Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Well I'm Glad That's Over!

Relief! For the fifth and - thankfully - last time in less than 2 months the A team came up against a Solihull side last night, but at least both teams managed to introduce one new player each to slightly break the monotony. At the end of the evening, Kenilworth had squirmed their way to a 2.5-1.5 win, which had looked anything but likely for just about the entire evening.

Carl was first to finish, as his trademark hack-attack against Neil Clarke's king largely failed to get off the launch pad. Carl was pleased to finish relatively early and take his man-flu symptoms home for an early night. Both Carl and Neil were doubtless also pleased not to face their "normal" opponents, Tony Sadler and me respectively - four times in eight weeks would really have been too much for any of us.

The encounter between two Andy's on Board 1 was rather exciting - but ended rather prematurely in a draw. Possibly both players were simply too overwhelmed to be actually playing a game of chess. But at least Solihull's Andrew McCumiskey has had the excuse of living overseas for many years for not appearing too often! In the game (the infamous Monkey's Bum opening!) White sacrificed two minor pieces for a rook and three pawns. Our Andy soon mobilised his bishops, though, and won two pawns back. In what was admittedly a murky and double edged position, I was expecting Black to launch a kingside attack when our man instead found a faintly ridiculous way of forcing a move repetition when more ambitious continuations were available. But what do I know - he's the one with the 199 grade!

Thankfully, though, fortune then decided to shine on us. After a hard fought game on Board 3, I was lucky enough to be gifted a full point on the very last move before the time control by Paul Roper. From virtually nowhere he blundered into mate. I was slightly better by this point, but it would have been a very hard job trying to turn the advantage into a win. And when Fritz subsequently showed me how I had allowed White a winning Bxf7 sac in the middle-game, I could only conclude that my win was karma for my recent unfortunate experience against Olton.

At the time, I had assumed I had to win to save the match for us, as the events on Board 2 were simply too gruesome to behold. Andrew was playing Ray Carpenter in a repeat of their encounter in last week's cup match. But there the similarity ends. Our man played a truly excruciating opening with White and was totally and utterly busted in about 15 moves. Two pawns down with a lost position. Somehow he won a pawn back in  a double rook ending, but it still looked terminal for him. But then I looked again and by some black magic Andrew had reached a seemingly drawn king and pawn ending. Incredibly, White may have been able to play on for a win, but after Ray offered a draw, Andrew did the sensible thing to clinch an unlikely and probably undeserved match victory.

New Grades - KCC Report Card

The January 2017 ECF grades have just been published. While team selection and board orders will continue to be based on the July 2016 grades, it's obviously interesting to see who the star pupils have been over the first six months of the 2016-17 season - and who hasn't been doing their homework! So here is the KCC Report Card:

Top of the Form

Dave +8
Andrew P +6
Rod +5
Andy B +3
Nick M +3
The Club Organiser +3
Phil +2
Stuart +2
Mike D +1
Roy +1

See Me After Class

Bruce -2
Steve -2
Ben -2
Tony -3
Paul -3
Mike J -4
Chris -6
Carl -7
Bernard C -12

New Entrant and Star Pupil

Nick F at 162!!

So from our 20 active players we had 10 risers and 9 fallers, plus the startling arrival of Nick Fesenko who has burst onto the list as the club's fifth highest graded player- though the ECF Grading List does think that he's actually called N. Fesenko Nickolai. Let's see what Ben, Carl and Phil can do about that disruption of the natural order - and they've all responded by starting 2017 in red hot form! Excluding Nick's block-buster of a performance, we lost 41 grading points and won 34, for a net club loss of 7 points. Less than last time, but still indicating that we are collectively getting worse! That's ageing for you, I guess.

Despite hardly ever seeing a chess board, let alone playing a game, Andy has further cemented his position as club number one. He now has a 9 point cushion back to the trailing pack, where no less than 3 of us can be found huddled together at 190. Is this the first time in club history that we could field an entire team of 190+ rated players?? (Not that its ever likely to happen, of course!) Just one more point required now for Andy to get back to 200 - bet he thought those days had gone forever!

