Inter-County Championship 2008–09
Results and reports from the county’s matches will appear here throughout the season.
There was some interesting chess played at the Notts v Leics match. How could there not be in conditions compact of ham sandwiches, cookies, Yorkshires filled with vegetable chilli, cheese puffs, and all manner of viaticum. Mark Radford's kettle sung sweetly as it boiled. The pieces were pushed around with exquisite flicks and thumps.
Bob Taylor appeared to have a lovely position from the beginning. His pieces were emphatically placed in the middle game, a configuration which brought to mind the word 'strident'. So much so, that I walked away from the board repeating the word, only to underscore it inwardly with mental prosodic emphasis when I fell upon Keith Brameld's game in which Keith, playing white, with casual deftness, mopped up his opponent's position, coring it out, pummelling it, blighting and searing it, with a sequence of moves so absurdly punitive in their incremental build up that, when uncorked, the world almost seemed to stop for the short amount of time it takes to deliver and utter checkmate.
I caught the end stages of Stan Cramner's game. Stan was material up. Connected, unimpeded pawns sharking towards the milk and honey which is freely and copiously available on tap on the eight rank. But let me cut a tale short. Stan converted his advantages with fluid skill, arriving splendidly in the world of milk and honey. Meanwhile, Marcel Taylor was in a zinging end game, the exchange up (oh the exchange). That said, and I mean it - despite my piffling and criminally scant knowledge of the late phase of the game - it was still a brain-thumpingly awkward position to prosecute successfully. And yet, and yet, Marcel, with considerable chessic alembics, did just that - a signal, signal victory much needed by the Notts.
A word must be said about the game of Will Place. One noun phrase encapsulates it: a classic. It's hard enough being captain (what with knowing which biscuits to choose for the team, thoughts such as is the kettle capacious enough, will the away team balk at the sight of a Yorkshire pudding bumpered with chilli, and similar testing sequila), but to bash out a mental gem with such seeming insouciance is a feat. A feat. It was perfect Place all along: you know the essential signs, the thumbprint of his swingeing opening, the pieces gathering to within less than a pawn swipe of the opposing monarch - will nothing but regicide in mind. There followed a sweet exchange sacrifice which all but hamstrung, drawn and quartered his opponent, whose hapless Sicilian was bottled in and shiftless it looked - as though its creator were not making but unmaking moves. Then there was a subtle check which, in the post-match analysis I overlooked, couldn't see (it wasn't there - only a Place could find) led to a finish of such graphic emphasis that even someone who didn't know the rules of the game would have known that, without giving it a second glance or knowing which piece did what, that white had won, won, won. Will won. We won.
Sadly dear readers your second report does not contain any of the rumbustious narrative of the previous article. It wil not scintillate and grip you with its Dickensesque descriptions or joy; but what do you expect of a lowly engineer!
I was able seeing quite a lot of most people's games. Although like everyone at one end of the room I struggled as the dark of the evening drew upon us and realised there were very few working lights or indeed light bulbs! I have chosen to write a brief account of the boards not already written about.
Saw Brian Thompson face very young talented opposition. His opponent had a large time advantage which was probably the deciding factor in what was a fairly balanced position around the time control. Sadly a mistake at about move 36 meant that his opponent was able to gain the upper hand.
Kev gained a decisive space advantage in the middle game in a Faulkbeer Counter Gambit game. His opponent missed a neat tactic in the late middle game and dropped a piece - and yet his opponent stilled threatened to perpetual check. Kev wisely swapped off the pieces to avoid this but unfortunately it ended in a king and 'wrong coloured' bishop plus rook's pawn vs king. And so it was his opponent was extremely lucky to escape with a draw.
Brian Hayward faced a problem with his King trapped in the centre early in the middle game. Somehow he managed unravel his pieces and castle. His opponent generated a lot of play and was with in an inch of checkmating. However Brian remained calm - and avoided the mate with a clever move order that I think his opponent overlooked. It all came down to an endgame with Brian valiantly fighting on in a lost position to try and gain Nottingham a crucial half point. Sadly it was not to be.
