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Closing in on Div 3 Leaders

posted 8 Feb 2013, 12:59 by knight moves   [ updated 14 Feb 2013, 12:00 ]
Stafford B played the familiar faces of Newcastle C for the second time in a month as the North Staffs Div 3 home fixture was played on Thursday.

Looking to end a recent run of draws, things were looking very good on board 4 for David Barker as he profited from a blunder by the Newcastle player to go a Bishop up in the opening.  After steering the game through a series of exchanges in the middlegame, David had bullied his opponents king into the centre of the board, where he had it trapped and helplessly awaiting it's fate.  As David tightened the net, he arrived at a 'mate in one' position... however, it wasn't his move and David could only gasp as his opponent dropped a sacrificial bombshell with the move Rf1+! (diagram):

So despite being a full knight up and one move away from delivering mate, David had no choice but to agree the draw.   

In the second game to finish, Kazik Wozniak was facing a tough challenge with the black pieces and a grade deficit of 31 points.  The first book deviation from a quiet Symmetrical English opening came at move 9 when the Newcastle player made a bid for space with a pawn break to f4, which continued to f5 a few moves later before being exchanged on g6 to give white a clear kingside advantage.  Kazik found accurate defensive play to level things up going into an endgame with 4 rooks on the f-file, a minor piece and 6 pawns each.  The breakthrough came when white overstretched and Kazik was able to pick off the g-pawn then exchange off the remaining pieces to leave the kings fighting for the best squares.  Fortunately, having grabbed the opposition, it was the black king that was dominant and white's resignation soon followed.

Denis Nesbitt mysteriously found himself in a Caro-Cann, where a pair of actively placed knights were both eyeing the f2 pawn, forcing his opponents white pieces into passive, defensive squares.  Once the f2 pawn had been won, Denis took advantage of an open centre, placing his rooks on open d and e files while their counterparts were whimpering on a1 and b1.  White tried for an exchange sacrifice on f6 to open black's position, but accurate play by Denis led to whites resignation with his queen and knight both en pris.  Another point for the home team. 

Ken McNulty was last to finish on board 2, where he'd had to endure a frustrating opening with his opponent playing the exact mirror image of his moves.  So in the absence of any 'Silman imbalances' and unable to see any potential weaknesses to be exploited, Ken continued with standard developing moves until his opponent broke from the copy-cat routine.   A queenside push gained Ken space and he soon found  a 9-capture exchange that left him a protected passed pawn to the good.  Making full use of a substantial time advantage and determined to avoid any blunders, Ken slowed the pace and the win was made easier when his opponent blundered under pressure both on the board and the clock.   

With this 3.5 - 0.5 win Stafford B join Fenton A, 2 points behind the Cheddleton E team, who currently lead the division.  Stafford have 2 games in hand over each of these teams, but also still have games outstanding against each.  So, everything to play for!

Kazik's full game can be played through here or via the featured game link on the 'current season' page.