Yes, January has been and gone and for the South West it meant club derby’s, new grades, individual runs coming to an end, and a bumper edition of game of the month!
All three club derby’s took place this month – with 6 fighting draws at the cricket club (Downend), Clifton B overcoming their A team, and Horfield A restoring the balance in the universe with a last-minute win. It was a big win for Clifton B who separate themselves further from Clevedon in the relegation zone – the Uni are just above them so we’ll have to see if the students can repeat last year’s late winning streak.
Horfield C and North Bristol A split their matchpoints for the title race, so South Bristol B have taken a bit of control at the top for now; in the mid-table Thornbury scored a crucial 4-pointer against Downend C, whilst the latter’s D team struggle in last place.
Surely its another two-horse race between Yate and Keynsham this year; both close to 100% – their own crunch match is postponed till April. Bath B continue their winning streak with 2 for 2 in January, whilst Hanham A have climbed out of last place, leaving Downend E in their wake.
Its all about the resurgent North Bristol – they lie 1st and 3rd; the B team with a commanding lead at the top, whilst one of our games of the month comes from a crucial C-team encounter. The division has started to separate – still very close in the middle but with a few teams in the promotion and relegation zone (assuming there’s Division 5 on the way in 2018-19?! There have been a fair number of default points across all divisions this season but membership in general is growing).
The long harsh month of January also saw some individual runs come to an end, so we thought we would give some shout-outs. Jerry ‘unstoppable force’ Humphries was on 10/10 which is a remarkable feat in division 1 – but on his 11th game faced Andrew ‘immovable object’ Cooper – who stopped Jerry by continuing his 100% drawing record. In the same match Andrew Munn finally had to split a point peacefully – ending his run of zero draws from 13 games. A combative style is what we like to see!
Finally, the out-performers – players who are on a plus performance score compared with their grade. Congratulations to the following who are a whopping 30 points or more above their grade:
- Elmira Walker (Downend, +30),
- Yuvraj Kumar (Downend, +31)
- Christian Brown (Bath, +35, also no draws),
- Kwame Benin (Harambee, +35),
- Pete Marks (Horfield, +38),
- Max Walker (Clevedon, +39, also no draws),
- Jonathon Long (University, +44)
- Oleksii Novakov (Clifton, +45).
Game of the Month
We have several games to showcase this month all following a theme of defensive wins with Black. At the excellent Somerset congress in Clevedon there was two such games. Coincidentally a win with Black was exactly what I needed in the major section, but instead I got a little bit crushed by tournament specialist Chris Timmins. In the intermediate and minor however, players rose to the challenge and managed to resist White’s attack before clearing up the debris:
Rich Wiltshir forced resignation from his opponent with this very pretty finish.
Both wins allowed the victors to win (or jointly win) the congress – well done!
In the league Waleed Khan’s game was instrumental in North Bristol C’s rise to the top; with a calm response to an attacking battery and then some swift pressure on a bishop pinned on c2 and it was all over.
In his first season in the league, Waleed Khan posted a statement of intent with this strong victory in Division 4. The bishop on c2 is hopelessly lost
But our game of the month come from the 4NCL (4 Nations Chess League) where Bristol regular Steve Woolgar played a blinding Najdorf and dismantled his opponent in 25 moves (editors note – did anyone win with white in January?!).
MVL would be proud indeed! Congratulations to Steve Woolgar for the Bristol Chess Times Game of the Month
What’s in store for February? Well its a startling lack of title race crunch matches, but that means plenty of room for upsets! More importantly its the KO cup semi-finals, watch this space..
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.