Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Great Coventry League Adventure, 2015-16

We are now less than 2 months away from our debut in the Coventry League. Thanks to the very helpful interventions of Mike Johnson, our path into the League has been smoothed, and we have been fast-tracked straight into Division 1. The fixtures are now out and our small, but intrepid squad can finally see where we will be spending 14 thrilling Tuesday nights between early October and next March 2016:-

Oct 06   Rugby A (A)
Oct 13 University A (H)
Oct 20 University B (A)
Nov 03  Nuneaton B (H)
Nov 10 Coventry B (H)
Nov 17 Nuneaton A (A)
Nov 24 Coventry A (A)

Jan 12 University B (H)
Jan 19 Rugby A (H)
Jan 26  Coventry B (A)
Feb 02   Coventry A (H)
Feb 16  Nuneaton A (H)
Feb 23 Nuneaton B (A)
Mar 1  University A (A)

We also have the delights of the KO Cup to look forward to and the dates for this (most of which will probably not concern us!) are:-

Dec 8 - Round 1
Mar 8 - Quarter Final
Apr 5 - Semi Final

Apr 12 - Final

Hopefully the Webmaster, when he recovers from his amazing 14 successive days of blogging from the British Championships, will also find some corner of a Kenilworth website which can be forever the Coventry League fixtures.

You can follow our results here, but in any event I will endeavour to provide a prompt report of each match throughout the season, as we boldly go where no Kenilworth team has gone before. I'm sure the select few, we band of brothers, will do everything to live up to the club's ambitious mission statement, which so inspired the D team in the Leamington League last season - "Let's try not to come last!"

2015-16 Leamington League Fixtures now out

The Leamington League fixtures have now been published for the coming season and can be found here - and very shortly on this website too, once the Webmaster gets around to it!

We kick off the season early in September with two mega-matches. On Monday the 7th, the B and C teams will go head to head at the Abbey Club, in what will be the first internecine Kenilworth war since I joined the club three years ago. This should be an epic encounter, and hopefully we will not see any pusillanimous, short draws. Fight to the death, comrades - to the death!

The A team season commences the day afterwards with an away match at defending champions Olton. We were the only team to lower their colours in the league last year, when we finally got our act together in the second half of the season. Here's hoping for a similar outcome!

The D team will join the action a couple of weeks later, starting with a home derby against Leamington D on September 21.

In the Open KO Cup, we have been drawn at home to Olton on October 5th. What on earth are the League Chairman and the League Secretary doing?! Being "impartial" and "hands off" it would appear!! I don't know; Rangers and Celtic never get drawn against each other in the first round.

The U-700 team have also been handed a tough draw, away to Solihull (October 7th), while the U-120 squad have been drawn away to Stratford II on October 22nd.

Exciting times - after going, so far, 6 days without a competitive chess game I already can't wait to get started again! I'm sure a Match Captain near you will be in touch to check on your availability for the early matches. On which point, please make every effort to attend the Team Formation Meeting at the Abbey Club on Monday August 24th (7.30 pm start). And please bring your £10 subs with you if you haven't paid already!

Good luck to all for the season ahead.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Fourteen (Finale)

We should begin today with a very quick mention of the winner of the championship itself: GM Jonathan Hawkins. Four players were tied for first before the final round: Hawkins, Howell, Gormally and Nick Pert (who was actually playing his twin brother in the final round), but Hawkins was the only one who managed to win, thus clinching the title. And, as ever when Hawkins wins anything, it is always worth pointing out that at the age of 20, he only had an ECF grade of 160. Perhaps there is still hope for us all yet. Most importantly, this means I won my bet with Paul, who asserted that Howell was going to win the tournament, so I've at least made back £5 of the money I invested in the tournament.

