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Still in the Running after Loss at Lichfield

posted 24 Apr 2011, 10:52 by knight moves   [ updated 24 Apr 2011, 11:08 ]
Following victory against West Bromwich the previous night, Stafford started their Cannock 1st Division match at Lichfield knowing that victory would have them crowned Champions with a match in hand.  Early encouragement was an average 5-point per player grading advantage.  All the games initially progresses evenly and first to finish was Gerald Acey on board 1.  He appeared to have a slight edge at the end of the middlegame but played slightly imprecicely for a moment, allowing his opponent to equalise and a draw was agreed.

On board 3, Ray Hyde came out of an unusual line of the Leningrad Dutch with a slight advantage, which he maintained for most of the game.  His opponent's king was a little more open to attack than Ray's own, however despite his best efforts Ray was unable to exploit this weakness and with neither side holding a particular advantage, a draw was agreed.


On board 2, Roger Butters  was level with his opponent for much of the game but ended up with his pieces forced onto unfavourable squares to defend two weak pawns.  With all other minor pieces off the board, both players ended up with a knight each, which were able to roam the board picking up loose pawns.  At this point, Rogers earlier cramped position became decisive as his opponent was always ahead so was able to create an unanswerable passed pawn.


With Stafford now 2-1 down, Ken McNulty needed to win on Board 4 to salvage a match draw.  He had retained a slight positional advantage for most of the game and was rewarded by being able to take a pawn.  However, he had used up considerable time in the attempt and his opponent laid a trap that resulted in Ken being forced to give up a piece for 2 pawns. With his time rapidly running out, Ken first swapped pawns to leave himself with 3 pawns faced by his opponent's knight and pushed forward his remaining pawns.  Unfortunately his opponent played well enough to block all these attempts and with seconds remaining Ken was forced to admit that the game was drawn.


So, after a hard night's play, Stafford ended up losing 2.5-1.5 and must now at least draw against Sutton Coldfield on the 27th to retain their title.