The Gazette - February 2010

Sponsored by The Primary Club
Edited by Guy Whitehouse
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Peter Price Memorial Tournament

This event took place at the Legacy Hotel, Chesterfield, from Friday, 13th to Sunday, 15th November. It proved to be a very fitting memorial to our friend Peter - it was extremely well run, well attended and was held in familiar surroundings as we were visiting this hotel again after a gap of some years. Food and accommodation were good and the staff were friendly and helpful. The playing room was a good size for the numbers attending, thirty-three competitors in both sections, and space at the tables was generous, a great asset for those taking part.

Twenty took part in a strong major event and thirteen in the minor. It was a very fitting occasion to welcome back Gerry Walsh as controller after an absence of some months, and he was ably assisted by Julie Leonard with her customary calm efficiency and friendliness. On the playing side it was pleasing to see a return, after some years, of Hans Cohn, who played in the major. Hans has made an outstanding contribution to the BCA over the years and has worked tirelessly to serve both IBCA and chess for the blind in general. The tournament had an international flavour, with three competitors from Ireland playing in the major, Ernie McElroy, Sean Loftus and Eamon Casey. All three are regulars at our tournaments and it is very heartening to welcome them, time and again, to our tournaments and to applaud their efforts in travelling such long distances to come and join us. Notable absentees were three long-serving members who would have liked to have been present on this occasion - Sean O'Brien, who was unable to attend due to illness, and Stan and Jan Lovell, who would have attended but for circumstances beyond their control.

Once again Sheila Milsom spent a lot of time organising and running a raffle to raise BCA funds, and this was augmented by Les and Moira Whittle who ran a separate raffle in addition.

Over the board there were some notable achievements in both sections.

In Round 1 Richard Murphy (123) drew with Tristram Cole (166) and Hans Cohn (120) drew with Ernie McElroy (154). In round 2, Mark Kirkham (115) drew with John Gallagher (142) and Phil Gordon (117) drew with Sean Loftus (142). In the final round Colin Chambers (149) drew with Chris Ross (199).

In the Minor Mark Hague (70) beat Jim Cuthbert (91) and Geoff Patching (58) beat Gary Wickett (84) and he also drew with me (93) in the first round.

Scores. OPEN: Ross, Mordue and Lilley 4, Chambers 3.5, Whittle, Murphy, Cole, Burnell and McElroy 3, Armstrong, Crombie and Casey 2.5, S. Brown, Wragg, Gallagher and Cohn 2, Loftus and Gordon 1.5, Hodgkins 1, Kirkham 0.5. Grading prizes were as follows: Band A Colin Chambers, band B Les Whittle, band C Richard Murphy and band D Stephen Brown.

MINOR: Smith 5, Phillips 4, Mark Hague, Gailans and Cuthbert 3, Wickett, Patching, Keneally and Hodges 2.5, Ryan and Osborne 2, Harrington 1.5, Scarrott 1. Grading prizes were as follows: Band A Mark Hague, Band B Geoff Patching, Thomas Keneally and Dorothy Hodges and band C Lea Ryan. Gary Wickett was awarded a supplementary grading prize.

Peter Price Memorial trophies were awarded to the top three players. All of the prizes and trophies were presented by Peter Price's dear friend, Juliet Reeve, who provided many of the Peter Price Memorial trophies and made a very generous contribution to the prize fund. Perhaps this wonderful gesture increased our keenness to do well in this particular tournament, as to have won one of these trophies would indeed be an excellent way to remember Peter. For those of us who witnessed the charming way in which Juliet presented the trophies and prizes this was a most fitting climax to a very memorable event. Yet again we were well served by the sighted members of our group who, as usual, provided practical help to individuals throughout the weekend. This should never be taken for granted and these kind gestures from many people over a long period of time are much appreciated by all of us and reflect the generosity to be found in our organisation. Long may it continue.

Voldi Gailans.

Les Whittle adds: “Moira and I would like to thank everyone who bought raffle tickets from us at the Peter Price Memorial Tournament in November. Sadly we have to report that we had no winners, although we had twelve prizes on offer. However, the good news is that the BCA will benefit and they will receive a cheque for £200 some time during January. Many thanks again to everyone for their support.”

It seems right to commemorate this event by including a game from the tournament, and Tyson sent in this game against Les Whittle, an unfortunate result for devotees of the Caro-Kann such as your editor!

Mordue-Whittle

Caro-Kann

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 Nf3 Nd7 7 h4 h6 8 h5 Bh7 9 Bd3 Bxd3 10 Qxd3 Ngf6 11 Bd2 e6 12 Qe2

This is all standard play and was whisked out by both players very rapidly. The normal line is 12 0-0-0 Qc7 13 Qe2 to force 14 Ne5. Suddenly I had the notion that Les was going to play 12 -Bd6 - I really don’t know why - and I switched moves to prevent it. Of course there is nothing wrong with 12 -Qc7 or 12 -Be7, but very quickly there came –

12 -Bd6?!