Moving on to the Kenilworth games, as was mentioned yesterday, Paul needed a win today to qualify to play in the championship again next year. Playing black against FM Charles Storey, he seemed to get in trouble right out of the opening. His opponent had a very interesting idea against Paul's Nimzowitsch Defence, giving up both his bishops to shatter the black pawn structure. Having built up a very nice advantage, however, something strange started to happen, as he began playing faster and more carelessly, and started to allow Paul back into the game. Sadly, Paul's chances to equalise all came in his customary time trouble (after 22 moves Paul had two minutes left, and his opponent an hour and ten minutes), and he wasn't able to find the necessary moves. Sad to end on a defeat, but his overall 50% score is still a creditable performance (almost exactly what his grade would predict). And as for failing to qualify, would you really wish to spend your two week summer holiday in Bournemouth anyway. I'm sure Paul won't mind if I steal his own words to sum up the day:

"Finished the British Chess Championship with 5.5/11, a fair reflection of my pre-tournament ranking. Needed to win in the final round against FIDE Master Charlie Storey to finish on 6.5 points and secure qualification for next year's Championship, and ended up playing my worst game in the whole event. Even when he erred and gave me chances, I just couldn't pull the trigger. Deeply disappointed in myself. Fought my ass off for ten rounds in some terrific slugfests with almost all the games going the full distance, but when it really mattered I just didn't turn up..."

Mark, on the other hand, finished the tournament on a high, with his second straight win. His opponent was the promising junior Alex Golding, who began the tournament with some excellent results, but has been gradually going downhill since then. Almost the exact opposite of Mark in every way. In true junior style, his motivation appeared to have been slightly sapped by the final round, and he played the whole game at an unnecessarily fast pace. Perhaps his hope may have been to push Mark into the time trouble he has been getting into for much of the tournament, but the net result was simply to play some quite weak moves, which Mark took full advantage of. He was at least slightly better for almost the entire game, and made no mistake in converting his advantage. After a disastrous start, finishing on 4.5/11 represents a good recovery.

In my morning game, I tried to play sensible chess, got completely outplayed, and lost. In the afternoon, I think I may have been a bit demob happy, and the game took on a very Royal Oak appearance (my 8th, 9th and 10th moves were respectively g4, f4 and h4). Sadly, after this exciting start the game rather petered out, and a draw was agreed after little more than 30 moves. My overall percentage across all the games I played in the tournament (classical, rapid and blitz) was 53%, so I will consider that a success. Kenilworth as a team didn't quite make it to the 50% threshold (our performances in the blitz really let us down), but we did finish above 50% in classical chess.

Thanks to everyone for reading, and I look forward to reporting on the championships again in 30 years time, when it is next due back in the area.

Overall summary:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 56.5/121 (46.7%)
Total score by Kenilworth players in classical chess: 28.5/55 (51.8%)
Score against titled players: 1.5/7

My personal performance:
Played: 43
Wins: 19
Losses: 16
Draws: 8
Well played endgames: 13
Atrocious blunders: 11
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

Friday, 7 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Thirteen

I think it is only fair that we start today by talking about Mark's game, seeing as he finally achieved his first win of the tournament. As white, Mark played the Grand Prix attack against his opponents Sicilian, which soon transposed into a more traditional Closed Sicilian after Mark played g3. He seemed to get quite a pleasant position out of the opening, but it was unclear if it was going to be a large enough advantage for him to realistically be able to push for a win. This uncertainty persisted into the endgame, which eventually came down to a rook and 2 pawns for Mark, against a bishop and 4 pawns for his opponent. The structure was sufficiently locked that there was no chance of Mark ever losing the position, but it also didn't look as if it would be possible for him to make progress. Fortunately however, around this point, his opponent started to play some very dubious moves, gradually repositioning his pieces on to worse and worse squares, and giving Mark every reason to keep playing on. After not being able to convert a number of promising positions in previous games, the fear was another win would slip from his grasp, but on this occasion he was not to be denied and took advantage of his opponent's mistakes to wrap up the victory.

