It can be dispiriting when one spends over 40 years trying to win something, only to finish runner-up time after time. One could be excused for thinking fate had decreed it was never to be.
That was the case with the President of the Cornish Chess Association, Robin Kneebone, but just when he least expected it, he won his county championship at their annual congress at Stithians last weekend. He entered the fifth and final round of the Emigrant Cup a half point behind the leader, Lloyd Retallick, and needed a win with the black pieces in order to become Champion. Here is that game; (notes based on those by the winner.)
White: L. Retallick (181). Black: R. Kneebone (167).
Modern Benoni Defence [A70]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 Black is left with a backward pawn against White’s strong pawn centre. 6…g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.h3 0–0 9.Bd3 Nh5 10.0–0 Nd7 11.Bg5 Bf6 12.Be3 Re8 A better plan is to continue with piece development while Black’s queenside is still constricted. 13.Nd2 a better plan might be 13.Qd2 a6 14.a4 Rb8 15.Rac1. 13…a6 13…Bg5 14.f4 Bh4 15.g4 Ng7 16.Nf3 14.a4 Bg5!? 15.f4 Bh4 16.Nf3 Too cautious: although needing just a draw White should play 16.g4! Ng7 17.a5 f5?! (17…Qe7) 18.Nc4 fxe4 19.Nxe4 Nf6. 16…Bg3 17.Qd2 Qe7 18.Ne2 Ndf6 Black rejected 18…f5 19.e5 dxe5 20.Nxg3 Nxg3 21.Rfe1 e4 22.d6 and the fork can easily be escaped from. 19.Nxg3 19.Nc3 Bf5 19…Nxg3 20.Rfe1 Nfxe4 winning a pawn. 21.Qc2 Bf5 Suddenly all Black’s pieces are free. 22.Bf2 Qf6 23.Bxg3 Nxg3 24.Bxf5 Qxf5 25.Qb3 Ne2+ winning a 2nd pawn. 26.Kf2 Nxf4 27.Rxe8+ Rxe8 28.Kg1 Re2 0-1 White resigned. The threat is on g2, and though White has a number of tries, none are good enough. e.g. 29.Nh4 Qf6 (or 29…Qg5 30.g3 Nxh3+ 31.Kh1 Nf2+ 32.Kg1 Re3 33.Kxf2 Qxg3+ 34.Kf1 Rxb3) 30.Qg3 Rxg2+ 31.Nxg2 Ne2+ 32.Kh2 Nxg3 33.Kxg3 Qe5+ 34.Kf3 Qxd5+.
And so Robin achieved his dream of winning the county title and the Emigrant Cup. Retallick and Jeremy Menadue were in joint 2nd place.
The Falmouth Cup for players graded U-140 was won by David Jenkins of Polruan on tie-break from Chris Reeves (Truro) and Gary Trudeau (Liskeard). David is a newcomer on the Cornish chess scene, but his modest grade of 118 will surely rise on this form.
The Penwith Cup, a one day event for juniors and inexperienced adult players, was won by 12-year old Jack Grose.
The solution to last week’s position was 1.Ra8 forcing a pawn move and then 2.Kb7 gives a discovered mate.
This position is the end of a game at the WECU Championships in Newquay in 1978, between two Bristolians; Alan Ashby (W) and David LeMoir. How did Black win in 2?