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Out for the (Board) Count Against Cheddleton

posted 26 Feb 2012, 12:29 by knight moves
Stafford entertained Cheddleton in the semi-final of the Stoke League Open cup in a repeat of last season's final.

Both sides had been strengthened from the league match 5 days earlier, but moreso Stafford and with Cheddleton's average grading advantage reduced from 23 points per board to just 4, there were reasonable hopes that the league defeat could be reversed.  Indeed Stafford did go one step better by drawing the match 4-4 with 6 draws and 1 win for each side, but unfortunately lost on the board count tiebreak with Cheddleton's win on board 4 carrying greater weight than Stafford's on board 6.

The evening progressed cagily with draws of varying degrees of eventfulness on boards 1, 3, 7 and 8.  This effectively reduced the match to a 4-board encounter as the final half hour of play arrived and, with Stafford pushing on boards 2 and 6 and Cheddleton enjoying edges on boards 4 and 5, the board count calculations were already well under way.

Pavel Nefyodov gave Stafford the lead with a nice win on board 6.  He obtained a pleasant initiative out of the opening with very active minor pieces and his opponent's king stuck on f8. Pavel had a particularly strong knight which won a pawn on the queenside, and then Pavel was able to use his rooks on the d-file to pin his opponent's knight and bring about resignation. 

Roger Butters had been under pressure right from the outset on board 5, but he defended resourcefully to reach a rook ending which still required accurate defence.  He was able to liquidate all of the queenside pawns to reach a position with rook and two pawns against rook and three with all the pawns on the kingside.  Roger showed the value of understanding the basic endgame positions as he confidently held rook and pawn against rook, finally securing the half point through stalemate with a bare king against king and pawn.

Lee Grinsell on board 2 had looked to be significantly better against his opponent's Caro-Kann as he got his knight into d6 and then won a pawn on the queenside. However, as the clock ticked on, it did not prove so easy to push home his advantage and the game was drawn in what proved to be the crucial result.

This left Cheddleton needing to win the final game, on board 4, to draw the match and win on board count. Stephane Pedder's opponent had managed to capture and retain the c-pawn against the Queen's Gambit, and strengthened his hold on the position as his rooks took over the d-file. Stephane's queenside was about to fall off and so there was no alternative but to launch a desperate kingside attack. This never really looked like succeeding and, although Stephane managed to prolong the game until both players were into their final minute on the clock, Colin Davison duly secured the win to put Cheddleton through to the final against Holmes Chapel.

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