2010-11 News

Korchnoi v Nesbitt

posted 18 Dec 2011, 06:47 by knight moves   [ updated 20 Dec 2011, 12:33 ]

During the recent London Chess Classic at the Kensington Olympia, guest of honour, the great Viktor Korchnoi gave two simultaneous displays.  Our very own Denis Nesbitt was fortunate enough to secure a place in the simul that was held on 9th December. 

Denis, who actually spent several days at the event said the whole weekend was extremely interesting, so much so, that he's already looking forward to next year’s event, where all the GM’s in the premier event indicated that they would like to return – and so would he.   I may very well be joining you Denis! 

As a memento of the weekend, Denis managed to get his score sheet signed by Vishy Anand, Gary Kasparov, Nigel Short, Luke McShane and of course Victor Korchnoi himself.

This is what Denis had to say about his game against Korchnoi: 

"Well I’m happy to report that my good form for the season continues as I managed to get a draw!! It was a fantastic experience all weekend, especially when Victor congratulated me on my style of defence and extended his hand and offered me a draw – I don’t mind telling you that he almost went home with one arm! as I nearly snatched his arm off! His overall performance for the night was 18 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat – not bad for a guy 80 years old – he can still play chess!" 

Viktor Korchnoi played Anatoly Karpov twice for the World Chess Championship. In all, he was a candidate for the World Championship on ten occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991). He was also a four-time USSR chess champion, a five-time member of Soviet teams that won the European championship, and a six-time member of Soviet teams that won the Chess Olympiad. In September 2006, he won the World Senior Chess Championship.

This is what he had to say about his game with Denis: 

"... You remind me of the game I played against Petrosian in 1962 - he was very difficult to beat!" 

This is the final position, but you can play through the whole game (with further comments) by clicking on the board below.

Cheddleton Christmas Cheer

posted 16 Dec 2011, 10:51 by knight moves   [ updated 16 Dec 2011, 10:51 ]

Stafford B had a welcome 3-1 home win against Cheddleton in North Staffs League Division 3.

The match was played to the accompaniment of the St. Leonards Christmas Concert and we were inspired, not hindered by the carols.  Peter was even able to set the digital clocks before the match; however it is easier with the North Staffs League playing conditions.

Peter Evans on board 3 was first to finish, defending the Ruy Lopez he achieved an early queen swap and with steady play from both players, a draw was agreed.

Kazik Wozniak, playing black gave Stafford the lead with a good win on the top board.  He had won a bishop at the cost of 2 pawns and the Cheddleton board one appeared to have a solid wall of pawns.  Kazik broke through on the Queenside by sacrificing a rook for a pawn.  If white had accepted the sacrifice a rook check would have skewered on of white's rooks and white resigned.

Sumit Raisinghaney, playing white returned to form with a win in a tense game on board 4.  He achieved passed pawns on the queenside, but his opponent was defending well.  The pawns were lost, but after regrouping, Sumit was able to exchange the rooks and queen a passed central pawn.  His opponent continued to the bitter end, but Sumit's win was inevitable and Kazik did manage to restrain himself from board side coaching.

Andrew on board 2 drew a tense game after chances on both sides.  His opponent played the underrated Philidor's defence which often leads to unpromising positions and this game was no exception.  Andrew at one time was able to gain a piece, but he lost this advantage.  With the match win secured, Andrew agreed a draw.

Thud and Blunder at Newcastle

posted 15 Dec 2011, 03:59 by knight moves   [ updated 15 Dec 2011, 03:59 ]

Stafford finally began their defence of the Stoke League Division One title with an away match at Newcastle, but went down 3.5-1.5 in a fluctuating match which contained plenty of thud and blunder.

Stephane Pedder was struggling when an early d5 thrust backfired and he was left a pawn down and facing a strong protected passed d-pawn with both players having queen and rook.  It looked as if his opponent only needed to consolidate his position in order to secure the victory, but instead he rushed things and allowed Stephane's rook and queen to penetrate.  It is always difficult to adjust to sudden changes and, instead of taking the available draw by perpetual check, Stephane thought he could win and played a continuation which won queen for rook but unfortunately left him unable to prevent the passed d-pawn from queening to give Newcastle the lead.

The one uneventful game came on board 2 where Malcolm Armstrong equalised comfortably enough with black and neither player was able to generate any real winning prospects.  As the rooks were exchanged on the open d-file to leave a sterile position with queen, 2 bishops and 6 pawns each, it was time to agree a draw.

