National Club Championship

Leamington make National Club Championship Debut – Beware the Latvian Gambit ...

Leamington made their debut in the National Club Championship on the 3rd of December, with a match against last seasons Intermediate Plate Champions, Rushall. The collective grades of the two teams were very similar and when we found out that Rushall had won last years Plate Final 4-0, we knew we were in for a very tough match!

It was great for Leamington to be in a National event and both sides enjoyed the hospitality of the Home Guard Club, so thanks to everybody at the Home Guard Club for the excellent spread. In the end, Leamington went down 1-3, with Ben picking up the Leamington point. However, everybody enjoyed the day and Leamington will still get the chance to go for glory in the Plate event after Christmas.

1 Steve Burnell (153) 0 v 1 Richard Parker (157)
2 Adrian Walker (147) 0 v 1 Steve Wilcox (146)
3 Jason Madden (140) 0 v 1 Peter Leary (142))
4 Ben Graff (138) 1 v 0 Peter Broomhall (128)
  Leamington 1 v 3 Rushall

In terms of the specifics, Steve and Jason on Boards 1 and 3, both played keenly contested games with chances for both sides but unfortunately it just wasn’t their day. Jason played the Winawer, but felt that he castled the wrong way and ultimately had to battle the exchange down. He put up a tough fight, but it wasn’t quite enough.

On Board 4, Ben faced the Bird variation (3… N-d4) against the Roy Lopez and built up an extremely strong position very quickly. There was potentially an even cleaner win in the middle game, but the path Ben chose gave him an endgame position with a Bishop for two pawns and a decisive win resulted. A bit of a relief, in that Peter Broomhall had told Ben just before the start of their game that he had won his previous three Rushall games over the preceding seven days!

On Board 2, Adrian faced the Latvian Gambit and has kindly offered up the thoughts and analysis below, which might help other club members if they come up against this line in the future. Adrian picks up the tale...

"I played Steve Wilcox, graded 146.I had White, and started with my usual e4. He replied with the Latvian gambit (e4 e5; Nf3 f5), something which I have never even looked at. I tried to use common sense and opening principles to work out the correct response, and managed to play the first 8 moves as follows: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nc3 fe 4.Nxe4 d5 5.Nc3 e4 6.Nd4 Nf6 7.h3 c5 Here I decided that things were going to get out of hand with those pawns, but if I could swap off my white Bishop, move the Knight and then castle, he would get over extended, and all those pawn moves meant he would be horribly under developed, and I should be OK. So I played 8.Bb5+ confidently expecting him to block with the Bishop, in which case I would swap, or with the QN. Imagine my surprise when he played 8 ..... Kf7! At first I thought this was a blunder, but it soon dawned on me that I now would lose a piece, no way out. The rest is too painful to recall! I managed to lose two pieces eventually, and although my extra pawns gave me pressure all the way to the time control at move 36, by then he had unravelled his pieces and I was totally lost. Steve confirmed after the game that I had unknowingly played a book variation and walked straight into a trap, which he had studied some years ago and had been waiting patiently to spring on some unwary opponent ... I just happened to be the opponent! He did not discover Kf7 over the board, but knew it from studying the opening. At least I know what to look out for in future! For those who are interested, the correct way of playing for white is: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe4 If ..... Qe7 4.Qh5+ g6 5.Nxg6 Qxe4+ 6.Be2 Nf6 7.Qh3 hxg6 8.Qxh8 Qxg2 9.Rf1 Kf7 and Black is lost in the long run. Or 3...... Qf6 4. Nc4 fe 5.Nc3 Qf7 6. Ne3 and Fritz gives this position as +1.6. White is fine, has better development, and Black's e pawn is difficult to defend. One lives and learns!."

So perhaps not the result we would have hoped for, but an interesting afternoon nonetheless.

We look forward to the Plate in the New Year!