if you don't find it that easy to view them at the moment.

Friday, 2 January 2015

A Christmas present from Daventry

A slightly delayed report from the final Kenilworth A game of 2014. However, I believe there are more than enough ridiculous events to report from the match to make it worth the wait. Unusually for one of our matches, on this occasion these events occurred on the top two boards whilst Phil and myself, the standard culprits, produced almost sensible looking games of chess. It also gives me a chance to get my own back on Paul and Mark, who have spent far too much of this season mocking my own continuous blundering of pieces.
To get the less interesting games out of the way first, Phil on board four was black and played one of his standard openings, namely 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nc6. As far as I am aware this sequence of moves does not have a name, but whether we call it a reversed Verisov or an accelerated Chigorin, the main fact is it’s not very good, as black gives up any obvious way to put pressure on the centre. I meanwhile, had played a much more sensible line as white on board 3, namely 1. d3 c5 2. f4. I think we can all agree this is much closer to how chess should be played. Regardless of the merits of these individual openings, neither of our opponents appeared to be in particularly good form, both giving away material early and soon falling into mating attacks, leaving us 2-0 up very early in the match.
Feeling confident at this point, I strolled over to glance at Paul’s game. I noticed what appeared to be a fairly level position in his game against Chris Ross. I was however, somewhat less thrilled when I realised he had managed to leave himself with only 30 seconds left for 12 moves. Impressively, and probably due to his extensive experience of ridiculous time pressure, Paul managed to make the moves in time but, probably unsurprisingly, he passed the time control with a completely lost position. Specifically, Chris had three connected past pawns on the queenside versus Paul’s one on the kingside which not only couldn’t move, but could be taken by either a knight or king if it ever did.
I was about to turn away in disinterest and disgust when I noticed something interesting. Due to Chris’s visual impairment they were playing with two boards, a standard one for Paul and a tactile one for Chris, with each player making both his and his opponent’s moves on both boards. It was now I realised that, in Paul’s time scramble, they had managed to end up with different positions on both boards, with Paul thinking a black pawn was on a7, and Chris having it on a6. At one horrible moment, the spectre of Paul playing Nb5 reared its head, and it subsequently being captured by a pawn he thought was on a7. To make matters worse, Paul hadn’t been keeping score in his time trouble, and Chris was recording on an electronic device it’s not easy to get the moves back from, so we might have had no way to find out which position was correct. Perhaps fortuitously however, Paul’s position was just so dire he resigned before any of these events came to past, leaving the match depending on the result on board 2.
And so to that game, which was perhaps one of the oddest games I have ever seen by players of this strength. After an impressively insipid opening (e4 c5 d3) by white, Mark as black got a very nice space advantage in the early middlegame. There then followed a period of intense manoeuvring as both players carefully manoeuvred their pieces to worse and worse squares, getting them blocked off or tied down to defending pawns. We join the game at the time control, where Mark is just in the process of miscalculating and forcing himself into a worse endgame.

For anyone who couldn’t find the winning move for white at move 48, it was Nf6. The point is that whether black takes the knight or not, white will play Be4 on the next move, stopping the pawns, and will then be able to walk his king over and take them at leisure. A brilliant if perhaps slightly undeserved swindle, and we somehow managed to stumble over the line to a 2.5-1.5 victory. I’m looking forward to more horrendously unsound games in the New Year, and hoping they won’t all be mine.