But as for Bernard C ...... well, I recommend that he puts a very thick book down the back of his trousers the next time he comes to Kenilworth, as I think he needs some serious "encouragement" to do better in his lessons. And I think I can promise you, Bernard, that its going to hurt you more than me!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Happy Hunting Ground

Kenilworth stormed into the final of the Leamington League KO Cup last night, with a convincing 4-1 win at Solihull. Last year - and against a much stronger Solihull team - we had enjoyed an unbelievable 5-0 win at the same stage of the competition. There must be something in the air at the Blossomfield Club that gets our adrenaline flowing!

Carl continued his unbelievably hot streak by getting our first point with his third win in a matter of weeks against Tony Sadler on Board 3. Yet again the game was wild and Carl's position looked rather dubious at times, but just like the other twice, he weathered the difficulties to keep his nerve and bring home the bacon. But is advancing your g and h pawns all the way up the board and then castling kingside really the safest strategy, Carl?!

Then we had two quick draws to cement our lead. Bernard drew with Black on Board 4 against Ian Brodie after an interesting game (was it really a Modern Benoni?!) ended up in an equal rook ending. I had hoped Bernard's passed c pawn might yield more, but White was able to win it in exchange for his h pawn, which left 3 pawns each on the kingside and no way to progress for either party. Immediately afterwards Ben drew on Board 5 after seemingly having the upper hand against Julian Summerfield's Dutch Defence. Ben's attack against the Black king didn't cause as much damage as it looked likely to, though, and it ended up as a knight v bishop ending. Black's pawns were all blocked on the same coloured squares as his bishop, so again I hoped for better things, but Ben's knight was apparently unable to cause any havoc.

And then right at the time control, the two remaining games both ended in our favour to wrap up a comprehensive win. Andrew started with one of his bizarre opening sequences against Ray Carpenter on Board 1 (1 c3 and 2 h3) but it worked a treat. Ray took a hot pawn and found himself immediately pushed back as Andrew exerted enormous pressure down the e and f files. Black's rooks took up very strange positions on b6 and h7, and with his king stuck in the centre, his pawns shattered and pins all over the place, the position proved indefensible. A very nice win by Andrew.

Seconds later, I followed up with a win against Neil Clarke on Board 2 - also the third time we've played in the last few weeks. (Though unlike Carl I can't boast a 100% record!) Neil tried the strangely trendy London System, but I managed to equalise quite easily and play revolved around White's bishop on h2. When Neil decided to play g3 to push my knight out of f4 it wasn't the most dynamic of pieces. He sacrificed a pawn for some activity, but in trying to liberate his entombed bishop with an f4 break he allowed my queen into f3. Fritz tells me the position was still defensible (it didn't look it at the time!), but in time trouble he mistakenly captured a pawn on f7 with a bishop from c4. This removed a key defender of his king, and a couple of checks forced the win of his queen.

So an excellent win from our So Solid Crew, and a great credit to our squad depth. Our defence of the Cup continues and we can now look forward to a final - probably against Olton - in early May.

Friday, 20 January 2017

To Be Or Not to Be

Could Kenilworth B beat Stratford A, to go back to the top of Division 2, was certainly the question last night. In the end it couldn’t have gone much better, had it been a Midsummer Night’s Dream, as we ran out 3.5 – 0.5 winners. So that’s (nearly) enough of the terrible Shakespeare references for one report, back to the Chess…

Stratford A have had a tough couple of years, going from Division 1 Champions in 2011-12, through to relegation and failing to win promotion back into Division 1 by a whisker last season. This season hasn’t gone well for them either and despite being one of the strongest teams on paper in the Division (and winning earlier in the week) they were still in the lower reaches of the table. That said, any team that can field Mcnally, Doedue, Albeniz and Henderson are always going to be competitive and the average grade difference between them and us was a mere two points. We knew it could be tough…

Certainly an hour and half in, all the games looked very tight, but things seemed to swing our way and we landed three wins on the top three Boards, in a ten minute period around the time control.

