Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hacked Off; Hacker; Hacked. A Thoroughly Memorable Evening!

Well, I won't be forgetting last night in a hurry. We ended up beating Banbury B 3-1 to reclaim second place in the league table, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

It started with me getting thoroughly hacked off with A team stalwart Andrew P. At 7.40pm he still hadn't arrived, so I gave him a call to see where he was. He was in Meriden - on his way home. "I thought the match was tomorrow!" Since when have we ever played our Leamington League home matches on a Tuesday?? Who'd be a match captain? Thankfully, Meriden isn't that far away, so he did a quick U-turn and made it comfortably before default time. But he was well down on the clock, of course, and his game against Nick Martin got a bit hectic towards move 35. Indeed, Andrew had a feeling he had lost on time in a terrible scramble, but the digital clock said he hadn't. And then mysteriously the game was drawn. Andrew apparently thought he had a winning position, but was wracked with guilt at having previously lost on time! He hadn't - the clock never lies!! But he agreed a draw, anyway.

Amongst the madness, Carl played a sensible and restrained game (by his standards) against Arthur Hibbitt. He was already better with the bishop pair when he forced the win of a piece. His rook, though, was completely incarcerated on a4 by black pawns on a3 and a5 and a bishop on b4! It took a few moves for Carl to extricate the rook, but once he did, it was an easy win.

A bit later Andy B, on one of his rare appearances anywhere near a chess board, was held to a draw on Board 1 by a very resolute Neil Staples. The game was an English, and White erected a serious central barrier to anything Black could come up with. Andy did manage to win a pawn eventually - maybe it was even two? - but White jumped out just in time to secure the draw with counterplay against Black's king.

So now we come to the hacker - me! For the umpteenth time, I was Black against Gary Jackson, and for the umpteenth time it was the Be3 line against the Najdorf. Perhaps foolishly I tried a different approach in case he'd come well prepared, and it worked reasonably well in the opening. Then I decided to sac a pawn to keep his king in the centre, which was possibly OK. But when I decided to sac a second pawn to unleash my dark squared bishop it definitely wasn't OK. Suddenly White had a solid pawn majority on the queen side, and his king looked quite safe on g2. The clock was ticking and the only course for me was to randomise. At a crucial moment Gary grabbed my a pawn (4 connected passed pawns now!) but it gave me just enough time to break the position open in the centre and an exchange sac set his king up for a ruinous double check. There was no way for Gary to save his queen and by the time control white had two rooks and five pawns against my queen, bishop and three.  It took a couple of moves to co-ordinate, but I managed to disconnect his rooks, drive his king around a bit, snaffle his kingside pawns and then reduce his rooks to complete immobility. He couldn't successfully advance his queenside pawns, and meantime my h pawn strode down the board unmolested to secure the win. Unsound and undeserved, but I'll take it!

So home to bed, only to find that my e-mail had been hacked! Some 4,500 spam messages had landed. Shame I didn't wear a hacking jacket to the match last night to expand the theme still further, but I'm really pleased not to have a cough at the moment, as I know what kind it would have been!

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