Saturday, 6 August 2016

15 Moments (Part 2: Games 6-10)

Following on from yesterday's post, here are some moments from games 6-10 of my recent chess season.

SM vs. Brian Ellis (Thornaby)
This was my first-ever game against Thornaby, although I did play Brian Ellis twice back in the early 1980s. One of the Thornaby team refused to play against me. In this position I thought it would be a good idea to prevent Black from castling, so I played 9 b4. 9 ...Qxb4 10 Rb1 and 9 ...cxb4 10 Nb3 were the ideas. In the game, Black tried 9 ...Qb6, but after 10 bxc5 dxc5 11 d6 Bd8 12 e5 the writing was on the wall (1-0, 20).

SM vs. Bill Wilson (Hartlepool)
Bill offered me the exchange on d7, but I preferred to keep the pressure at maximum. After 29 Rg1, Bill resigned, with material equality still on the board. This was in the Tom Wise Knockout Cup, so we were still hopeful of a league and cup double.

Paul Gregory vs. SM (Middlesbrough Rooks)
A big match against our main title rivals. Paul was Cleveland Champion just a couple of years ago and a tough game was always in prospect. Here, with both clock flags hanging and the match depending on the result of this game, I checkmated his king with 45 ...Bf7!

Sean Cassidy (Stockton) vs. SM
Sean and I used to play lots of friendly games when we were both at Elmwood, but this was our first serious encounter. His king never quite found safety in this game. 22 ...f3+ brought matters to a swift conclusion: 23 Nxf3 Nf4+ and 0-1.

My game against Sean was my last on board 2. My run of wins had given me a new grade which meant I had to play on board one for the rest of the season.

Bernie Price (Hartlepool) vs. SM
I only made one big blunder all season, and here it is. I played 26 ...Bb4, overlooking 27 Nxc4! dxc4 28 d5, when my bishop is trapped on e6. I glanced to see the position on board 2, and saw what I believed to be another lost position. Julian, it seemed, was the exchange down to Bill Wilson and the queens were about to be exchanged. Two losses would see us lose the match and undo a lot of our good work in the league so I couldn't resign. I reached an endgame with two pawns against the spare bishop (plus a rook each) and Bernie ran very short of time, which allowed me turn the game around (0-1, 72). Julian won too. He hadn't been the exchange down at all; his water bottle had obscured his second bishop from my view.

So the league and cup campaign continued, with Redcar now clear favourites for both titles...

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