Paul, needing 1.5 from his final 2 games to qualify to play in the main championship again next year, found himself playing white against WIM Heather Richards. He seemed to get a nice little edge out of the opening, and then swung out with an exciting (and potentially even sound) rook sacrifice. Whilst objectively it probably should only have been good enough for equality, black faced a very difficult defense, didn't find the best moves, and ended up in a very bad endgame, down a pawn and with worse placed pieces. Hopes were high for Paul at this point, but sadly his endgame technique, at least in this game, could not be described as immaculate. After an unfortunately timed exchange of rooks gave away much of his advantage, the path to victory (if indeed one was available at all) became very narrow. From this point on she seemed to defend well, and despite his best efforts Paul was eventually forced to settle for a draw. This means he now needs a win in the final round, as black against FM Charles Storey. A difficult pairing to be sure, but he is at least a sufficiently aggressive player that you always feel you might have winning chances as black.

My two games today can be summed up in one sentence. In the first my opponent blundered a piece, hence I won; in the second I blundered a piece, and hence I lost. My could be said on the matter about how complicated the positions were and how they were understandable oversights, but really there is no excuse for quite how badly played both of these two games were. Still, I suppose, since both of my opponents were higher graded than me, a win and a loss, through whatever means, should still be regarded as a decent result.

I know I said that I wasn't going to include any more of my games on these updates, but I am nothing if not a liar. I felt I had to show this next one, simply because of how quickly my strong opponent manages to blunder a piece in the opening. I can only assume, given the general lowering in quality of games I've been seeing over the last couple of days, that people are starting to get fatigued and losing concentration.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 55/117
Score against titled players: 1.5/6

My personal performance:
Played: 41
Wins: 19
Losses: 15
Draws: 7
Well played endgames: 12
Atrocious blunders: 11
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

Thursday, 6 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Twelve

Today was perhaps the most successful day for Kenilworth in the championships thus far, with an overall score of 3.5/4. Paul got the ball rolling with his win over very promising junior Koby Kalavannan (2170 at age 13). Me and Paul are probably going to have a disagreement about how good his opening was, with Paul thinking it gave him good practical chances, and me thinking he was just considerably worse fairly quickly. What cannot be doubted, however, is that after a terrible blunder on move 27 (I would imagine time trouble induced), Paul ended up with a completely lost position (the computer says -5). Fortunately, his opponent was generous enough to immediately return the favour, then proceeded to give away sufficient material that he got himself into a bad endgame by force. Paul was not about to miss his opportunity so, after making the time control with no further disasters, he was able to easily convert the position an exchange up for no compensation.

Mark appears to have overcome his early tournament slump, and is now playing considerably better chess. Today he managed to equalise as black almost immediately out of the opening, a King's Indian Defence. I actually expected the game to end in a very early draw, but either one player managed to convince himself he was better, or they both simply kept playing on out of inertia. After a while, a more interesting endgame did actually occur, with equal pawns and a knight for each side, but a slight structural imbalance. Of all equal material endgames, knight ones are probably the easiest in which to go wrong, simply because of the potential forks, as well as frequent transitions to king and pawn endgames, in which a single tempo loss can be enough to bring a decisive result. Eventually Mark was able to win his opponent's knight, but doing so meant his king was stuck on completely the opposite side of the board from the remaining pawns, so he could do nothing else but rush back to secure the draw, after his opponent cleared out all the pawns left on the board. A much more interesting game that I originally expected it to be, but probably always one in which the overall balance was maintained.

As for myself, my morning game also looked as if it was going to be a quick draw as my opponent, playing white, more or less forced the game into an entirely equal rook endgame right out of the opening. Indeed he did offer me a draw, which I only declined because I didn't feel I'd got my money's worth out of the entry fee by only playing for an hour. However, as so often happened when you are convinced the position is an easy draw, he started to get careless and managed to force himself into a very passive position, which I was able to convert to a winning king and pawn endgame, and was able to finish with a nice temporary pawn sacrifice. Sadly, I cannot put this game down as a well played game on my part as I actually missed the winning move the first time it was available, and was fortunate that my opponent gave me a second chance to play it, rather than finding the more precise defence that almost certainly led to a draw. In the afternoon my win was more straightforward, with a kingside attack leading to a win of material, and hence the game, in fairly short order. Not particularly memorable except for the fact that my opponent was an FM (even if, by rating, a particularly weak one), making this my first win over a titled player, and the first by a Kenilworth player in this tournament.

