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Winning Start in Wolverhampton League Division One

posted 18 Oct 2013, 12:48 by knight moves   [ updated 18 Oct 2013, 12:48 ]
A strong Stafford side travelled to West Brom for the opening match of the Wolverhampton League Division One season and returned home with the win that an average grading advantage of 20 points per board suggested, although it was far from a comfortable success. 

All began well, with Stafford players looking to hold edges on 5 boards and only Pavel Nefyodov in trouble as energetic play from his opponent applied pressure on both board and clock.  Pavel's pawns began to fall off one-by-one, and when four of them had disappeared, it was time for Pavel to resign.  Gerald Acey had first grip on the open d-file but was unable to take advantage of this and a draw was agreed as a series of exchanges was about to lead into a level knight ending. 

Things then started to go wrong in the middle order.  Matthew Harborne looked to be slowly outplaying his opponent as he first equalised comfortably with black and then took over the initiative. He won a pawn with a nice Qd5 move forking pawns on a2 and g2, but then disaster struck as he blundered his queen and had to resign, giving West Brom a 2.5-0.5 lead.  This left no further room for error, but Malcolm Armstrong, who had also enjoyed the better of things and won a pawn, also blundered to lose a piece.  At least he had some compensation and did not have to resign immediately, but he was very fortunate when his opponent blundered a rook and Malcolm went on to win, albeit not without some further difficulties. 

On board one, Lawrence Cooper weakened his opponent's kingside pawn structure with a neat series of exchanges, and established a large advantage with a fine outpost for his queen on f5.  However, there was no knockout blow and Lawrence had to settle for winning two pawns and grinding his opponent down in a rook and minor piece ending.

This levelled the scores and left Stephane Pedder to play the captain's innings to win the match.  He had enjoyed a space advantage throughout in a blocked position and also applied pressure on the clock as the game moved into the allegro finish. Stephane was breaking through on the queenside as his opponent went for desperate counter-play on the kingside, but Stephane kept things under control and was a safe rook up, with a few minutes still on his clock, when his opponent lost on time.

All of this left the match result as a 3.5-2.5 win for Stafford, and brows were duly mopped.