Division 2b, Weekend 2, Park inn Northampton, 14-15 Jan 2017 by John Carleton




Having endured, sorry enjoyed, two tough matches during the previous weekend we turned our attention to White Rose 2 in round 3. They have accompanied us [and indeed Sussex Martlets who are playing in division 2 [a] this season] on the journey from the second division to the first and then back to the second over the past couple of seasons.


We felt that there would no cheap points on offer from our opponents and hoped that we would match or better them in this respect. There were however early finishes on the middle boards with Board 5 Jonathan Arnott v Sheila Jackson being the first to down tools. It may have been the type of position to set the pulses racing for Magnus and Sergey in a World Championship match but few in the playing room would have found anything to relish or delay them by playing on.



Captain: John Carleton

Nick Ivell, on board 4, ever mindful of the dangers of tangling with the likes of Kieran O'driscoll in the Scandinavian took advantage of the advice he got from the Scandinavian King himself, David Smerdon, following their game last season: Thus 3/ Bb5+ restrained Kieran's attacking potential but led in quick order to a flat endgame with no prospects of progress and the second draw was posted.



Round 3, Weekend 2, 2016-17


Meanwhile, we seemed to be making inroads on most of the other boards. In due course the results started to flow : Tom Bimpson against Shaun Press on board 7 won after gaining a pawn and an attack from the opening in a game of opposite sided castling, thereafter moving into an easily won ending. Peter Ackley won on board 8 eventually overcoming the stubborn resistance of Alzbeta Kluckova drafted in as an "emergency" woman.


Dave Latham, having reached a minor piece ending a pawn up on board 6, was thwarted in his attempt to win having to settle for the draw against Harry Press. The White Rose player managed to stay active and create counter- play against the odds . Martin Mitchell on 2nd board had whipped up a dangerous looking attack with the white pieces but Jim Burnett stayed calm and managed to resist; each side was aware of the limitations of their own position when the draw by an implicit repetition was agreed.


Thus we were two up with two in play; Glenn House on board 3 secured victory and thereby victory in the match in what was in many respects was the game of the tie. Glenn had gradually equalised with the black pieces and then taken control, netting a pawn for his pressure. Opponent Peter Shaw did not lie down meekly but Glenn's technique proved exemplary. That left me in play on board 1 against Peter Gayson. This was the only game we were losing at any stage after I blundered a pawn in the opening. A flurry of activity leading up to the time control saw me regain the pawn but my position was still extremely uncomfortable and Peter's aggressive intent seemed likely to carry the day.


However, with the sixth hour of play almost complete and time once again a big issue I was relieved to sneak away with a draw to complete the match score of 5-2.


A couple of our squad missed the lack of countryside walks in the vicinity of the hotel but here one of the advantages of staying in a city centre venue came to the fore: we were able to make the 5 minute walk to our restaurant where an evening of Thai food, several glasses of wine, an occasional Thai beer and relaxed conversation saw the team unwind before taking the return journey back to the hotel bar for the traditional nightcap. Once again Grubmeister Dave Robertson was the hero of the hour for his choice of restaurant.






Round 4, Weekend 2, 2016-17



Sunday morning brought round 4 and opposition in the shape of Guildford 3 and again we felt a searching test was in prospect. The history of this fixture sees one win apiece although last season's 1-7 defeat at the hands of Guildford 2 gave us food for thought as well [ we have never played Guildford 1 but are not harbouring any illusions concerning the outcome of such a fixture]. The games seemed tense and interesting right down the match and there was a surprise when board 3 finished with a quick K.O. for Glenn against Russell Granat who faced ruinous material loss after Glenn broke open the centre.


Board 8 saw peace break out between Philip Stimpson and Peter when each side seemed to prefer the opponent's position and the evaluation of level appears appropriate. As the time control approached there was a flurry of finishes. Marcus Osborne and Martin had charged vehemently into battle from the off and Martin landed a nice tactic to settle the game in his favour. One of the shared strengths of each team is the presence of a woman player strong enough to make the team on merit rather than gender. Sheila Jackson has 4 British Ladies titles in her locker [so far] and Akshaya Kalaiyalahan, still a junior, has won twice already. They were, after their games, entitled to think they had run into belated effects of Friday 13th or some such curse. Sheila built up a superb position against Julien Shepley on board 5 but after missing some crushing finales [as Houdini helpfully points out after the event] Sheila fell to defeat when Julien was able to launch a swift counter-attack.


Akshaya playing black against me on board 1 seemed to be fully in control when I rather panicked and decided unwisely that I had to undertake an all-out offensive forgoing material considerations. Alas, from Guildford's point of view one slip reversed all her good work, and I landed a surprising and lucky win. Thus we needed one more point from the three remaining games all of which offered us prospects.


At the finish we had garnered a massive 6-2 win. Dave Latham on board 6 achieved what he had been threatening to do for some time against Nigel White which was to break into the white king's defensive cover: this required precise calculation as Dave's own king had also become wide open. Tom on board 7 gradually crushed the life out of Michael Smart's defensive line-up. Tom had a dominant bishop against a somewhat stranded knight in this rook and minor piece ending. The final game to finish was Nick against Alan Punnett on board 4. Nick was a pawn down for much of the contest but always seemed to have sufficient activity as compensation. The material balance shifted to bishop v 3 pawns at the finish and the weary players were content to conclude hostilities by sharing the point.


We continue to enjoy the camaraderie of Britain's premier team competition, very much a four nations' event these days, and look forward to the further challenges of our extremely competitive pool.


4NCL | Steve Connor



Engine Analysis

In the above games you can activate the engine analysis board by clicking the E8 (assuming White on bottom, D1 otherwise) shortcut square on the main chessboard.


User commands for the engine analysis board:

  • explore variations by clicking the from and to squares for the intended move

  • click the arrow buttons to move back/forth through the variation being analyzed

  • click the plus button at the right of the arrow buttons to force the engine analysis board to auto update following the position of the main chessboard; this is useful for instance when following a live broadcast; limitations: some pages might not offer this functionality and some browsers do not support this functionality

  • click on the side to move indicator to switch the side to move; this is useful to check for threats in the given position

  • click on the principal variation to execute its first move on the engine analysis board

  • click on the evaluation mark to activate/deactivate the engine



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