January 2017

Fri 6th: Telford Tales I
Sat 7th: Telford Tales II
Sat 7th: Telford Tales III
Sun 8th: Telford Tales IV
Sun 8th: Telford Tales V
Wed 11th: Derby Blues
Wed 18th: Missing the Point
Wed 25th: Dropping a Piece
Fri 27th: A Bit of Fun

Fri 6th: Telford Tales I
RR's 2016 ended on some bum notes, but its back into the saddle for the shiny new year for the Shropshire Congress at Telford, with optimism rekindled. Last time I played Telford the playing conditions were somewhat cramped, so I was pleased to find that they had found extra space and that there was now room to get up and wander around during games without disturbing ones neighbours.

Into game one, against Roger Greatorex who I defeated en route to victory at Crewe last October. Have to slip that in to remind myself I can play sometimes. We join the game after 21 sometimes less than best moves.

RR v Roger Greatorex after 21 ... Ke6

5b1r/rp4pp/4kp2/1PpnP3/2N1Bn1P/P2P1K2/1B6/R6R w
Amazingly the rooks have managed to move a total of one square between the four of them. Perhaps this should be called the lazy rook variation. RR has the advantage of the bishop pair on a fairly open board, but fails to spot that one of his pair is about to be forced off, so gets his move order wrong: 22 Rhe1 f5 Forcing the e4 bishop to exchange itself for a knight, and keeping the file closed. Instead RR should have captured on f6 first and then played Rhe1:
22 exf6 gxf6 (King takes not legal, knight take loses the other knight)
23 Rhe1 Now black can't force the bishop off with f5 since
23 ... f5, 24 Bxd5++ wins the knight as
24 ... Kxd5, 25 Re5#

23 Bxd5+ Nxd5, 24 h5 b6

From here RR elects to inject some life into the game, without making suitable preparations. The hurry is unnecessary as everything is safely under control. Simply discourage g6 by returning the rook to h1, or putting it on g1. Unfortunately the life injected was gleefully accepted by black.

25 d4 Ra4, 26 Rec1 g5, 27 Nd6 Bxd6, 28 exd6 c4
29 Rc2 h6, 30 Re1+ Kxd6, 31 Re5 Rf8, 32 Rce2 Rf6
33 Re8 Kd7, 34 Rh8 c3, 35 Rh7+ Kd6

RR v Roger Greatorex after 35 ... Kd6

Things are getting ugly. Pawn down, bishop under attack, d-pawn about to fall, connected passed black pawns on the kingside, and all white has is a rook behind the enemy. A resignable position, except that you never get anything from a resigned game, so instead we'll say its a position in which there is no point in defending. Stop looking for objectively the best moves (no good at that anyway) and look to maximize black's chance of going wrong.

36 Re8 Rxd4 The bishop survives another move as black decides to create a path forward for his king.

37 Rd8+ Kc5, 38 Bc1 Kxb5, 39 Rhd7 Kc6, 40 Kf2 f4
41 a4 Re6, 42 Rg7 Rd1, 43 Rg6 Rde1Black has no problem stopping the pawn if he takes on g6, but he decides to protect his own rook instead.

44 Ba3 R1e4
RR v Roger Greatorex after 44 ... R1e4

Time to win some material to make up for the posituonal minuses.

45 Rd6+ Rxd6, 46 Rxd6+ Kc7, 47 Rxd5 Rxa4 Materially I'm now down a bishop for four pawns, but I'm about to be crushed by the advance of king and b-pawn. Still, must save the bishop.

48 Bc1 Ra1, 49 Rd1 Ra2+, 50 Kf3 Rh2, 51 Kg4 Rh4+ Black apparently prefers to win on the kingside.

52 Kf5 Rxh5, 53 Rd3 Rh1, 54 Rxc3+ Kd6, 55 Ba3+ Kd5
56 Bf8 Rh2, 57 Rb3 Kc6, 58 Kg4 Rh4+, 59 Kf5 Rh1, 60 Kg4 -, black admitting he can make no progress. Another half-point that the gentlemen who know when to resign wouldn't get.
RR v Roger Greatorex final position

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Sat 7th: Telford Tales II
Thanks to Nic acting as chauffeur I was able to sleep in my own bed over the weekend. Saturday morning saw RR black against Stephen Chadaway, and after 28 moves containg slightly more weak ones from white than black, RR had built up a nagging edge, culminating in an exchange of bishops on b5. Then came the blunder.

