Thursday, 13 April 2017

Leamington League Blitz Tournament 2017

This year's LDCL Individual Blitz will be held, as usual, at Solihull on Wednesday, April 26th, starting at 7.30 pm.

The venue is The Blossomfield Club, The Wardens, Widney Lane, Solihull, B91 3JY

Entry is £1 per person, all monies collected will be returned in prizes.
There will be 9 rounds at 5 minutes per game, paired on the Swiss system.
Prizes will be awarded in the Open and Minor sections, grading limit for the minor will depend on entries, while if there are enough entrants there will be 3 sections - Open, Under 140, and Under 100, as last year.
Entry is on the night, but please arrive before 7:30 in order to ensure a prompt start.

Its always an entertaining evening, and hopefully KCC will be well represented.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Two For The Price Of One

By a happy coincidence, last night two Kenilworth teams found themselves in Leamington taking on the locals. While the A team faced Leamington A in an ultimately meaningless match (we had secured second place the previous night when Shirley lost to Solihull B), our C team faced a relegation threatened Leamington B who were desperate for the points. Maybe we should try these double headers more often, as we emerged with two convincing victories (6.5-1.5 overall) and no individual losses. Though now I think about it, we lost both matches (which each turned out to be crucial) when the A and C teams found themselves at Olton on the same night earlier this season.

The A team match was a bit of a joke. Leamington mustered 3 players, one of whom was substantially lower rated than their entire B team. With a one point lead thanks to the default, Ben quickly put us two up by winning a piece and then some more material on Board 3. I had an interesting game against Ben Egid on Board 2. After an English Opening he was a bit slow getting his queenside play going and I took the opportunity to direct my pieces at his king. A knight sacrifice saw my rook jump into f2 (supported by a pawn on g3) and then my remaining knight hopped to g5, then check on h3 and the rook delivered mate on h2. All this time, White's large army stood stranded on the queenside doing nothing. We couldn't quite complete the clean sweep, as Andy Collins defended resolutely against Andrew on Board 1. Andrew won an exchange but his remaining queen and rook were rather out of things on the eighth rank and Andy's queen and bishop were eyeballing the White king. I thought Andrew should have just resigned himself to it being perpetual, but the man is a maximalist and decided to go on a long king walk to try and get shelter. Andy missed an instant draw, that might have been a win, but it didn't matter, as even when the White king made it as far as a2 and the queen came back to protect it, there was still a perpetual.

The C team played an excellent match and despite being slightly outgraded overall, stormed to a 3-1 win over a strong Leamington team. Mike J was first to finish on Board 3, as his two knights hopped around sufficiently against Nigel Morris's two bishops to secure a draw. Then Nick F drew against Andy Price on Board 1. He may have had a slight edge in a double bishop ending, but it would probably have needed Capablanca to make anything of it. Roy then won against Jason Madden on Board 4, though for most of the game I thought he was on the verge of losing. His pieces were all stuck on the back rank while his queen lurched over to a2 to grab a pawn. I expected disaster to ensue - and maybe it should have - but somehow Roy emerged victorious. And finally Dave clinched the win by beating Ola Olaleye with Black on Board 2. As he had won a loose bishop on b5 with Qa5+ on about move 7 the result was never in doubt. And as he had a pass out for the evening, why not spend it playing another 40 moves or so in a completely winning position? The win means that the C team will finish either 4th or 5th in Division 2 - a really excellent achievement after last season's near death experience!

So we are now left with just two matches this season - the B team have a trip to Leamington next week for their last game, and then we have the KO Cup final against Olton on May 2nd. How on earth will Ben and I fill those long summer months without any more match reports to write?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Don't Dream It's Over

Whilst the wall between us and League victory has got a little higher today, following last night’s 2-2 draw with Shirley, it can still (just) be climbed… And we are definitely the team to give it our all!

The task before us now is to beat Leamington 4-0, to finish the season in a dead-heat with Olton at the top, on both points and Board count.. So in our hands and down to us.

Just like at Agincourt, the fewer of us, the greater the share of the glory to be had. One way or another, we will be able to look back and say we were there! We also beat Leamington 3-1 recently. Surely we can go one better now???

Particularly as last night’s man of the moment, Mike Donnelly has re-discovered his winning touch. After I had drawn I told Mike he had to win and he duly obliged in style. If he carries such form into next week, we have to have a chance. But this is to get ahead of ourselves a little…

The evening started quite promisingly. Phil was winning out of the gate, Mike looked better and Dave and I were both pretty comfortable. Phil even turned down a draw (rightly as he was best placed of the four of us at that point) and has been in amazing form.