I was the first to finish against Richard McNally. My game plan had been to avoid sharp theoretical lines and opportunities for Richard to employ any wild gambits that he was booked up on. Amazingly the plan seemed to work and a quiet opening ensued. For the second time in a week, my game centred on one of my pawns – this time an isolated Queen pawn. Was it strong or weak? Richard certainly seemed to be building up some pressure on it and I sensed I was starting to be ground down. I declined a Queen exchange, which would have tied my remaining pieces to little more than passive defence and put my Queen on g3, attacking Richard’s c7 pawn and setting up a few other more dynamic possibilities. Richard chose to sacrifice the pawn (which I took) but when he followed up by attacking my Queen with his Rook, he told me afterwards that he’d missed my next (and best) move which was to ignore the attack on my Queen and to attack his Queen with my Knight. What had been a quiet position a couple of moves earlier was now on fire, with threats and counter threats all over the Board. I had been behind on the Clock, but Richard began consuming a lot of time and was down to four minutes against my six with the time control still 12 moves off. I offered to give back the pawn to transition into an endgame where material would be level, but my Rook would be fixed on the 7th rank and it was difficult to see how Richard could do anything other than passively defend, whilst I worked out how to pick off his pawns. I doubt it was the best line for Richard, but everything was so muddy and time so short, I can see why he went down it.  My position was very strong, and Richard unfortunately then blundered his Knight and resigned. So 1 – 0.

On Board 2 Mike was determined to get a win over the line, given how close he had come on Tuesday and he did a great job. Facing a reverse Dutch, Richard Dobedue failed to get his attack going and Mike broke through on the Queenside. Mike told me that he was well up on the lines from his work on Chess Base (DVDs still available at a good price from Mike for anyone who is interested I think!) and this definitely paid off. Another game that seemed to go from being relatively quiet to Mike suddenly being won.

Phil was also flying and I think had the most brutal ending of the three. He’d landed a fork earlier in the game and picked up a pawn and his pieces absolutely seemed to be massing around Alberto Albeniz’s King when I looked. Defence just seemed impossible and so it proved as Phil stormed through to make it 3-0.

On Board 4, Dave had the better of his draw with Steve Henderson. A 35 move closed Sicilian culminated in a complex endgame, where Dave was a pawn up, but Steve had quite a lot of compensation via the pressure he was exerting on the e-file. Dave felt it was probably even and agreed a draw.

So another great night for the B team. We’re not in action again until later in February. Will we win the League? Still some way to go, but it’s shaping up to be one hell of a Winter’s Tale..

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


At the seventh time of asking over the last two seasons, Kenilworth finally managed to avoid defeat against a Warwick University side last night. In fact, we did rather better than not losing - we actually went and won! Having never managed to score better than 1-3 in those other games, a 3-1 win must count as one of our best Coventry League performances so far. Our visitors were not at full strength (many thanks to our very own Paul Lam for not turning out against us, for instance!) but still fielded a more than respectable team that had virtual grading parity with us. But after convincingly defeating Rugby last week, our boys clearly had the scent of blood in their nostrils as they went into battle.

Yet again, Carl set the tone, coming out of the starting gate like a greyhound on steroids and making a bee-line for the Black king. On the very same day that Gawain Jones had used the Barry Attack to knock over a strong GM at the Tata Steel Challengers, Carl wielded the same opening like a meat cleaver to hack his way to a swift victory against Felix McPeake, with a crushing attack down the h-file. I don't know what Carl's having for breakfast these days (raw meat??) but whatever it is, it's certainly working - can I have some of the same, please?

