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

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