Drag reverted to a modern set-up and his opponent missed the chance to exploit an early mistake. However Drag slowly unravelled his pieces (in true modern style) and had a pleasant position around move 10. But sadly drag made a mistake and was forced to sacrifice the exchange to generate compensation. Unfortunately it wasn't quite enough.
Tim went a piece up quite early on in the game but the extra piece was trapped on the edge of the board for about 20 minutes as his opponent went all in on the attack against Tim's king. There was a nerve racking (for spectators anyhow!) time scramble in which Tim showed his pedigree to neutralise his opponents attack. The endgame saw the appearance of the extra piece and the game followed shortly after.
Winner of the craziest game award! It was an all out tactical battle in which both players probably had winning chances. Thankfully Stephen prevailed and got Nottingham a crucial early victory.
When I saw this game Daniel was a few pawns down but generating an attack and the complexities meant his opponent's clock was running down dramatically. I think this was probably the reason it ended as a draw - although I might be wrong.
Whilst Mark's kettle sang sweetly his game seemed fairly good as well! He was a pawn up but in a tricky endgame he wasn't able to convert the slight material advantage and it ended as a draw.
John was a pawn down when I saw (R+B+6P vs R+N+7P); his opponent's knight seemed more effective than John's bishop and it sadly resulted in a loss for Nottinghamshire.
Phil Morgan, who gallantly stepped in for the ill Neil Graham at the last moment, had a tricky game. He ended up two pawns down in a rook and bishop endgame but fought very hard and reduced the deficit to a mere pawn. Sadly it still wasn't enough to prevent his opponent from converting the point.
There was interesting battle on the bottom board - one which I couldn't follow all that easily I have to be honest. In the end Oliver's opponent had very strong pawns which were threatening to march up the board at an unstoppable rate - in the end a loss for Nottingham.
We would both like to thank Phil Morgan for stepping in at the last minute. And to remind everyone to try and keep the 7th March free for our crucial last group stage game against Warwickshire.
|1||Brian Thompson||148||0–1||Brandon Clarke||147|
|2||Kevin Harvey||147||½–½||Sean Hewitt||149|
|3||Brian Hayward||144||0–1||David Farrall||144|
|4||Will Place||143||1–0||Alan Jex||142|
|5||Drag Sudar||142||0–1||Michael Cowley||139|
|6||Tim Lane||138||1–0||James Bingham||139|
|7||Stephen Foster||138||1–0||Phil Watkinson||140|
|8||Daniel Lin||137||½–½||Iain Dodds||137|
|9||Stanley Cranmer||128||1–0||Paul Deacon||136|
|10||Bob Taylor||127||1–0||RF (Bob) Collins||135|
|11||Mark Radford||126||½–½||Steven Turvey||133|
|12||Keith Brameld||125||1–0||Steve Wylie||130|
|13||John Tassi||123||0–1||Christopher Tipper||129|
|14||Marcel Taylor||121||1–0||Karl Potter||129|
|15||Phil Morgan||119||0–1||John Pattinson||128|
|16||Oliver Taylor||UG||0–1||Graham Booley||127|
This was a weakened Nottinghamshire team, primarily owing to the attractions of the Scarborough Congress, and Staffordshire were the stronger team on paper.
Brian Hayward's game was the first to finish, ending in a draw, and it gave him the chance to observe some of the other games. The following is an account by Brian Hayward, Kevin and myself.
Norman Davies was next to finish with a fine win, followed by a draw for Benny Lim.
Benny Lim's game was an usual one, which seemed one moment to fizz with attacking potential, the next fraught with the dangers of over extension. The pawns in front of Benny's king were way ahead front, and Benny was compelled to march the monarch up the board to catch them up. A type of sitzkrieg ensued in which a draw was the most likely (and was the) outcome.
