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Unfinished Business at Halesowen

posted 20 Mar 2013, 11:38 by knight moves   [ updated 20 Mar 2013, 11:38 ]
With Stafford's aspirations in Wolverhampton League Division One having been all but extinguished in the previous match against Bushbury, the team travelled to Halesowen for the final match of the season.  Despite Stafford holding useful grading edges on the top four boards, a tight match developed and at the end of the playing session only two of the games had been completed.

Gerald Acey sought queenside play whilst allowing his opponent to press on the kingside, but miscalculated a pawn advance which cost him a pawn.  Unable to avoid further exchanges and saddled with several weak pawns, the endgame was hopeless and Halesowen took the lead. 

After an early exchange of queens, Malcolm Armstrong quickly obtained a dominant position with doubled rooks on the open d-file and active minor pieces whilst his opponent struggled to get developed.  However, Malcolm missed some opportunities and his opponent came close to equality before an injudicious pawn advance left him with further problems.  Under pressure, his opponent lost on time with two moves still to make and the match was level. 

Andrew Leadbetter sacrificed two pawns in search of what would have been a lethal knight fork, had his opponent not found a defence.  Andrew pressed on but was always struggling and reached the time control with just two pawns for a rook, at which point he had to admit defeat.

Lawrence Cooper had been better throughout his game, establishing a strong pawn chain on the central dark squares and patiently expanding on the queenside.  At the end of the session he was a pawn up in a rook ending and holding two connected passed pawns, so it was no surprise when, after a few days of reflection, his opponent resigned.  

This left the match standing at 2-2 with two games unfinished, and any match result still possible.  Matthew Harborne is a pawn down in a bishop ending but has a well-placed king and it may not be so easy for his opponent (or, rather, the adjudicator) to make winning progress.  Stephane Pedder is probably a little better, after enjoying the advantage throughout his game, but may feel that the best winning chances have slipped by.

Watch this space.....