Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Big Mo

That's momentum, in case you are wondering, and nothing to do with either a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or a bartender from The Simpsons.  And we've got it, as the A team notched up its second consecutive win in the Coventry League last night, with a resounding 3-1 win over Coventry A.  Indeed, if we hadn't missed those two Ronnie Rosenthals against University A and I hadn't lost a drawn ending against Rugby, we'd now be top of the table!

Mike was first to finish last night after a rather unexciting encounter with Dave Ireland, and I followed shortly after with a scarcely more interesting game against Coventry's new addition, Henrik Stepanyan. Yes, as if having 300,000 people to choose from wasn't enough, Coventry now need to recruit from distant Sutton Coldfield to take on the mighty resources of Kenilworth's 22,000.

Which left the evening's adrenaline quota all riding on Boards 3 and 4. Luckily, they each provided far more in the way of dramatic content. I was on hand to witness the dramatic climax of Dave's win over Ed Goodwin, where an apparent infiltration/attack by Black's queen to g4 rebounded in the most horrible way, as the queen found itself with no escape squares and about to be rounded up by a White rook. In trying to avert this catastrophe, Ed instead walked into the loss of a rook.

Ben, meanwhile was a pawn up against Bernard C (unlike Joshua, our dual-loyalty member had not absented himself from the opposition for the evening - and I bet he's applied for an Irish passport, too!) after a very enterprising opening with Black, and with Bernard's rook almost stranded on a5 things were looking very good for us. Even so, I was surprised at the speed with which matters concluded, but full marks to Ben on an energetic game. Some welcome compensation for the pain he suffered against Bernard last season!

So two valuable points for us, and since there are only 6 teams/10 matches in the first division this season, every point is especially precious.  And when you are out-graded on every board, even if not by all that much, then its particularly satisfying.

And - not that anybody's counting - I hope you've all noticed that this report went on-line just after 11.00 on the morning after the match. A full hour earlier than Roy managed last week with his B Team report. And where is he this week? I'll tell you, where he is - nowhere to be seen! He'll have to up his game another notch or two if he thinks he can steal my blogging crown!

A visit from Shirley and Joshua

Our home game against Shirley B saw our guest player Joshua breeze through our club once again en route back to the north.

Mike was playing Dave Thomas with the black pieces. White allowed the exchange of dark squared bishop early on and allowed black to push his queen side pawns to advanced squares. With his pieces uncoordinated and pushed back, white then allowed black to get his queen to f2 which forced the win of material.

Gordon Christie chose an irregular defence against Joshua but unfortunately went wrong at about move 9, fought to save a piece and ended up trapped in the centre with whites pawns on d6 and e5 against blacks unmoved d pawn. In such a cramped position, defence was almost impossible and white won in 20 moves.

Phil was playing his 5th black for the team as he has to move down a board to allow us to play Joshua in grade order. A little bit of reverse development saw him emerge out of the Scandinavian opening at a slight disadvantage. However, white had developed his queen and knights onto unfavourable squares and this allowed black to get back into the game. A double rooks and double knights against double bishops and rooks proved favourable. White resigned when he lost a rook.

Dave's game was also a Scandinavian defence. Black's unusual line allowed white to emerge from the opening with more space and a tempo ahead. Unfortunately, white was unable to convert this advantage into anything tangible and reached an queen, even rooks and bishop ending. To make matters worse white then lost control of the d file and couldn't stop black getting into his position and winning material.

So another 3 - 1 victory with an excellent team performance.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Good result against Stratford

A evening out at the new Stratford venue and it was first against second. Initial fears of not being able to find the new Stratford venue in the dark proved unfounded.

Mike had white against Richard Mcnally. Richard played a sharp pawn sacrifice line straight out of chess history. Mike was able to return the material and retain the initiative. Careful play enabled Mike to neutralise black's possible sacrificial attacks and to get to an advantageous ending.

Phil's game was a marathon struggle against Colin Searle. Careful attack and defence by both sides resulted in an ending where white has better pawns but black had more space. White opted to try and play for a win and avoided repetition of moves. However, he overstretched himself and allowed his pieces to become trapped on the kingside. Black took advantage of this to push a passed queenside pawn. White failed to take the opportunity to give up his pieces for blacks remaining pawns which would have left a complicated piece ending that probably couldn't be won in the time available. White resigned when he was unable to stop blacks passed pawn.

