Here at Game of the Week HQ we are naturally partial to games where the underdog puts one over on a more exalted opponent. While this game may not quite qualify as a David v Goliath encounter, beating an opponent 26 points stronger is nonetheless a commendable achievement. There is a theory – almost a truism – that chess players often do better against stronger opponents, whether the result of unintentional complacency, concentration (or lack of) and Michael seems to have become a convert: this fine performance was sandwiched between two games in the Walker Shield where he was less successful against lower rated players.
White: John Couzens (117) Black: Michael Doyle (91)
This week’s offering comes from the Walker Shield match with Folkestone and features a cracking recovery from Bob Cronin after a what he admitted was a poor start. His position rapidly deteriorated until on move 22 he was a rook and a pawn down. This was a crucial point in the game and in the match. Although Broadstairs were 1-0 ahead, Reg was already losing and if Bob were to lose then 2-2 was the best we could hope for and even then we had to rely on Andy winning what was then a drawish position. If the fat lady was not already singing then she was definitely warming up. With nothing to lose, Bob threw everything at his opponent, pushing his kingside pawns and bringing all his remaining pieces into the action. While some of Black’s moves could be questioned, there is no denying Bob’s never-say-die approach that could be crucial at the end of the season. How appropriate that this game should be played on the 75th aniversary of the real Great Escape. Well played, sir!
White: Bob Cronin (103) Black: Andrew Haycock (96)
Walker Shield v Folkestone
Draws seldom feature in Game of the Week which is hardly surprising. Great games usually feature one player’s brilliance overcoming a plucky opponent. It is less common to see a game where both players appear to swap winning chances almost with alternate moves before running out of steam and finally agreeing a draw with nothing left. This week’s game comes from the European Individual Championships which began on Monday in Skopje. England’s sole representative is James Jackson, who finished runner-up to Marcus Harvey in last month’s Kidlington Chess Congress which was featured here. As is pointed out on P.48 of the current (March) edition of Chess magazine, the final outcome of that congress might have been different had Jackson spotted his winning chance in the drawn game he played against Harvey in Round 3. There is £100,000 prize pot in the European Championships with £20,000 going to the winner. The first 22 players will qualify for the next World Cup. However, there are 361 competitors. Jackson (seeded 228) currently stands on 1½/3 and in the first round he was paired against the Croatian GM Zdenko Kozul (seeded 49) who won this event in 2006. Fasten your seat belts and hold on tight.
White: Zdenko Kozul (2619) Black: James Jackson (2377)
World Team Championship 2019
England’s achievement in finishing second in the World Team Championship is even more impressive when one considers that most members of the team suffered from various degrees of illness during the tournament. In the match against Iran the first reserve, Jonathan Speelman, played on board 4 instead of Gawain Jones who was too ill to play. What is less well known is that Speelman himself was also unwell but he played because he was less unwell than Jones. The fact that the veteran Speelman was playing at all is a reflection on the difficulty the England captain Malcolm Pein had in raising a team at such short notice as he explained in his interview. Michael Adams’ disappointing tournament is partly attributable to his not feeling 100% but he did manage to win a crucial game in the Iran match after Speelman’s early defeat. His opponent was Parham Maghsoodloo, winner of the World Junior Championship last year and featured on this site (click here). From 1-0 down, England fought back to win 3-1 which provided the springboard for their late surge to silver. Malcolm Pein described this as ‘a great win’. See what you think.
White: Parham Maghsoodloo (2673) Black: Michael Adams (2708)
World Team Championship 2019
This Game of the Week features the player making all the running in the Broadstairs club championship and the only man to take so much as half a point off him. Clearly, mention in the Club News article of Richard’s 100% record acted as a minor jinx (although it did not prevent him from bouncing back to form in his next match). For Andy, it was another good result in what has been a fine season for him. The comments are Richard’s.
White: Richard Clement (145) Black: Andy Flood (113)
Goodall Cup 2019