November 2009

Sun 1st: October
Sun 1st: First thoughts on season
Wed 4th: On the Brink
Fri 13th: Call that a fork?
Mon 16th: A Real Ramble
Wed 18th: What, no stodge?
Fri 20th: Torquay starts
Sat 21st: Underwear
Sun 22nd: The final straight
Wed 25th: A touch of carnage

Sun 1st: October

RR seems to have gone into hibernation over recent months, but I've dug him out, given him a good telling off and sat him down at the keyboard. As a result there are a full set of articles under October for you to peruse. If you are really unlucky some will follow for September too.
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Sun 1st: First thoughts on season
Newcastle C 4 2 1 1 5
Alsager A 3 2 1 0 5
Cheddleton B 3 1 2 0 4
Newcastle B 4 2 0 2 4
H C Rooks 3 2 0 1 4
Macclesfield 3 1 2 0 4
Meir A 4 1 2 1 4
Stafford B 4 0 2 2 2
Fenton A 3 0 1 2 1
H C Knights 3 0 1 2 1
Div 2 table at 29th Oct

Even this early in the season the second division table is showing why the division is so popular - no hundred or nought per cent records. The competition is home to big beasts and small, with the former already including Gerald Acey (192), Dave Buxton (188), Alex Richardson (185), Simon Edwards (179), Pat Bennett (174), Malcolm Armstong (171) and Tony Soames (170). Predictions on the final outcome welcome.
Fenton D 3 2 1 0 5
Cheddleton F 2 2 0 0 4
Cheddleton H 4 1 1 2 3
Hassell 3 1 0 2 2
Cheddleton G 3 1 0 2 2
Newcastle E 2 1 0 1 2
Meir C 3 1 0 2 2
Div 5 at 31st Oct
Newcastle D 3 2 1 0 5
Cheddleton E 3 1 1 1 3
Fenton C 2 1 1 0 3
Kidsgrove B 3 1 0 2 2
Meir B 3 0 1 2 1
Division 4 at 26th Oct

All the teams are also off the mark in division five, which is primarily aimed at those with a modest standard, though some fine top boards have also been spied. Have Fenton D hit the top too soon only to be a target for the pack of Cheddleton teams, or will they prove to be the class of the division?
Division four also features no perfectly good or bad records, and I must include the table here as it shows a Newcastle team at the top, though with the competition not being a sprint there is plenty of time for that to change.
There has been little action in the first and third divisions yet, so no comment on them.
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Wed 4th: On the Brink
A reversal of venues meant that we entertained Macclesfield in the first round of the Open Cup (formerly known as the 8 board or 8 man cup). No-one seemed quite sure of the protocol over colours, but we decided that since we were now playing at home despite the draw, we would have black on odds. Reading other chess sites sorting this out would have been enough to cause an 'incident', but our league doesn't work like that. So RR, being on board four had white, with Richard Berenbrinck his direct opponent.
RR v Richard Berenbrinck after 9 ...Bd7
We join the game after a typically cautious opening 9 moves. Blacks queen's knight on c6 is slightly more aggressively placed than white's on d2, and certainly puts paid to any b4 advance by white for some time. A black b5 seems a distinct possibility. It looks as if we are on the brink of a classical wing v central play game, with black to open the queenside and white the centre. However first wants to find a square for his queen - c2 looks a possibility:
10 a3 a5 Interesting, perhaps Richard has decided to undermine the b pawn with a4
11 Qc2 Na7 Unexpected. Time to shove in the centre. As long as the queenside stays closed I don't have to worry too much about his bishop on g7.
12 d4 b6 No, I'm not going to play dxc4 bxc5. Time to move a rook. Having vague visions of taking over the centre completely and then shoving the f-pawn, I decide to move the a-rook. Besides it gets it off a1 and any potential problems posed by his bishop. Just a matter of picking a square. Same file as the enemy queen is rarely wrong:
13 Rad1 Rc8, 14 d5 b5, 15 e4 Rb8, 16 Rfe1 in case the e-file opens
16 ... Qb6, 17 Rb1 Qc7, 18 Bd3 Nh5, 19 e5 Nf4
RR v Richard Berenbrinck after 19 ... Nf4
Now comes what proves to be the winning manoeuvre:
20 exd6 exd6 With his queen on c7 the recapture has to come before anything else.
21 Bxg7 Kxg7, 22 Qc3+ Kg8, 23 Ne4 f5 Can he really afford not to play Nh5?
24 Nf6+ Rxf6 (King moves are not recommended)
25 Qxf6 Rf8 Black cannot take the bishop of course because then Re7 is unanswerable.
26 Qc3 A cowardly retreat - Qh4 is more entertaining and probably stronger. For the rest of the game RR concentrated more on staying clear than going for the jugular. Be careful of queen and rook on same white diagonal. Oh, and don't get mated by queen g2.
26 ... b4, 27 axb4 axb4, 28 Qd2 Nxd3, 29 Qxd3 Qd8
30 Ra1 Nc8, 31 Qd2 f4, 32 Re4 Qf6, 33 Rae1 h6
34 Qa2 g5, 35 Qa1 Qf5, 36 Qc1 Qg6, 37 Nd2 Qf5
38 f3 Qf6, 39 Qa1 Bf5, 40 Qxf6 Rxf6, 41 Re8+ Kg7
42 Ra1 Kg6, 43 Raa8 Nb6, 44 Ra6 Nd7, 45 Ne4 Bxe4
46 fxe4 Ne5, 47 Rd8
I considered 47 Rxd6 Rxd6, 48 Rxe5
but decided that Ra6 by black gave him more play than I wanted, though in truth white's central pawns are now very strong.
My analysis of 47 Rxe5 dxe5 was incomplete - considering only
48 Rxf6 Kxf6 and 48 Re5, neither of which seems adequate.
However 48 Rc5 would be very strong in this line.

