With only the Fernandes brothers absent from the team, ably replaced by Liam Raybould and Mattie Cairnduff, expectations were high of a successful day at the EPSCA under 11 finals, held at the Ridgeway School, Wroughton, Wiltshire. Set in beautiful rolling countryside between Swindon and Marlborough, the more experienced chess parents will remember this area as the setting for the BCF Junior Squad Championships one snowy April weekend a few years ago.
The Under 11 event is a 3-round jamboree for teams of 24 players, this year consisting of 18 teams. Only the top 20 boards' scores count towards the team total, but team managers can place boards 17 - 24 in any order in each of the three rounds. The top 16 players may play only in the specified order.
Essex had performed very well in the Southern England qualifying event, taking first place ahead of a strong team from Wey Valley (Surrey) and, since the Southern zone normally provides the eventual Champions, Essex had to be in with a good chance. However, bitter experience in these events indicates that all to often, the team which takes first place in the Zonal stage fails to do so in the Final.
After the traditional call to arms from the Team Manager, who stressed, amongst other things, the great importance of slow play helping to avoid blunders, the team found its way to the various boards dotted around an enormous school hall, set out with 216 chess boards. Play began a few minutes late as it takes quite some time for everyone to find their seats, a few announcements by EPSCA officials etc. The first result was a draw, from Hamish Hore, whose idea of slow, careful play was to hurtle into a rook and pawns ending, two pawns down, after about 5 minutes. It is a measure of Hamish's ability that he succeeded in winning back the pawns but, instead of knuckling down to win against an inferior opponent, felt he had done enough. In general, there were some dodgy positions on the low boards, where we expected to pick up a lot of points, and five losses in the bottom 6 boards was a disappointement which set the tone for the rest of the day. The sole winner in this area was on board 19 where Alex Randall was honest enough to admit that he was lucky as his opponent had squandered a winning position.
Clearly, the Team Manager (yours truly) was to blame here as all four players occupying the reserves' boards had won: if only they had been on 15, 16, 17 and 18!
If the lower boards had been a diappointment, the same could not be said for the higher order. All seven won, and won well, although even George O'Toole slipped up on board 1. Heading towards an ending in which he would be comfortably placed, suddenly George left a rook where it could be taken and, on its capture, sat back in his chair as though he had been shot. However, what happened next was a revelation as George was able to establish two connected passed pawns in the centre and as they reached the 6th rank, shepherded by Black's rook, it was not obvious how George's Wey Valley opponent was going to avoid the loss of a rook and, ultimately, a level ending. This problem was beyond White and eventually an ending of N & 4 v N & 4 was reached and George won, the last player to finish.
One of the best performances of all was from Rhys Lloyd. A highly talented player, Rhys spoiled his chances in the qualifying event with too many quick moves. This time, after a specific reminder to play more slowly, he put in a very responsible performance and his first round game was a gradual build-up followed by a sudden and calamitous ruination of his opponent's position. Jack Goodyear and Jonathan Fallman both won well, the latter case after a fine bishop sacrifice to open up White's castled king. William Cheung also played a very solid game in which his opponent was reduced to helplessness as William systematically removed the pieces and then overwhelmed White in a R & pawns ending in which William's pawns marched irresistably up the board. Roly Fischer-Vousden also won very well after having had a difficult journey. Simon Payne and Subin Sen were both considerably better than their respective opponents.
Round 2 saw three subsitutions and immediately the benefit was felt as Liam Raybould, a very strong under 9 who was not called upon for the qualifying event, made very short work of his opponent, forcing a mate of f7 against an uncastled king. It was not a crass Scholar's Mate - Liam is much too cultured a player for that sort of thing - but a properly-controlled build up of the White forces. Peter Maynes had been drafted into board 20 and he too won. His game became very difficult as he lost the exchange and, with correct play by his opponent this could have become a whole rook. However, Peter kept his head in a seemingly impossible ending in which White had R & 5 v B & 5. Peter set up a very good fortress on the queen-side as his bishop and pawns all occupied light squares, keeping the white forces at bay, while his king and the remaining pawns kept White's king out. There must have been some sort of blunder by White because a few minutes later the game had changed hugely: Peter was now the proud owner of a queen whereas White had lost all his pieces and was soon to be mated.
