Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2010-11

By Steve Burnell, Club Chairman

Looking back on 2010-11, Leamington Chess Club had a very encouraging and enjoyable season in the Leamington and District Chess League. The Club ran four teams – one in each of the four divisions. Several players who had joined the Club in 2010 had their first full season playing in the League, and this made the job of the four Team Captains rather easier – with a larger pool of players to call on.

In Division One, the A Team enjoyed a reasonable season, finishing in fourth place behind Olton A, Solihull Checkmates and Solihull A. Olton A were clear winners again and never really looked like being overtaken during the season.

In the Second Division the B Team finished towards the bottom of the table after a very promising start. Adrian Walker and Ben Graff enjoyed good seasons during their first full year at the Club.

The C Team did very well in Division Three finishing in second place and being right in the title race for most of the season. Congratulations to Roy Hadfield and Jason Madden of this Team. Roy had the best overall League results of all our players with 7 out of 10 for his League games. Jason provided the Club with its only Honour in the League by winning the under 140 Individual KO Cup with a convincing 2-0 victory in the Final.

The D Team had a difficult season and although they finished bottom of Division four, it was so tight at the bottom with three teams being separated by only one point. Congratulations to Mark Armitage whose victory on Board One against an opponent from Shirley who outgraded him by 37 points, gave Mark the Club’s trophy for the best individual result in a League game. Well done also to Tom Bridson who played his first full Season for the Club and had a very creditable overall performance.

In the Team KO Cups we entered one team in the Open, one in the Under 700, and two in the Under 120 Cup. None of these Teams made it through to the Finals, which were held at Leamington Club at the end of April.

For the coming season, commencing September 2011, we will be fielding four League teams again, with one in each Division and four Cup teams. We are also planning to enter a team for the first time in the National KO Cup run by the ECF.

We are always delighted to welcome new players of any strength, so if you are thinking of taking up chess, or are an existing player looking for a club, then please contact us or come along to a club night at The Home Guard Club in Portland Street on a Tuesday.

Finally, here is an interesting game and a fine win by Mark Page for Leamington A against Banbury B in the league match between the teams. Annotations are by Mark.

Gary Jackson - Mark Page

Leamington A v Banbury B, 8 December 2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 [An aggressive and popular option against the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence. The next few moves can be played in a variety of orders introducing different possibilities if either side wants to avoid the variation as played. For instance, Black can throw in h5 at some point, holding back the advance of White’s g-pawn – though that makes it almost impossible for Black to ever castle – while White can try an early a4 to undermine the Black queen side pawns, though this does compromise his own king safety. Its really all a matter of taste – or what side you get out of bed that day!] e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 0–0 9.Qd2 Be6 10.0–0–0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 [This has all been played many times and now 12 g5 b4 would be normal when both sides aim straight for the opposing king with very sharp play.] 12.h4?! [White tries to reinforce his kingside attack with an extra pawn to prise open the Black king, but this turns out to be rather slow, and soon it is the Black attack which is making the running.] Nb6 13.h5 b4 14.Nb1 a5 15.g5 Nfd7 16.g6 a4 17.gxh7+ Kxh7 18.Na1 [The white knights present a sorry picture entombed on a1 and b1, and even though they do cover some important squares around the White king, their passive position essentially means that White is playing with 2 pieces less in the middle-game. Black is already much better.] d5 [18...Bxa2 was possible but I preferred to open up the centre to bring more pieces closer to the White king.] 19.exd5 Nxd5 20.Qd3+ Kh8 21.Bd2 [Probably White should first play 21.h6 forcing g6 and only then 22.Bd2, but the position is still very bad for him.] 21...Nc5 22.Qe2 Qc7 [Although material is level and the Black king has been temporarily inconvenienced, Black is winning in this position. Now the heavy pieces start to gang up on the weak c2 square (and the inviting target of the White king which is completely immobilised on c1), while the knights hop about causing disruption in White’s rather unco-ordinated ranks.] 23.Qg2 Rfc8 24.Rg1 Bf6 [It wouldn’t be a good idea to let White play 25 Qxg7 mate!] 25.Bg5 Bxg5+ [25...Nf4 26.Bxf4 exf4 27.h6 g6 was even stronger, but the move played is OK.] 26.Qxg5 [Threatening mate on g7 again. But even though Black has not managed to make any direct mating threats yet, it is the Black attack which is much more convincing in the long run.] f6 27.Qd2 Bf5!? [Maybe not the strongest, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to set a very nice trap, especially as we were both under some time pressure and White might well have fallen for it.] 28.Bc4 [Unfortunately White didn’t swallow the bait! If White snatches the piece with 28.Qxd5?? then 28 …Nb3+ forces him to give up his queen (when 29.Qxb3 axb3 30.Bd3 Bxd3 31.Rxd3 Rxa2 is obviously terminal) since 29.axb3 allows Black to sacrifice his Queen to win the game 29 … Qxc2+! 30.Nxc2 Rxc2 mate] 28...Nb6 29.Be2 Ne6 [29...Qf7 30.Qxb4 Qxa2 is the computer’s preferred coup de grace, but close to the time control I was rather more concerned with hanging on to all my pawns.] 30.Bd3 Bxd3 31.Qxd3 Nd4 32.h6 g5 33.Qg6 Nd5 34.Qd3 Nf4 35.Qd2 Nxf3? [Rather carelessly overlooking the obvious win of the White queen with 35...Nde2+ 36.Qxe2 Nxe2+ 37.Kd2 Nxg1, but the win is still close at hand.] 36.Qe3 Nxg1 37.Rxg1 Rd8 38.Nd2 Qa7 39.Qxa7 Rxa7 40.Rf1 Rad7 41.Rf2 e4 and White Resigned as he’s losing more material because of the threat of e3 and mate on d1. And the poor knight on a1 still has no squares! Time: White 1hr 22mins; Black 1hr 19mins