There next ensued more draws for Dave Flynn and Will Place (I kept offering several poisoned and not so poisoned pawns against my opponents French, however he wisely declined on several occasions. The game only reached 19 moves where it promised to open up, but with less than ten minutes on my clock I accepted my opponents draw. Graham Gibson's bishop pair was insufficient for being the exchange down and the outcome was a loss. After six results the match was even at 3 points each. Then Kevin Harvey drew, whilst Keith Brameld lost. Shortly afterwards, John Collins played a lovely game - handling with aplomb his opponent's choice of the Modern Benoni. Black's king stepped into the f file, only for John to cluster his pieces, and the biggies at that (queen, rook et al), in the porous placement of the black monarch. A white bishop on the lancinating, board-splitting a2-g8 diagonal, a bishop to die for, was a perpetual proverbial thorn in the side for black, who suffered indeed. Next there was a draw for Phil Court. After ten results the match remained even.
The remaining boards looked reasonably good for Notts. John Tassi & Marcel Taylor had material advantages. Steve Hunter's game looked even. Neil Graham and Graeme Jennings were pressing, but Drags game was difficult to assess.
Steve Hunter drew and there was a flurry of results after two hours play with Marcel winning, Neil drawing and Drags rook sacrifice being refuted. The match was tied at 7 points each. John Tassi was a pawn up in a rook and pawn ending, and Graeme Jennings was two pawns up although his king was vulnerable.
After another 45 minutes John Tassi agreed a draw, having battled terrifically to try and get a full point for Notts. He had a R+3P vs R+2P which was a technical draw. John continued his with three pawn venture, seeking the promised land of the first rank. Alas and alack a draw was played out and hence a draw it was.
So this left the match dependent on the outcome of the final game. A win for either side won the match for their team.
Graeme Jennings fought tremendously and appeared to have a smashing attack hurling up the h file with regicide in mind. The dark-squared bishop at g7 was lopped off - the scene set for carnage (the type that brings us back to the board). And yet, and yet, somehow Graeme's opponent was able to extricate himself from the lovely aggression and generate his own threats on the queenside. Graeme who was two pawns up, had to fend off a swingeing attack, which saw his king drawn in to the open board, rudely assaulted by black's minor - but potently choreographed - pieces. In the end, white lost material and, despite, a spirited and ingenious attempt at counter play, resigned.
So Staffordshire narrowly won 8.5 - 7.5. I would like to add Kevin's and my thanks to everyone who played, and to Brian Hayward, Drag Sudar and of course Neil Graham, who helped during and prior to the match.
Our next game is on Saturday 15th November - please keep your diaries free!
|1||Kevin Harvey||147||½–½||Philip Porter||145|
|2||Brian Hayward||144||½–½||David Daniels||144|
|3||Will Place||143||½–½||John Staniforth||142|
|4||Drag Sudar||143||0–1||Frank Wood||141|
|5||Graeme Jennings||141||0–1||Diarmid Gibson||138|
|6||Steve Hunter||138||½–½||Steve Hill||137|
|7||John Collins||137||1–0||Martin May||137|
|8||Neil Graham||135||½–½||Peter Leary||136|
|9||Keith Brameld||125||0–1||Ben Zicha||135|
|10||John Tassi||123||½–½||Mike Groombridge||131|
|11||Norman Davies||122||1–0||Derek Perks||130|
|12||Marcel Taylor||121||1–0||William Rea||129|
|13||Phil Court||120||½–½||Alan Thomason||117|
|14||Dave Flynn||120||½–½||Max Wooton||116|
|15||Graham Gibson||116||0–1||Geof Lee||113|
|16||Benny Lim||109||½–½||Ken Francis||110|
The venue for Nottingham's second match was one of many pubs in the market town of Leek. We knew that anything other than a win would surely be curtains for chances of progressing after the narrow loss to Staffordshire the previous month.
Things got off to a good start with a win for the two Notts captains. Were we leading by good example or just eager to sample some fine bitters in the bar downstairs? My game saw a pleasing Rook for pawn sacrifice to which my opponent resigned - it was an unstoppable mate in 12. This, I must be honest, is Fritz's analysis - I just thought it looked quite flashy! Kev's opponent played the Sicilian and never really looked very comfortable. It culminated in a massive space and development lead for Kev and one which he converted with great aplomb.