Unfortunately whether we were going to win the match became more problematic as the night went on. Dave couldn’t find a way through against John Asbury and was the first to finish with a draw. (By the by, John holds the record against me for the longest period of time between our first and second games. I played him in a Congress when I was twelve and then played him again more than twenty five years later…) Anyways, I was next to finish against Dave Thomas. The good news was that Dave played down a line I’d been watching a video on quite recently. The bad news was, he played it very well and we reached an opposite coloured Bishop ending. We both manoeuvred around for a bit, but the draw was pretty inevitable. So 1-1. Mike played beautifully to beat John Freeman. A really nice game. But the problem was Phil…

Phil’s recent form is the main reason our title challenge has remained on track, but last night it wasn’t to be. Something seemed to go badly wrong somewhere and a winning position became a losing one against Frank Jiminez. Phil battled back to something extremely unclear, but unfortunately lost on time in the end. He deserved more, but we couldn’t have asked for more from Phil this season and we’re done yet.

So onto Leamington. It’s a tough chance but it’s a chance. A lot of teams would love to go into their final game of the season with a chance of glory still on. Well this year, that’s us!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Game of the Month, April 2017

If any sensitive reader of the KCC blog felt I had been a tad unfair to Bernard C, in my report of the recent match v Banbury A, then I hope this article will put your concerns to rest. I bow to no man in my admiration for our much loved and highly revered senior citizen - though I have to admit I do find his paintings rather unsettling! But that is just the worthless reaction of a conservative philistine - Bernard walks an altogether more intense artistic path. After all, he is a man seemingly so charged with creative impulses that, in order to spark his muse to even greater heights, he apparently decided to enact the sentiments of some lines from a song by an equally gifted and tortured artist:-

I'm going to hurl myself against the wall,
Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all.

("Ain't That Pretty At All" by Warren Zevon - which I am sure was not in anyway a comment on Bernard's art!)

He said he tripped, but we all know he would never do anything as banal or cliched as that. Thank goodness he didn't follow Van Gogh's even more extreme example and cut off his ear! We were all very relieved and pleased to learn that Bernard suffered no lasting damage from his "domestic accident" - although there was clearly a temporary effect at Banbury the other night.

Anyway, when he is in the zone, Bernard is a very dangerous opponent at the chess board, as I have found to my cost, managing just two grovelling draws from 3 games. In this April Game of the Month we see him at his most inspired, as he performs a brutal hack on an extremely strong (ECF 216) opponent from Warwick University's all conquering A team. Indeed, with a grading gap of 58 points this is the biggest giant killing yet featured on this website. Regrettably, it was achieved on behalf of Coventry rather than any Kenilworth team, but you can't have everything.

Sit back and enjoy a real demolition job - given the date it was played on, I think we can all agree that this is a contemporary Valentine's Day massacre!

A real tour de force by Bernard, and a game anybody would have been delighted to play.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

We're Half Way There!

… and maybe now living on more than a prayer! Why use a visit from Stratford to quote Shakespeare, when a line from Jon Bon Jovi sums it up perfectly! We ran out 3-1 winners on Monday against Stratford A, to complete the second leg of our four leg challenge. Namely, to beat Solihull, Stratford, Shirley and Leamington to claim the Division 2 title. Given the subsequent Division 1 debacle against Banbury, this is now our only shot at League Silverware – albeit we also have a Cup Final to look forward to.

The game was far from a dead rubber for Stratford, as they started the evening second from bottom, with Leamington closing in on them, and this was their last game of the season. Hence it was no great surprise to find we were facing a strong team. Richard McNally, Colin Searle making a welcome return, Richard Dobedoe and Steve Henderson showed up, meaning the average grade difference was insignificant and we were outgraded on 1 and 2.

However, in practice it was one of those nights when it always looked like we were going to win. Regular readers will be shocked to hear that Mike finished first against Colin Searle, with a draw. But actually, that doesn’t do justice to what was a good game. Moreover, Colin’s speed meant they played a lot of moves. Mike said. “Black’s play may have overturned a view of the opening repeated in all books that the line [of the Dutch Stonewall that was followed] is good for White based on the classic game Petrosian-Korchnoi Leningrad 1953 (which both players knew.) Instead of Q-e7, Colin played what turned out to be an often used pet line featuring an early Rf6-h6. The repeated threat to penetrate along the h-file in several complex ways, and despite White getting an ideal Nd4 v B-d7/ pawns c6 and e6 set up, hindered White’s queens-side break with b5. Of the 11 opportunities to play this move only one was winning even though this opened the a-file against my King. Missing this by attempting to exchange queens meant when b5 was threatened, and even when White plays Kh2-a6 the Stonewall held and there was no way through hence a draw was agreed. Disappointed to miss yet another win but Colin thought the game was a very good one.”

