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Fighting Draw at Warley Quinborne

posted 21 Dec 2012, 09:29 by knight moves   [ updated 21 Dec 2012, 09:29 ]
Having found several recent opponents in Wolverhampton League Division One missing their top players, it was probably only fair that Stafford ran into a strong Warley Quinborne side and found themselves conceding an average of 16 grading points per board.  In that context, the ensuing 3-3 draw should be considered a good result, although there was disappointment that winning opportunities were allowed to escape.

Gerald Acey was first to finish with a draw on board two.  He had equalised comfortably with black and a series of exchanges in the early middlegame seemed to leave him with a small edge, holding two rooks and a strong bishop against two rooks and knight.  However, his opponent managed to secure the base of his pawn chain on g2 with his knight on e1 and also took over the open h-file as one pair of rooks was exchanged, so there was no real way for Gerald to improve his position and his draw offer was accepted.

Ray Hyde played a very nice game in overcoming a 22-point deficit to give Stafford the lead.  His opponent played a highly unothodox opening, bringing his king's knight to d6 at an early stage, but nevertheless looked to have reached a playable position.  Ray always had some edge and found excellent squares for his pieces as he applied ever-increasing pressure, particularly with his bishop on e4 pinning a knight on d5 against the rook on a8.  Although no material had yet been lost, his opponent's position was on the verge of collapse when he decided that he had seen enough. 

The home side levelled the match on board four when a strong kingside attack succeeded against Stephane Pedder.  The white squares around his king had given some concern from an early stage, and Stephane's attempts to counter-attack on the queenside were not quick enough.  His opponent won two pawns on the kingside and Stephane resigned as one of them was about to become a queen. 

Stafford were soon back in the lead when Pavel Nefyodov won a tough game on board five.  His well-placed queen on d4 had looked to give Pavel some early advantage, but his opponent defended securely and the game seemed unclear when Pavel suddenly managed to infiltrate his opponent's king with 3 pieces and the win soon followed. 

Ken McNulty's game began rather strangely when, after 3 moves, the players realised that they had the wrong colours.  With the pieces reset and the board rotated, the game was restarted and Ken looked to be doing well with a strong central pawn chain and good outposts for his knights.  His opponent played what looked to be a rather speculative knight sacrifice, but which gave him 3 kingside pawns for the piece.  Uncomfortable with the resulting kingside pressure, Ken played to return the exchange soon after, but missed an intermediate checking move from white, leaving Ken with a position he couldn't defend, and once again the match was level at 2.5-2.5.

Malcolm Armstrong's game was very complicated and saw both players running short of time. Malcolm developed a dangerous initiative and his opponent made a series of exchanges in an attempt to bail out into a rook ending, although this looked to be winning for Malcolm as he had many ways to obtain two connected passed pawns on the queenside.  An advantage on the clock of 13 minutes against just 39 seconds with 17 moves remaining until the time control gave further cause for optimism.  However, Malcolm misplayed things to lose his b-pawn and then had little alternative but to repeat moves and take a draw to leave the match all square at 3-3.