"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer

Friday, 1 March 2013

NCA: Grantham-2 Drew With The Leader of Division-2

The night 26th February brought the Grantham 2 chess team to the Nottingham to fight with the University-1 team in another round of NCA, Division 2.
Nottingham University is for the time being the leader of Division 2. Grantham drew in the even match.

Nottingham Univ-1
Lee, Darren
David, Ivan
Walker, Andrew
Hebert, Andrew
Byrne, James
Holt, Chris
Poole, Tim
Mason, Ben
Luland, Steve
Cumbers, Chris

Playing on the top board against Darren Lee, a very solid player who I already drew with in our first match of this season, I tried to get some small advantage, which I actually achieved. However, in the transition from the middle game into the ending I made a mistake somewhere and finally I was in worse Queen and pawns ending. Darren under time constrain offered a draw which I, without hesitation, accepted.

Andy Hebert stuck to his uncompromising style, gambiting a pawn early on in the opening and quickly gained the edge. In the move 23 he played perhaps a weaker move and his opponent, Andrew Walker, quickly equalized. Exchange sacrifice gave Andy again little edge but in complex ending and not enough time no one wanted to take the risk and draw was agreed.

Chris Holt has had very good season so far. Perhaps not by the number of victories, but definitely he is on the right track playing very interesting chess and in majority of his games he achieved substantial positional advantage. His problem is to turn the advantage into the final victory. This time, playing with White against James Byrne, Chris achieved very promising position with interesting pawn structure, however, Black controlled the f-file and could create certain counter-play on this site of the board. The transition into the ending between moves 25 to 30 is quite difficult to judge. After the game discovered exciting line with the piece sacrifice when White has perhaps advantage but in the "semi-rapid" speed of game one has no time for such a complicated lines. Alas, this is the problem of complex opening like the English Opening. Once you have missed you "window for edge" then your opponent may have an upper hand. Chris was all of sudden pawn down, but he displayed cool defence. He sacrificed the Knight for two pawns and the only problem was the time control. 

Ben Mason playing French defence with Black pieces had not an easy task. Tim Poole is experienced player and Ben gave him plenty of space on the kingside with no real counter-play. Tim transferred his positional advantage into the material advantage and final march of his pawn phalanx formation started marching on ... University was point up.

Chris Cumbers on the bottom board played in very refreshing style. Right from the outset he sacrificed the pawn and without hesitation castled queenside. Then he rolled the pawns against the Black King in the style of Shabalov attack in Slav defence. It was not easy for Steve Luland to stay cool, calm and collected under such a pressure. Chris sacrificed the Bishop on g7 penetrating into King's fortification and after exchanges of material he went after the Black King.... No one could defend such an position. Well played.

An encouraging result for Grantham 2.

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