As we approach the end of the season, some of the big beasts who have been carefully circling each other have begun to lock horns. Two of those are the defending club champion, David Faldon, with 12/12 hitherto and Richard Clement on 15½/17. Both were undefeated when they played each other on Monday. Of course, if the leading players leave their games until the end of the season, it makes for a potentially exciting finish, especially if the top two play in the final week. The following game was worthy of such a clash and it is generous of Richard to allow a second loss in as many weeks to be featured as Game of the Week. Thanks also to him for his comments with a few additions from his opponent.
White: Richard Clement (145) Black: David Faldon (177)
Congratulations to Michael Doyle on another excellent win, this time against Richard Clement in Round 1 of the Summer Swiss. This is a competition that takes place towards the end of the season when many clubs go into hibernation (or estivation to be more accurate). It gives those players who have completed their club championship games something else to play for and this year we have attracted a good turnout of fourteen players. The prize goes to the player with the best grading performance over the five rounds – so Michael is already in a strong position – and the competition ends in August. Michael’s victory is another notable scalp as Richard has been in excellent form this year. Already his grade has risen from 129 to 145 and as there has been no let up since January, it may well improve again when the next list comes out. With 15½/17 in the club championship, Richard may not quite be the leader in the clubhouse yet with two games to play but he is probably approaching the 17th green. However, he has two strong opponents in Arnaud Wisman and David Faldon still to play and both like Richard are hitherto unbeaten. As for Michael, he is clearly playing above his grade and he will be hoping to finish the league season on a high note with a win in our final match of the season on Monday against Sheldwich. Victory would secure second place in the Walker Shield.
White: Michael Doyle (86) Black: Richard Clement (145)
2019 Summer Swiss
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