Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Draw against Nathan

My run of good form continued into the game against Nathan last night. I played quite well until the end game where I made my bishop bad and let him get his strong knight in. However he had to sacrifice the knight after it was trapped, and I was up a bishop for two pawns. But he had much the better position.

After a bit of maneuvering we got to a repeating position where he offered a draw. It looked pretty drawish so I accepted. However after analysing with the computer it looks like he was way ahead and could get the bishop back for free if he just took with the c rook. I don't know how we both missed that!


Monday, 14 September 2009

First place!

I don't know how I managed it but I won both games on Sunday, making me outright winner with five wins out of five and £150. First time I've ever won anything! Both were tough long games with the last one lasting 3hrs 55mins. Was exhausted at the end.

One thing I've learnt from the experience is that I'm suited to open unbalanced tactical positions, I felt I was able to calculate more deeply, and when I realised a threat wasn't really a threat I could concentrate on launching better attacks. Also a fair amount of luck went my way.


First game was against Keith Hodgson from Bramhall. He played the Petroff defence which I've had very little experience playing against. Thankfully I remembered the moves I wanted to play, in the past I've really blocked myself in.

However he was better out of the opening with a strong knight. But this simplified down and on move 32 I offered a draw, as it was a very even endgame and I thought if anyone was going to win it was him. Luckily for me he turned it down!

So it worked out to be 7 pawns against 7 pawns. 43...d4 is where he made the mistake and over-committed a pawn allowing my king to get in between them. This meant I was a pawn up.

In the position above I played Kb5 but a much easier win would have been Kd6, where he wouldn't be able to stop my e pawn. I initially miscalculated and thought the a pawn had less moves to make to promote by pushing the g pawn as well, but realised he could promote his e pawn at the same time. But luckily my king had the much better position to block his pawn where as mine was unhindered. So he soon resigned.


Final round was against Richard Cantliff from Fenton. I was hoping an easy short game as was already quite tired. I knew that a draw would make me outright winner, with a loss still giving me a share of 1st prize.

For the third time I faced 1.d4, this time he played what he told me afterwards was the four pawns attack, something I'd never encountered before. But he told me the crucial thing he forgot was Kh1 as f4 exposes the castled king.

A big miscalculation by me was 21...Nxb4 and I thought it had cost me the game. I overlooked that Nb2 would protect both minor pieces from my queen. But he made a bigger mistake and put his rook there instead, allowing Qc5 checking his exposed king and winning a knight and pawns.

In the position below I was sure there was a mate somewhere but couldn't figure it out.

There was actually a mate in 5: 34... Rh1+ 35. Kg3 Nh5+ 36. Kh4 Bf6+ 37. Qg5 hxg5+ 38. Kg4 Qf4#.

I lost the momentum and it simplified down but I still had the advantage. He was by now very short of time, I just played what I thought were sensible moves until his clock ran out. I might have struggled to convert the win otherwise!

A very pleasing overall result, beyond anything I'd imagined.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Leek Congress day 2

Had a great day at the Leek congress, won both my games so am now on 3 out of 3, with two more games to come tomorrow. A score of 3 is already my best ever result in a tournament.

Second round game was against fellow Spondon member Louise, I felt sorry for her as she blundered early on, and didn't get any chance to fight back.


Round 3 was against Ray Thomas from Market Drayton. Managed to get it into another open tactical game, and have been calculating well in this tournament. Ray offered a draw after 16 moves but I turned it down as wanted to go for the win.


It was the most even game so far, I managed to get a pawn up but couldn't protect it so had to give it back. I managed to activate my remaining rook before his, and because of the back rank threat he played h3, realising when he let go of the piece that the square was attacked with my knight leading to mate. If not for that it was looking very drawish.

Wish me luck for the next two games tomorrow!


Had a great win to start off the Leek congress, played the highest rated player in our section, 112 ECF compared to my 83. And to make it even better, he had a surname I can't pronounce so feels like I've beaten a Russian GM.


I seemed to outplay him tactically, very surprising. We played with digital clocks, 2 hrs each for entire game. I've rarely played with them but unlike most people in English chess I think they're great. You know exactly what time you have left, don't have to bend over to try to work out what you've got left and then only have a rough idea. And I don't trust the accuracy of the mechanical clocks, clubs seem to have kept them for decades, and don't need to worry that it's not wound up.

I was up the exchange on move 16. I was surprised when he played 23.f5, not sure if he missed 23...Qxb5 or if it was a miscalculated last throw of the dice.

So I was up two rooks for a bishop. But Queens were still on the board so had to be careful he couldn't perpetually check me. After I forced the exchange of Queens it was over.

Two games today then two tomorrow. Good start but plenty still to do.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

New season

First match of the season tonight was against Ian Gregory in the Spondon club championship. Predictably I got smashed, I never seem to know what to do when the opponent throws their pawns forward. Any advice on what I could have done better would be appreciated.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Derbyshire Individual tournament

Just a quick plug that I'm the new controller of the Derbyshire Individual tournament which runs over the league season as a seven round swiss. More details at

In other news, I'm still playing chess but not much blogging. Tend to twitter more these days. Just sent my entry form off for the Leek Congress over the weekend of 11th-13th Sep.