Maybe I was inspired by sitting next to this hack-attack, as I also secured a very quick checkmating win down the h-file against Louise Head, but with the black pieces. Games like this are why you play the King's Indian. I actually went slightly wrong in the opening against my opponent's strange set-up, but luckily she then went even more wrong and my pawns positively yomped up the board, blasting a path for my queen to reach h4, and then a rook lift via f6 to h6 forced mate on move 23. Something of a redemptive victory for me after the agony of the previous night's game against  Olton.

And that was basically it as far as excitement went. As Black, Ben played an early advance of his queenside pawns against Andy Pollock, and while one got as far as a3 it looked a little lonely, with his minor pieces struggling for good squares to support it. I was slightly worried, but probably that was just a captain's natural neurosis kicking in. Ben did what was necessary and, while I was immersed in my post-mortem, secured a draw to clinch the match victory.

All this time - and long after - Mike was sweating blood against Steve Turvey on Board 4, possibly spurred on by my recent reference to him as the Kenilworth Drawmeister. He turned down draw offer after draw offer, forced the virtually complete immolation of a Black bishop on g8 and pressed for all he was worth. There was a chance for a piece sac for a couple of pawns and a total mess, but full compensation - if it existed - was of a very long range nature, and the moment - correctly for practical purposes - passed. Thereafter Steve defended an inferior position well, and was able to erect an impenetrable fortress in a bishop v knight ending. So sorry, Mike, but your record for the season now goes to 11 draws in 16 games!

Following two games in the 4NCL at the weekend, and consecutive evening games on Monday and Tuesday, I'm now off for a lie down in a darkened room. If I wake up in time I shall hopefully see a goodly few of you at the Engine on Thursday! Chess - don't you just love it?!?!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Chess is a Cruel Mistress

A gripping encounter at the Abbey Club last night saw Leamington League heavyweights Kenilworth and Olton battle to a dramatic 2-2 draw - a result which leaves our visitors in pole position for league honours, as they remain just two points behind us but with two games in hand. But it could, and should, have been very different.

We got off to a fantastic start when Carl continued his superb recent form by despatching the ever dangerous Mark Cundy in clinical fashion on Board 3. After a Scandinavian where the queens came off before move 6, Carl netted a pawn with a nice Bxb2 sac having a knight fork follow up. In a rook and opposite bishops endgame he then won a second pawn, and although Mark then managed to trade rooks, the win of a third pawn by Carl was enough to force resignation.

Ben followed up with a solid draw on the white side of a Ruy Lopez against Richard Smith on Board 4. Ben seemed to have a very slight edge for most of the game, but with only one open file, it seemed inevitable all the heavy pieces would get traded off to leave a level bishop ending.

Things took a turn for the worse, though, when Andrew went down on Board 1. Black against Phil Holt is not the easiest pairing in the Leamington League, and yet I had high hopes of a result for us for much of the evening. Andrew defended solidly against a c3 Sicilian, and seemed to be close to equality. But then the position opened up and White's pieces started to threaten the black king. Our man pooh-poohed such crudities and simply snaffled a queenside pawn. Unfortunately, Phil then played Qh6 and Rh3 with forced mate on h7. Scores level at 1.5-1.5.

So it was all down to the captain. Yours truly. Me. I seem to have been in this position before. And it doesn't often end well.

I was white against Alan Lloyd, a player I have never beaten. As Paul has largely given up playing for us, I decided to appropriate one of his old opening systems and we quickly entered a very difficult queenless middle-game, where Black had two bishops against my two knights (with a pair of rooks each), but also two sets of doubled pawns (one of them isolated). The bishops were pretty ropey, but the Black rooks got very active. However, I had been lining up a knight sacrifice on d5, followed by a pawn sac to try and win the pathetic black bishop on f8. There were two adequate defences - neither of which Alan or I noticed - and instead the prelate made a dash for freedom to d6 and c7, where it promptly got pinned and fell off. I was a whole piece up, but the position was rather random and Black's rooks and king were active. Still, it was a whole piece. I thought I was weaving a mating net, but Alan put up an inspired defence and kept making it very difficult for me to co-ordinate my forces. My time ebbed away. I faffed around and could hardly make any progress, even though it was now rook, knight and two against rook and two. Then with 40 seconds left I blundered my knight. I offered a draw and Alan did the sporting thing and accepted, though the final position of rook and pawn v rook and pawn may even have been winning for him, and he also had an extra 2 minutes on the clock. So while I could curse my luck and berate myself for throwing away a famous match victory, I have to remember that it could have been even worse.

