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Disappointment at St George's

posted 13 Dec 2013, 12:22 by knight moves   [ updated 13 Dec 2013, 12:22 ]
Stafford's inconsistent start in Wolverhampton League Division One continued with a 4-2 defeat at St George's in Birmingham, although this really was a match which could have gone either way.

After a draw from Stephane Pedder on board three, the home side took the lead as Gerald Acey had an off-night on board one.  Having allowed his opponent to establish a knight on f4 and follow up with a bishop sacrifice on h3, things looked grim although Gerald may have felt that he had escaped the worst when he managed to regain his pawn and exchange queens.  However, this left his opponent with rook and two powerful bishops against rook and two knights which struggled to find good squares and Gerald resigned having lost two pawns and with more to follow.

Pavel Nefyodov accepted a piece sacrifice in the opening against which every Russian schoolboy is probably warned, and he soon found himself under big pressure.  He had to return the piece but his opponent maintained a strong attack with his major pieces along the open h-file which, despite valiant resistance from Pavel, eventually proved decisive.  This left Stafford trailing 0.5-2.5 but with good chances in the remaining 3 games.

Andrew Leadbetter's game quickly reached a double rook ending which was unpleasant as he was tied down to the defence of his backward c-pawn.  Andrew held on well, particularly given the 25 grading points that he was conceding, and perhaps his opponent became a little frustrated at not making more of the initiative as Andrew managed to wriggle out and then win a pawn.  When he succeeded in exchanging all of the rooks, the pawn ending looked to be easily winning for Andrew and indeed he queened first and just needed to find a couple of careful moves to stop his opponent's own advanced pawns.  However, the clock ticked on in the allegro finish and Andrew lost on time, a most unfortunate end to the game.

Ray Hyde's game featured some heavy manoeuvring as only a few pawns were exchanged before the time control.  Ray seemed to have some edge as his pawns gave him a little more space, although his king did look a little exposed.  As time ran short Ray held everything together well and won a piece which he was able to convert in the allegro finish.

In the final game to finish, and with the match now lost, Malcolm Armstrong rather reluctantly accepted a draw offer on board two. He had stood a little better throughout and won a pawn just before the time control. However, this allowed his opponent's pieces to become very active, with two rooks on the f-file supporting queen and bishop in exerting strong pressure on f7. Malcolm had to shed the extra pawn but retained a small edge, but with both players down to less than five minutes and the position remaining complex, discretion prevailed.