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Winning Start to 2013

posted 16 Jan 2013, 00:48 by knight moves   [ updated 16 Jan 2013, 00:48 ]
Stafford's upwards progress in Wolverhampton League Division One continued with a 5.5 - 0.5 home victory against Shifnal & Telford.  With the visitors arriving one player short, and conceding an average of around 10 grading points per board, Stafford were undoubtedly favourites for the match although such a convincing victory was not to be expected.
In his first match of the season, Roger Butters sought to blow away the cobwebs with a Kings Gambit.  Despite an early exchange of queens, Roger maintained a dangerous initiative with his bishop pair and the pressure told as his opponent blundered a rook.
Malcolm Armstrong had an early initiative with black on board one as his opponent lost two tempi in the opening and was soon facing an awkward task.  Although subsequent analysis showed some defensive improvements, the practical problems were considerable and Malcolm's kingside attack succeeded to put Stafford 3-0 up.
Gerald Acey won a very smooth game on board two to clinch the match.  Having secured the bishop pair out of the opening, he gradually improved his position and won a pawn before exchanging into a bishop against knight ending where his extra pawn proved decisive.
Ray Hyde looked to stand well out of the opening with a well-placed knight on d5 supporting his advanced pawn on c3.  However, the position was complex with both kings somewhat exposed, and Ray went wrong to pass the initiative to his opponent.  Ray went two pawns down in order to maintain some threats, but was about to recover one and steer the game towards an opposite-coloured bishop ending when his opponent offered a draw which Ray gratefully accepted.
Stephane Pedder had the better of things with a strong pawn chain on the dark squares.  Having acquired an extra pawn, he allowed his opponent to regain it at the cost of misplacing his queen.  This allowed Stephane the opportunity to develop a strong kingside attack with his two knights, and his opponent resigned shortly before the end of the playing session when faced with the loss of a piece.