Continuing our theme of opening disasters, here is how to win with the French Defence in only 14 moves, though perhaps it might not work against best play.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 52.5/113
Score against titled players: 1/5

My personal performance:
Played: 39
Wins: 18
Losses: 14
Draws: 7
Well played endgames: 11
Atrocious blunders: 9
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Eleven

A much more solid set of performances were put in by the Kenilworth contingent today, to varying degrees of satisfaction. Paul will probably be the most disappointed person at only achieving a draw, simply because of how good a position he obtained out of the opening. After Paul played a mainline Dunst (1. Nc3 d5 2. e4 d4 3. Nce2) it did not appear that his opponent knew the correct plans to adopt in the position, wasting quite a number of moves shuffling his knights around, and giving Paul time to build up a nice initiative on the kingside. Unfortunately, at the crucial moment, where a continuation was available that would win material by force, Paul failed to play it at the position soon swung back to equality. Whilst in normal circumstances missing a non-obvious winning move would not be a disaster, it was particularly disappointing as Paul had in fact seen the moved, and did realize how strong it was. Unfortunately, he also saw another move which he thought provided an equal simple advantage. Sadly, it did not.

Mark, I would imagine, will be somewhat more contented with his solid draw with the black pieces. As black, he played what I think can only be described as a Warwickshire specialty (given how many players from the area use the line), a reversed Grand Prix attack against the English Opening (1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 f5). I don't know if the opening has any other names, but I very rarely see it played by anyone from outside the Kenilworth and Coventry clubs. It did, however, seem to provide Mark with a perfectly adequate position, and more importantly he also had much more time on the clock than he has had in many of his previous games. I don't know if this was a conscious decision or simply a result of getting into a position he understood better, but fortunately on this occasion time trouble induced blunders were avoided, and a draw was soon reached.

I had a slightly unpleasant experience in my morning game, where I misplayed the move order in the opening quite badly, and ended up having to give up a piece for two pawns to avoid falling into  a very passive position. My two extra pawns were, however, connected central pawns and hence I still had good chances of holding the game, even as we went into an endgame of rook and knight against rook. The computer seems to tell me that with precise play a draw can be held, but in practice the extra piece gives the defender so many chances to go wrong, and unsurprisingly I went wrong, getting my king cut off on the side of the board, leaving my rook far too much work to do to hold the game. There is absolutely nothing interesting to be said about my afternoon game. My opponent was white, messed up the opening, and basically forced an immediate draw, which I couldn't really avoid. The shortest standardplay game I've had so far in tournament (and short than quite a few of the rapidplay games).

Just the very end of a game from the championship to show you today, as evidence that it is not just us who manage to blunder horribly in approximately level positions. Black is absolutely fine, but after one terrible move he is forced to resign instantly.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 49/109
Score against titled players: 0/4

My personal performance:
Played: 37
Wins: 16
Losses: 14
Draws: 7
Well played endgames: 11
Atrocious blunders: 9
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Ten

Today was not the most successful day for Kenilworth in the championship. Paul, after his victory yesterday, was once gain back amongst the higher boards and hence due a difficult opponent, FM Peter Batchelor. Paul's brand of offbeat openings with black has been serving him well against weaker players in this tournament but, for the second time, when up against a stronger opponent it has backfired. That is not to say his position was terrible, but it was cramped and lacking any real active plans he could pursue. Without Paul making any obvious mistakes, he was slowly pushed back into a worse and worse position, until finally a transition was made into a queen endgame which, despite starting with the same number of pawns for each side, was completely lost due to the holes in the black structure. I may not be the appropriate person to give this idea, but perhaps some more work on main line openings for black is in order.