Stephen Chadaway v RR after 28 ... axb5

29 Rec2 Bxc3, 30 Qxc3 Qxc3, 31 Rxc3 Rxa2

And that was the game. A pawn up, RR's advantage gradually grew until white resigned on move 50.
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Sat 7th: Telford Tales III
RR v Peter Lovall after 39 ... Q(f3)h1+

Round three, and white against Peter Lovatt, in a game in which the players took it in turns to build small advantages until we reached the position shown. Although white is a pawn up black has the initiative. There is an easy draw with Qg1 after which there is nothing better for the players to do than take the draw by repetition gained by checks alternately on f3 and h1. RR got greedy, and paid the price.

40 Ke2 Bc8, 41 Ke3 f5

Black has found time to free his rook. With his knight loose and king nowhere to hide, RR is due a battering, which he duly receives. By move 50 he is down to knight against queen and pawn, and resigns. Yuk
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Sun 8th: Telford Tales IV
Time for a puzzle. White to play and cause black considerable anquish.

Round four, and RR has black against Matthew Carr who can more usually be found on the organisation and arbiter side of events. After 13 moves the players have set out their stalls on opposite wings of the board. Black's white square bishop is in no hurry to show his influence, but otherwise there is little in it.

Matthew Carr v RR after 13 ... c4

2rq1rk1/1b1nbpp1/pp2pn1p/3pN3/P1pP1B2/2PBPN2/1P2QPPP/R4RK1 w
14 Bb1 b5 This sort of position is quite familiar to RR, and his normal inclination is Re8 and Nf8 and dare white to find a way in, but today the inferior plan of queenside action without a rook on a8 apparently had greater appeal.

15 Qc2 b4 16 Nxd7 Qxd7 Would have liked to play b3, but suspect that Matthew would have found Nxf6+ and Qh7#.

17 Ne5 Qe8 This time b3 would have been playable, and would have probably been desirable as it removes the threat of the queen against h7. Yes he can win a pawn with
17 ... b3, 18 Nxd7 bxc2, 19 Nxf6+ Bxf6, 20 Bxc2 but his extra material is the backward b-pawn. Instead I allow Matthew to set the agenda by dancing around in response to his threats.
18 cxb4 Bxb4 Natural, except I should have been more concerned about stopping white's continuation - h5 springs to mind.

19 Ng4 Ne4, 20 f3 h5, 21 fxe4 hxg4, 22 e5 f5
22 ... g6, 23 Bh6 and the exchange goes as the earlier queen retreat to e8 rather than d8 left the rook with no escape squares. 23 exf6

Matthew Carr v RR after 23 exf6

23 ... Rxf6 Pure greed. RR rejected the necessary Qh5 in favour of momentarily maintaining material equality.

24 Qh7+ Kf8 which is the puzzle position. Bd6+ was the move that was likely to draw my resignation as it is apparent that heavy material loss is to follow. Bc2 is even stronger as it frees the a-rook to swing across whilst black can do nothing useful with the extra move afforded him. Instead Matthew went for aless dramatic course.

25 Qh8+ Kf7, 26 Qh5+ Ke7, 27 Qxg4 Kd7, 28 Qxg7+ Rf7, 29 Qe5 Qh8 Black is tied up whilst the heavy artillery remains on board, but Matthew is happy to take the pragmatic course, swapping material and reaching an easy to win endgame two passed pawns up. RR resigns on move 53. Boo.
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Sun 8th: Telford Tales V
The final round, and RR is black again, this time against Francis Rooney. We join the game for RR's fourteenth move - it doesn't lok as though the b1h7 diagonal will cause him as much grief as in this mornings game.

Francis Rooney v RR after 14 Nd2c4

r2q1rk1/pb1nb1pp/1p2p3/4Np2/2NPpB2/4P2P/PP3PP1/RQ3RK1 b
Obviously the first task is to relocate the knight to d5 via f6, but I'm not that used to initiating kingside pawn storms, and if I cannot do it in the dead rubber of the last round of a congress with no prize in sight and no team mates to worry about, when can I?