Sadly it wasn't too much longer before Mark and Neil both lost. Neil's aggressive start back-fired and he ended up losing the exchange when his opponent trapped his Rook on f8 with a Bishop on a3. Sadly Neil wasn't able to muster any counter play and ended up with a hemmed in bishop on h8. For all intense and purposes a Rook down Neil resigned. The score was now 2-2.
Debutant Oliver Taylor and Brian T restored Nottingham's lead shortly thereafter. Oliver mounting considerable pressure down the b-file, which ended in a neat tactic which his opponent overlooked. Brian was winning and then losing pawns left right and centre, but his opponent tried a back rank mate tactic, which Brian smartly side-stepped, and his opponent was left two pawns down with out a chance. 4-2.
There then followed a smart win for Keith and a loss for John Tassi. John seemed to have been a Q for 2 N + 1 P down at some point but without much compensation. 5-3.
Marcel then lost, reducing our lead to just one point only for Tim to restore it. The ever reliable Mr Lane seemed to have a comfortable win; when I saw it he was three pawns up in a Rook and pawn endgame. 6-4.
The eleventh game couldn't be decided with both players having to settle for half a point. Stephen Foster's opponent had been a pawn up but it was an IQP and Stephen seemed to be generating some counter-play against it so a draw seemed a fair result. Brian H also drew his game, which must have been the most complex of the day. His opponent forced the swap off of several pieces in such a way as to leave Brian a pawn up but with doubled pawns on the e-file. His opponent had moved his King out of the firing line to f1, but this left him with a Rook stil at home for most of the game on h1. There ensued a mad time scramble (mostly on Brian's part!) to reach the control. Brian probably missed a win but fought well to narrowly beat his own flag to reach the safe haven of move 36. The position at the time control left Brian facing checkmate in one move on h7 but with chances of mating his opponent first! In the end a draw seemed fair to both players. 7-5.
Nottingham's side was bolstered by the return of two old stalwarts in the form of Stan and Bob. Stan won his game (At one point I believe it was 3P + B vs 4P) and Bob sealed the match with a solid draw. 8.5-5.5.
Jonathan held his nerve to convert his game. And Norman sadly made a miscalculation right at the end, to lose a game he had clawed his way back into. He had been two pawns down in a Queen and pawn endgame, but a cunningly positioned Queen on Normans part, threatened to win back both pawns whilst threatening checkmate on the back rank. Final score 9.5-6.5 to Nottingham. Thanks to all you who played, and a special thanks to Mark, Stephen and Neil for getting the troops there. Remember to keep the 10th of January free!!
|1||Chris Jardine||143||0–1||Brian Thompson||148|
|2||Alan Beresford||141||0–1||Kev Harvey||147|
|3||J Murphy||½–½||Brian Hayward||144|
|4||Jon Lonsdale||136||0–1||Will Place||143|
|5||Mitchell Burke||133||½–½||Stephen Foster||138|
|6||David Pardoe||133||0–1||Tim Lane||138|
|7||Matthew Pollard||127||1–0||Neil Graham||135|
|8||Thomas Clements||125||0–1||Jonathan Day||130|
|9||Nathan Gittens||124||0–1||Stan Cranmer||128|
|10||Dave Kierman||117||½–½||Bob Taylor||127|
|11||Sam Towse||113||1–0||Mark Radford||126|
|12||Ray Sumner||113||0–1||Keith Brameld||125|
|13||David Connolly||107||1–0||John Tassi||123|
|14||Jade Stirrup||96||1–0||Norman Davies||122|
|15||L Moore||96||1–0||Marcel Taylor||121|
|16||Damian McCarthy||105||0–1||Oliver Taylor||UG|
Two of our players (no names, no pack drill) arrived about 20 minutes late, but at least we were then all present. Worcs defaulted after an hour on Board 8, so Keith Roper was unlucky not to get a game. Barry Redburn drew and Stuart Swift lost both quite quickly. I won comfortably (got a decent game out of the opening for a change) and Phil Morgan had a nice mating finish. Then draws on Boards 6, 9, 11 and 13, a loss on 10 and a win by John Tassi on Board 2. That left five games that went to the wire with the score 6.5-4.5 in Notts favour: Ray Sayer was two pawns to the good and won, Graham Gibson was in a drawn endgame (R + P v R + P) but his opponent took some time to offer the draw, which was accepted. 8-5 to us and victory on board count. Just as well as Worcs won the last three games Boards 15, 3 and 4. It turned out afterwards that the rule on fewer defaults gave us the match but Board Count would have done as well. We were out graded by over 5 grading points a board on average, so a very good win for Notts.
