The Sean Marsh Chess Column
It’s been a while since the last UNCUT! column, due to various reasons. Meanwhile, the old postbag has been filling up and it’s time to dig deep and answer a few letters…
Starting with this one…
I never know what the correct etiquette regarding going away to weekend chess tournaments. Does one take the wife, or does one go alone?
Judging by the picture you sent, I think you should take her with you. Looking like she does, it’s preferable to kissing her goodbye.
I’m a great fan of yours and think you are fab. Is it true that you completed a domestic clean sweep this year, with success in the county championship, club championship and being part of the team that completed the league and cup double? If so, why not share a few interesting snippets from your games?
St. Luke’s Hospital,
Well that’s not a bad idea! Here’s a little bit from each of the four events……
Marsh,S - Spence,D
Elmwood v M'bro Rooks, 09.05.2003
This was the crunch match of the season. The Rooks held the advantage on board points and could retain the title with a drawn match. Nothing but a match victory would do for Elmwood. I think the match lived up to expectations and featured several very exciting games. A key encounter saw John Garnett gain revenge for a bad loss earlier in the season. Meanwhile, on board one, this was happening.
Black is trying to win key squares and looking to slam the Knight into d3. However, White has an attack which could well feature both Bishops, both Rooks, Queen and Knight! Black was also running very short of time. 20.Qg3 Rfe8 21.Ne2 Threatening Rxf6, unleashing the dark-squared Bishop and rerouting the Knight to d4. 21...Kh8 22.Nd4 Qd8 Black's flag was already hanging and he is far from move 36! 23.Bg5 Nd3 24.Re2 Re5 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Nc6 Qe8
27.Qf3 I thought this better than just coldly taking the exchange. Black's whole position is on the point of collapse. 27...Rg5 28.Qxf6+ Rg7 29.Re3 Ne5 30.Rg3 Ng4 ...and seeing that this allows the simple 31 Rxg4, Black resigned and Elmwood took a big step to taking the title. This gave us a 2.5–0.5 advantage with three still playing. 1–0
Winning the league for the third time is a good achievement for Elmwood but the success must be built on. The target now is to retain the title for the first time. The Rooks have always made retaining the title look easy. Elmwood must emulate that to prove a shift in the balance of local power.
Myers,B - Marsh,S
Elmwood Ch. 2003 (5), 08.05.2003
Things have not turned out well for White and it is not surprising that Black can storm the enemy King by direct tactical means.
19...e3 20.fxe3 Nxe3 21.Qd3 Rxd4! 0–1 A Knight fork crashes in on c2 if the Rook is taken and declining with 22 Qc3 allows 22 Qh4+ 23 g3 Rxg3 24 Nxg3 Qxg3 mate.
Marsh,S - Simpson,J
KO Cup Semi-Final, Elmwood v Peterlee, 14.04.2003
We always have good battles with Peterlee. For this match they were strengthened by the addition of Mike Fenton.
14.Bb1 Here rather than c2 for two reasons; firstly, the Ra1 can swing across to the centre along the uncluttered second rank, and secondly the Queen can quickly slip to c2 with instant threats in the some lines. 14...Bd7 15.Nf5 Bxf5 After playing Nf5 I got up to take some food from the buffet. I glanced round and saw that Jim was already capturing the Knight. So fast, in fact, that my first reaction was that I must have made a blunder but I kept a straight face on my return to the board. Although the Knight was troublesome, I think it's a definite mistake to leave White with two bishops v two Knights. Black is far from a complete blockade of the position - once White pushes the e-pawn both Bishops will be fierce. 16.Bxf5 a6 17.Ra2 Qc7 18.Qe1 Nc4 19.Re2 Qb6 20.Kh1 Nd6 21.Bc2 Here rather than b1 - for two reasons! The Bishop might get a jab in at a4 and on c2 it is protected. 21...Rac8 22.e4 The thematic break. Jim was under the impression that he'd stopped it...
22...dxe4 23.fxe4 Nc4 24.e5 Ng4 25.Qh4 No need for 25 Bf5, winning the exchange, as Black's King is the real target. 25...Nh6 26.Qe4 Qg6 27.Qxb7 Qh5 28.Bxh6 gxh6 29.g4
Curtains! Either the Queen dies or it's mate. Peterlee board 2, Colin Walton, said afterwards that the Bishops were so strong that he was worried they were going to start playing on his board too! This game made the score 2½–½ to us, with two playing. The match ended up 2½–2½ but we went through to the final on board count. 1–0
Taylor,B - Marsh,S
County Ch. 2002-3 (2), 14.11.2002
Lots of active pieces, so let the good times roll!
16 Qg3! 17.Kh1 Bxf2 18.Rxf2 Qxf2 19.Bxh7+ Kh8 20.Ng5 Nf4 21.Qg4 Nxe5 22.Bd4 Nxg4 0–1
The Qg3 idea is not new.
I remembered it from a famous Korchnoy game
Tatai,S – Korchnoy V
Beersheba Beersheba (6), 1978
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 c5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Qe2+ Be7 7.dxc5 Nf6 8.h3 0–0 9.0–0 Bxc5 10.c3 Re8 11.Qc2 Qd6 12. Nbd2
Qg3! 13.Bf5 Re2 14.Nd4 Nxd4 0–1
I first played in the county championship in 1983 and have occupied second place more times than any player in recorded history. This time I shared first place with David Wise. It also took me 20 years to win the Redcar Congress (1980-2000). So if I say I’m going to cut the lawn, trim the hedges or complete my tax return, don’t forget - I might be slow but I get there in the end.
I am intrigued by the concentration required for competitive chess. What goes through a player’s mind during tough chess battles? Does anything intrude, or is it purely the current game that occupies the thoughts?
Seaview Guest House,
Well Mrs. Trills, you’d be amazed at the things that are going on in a player’s mind during a game of chess. When one is losing, the main thoughts concern the noise in the room, the annoyance of mobile ‘phones and the ugliness of the opponent. In fact, these things are common to all chess clubs and tournaments.
However, when one is winning, it’s more likely to be something like this….
''Chantilly lace and a pretty faceAnd a pony tail a hangin' downThat wiggle in the walk And giggle in the talk Makes the world go round There ain't nothin in the worldLike a big eyed girlThat makes me act so funny Make me spend my money Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose Like a - ohhhhhhhh baby that's what I like!''
Now that you have conquered the local chess scene, will you retire like Bobby or will you create new goals, further afield?
Yours in peace,
The Dalai Lama,
There’s no cause for a-lama! I can never retire from chess. I have plans to conquer the universe, but only with a little help from my friends!
That’s all for now folks!
And don’t forget – if you’ve enjoyed this column just half as much as I have, then I must have enjoyed it twice as much as you!