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Devon Fall Agonisingly Short of National Title (09.07.2011.)

Devon’s hair-raising progress through the National Stages continued to the bitter end when they fell at the very last hurdle in their match against Nottinghamshire in the National Final on Saturday. At the death, with just two of the sixteen games to finish, Devon needed a win and a draw in order to bring the score to 8-8, in which case Devon would have won the match, and the National U-180 Championship, on tie break. With only minutes left Torquay schoolboy, Alex Billings, had four pawns against a solitary bishop, a guaranteed no-loss situation with clear winning possibilities. On the strength of this almost assured win (or so it seemed), the other Devon player agreed a draw in a better position in order to seal the match win, but no sooner had he done so, than Billings’ opponent found an almost miraculous move that saved his seemingly lost game, and so Devon fell half a point short of victory, 7½-8½.

Here is one of Devon’s two wins, with notes kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Dr. Dave Regis (166). Black: Andre Antunes (166).

English Opening [A14]

1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nf3 c6 5.b3 Nbd7 6.Bb2 Be7 7.0–0 0–0 8.d3 b6 9.Nbd2 Bb7 10.Rc1 c5 11.d4 dxc4 12.Nxc4 b5 13.Nce5 cxd4 14.Qxd4 Nxe5 15.Qxe5 Qd5 16.Rfd1 Qxe5 17.Nxe5 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 White’s pieces are all a little better-placed than their Black counterparts. 18…Rac8? Played quickly. 19.Nc6 Nd5? 20.Nxe7+? I was grateful to find this “simple win of the exchange”. 20…Nxe7 21.Ba3 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Expecting Black to resign. 22…Rc8! Oops! – missed that one. 23.Rxc8+ Nxc8 24.Bc5! White now has to work to exploit the slight advantage of B vs N. White wants to run Black out of moves before exchanging BxN in favourable circumstances. 24…f5?! 25.Kf3 Kf7 26.Kf4 Kf6 27.Bd4+ Kf7 28.Ke5 Ke7 29.Bc5+ Kf7 30.h3 a6 31.e4!? g6 32.exf5 gxf5 33.h4 h5?! 34.f3 Ne7 35.Bxe7 Kxe7 36.b4 Kd7 37.Kf6!? 37…Kd6 38.Kg5 Kd5 39.f4! Kc4 40.Kxh5 Kxb4 41.Kg5 Ka3 42.h5 b4 43.h6 Kxa2 44.h7 b3 45.h8=Q b2 46.Qa8! The saving move, which had to be anticipated before committing to 37.Kf6 46…b1=Q 47.Qxa6+ Kb2 48.Qb5+ Kc1 49.Qxb1+ Kxb1 50.Kf6 1–0 With queens removed, the Black King is left powerless to prevent an easy win.

Last week’s debut 2-mover by David Howard was solved by 1.Ng2! threatening 2.Ne3 mate and whatever Black tries to prevent this simply allows a different mate.

Here is an easier one, in which White is two pieces down and has abandoned his defences for all-out attack. He must succeed quickly or surely lose. How can this be done?

White to mate a.s.a.p.

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