Despite the final result, the fact it was up against a strong player means it can hardly be regarded as a disaster. Mark's, on the other hand, was a whole lot more depressing simply because of how good his position appeared to be for most of the game. It looked to me that his opponent made a horrible mess of the opening, ending up with a knight on e7 pinned to his king on e8, a bishop trapped behind the knight on f8 and, to make matters worse, another bishop stuck on g6 meaning he couldn't even fianchetto to develop the bishop that way. It is, of course, entirely possible I was misreading the position and it wasn't as good as it appeared, but I kept coming over and expecting Mark to be up a piece, as it just looked like there was no way black could escape from the tangle he had made for himself. Sadly, though, Mark's perennially issues with time trouble resurfaced, and in a scramble before the time control not only did black manage to liberate his position, but also grabbed a pawn which ultimately proved to be enough to decide the game in his favour.

With two defeats on the board and the over 65s event now finished, this left me in the unenviable position of being the club's only hope for a win. Fortunately, I was able to mange not one, but two, after both of my opponents managed to get themselves in horrible time control, which they could not cope with. The pattern of both games was remarkably similar, with long, slow, maneuvering middlegames where for a long time nothing appeared t be happening. These are usually the type of games in which I horribly blunder due to there being too many pieces to think about, but thanks to my opponent's poor time handling I was actually able to obtain an extra pawn in both games. Despite both endgames (one a rook, one a rook and bishop) almost certainly being drawn with best play, no such play was forthcoming, and so I managed to rescue Kenilworth back to a 50% score for the day.

Mike has sent me some annotations for one of the games he was played, so I will leave the last words on this report to him.

"Attached is a game-not the best or worst etc but simply a reasonable one to address the situation when a lower rated player with White plays ultra solidly to try and draw. So a game where Black tries to make something out of not a lot. Notes have been much reduced from my more detailed ones."

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 47.5/105

My personal performance:
Played: 35
Wins: 16
Losses: 13
Draws: 6
Well played endgames: 11
Atrocious blunders: 8
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

Monday, 3 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Nine

Today was a rest day from all the main events of the tournament, and hence this will be a relatively short report. The only event with Kenilworth participation today was the blitz event, now officially retitled with British Blitz Championship. Sadly, the event was not a rousing success for any of the three of us playing in it with Mike, after a terrible start, scoring 3.5/11, Ben 4/11 and myself 5/11. I feel the whole squad is going to have to buck up its ideas if we are going to claw our way back to 50% overall by the end of the event, as we are now someway off the pace.

The only real bright spark of the whole event, for myself, is that I have pretty much guaranteed myself a win in the worst move in the tournament competition. In the final round, with my score on 50%, I blundered the exchange early in the game (causing Paul to walk away from my board in disgust), but then proceeded to outplay my opponent, reaching the position below. The first thing to notice is that c7+ wins instantly, as white will queen in at most a couple of moves. Points will be awarded to anyone who can work out which move I in fact played, which in my head was going to lead to the same result (spoiler alert, it did not, and it let to a completely lost endgame).

The other point of interest in the day was that Paul, Roy and myself (plus some others from the University chess club) attended a quiz in the evening, one of the side events organised alongside the championship. Despite our great disappointment at there not being a chess round (all that time spent learning Wilhelm Steinitz's mother's maiden name for nothing), we did manage to come equal first. You might think I would be pleased by that result, but how much better it could have been if people had listened to me when I told them that the Shakespeare play with a horse it in called White Surrey was Richard III. I mean really, who chooses to write down King Lear instead; the man spends the entire play walking around on foot as a beggar, that's the whole point. Anyway, I'm not bitter; I'm not bitter at all.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 45.5/101

My personal performance:
Played: 33
Wins: 14
Losses: 13
Draws: 6
Well played endgames: 9
Atrocious blunders: 8
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

Saturday, 1 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Eight

After something of a disaster yesterday, Kenilworth rallied and put in a much better performance this afternoon, with not a single defeat for any of the five people playing. Paul got the team off to a fine start, slowly outplaying his opponent right from the opening, gaining considerably more space and piece activity without, as far as I could see, any meaningful compensation for his opponent. Even managing to avoid his customary slide into time trouble, by move 29 he was two pawns up, with the bishop pair, and his opponent had a cramped position, misplaced pieces and an exposed king. I don't think he can be blamed for not wanting to play on any further. Mark's game was interesting right out of the opening (he played the Dutch Defence), and an intriguing late middlegame/early endgame position was reached, where both sides had central passed pawns, supported by queens and rooks. I became slightly nervous for Mark's position at one point, as it appeared his opponent was able to push his pawn rather faster. However, with both sides suffering from slightly exposed kings, neither side was able to both push their pawn and keep their king safe from checks at the same time, and hence a draw was forced without too many alarms. A good recovery from Mark, against a strong player, after his travails of the previous day.