David Pedro made short work of his opponent after a difficult draw in round 1 and Lloyd Carter also had a welcome win after an unfortunate loss. Roly Fischer-Vousden added another fine win to his tally, showing panache, and a grin, reminiscent of Simon Armour at his best. Here, Roly had black and his queen was occupying f3, white having moved his g-pawn one square forward. White's queen was also aggressively placed, on h6, where she also carried out an important defensive duty, keeping black's light-squared bishop out of h3. Roly found the move Bd2, attacking the white queen. At this point, the white queen would have had to move to h4, but then a further attack would have deflected her from this square. As it was, the unsuspecting opponent captured the bishop on d2, allowing Bh3. With a black queen on f3 and a black bishop on h3, there was no way to stop the mate.
By the time round 2 was over, it was clear that there was no way back for Essex. 24 points from a possible 40 is respectable, but is at least 6 points adrift from where we needed to be if we were to challenge for first place. Nottinghamshire, with a team built around the very strong Nottingham High School, had led at the outset, but the "old firms" of Wey Valley and Richmond had dominated round 2. Essex were in a pack of counties around 24 points: Yorkshire had 25, Kent 24½, Sussex 25 and Somerset 23 whereas one of the top three had 31½ and the other two 29½ each. It was now most unlikely that we would get into the medals and, after the excellent showing at the southern zone, this was disappointing.
The final round was not very old when, within minutes of each other, three of our key players were each a piece down. Rhys Lloyd, who had performed excellently in the first two games, found himself short of a bishop in round 3. He had two passed pawns on the a & b files as compensation, but their progress did not appear to be imminent as both of white's rooks stood in their way. They were supported by the black rooks but white also had a bishop which was raking the board and supporting a pawn on c6. Jack Goodyear had lost a piece for a pawn, and, in a queenless position, Simon Payne placed a knight where his opponent could simply remove it. Simon slapped his forehead in eloquent manner.
Elsewhere, Subin Sen, who had hitherto scored two very valuable points, had allowed his opponent to establish a "monster" knight on d6, supported by an e5 pawn. Subin was a pawn ahead (on d7) but the outcome of the game depended entirely upon whether Subin was able to remove the knight. It took a long time, but this he did, winning another pawn as well, and there was never any doubt about the outcome othe game and a well-earned 3/3. Roly Fischer-Vousden also reached 3 points and was in charge of every game from start to finish, a most accomplished performance, but it was not at all clear whether there would be any other Essex players who would keep a clean sheet. Jonathan Fallman had been most unlucky in round 2, as he had reached an ending in which he had 4 pawns for a piece but was running short of time. He appealed for three-fold repetition, but was quite correctly told that this claim could only be upheld if he had been writing down the moves: he had, but had stopped when he had less than 5 minutes to go (in fact, he was almost out of time). Incredibly, the adult who had made this ruling then started the wrong clock and Jonathan lost on time while it was his opponent's turn to move. It was to Jonathan's great credit that he kept his head and won most effectively in the final round.
Meanwhile, boards 3, 4 and 5 were all staging come-backs. Rhys Lloyd had somehow managed to queen one of his pawns and soon delivered mate. Jack Goodyear had won a rook and his pawn was now unstoppable; and Simon Payne was stubbornly resisting his opponent's attempts to win with N & B & 4 v B & 4. Carefully, Simon removed as many black pawns as he could, and eventually the pawns were whittled down to one each. Simon kept his bishop on that pawn's diagonal ready to capture if it moved, but his Wirral opponent eventually agreed a draw without it getting that far. Whether he knew B & N v K was a win was immaterial: he didn't have a lot of time left but, having said that, Simon had less.
Further down, wins from David Pedro, Lloyd Carter and Tom Huband were added to by Todd Goodyear: Todd had had the most unfortunate experiences in the first two games of establishing winning positions only to suffer successful rearguard actions by the opponent. This time, there was no mistake and he triumphed most deservedly. Liam Raybould made it to a personal tally of 3 points, two of which counted, and Peter Maynes won again. The round score of 14 points just overhauled the rest of the pack and Essex finished 4th, 4½ points behind Notts in 3rd, but the next 4 points covered no fewer than 6 teams. Half of this team will be too old next year, so we have a good deal of rebuilding to do.