14 ... g5, 15 Bh2 f4 Keeps pushing, but really should do a little prep first - just because I want a kingside attack doesn't mean I shouldn't get my knight to a better square and/or contest the c-file with Rc8.

16 Qd1 Nxe5, 17 Nxe5 Qd5 And now that he should have continued pushing with f3 to cut whites queen out, RR decides to play a support move allowing the enemy queen into his position.

18 Qg4 White is on top and stays that way.

Another blob for the records. Timing is everything, and RR's kingside fantasy was totally mistimed.
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Wed 11th: Derby Blues
RR's first league match of 2017 was in the derby between Newcastle's two second division teams in which he had white against Alan Paling. After RR's 28th move we had reached the position shown, having spent the game trading small edges. Whites doubled a-pawns are doing a fine job holding back blacks queenside, allowing the b-pawn to be a target in some lines, compensating for their potential weakness should black ever get behind white's position. Indeed Stockfish rates the position a big round zero - as level as you can get.

RR v Alan Paling after 28 h4

2n1rr2/4n1k1/1pq2ppp/p1p5/P2pPP1P/P2P1NP1/2Q5/1R2RBK1 b
28 ... Nf5 Offering the choice between allowing the knight into e3 or the black queen behind friendly lines. RR chooses the latter ...

29 exf5 Qxf3, 30 Qf2 ... because it won't stay there long.

30 ... Qxf2+, 31 Kxf2 Rxe1, 32 Rxe1 gxf5, 33 Bh3 Kg6 The attempt to maintain his pawn advantage is a wastes time because ...

34 h5+ Kf7 ... the h-pawn cannot be taken, there being mate lying in wait.

Spot the mate if Kxh5

35 Bxf5 Ne7 36 Be6+ Kg7 RR now has a clear edge, but no idea how to exploit it. He should retreat the bishop on the queenside so that blacks pawns there are all held back, and push his rook into the black position. However fearing the knight reaching d3 (where it doesn't do much) RR leaves his bishop in place and cedes control over e5

37 f5 Rd8, 38 Re4 Kf8, 39 Ke2 Nd5, 40 Bxd5 Rxd5
41 g4 Kf7, 42 Kd2 At this point news comes through that we are last to finish, and RR needs to win to draw the match.

42 ... Re5= Not the world's most unexpected draw offer. It's even come in a drawn position. But I can't accept even though it is well known that trying to create complications from such positions is often a recipe for disaster.

RR v Alan Paling after 42 ... Re5=

43 Rf4 Re3, 44 Rf2 Ke7 Had expected
44 ... Rg3 after which I have the unenviable choice of Rf4, protecting the g-pawn but allowing Rg2+ and the death of my a-pawns, or Re2 allowing death of kingside pawns. The rooks must come off.

45 Re2 Rxe2+, 46 Kxe2 Kd6, 47 Kf3 My silicon friend scores this as the second best move at -77, the best being Kf2 at 0. Don't you just love endgames? As ever it is a case of timing, holding off Kf3 until black plays Ke5 forces black to give up his c and d pawns before his king can reach f4, after which white gets to queen his new c-pawn at the same time as black acquires a new queen.

47 ... Ke5, 48 Kg3 c4, 49 dxc4 d3, 50 Kf3 d2, 51 Ke2 Kf4 Diagram right. Counting reveals white is 10 moves from queening his c-pawn, black 8 from queening either f or h pawns.

RR'd rather be black

We're almost down to just increments, so one more try.

52 g5 Oh dear he's thinking. get ready for the handshake.

