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Deja Vu Against Cheddleton

posted 27 Apr 2012, 05:05 by knight moves
Stafford faced title-chasing Cheddleton in the penultimate Stoke League Division One match of the season.

On board one, Gerald Acey won a pawn when his opponent misplayed his central expansion.  However, his opponent's rook occupied the only open file and Gerald, seeing no real prospects to exploit his extra pawn, accepted a draw offer.

Roger Butters had an extremely lively game on board four, fending off his opponent's kingside sacrifices.  Roger must have been very close to losing at some point, but he hung on and a resourceful Rxf6 exchange sacrifice of his own allowed him to establish a strong knight on d5.  As the dust settled, Roger had bishop and knight against rook and pawn but his opponent judged that further winning attempts would have been unduly reckless and another draw was agreed.

The remaining three games all went down to the wire, with the Fischer time control of 75 minutes plus 10 seconds per move ensuring that time should not become the over-riding factor.  At this stage, any result was possible in each game, let alone in the match as a whole.

Pavel Nefyodov had been under early pressure as his opponent established a strong knight on e5, but Pavel was able to repel it and took over the initiative with strong knights of his own on e4 and f5.  Pavel had a clear edge as time ran short and, although there was plenty of play left, the practical problems proved too much for his opponent whose flag fell to give Stafford the lead.

Malcolm Armstrong's game was difficult to assess throughout.  Having misplayed the opening he was under some pressure, but his opponent probably overpressed with his winning attempts and Malcolm may have stood better towards the end of the middlegame.  However, he exchanged into a rook ending which seemed completely level but his opponent declined a draw offer and pressed on.  A couple of inaccuracies from Malcolm left him on the back foot, but he found a key move with h4 and his opponent soon had to repeat moves and agree to the draw.

Stephane Pedder had the toughest task of the evening on paper, conceding 30 grading points and playing black to boot, but he defended resolutely throughout.  As the time began to run out he had the opportunity to take a draw by perpetual check but, unsure of the prospects in the other two games, he pressed on for the win.  Sadly, he misjudged the position and soon had to resign.

This left the match drawn 2.5-2.5, with striking parallels to the match earlier in the season in the semi-final of the 8-man Open Cup competition - a win for Pavel Nefyodov (against the same opponent!), a loss for Stephane Pedder in the final game to finish, and draws on all of the other boards.  At least this time there is the consolation of one league point rather than the board-count loss in the Cup match, and a valuable point it is in ensuring that Stafford will at least avoid finishing bottom of the league.  It could also prove to be a valuable point for Cheddleton who will win the league if they can beat Newcastle in the forthcoming title-deciding match.