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Wolverhampton League Survival

posted 29 Mar 2011, 12:21 by knight moves   [ updated 29 Mar 2011, 12:30 ]
Stafford ensured another season of Wolverhampton League Division 1 chess by securing at least a draw against relegation rivals Shifnal & Telford.  The match took place on Thursday and currently stands at 3-2 in Stafford's favour with one game to be resumed in April.
The crowd certainly got their money's worth with all six games going well into the third hour of play.  Ken Wosniak went to promote a pawn at this point but none of the other boards had yet seen a queen captured, so Ken had to head for the cupboard to locate another queen.  This soon helped him to give Stafford the lead, having played a very nice game to build up a big kingside attack with queen and two rooks on the open g-file, supported by an advancing h-pawn.  His opponent could not fend off this attack and allowed Ken to queen in the desperate hope of finding a perpetual check on the queenside, but Ken had no problems getting his king to safety.
Stafford's lead was short-lived as Ray Hyde soon had to resign.  It was not one of Ray's better nights as he lost first one pawn and then a second with no compenastion, and he eventually had to accept the inevitable.  However, Stephane Pedder regained the lead with a win on board 3, having enjoyed the better of the game throughout with his powerful bishop pair which gradually overpowered his opponent. 
Gerald Acey ensured that Stafford could not lose the match by winning a fine game on top board.  The game reached a delicately-balanced position with both players having queen and rook when Gerald found a neat queen manoeuvre which threatened mate and won a crucial pawn.  Once the rooks were exchanged Gerald had a decisive passed pawn and, in a similar finish to Ken Wozniak's game, he just had to escape from a series of checks to force resignation.   
Two games remained unfinished as time was called.  Ken McNulty had built up a promising kingside attack, albeit at the expense of his queenside, but he could not find the decisive breakthrough and ran short of time.  Once the dust had settled after the time control, Ken found himself in a very unpleasant knight ending, a pawn down and his knight tied to the defence of another, and his prospects do not look good.  Indeed Ken later resigned the game by telephone.
In the other unfinished game, Malcolm Armstrong had been on the defensive for some time after misjudging his opponent's queenside pawn advances.  With 22 men still on the board, there is a lot of play left although it seems clear that, with best play, Malcolm should be able to hold the draw to win the match for Stafford.