January 2018 Review

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!

Division 1

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.

div1

Division 2

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.

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Division 3

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.

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Division 4

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).

div4

Statistics

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:

Check and mate

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.

waleed

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?!).

WOOLGAR

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..


mikecircle

Mike Harris

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.

Beating the London System from two pieces down

Today on the Bristol Chess Times we welcome new columnist Mike Fielding from North Bristol Chess Club.  A club well in the ascendancy who are rapidly growing and striving for Division 1 status, North Bristol have been combative all season.  

The London seems to be everywhere in amateur chess at the moment so here is a recent game from the recent North Bristol B vs. Hanham B clash where Black launches a lovely attack against this tough opening system.

[Event “North Bristol B Vs Hanham B”]
[Site “Ratepayers Arms, Filton.”]
[Date “2018.01.25”]
[White “Kevin Marshall”]
[Black “Michael Fielding”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A80”]

1. d4 f5

The Dutch isn’t something I usually play so I thought i’d trot it out to try to catch my opponent out.

2. Bf4

The infamous London System. Buckle up.

2… Nf6 3. e3 b6 4. Nf3 Bb7

In the Dutch it’s usually good to fianchetto the queen’s bishop if white doesn’t fianchetto the kingside bishop.

5. c3 e6 6. Be2 Be7 7. h3 O-O 8. Nbd2 Nd5

mf1

Probably not the best move but I though I can either kick his bishop back to a worse square or win the bishop pair.

9. Bh2 Na6 10. Qc2 Nf6 11. O-O-O c5 12. Rhg1 cxd4 13. exd4 Ne4 !?

mf2

13… Nb4 is a good try but I couldn’t really see where the knight was going. My main aim was now to hit hard and fast.

14. Rdf1 (14. Bxa6 Bxa6 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. Qxe4 )

This line would give up a pawn but the bishops become a bit better and I’ve got a simple plan to pawn storm the queenside. Although I’m a pawn down I’ve always thought the 2-2-2 pawn formation is favourable.

14… Rc8 15. Kd1 ?

The king is definitely asking for trouble coming back into the centre !

15. ..Nc7

I think I copped out a bit with this move. I always worry about missing tactics so I thought just reroute my knight back in and try to open up. Nb4 is better I’m sure.

16. Bd3 Nd5 !

Let the fun begin. Things soon start to open up with the king still in the centre.

17. Nxe4 fxe4 18. Bxe4 Nxc3+ 19. bxc3 Bxe4 20. Qxe4 Rxc3

mf3

This is the line I calculated. White’s king is stuck in the centre with the rest of his pieces stuck awkwardly in the corner. Now I just need to pile in.

21. Qb1 Ba3 22. Kd2 Qc8 23. Ng5 (23. Rc1 Bxc1+ 24. Rxc1 Rxc1 25. Qxc1 Qa6)

mf4

I though that white would give the exchange back to free his pieces. Even after the mass trade off I can’t help but feel I’d pick one of his loose pawns up.

23… g6 (23… Rf5 The better move. 24. Ne4 Rc4 25. Qd3 Bb4+ )

24. Ne4 Rc4 25. Kd3 ?

Stepping out the frying pan and into the fire.

…Qa6 26. Ke3 d5 27. Nd6 Rc3+ 28. Kd2 Rc6

mf5

28… Bb4 This moves to a forced checkmate. I applaud any human that would have found that over the board and had the bottle to play it! 29. Kd1 Rd3+ 30. Kc1 Bd2+ 31. Kc2 Rc8+ 32. Nxc8 Qc4+ 33. Kd1 Bb4+ 34. Ke2 Rb3+ 35. Kd1 Rxb1#

29. Qb5 Bb4+ !

mf6

Trading queens just ends up in a losing endgame for me. Sacrificing the second piece allows me to infiltrate and keep the advantage.

30. Qxb4 {Forced.} 30… Qxa2+ 31. Ke3 Rc2

Now the rook has infiltrated white has nowhere to go. Although I’m two pieces down they’re doing nothing. I can start to rearrange my pieces and cause more problems.

32. Qe1 {White cracks.}

32. Kd3 Rb2 Was the only try but white’s completely tied down. With perfect play white can probably wriggle out of it but with less than 20 minutes on the clock it’s easier said than done.

