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Stafford Squeeze Past Newcastle

posted 3 Dec 2013, 13:28 by knight moves   [ updated 3 Dec 2013, 13:28 ]
Two matches on the same evening, with several regular players unavailable, stretched Stafford's resources beyond breaking point as Derek Fault was called into duty on board five against Stoke League Division One pacesetters Newcastle.  At least he was not repeating his simultaneous display heroics from the previous week's Wolverhampton League match and, with Stafford enjoying an average grading edge of around 11 points on the remaining four boards, the scene was still set for a close match.  Eventually Stafford prevailed 3.5-1.5 but not without several scares and Newcastle will feel that they should have had something to show for their efforts.

Gerald Acey won a very nice game as black on board one, gradually assuming the initiative and then winning a pawn before reaching a comfortably winning minor piece ending to level the match.

Malcolm Armstrong rather over-extended his central pawns and his opponent was able to undermine them very effectively.  Malcolm had to shed a pawn and his opponent missed a couple of strong continuations before Malcolm managed to exchange queens and gratefully recover the pawn to reach a very level ending as a draw was agreed.

Matthew Harborne was under early kingside pressure as his opponent played an energetic gambit opening, but he defended solidly and took a firm control of the dark squares before launching his own kingside mating attack.

This put Stafford into the lead and left Stephane Pedder, white on board four, needing a draw to win the match. From a fairly level opening, Stephane had allowed his opponent's central pawns to advance menacingly and things looked grim as a knight arrived on f3. A couple of pieces went on to the fire to open up Stephane's king, but somehow he survived the attack and was preparing to enjoy an endgame advantage as his opponent, despite the 10 second increments, overstepped the time limit.

So Stafford join Newcastle at the top of the table with a match (against Cheddleton) in hand.