The next misfortune for Stafford came on board four.  Pavel Nefyodov had fought back well from a difficult opening in which a bishop sacrifice on f7 had netted his opponent a pawn and drawn Pavel's king in to the open.  However, some resourceful middlegame play left Pavel pushing for a win in a minor piece ending before he blundered and allowed a bishop skewer winning his knight and the game, giving Newcastle a 2.5-0.5 lead.

Ken McNulty had another wildly fluctuating game on board five.  His opponent doubled rooks on the open a-file which looked good but they actually had nothing to attack, so Ken got on with a dangerous-looking attack in the centre.  This should perhaps have been decisive, but somehow Ken lost a piece and, with queen and 4 pawns against queen, knight and 2 pawns, had to rely on threats generated by a strong pawn on d6.  His opponent should probably have taken a draw by perpetual check at this point, but instead blundered and allowed Ken to reach what should have been a straightforwardly winning pawn ending.  With the match being played using the Fischer time control of 75 minutes plus 10 seconds per move, Ken's time shortage was not as significant as it would have been under the conventional 85 minutes time control, but these positions are always easier to watch than to play and Ken made hard work of things.  He eventually reached a position with queen against pawn and looked to be back on the road to victory when he paused to work out the final winning sequence and, to his horror, noted his clock flashing and showing 0.00 to record a loss on time. Oh dear...... 

In the final game to finish, Gerald Acey had nurtured a small advantage throughout the game following early minor-piece exchanges which left his opponent defending a weak d-pawn and queenside pressure as the game moved into a double-rook ending.  It looked as if Gerald had found a winning sequence when he sacrificed a rook to queen his b-pawn and reach a position with queen against rook and both sides having only their h-pawns remaining.  However, it became clear that things were not so simple as his opponent came close to establishing a fortress with his rook on g5 defended by his pawn on h6.  Stalemate ideas were also in the air, but in practice the position was extremely difficult to defend with a 10-second increment and Gerald eventually succeeded in penetrating with his king and neatly sacrificing queen for rook to reach a winning pawn ending.

So, congratulations to Newcastle on their 3.5-1.5 win, but quite what the score should have been could be debated for some time....

Locked Out at West Brom

posted 8 Dec 2011, 10:48 by knight moves   [ updated 8 Dec 2011, 13:03 ]

Stafford travelled to West Brom for a Wolverhampton League Division One match, only to find the home side unable to locate a key to their chess cupboard.  It seems likely that the match will be re-arranged at Stafford at some point in the New Year.

On the bright side, West Brom has not been a happy hunting ground in recent seasons, so it made a change to head back up the motorway undefeated.....

Home and Away at Brewood

posted 1 Dec 2011, 12:47 by knight moves   [ updated 8 Dec 2011, 13:04 ]

Stafford B experienced an unusual event this week when we played a home game away.  This was because of a cup game that was due to be played on the intended date, so it was back down the lanes to Brewood.  This time to play the A team who are second in the division.

We did not start well, Sumit Raisinghaney lost quickly on board 5 as his opponent won a piece with a knight combination.   David Barker secured a good draw on board 4, the major pieces were exchanged and the draw was achieved.  A good result against a more highly graded opponent. 

The major disappointment was on board 2; Peter Evans, playing white against the Pirc defence won several pawns and looked to have control of the game.  Black took advantage of the empty spaces and counter attacked. He produced a rook sacrifice followed by a mate.  Initial analysis on the evening did show a defence for Peter and further analysis showed a miscalculation where Peter declined to win the Exchange.  Andrew Leadbetter on board 1 made a steady reply to White's Scotch Gambit, but perhaps with an eye on the mayhem on Board 2 he blundered away a Queen and was forced to concede.  

Denis Nesbitt was last to finish with a draw on board 3. He had to defend some strong attacks in the early part of the game, but these were repelled.  With the match decided, a cramped board and the legendary opposite coloured bishops a draw was agreed.

Well played to Brewood and again another pleasant visit to a friendly club apart from the result.  Ironically the cup game never happened so we could have met at Stafford after all.  Not that it would have affected the result!

Early Bath in County Title Defence

posted 28 Nov 2011, 13:49 by knight moves   [ updated 28 Nov 2011, 13:49 ]

Defending champions Stafford, had an early exit from the Staffordshire U140(Jackson) Cup on Wednesday with a 3.5 to 1.5 loss to Lichfield.

Peter Evans lost on board 2, when he miscalculated a series of exchanges and lost a piece.  His opponent skilfully pressed home his advantage and Peter was forced to resign. 

Denis Nesbitt equalised the match with a good win on board 3.  He developed his pieces more quickly than his opponent and secured a mate with a queen combination.

