Monday, 28 February 2011

'A' vs 'B' = 4-1 (again!)

Last week I published the result and an express report on the derby clash between Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams. They currently occupy opposite ends of the Division 1 table so it was no surprise to see the ‘A’ team win by such a convincing margin. For those lucky readers who may have been on annual leave last week, I set you some homework in the form of a position from each game with a question to answer. (Thanks to those who did submit comments against the article. All the answers were correct so well spotted.) You’ll find those answers in the full game commentaries below.

In the event the match could have been much closer because two ‘B’ team players succeeded in gaining significant advantages before letting their more illustrious opponents wriggle free. The ‘B’ team was slightly under strength due to the absence of board 3 regular Andy Leatherbarrow but the ‘A’ team fielded their strongest side.

The first test I posed in the express report was from John Kerrane’s game against Matthew Wedge Roberts on board 4. John e-mailed me the day after the game to say that, after analysing the game again, he thought he had accepted the draw in a position of some dominance. Indeed, he thought he was winning. The game viewer below is set to show the final position but you can play through the whole game as well if you like. I’ve added some further commentary.

I asked readers to assess the final position and the answer to the question appears to be that White is better, probably winning. But there would still have been much work to do even if John had been able to find the tricky line given above. Ultimately, I suspect that, as he was playing an opponent in good form and with a far superior grading, he was more than happy with a draw and therefore wasn’t really looking for a win. He wasn’t the only one I don’t think!

The second position from the post earlier this week was from the board 3 game between the two team Captains. As you’ll see from the game and commentary below, Martin Syrett acquitted himself very well indeed in the opening and obtained a very good advantage going into the middle game. The viewer below is set to start at the crucial position with Martin (White) to play. This one was a move order trick. Martin simply picked the wrong piece to capture with on c5 and allowed Alastair to sacrifice his rook for Martin’s rampant knight and powerful bishop. In this case the two pieces were definitely worth more than the rook.

Position three was from the top board encounter between Pete Olley and Dave Wedge. This game (like the last one) also saw Black employ Alekhine’s Defence, but this time Black got the better of the opening and Dave capitalised with a nice combination early in the middle game. This is given in the viewer below and the whole game is also available to play through. Unfortunately, Pete never really got a foot hold in the game and Dave played clinically to convert the single pawn advantage to the full point.

Our fourth featured game (for they really were all rather interesting encounters in their own ways) was played between Neil Bamford and Nick Sykes. Neil had played the role of “super sub” in the ‘B’ team’s last match away to Halifax where his win on board 5 was the foundation for a creditable drawn match. On this occasion Nick had too much for him although he fought gamely and with no little ingenuity. The full game is given below and again I’ve set the viewer to display the puzzle I set earlier this week. On this occasion I was asking you to find Nick’s move 1…Qe7 and also the improvement that he overlooked which was 1…Rc8!?.

So, finally, let’s look at the other drawn game in the match between Dave Shapland and Matthew Parsons. Matthew surprised Dave with his choice of opening which yielded a similar type of position to those encountered in closed Ruy Lopez. It’s fair to say that Matthew was more familiar with the strategic ideas than Dave was and, as a result, he developed some strong pressure as the middle game progressed. In the position I gave last week I wanted you to find 1…Bb5! which wins Black the exchange. There are a couple of variations depending on whether White responds with 2.Bd1 or 2.Ba4 so I hope you managed to find the right continuations in each line.

As the game progressed Dave just managed to hold off Matthew’s direct attack on his king and even obtained a mathematically favorable ending which is quite instructive to play through the sub variations of. The computer provides the best lines of course but some of the technique it indicates is interesting. Ultimately the ending seems to have been theoretically drawn although it is never quite as easy as it looks. Dave, like John before him, was certainly happy to take a draw off Matthew who is yet to lose a game in Calderdale this season. The notes in the game viewer below are Dave's.

All of this means that the ‘A’ team re-took the lead in the Division (Huddersfield were scheduled to play last Thursday but I haven't seen a result published) and the ‘B’ team stayed rooted in the relegation zone. It looks to me like they must now make wins against Todmorden ‘A’, Belgrave and Brighouse if they are to have any hope of surviving. Their other fixture is away to Huddersfield and whilst they could do their colleagues in the ‘A’ team a huge favour by getting a result there, I don’t think they’ll be holding their breath!

The ‘A’ team will play their match in hand at home to Halifax ‘A' tonight and the ‘C’ and ‘D’ teams will also be in action in Division 2. Stay tuned for more action next week then.

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