32… Qb3+ 0-1

mf7

Play through full game

So what can we learn from this game? Sometimes you’ve got to speculate to accumulate and quality over quantity. I know that computer evaluations should never be blindly followed but after the sacrifice on move 20 the silicone based overlords always had black as having an advantage, even when I was two pieces down the evaluation never went positive. Although my moves may not have been computer accurate it’s much harder to defend than attack and eventually that told..


Michael Fielding (1)

Mike Fielding

Mike can be found throwing the kitchen sink for North Bristol or hustling some backpackers in a remote youth hostel; trying to help turn North Bristol into a Division 1 side. Ex-Weymouth. UK NATO Chess Team 2015. MOD Chess Champion 2017.

 

December 2017 Review – Cup Special!

The cup is here! Brutal knockouts and underdog dreams reign supreme over the chessboard whilst clubs salivate over the prospect of silverware in the new year.

This month’s review will be a little different – sadly no game of the month (don’t despair, there’s plenty of tournament and league action in January so we’ll have to make up for it then) and little to no movement in the league.

South Bristol A climbed up to mid-table in div 1, Horfield C have relinquished their clutches on div 2, whilst North Bristol B extend their lead in div 4, but other than that it’s all ticking along nicely.

So on to the bloodbath that is the KO cup!

The major saw just a single quarter-final, but packed with enough tension for four! Horfield were totally on the back foot but mounted a heroic (well…) comeback and again won by the smallest margin leaving Clifton wondering where the wins even came from.

Semi-final predictions

Horfield vs. Downend. We’re going with Horfield for this one (editors intervention – bias much Mike?!). They’ve been consistent in the league, have the home advantage, are on a lucky streak, and crucially yours truly is not available to put the team in peril.

Bath vs. South Bristol. Again going with the home odds, we’ll take Bath to give South Bristol an early bath… But that’s ages away in February, many things can change.

December was all about the minor cup action. Downend’s strength in depth overcame the re-branded North Bristol, and will now face South Bristol in the semi’s who made it through with a stonking 6-0 win against Hanham. For this reason we’ll have to pick South Bristol for the win in February.

Horfield proved too strong for Yate and will meet Clevedon in the semis; who upset Clifton in a tough battle. That means giants Clifton are absent from both semi-finals, so it’s wide open! Horfield have the home odds for the semi, but who doesn’t love a cup run from a small town?! Clevedon it is.

We’ll be back in January with maybe a bumper edition of Game of the Month, and check back in February with the results of the KO semi-finals and a final preview.


mikecircle

Mike Harris

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.

From the Front Line: Gambit Night Review

What would chess be without gambits? Good question! Not half as fun is your answer; as 20 or so swashbucklers proved on Thursday night – battling on new ground over the board as well as new actual ground in North Bristol’s new venue in Filton.

Lifelong gambiteer Steve Woolgar resurrected the tournament this year and prepared 28 gambits – dished out at random before each game began.

1

Gambits on cards often forced players into unknown territory – for example here followed e3, Bb4+ Bd2 and pawn takes e3! The bishop can’t be taken so white has to play with very messed-up pawns.

IMG_4891

For some it was a daring expedition outside of their super-solid repertoire; for others it was welcome respite – where for once they will be just as prepared for the opening as their opponents.

The setting was an active night at Filton sports centre – the ironically unsound chess being played in a noisy former squash court, which was between a swimming pool and a snooker room – but more importantly next to the bar, which would feature more as the night progressed.

3

Nothing but water (I assume its water, might be sprite, who knows) for the two eventual champions Henry Duncansson (left) and Alex Rositter who squared off in round 4 – settling on a draw and winning all their other matches.

4

“Really, I’m supposed to defend this with ten minutes?” Clevedon’s own Stuart Iles (right) bagged the grading prize with 3/5.

The play of the day has to go to the one and only opening theoretician Dave Tipper, who delivered – wait for it – a smothered mate on the board, afterwards explaining to the crowd that the particular gambit line inevitably led to a smooth kingside attack.

Personally, I practice the 5-move smothered mate combination before every chess game (it’s just that satisfying) but as yet have not been able to use it. Dave beat me to it in heroic fashion…

5

The inimitable Nh6 double-check, followed up by the lunge Qg8+!! And the knight returns to f7 to ‘smothermate’ the king.

6

Huzzah!

Thanks to Steve Woolgar for a great effort getting this tournament back on the calendar and a great night of gambiteering – let’s hope some of them work their way into league repertoires this season.


mikecircle

Mike Harris

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.