47 ... Kh5, 48 Rdxd6 Rf8, 49 Re6 Nd3, 50 Rxh6+ Kg4
51 Rag6 f3, 52 h3+ Kg3, 53 Rxg5+ Kf4, 54 Rf5+ Rxf5
55 exf5 f2+, 56 Kf1 Kxf5, 57 Re6 1-0
Not the most efficient finish, but a point's a point. And we won the match.
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Fri 13th:Call that a fork?
Friday 13th. Away to Cheddleton A. Can we be any unluckier than that?
RR found himself black against Conrad Bushnell, and after typically irregular play in the opening reached the diagrammed position:
Conrad Bushnell v RR after 9 Nc3
White's d-pawn is currently protected by the threat of c5 forking the knight b6 and any capturing piece. Considered Nc8 followed by Qa5 if white replies c5, but decided it was a litle early in the game for such backward moves, so lashed out with 9 ... f5 instead
10 f3 wanting to retain the bishop on the g1-a7 diagonal
10 ... Nf6, 11 Nge2 But the aforementioned fork no longer works, as RR proceeded to show:
Conrad Bushnell v RR after 11 Nge2
11 ... Bxd6, 12 c5 Nbd5, 13 cxd6 Nxe3 'twas f3 that undid the fork!
A pawn up, the d-pawn to follow, comfortable development and pawn structure. I'm winning! Indeed despite the inevitable inaccuracies RR never relinquished his hold on the game as he boringly exchanged material to reach an endgame with three pawns v two on both wings. The team won too, with a characteristically exciting Barry game ending in our favour seconds before the latest possible final whistle.
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Mon 16th: A Real Ramble
Rambling Rook likes real rambles too - walking, so he's succumbed to the temptation to include a description of one I did last Monday (9th Nov)
Wed 18th: What, no stodge?
RR is well known to be one of the stodgier players around, but even he once in a while has an irresistible urge to attack. With white against Stephane Pedder on board four for Newcastle A against Stafford A, RR has already occupied the centre (RR doesn't normally do that) and voluntarily swapped off his queen's bishop for a knight (or that) to reach the position shown left.
RR v Stephane Pedder after 8 0-0
9 e5 Bg7, 10 h4 is the rook serious? d6, 11 Be4 c6
Clearly intending solid support for d5, but probably not best.
12 h5 d5, 13 cxd5 exd5, 14 hxg6
A piece sac. RR most certainly does not do that!
RR v Stephane Pedder after 14 hxg6
14 ... dxe4, 15 gxf7+ Rxf7, 16 Nxe4 c5, 17 Nd6 Rd7, 18 Qb3+ Kf8
19 0-0-0 For some reason rejecting the obviously superior dxc5. Perhaps rushing to get his remaining piece into the game. Unfortunately it gives Stephane a good opportunity to get back in the game with an exchange sac. Fortunately he declines to do so.
19 ... c4, 20 Qe3 Bd5, 21 Rxh7 Nc6, 22 Qf4+ Kg8
23 Rdh1 Nb4, 24 Qg4 Nd3+, 25 Kd2 Kf8, 26 Rh8 Bg8
27 R1h7 Bxh7, 28 Rxd7 c3+, 29 bxc3 Nxf2, 30 Qf4+ Bf6
and RR goes for the mate starting Rxd8+ rather than the one move shorter Qh6+.
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Fri 20th: Torquay starts
RR is a frequent visitor to the Torquay congress, and he duly set off with Alex to compete this year. After the long haul to the south coast we arrived at our hotel only to find that our allocated rooms were very much on the noisy side. The receptionist was unable or unwilling to find alternative rooms there, but fortunately Torquay is not short of hotels and we rapidly found more attractive rooms elsewhere. I had entered the major (U170) section, and found that half the field was in the 160s. However my first round opponent was graded well below me, and after a rush of blood in which I offered (but he declined) an unsound sacrifice aimed at opening the h-file more normal RR service was resumed with a pawn being grabbed. More material was offered and accepted, and then a mate threat overlooked. First target achieved - RR is off the mark so won't be getting a forced bye. And as you will have guessed by now, I've decided to give very much an edited highlights report, else I'll never get around to giving a report at all.
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Sat 21st: Underwear
Angelo Castruccio v RR
Final position after 34 ... K(c6)d6

