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Sutton too Strong

posted 3 Feb 2012, 15:46 by knight moves   [ updated 6 Feb 2012, 04:50 ]
Stafford welcomed Sutton Coldfield for a home match in Cannock Division 2 on Thursday.  Both teams fielded their strongest possible line-ups for the match, but with Sutton having such a huge pool of players in the 'middle order', they pushed the grade limit right to the maximum of 550,  and comfortably out-graded the home team on the top 3 boards.

David Barker was first to finish for Stafford.  Playing white on board 4, he duly played 1.e4. and was somewhat overjoyed when the reply 1...e5. finally gave him the opportunity for a Kings Gambit.  Alas, David's opponent did not fall into line with the '2.f4, exf4' plan, and David was left slightly bemused and probably wishing he had put more effort into reading the 'Declined' chapters of the King's Gambit book.

The game was not without event, with David playing a middlegame bishop check sacrifice that could have seen him pick up at least 2 central pawns in compensation.  However, he neglected this line in favour of a slightly over zealous attack, and having earlier allowed his opponents knight a strong outpost on e4, David's King was doomed to a life of constant pressure.  When black brought his queen and a bishop to attack the king, David was left with little option but to exchange into a lost endgame, which he soon resigned.

Kasik Wozniak was next to finish with the black pieces on board 1.  He found his king under pressure when white placed a rook on f1, having forced an early opening of the file.  Doubled central pawns added to Kasik's misery, but when white doubled his rooks onto the open f-file, it was 'all hands to the defensive pumps', and white seized upon an earlier positional advantage with a central pawn push.  The inevitable resignation followed shortly after and Sutton were already assured of a point.

Ray Hyde did a fine job with white on board 2, of exposing his opponent's king to sustained pressure.  With the removal of a key defensive g-pawn and a significant minor piece assault, the vast majority of black's forces were completely committed to a kingside defensive role.   However, that is really where the game remained; with white testing black's defences and black, in turn, always able to just find that extra guard.  So a respectable draw was agreed.

With the match points now belonging to Sutton, Ken McNulty had little more than pride at stake on board 3.  In an otherwise closed position, he had managed to push one of his black pawns up to f4, forcing his opponent into a somewhat cramped position.  Steady positional play seemed the order of the day, and had Ken taken 2-3 moves (which he had the time to do) to improve the position of his white bishop, then he had potential for a real advantage, but he chose a more direct route and a central pawn exchange left the position unclear.  A draw was offered, and Ken quickly accepted.

A 3-1 loss, but against very strong opponents.  Stafford should not be disappointed with this result, as all games were very close indeed.