Sorry team/club, I blew it. Mea Culpa. Flagellation is too good for me. I am already Secretary, Treasurer and double match captain, but I think I probably now also have a new KCC job title. And it can best be illustrated by a classic painting that resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight. Its not just those well known KCC aesthetes Bernard C and Roy that have artistic reference points, you know!

The Scapegoat (1854-55)
William Holman Hunt

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

What's That Strange Sensation? Oh yes, its a Cov League Victory!

We haven't enjoyed too many wins in the Coventry League this season (1 to be exact), so a 3-1 win over Rugby last night came as a very pleasant New Year surprise - especially considering we went down 3.5-0.5 to them in the first half of the season! In a complete reversal of how you are supposed to win team matches, we scored two wins with Black and two draws with White.

Ben got us up and running on board 3, with a very tense win over Simon Turner. Anytime that White gets to play Bg6+ and force your king to the middle of the board you know there could be problems ahead, but Ben successfully protected his king by huddling his pieces around it and by keeping at least one of the central files closed. Then he started to jump into the Black position with a massive concentration of heavy pieces along the c file and the next thing I knew was that Simon had blundered into mate as a black rook slipped decisively across to the h file.

Most of the evening I had thought that our best chance of a win was on Board 4, where Mike won a piece for 2 pawns, after a Catalan where White captured a pawn on c5 and Black couldn't find an easy way of recovering it. But given Mike's current reputation as Kenilworth's Drawmeister (now 10 from 15 games this season by my reckoning), I guess I should have expected the game to be halved in the end.

All this time I was having a very tense game against Jamie Kearney. He played an opening I actually know quite well - not least because it featured a TN introduced by my former team-mate (and now GM) Tony Kosten against John Nunn in 1980. Don't anyone say I'm not up to date with theory!, Even so, I still managed to overlook a very good move of his shortly after, which transformed a slight advantage for me into a slight advantage for him. Around the time control though, he made one inaccuracy which enabled me to win a pawn. The knight ending was probably still drawn, but Jamie went wrong again and had to resign when, a pawn down, he found his knight on b1 completely unable to move due to my pawns on b4 and e3.

I missed most of Carl's game against Nalin Kadodwala on Board 2, even though its started out as the same line of the Barry Attack which I faced last week in the match v Solihull B. As in that game, Black slowly got a small advantage, though it was never too serious. Then in a knight v bishop ending Carl somehow won a pawn and should have been missing, but an inaccuracy enabled Nalin to remove all the pawns except Carl's h pawn which could not make any progress.

So a good win for us that has actually elevated us to the giddy heights of 5th place - our highest of the season. Now our targets are trained on 4th place - watch out Nuneaton B, we're coming for you!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Derby Day

In houses up and down Kenilworth (and one in Leamington) there was great excitement over Christmas, about the scheduled top of the table clash between our B and C teams, that took place last night. The vagaries of the calendar meant that other teams had played more matches of late, so at the start of play the clash had become a 3rd v 4th battle. Albeit, whoever won was destined to end the evening at the top of the table. (And if it was the B team we were going to do so with a game in hand on our nearest rivals.)

Phil brought in a chocolate Chess set, which was eagerly consumed by the participants and we got down to business.

