This match report from Kingpin –
Division 1 Match Report- Glastonbury Away 30/9/14
Once again September has rolled around and the chess season begins anew for all, once again the Division 1 season begins with Taunton as reigning champions and looking to just cruise home to another trophy. Provided everything just stuck to the same winning formula as the last 4 years then surely there would be no problems at all! Oh wait things are different now, Taunton’s most successful ever team captain Mike Richardt has vacated his position and it has been passed to Alex Conway, the young pretender, a boy in a man’s world of serious title winning chess, still what could go wrong? The team have recorded only one loss in living memory everything should be straightforward, just select the players arrange a bit of transport and Taunton bring home the title again.
It was unfortunate right from the start for the youngster that the first fixture of the new season was to be against a Glastonbury team that has been snapping at our heels for some time, including an unexpected and most unwelcome win against our Division 1 champions on a fateful evening in Glastonbury last season. The whole of Taunton, even the whole of the chess world would be pushing for a Team Taunton win in this match in order to set the record straight. NO PRESSURE THEN ALEX!! So the scene was set, a real baptism of fire for the new captain, but surely he’d manage to get the best team Taunton could muster and then trot home from Glastonbury with his head held high.
Early problems in the team selection were clear, Carl who we felt was going to be a regular board 1 this season pulled out of playing for Taunton full stop, despite the pleading emails and angry mob he stuck to his guns and decided to play for Weston instead. Oh well only one down surely any other team would still be enough to topple Glastonbury, then Alex received word that Terry had officially retired from league chess due to issues with the time controls, damn you SCCA officials! Luckily Mike Richardt has not yet left Taunton in a playing capacity so at least he could play at least if he wasn’t working… Ben Edgell was also unavailable to play… Already with clear selection problems the tenacious young captain dug in and squeezed out a team consisting of Mark, Dave, Nick James, Alex and Stan.
After a tense few days for Captain Alex he decided to prepare further by playing the Portsmouth Congress, badly, in order to get all the terrible chess out of his system before this huge league match.
So match day and it was all looking good until about 2 hours before things were due to get underway and a phone call from Dave dropping out due to work commitments spelled disaster for the inexperienced young pretender. With all the organisational skills of a headless chicken Alex cobbled together absolutely nothing so attempted an 11th hour save in suggesting to play a 5 board match [one with no defaults, hopefully].
After the usual fun and games of finding a chess venue with the added complication of finding one room to play chess in amongst many rooms at the venue, Taunton’s 5 man team arrived at Millfield School, late, still shaken and in a state of mourning due to the late loss of Dave from their ranks. After lots of confusion and some grovelling over who was playing who and how it was going to work with Taunton only having 5 players, Glastonbury’s captain graciously agreed that we could play a 5 man match with no defaults providing it was on boards 1,2,3,4 and 6. After some shuffling of players it was agreed that this would be a sufficient concession for Taunton to have to make due to them being down a man, Glastonbury were to take white on evens so justifiably wanted to play more whites than blacks. With everyone seemingly happy enough with this compromise given the situation, coupled with the fact that there was a generous amount of snacks up for grabs courtesy of Millfield School, the games began.
Glastonbury had fielded a surprising team with only two juniors involved so hope of win was still very much alive, the games went something like this; )
Board 4- Tim Wallis v Alex Conway
First to finish was Alex, the Captain taking on one of the bonus blacks that he had backed himself into a corner with. Tim has a reputation for being a solid classical player so Alex decided to play something a bit offbeat in the hope it might lead to some unconventional tactics and a quick win, good thinking captain! Somehow this all went to plan a little bit too well and Alex had forced a resignation in just 10 moves with a dazzling finish, although somewhat assisted by his opponents play that was just a little too slow at times.
Nh3+!!!!!! Was just such a beautiful move, white moves his King and falls to Nxf2+ picking up the Queen or he takes the Knight and loses to Bxf3+ with Black mating on g2. A stunning result, taking full advantage of his opponent’s loose opening moves a very well timed win for the new Captain. 1-0 by about 8:30 can’t be too bad!
Board 6 (technically) – Roger Fenton v Stan Wojcik
Stan played a modern set up looking to break with c5 in the opening and letting his g7 Bishop do some damage, unfortunately his opponent was wise to this and blocked up the position quite early on forcing Stan to make some positional concessions. A bad light-squared bishop on b7 meant that black was practically a piece down on the board, white simply pushed on the King-side and made no mistakes with the attack. A well played finish but unfortunate for Stan. Still thanks to Alex’s quick win the scores were level at 1-1. Considering we should have probably been defaulted then that score-line doesn’t feel too bad.
The next 3 games were too tense for Captain Alex to watch so he took to getting blown off the board by GM Matthew Turner in some 5 minute games whilst drowning his sorrows at the snack table.
Board 3 – James Byrne v Neville Senior
James was blessed with playing white in this one and certainly did not waste it; a strong Nimzo-indian opening gave him space against his solid opponent who has a lot of experience in these positions. After some serious thought James broke through with f5! And conducted the attack well leaving him the exchange up and with a strong position, Neville attempted some tricks with a passed pawn but James finished the game off solidly giving Taunton a 2-1 lead with only 2 left to play!
Board 2 – Cosima Keen (a girl) v Nick Wilson (a Man)
Not really sure what the opening was that was played here but the resulting position was wild and double edged, Nick attempted to lift a rook into the h-file to create chances but it was left looking slightly toothless after his opponent boldly played h4 and Qh3 to block out the annoying rook. With his rook stranded on h5 Nick attempted to turn defensive attention to the threats against his back rank and other loose points in his position but just didn’t have the piece activity to do so, or the time on the clock. So ultimately after an accurate couple of moves in the end Nick did the gentlemanly thing and let his clock run out was certainly not beaten by a Girl, but beaten by time [insert philosophical quote here about how time beats us all eventually]. After the game Nick acknowledged that his rook was poor on h5 but was unaware this would happen, he cited the old mantra that a Knight on the rim is dim but forgot as Alex pointed out to him that a Rook on the flank is W@#*! Ultimately the game finished Girl 1 – Nick 0 so the match was now level at with just board 1 to finish.
Board 1 – Mark Hassall v Thomas Goldie (E175?)
Mark had the unenviable task of dealing with a junior who under GM Turner’s tuition and selection had been placed on board 1 as an E175 rated player. Juniors are an unknown variable at the best of times but this one looked very difficult to deal with, the game exploded into a particularly tactical Sicilian Najdorf. Black seemed to handle the complications [that were beyond this reporters level of chess ability] solidly and managed to win a pawn and then another pawn. With the match in the balance Mark wisely swapped down into an opposite colour bishop ending in the hope that he may be able to hold an important draw but it was unfortunately not to be.
So the match concluded 3-2 to Glastonbury a tough match in tough circumstances but bravely fought by all concerned, it’s only the beginning of the season and much more chess is yet to come, including a return fixture against Glastonbury where Taunton will definitely be looking to do the business and head back to the top of division 1.
Hope you all enjoyed the report; send in your pgns as well if you have them! See you all again soon;