Dave was playing David Gardiner. A line of the c3 sicilian left white with control of the c file and black pieces marooned on the queen side. White managed to open up black kingside with a piece sacrifice and then took advantage of inaccurate defence to mate black.

Ben had black against Richard Dobedoe. After a passive opening Black miscalculated when trying to simplify and reached an ending where his bishop was very short of squares and had lost control of the b file. White consolidated his advantage and won the ending.

Another good result for the B team, 1 - 3 on the night.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

One Year Later......

This time last season, we went down to a crushing 4-1 defeat against Banbury in the first round of the Leamington League Open KO Cup. Wind forward one year and the boot was firmly on the other foot, as this year it was Kenilworth who had bragging rights, with the scoreline reversed.

Shorn of their top player, James Jackson, who is playing in the ridiculously strong Isle of Man Open this week, Banbury must have feared the worst when they found themselves up against our top four and a half players. (Joshua and Mike have identical grades, so its just pot luck that Joshua got the nod for board 5 on the evening!) As usual with us, though, the evening was anything but straightforward.

At about 7.33, nine players were in residence and ready to play. But where was our Board 4? I decided to call him up and find out. "I'll be there about 8.00," I was told. "I'm just on my way from Banbury." Yes, our man had gone to the wrong venue. (Carl did the same not long ago for a home match against Olton, also arriving at the Abbey Club just before the default time. Clearly some of our players have been over-heavily sprinkled with wanderlust.)  Its enough to make a match captain weep.

Anyway, the match started, and just after 8.00 Andrew P (for it was he) duly arrived, to sundry hoots of derision and laughter. I explained the time limit to him. " We're playing 1 hour 30 minutes for all the moves. Or in your case, 1 hour 5 minutes for all the moves."

By that time Paul was already a piece up on board 1, as right from the opening Georgs Vikanis had sacrificed a piece for two pawns. It looked massively optimistic to me and I assumed Paul would simply bring home the point. How wrong can you be? Although he had started playing at a good tempo, Paul's play became slower and slower and disaster duly ensued, though fortunately my gaze was averted when the final moves were played out. A very uncharacteristic performance by Paul. (Except for the abysmal clock management, of course!)

I was quite surprised to be the one to equal the score on Board 3, with a win over Dan Rowan, after what had started off as a very boring game. From the opening (a Trompowsky) the position was dead level and plenty of pieces had been swapped off. Then I found a cheapo which won a pawn but allowed a white rook to the seventh. For a few moves it looked awkward, but after Dan missed a momentary chance to force a draw, I took control and hoovered up almost all his pawns. He just had a passed h pawn left in a rook and knight ending, but by that time I had woven a very nice mating net using my king and two advanced pawns in the middle of the board, and faced with the loss of a rook (the only way to stop mate) Dan resigned.

Andrew then put us in the lead, despite his massive (self-imposed!) time handicap, by finding some nice tactics (after a very irregular opening) which won the Black queen for rook and knight. White just had to avoid some tactics associated with the back rank and then his queen took control to secure the full point against Arthur Hibbitt.

I then adjourned to the bar for a post mortem, where news of two further Kenilworth wins filtered through. Joshua won on Board 5 after a rather hair-raising game against Mal Waddell where his king had to go walkabout to g6 in the early middle game. This is probably the inevitable consequence when you play a dubious opening, dubiously. I failed to see where the axe finally landed, but the White kingside pieces were finding it hard to get into the game, whereas Black had every piece in play - including his king!

I had been sat next to Andy B most of the evening, where he seemed to be making all the running against Arran Gundry in a sort of English v King's Indian/Benoni position. Although Black seemed to lose a lot of time with his knights in the opening, and be in a bit of a bind, he did eventually manage to engineer some counterplay, and after massive complications and confusion, a Black pawn emerged on e3 looking very dangerous. But Andy had seen everything (unlikely, now I think about what I've just written) and somehow engineered a rook ending where Black's e pawn was just falling off. Some White queenside pawns were in danger, but with two connected kingside passers the ending had to be winning for Andy. Especially when he was apparently gifted the Black rook!

