The second half of the season got underway after a long break (our last fixture was way back in December).
Many of the players were blowing off the winter cobwebs and trying to remember how to play !!!.
The Bees started the year pitched up against the 2018/19 Champions (yes our A team !).
A match between defending champions and just promoted teams often end up as one sided affairs, and the final score suggested this was the case, but the scores from the individual games show that the match was a lot closer than the final score suggests………
First the match score which flattered the champions……
|The Bees||V||The Champions 05/02/2020|
|1.Keith Maudsley||0-1||Marek Mazek|
|2.Steve Cole||1-0||Jonathan Smith|
|3.John Reyes||0-1||Iain Johnson|
|4.Nick Burriss||0-1||Robert Furness|
|5.Mike Rotchell||0-1||Damian McCarthy|
|6.Nick Cooke||0-1||Alex Robinson|
The Champions won the toss and elected to play black on odd boards (not the last surprise of the evening !!!)…….
To the games……..
Board 1: Keith v Marek
This was a very close encounter with both players missing good opportunities.
Marek’s quick play is always difficult to manage, as his opponents often fall well behind on the clock bringing that extra pressure of trying to find good moves in time pressure.
Keith normally manages time pressure well… he describes the closing phases of the game……
On Marek’s 43rd move he played Qa7, missing 43…h5+ 44 gxh6 f5+.
The move he played (43…Qa7) allows 44 Qe8+ , when both 44 …Bf8 and 44…Kg7 can be answered by 45 Re2 (or possibly even 45 h5 which, in the case of 44…Kg7 carries the threat of 46 h6 mate !). That seems to halt black’s attack (45…Qd4+ 46 Qe4 and with the Q on e4 protected by the R, 46…h5+ can be answered by 47 Kh3 and White is at least equal, if not the one with any winning chances). In time pressure, I missed 44 Qe8+ and 45 Re2.
On such margins, and by the grace of the ticking clock, can games be decided !
Board 2: Jonathan v Steve
As it turned out the only “shock” of the evening as the Champions captain was “stung” by the Bees captain by some clinical finishing……
Black had sacrificed a pawn to open lines to the white king as the game reached the above position.
The computer has this position as equal/slight advantage to black, white is on the defensive and the next few moves decide the game….
White continued 28. Nf2 – eyeing up the e4 square but restricting the knight’s defensive options (The computer suggests Nh2 preparing to rebel borders via the f3 and f1 squares as well as covering the h2 square).
Play continued 28. Nf2 Qh4 29.Ne4 f3 (opening up the f file for the second rook to join in) 30.Qxf3 Rf8 31.Qe2 Bg4 ! now blacks pieces are all nicely positioned for the final assault….
32.Qe3 Bf3!!! The killer move (the computer shows that black wins in all variations). The game concluded quickly
33. Rg1 Qxh3 mate 0-1
Board 3: John v Iain
Iain can always be relied upon to play off beat openings today was no exception as play started…..
- e4 a6 2) Nf3 b5 3) d4 Bb7.
After 23 moves the game reached the following position
The computer gives black a slight edge……
Game continued 24. Nxf4 Rxf4 25.Qxf4 Rxa5 and the material inbalance that followed favours black.
Iain managed this in balance into a won endgame, and despite John’s attempts to reach a theoretical drawn ending the following rare ending was reached
This endgame is rarely reached in chess so requires some theoretical knowledge on how to win. Can you find the winning plan before white claims a draw on the 50 move rule?
Iain to his credit managed it !!
Board 4: Rob v Nick
This should have been another upset as by move 17 Nick had built up a good advantage…..
White had just played 17.Ne4 to which black replied 17…..h6 but if instead black played….
17….bxa3 18.bxa3 Rxb1 19.Qxb1 Nxe2 wins a pawn !! and the computer has black better.
Nick continued to out play his stronger opponent and by move 27 was clearly better having pinned white down to passive defence….
It is sometimes difficult to convert a better position into a decisive one.
One rule of thumb I use is do not allow dominant pieces to be swapped off by more passively placed counterparts.
Using this rule black’s next few moves probably “let white off the hook” and turned the tables. Play continued….
17….Be3 18.Bd2 Bxd2 19.Qxd2 Nd4 20.Kh2 Nxf3 21 Rxf3 and white is ok, black has allowed his dominate Bishop and Knight to be exchanged !!.
The remaining moves saw Rob show why he is graded 50+ points higher than Nick, isolating the weak b pawn and building up an decisive advantage in a time scramble.
But things could have been so much different for the Bees – well played but ultimately unlucky Nick.
Board 5: Mike v Damian
The first 12 moves of this game have been played in a number of master games in which black has a good win ratio.
The computer has black better.
As in the previous game the key is turning a better position into a decisive one.
Damian demonstrates this very quickly as Mike errs from known theory………..
Mike played 13.h3? (cxb4 or f3 is better) bxc3 14 bxc3 Ba3 !! – eyeing Bb2 forcing the Rook on a1 to move and winning the a pawn! – which white cannot effectively defend !!
Mike tried 15.f3 Bb2 16.e4 Bxa1 and Black has already converted his better position into a small material advantage.
The game continued for a few more moves but Damian converted his material advantage into a win.
Board 6: Alex v Nick
Alex is the latest recruit to the Culcheth Chess Club so was making his debut in this match.
He will be a regular Bee in future matches but for this match was “loaned” to the A team.
The game was very evenly matched throughout with the critical moment happening on move 26……
The computer gives black the edge being an exchange to the good.
Here Alex played…..26. Bxe5 (according to the computer this gives Nick a better position) but……
26……Qxe5 ? this natural capture is a decisive mistake (fxe5 is the only move)…. The black queen is needed for defensive duties and is better placed on c7 to defend the h file.
Alex takes full advantage of the misplaced queen and switches his attack to the h file which black can no longer defend….
27.Qh3 !! Qc7 (the queen tries to scramble back to the defense but it is too late !!) 28.e7 !! (Cutting the queen off) Rf7 29. Qxh6+ Rh7 30. Qxf6+ Kg8 31. Qg6+ Kh8 32.e8/Q + Rxe8 33. Qxe8 mate
On fine lines are games decided – here taking with the wrong piece proved decisive.
The next Bee team game is on Wednesday 12th February against 1st Division regulars and contenders St Helens, perhaps the Bees can convert their chances better and cause a few more upsets.