The final will be played on 21st March v Warks at Barkby Village Hall, 19 Beeby Road, Barkby, Leics, LE7 3QB. The 3rd place play-off Lincs v Worcs will take place at the same time and venue. Play is from 1:30 to 5:30pm.
|1||Keith Walters||124||1–0||Ray Peters||123|
|2||John Tassi||123||1–0||Andrew Farthing||122|
|3||Norman Davies||122||0–1||Giles Stanton||122|
|4||Dave Flynn||120||0–1||Andrew Wiggins||120|
|5||Phil Morgan||119||1–0||John Gittus||120|
|6||George Murfet||117||½–½||Andrew Moore||119|
|7||Graham Gibson||116||½–½||David Scriven||117|
|8||Keith Roper||112||1–0||Mark Riley - default||116|
|9||Bob Willoughby||112||½–½||John Varilone||115|
|10||Jixin Yang||109||0–1||Don Curry||115|
|11||Mike Nailard||108||½–½||John Loynes||115|
|12||Barry Redburn||103||½–½||Jeremy Humphries||114|
|13||Hamzah Ali||102||½–½||Peter Yeadon||114|
|14||Ray Sayer||100||1–0||Doug Bott||111|
|15||Chris Sargeant||95||0–1||Arnold Kirkland||109|
|16||Stuart Swift||90||0–1||WW Watson||105|
|1||Dave Flynn||120||0–1||Luke Alldread||118|
|2||Chris Lewis||123||0–1||Roger Walker||114|
|3||Marcel Taylor||121||½–½||Phil Sheldon||113|
|4||Phil Morgan||119||1–0||Paul O'Flanagan||106|
|5||George Murfet||117||1–0||Graham Pace||103|
|6||Robert Willoughby||112||1–0||Albert Hall|
|7||Eric Williamson||111||1–0||Nathan Atkins||99|
|8||Jixin Yang||109||½–½||Ron Harrison||96|
|9||Keith Roper||112||1–0||Doug Bramley||93|
|10||Nick Moon||107||1–0||Nigel Marshall||88|
|11||Alan Brown||98||0–1||Bert Loomes||81|
|12||Mike Nailard||108||1–0||Phil Smith||60|
|13||Edwin Justice||91||0–1||Peter Brace||56|
|14||Ric Dawson||90||1–0||Louise Brace|
|15||Peter Gorecka-Marshall||90||1–0||David Jeffery|
|16||Derek Cronshaw||87||1–0||Ian Morrell||39|
|1||Peter Sherlock||118||0–1||Sida Zhou||UG|
|2||Keith Noons||114||0–1||John Tassi||123|
|3||Ben Mason||113||½–½||Dave Flynn||120|
|4||Mike Colebrook||111||0–1||James Thomson||120|
|5||David Carew||110||0–1||Phil Morgan||119|
|6||Robert Crayshaw||98||0–1||Bob Willoughby||112|
|7||John Box||98e||½–½||Jixin Yang||109|
|8||Michael Dew||98e||½–½||Mike Nailard||108|
|9||Charles Moss||96||0–1||Barry Redburn||103|
|10||Mike Robinson||96||½–½||Hamzah Ali||102|
|11||Charles Ayton||91||0–1||Ray Sayer||100|
|12||William Bazley||88||½–½||Michael Zhang||96|
|13||Richard Kerrigan||85||0–1||Rick Dawson||90|
|14||David Homley||UG||1–0||Andrew Flint||UG|
|15||Amy Milson||64||½–½||Stewart Swift||80|
|16||Neil Milson||61||½–½||Andrew Garside||80|