My opponents for the rest of the weekend were all graded in the narrow band from 156 to 168, so lots of close encounters expected, and so it proved. Indeed todays games were both drawn.
In round 2 RR faced Angelo Castruccio from Bristol with black. The encounter was close throughout and at the end RR chickened out of playing f5 which held some prospect of an edge, and also for going completely wrong, for the innocuous Kd6. However sorting out the variations after 34 ... f5 seemed beyond RR at the time. Maybe you can do better (without the help of moving pieces around the board).
Richard Webster from Ashfield was next up with RR white. Another cagy game reaching a rook ending. RR initially declined a draw offer, missed an opportunity to gain a definite edge, and inevitably found his efforts to create chances also created possibilities for his opponent. Fritz appears to score the final position equal, as he does the final position of the morning game.
RR v Richard Webster
Final position with white to play

How would you fancy playing this position out in a league match, with the match as yet undecided and crowds of people around the board? Would draw have been the actual result had RR had to do so? We'll never know.
But RR did end the day with a pair of draws.
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Sun 22nd: The final straight
Jonathan Ayres v RR
Final poition, RR to move
A new day, a new opponent. This time Scarborough's Jonathan Ayres who I beat in the final round of the same competition last year. Another attack of cowardice perhaps, but I agreed a draw in the position shown
I liked my position, but wasn't at all sure how to improve it, or even whether I could. I would like to get pawns onto white squares, but attempts to do so seem weakening. Another example of what I think of as a congress draw - one that i would be unlikely to accept in team play whilst the match is live.
But it achieved my second target of reaching 50%. That left one game to achieve targets 3 and 4, namely to play to my grade in the congress - the low grade of my fist round opponent means I shall need to reach 3 points to achieve that - and to get on the prize list, for which a win would almost certainly be necessary. In my way would be Michael Stinton-Brownbridge (MSB) from Plymouth, in my favour was possession of the white pieces.
RR v M S-B after 13 ... Bf5

A poorly played opening left RR in the position shown after 13 moves. His main (only?) current asset is the queenside majority, but there seems a grave danger of central pawns beeing rammed down his throat.
14 Ng5 h6, 15 Nge4 Nxe4, 16 dxe4
Can't stop the creation of the passed d-pawn, so decided that not giving the chance of further minor piece exchange is my route to maintaining chances of useful complications.
16 ... Be6, 17 Bd3 Qg5, 18 Nf3 Qf4, 19 Qd2
Offering the queen exchange may seem strange, but as he has more space than me to run his around in, I think it is justified.
19 ... Qxd2, 20 Nxd2 f5, 21 c5
Partly to vacate c4 for my minor pieces, partly to start making use of my queenside majority. I do now feel fully in the game.
21 ... Ne7, 22 Rfe1 Ng6, 23 g3
being concerned about bishop and knight ganging up on g2, diverting my pieces to it's defence and thus releasing blacks central pawns.
23 ... Rae8, 24 b4 f4, 25 Rac1 Ne7
Having failed to find a role on the kingside the knight is drawn back towards the (slow) queenside action. I feel that I am now dictating the action, but lack the confidence to force the bishops off with Bc4. Too much respect for that d-pawn perhaps, or simply bad memories of my play earlier in the game.
RR v M S-B after 25 ... Ne7