So that's us into the semi-final against Shirley at the end of January.

But really, all this is a mere sideshow to the real issue to emerge from last night's events. Which is that I have been usurped as the club's pre-eminent blogger by Roy! Showing a speed and efficiency with which he has seldom previously been identified, he managed to get a report of last night's D team match (in which he wasn't even playing!) onto the club website by 12.21 this lunchtime, thus making me look like a complete laggard in comparison. I tell you all frankly, I am reeling under the pressure of this new competition.  However, I still know a few tricks that he doesn't, so when you are voting for Blogger of the Year just remember who it was who gave you a reason to laugh out loud with this!

Matt Finish

I was in attendance at the Abbey Club last night to support a protégé of Paul's. So with apologies to Captain Mike (who was not playing) I have taken the opportunity to offer this report.

Kenilworth's Billy Fellowes - turned seven years old last month  - made his league debut last night at the Abbey Club on bottom board against Adrian Grimes (Stratford C). Billy is almost certainly the youngest player ever in the League and possibly even in the whole of Warwickshire. He made a very good show with Adrian (and myself) of the view that Billy had the better of him in the opening. Sadly a simple error left Adrian with an extra pawn - supported and passed on the a-file. A flustered Billy then quickly lost a whole rook and the game ran away from him. After taking a moment to compose himself, Billy displayed bags of character and threw himself back into the game with gusto making Adrian work hard for his win.  A fine debut performance and Paul will be proud.

On board two Tony played in SPECTACULAR fashion with a Bishop check on about move five - but overlooking that he had just placed this Bishop en prise. No compensation - just a crap position. Not satisfied with just one piece down Tony dropped another in short order. Game over. A veil to be pulled over this one.

I did not see the opening of top gun Matt but whatever it was, it was 'irregular' - by about move six Matt faced his opponent's huge lead in development and total control of the centre with nothing in the centre and a Queen on a5. Perhaps it was super dooper hyper modern! Matt outplayed his opponent in the middle game and won a pawn but struggled to make something of it. After Matt missed an endgame skewer to win a rook a draw was quickly agreed.

So, Kenilworth D 0.5 Stratford C 2.5

I also witnessed a very strong Kenilworth play in the Open KO Cup against Banbury. Whilst the bottom four of the five boards seemed to be doing fine when I left, sadly, I saw Mr Lam lose on top board in his match - but as they say, that is another story.....

Sunday, 21 October 2018

A Tale of Two Londons

Kenilworth ‘B’ was in action last night against Coventry C. Here is what each of our players had to say.

First Stuart on board One. He is a little miffed at the strength of his opponents!

“I see Ed played on board 3 last year for Cov A!!! I opened with a very modern London system, and got good development of my pieces, eventually I ended up blocked and retreated backwards. Losing a rook for a Bishop was my one mistake while obsessively protecting an isolated pawn. Came close to a draw as he was running out of time with only 2.5 mins left to my 12mins, but alas it wasn’t to be. Quote of the year 2018 by Watson.R. “Cov B division is easy!! Mainly low graded players!!! Played two games against 169 and 154 so far.....!!!”

Moving on to yours truly on board two:-

I played a Scheveningen Sicilian but played the correct moves in the wrong order against Bava. I ended up with much less space, got squashed but had endgame chances with two bishops v Knight and Bishop on an open board – but two pawns down. But in the event I could not prevent Bava exchanging his knight for my Bishop – game over. And I have to show this to Mr Lam tomorrow and justify myself! Hmm.

Edit – post lesson analysis.  I got a good position from the opening but then played too passively (of course the Sicilian is a counter ATTACKING opening) and, with limited tactical awareness blundered my first pawn – then my second. THEN game over.

Jude was on board three. Told by Jude what to write, here is what his mum, Leanne, writes:-

“Jude’s game against Howard Jones – Jude played the London system and later in the game did a pawn sacrifice to make his opponents pawns doubled and isolated and he went on to win a pawn. Jude took advantage with the bishop pair but his opponent forced him to trade bishops and his opponent centralised his knight meaning he was forced to win the exchange. Jude traded a rook for a bishop and the position was blockaded. Jude could have put his knight in an outpost but stopped his opponents king from entering and winning pawns. Jude accepted his opponents offer of a draw and was happy with this in the position.”