James Topp lost on board 4, after losing material and positional advantage in the early middle game.

On Board 1 Andrew Leadbetter, playing a Bishop on c4 and a pawn on f4 against Black's Sicilian Defence did get attacking chances, but he was unable to convert them and was possibly fortunate to come away with a draw.

The game score was now 2.5 to 1.5 for Lichfield and Sumit Raisinghaney's game on board 5 would not have affected the match result as drawn Staffordshire Cup ties are decided on board count.   He was unaware of the board count rule and kept pressing for a win.  Unfortunately he miscalculated, got his pieces out of position and his experienced opponent was able to force a win. 

Congratulations to Lichfield, especially as Stafford outgraded them on the first three boards. 

Incidentally one of Lichfield's players, Ron Crellin revealed after the match that he had been a member of Stafford Chess Club over fifty years ago.

A Timely Win at Rugeley

posted 24 Nov 2011, 09:32 by knight moves   [ updated 8 Dec 2011, 13:03 ]

Stafford B travelled the short distance to Rugeley hopeful of continuing their, as yet unbeaten run Cannock division 2.  The largest grading difference between the top three boards was only 2 points, so a very close match was anticipated.
David Barker, playing on board 4 with the black pieces (still no opportunity to try out his new opening with white) faced the only real grading difference, with his opponent being a rather significant 23 points higher.   Both player developed with sound looking opening moves, and there appeared to be little to choose between them.  Things looked to be getting more lively as the queens entered the game, but they were soon swapped off along with a couple of minor pieces, leaving a rather stale looking game.  Both players agreed and decided a draw to be the fair result.  A good clutch of points towards David's grading for next year.
Kasik Wosniak was next to finish on board 1.  Coming out of the opening, his opponent had gained a clear space advantage on the kingside and Kasik was coming under significant pressure.  He had spotted a potential combination which could bring him back on terms, but this would rely on a mistake from an experienced opponent.  To Kasik's surprise the mistake came but was greater than expected; a central pawn had been left overloaded defending both knights, and Kasik was able to play his combination, winning a full knight in the process.  His opponent was left with no answer to the full piece advantage, and the game was won shortly after.
Ken McNulty experimented on board 2 with a Dutch defense against the d4 opening and soon found himself struggling for time.  After 25 moves, he only had 10 minutes to make the 30 move limit, while his opponent still had almost 45 minutes.  Ken had eaten up his time, desperately trying to repel a major queenside assault, and only accurate defence had kept him in the game.  Eventually the attack faltered and with the precious little time he had left, Ken was able to press his own counter offensive on the queenside, eventually gaining an unstoppable pawn and with it the game and match.
Andrew Leadbetter had been enjoying a significant time advantage for a long period of the game, until his opponent pointed out that Andrews clock had in fact stopped!  There was some discussion regarding where the clock should be set after it had been wound up, and an agreement was made based on expected time used.  As any chess player will tell you, disruptions of this sort can be very unsettling and Andrew soon lost any advantage he had prior to the interruption.  Noting that the match had already been won, Andrew preferred to get an early night, so resigned what he felt was a lost game anyway.
Other than the unfortunate incident with the clocks (at least digital clocks give a warning when the battery is getting low!), this was a very satisfying 2.5-1.5 win, most especially the result on board 4.

Cup Exit Against Wolverhampton

posted 18 Nov 2011, 11:56 by knight moves   [ updated 18 Nov 2011, 12:23 ]

Stafford entertained Wolverhampton in the first round of the Wolverhampton League Pittaway Cup, the open competition over eight boards.  The teams were very evenly matched throughout and it soon became clear that this was going to be a very tight match.    After the first hour's play none of the 16 players could claim a significant edge and it was no surprise when the halves began to appear on the scorecard. 

After about 90 minutes of play, 4 games were agreed drawn in quick succession.  Only Roger Butters had enjoyed any real advantage, weakening his opponent's queenside pawns and managing to win one, although in doing so he allowed his opponent to exchange pieces and reach a position with rook and opposite-coloured bishops in which there was no progress to be made.

With the match now effectively reduced to a 4 board encounter, thoughts began to turn to the possibility of a replay in the event of all 8 games being drawn.  Stephane Pedder had built up a very nice position on board 3, with a knight on e5 and bishop on d3 both well placed and his rook and queen controlling the open c-file.  His opponent was reduced to passive defence and was also running short of time, and the position was crying out for Stephane to produce a winning combination.  Unfortunately, he played his moves in the wrong order and blundered his rook to give Wolverhampton an effectively decisive lead given the board-count tiebreak in the event of a drawn match.

