Spectator Sport

6th October 2020 - Downend 1 vs Streatham A

It was a strange week for the 4NCL, with more players than normal struggling to make it to their games. In fairness, this has been our first proper experience with defaults (on both sides of the board) and it was quite unexpected. We were without some of our strongest players, but had plenty of substitutes available to snap up the spots. The Rook1Es, due to an organisational mix-up, set themselves the tough challenge of starting 0-1 down with a three-board team.

Downend 1 2 - 1½ Streatham A

Meadows, Michael vs default

A night off! One might expect more insightful analysis of the other games given my opponent's unfortunate no-show, but I suspect this will only feature once York finally gets its local lockdown (and even then it might only mean more film quiz photos). Though overall, the match was drawn, the top-board default meant Streatham A were penalised a half point.

Keane, Graham vs Conterno, Dominique

1.f3 was presumably a mouse slip, but it wasn't addressed until halfway through the game. Black got quick development against the airy king, and in the end the attack was formidable.

Williams, Stephen vs Hodgson, John

White pushed to crack open the black fianchetto, but the game was set to be more positional, with the queenside starring as a hunting ground for black's heavy pieces. After an exchange sacrifice was followed with the loss of a bishop, black made short work of the exposed white king.

Smith, Martin vs Tipper, Dave

Dave, famously not one to go for equalising as black, went for a bold attack that opened his king before white committed to castling. There may have been defensive resources, but time pressure mounted on each player and a wild finish erupted after some missed chances by both sides.

The Rook1Es 3 - 1 Ashfield Anonymous A

Gao, Ian vs Madden, Paul

Ian's promotion to board 1 came as a last-minute announcement. A flurry of locked-position exchanges resulted in a protected passed pawn for white. There was an invasion from a queen and rook, then some patient mopping up that was quicker than black's, and it finished with a promoted pawn earning the full point.

Garnett, John vs Saunders, Aron

Aron came under heavy fire as white snuck in. As if it wasn't enough pressure, Aron used most of his time and did at one point get down to 2 seconds on his clock. Fortunately, the imbalanced endgame featuring a connected passed pawns against a knight proved to be in black's favour with some accurate play.

Goodhew, Finn vs Truman, Richard

Finn scored his finest ever result with this win. It was a theoretical opening but white held their nerve. The black queen managed to come in with what looked like a devastating attack, but the white king was able to run away for a rook vs bishop ending in sight. After that, it was easy work.

default vs Flynn, David


Downend 2 1½ - 2½ Chessmates

Pickup, Ian vs Fisher, Neal

Ian took all the space in his game. I also liked the follow-up attack that could have had black blocking in their queen with a fianchetto to defend. Unfortunately, the space advantage also proved to be a defensive disadvantage.

Tomlinson, Zak vs Walsh, Shaun

Shaun's game was the chess equivalent of the current Premier League. All attack, with defence being something for whatever's left. Rook invasions from both sides was the order of the day, and with white threatening a mate in one, Shaun decided the straightforward draw by repetition wasn't exciting enough. Instead, he sacrificed a rook to gain an unexpected, different draw by repetition!

Mackenzie, Jon vs Catt, Peter

Jon, of The Chess Pit podcast fame, and whose lichess username is either a reference to a Disney fan-theory or something football related, was in action for the first time in quite a while. Clearly ready to move on from his legendary draw against a 13 year old, Jon bashed out some Sicilian Kan theory, batted away a cheap mate threat and found a tactical sacrifice to win pawns and an exchange. A few more moves and another flashy sacrifice ended the game on the spot.

Duffell, Andrew vs Bleeg, Elliott

Elliott has decided that the J4NCL wasn't enough and has joined us in the 4NCL too! He handled the positional opening well and found a charming tactic to swap off queens. Unfortunately, it left the king more exposed than any of us realised and white was able to invade soon after.

It was a mixed bag of results, but our only match loss was a close one. We can take something from that. On top of that, as it was a night for me to be a spectator, I'd like to thank the players for pulling out the stops to make the games so wild!

Michael Meadows