Winter is soon upon us, but at least that means chess is kicking off all over Bristol! The first month has already seen 50+ league matches full of blunders, brilliancies, a swindle here and there and a few shock results. We bring you a league recap, an update on our own predictions and our very first Game of the Month.
All teams are now out of the blocks, even the students are back in town and began with the first drawn match of div 1 (they’ve always been a very drawish team…). Meanwhile Horfield B have been so keen to take themselves out of potential relegation talks that they have climbed all the way to the top of the table (6pts/4). However, lurking on 100% are Downend B and Bristol Chess Times’ favourites for the title, Clifton A. Some top clashes coming in October…
Again soundly on target for our prediction, South Bristol B are sitting on top with 6pts/3 and a consistent 4 gamepoints per match, thanks to a great start by Neville Senior and the rapidly improving Dorota Pacion. Grendel and Horfield C are also on 100% so far, and still very early days for the whole table – with A, B, C and D teams present division 2 never rests!
If division 1 and 2 have been making it look like we know what we are talking about at the Bristol Chess Times, Div 3 has been very accommodating, with Yate and Keynsham taking the early lead. However, our ‘Dark Horse’ prediction of Hanham is looking less good with an unfortunate 0pts/3 but still early days in the season.
It might be a stretch to say this one is going to plan – but the revamped North Bristol B (2pts/1 and our pick for runner-up) are the only team on 100%… just saying… Nevertheless it is wide open already, and more importantly bursting at the seams with 12 teams this year. A possible resurgence of division 5 on the way soon? October should bring a bit of clarity to the tables – or perhaps more complications – you never know with chess.
September 2017 Game of the Month
Our first ever Game of the Month goes to… [drumroll]… young Aron Saunders from Downend – in his debut game!
Aron Saunders vs. Peter Strong – Play through full game
A swarming kingside attack earns the first Bristol Chess Times Game of the Month Award for September.
No doubt the (slightly older) more experienced members of the club looked on thinking ‘slow down!’ but secretly harked back to a time when they could attack with the speed and finesse that Aron showed in this game. Junior chess in general at both Downend and Clevedon in particular has some fantastic support from club members and it will be great to see its future influence on the league, including more battles like this one. It starts with Peter’s bishop+knight taking on f2, winning a rook+pawn for the trouble – a typical exchange in which material is equal but creates imbalance on the board. Spotting the resulting weakness in the opponent’s kingside, Aron launches an attack and offers a series of no less than four ‘Greek gifts’ – I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a flourishing sequence:
Firstly, 12. Bf6! can’t be taken because of the well-placed knight ready to jump in and fork king and queen. A good example of tactics supporting strategy. Secondly, the knight sortie via a check on e7 settles on f5 for more attacking potential – the bishop still can’t be taken because of the new threat of Qxh6+ and mate on g7.
Third, the other knight sacrifices itself the next move – again granting the queen access to h6 or g5 is much more important than a minor piece. And finally the odd-looking but in fact very swift 18.Nh7! which finally defends the bishop, and whether the knight is taken or not, the Queen has a clear path to h6. This forced a last-ditch queen sacrifice but it wasn’t enough this time. Downend F won the match 2.5-1.5 , well played to all!
If you would like to see a game or part of a game featured here, please get in touch with us. Great attacks, stoic defences, double-edged draws or just amusing positions – whatever makes a good read.
(editors note – Our thanks to Ian Pickup of Downend & Fishponds Chess Club for submitting Aron’s game. Good luck to everyone in the league in October!)
Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.