Dave was next to finish on Four. His position was magnificent out of the opening and whilst Steve did well to hang in there for a long time, it looked pretty brutal to me. Dave said – “Playing White my opponent chose the Alekine’s defence. I think that his choice of opening may have been influenced by the fact that we had already played four times in the last two years and he wanted to play something different. Unfortunately, his choice of move order allowed me to wind a pawn and forced him to sacrifice a second to allow him to castle into safety. After this the game settled down but black was unable to avoid me exchanging off pieces to get into a double rook and opposite coloured bishop ending. I succeeded in getting my rooks onto the a file and won a third pawn and then doubled my rook on the seventh rank leaving black with a very passive position. With three additional pawns the game essentially played itself and I won in 55 moves.

I didn’t see much of Phil’s game – but it looked like another ruthless demolition job. Phil is on fire at the moment!

I was the last to finish on Board 1, with the points already in the bag for the team, after a long struggle with Richard McNally. For a long time, I’d been looking at the fact that Dave and Phil were heading for wins with some relief as my position was terrible. Richard clearly knew the opening better than I did, and I was left with my King hopelessly trapped in the middle of the Board with Richard’s Rooks and minor pieces looking poised for the kill. I found a few “only moves,” to hang in there. Richard then seemed to miss a great shot, which I think would have been overwhelming for him and the game turned. He snatched at a pawn and I ended up trapping a piece. After a forced set of moves he had three pawns for the piece and we were in an ending with Rook, Knight and 3 pawns (me) vs Rook and 6 pawns him. Suddenly, I was the one going for the win. I positioned the Knight and King extremely well and was making a lot of progress – even picking up a pawn on the way. I’m pretty certain I missed a win of my own and Richard was able to construct a fortress. I couldn’t keep enough pawns on the board, and as he forced those off, my winning chances receded. It was impossible for me to make progress with the Rooks on and with the Rooks off, I thought I would be probably losing. I’m sure a computer would have put me ahead at the end, but we’d won the match and given how delighted I would have been with the draw earlier in the evening, it still felt like a reasonable effort.

So 3-1. Next up Shirley!  

2017 AGM - Advance Notice

This year's KCC AGM will be held on Wednesday, May 24th at the Abbey Club, with a 7.45 pm start. Bernard R will be in the Chair. Please mark this exciting social event in your diaries now to ensure a bumper attendance!!

If anyone (paid up members only, of course) has any items for inclusion on the agenda or - gasp! - wishes to put their names forward for any club position, please let me know within the next couple of weeks. I will circulate a full agenda and accounts nearer the time.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

That Just Takes The Biscuit

So last night we went down to a 2.5-1.5 defeat to Banbury A. It looks pretty bad with second place Kenilworth losing to second bottom Banbury, but things were not that simple. With three of our five man squad missing, the two teams were equally matched on ratings, as Banbury had successfully wheeled out their usually absent big hitter James Jackson (221), in an effort to stave off relegation. He duly brought home a full point on Board 1, but only after a titanic effort from Andrew on the White side of a Modern Benoni which took the game right to the wire. A brave exchange sac to eliminate a monster Black knight on d4 just failed to get any reward, despite the fragile looking Black king.

On Board 2 I failed to make a similar 30 point grading advantage count against Dan Rowan. I could have won first the d pawn, and then an exchange in the early middle game, but rejected both as they would each have given White plenty of compensation. and left me very passive But the attempt to exploit my edge positionally foundered as Dan defended well, and although I got to a queen ending a pawn up I couldn't prevent perpetual check.

Ben made no such mistake on Board 3. After a very pianissimo Giuoco Piano, he played an excellent exchange sac (theme of the night?!) on f6 against Nathan Manley and with a monster bishop on c3 cutting the Black position to shreds, he followed up with a crushing king side attack for an excellent win.

Which brings me to Board 4. What can I say? No really, what can I say? After 9 moves of very well known Sveshnikov theory, Bernard (C, of course, not the perpetually absent R) reached a position which he has had twice against me on a Thursday night at The Engine. Then he had twice sidestepped the one trick that is White's only hope for an advantage in this line, and gone on to win both games. I felt confident. About three minutes later he had resigned. Either he hadn't known the trap at all and had just luckily avoided it against me, or he was overcome by the futility of life, the universe and everything (especially chess) and wanted the game over quickly.

So there you have it, a disappointing result, but these things can happen when one team is highly motivated and mobilised, and the other not so much so. I wasn't too upset last night, as I was already reconciled to the fact that we were not going to catch Olton at the top of the table anyway. They only needed to avoid defeat in their final match against bottom placed Solihull B to win the league title. So what went and happened at Olton last night, while we were going down to Banbury? Yes, you've guessed it - Olton A 1 Solihull B 3.

I guess that's just the way the cookie crumbles, but I am definitely not a happy bunny (Easter or otherwise!) this morning.