52 ... hxg5 Brainstorm. Alan's forgotten that kings can move backwards. RR's h-pawn escapes to victory, albeit an unsatisfactory one.
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Wed 18th: Missing the Point
Newcastle C entertained Holmes Chapel Rooks tonight, with RR given the task of taking on Michael Lee. After stodging around for a few moves, RR elected to create some half-open files by exchanging on c5 on move 12, to give the position in the diagram. RR's plan is to put pressure on the b-pawn, possibly launching his own a-pawn to help. However he then immediately switched ideas to relocating his f knight to e3.
RR v Michael Lee after 12 ... dxc5

r4rk1/ppqbbpp1/2n2n1p/2p1p3/2P1P3/P1NP1N1P/4BPP1/1RBQ1RK1 w
13 Ne1 Forwards with Nd5 is sounder, since the relocation plan is rather slow for this stage of the game. However it does draw an error:

13 ... Bd6 on which RR fails to capitalise

14 Nc2 (14 Nb5 Qb8 15 Nxd6 Qxd6 16 Rxb7 wins the b-pawn, my plan A, which I have promptly to have forgotten.)

14 ... a6, 15 Ne3 Ne7, 16 Bd2 Rab8, 17 Ng4 Can't establish a knight on d5, as all four could get exchanged, improving the future of his dark-squared bishop. So into plan three, looking for long term advantage of a better bishop. There's also a feeble trick - will he notice that if multiple exchanges bring the queen to g4 I'm lined up for Bxh6?

RR v Michael Lee after 17 Ng4

17 ... Nxg4, 18 Bxg4 b5, 19 cxb5 Can't I keep track of a plan at all? He didn't take off the light squared bishops, so I should.

19 ... axb5, 20 Qf3 b4, 21 axb4 cxb4, 22 Ne2 f5 Oops. I've left my bishop no retreat squares. Luckily this is not fatal.

23 Bxf5 Bxf5, 24 exf5 Nxf5, 25 Qd5+ Kh8, 26 Rfc1 Qf7, 27 Qxf7 Rxf7
28 Rc6 Achieving nothing, Rc4 better as it adds pressure to the b-pawn and can swing to e4 to harrass the e-pawn too. White has fewer pawn islands, black the outside passed pawn. Not much in it at the moment.

28 ... Rd7, 29 Kf1 Be7, 30 Nc1 Nd4, 31 Rc4 b3=

RR v Michael Lee after 31 ... b3=

A fair draw offer, but the match situation is unclear, so play on.

32 Bc3 Threatening to take the knight and then the b-pawn.

32 ... Ba3, 33 Bxd4 Bxc1, 34 Rbxc1 No! Bxe5 hits the b8 rook. The best black can do now is take the bishops off and cede the b-pawn, leaving RR two pawns up in the ending.

34 ... exd4, 35 Rb1 Kg8, 36 f4 Kf7, 37 Kf2 Ke6, 38 Rb2 A non-move. Can't afford to waste time like this, especially in rook endings.

38 ... Kd5, 39 Rc1 Ra7 This is beginning to look dire, with the king able to penetrate via c5 b4 c3 once a pair of rooks has gone.

40 Re1 Ra2, 41 Re5+ Kd6, 42 Rxa2 bxa2, 43 Ra5 Rb2+, 44 Kf3 Kc6 45 Ke4

RR v Michael Lee after 45 Ke4

45 ... Rxg2 Michael switches his attention to the kingside pawns whereas bringing the king forward via b6 and c5 would appear to enable him to lend the support of his monarch to the final advance of his a-pawn. 46 Kxd4 Rh2, 47 Kc4 Abandoning the f-pawn, judging black's a-pawn to be of greater import.

47 ... Kb6, 48 Ra3 Rxh3, 49 Rxa2 Rf3, 50 Rh2 Rc2 is a sneaky option, as Kd5 in response to Rxf4+ cuts the black king off from the action, whilst bringing the king across with Kc6 enables white to play Kd4+ and Ke4 saving his f-pawn. Will I remember this idea for future use?

50 ... Rxf4+, 51 Kd5 Kc7, 52 Ke5 Rf3, 53 d4 Kd7, 54 Rg2 Rf7
55 d5 g5, 56 Rh2 Rh7, 57 Ra2 Re7+, 58 Kf6 Re4, 59 Rd2 Kd6
60 Kg6 Re5, 61 Kxh6 g4, 62 Rg2 -

The players missed the implications of too many moves and hence had to share the point.
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Wed 25th: Dropping a Piece
To division one, and RR gets to play Andrew Leadbetter from Stafford.

Andrew Leadbetter v RR after 10 Be3

We join the game for RR's tenth move, Andrew having just developed his dark-squared bishop, with everything safely under control.

