Devon got close to getting a result against Middlesex on Saturday in the final of the National Under-180 Championship at Warwick, but fell tantalisingly short, finishing the losers by 7½-8½. The details were as follows (Devon names first in each pairing);
1. J. Underwood (180) ½-½ M. Tasker (187). 2. D. Regis (181) ½-½ C. Nettleton (169). 3. A. Brusey (181) 0-1 N. Chan (179). 4. B. W. Hewson (176) ½-½ I. Calvert (176). 5. S. Martin (175) 1-0 M. Crichton (176). 6. M. Abbott (171) 1-0 C. Mackenzie (175). 7. M. Shaw (173) ½-½ R. Kane (173). 8. W. Ingham (168) ½-½ W. Taylor (173). 9. M. Stinton-Brownbridge (168) ½-½ M. Dydak (170). 10. S. Dean (167) ½-½ G. Dickson (167). 11. K. Atkins (160) 0-1 A. Fulton (173). 12. N. Butland (158) 0-1 L. Fincham (166). 13. I. Annetts (157) ½-½ D. White (165). 14. O. Wensley (151) 0-1 C. Kreuzer. (167). 15. C. Scott (154) ½-½ J. Kay (160). 16. P. Brooks (152) 1-0 L. Boy (159).
It’s almost inevitable that in such a tense situation players on both sides will let the pressure get to them and mistakes will follow, as in this game. Notes based on those by the winner.
White: M. Crighton (176). Black: Steve Martin (175).
English Opening – 4 Knights Var. [A29]
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.g3 Bc5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 Re8 7.d3 h6 8.Nd2 d6 9.Nde4 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Bb6 11.Nc3 a6 Black is trying to limit the scope of White’s minor pieces. 12.a3 Rb8 Defending the b-pawn before developing his other bishop. 13.b4 Bg4 14.h3 Bh5 15.Kh2 Bd4 16.Bd2 f5 Black is trying to build kingside pressure. 17.Rc1 Ne7 en route to the kingside. 18.Qe1 c6 Blocking the white-square bishop and so releasing Black’s rooks. 19.e3 Ba7 20.e4 Bg6 Also playable was 20…fxe4 21.f4 Qd7 22.Be3 Bxe3 23.Qxe3 Rbd8 White stands slightly better at this stage as his pieces are less constricted. 24.Rcd1 Kh7 25.Rf2 Ng8? The idea was to open the file for the rook to threaten the queen and give his knight a good post on c6, but White’s rooks are becoming more active. 26.Rdf1 exf4 27.Qxf4 fxe4 28.Nxe4 Re5 Although White looks threatening on the f-file it is difficult to see how he can break through with f7 defended by the bishop. 29.c5 Overlooked by Black. It loosens Black’s grip on the centre who responds by giving up his best defender. 29…Bxe4 30.Bxe4+ Kh8 31.cxd6? Better was 31.d4. 31…Qxd6 32.Qh4 Ree8 33.Rf7 33…Rf8 White now has mating chances e.g. 34.Qg4 Rxf7 35.Rxf7 Qe5 36.Qg6 Qb2+ 37.Kg1 Qc1+ 38.Rf1 etc. But the strain of 5 hours concentration does strange things to one’s brain. 34.Qxd8?? White had assumed Black would retake with the queen and completely overlooked the rook. 34…Rxd8 0–1.
Last week’s game ended with 1.Bxh7+
Kxh7 2.Qh4+ Kg8 3.Ng5 and Black resigned in view of 3…g6 4.Rd7 and Black must lose his queen.
In this position, Black is lined up to either mate on h2 or win the bishop on b2, but it’s not his move. What can White do about it?