This move is not on my theoretical database and this suggests it's an error. Anyway I was quite happy to play 13 Nf5 and see what happened. Getting the Knight off g3 effectively is one of White’s problems in this variation so I’m happy to do it with a gain of tempo.

13 Nf5 Bf8

An interesting reaction. There was a mild look of surprise and then this move was played very quickly. I wonder if Les had seen the follow-up he might have cogitated a bit more on this committal retreat. Let’s look at the other replies.

If 13 -Bc7? then 14 Bb4! (threatening 15 Nxg7 mate!) seems to force Black to concede a Pawn with 14 -c5. Instead 14 -Nb6 gives White the chance to take the dark-squared Bishop in a position where Black has weaknesses on that colour complex. This must also be better for White, but at least Black’s not a Pawn down.

There is a very serious alternative with 15 Nxg7+ Kf8 16 Nxe6+ fxe6. White can take a third Pawn with 17 Qxe6 but he must agree to the exchange of Queens. Black may be better in this endgame. Alternatively White can play 17 0-0-0 threatening Qxe6 without allowing the Queen swap. Although Black can now keep the Pawn in various ways White has two Pawns for his Knight and good attacking chances against the partially-exposed Black King. The g6 square beckons for a piece to land on it and the Pawn on h6 is a permanent weakness.

After 14 -Nb6 White can play 15 0-0-0 threatening the same sacrifice and guaranteeing three Pawns for the Knight. I’m not sure what Black should reply, but CM9000’s suggestion of 15 -0-0 just allows a new and even more dangerous sacrifice with 16 Nxh6+!

Perhaps Les chose not to risk the sacrifice, but now White has a big lead in development. Admittedly Black has a solid and compact position.

14 O-O-O Qc7 15 Ne5!? Nxe5

Accepting the ‘sacrifice’ isn’t on. It’s Black who loses material after 15 -exf5 16 Ng6+ Ne4 17 Nxh8 Be7, and White has a good choice between 18 Qc4 and 18 f3. Black has no simple way to catch the steed on h8 and his King is stuck in the centre because of the necessity to defend f7.

CM9000 suggests the more conservative 15 -Nd5, after which White really does have to withdraw with 16 Ne3 but still has a lead in development and a better game.

16 dxe5 Nd7?

Les barely paused for thought during this sharp intermezzo. Had he done so he may have realised that 16 -Nd5 entails a lot less risk even if White retains a clear advantage with 17 Nd4, this time due to development and the extra space engendered by the exchange of Knights on e5.

After the text it superficially looks as though Black is winning material because of the double threat to the Knight and e5 Pawn.

17 Nd6+ Bxd6 18 exd6 Qxd6?

CM9000 prefers this to 18 -Qb6. Personally I prefer the latter because it simply reduces White’s options. Yes, White is doing very well after any of 19 Qg4, 19 Bc3, and 19 Rh3 or h4, but Black is still solid and compact. The big passed Pawn is effectively blockaded and although Black is short of space three pairs of minor pieces have been exchanged which means Black can at least breathe.

By removing the advanced Pawn Black unwisely opens up the game to an even greater extent. The d-file and h2-b8 diagonals are major attacking avenues for the White pieces and the Bishop quickly proves to be a much superior piece than the Knight. In addition the disappearance of Black’s h6 Pawn means White has the chance of creating an advanced outside passed Pawn, a virtue of advancing the Pawn to h5 in the opening.

19 Bxh6 Qf8

Perhaps it was at this point Les realised that his intended 19 -Qe5 was met by the simple 20 Qxe5 Nxe5 21 Bxg7 winning a lot of material. This was his first significant think of the game.

White is clearly better here in both the short and the long-term. He dominates the open lines with his more active pieces and the long-range Bishop should be good against the short-hopping Knight in both the middle and endgames. The possibility of creating an outside passed Pawn with g2-g4-g5 and h5-h6 is very important.

From Black’s point of view he is very compact and only the hole on d6 is a glaring weakness. Note that his King’s Rook is now active on an open file and directly attacking a White Pawn, albeit one that is adequately defended.

White has plenty of choice for his next move. The flashy 20 Rxd7? doesn’t achieve anything except give Black an undeserved material plus. Black’s King can easily slip back to e8 or c8 after a check on the d-file. The point is more easily made if you try to determine here where the White Bishop wants to go to after the Exchange sacrifice.

