Thursday, 25 February 2016

Gatwick Turns Pink!

A stunning success to report for Joshua (remember him?) as he scooped sole first prize at the e2e4 Gatwick U-1950 weekender with a perfect score of 5/5. This triumph secured him the not inconsiderable first prize of £500 - and a Tournament Performance Rating of 2558!! Very annoying to see him described as a Stockport player, though. They probably can't even remember his name yet - it was us who made him what he is today, through countless lessons at The Royal Oak and The Engine. We demand some of the reflected glory!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Back To Winning Ways

It looks like a narrow win on paper, but in truth our 2.5-1.5 victory over Nuneaton B in the Coventry League was quite comprehensive. At one stage it looked as though we might win 4-0, or maybe 3-1 if things went wrong, but after some cruel twists it ended up coming down to the last game - mine, of course - before we triumphed by the minimum margin.

Ben led from the front yet again, winning a piece early on when his opponent miscalculated, and then winning another piece around the time control to confirm the victory and put us 1-0 up. But then the wheels began to come off.

First Dave could only draw after seeming to be in total control against Mike Maher. White tried to attack all over the board with pawns on a4, b4, c4, d4 and e4, and then throwing in h4 soon afterwards. But Dave dismantled the over extended White centre, refuted the attack and won a pawn. However, possibly distracted by Mike's horrendous time trouble, something went wrong and it was only a draw.

Then it got even worse, as from nowhere Carl got mated by Dave Kearney. The position from the opening had been super boring, but Carl slowly gained the upper hand, trying to prove that his bishop was better than the White knight. All the kingside pawns eventually came off as the game entered a double rook ending, where I thought Carl was pressing. But looking away for a minute or two I was horrified to then discover that all his good work had been undone and his king had been mated in the middle of the board. Disaster, and really unfortunate after so much effort to try and make progress. A draw could have been had for the asking at any stage.

Luckily, though, I chose the evening to get my first league win since the third week of the season - and that's a long time ago! Maurice Staples went badly wrong in the opening, and though queens were exchanged early, the Black king was wandering around looking very vulnerable. I missed a chance to win a pawn and open up the position, and he'd almost extricated himself from the worst of his problems, but then right before the time control he fell for a cheapo that won the exchange and the Rook v Bishop ending was easily winning for me.

With one league game left, we seem certain to finish sixth, but right on the heels of Coventry A, Rugby A and even Nuneaton A, so we can feel reasonably proud of our debut season. And there's still the KO Cup to aim for!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

St Valentine's Day +2 Massacre

There was plenty of blood spilt on the carpet at the Abbey Club last night, but regretfully all of it was ours. And most of it was mine. At the end of the evening Nuneaton A went back home (or in Andrew Paterson's case, off to Plymouth - is he mad??) with a 3.5-0.5 pts win.

I was on the receiving end of a right shellacking from Andrew P - these internecine battles are taking their toll on me. But at least I haven't been tempted to spoil good friendships by beating any of my sometime team-mates. Pity they haven't felt constrained to adopt a similar approach. I played a very risky opening in response to the Kitchen Sink variation employed against me, and I was basically swept from the board, as Andy kept finding very nice tactics to cash in on my exposed king.

Mike had finished slightly earlier after a draw on Board 2 against Tony Green. He seemed to have a persistent edge against Tony's Chigorin Variation of the QGD, but Black defended well, and just after the time control Mike sensibly offered a draw as the game was in danger of turning against him.

Carl went down on Board 3 to Paul Davies. Doubtless reading this in exile 'oop North, Joshua will be relieved to learn that Carl abandoned the line of the Caro Kan which had so upset him recently, but the Scandinavian didn't serve him much better - Phil is presumably available to give lessons on this opening if required. It eventually came down to an ending of bishop v night, with White having an extra pawn. The next time I looked White had about four extra pawns and Carl resigned.

And so to Ben on Board 4, going for a double over Colin Green. For much of the game it looked as though he would do it, as he was pressing strongly in the middle game, and both players felt that White must have missed a win. But it came down to a rook ending with 4 pawns each, though Ben's pawns were all isolated and he looked to be struggling. With no time on his clock, though, he outplayed Colin and managed to emerge a pawn up. However, Black's one remaining pawn got to c3, and when Ben needed to go Rc8 to stop it he didn't. Instead the Black pawn queened and Ben discovered to his horror that if he queened his own f pawn it was mate in one. A very unlucky loss, but once again Ben led the way in fighting, aggressive chess.

So a real hiding for the team, and we can only hope that next week Nuneaton B are rather less formidable than their A team!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Warwickshire Open Chess Championships 2016

Hurry, hurry, hurry! The above event, being organised by former KCC member Ed Goodwin, is being held on Saturday March 5th and Sunday March 6th at Coventry Rugby Club, Butts Road, Coventry.

There are sections for everyone - Open; U-170; U-145; and U-120.

The more of us who can support this excellent, and exceedingly local, event the better. So far I see that as well as me, Ben, Andrew P and Joshua something or other are playing. Come and join us!

Full details, and on-line entry, at

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Farce or Tragedy?

Last night we drew 2-2 at home against Coventry A in the Coventry League.

Star man in what was a cross between Whitehall farce and Greek tragedy was the inimitable Roy Watson. At 19.35 three of our team were present but the fourth was not. Just to be on the safe side I rang Roy at home, expecting to hear that he was on his way. Roy answered the phone which was not a good sign. Claiming he knew nothing about being selected (not correct as he has subsequently contritely admitted!), he nevertheless promised to rush to the Abbey Club to play.

He arrived and gradually got a good position, building up an attack on the black king along the half open g file. Eventually he saw a brilliancy and sacrificed on g7. But he had failed to notice a black rook guarding the square from a7. Suddenly white was a rook down. Then Black could have won the White queen but didn't. Then he could have given mate but didn't. Then he incarcerated his own queen on a3 and Roy started checking the black king all over the board, repeatedly offering draws in the process. Then Roy claimed a draw under the not trying to win rule. But it was an invalid claim as he had too much time. So Black got an extra 2 minutes. And then a few minutes later a draw was agreed as Roy secured perpetual check. This was undoubtedly one of the worst games of chess ever played. The only thing missing was Brian Rix entering stage left and losing his trousers. (Note to younger readers - look it up on Wikipedia.)

On Board 3 Ben played very sensibly (by comparison) and refuted Dave Filer's opening plan of pushing c5 with White against the Queen's Gambit. He won the exchange with a neat combination and then just motored to victory. Again! The man is a points machine. Nothing more to be said.

On Board 2 Mike had a very small edge from a tame line of the English against former Kenilworth man Ed Goodwin. But truth be told, not a lot happened and the game dwindled to a draw amidst mutual yawns.

If only mine had done the same thing. I played a line of Boris Gelfand's against the Grand Prix which completely defuses White's plan of a king side attack. But Dave Ireland, playing White, played very sensibly and switched his attention to my horribly cramped queenside pieces and the open d file. With little material he made big inroads into my position, as my queen's bishop floundered like a ..... well, a flounder, I guess. It's sole contribution to the game was to move from c8 to d7; back to c8 the very next move; then to d7 again. And then to be swapped off as White won a key pawn which was shepherded to victory to save the match for Cov A. Sorry guys. I let you down. And grovelling is normally one of my best qualities.

We have a two week break now until our next league match, and at least one of the squad (me) is taking advantage of this by flying out for some warm weather training in the Canaries. I guess everyone plays Bird's Opening out there. (Geddit?!)