And finally on bottom board, Algis who writes:-“Algis had a tedious game with a breakthrough and victory in the very last seconds.  The opponent played a standard Queen’s Gambit opening with a fairly boring development from both sides. After a number of exchanges and a deviation of the ‘d’ pawn, Algis’ opponent had to defend 2-against-1 pawns on the ‘g’ and ‘h’ lanes. However there were only 3 minutes left for Algis (and 40 minutes for the opponent…). The breakthrough came after Algis switched the attack with the knight on pawns on the other side, opponents’ knight, a pawn and the king trying to stop those 2 pawns. Soon, there were 3 pawns marching for the queen on different parts of the board and one finally made it. The opponent resigned with a whole 35 seconds left on Algis’ clock.”

Captain Roy suspects the board order may very well be different in the New Year.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Through Gritted Teeth

Excellent news! The A team hauled itself off the foot of the Coventry League Division 1 table last night by picking up its first points of the season, thanks to a 2.5-1.5 win over Warwick University B. It was almost the perfect match - two wins with White and two draws with Black. Except that I lost to spoil things. Rats.

Ben finished first with a draw on Board 3 against Victoria Sit, after a fairly tortuous struggle where he was suffering for the entire game. Stalwart defence saved the day!  The same could not be said of my performance, as I went down rather horribly to  Louise Head on  Board 1. I rather burned my bridges by going all in with a kingside attack while my queenside fell to pieces. Several more bad decisions led to a total rout.

Which left the match situation looking pretty precarious. But Dave had been winning on Board 4 against Ben Lee almost straight out of the opening, and duly pocketed the full point to level the match. Mike was better and pressing against Andy Pollock on Board 2, but I thought Black was defending well enough to hold the draw. However, while I was busy analysing my game in the bar, things clearly happened as the next thing I knew was that Mike had won. The word "blunder" was uttered by Mike's opponent, but that's all the light I can shed on proceedings.

So never mind my own painful loss, the team won. And that's the important thing isn't it?

Meanwhile the B team went down by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5 against  a strong Coventry C who fielded two players who were virtual ever presents in Division 1 last season.  Our junior participation was halved last night, so well done to Roy for getting a full team out. Jude notched another draw (he's a points machine!), while Algis weighed in with another win, taking him to 2/2 for the season in the Coventry League. Keep up the good work guys - that first match win is just around the corner!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Two Ronny Rosenthals in One Match!!

Not that obscure a title for me, but I guess it might need some explaining for the younger members of the club.....

So when we managed two misses of such proportions in last night's match against Warwick University A, you'll understand why it was so galling to end up as 2.5-1.5 losers. The match was there for the taking, and we blew it. Indeed, this was the weakest Warwick Uni A side we've encountered for several seasons, with their monstrously strong Board 1, Dimitar Daskalov (228!), backed up by 3 x 150 players - a far  cry from the juggernauts we have been crushed by in recent years.

I was the first to finish on Board 1, and was responsible for the first Ronny Rosenthal moment of the evening. After resolutely neutralising my super-strong opponent's attempts to complicate the game,  he let his guard drop for a moment and I flashed out a Qxh6+ pawn grab, when Kxh6 would have been answered by Nxf7+ and Nxd6 (Black queen!), leaving me two pawns up in an overwhelming position. He didn't take the queen, but instead allowed me to make an immediately winning knight sac on g6 … except that I didn't win. I couldn't find the right sequence of moves, which should have won back the piece leaving me 3 pawns up, and instead had to settle for perpetual check. So what would normally have been an excellent result, turned out to be a massive missed opportunity.

Mike drew almost immediately afterwards on Board 2, after a tense struggle where he was seemingly perpetually on the verge of making a breakthrough against a very draughty White king, but was never able to get in the killing blow. But if that was a half point lost, Ben's draw on Board 3 against his female opponent from Turkey felt like a half point gained, as he had a very ropey looking position from the opening, which hardly got much better all the way into the ending. Resolute defence kept the material balance, though, and when he was finally able to bring his king over to the queenside to shore up his vulnerable b2 pawn, the draw was agreed.