10 ... Bf6 11 Rad1 Qe7 well, I don't like the queen on the same file as the rook.

12 d5 Oops. Suddenly my b4 knight is feeling ill. The support of the c6 is to be removed, and in a moment a further advance of the d-pawn will cut off the protection of the queen. Black can get a couple of pawns for the knight with
12 Bxb2 13 dxc6 Nxc6 but opts for a full loss of piece:

12 exd5, 13 cxd5 Nd8, 14 d6 Qe4, 15 Nd2 Bd7 Making sure things are really bad, by playing a game of "you hit my queen, I'll hit yours", overlooking the minor detail that only one of the attackers is protected.

16 Qxd7

A piece down, enemy supported pawn on the seventh, own pieces scattered, RR limps on for a few moves before admitteding to the inevitable defeat. As an example of how to lose this takes some beating.
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Fri 27th: A Bit of Fun
To Cheddleton's new venue, in Cheddleton no less, for a D team match where RR faced Bill Armstrong, who already features several times in his database. I doubt this will be stodge.

Indeed my doubts were justified, and RR soon found himself taking more than the odd risk in his attempts to get his kingside threats to work. fewer comments than usual, but I'll give the whole game.

1 Nf3 Nf6, 2 c4 e6, 3 Nc3 b6, 4 e4 Bb7, 5 e5 Ne4
6 Nxe4 Bxe4, 7 d3 Bb4+, 8 Bd2 Bxf3, 9 gxf3 Qe7, 10 a3 Bxd2+
11 Qxd2 O-O, 12 O-O-O c5, 13 Rg1 Nc6, 14 f4 Nd4, 15 Qe3 f5
16 Rg5 Rab8, 17 Be2 b5, 18 Rdg1 Nxe2+, 19 Qxe2 Rf7, 20 Qh5 bxc4
21 dxc4 d5

RR v Bill Armstrong after 21 ... d5

Still level. However I really don't know why I didn't take this pawn - afterall if he recaptures I get the f-pawn in compensation for his freemoving c and d ones, and get to take some major pieces off too. Under such circumstances, with my king already on the queenside his mobile pawns are to respected rather than feared.

22 R1g3 Surely the wrong rook if I want one on g3.

22 ... Qb7 (definitely the wrong rook)
23 b4 dxc4, 24 f3 c3, 25 Rh3 Qd7, 26 Rg2 Qd3 Diagram Left

RR v Bill Armstrong. Does white have perpetual?

Scary, but probably Bill's worst move of the game. Can I sac my rooks for a perpetual? Time for a look at the other boards. Not good. Looks like I need to play for a win, which will probably ttranslate to playing for a loss.

27 Qxh7+ Kf8, 28 Qh8+ Ke7, 29 Qh4+ (29 Qxb8 threatens the perpetual - does white have anything better to do than take the white rooks and accept the draw?)

29 ... Ke8, 30 Qe1 cxb4, 31 axb4 Rxb4, 32 Rh8+ Kd7, 33 Rc2 Qb5
34 Qd1+ Qd5, 35 Qxd5+ exd5, 36 Rxc3 Rxf4, 37 Rcc8 Rc4+, 38 Rxc4 dxc4
39 f4 Ke6, 40 Kc2 Re7, 41 h4 Kd5, 42 Rf8 Ke4, 43 e6 Kxf4
44 Kc3 Rxe6, 45 Rf7 g6, 46 Rxa7 Re3+, 47 Kxc4 Re4+, 48 Kd5 Kg3
49 h5 gxh5, 50 Rh7 h4, 51 Rf7 Kf4, 52 Rh7 Kg5, 53 Rh8 Rg4
54 Ke5 Re4+, 55 Kd5 Ra4, 56 Ke5 Ra5+, 57 Kd4 Kg4, 58 Ke3 f4+
59 Kf2 Ra2+, 60 Kg1 h3, 61 Rg8+ Kf3, 62 Rg7 Rg2+ 0-1

The final engame of R v R+f+h is frustrating as I know that several such endings are drawn. Was this ever one, and if so how is the draw achieved? Don't know is my answer to both questions.

So another loss takes my January haul to 3 points from 9 games. Roll on February.
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