Finally, it was gratifying to note that at least four players representing other counties learned their chess in Essex before moving away: three members of the Hale family represented Somerset (Katie was their board 1) and Grisha McCain played on board 3 for Cambrideshire.
Roland Johnson has recently emerged as a talented player who will, hopefully, become a great asset to Essex Chess. His father, Rod, has been a member of the Woodbridge side for many a long year.
Hond,J - Johnson,R [D50]
EPSCA u11 Finals 2003
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 Be7 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b6 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Bd3 c5 12.Bc2 Qc7 13.Qd3 g6 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Qxe5 16.f4 Qh5 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Ne4 Bxb2 19.Rab1 Bg7 20.Rf3 Qd5 21.Qxd5 Bxd5 22.Rg3 Bxa2 23.Rb2 Bxb2 24.Nd6 Rad8 25.Nb5 a6 26.Na7 b5 27.e4 Rd2 28.f5 exf5 29.exf5 Rxc2 30.fxg6 f5 31.Nc6 Rc3 32.Ne7+ Kg7 33.Rxc3 Bxc3 34.h3 b4 0-1
Ilford have reached the final of the National Club Championship by beating Bedford. The final will be against Cavendish next month (date and venue to be decided shortly). Many thanks to the team (especially to Richard, Jonathan, Ivor and Russell who travelled long distances to play) and to everyone who has contributed to Ilford's success in this competition. We've never had a better opportunity to win the title.
|1||R. Palliser (b)||223||0||1||A. Ledger||222|
|2||J. Rogers||225||½||½||D. Ledger||201|
|3||D. Sands||207||½||½||S. Ledger||192|
|4||J. Hodgson||191||1||0||O. Olulode||176|
|5||J. Manley||197||1||0||P. Habershon||170|
|6||R. White||185||½||½||M. Smith||156|
|1||B||Ola Winfridsson||174||½||½||Tim Hebbes||173|
|2||W||Philip Fallon||171||1||0||Larry Marden||173|
|3||B||Brian Panter||172||0||1||Robert Parker||174|
|4||W||Lloyd Retallick||155||½||½||Paul Williamson||172|
|5||B||Alan Downham||160||0||1||Chris Fegan||169|
|6||W||Peter Rice||-||½||½||Ian Reynolds||166|
|7||B||Nigel Holroyd||153||0||1||George McNally||164|
|8||W||Ray Illet||159||0||1||John Moore||163|
|9||B||Carl Watkins||153||½||½||Martin McCall||161|
|10||W||John Daugman||151||½||½||Mark Weighell||160|
|11||B||Richard Donaghay||139||0||1||Josiah Lutton||158|
|12||W||Colin Byrne||-||½||½||John White||160|
|13||B||Richard Newman||141||0||1||Colin Ramage||160|
|14||W||Patrick Ribbands||142||0||1||David Millward||159|
|15||B||Marcus Misson||145||0||1||Ian Hunnable||156|
|16||W||Stephen Pride||142||½||½||Paul Barclay||147|
Illet,R - Moore,J [D47]
Cambs v Essex U175, 11.05.2003
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 b4 10.Na4 Be7 11.Bd2 c5 12.dxc5 Nxc5 13.Nxc5 Bxc5 14.Bb5+ Ke7 15.Rc1 Qb6 16.Qa4 a5 17.Ne5 Rhd8 18.Nc4 Qc7 19.h3 Rd5 20.Rfd1 Rg5 21.e4 Qg3!! 22.Bxg5 Bxe4 23.Rd7+ Kf8 24.Rxf7+ Kxf7 25.Nd6+ Qxd6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Rd1 Bd5 28.Bc6 Bxc6 0-1
White mates in 2.
|Last week's solution: 1.Nxf7 Kf8 2.Rh7 Rc7 3.f6 Rd7 [3...Rxf7 4.Rh8#] 4.Kh2 Ke8 [4...Kg8 5.Rg7+ Kf8 6.Ng5 Rxg7 7.Ne6+] 5.Ng5 Rxh7+ 6.Nxh7 Kf7 7.Kg3 Kg6 8.Kf4 Kxh7 9.Ke5 etc|
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