As for the immediate Bishop retreat the alternatives are 20 Bd2 intending to reroute to c3, 20 Be3 to rule out both Queenside castling and 20 -Qc5 amongst other things, 20 Bg5 to stop castling or 20 Bf4 controlling the important h2-b8 diagonal.

The first two moves seemed slightly slow to me, while 20 Bg5 seemed to allow 20 -Qc5 with a useful tempo gain. After 21 Qd2, 21 -Qd5! seems awkward.

My actual choice of 20 Bf4 was mainly for positional reasons, but I was happy to find that the apparently active line 20 -Qb4 is no good after 21 Bd6 Qa4 22 Rh3!, because 22 -Qxa2 simply loses the Queen to 23 Ra3.

20 Bf4 0-0-0?!

Again quickly played, but activating the queen with 20 -Qc5 or 20 -Qe7 is better. After White’s reply Black becomes very passive. Indeed his Queen only has two squares.

21 Bd6 Qe8 22 Rh3 Nf6!

Time for a good think. I certainly had one. Black’s cool defence nearly paid off here.

23 g4!

When I played my previous move I thought I was winning. The intention was 23 Ra3 a6 24 Rxa6, but then it occurred to me that 23 -Rxh5 24 Rxa7 Rd5! was a decent defence. The text gives solid support to the h5 Pawn, keeps the black Rook out of play, prepares the further advance g4-g5 and h5-h6 and retains the initiative.

Black now gains a little respite by driving back the Bishop only to slip up again by playing the move after too quickly.

23 Nd5 24 Bh2 Qe7?

I think Les completely overlooked my next move. Necessary was 24 -f6 intending to build a barricade against the White Bishop with -e6-e5. This still loses a Pawn after 25 Ra3, because 25 -a6 26 Rxa6! And the rook can’t be taken because of mate in two. However, this isn’t fatal as long as Black has 26 -e5 locking out the Bishop.

25 Qe5

With threats against g7 and b8. CM9000 suggests 25 -b6 here. I can’t see any human playing that. That leaves only Les’ s actual move.

25 -Nc7 26 Rxd8+?

White’s first mistake of the game, and it’s a serious one. The simple 26 Qxg7 is much better. After 26 Qxg7 Rxd1+ 27 Kxd1, 27 -Rd8+ can be adequately met by 28 Rd3. An important point is that after the exchange of Rooks on d1 the move -Qc5 is no longer check (checking on c5 and then taking on f2 is great for Black), and if Black abandons protection of the f7 Pawn in search of counterplay, White goes Qg8+ and then Qxf7+ winning instantly.

26 -Rxd8 27 Rd3!

On move 26 I’d missed that after 27 Qxg7 Qb4! was a very strong counter attack. Fortunately I realised the danger in time, and I also appreciated that the exchange of all the Rooks is actually to White’s advantage because he has a very strong endgame.

27 -Rxd3 28 cxd3 f6??

Necessary was 28 -Na6 (hardly a move to recommend to one’s friends, but putting the Knight anywhere else just allows 29 Qb8+ and the Queenside disintegrates), and now 29 Qxg7 may allow some counterchances after 29 -Qc5+, but 29 g5! is very strong. White maintains control and plays on the side away from the enemy Knight. Black would be in serious trouble in this line. The Queen and Bishop dominate the board and White’s advanced Kingside Pawns should decide the game in his favour.

After the text Black loses the King and Pawn ending because his King has to remain on the Kingside to look out for White’s potential outside passed Pawn.

29 Qxc7+! Qxc7 30 Bxc7 Kxc7 31 f4 Kd7 32 g5 Ke7 33 d4!

I was very pleased to have this move because it makes everything so much simpler. The only possible counterplay Black might have had was to try and dissolve the White Pawn chain by playing -e6-e5.

Now it can’t work. For example 33 -e5 34 dxe5 fxe5 (34 -fxg5 35 fxg5 come to the same thing) 35 fxe5 Ke6 36 h6 gxh6 37 gxh6 Kf7 38 e6+ and Black can’t stop both Pawns.

33 -b6

White’s task of penetrating on the Queenside would be at its most difficult if Black’s Pawns all stood on their original squares. Even so White would advance his Pawns to a5 and b5, his King to c5, and then play a6 or b6 as necessary to affect a breakthrough.

34 Kd2 a6 35 Kd3 f5 36 Kc4 Kf7

If 36 -a5 37 a3 a4 38 Kb4 b5 39 Kc5 Kd7 40 h6 promotes. Or if 36 -a5 37 a3 Kf7 38 b4 a4 39 b5 forces a King entry.

37 b4 Ke7 38 a4 Kf7 39 a5 bxa5 40 bxa5 1-0