The final round of the over 65s also took place today, with both Bernard and Mike having games that seemed to symbolise their entire tournaments. Bernard's was an open attacking game (also a Dutch Defence), with both sides playing aggressively, with Bernard eventually able to win two pieces for a rook. Those two pieces also happened to be a pair of bishops, meaning he had a considerable advantage in a endgame, which he duly converted. Mike on the other hand, after choosing the Pirc Defence, had a very cagey affair, with both sides pushing for an advantage at some point, but with the balance never appearing to be disturbed too much one way or the other. In line with many of his games from the later part of this tournament, a draw always appeared to be the likely result, and so it ultimately proved. The final scores were 4/6 for Bernard and 2.5/6 for Mike.

Postscript. After writing the above I received correspondence from Mike, which gives an entirely different perspective on the game from the one I gave above (which was, admittedly, only based on the occasional glance at the board). In the interests of balance I shall present his words too, and you can decide which ones to believe:

"Well today was by far the most interesting game to date. Once again a very heavy theoretical dual involving subtle move orders. My opponent Mike Tunstall ranked 8 (exploiting my half recalled theory from a decade ago) as White came up with a very inventive way of attacking my fianchetto kings side-Qg5 and g4 which generated innumerable chances to sac on f5, g6 and f7 as well as winning my queen with tactical Ne8+ and Nf5+ ideas).

Having to defend very accurately for some 12-15 moves was no fun but all points were held successfully aka Sultan Khan style. When the storm finally broke with a sac on f7 my defences just held to retain the extra piece. However it was not easy at all to activate the knights and I chose to return some booty (a rook for knight to have 2Kts for a rook). Sadly with each player running out of time (interestingly with me a few minutes to the advantage!) it was noted by both players that White could just contain the two knight by repeatedly attacking two weak pawns leaving the knights inactive and simply  holding the kings defence together. A draw was thus agreed.

So my first otb game a day tournament since 1984 , ranked 20th and finishing equal 23. Passable I guess except for missing wins against the players ranked 2 and 6.

btw Mark needs to be more schoolmasterly in dealing with these near IM children he has had to play-he will then show his true strength and win some more games."

If anyone can explain the Sultan Khan reference to me next week at the Royal Oak, I would be much obliged.

Finally, with the U180 championship having finished yesterday, I found myself slightly bereft with only one game to play. I decided I would rather like a day off without having to put in too much effort so decided to play my pet favourite, the Balogh Defence (1. e4 d4 2. d4 f5), which duly brought me the standard draw, without too many alarms to concern myself with.

Today's game from the championship will be another that ended in a swift mating attack. I found this one interesting because, after a short tactical flurry in the opening, it appeared to settle down into a position with not too much going on for either side. I was therefore rather surprised, when I came back 15 minutes or so afterwards, to find the game had ended in checkmate. A salutary lesson about the dangers of moving too many pieces away from the defence of one's king.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 33/68

My personal performance:
Played: 22
Wins: 10
Losses: 8
Draws: 4
Well played endgames: 7
Atrocious blunders: 5

British Championship Update - Day Seven

I think it is fair to say that this was not the strongest day Kenilworth has had in the tournament thus far. It began with Paul, who had a rematch with FM James Jackson, who he beat in the Leamington League this past season. However, in that game Paul had white, whilst in this he found himself on the defensive early on with black, with a space disadvantage and his opponent having the bishop pair. I think it has been commented on before that Paul is not someone who likes defending for a long time and will often lash out, sometimes unsoundly, to try and complicate matters rather than attempt to hold a difficult endgame. Already in this tournament he has a couple of times offered unsound piece sacrifices close to the time control, which he has got away with as his opponents haven't been able find the refutation in the times available. He tried the same again this game, sacrificing a piece on move 38 (the time control is move 40) but on this occasion the extra class of his opponent was evident, as he simply collected the piece, dispelled the small amount of initiative it gave Paul, and collected the full point.

