Devon’s encounter against Hampshire on Saturday certainly qualified for the description of “a match of two halves”. In this case, Devon’s 1st team were truly massacred 12½ – 3½, their only winner being Jonathan Underwood, while draws were obtained by Alan Brusey, Robert Thompson, Paul Brooks, Steve Clarke and Phil Kennedy. The top eight boards of the 16 man team were outgraded by Hants, but the lower half, who were much better matched, were unable to stop the rot.
On the other hand, the score of the 2nd team match over 12 boards was equally imbalanced, but the other way, as Devon won that by 9½-2½, consisting of wins by Mike Stinton-Brownbridge, Jeff Leung, Ken Alexander, Jon Munsey, Freddie Sugden, Rob Wilby, Oliver Wensley, Juris Dzenis and Rob Jones, with Peter Halmkin providing the half point.
Here is the game from Board 1, to give a flavour of the main match.
White: J. F. Wheeler (185). Black: I. D. Thompson (209).
Queen’s Gambit Declined – Semi-Slav Defence. [D44]
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 Black declines the offer of the c-pawn and plays the key move of the Semi-Slav. 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.e5 Nd5 10.Be2 h5 11.h4 g4 12.Ng5 Be7 13.Nge4 Bb7 14.0–0 White can afford to castle as his h-pawn is poisoned bait. e.g. 14…Bxh4 15.Bxh4 Qxh4 16.Nd6+ Nd7 15.Rc1 Nxc3 16.Rxc3 c5 17.Nd6+ Bxd6 18.exd6 Qb6 19.Be5 f6 White now has to decide whether to retreat his threatened bishop or continue to go all out for attack. 20.Bxg4 White might have tried 20.Qd2 fxe5 21.dxe5 Nxe5 22.Re3 Qc6 23.f3 to prevent an immediate mate. 23…gxf3 24.Rxe5 fxe2 25.Rxe6+ Kd7 26.Re7+ Kd8 and Black has been forced to give up castling. 27.Rxe2 20…hxg4 21.Qxg4 0–0–0 White has sacrificed a piece to attack on Black’s weakened white squares but Black’s King has scooted away to safety anyway. 22.Bxf6 White also had 22.dxc5 Qc6 23.Bxf6 Nxf6 24.Qxe6+ Nd7 25.Rg3. 22…Nxf6 23.Qxe6+ If White had envisioned a fork here, it doesn’t work out, and the game is effectively over. 23…Nd7 24.d5 Rde8 25.Qh3 Qxd6 26.Rd1 Rh5 White is 2 pieces down and his key d-pawn is bound to fall, so he resigned. 0–1
With February just around the corner the East Devon Congress cannot be far away. It starts on the evening of Friday 4th March. Details from Alan Maynard on 01363-771133 or e-mail: email@example.com.
In last week’s position Jack Rudd played 1.Rxd4!! and if 1…exd4 then 2.Bxd4 supporting the knight to check on b6. So Black replied 1…Nd2 to prevent the rook coming to c4 2. Rxd2 Rxd2 3.Rc4 Qxc4 4.bxc4. This was admittedly a complicated one by any standard. This week’s 2-mover is somewhat more clear-cut. White to play.