Round 2 Chess

Round Two Overview by James Harrison

John Martin 0-1 James Harrison

This was the last game to finish and a tough test for me. John played the Catalan, although after the game he revealed that he’d meant to do something more aggressive and had touched the wrong piece by mistake. Anyway I thought he played it well and I was unhappy with my position throughout the opening. I had to give up the bishop pair, and my remaining bishop was not very good stuck behind my pawns. However John was a bit impatient to exploit his advantage, and broke in the centre with e4 without enough preparation. This allowed a little tactical trick which won a pawn for me. In the following sequence of moves he thought he would trap my knight, but I’d seen one move further and had another cute trick which saved it. Then I was up two pawns and probably winning. However I didn’t play too convincingly from then on, and got a bit frustrated as I got under 5 minutes and couldn’t see a way to finish the game. I sacrificed the exchange to win a third pawn, and the position was unclear. However luckily for me John was even lower on time and he panicked slightly, sacrificing the exchange back which led to a lost rook endgame.

Jake Sullivan 1-0 Darren Birch

Darren played a trendy variation of the Caro-Kann which I also like to play, and the position out of the opening looked quite level. The first mistake came from Jake who put his knight on a square which seemed to be defended, but unfortunately the defending pawn was pinned. So Darren won a piece. Then he tried to trade queens a couple of times, which Jake correctly avoided. I would say Darren was converting well up until he put his Rook in the corner in a very passive defensive role. It’s nearly always better to play actively when up a piece, even if it means giving a pawn back. Anyway they reached a position with White’s queen and 5 pawns against Black’s queen, bishop and 6 pawns, so still a commanding material lead. However Jake’s queen wormed its way in and started harassing the king, which was tricky to deal with since the Black pieces were on the other side of the board. Darren didn’t find a way to consolidate, and tragedy struck as his king got caught in a mating net between the white queen and pawns.

William Smith 0-1 Adrian Breakspear

Will had a tough game this round but hopefully learnt something from the experience.

Adrian: “William played well, but allowed his king to be stuck in the centre – [he] needed to castle before e4 and then there were a couple of mistakes that blundered material.”

Perry Moore 1-0 Henry Booth

Henry played a risky Alekhine’s Defence which didn’t pay off. Perry didn’t engage with any of the theory involving chasing Black’s knight around, and played simple developing moves, which is also very effective. The decisive moment came early on move 8, when Perry played d4, apparently to defend his knight on e5. However the move also opened up a discovered attack on Black’s queen, which Henry didn’t see. He lost his queen and the game was effectively over already despite another 10 moves being played.

Chester 0-1 Peter Hamill-Stewart

Chester played a kind of nondescript queen’s pawn opening which Peter met with a Queen’s Indian setup. I thought Peter’s play was exemplary as he developed each piece with exactly one move, whereas Chester moved one of his knights twice and the other thrice. Then Chester played an odd move pawn to b4, which was either a blunder or a misjudged sacrifice as it gave away the pawn. Peter then pursued the standard method of trading off pieces, which was extremely effective. Unlike in Darren’s game there was no question of counterplay, and Chester was forced to resign not long after due to losing more material.

Cara Birch 0-1 Stephen Harrison

Steve’s recap of the game is short and sweet.

Steve: “I won”

James White 0.5-0.5 Ashley Norton

The opening was an Italian and nothing much happened in the early stages. There was the potential for drama on move 10 when Ashley allowed a combination:

White to play and win!

White to play and win

However James missed it too, and the game continued to be even. I would say White (no pun intended) was to be preferred for most of the middlegame, but there wasn’t much in it. Once they got into the endgame, Ashley began to turn things round with some very logical play, activating the rook and king, while White’s pieces kept going backwards. On move 40 there was a critical moment where Ashley could have got a very promising rook and knight endgame, but instead traded down into a simple rook endgame. That turned out to be a draw as both sides got down to one pawn each and neither was likely to promote.

Cade Birch 0-1 Aaron Milne

This started as another Italian but Cade quickly moved away from opening theory and played originally. I found the position after 10 moves to be strategically very interesting, as Cade put all his pawns on white squares. This had the advantage of completely restricting Black’s bishop, but on the other hand it made all the dark squares in his position weak. Aaron very quickly exploited the weak squares by infiltrating with his queen and knight, and struck with a quick checkmate before Cade could castle. A shame in many ways as the position was intriguing and could have led to a rich middlegame.

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