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Reward at Rugeley

posted 18 Mar 2011, 12:47 by knight moves   [ updated 18 Mar 2011, 13:46 ]
Stafford travelled to Rugeley for a Cannock Division 2 match on Tuesday.  It was expected to be a tough match as Rugeley always seem to field a strong team in this division, and Tuesday was no exception.  Both teams were playing for the chance of a title decider against Div 2 leaders Rushall.
The match got off to a rather dull start with Ken McNulty playing into an advance variation of the French Defence, which both players seemed to be familiar with.  It was this familiarity that allowed any prospect of attacking chances to be quickly nullified by both players, and after the queens were exchanged, a draw was agreed by 8.30pm. 
Unfortunately Guy de Visme fell foul of an unfamiliar opening, and was finished shortly after Ken.  Being rather harsh on himself, he said the game was effectively over for him after move 3.  So Rugeley were a full point to the good, and Stafford needed wins on the 2 remaining boards to take the win.
Ken Wosniak played himself into a strong position on board 3, with a dominant supported pawn on e5.  With his f&g pawns missing however, his king came under some considerable pressure for much of the game, especially towards the endgame where, with the queens off the board, his opponents kingside rook and knight proved rather awkward and Ken had to play carefully to force their retreat.   Ken could then concentrate on the attack, and spotting a vulnerably placed rook, captured a seemingly protected knight, where his opponent could not recapture as the aforementioned rook would fall foul of a checking knight fork.  The win soon followed.
With the result hanging in the balance, Stephane Pedder with white on board 1 had won a pawn in the opening.  Unusually at such an early stage of the game, he quickly turned this into a supported passer on d4, as with 6 pawns vs 5, his opponents missing pawns were of the c, d and e variety.   The game went on to develop wholly on the queenside, and with an unhindered pair of bishops parked on f3 and h2, Stephane had robbed his opponent of vital protective squares as he mounted the queenside pressure.  Black added to his own woes by swapping queens and pushing his a-pawn into an exchange, as he could not then secure a defensive position, and went on to blunder under pressure, handing the game to Stephane and with it, the match result to Stafford.
With this hard fought 2.5-1.5 win, Stafford's reward is a chance at the Cannock Div 2 title in their final match, scheduled for 7th April at home against Rushall.