Wolverhampton then clinched the match with a win on board seven, where Ken McNulty looked to have been doing fine for most of the game before reaching an ending with knight and four pawns against bishop and four pawns.  Ken missed an opportunity to win a vital pawn, but even so, the position should have been sufficient to secure another half point.  However, Ken allowed his queenside pawns to get fixed on the wrong coloured squares and neglected an opportunity to bring his king to defend them.  This allowed his opponent to pick off the pawns and go on to secure the win.  

Andrew Leadbetter had another close game on board eight, but as material was exchanged his weakened pawns became increasingly vulnerable and fell off one by one until his opponent enjoyed what should have been a decisive 3 pawn advantage.  However, he failed to push his extra pawns and, as time ran short, Andrew somehow managed to salvage a draw. 

In the final game to finish, Malcolm Armstrong had equalised comfortably with black and looked set to join the batch of early draws. However, his opponent was in a determined mood and declined a draw offer to try to exploit his miniscule edge in a good knight versus bad bishop ending.  Malcolm's slight deficit on the clock assumed increasing importance as the time control was passed and, with the standard of play understandably declining, Malcolm erred to allow the knight to penetrate.  However, his opponent missed the best continuation and indeed came close to losing as the game was eventually drawn in 117 moves, leaving Wolverhampton the winners by a 5-3 margin.

Ah well, time to concentrate on the league.....

Brewood B v Stafford B

posted 17 Nov 2011, 11:22 by knight moves   [ updated 31 Aug 2012, 10:20 ]

Stafford B had an away trip through the country lanes to play Brewood B in Wolverhampton Division 3.  Despite Stafford’s grade advantage on the top three boards the home team achieved an honourable draw.
James Topp, playing black on board 4 was first to finish, he allowed one of White’s centre pawns to take his g7 pawn and his rook on h8 had no escape.  White was able to simplify the position and James was forced to resign as he was left with a bare king against pawns on either wing. 1-0 to Brewood.
Andrew Leadbetter on board 1 gained an early spatial advantage but he was unable to breach his opponent’s defences and a draw was agreed.
Peter Evans on board 3, playing black, equalised the match.  He was playing the King’s Indian Defence and for a time he struggled.  White had achieved a past pawn on the c file and Peter’s knights were in poor positions.  White was slow to exploit his advantage and Peter got his knights into play to exert pressure on White’s central pawns.  White conceded the exchange to reduce the pressure, but this tactic failed and Peter was able to counter attack.
Denis Nesbitt achieved a draw on board 4 despite losing a piece in the early middle game.  He played more actively than his opponent and forced the draw by perpetual check.
Sumit Raisinghaney was last to finish on board 5.  As usual he played steadily throughout the game and got into a King and Pawn ending.  Sumit then learned that King and Rook’s pawn versus King is a draw when the position is played correctly.  In all, 5 enjoyable games.
On a sadder note the match began with a one minute silence to mark the passing of Paul O’Donoghue, a fine chess player for Brewood, Bushbury and Goodyear.  The members of Stafford Chess Club would like to extend their sympathy to Paul’s family and friends.

Calamity at 'Castle

posted 12 Nov 2011, 12:21 by knight moves   [ updated 12 Nov 2011, 12:22 ]

Stafford B travelled up to Newcastle to face their 'D' team in a North Staffs Div 3 match on Wednesday. 
Kasik Wozniak, playing on board 1 faced an unusual opening and lost a pawn early.  Kasik tried hard to get counter play, but all his efforts were repulsed and the Newcastle Board 1 completed an inevitable win.
On board 2, Andrew Leadbetter defended a very symetrical form of the Giocco Piano, minor pieces were exchanged and there were interesting threats from both sides with Queen and Rook.  Both players nullified the other's threats, more piece exchanges took place and a draw was agreed.
Sumit Raisinghaney on Board 4, began well with a steady opening.  He did come under pressure in the middle game but he defended well and as the game progressed Sumit had 2 rooks for a Queen with his King far up the board.  Then calamity occurred;  Sumit faced a Queen check and resigned believing he was mated.  Subsequent checks showed a way out, never mind.
On Board 3 with the match already lost, Peter Evans managed to agree a fortunate draw.  His game also began with a Giocco Piano, but this one developed faster with Peter sacrificing and then regaining a bishop.  His opponent then defended well, but Peter was able to win a pawn, but with more active King and Rooks against him he lost two pawns to go a pawn down.  Subsequent analyses vary, but a draw was agreed.
Congratulations to Newcastle on a 3-1 win, especially their boards 2 and 3 who obtained good draws against nominally stronger players.

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