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)
White now played 37. Qg5 offering an exchange of queens. This was a mistake and I could sense a clear win. The game continued:
- hxg5 f6
- f4 fxg5
- fxg5 Kf7
- Kf2 Ke6
- Ke3 Kf5
- Kd3 Kxg5?!
This was careless. According to Stockfish, Black can still mate in 20 but 43…..Kg4 was better.
- 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.
- Kxc5 Kxg3
- b4 h4
- b5 h3
- b6 h2
- b7 h1 (Q)
- b8 (Q) + Kg4
And a draw was agreed soon afterwards.