When 22 players enter an all-play-all club championship, some imagination is required to ensure that all the games are played, especially when league matches, the club knockout competition, the five-round Summer Swiss and the annual Blitz tournament are also taken into account.  It helps that our season runs until August and we weren’t to know that two players would drop out for different reasons. The solution was hardly revolutionary, but it was not something we had done before: timetable each round. The problem in the past that was (a) not all players were pro-active when it came to arranging games and (b) some players would not turn up on the off chance on a club night if they had no game. Consequently, games were sometimes left unplayed and if we were to play 21 games in a season alongside everything else, the solution was to timetable games, so everyone knew when they were playing.

With 13 of the likely 19 rounds played, we are two-thirds of the way through the competition and it seems to be working.  Club nights are busy and although there have been some postponements and a few players are behind the run-rate as it were, several games have been brought forward so we have a strange situation where one or two players are still in single figures in games played while others have notched up over thirteen games and Michael Jenkinson has played 16. The reason it works, of course, is that the onus for arranging games has been taken from the players and assumed by one all-powerful dictator but it’s a benevolent dictatorship.

But who is winning, you may ask? A glance at the excellent ECF LMS which now has 52 leagues and 35 clubs under its umbrella – it is a mystery to this writer why all the chess leagues in the country are not using the same system – shows that the defending champion, David Faldon, has a 100% record but he still has to play his two closest rivals, Trefor Owens and Arnaud Wisman. Full details can be found here.

It seems appropriate to feature a game from the club championship, but those submitted for Game of the Week have already appeared which only leaves my games, most of which are x-rated. However, take a look at this ending which demonstrates two things: (a) the sort of mistakes I have been making and (b) how well Fredy has been playing.  What follows from Black could qualify as Blunder of the Week but that would not be fair to Fredy who played well throughout the game which had been level for some time. We join it after Black has just played 36….Qd5.

White:  Fredy Reber (63)    Black:  Robert Page (133)

Goodall Cup

White now played 37. Qg5 offering an exchange of queens. This was a mistake and I could sense a clear win. The game continued:

37………..Qxg5

  1. hxg5    f6
  2. f4        fxg5
  3. fxg5    Kf7
  4. Kf2      Ke6
  5. Ke3     Kf5
  6. Kd3     Kxg5?!

This was careless. According to Stockfish, Black can still mate in 20 but 43…..Kg4 was better.

  1. Kc4      Kg4??

A blunder that loses the half-point. Not only does Black waste a crucial tempo but it puts the king on the square that will allow White to queen with check so although Black will come out of these exchanges a pawn up, it will count for nothing because he has lost two tempi and his newly crowned queen will become a hopeless spectator. The correct move was, of course, 44…..h4. Black’s winning chances have gone from mate in 20 to -1.33 at best. White was not going to waste his chance.

  1. Kxc5     Kxg3
  2. b4         h4
  3. b5         h3
  4. b6         h2
  5. b7         h1 (Q)
  6. b8 (Q) +   Kg4
  7. Qc8

And a draw was agreed soon afterwards.

 

This latest Game of the Week is the crucial deciding game in Monday’s Walker Shield match between Broadstairs and the runaway leaders, Bridge. Having won all seven matches of their matches so far with only three to go, victory for the Bridge team here would have been a major step towards becoming Walker Shield champions for this season which, of course, may still happen. However, it was a must-win match for Broadstairs if we were to maintain our slim chance of becoming champions ourselves. With the scores level, everything rested on the result of the board 1 game between Andy Flood and Peter Blundell. Both players were in good form but it was fortunate for us that Andy came out on top on this occasion. Peter readily admitted afterwards that it ‘must have been my worst effort all season!’ and he deserves great credit for agreeing to let us feature the game. Full credit to Andy, though, for an excellent win and his fine form continues.