And so to Dave, just back from New York, and hopefully full of American get up and go! Unfortunately not. His opponent seemed to play the opening rather well, as in typical Catalan style, Dave just couldn't get his light squared bishop into the game satisfactorily. After some time I looked back and it had become a rook and knight ending where Kenilworth were 2 pawns down. Our only hope was that Dave was a couple of minutes up on the clock with play well into the final 10 minutes. But in trying to capitalise on his time edge, Dave blundered his knight and was totally lost. His opponent then gave a seemingly killing check which drove Dave's king to h6 right into the path of the white g and  pawns which were set to give forced mate.  Except that the Black king - for one crucial move - was in stalemate. Rook takes pawn check would have been an instant draw if the rook was captured, and if it wasn't White's extra piece was going to fall off with a stone cold drawn rook and pawn ending - especially given White's time situation. But instead it was Ronny Rosenthal moment number two, the fleeting opportunity passed, and the game and the match were lost.

That Ronny's got a lot to answer for! Not least that KCC are now bottom of Division 1 with no points from two matches. Its a hard life in Division 1.

But better news from Division 2 where our youthful B team scored their first point of the season with a 2-2 draw against Coventry D. Heroes on the night were the mighty Jude and Coventry League debutant Algis. Well done chaps!

And news has also reached me of another Cup success for the club in the Leamington League competitions. After our ground-breaking win in the U-120 tournament last week, this time round we have progressed through to the semi-final of the U-700 Cup after a nail biting 2.5-2.5 draw against Shirley went our way on board elimination. In this respect, Ben's win on Board 2 counted for more than Shirley's win on Board 3. Special mention also to Jude (yet again!) for his draw against 126 rated Jon Asbury, and Bernard for finally getting on the scorecard in his comeback campaign. The first win cannot be far away!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes......

…….. 24 little hours etc etc.

On Monday the A team was in Leamington League action away at Shirley, and came away with a  thumping 3.5-0.5 win. Andrew finished first by virtually forcing Keith Ingram to make a piece sacrifice on g6 which resulted in immediate perpetual check. Keith didn't need a second invitation and so Andrew was on his way home for an early night with a half point in the bag. Then the wins started coming in. First Mike D crashed through against Frank Jimenez's Maginot Line defensive strategy, via a knight sac to get his pieces flooding into the passive White position, and soon after Joshua's extra pawn and bishop v knight saw him comfortably home against Jonathan Dale in an ending. I wrapped up the evening by beating Phil Purcell in an interesting game where I ended up with 3 extra pawns - which he decided was about 3 too many.

So it was with confidence sky high that two of those players set off for our Coventry League season opener against Rugby the next night. Regrettably that confidence was somewhat misplaced. With Dave swanning around in New York, and Carl also somewhere in the States, seemingly keeping the global economy going single handedly, Rod stepped into the breach to supplement our normal team. He held an interesting game with Black against Simon Turner on board 4, and Ben also drew, after appearing to be making the running, on 3 against Jonathan Cox.  Mike then followed with another draw against Bob Wildig, leaving me to decide the match against Rugby's newcomer Paul Colburn on Board 1. Regrettably I was not up to the task, and after being equal or slightly worse the whole game, I gave the match away by failing to hold a difficult rook and knight v rook and bishop endgame, even though the draw was within reach until very near the end. So a loss by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5, and a disappointing start to the season.

Meanwhile, on the same night at the Abbey Club our B team was making its debut in Division 2 of the Coventry League against a very strong Nuneaton B team, which was 75% comprised of regular Division 1 players. While our team's grey beards (literally in one case!) Roy and Stuart went down on the top boards, our two juniors, Will and Jude, distinguished themselves with fighting draws on Boards 3 and 4. Will's draw against 148-graded Bob Buckler was especially impressive. Not every league match will be this tough, for sure!

And while I'm wrapping up the week's results, mention must be made of the U-120 Cup team which scored a 2.5-1.5 win over Leamington - our first win in this competition for many a year! Jude and Matt scored wins and together with Tony's draw saw us through to a semi-final against either Daventry or Stratford 2 in the New Year. Well done team, and especially well done Jude, on becoming possibly/probably Kenilworth's youngest ever match winner!!