26 Bb5 Rc8, 27 f3 wanting to resolve the kingside poition so that I don't need to keep an eye on fxg3. It'll happen now or not at all.
27 ... g5, 28 g4 Kg7, 29 Bc4 Bd7, 30 Bd5 Rc7
31 Nc4 Kf6, 32 Nd6 Bc6, 33 Bxc6 bxc6
The pawn recapture does give black some chances of play on the a/b files, whereas the knight recapture would simply become a target of whites pawn advance.
34 Kf2 Ke6, 35 a4 Nc8, 36 Nf5 a6, 37 h4 Rf6
Rook to the h-file surely better. RR now definitely on top.
RR v M S-B after 37 ... Rf6

38 Rh1 Ne7, 39 hxg5 hxg5, 40 Rh8
going for the a-pawn, though the pin Rh7 certainly ties black up and prevents black taking the knights off as the recapture would be mate.
40 ... Rb7, 41 Rb1 Ra7, 42 Rh7 Nc8
43 Rbh1 Rxh7, 44 Rxh7 Rf7, 45 Rh5
Material gain at last, as Kf6 by black allows Rh6+ picking up both the a and c pawns. However the game ended abruptly:
45 ... Rb7, 46 Rh6+ 1-0
Blacks rook is lost, an attempt to save it by surrendering the knight would fail:
46 ... Kd7, 47 Rh7+ Ne7, 48 Rxe7+ Kc8, 49 Nd6+ and the rook is still won.

All targets achieved, as 3½ points is enough for joint third and as also a grading prize - I only get one of course.

Alex meanwhile has scored a respectable 50% in the open, and we have had a couple of enjoyable evening meals over the weekend in the excellent company of Brendan O'Gorman, Tim Allen and Alan Fraser.

Alex and I didn't return straight to Staffordshire, instead we travelled down into Cornwall to see the Eden Project. Most impressive, and usually I don't do being impressed!
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Wed 25th: A touch of carnage
Newcastle B visited Holmes Chapel Knights today, with RR on board two with black against George Scattergood, the opposing captain. I've played in many matches with george in the opposing team, but never confronted him over the board. Would a rook be too much for this knight? After a somewhat irregular opening we reached the position shown.
Captain Knight v RR after 11 Rd1

There followed eleven consecutive captures - yes a whole football team removed in no time:
11 ... Bxf3, 12 gxf3 cxd4, 13 Bxd4 Nxd4, 14 Qxd4 Qxd4
15 Rxd4 Bxa3, 16 bxa3 Rxc2, 17 Rb4 Rc7, 18 Be2 Ne7, 19 0-0 0-0
Captain Knight v RR after 19 0-0

Black is a pawn up whilst whites pawns are shattered. But all that carnage must have exhausted me as I convinced myself that Nc6 would lead to a nasty pin Trying to use the king as a defender could lead to nasty Bxa6 tricks :-
19 ... Kd7, 20 Rfb1 Kc8, 21 Bxa6 with the threat of Rb8+ winning the black rook if the bishop is captured. So RR went down another line, making hard work of converting his advantage. For those who like to see such things his chosen route to victory was

20 Rfb1 Ng6, 21 f4 (Rxb7, 22 Rc5 - black cannot allow white the easy acquisition of an outside passed pawn)
21 ... h6, 22 Kg2 Rc5, 23 Ra4 Rc3, 24 f3 Rfc8, 25 Kg3 Re3
26 Bf1 Rcc3, 27 Bg2 Ne7, 28 Rxb7 Nf5+, 29 Kh3 Re2, 30 Rb1 Rcc2
Hoping for a mate by Rxh2+ and Rh4#
31 Rg1 h5, 32 Rb4 Ne3, 33 Bf1 saves material ...
33 ... Rxh2+, 34 Kg3 Nf5# ... but not the king.
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