Friday, 5 August 2016

15 Moments (Part 1: Games 1-5)

Having returned to local league chess for the first time in a decade, I wasn't sure how successful I could be. 10 years of absence is always going to produce a large amount of rust. 

The season provided a very interesting experiment. Which parts of my game would be weaker? Which parts would be (more or less) unaffected?

The 15 games I played for Redcar in the Cleveland League and Tom Wise Knockout Cup all had interesting moments. Following my personal review of the season, I have selected one brief moment from each of the games.

SM vs. Andrew Killick (Stockton)
Andrew and I used to work together at Yarm School. We also played for Elmwood when we had a super team that also included Mike Closs, Steve Dauber and John Garnett, so we know each other's game very well. My first move for 10 years was the same one I played when I last faced Andrew over the board - 1 c4! Andrew played very tactically, trying to exploit my rust, but despite using a lot of time on the clock I managed to navigate my way through his sacrifices (1-0, 45).

Bill Wilson (Hartlepool) vs. SM
Bill was a new opponent for me. Hartlepool had a tough season in the A Division but never stopped fighting. In this game I crowned a white-squared strategy with 16 ...Qc4, after which White must lose material (0-1, 19).

SM vs. Jonathan Sams (Darlington)
This was a tough game. White's endgame advantage consists of one pawn, but a neat liquidation increased the winning chances. 26 Rc7+ and one pair of rooks is coming off, no matter how Black replies. After the exchange, Black's pawns will be a shade more vulnerable and chances of counterplay will be reduced. (1-0, 38)

David Richardson (Westgarth) vs. SM
'Dangerous Dave' and I first played in the Middlesbrough Junior Chess Congress back in 1982. His attacking prowess cannot be taken lightly. However, in what became a running theme through my season, I managed to increase my advantage with a timely liquidation. It is unusual to swap two bishops for knights on consecutive moves, but after 31 ...Bxe3 32 Bxe3 Bxc4 33 bxc4 Rb2 the advantage grew (0-1, 42).

Paul Perrett (Middlesbrough Rooks) vs. SM
Middlesbrough Rooks were always going to be one of the toughest teams to face in the league. However, this was is the Tom Wise Knockout Cup and they were not at full strength, so we were able to progress comfortably to the second round. Paul was in my Under-9 county team a long time ago. He excels in attack and here he is limbering up for a knight leap to g5 after an exchange of bishops. At this key moment of the game, I was able to cut the lines of communication within his ranks with 24 ...Ne3! when all of the tactics are in Black's favour (0-1, 35).

This brought us to Christmas 2015, with Redcar on top of the league and into the second round of the cup. Great drama awaited us in the New Year...

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