Broadstairs  1½         Margate   3½ 

1 David Faldon (174) ½ -½   Peter McGill  (144 )
2 Paul Carfrae (133) 0-1   David Rogers (e125)
3 John Couzens (116) 0-1   Colin Gregory (122)
4 Michael Doyle  (81) 1-0   Paul Ruffle (e117)
5 Michael Jenkinson (80) 0-1   Leon Garfield (100)

Nick McBride writes:

When I told my wife I’d been made captain of the team for the Mick Croft cup, she pulled a face that grandmasters of non-verbal communication might assess as ‘unclear’ or ‘dubious’. This lack of faith in my organisational abilities made me even more determined to have a great team lined up for the Tuesday 14th November match at Margate. Unfortunately, I had got the date wrong. The match was on Thursday 16th. This technicality meant we had a few last minute team changes but we looked good with David Faldon, Paul Carfrae, John Couzens, Michael Doyle and Michael Jenkinson. As one of the designated drivers I had most of the team in my car and I said, “I think we’re going to hammer them”.  John replied “You’ve jinxed us. We’ll lose now”.

After the first hour things were looking good. No single board looked in any serious trouble, but then things got serious. First to finish was John Couzens. John’s opponent, Colin Gregory, played an anti-Sicilian system with e4, Nf3, d3, Be2, 0-0, c3, Qc2. John played the opening and early middle game very well, swapping off bishops, opening a file and Colin had to find an excellent freeing move (d4) to avoid passivity. John when faced with the choice to move a knight to a central square or a non central square, chose the latter, and this single-handedly led to the loss of pawn which turned into a lost knight and a lost game. One down.

Paul Carfrae was next to fall. Paul was up against one of the younger players in the league, David Rogers. Rogers played the French, and Paul chose the advance variation. This variation typically leads to a backward d-pawn for white, and a good black knight on f5, but Rogers brought something interesting. He manoeuvred his positionally well-placed knight from f5 to a tactically useful square on g6 and Paul’s position fell apart with the loss of two pawns. Rogers is very good with knights. I suspect he’ll be playing board 1 for Margate within 12 months, if not sooner. Two down.

Good news came on board 4. Broadstairs’ Michael Doyle played Paul Ruffle. Ruffle chose to play the ultra-sharp Two Knights Defence, an opening that Wiki says was invented over 500 years ago. Black’s sacrifice of a pawn in the opening, and Michael Doyle’s almost immediate consolidation of that pawn, ultimately lead to a rook and pawn ending in Michael’s favour. Michael centralised and advanced his king, got an active versus passive rook, made an outside passed pawn, swapped that for an advanced protected passed pawn and won. Two-one down.

But with two games left things weren’t looking good. On board 5 Margate’s Leon Garfield had played the opening in a solid but passive manner leaving few opportunities for Michael Jenkinson. I hadn’t paid much attention to the game after the opening but a quick look showed Leon to have conjured up a huge attack and taken key squares. Soon after this he gained material and entered into what would be described as a king and pawn endgame if Leon didn’t have an extra bishop. The bishop was telling but Leon moved very slowly and was down to two minutes left on his clock for the last 15 or so moves. That was enough, though, and Leon won. Margate now had an unstoppable three-one lead.

The top board saw the home team’s Peter McGill against David Faldon. Peter McGill, the County Major Champion, winner of his section at the Thanet Congress with a 175+ result, and is listed with a 144 grade. He’s way better than that. Peter with white played a King’s Indian Attack against David’s initial French setup. David gained space with d5 and then grabbed some more with d4, but that was his first and last incursion into white’s side of the board. Peter got his minor pieces into good positions, forced David to create weaknesses around his king and controlled key squares. Instead of an attempt to open the position and get his rooks better placed, Peter arranged for a knight and queen to infiltrate David’s position and even threatened a smothered mate. David is very tenacious, ridiculously tenacious. You need more than a positional advantage to get him, and in this position Peter needed more than a queen and knight. However, what both Peter and David needed at this point was more time. At move 20 both were left with little over 10 minutes each. In the final position, if Peter had an edge, it’s the same sort of edge white has in the starting position, i.e. not very much. A draw was agreed.

(This is from memory so there may be transpositional issues)

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Qe2 Ne7 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 Nbc6 6.Bg2 d4 7.Nbd2 Qc7 8.e5 Nf5 9.O-O Be7 10.a4 b6 11.Nc4 O-O 12.Ng5 Bxg5 13.Bxg5 f6 14.exf6 gxf6 15.Bd2 e5 16.Qg4+ Ng7 17.Qe4 Bd7 18.Qd5+ Kh8 19.Nd6 Ne6 20.Nb5 Qd8

(At black’s 19th move, if instead David wasn’t careful and had played something foolish like 19….Rfd8, then there’s a great mate with 20. Nf7+ Kg8 21. Nh6+ Kh8 22. Qg8+ Rxg8 23. Nf7 mate)

They won this time by 3.5 to 1.5, but next time I think we’ll hammer them.

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