Saturday, 20 April 2013

Chess in St Albans

I played in the Chess Congress at St Albans over the last weekend (13-14 April) and scored a respectable 2.5/5. This year I put my name down for the Intermediate section rather than the Minor, in the hope of avoiding having to play any five-year-olds as I had to last year. This meant that I had the lowest grade in the section (97) while my opponents were all graded around the 125 mark. Evenso I still found myself having to play two juniors (a girl of 13 and a boy of 10), in fact those were my two wins.

Here is my win in the last round as White against F. Rocco: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.e3 d5 6.Bd3 c4 7.Bc2 b5 8.Nbd2 a5 (so far this is all familiar London System territory for me, although I'm starting to get a bit worried about his Queenside pawn advance) 9.a3 Bd7 10.0-0 Be7 11.Ne5 0-0 12.h3 Qb6 13.g4 NxNe5 14.BxNe5 Ne8 15.Nf3 f6 16.Bg3 Bd6 17.Bxd6 Nxd6 18.g5 Qd8 (here I'm worrying that I may have weakened my King position too much, and wondering how I can manoeuvre my pieces for an attack down the g and h files) 19.Qb1 f5 20.h4 Qe8 21.Kg2 Qh5 22.Qd1 Qg4+ 23.Kh2 Rfd8 24.Rg1 h5 25.Kh3 Be8 26.Qe2 Ne4 27.Bd1 Rdb8 28.Qc2 Qf7 (essential as otherwise Ne5 traps the Black Q) 29.Ne5 Qc7 30.f3 Nd6 31.Qg2 g6 32.f4 Nf7 33.Nf3 Nd6 34.h5 Kg7 35.hxg6 hxg6 36.Qh2 Bd7 (this is where we put the clocks back for the extra 15 minutes - I am getting short on time compared with my opponent) 37.Nh4 Rh8 38.Bf3 Ne4 39.Bxe4 fxe4 40.Kg2 Qb8 41.Rh1 b4 (there are now dangers of Black R or Q coming down to a2 or b2 skewering K and Q - I had to spend a lot of time thinking over the next moves - and complained to the controllers about people coming to stand behind me looking over my shoulder at the board, which I found distracting - at one point there were four people about) 42.Kg3 Rh5 43.Kg4?! e5+ 44.f5 Qd8? 45.Qxe5+ Kh7 46.Qf4 Qb6 47.axb4 gcf5+! (the White King cannot capture the Rh5 since Be8+ and mate follows) 48.Nxf5 Rxh1 49.Rxh1+ Kg8 50.Qe5 Rf8? 51.Qg7 mate. This sudden end caught me by surprise. I was expecting more play, and my clock was close to the flag, but it does seem a won position now.

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