On Board 1, Nick Fesenko who has been a fantastic addition to the Club and the C team this season unfortunately (for him) fell into an opening trap against me and that put the B team 1-0 up. (Thanks to Mike, Mike and Dave for their notes, as I didn’t see all of what followed…)

On Board 4, Dave Shurrock and Mike Johnson squared off and Dave played the closed Sicilian. In Dave’s words, “Blacks opening play allowed white to play an early e5 which gave him space and active pieces. White was unable to capitalize on this and a draw was agreed in 19 moves.” On Board 2, Mike and Rod played out a very long and wild encounter. As Mike described it:  “In my game Rod played a pawn sacrifice on move seven. At first it looked speculative but it actually gave decent play. I unravelled some 25 moves later but the extra pawn didn't mean much so with a four minutes to two minutes time advantage I offered a draw. Some 25 minutes of joint analysis eventually showed a similar but better way to unravel reaching a position where the extra pawn give hope of conversion. A complex game for both players.” Well done to Rod, for being undefeated in his two B v C encounters this season against Mike and me…

On Board 2 in the other decisive game of the evening, Phil Wood played Nick Mottram. Thanks again to Dave for his assessment: “White won material during the opening but was forced to return it. With accurate middle game play he reached an ending with a queen side majority and two bishops. In the ending black lost his a pawn giving white two connected passed queen side pawns. Unfortunately black also then got his rook trapped in mid board and resigned when he was about to lose the exchange.”

So 3-1 to the B team who top the table! Whilst we might have missed out on the Christmas number ones, our A and B teams are now both top and the C team are still really well placed. Where-as others might have celebrated with champagne and a night of revelry, I’m told that those who remained contented themselves with some final analysis and the rest of Phil’s chocolates… Bring on Stratford!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

It's That Man Again!

No sooner does Carl Pickering achieve web-site star status with his titanic Game of the Month performance (see post dated Jan 3, 2017), than one day later he's at it again, being the hero of the A team's narrow 2.5-1.5 win against Solihull B. And remarkably it was yet another wild, wild encounter against Tony Sadler that saw Carl annexe the only full point of the match.

The game began as a Modern Defence (Carl playing White) with opposite side castling. Carl shovelled his h pawn to h5 forcing Black to play g6-g5, which Carl promptly took (a knight sacrifice). But it wasn't taken, and instead Tony stormed Carl's king with his own pawn rush. It got very murky indeed. Carl gave up an exchange on h1, but a pair of knights and a phalanx of kingside pawns against a vulnerable looking Black king offered plenty of compensation even after the queens came off. But it looked hellishly complicated. However, something happened while I wasn't watching and Carl won back the exchange and emerged several pawns up, with just a rook and knight each. But his back rank was weak and Black had a solitary f pawn that lurched down the board to f2 and seemed set to queen - help! But in the time it took me to blink, it was all over - somehow the f pawn had fallen off and Carl had won. I'm not sure these two should be allowed to play each other again. At least not if I have to sit next to them. Tony again abandoned his score sheet at the end of the game, but no way was I going to damage my sanity by going anywhere near it!

Elsewhere things were very much calmer. In two more rematches from our pre-Xmas encounter with Solihull B, the Kenilworth players failed to chalk up repeat wins. First Andrew drew against Tom Thorpe on Board 1, proving that he is better with the black pieces, and then I drew against Neil Clarke on Board 2, proving that I am better with white. Truth to tell, very little happened in either game. Finally, Ben at least found himself up against a different opponent, but the result was the same and a fairly uneventful draw with Ian Brodie ensued on Board 4. There were certainly more possibilities in this game than in the Board 1 and 2 match-ups, and the game was finely balanced and quite tense for a long way, but no fireworks actually occurred and a draw seemed a fair result.

So despite a largely uninspired performance, we managed to notch up another win, and in so doing elevated ourselves back to the top of the table. This was largely because, playing alongside us, Shirley A lost to Solihull A - not least because they only managed to get three people to the board. But while we have reclaimed league leadership, Olton are in the driving seat, with two matches in hand and only a 2 point deficit on us. And who are our next opponents? You guessed - it's Olton!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Great Escape

We kicked off 2017 by hosting Coventry A in the Divisional Cup last night and escaped with a point by the skin of our teeth. Not a bad effort when you consider that they averaged 163 to our 145 on the night, but I've gone to greater lengths than Carl did in his game against Tony Sadler (see Mark's previous column) to burn my score sheet, as my win wasn't really one for the album...