White:  Andrew Flood (115)    Black:  Peter Blundell (115)

Walker Shield v Bridge

                                                 Broadstairs   2½      Bridge 1½                       

1 Andy Flood (115) 1-0 Peter Blundell (115)
2 Reg Pidduck (99) 0-1 Gary Hilleard (107)
3 Bob Cronin (90) ½-½ John Dickie (e90)
4 Mike Doyle  (87) 1-0 Ian Redmond (81)

Mike Doyle writes:

Going into this match, Bridge were flying high with seven wins out of seven but suffered a defeat against a well-drilled Broadstairs team. Bridge were going all out for the Walker Shield until Andy, President of the Thanet Chess League, and our captain Mike clinched wins to secure a 2½-1½ victory.

We arrived ten minutes late because our driver Andy took a re-directed route due to flooding and road maintenance. Our opponents did not press the clocks on time, thank goodness, and the match started out with a draw for Bob. He was frustrated after the game because he had a win against newcomer John with two pawns ahead but squandered his pawns in the end game. On the other hand, Reg, President of the Broadstairs Chess Club, had a tricky opponent in Gary Hilleard, who lost to him last season. Gary, playing White, amassed a pawn structure in the middle of the board and ground down Reg’s Dutch Defence.

At this stage Bridge were a point up, well on the way to winning the shield, but our captain, Mike, got the match squared up with a win against Ian Redmond, a neurologist consultant, who was all at sea with his pieces. He threw away his bishop and I capitalized with a queen and rook invading his king and he resigned. It was all up to Andy on the top board, who lost to Peter Blundell last season with both grades tied. Playing White, Andy was full throttle at the outset with his opponent’s king playing walkabout. He resigned after Andy checked with a rook on the seventh rank about to lose his bishop.

Reg said that after the match if Bridge and Folkestone lost one of their matches, Broadstairs had a chance of winning the Walker Shield with a match behind. Before the match I predicted ‘tables will turn’. Unlucky to Bridge for a well-fought match and here’s hoping that Broadstairs will win the remaining matches and bring home the Walker Shield.

This is an unusual choice for Game of the Week. A win for a player graded 178 against an opponent graded 83 is more Goliath beats David than the reverse. Furthermore, it was the winner who submitted the game but he had his reasons as he stated: “The main point of including it would be to point out how well the loser played! In fact both players played very well, but I thought that Mike’s play was exceptionally strong for someone graded 83 (ridiculous!). White gets a slight advantage from the opening, but Black fights back hard to make things as difficult as possible. The result is only decided between moves 27 and 31. White’s 27.Bxc6 is a good shot (nothing else works) but when I missed what would have been a winning follow up (28.Bb6!) Black had his chance to escape. It’s not easy, though, especially as both players were rather exhausted by that point. Black needed to find 30…Ne4! After he chose something else, there is no escape. In the final position, 37.c4 traps the Black knight in the middle of the board.”
White:  David Faldon (178)    Black:  Michael Jenkinson (83)

Goodall Cup

                                                Broadstairs   3½      Margate ½                       

1 Andy Flood (115) 1-0 Leon Garfield (104)
2 John Couzens (108) ½-½ John Clarke (92)
3 Reg Pidduck (99) 1-0 Chris Wyer (19)
4 Mike Doyle  (87) 1-0 def.

Mike Doyle writes:

The Walker Shield comprises four players from each team but unfortunately Margate could only provide three and Broadstairs beat them soundly. It is the third time Margate defaulted on away games this season, the inevitable consequence of a shortage of players affecting some Thanet clubs, namely Birchington who have folded and Herne Bay and Woodnesborough who can’t raise a Walker team. However, Broadstairs is thriving and this season more than 20 players signed on. We fielded four players in the Walker Shield: stalwarts Andy, John, Reg and your captain Mike who got a point on board four for a default.

Reg on board three was the first to win against Chris Wyer who got in a tangle in the endgame two pawns down. Reg cleaned up turning a passed pawn into a queen and Chris resigned. On top board was Andy who had a right tussle with Leon Garfield in the middle game. Leon said after the  game he had won the tactical battle but he lost on time when Andy pointed to the clock to show that his flag was down. That left John on board two who was last to finish. It was a strategic battle with John Clarke. Both players ended up with a knight and a bishop. John Couzens was a pawn down and he managed to get his pawn back and the game ended in a draw.

It was a well-fought victory for Broadstairs but sadly a defeat for Margate who were a player short.