I also have a comment from Mark on his game today: "I was +6 today and lost. I hate chess." Whilst not necessarily all that informative about the game, I believe it probably captures the emotions all of us have felt over time rather well. In brief, Mark got a small advantage out of the opening (an exchange French, with him playing white), and sacrificed a piece for a dangerous attack around move 20. The important thing to note is that at this point both players had around 5 minutes (plus the 30 second increment) for the remaining 20 moves. Whilst it is sometimes stated that short on time it is better to be the player attacking, I have found this often isn't the case in practice. Unless you have direct tactical threats, once you have sacrificed material it is often necessary to be very precise for the next few moves to not let the initiative dissipate. Sadly, in this game, once the time control was reached, Mark had gone from a piece down with lots of play to just a piece down. with nothing left to be done to avoid defeat.

My game in the morning provided the only win for a Kenilworth player today, as I grabbed an exchange early on in a French defence, then grimly hung on for the next 40 moves as my opponent went on the attack. I was eventually able to escape from the pressure by returning the exchange, and ended up a pawn up in a rook endgame. Whilst I am reasonably confident that it should have been drawn in theory, my opponent didn't seem to know the appropriate technique and hence I was able to pick up the full point without much difficulty. The afternoon provided almost the exact reverse; as this time it was my turn to sacrifice in the opening (a pawn in the Caro-Kann) but, despite having pressure on my opponents king the whole game, there was no way through and this time I found myself a pawn down in an endgame, and this time it definitely was lost. I think the lesson to learn, from Mark's game and both of mine, is that one should never sacrifice material, as it doesn't end well.Finally, on to the over 65s, and Bernard had a very exciting game, with both players attacking on opposite sides of the boards, and pieces ending up on a variety of eccentric squares (a black bishop spent a lot of the game mysteriously on f7. It was the sort of game that was never likely to end in a draw, but unfortunately it was Bernard who came off worse in the ensuing tactical complications.

Today's report from our field correspondent (Mike) on his own game goes as follows: "Today's Rd5 game was far more interesting. I played a more flexible idea in a line (where Black plays d6/e5 v Nf3/d4) compared to a well published game of mine from the finals of the British corr ch 1991! (which was published in Chess and at least 3 other mags and in all the databases etc). This generated a queen-side attack (that seems more promising on first look than some very stodgy GM games in this opening) which led to great pressure on the pawn on a7 and domination of the c-file (which allowed me to offer a queen to mate on the back rank-however my opponent declined it and came up with a excellent defensive idea that held on and on over 20 moves of pressure. The game finally liquidated in a curious R+P ending in which each player had a guarded passes pawn but neither player could advance so the point was shared (even though I had 12 minutes advantage on the clock in the final time slot!)"

If I've said it once (and I'm not sure I actually have) I've said it a thousand times; if you play Nf3 and d4 as the first two moves, you have been sufficiently unadventurous that a draw is all you deserve. Overall, not the most successful day from our collection of players, and we clearly need to buck our ideas up if we are going to reach our target score of 50% for the club.

I think the biggest story from the main Championship so far is the success of a couple of junior players, 11 year old Alex Golding and 14 year old Akshaya Kalaiyalahan, both on 3.5/5 after victories over much higher rated opposition in round 5. They certainly seem like promising prospects for the future, which is good news as England doesn't appear to be overstocked with talented youngsters at the moment. The game I will publish however, is the entertaining 16 move win by WIM Sabrina Chevannes, clearly adopting the Swiss gambit, losing her first three games but now coming back with two successive victories. The Caro-Kann isn't normally an opening you associate with quick wins for black, but on this occasion white goes horribly wrong with 14. Ng3, and blunders straight into mate.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 29.5/63

My personal performance:
Played: 21
Wins: 10
Losses: 8
Draws: 3
Well played endgames: 6
Atrocious blunders: 5