Dave Ireland and Carl played out an interesting game on top Board. A lot of material seemed to come off quite early and the endgame looked pretty level. Both players worked hard to make something of it, but not to be and a draw was agreed. Dave has caused us a few problems this season so a good result for Carl with Black.

On Board three, Dave Shurrock's game with Ed Goodwin saw a London. Dave came out with quite a good position and felt both sides perhaps missed opportunities in the middle game. A draw was agreed on move 41 in an ending where neither side had any real prospects of victory.

In a clear breach of protocol, Coventry fielded an actual player against Roy, who had seen his previous two opponents in the competition fail to turn up. An interesting game, but Roy was a pawn down in the ending and couldn't hold on.

So, we were 1 - 2 down. I was up against Bernard for the second time in a few weeks, after a pretty epic struggle before Christmas that had ended in a draw. I was definitely better out of the opening (probably significantly) but I played too slowly and Bernard came right back into the game. I ended up giving up the exchange to keep my attack going (frankly with few other palatable options) but Bernard defended comfortably and completely turned the tables. His previously passive white squared Bishop became a monster and all my pieces swarming around his King were completely un-coordinated and unable to land any meaningful blows. At the same time, my own King was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and the whole thing looked like it was falling apart.

The pressure continued to tell and I went from the exchange down to a Bishop and Pawn down, with my Queen and Rook against Bernard's Queen, Rook and Bishop, which were very close to forming a perfect mating net. I had a few checks and tried to force a draw by repetition but it looked like a long shot. My quickly (and rightly) rejected offer of a draw proved as much. But - I managed to force Bernard's king to march towards the Queen side, where I could then check it with my Rook, to get my two major pieces suddenly on the attack. If I ran out of checks I would be mated immediately and I was shaking like a leaf. Neither of us had any time left and what happened next was just a product of lack of time and the pressure of the situation rather than any great skill on my part. Instead of blocking my Rook check with his Bishop, Bernard moved his King to the B file and suddenly I had him. I forced his King to the A file and when he blocked my Queen check with his Queen I was able to force his King away from the defence of his Queen with a combination of Pawn and Rook checks. With the Queen about to drop, Bernard resigned.

Not something you would want to happen to a fellow Kenilworth player (even one in Coventry colours for the evening) so apologies Bernard...

As Mark said in his previous post, Chess is rather difficult, particularly for humans. A computer would have made a lot more of my early advantage just as it would have done likewise in relation to Bernard's super good later position. But hey, no computer gets to experience the roller-coaster of emotion that the rest of us do (for good or ill!) many of the times that we play.

Here's to all our teams having a great 2017!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Game of the Month, January 2017

Well, I did warn you all that this feature wouldn't be appearing every month! Even so, I felt slightly embarrassed when I found out the previous episode appeared as long ago as last July. But I soon got over it.

This month's game features our much loved Social Secretary, Carl Pickering, and his recent encounter with Tony Sadler in the A team's match against Solihull B. At the end of the game, Carl wisely took his score-sheet home with him, but Tony - presumably wishing to forget the events of the previous 3 hours, left his lying about. Naturally I swooped on this, as the game -- which had been played out on the next board to me - had been a mind-blowing affair, with which I was sure our silicon friend Fritz would have a field day. I wasn't wrong!

What an epic encounter! Fantastic fighting chess that saw both players down on the canvas and seemingly out for the count several times, before Carl landed a final hay-maker at the death. Never mind the computer evaluations - this was just one of those games that remind us (as if we could ever forget) that chess is rather difficult. At least for us poor humans.

And by way of a tease, I can let you know that I already have another Game of the Month lined up for the near future. And while it can't quite match the sheer excitement of the game above, it will more than make up for that by its capacity to surprise and amaze you!

Watch this space.