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Second Best Against Champions

posted 20 Oct 2011, 13:51 by knight moves   [ updated 3 Feb 2012, 13:37 ]
Stafford were well beaten at home by defending champions Lichfield in Wolverhampton League Division One, going down 1.5-3.5 with Stephane Pedder adjourned in what looks like a lost rook ending.
With Lichfield missing their top player and Stafford close to full strength, things looked set for a close match but it was not to be.  Gerald Acey did not have one of his better nights on top board, misplaying the early middlegame to reach a depressing rook and minor piece endgame a pawn down and with much the worse pawn structure, which his opponent duly converted.  Kazik Wozniak was also soon in difficulty with weak queenside pawns which his opponent was able to round up and steer the game into a winning rook ending to give Lichfield a two point lead.
Pavel Nefyodov had his opponent under a little pressure in a queenless middle game, but accurate defence prevailed and a draw was agreed.  Roger Butters looked to have the best prospects amongst the Stafford players in another queenless middlegame in which, despite the symmetry of the pawn structures with both players having isolated d-pawns, Roger's pieces were more active.  He pushed long and hard, with his opponent also under some pressure on the clock, but once again accurate defence ensured that no progress could be made in a bishop ending and put Lichfield half a point closer to the winning line.
Malcolm Armstrong misjudged his opponent's early kingside advances which, although not immediately threatening given that both players had castled queenside, forced him to accept a weakened pawn structure without the time to exploit the half-open f-file as he was forced to exchange rooks on the open e-file.  This led to a tricky knight ending as the time control approached and, although Malcolm lost a pawn, he managed to secure a strong blockading square for his knight which brought about a very welcome draw offer from his opponent.
Stephane Pedder was on the defensive for most of the game as his opponent established a strong outpost on d6.   He did well to survive the middlegame threats but had to shed a pawn to reach a rook ending where his opponent's queenside pawns look set to be decisive when the game is resumed. [EDIT] The Lichfield player won the game when play was resumed.