North Staffs Open Cup Final

Post date: May 1, 2014 8:09:18 PM

Stafford played host to Cheddleton last night in the North Staffs Open Cup Final. Both clubs fielded strong teams. Stafford were slightly below full strength with Matthew Harborne missing. Cheddleton fielded an impressive line-up. The pairings were (Stafford names first):

1. L. Cooper v C. Whitfield;

2. L. Grinsell v R. Shaw;

3. G. Acey v D. Buxton;

4. M. Armstrong v S. Edwards;

5. R. Butters v C. Davison;

6. S. Pedder v W. Armstrong;

7. P. Nefyodov v R. Edwards;

8. K. Wozniak v J. Boswell.

On Board 1, Craig Whitfield (White) opened with the relatively infrequent Centre Game. He castled early on the Q side and, developing with tempo, soon built pressure on the K side. Lawrence Cooper defended solidly, accepted a pawn sacrifice and neatly rearranged his K side defences with B on g7 and Q on f8. It looked cramped but it was effective.

The crux came when W, anxious to break through, sacrificed R for N on e5. Initially it seemed there was a mating follow-up N sacrifice on g6 but the more Craig spent looking at it the more convinced he became that his “brilliancy” wasn’t going to work. He changed plans but entered the endgame the exchange down. This transformed into a good B v bad N ending with Black having an extra pawn and White resigned. A tough tussle with both sides very short of time at the end.

On Board 2 Lee Grinsell opened with the Italian Game and played the quiet d3 line leading to a slow build-up and reducing counter attacking chances for Black.

Once Rob Shaw had taken the opportunity to exchange his QN for White’s White-squared B, it seemed that Black was reasonably comfortable, since W had few breakthrough chances.

Indeed after some exchanges on the d file and a further exchange of N’s the draw was agreed.

On board 3, Gerald Acey (Black) defended with the Tarrasch Defence to Dave Buxton’s QP opening. Black was happy to accept an isolated QP (IQP) in return for piece activity. White played a quiet line with B on e2 rather than on g2 but still managed to build pressure on the IQP.

However, this position has occurred thousands of times in the Tarrasch Defence and Black played the precise manoeuvre Be5 which allowed exchanges on d4 leaving both sides with IQPs! However White misplayed this sequence and left his N unprotected on c3. Black played a little combination with a temporary sac on h2 followed by a q check on c7 which picked up the loose N.

White strove for counter-play and landed a R on the 7th rank but Gerald attacked on the K side and transposed to an ending still a P up and White resigned.

On board 4, Malcolm Armstrong (White) opened with a quiet d4/K-side fianchetto system with P on c3 rather than c4. Simon Edwards responded with a King’s Indian set-up and gained early activity on the Q side, causing W to lose tempi with his QN. Black emerged a P ahead and it was difficult to know whether this was all planned by Malcolm.

Certainly he looked calm as he set about his own Q side activity and managed to get his R on to the 7th rank. After a blur of exchanges of the major pieces the game transposed into an opposite-colour B ending with Black still a P ahead but, with no prospects of a win, the draw was agreed.

On board 5 Roger Butters (Black) was on the Black side of Colin Davison’s English Opening. White’s set-up was very restrained and the opening transposed into a reversed Benoni with Black having the greater space in the centre and on the Q side. However both sides seemed content with their slow manoeuvring behind their P’s and after 34 moves all pieces and pawns were still on the board!

The crucial moment came when Roger allowed W to exchange on e5 allowing White a pseudo-sacrifice of his B on h6 but this allowed White to crash through on the f-file, pick up Black’s R and threaten mate.

It was well played by Colin but an unfortunate oversight by Roger.

The Board 6 contest between Stephane Pedder (White) and Bill Armstrong should have been an evenly matched contest. However, White adopted a tame set-up against Bill’s favourite King’s Indian Defence and allowed Black first to secure the Q side dark squares with a5 and b6 and then, in classic King’s Indian fashion, launch f5 and a subsequent attack down the open g-file.

Stephane was unable to find counter-play and was forced to defend but the end came rather swiftly.

Board 7, contested between Pavel Nefyodov (Black) and Roger Edwards was easily the first game to finish with a draw being agreed between the two “combatants” after 7 moves.

White opened with the Spanish Game to which Black’s aggressive response was the Schliemann Defence (3…f5). However Roger played the tame 4.Bc6 which is regarded as one of the weaker systems against Black’s counter-gambit. In return Black’s pawn advance to e4 was not as strong as the recommended Bd6.

Nonetheless it provoked White into making a sortie with his Q; after Qh5+ Black blocked with g6 perhaps hoping to encourage a N sac on g6, but later analysis showed the sac to be unsound Surprisingly at this point a draw was agreed, with Black having a clear edge.

Kazik Wozniak (White) played the English Opening on board 8 against Jacob Boswell who responded with 1...e5 and tried to open the game from the start. White allowed Black to advance in the centre and to dominate the White squares with a pawn wedge on c6, d5 and e4.

At this point White abandoned the struggle for control of d5 and it was probably a mistake to push his Q side pawns to c5 and b4. Black responded with a timely b6 leaving White with a very weak pawn on c5 which was soon picked off and also left Black in control of the b and d files.

Jacob crashed through in the centre with pawns at d4 and e4 and his direct attack brought the full point.

So final score 3.5 – 4.5 in Cheddleton’s favour. Congratulations to the victors and to everyone for an evening of largely interesting, fighting chess.

Report courtesy of Ray Hyde.