You can't win them all

6th April 2017 - Keynsham vs Downend & Fishponds

Sticking with the format of the Quarter Final:

Board 1

Henry recently gave me some advice that I am in no rush to follow, "never opt for an interesting move when there's a good move available". Henry's opening was good. There was an advantage in development and opportunities against an uncastled king at the cost of allowing black a pawn centre. A mid-game Nc3-d5 zugzwang trick against an unprotected queen on a5 saw the pawn centre crumble and black's king fell into all sorts of trouble after an exchange sacrifice brought all of white's pieces in the action. Matias resigned just before Henry's winning windmill got into full swing.

Board 2

The opening on board 2 was 'interesting'. After some quiet play by Jerry Hendy, Chris was able to strike out early in the opening which led to an endgame by move 8. White's isolated queen's pawn seemed unlikely to enact its usual dynamic potential and was soon captured in addition to two bishops for a rook. With Chris getting his bishop and knight to active squares (and even his remaining rook made the most of its awkward placement) the threat of the passed c-pawn was enough to finish the game.

Board 3

All sorts of fun was being had on board 3, first by black and then by white. Nigel played a less common response to the Budapest Gambit and black attempted to expand quickly on the kingside after failing the achieve the classic a7-a5, Ra8-a6-g6/h6 nonsense. While white took a strong position in the centre it took a lot longer to free his bad bishop but once it got loose, pawns on the queenside became black's downfall.

Board 4

The game on board 4 is best described as "entirely known to Chessbase". Black's quiet opening was solid and hard to break down. By move 19 both players decided to call it a day and split the point.

Board 5

Mike had a similar opening to Henry, though in contrast the position became locked. Admittedly Mike had taken more than his fair share of the space in the centre and on the queenside, but with pawn chains nearly entirely across the board it was hard to see how a breakthrough could be engineered. Taking all the space on the kingside as well, Mike was able to prise open the black king's castle wall at the cost of leaving his own king reasonably exposed. In order to stem the attack, black sacrificed a rook for an annoying bishop and it even allowed him to invade with his queen, but the checks came quickly to an end and it returned to defensive duties. The pressing paid off in the form of exchanges and after a heroic time scramble for white (with 50 moves made in under 5 minutes) Mike was able to earn his point.

Board 6

'Lord of the Closed Sicilian Humphreys', as he's known to his team, was able to quickly break white's kingside pawn structure and force back an attack in the centre of the board. After an ambitious queen invasion which cost white a piece, black was able to consolidate the advantage. Having done so Jerry was poised to offer the draw, but white instead chose to resign.

Board 7

Two for two Tipper decided the best strategy was to chuck a number of pawns off the board and launch an immediate attack. The strategy paid off in the form of two relatively quick blunders that netted Dave two pieces for two pawns. The position fell apart as quickly as you'd expect, though Dave did choose to take a bit more material first rather than going for the quicker mate in two.

Board 8

Oli got a great position out of a relatively level opening and even managed to break the old adage about never capturing a knight's pawn with your queen (a rule I believe it is one's duty to refute in every game they play). A further two pawns fell and with the kingside safe Oli was able to march pawns up the board, using mating threats to swap off the final rooks. With a new queen looming, white threw in the towel.

Though it was great score for the club, there were a number of games that weren't so clear cut all the way through. The next test comes in the form of the mighty Bath in the final!

Michael Meadows