Friday, 14 July 2006

Archive: UNCUT! 50

The Sean Marsh
Chess Column

*Column 50*

Clock Simul!

In a brand-new chess venture, Mike Closs and I offered our services for a simultaneous display, using clocks, under strict match conditions.

The majority of simuls are much more casual affairs but clock simuls offer other advantages (and, for the players, other disadvantages!).

We were very grateful to Billingham Synthonia for taking up the offer and there was enough interest to hold two clock simuls, featuring four players in each one.

Mike lined up against Messrs Rattue, Skillcorn, Greenwood and Edwards and I was up against Mike Creaney, Brian Whitaker, Joe Richardson and Frank Brown.

Just as in a regular simul, the initial moves come quickly from both sides of the board. Then the differences start to become apparent. The simul-giver has to keep a careful eye on the clocks, just as in a regular tournament game. The simul-taker can have extended thinks at key moments of the game and doesn’t have to move as soon as desired.

The concentration levels of all concerned are required to be greater than for a regular simul too. Playing games against raw juniors is one thing but one conspicuous error against hardened club players, with plenty of time on the clock to perfect a refutation, can be disastrous.

Mike’s sharp opening repertoire makes him an ideal choice for a simultaneous event and he quickly built up impressive attacks with his two Whites.

Against Keith Rattue, Mike smashed his way through to victory with a couple of rampant Knights and a Rook-lift:

24 Nxh6 Qe8 25 Nxg8 Qxg8 26 Ng5+ Kh6 27 Nf7+ Kh7 28 Rf5 1-0

Mike was on his best tactical form against Walter Greenwood.

13 Rxe6! Rxe6 14 Nxd5 cxd5 15 Bxd5 and White gets the material back with interest. He concluded the game with another tactical shot.

30 Rxf6! 1-0

With Black he had to work a little harder.

Edwards v Closs

White is not doing badly at all here, and should either exchange Rooks on d5 or play 16 Nh4!? However, the chosen move was a mistake.

16 Nd2? Qd6! and the pin on the Knight won material (and eventually the game).

Vince Skillcorn provided the Mighty Mish was the toughest challenge.

Here, Vince has a choice of recaptures. Possibly the least obvious, 19 hxg4!? was the best try, aimed at holding back Black’s natural …f5 pawn break. He played 19 Nxg4 instead whereupon Mike broke out with 19 …f5 20 exf5 gxf5 and the pawns were ready to roll forward.
The game concluded with a typical thrust by one of the marching pawns…

33 …f3+! and seeing that the White Rook is lost (34 Kd3 c4+) Vince resigned.
Mike’s games all finished while I had two left going on. I was keen to match his 4-0 score! I was half way there…

Tactical strokes decide the majority of simultaneous games. Against Frank Brown, the Black pieces had taken up menacing posts and the position was ripe for the denouement…

30 …Rxg2+! was the start of a mate in five combination.

Mate was also the theme at the conclusion of my game with Joe Richardson.

22 Nf4 has just been played with the idea of cutting off the retreat squares from the Rook. The Rook still found a way to retreat though…
22 …Rxf4! 23 gxf4 Ne3+ 0-1

My game with Mike Creaney had developed along one of the typical lines of the Tarrasch Defence to the Queen’s Gambit. White has been aiming as many of his pieces as possible at the isolated Queen’s pawn and Black has been enjoying the scope granted to his active pieces in return.
In this position, White is a shade worse but things fell apart completely after 24 a4?? when 24…Bb4 wins substantial material. So….0-1

The final game to finish was the best - and closest - of the evening.

There were lots of key moments in my battle with Brian Whitaker.
Alekhine’s Defence did its duty; tempting the White centre forward and then exploiting a weakness to win a pawn…

10 …Na5 11 Qc2 Bf5 12 Qc1 Nbxc4 and the pressure against b2 by the Bg7 ensures a clear pawn advantage.

I missed a chance to substantially increase the advantage in the next position.

I played 19 …Nxd5!? Better was 19 …Rxc3! 20 Qxc3 Nxd5 21 Qd2 Bxd3 22 Qxd3 Nb4 and the Knights run roughshod over the White position.

Things became tricky after that, as Brian took the opportunity to centralise his Queen and two Knights, granting him serious play against the weakened Black King. After some very interesting complications, the Queens were exchanged and we reached an ending with Rook and five pawns against two Knights and three pawns. For one move, White had the chance to round up the passed pawn…

45 Nb3! (instead of 45 f3, the move played in the game) when 45 …Ra3 46 Ncxa5 g5!? would have given a very tough endgame to win. The passed pawn has gone but the Knights are difficult to unravel.

The passed pawn eventually inched forward and we reached the final key position.

Black has just played 51 …Ke6, having worked out that after 52 (either)Nd4+ exd4 53 Nd4+ Kf6 54 Nxb3 axb3 the King and pawn ending is a definite win. White tried 52 Na1 but then 52 …f5 was checkmate.

It was a memorable evening and one, which Mike and I are both hoping to repeat in the near future. Thank you Billingham Synthonia, you were great hosts!

Full concentration as the Mighty Mish starts his games

Would you accept a Knight sacrifice from this man?

The simuls in full swing

Snapped at the very moment ...Bb4 arrived on the board

Material is lost!

Full power needed for this tricky game

Sean Marsh