The Gazette - August 2015

Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Morecambe Revisited by Bill Armstrong

I went to Morecambe in its heyday as a resort. Then I played there when BCA events were still in their heydays. Two years ago I won the championship when both Morecambe and the championship were less popular. This year our championship was an event with ten entries and like Morecambe still in decline. But we had twenty BCA members determined to make it a successful week. The Auckland Hotel was comfortable, the food excellent and the staff very helpful. Our associate members did their usual superb work. Christine Andrews and Roger Waters were always on hand, Sheila’s quiz and raffle were both successful events and Joan organised outings and a remarkably successful soirée from the small BCA contingent with Gary Wickett, Voldi and Clare Gailans, Guy Whitehouse and Joan Shorrock showing their talents to the full. All of us enjoyed the week greatly with the smooth organisation from Gerry Walsh and Matthew Carr in the chess room and Clare Gailans as the event manager. But where were the bulk of our stronger players? We had only three players from past international events and seven others who would have been surprised if they had won the event - though I can assure you none was prepared to yield an inch without a hard fight.

In the first two rounds Gordon v Armstrong was the most significant clash. This game went 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 g6

3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 0-0 5 e4 d6 6 Nge2 e5 7 d3 Nbd7 8 0-0 a6 9 a4 a5 10 Rb1 Nc5 11 d4 exd4 12 Nxd4 Re8

13 Re1 c6 14 b4 axb4 15 Rxb4 Ng4 16 Nde2 Ne5 17 Rf1 Be6 18 f4 Ned3 19 Rb1 Bxc4 20 Be3 Qa5

21 Bxc5 (the fatal error, Bd2 gives White better hopes) Qxc5+ 22 Kh1 Nf2+ 23 Rxf2 Qxf2 24 Rxb7 Rab8

25 Rxb8 Rxb8 26 e5 d5 27 Nd4 Rb2 28 Qg1 Qd2 29 Nd1 Rb1 30 Bf3 c5 31 Nc6 Bf8 32 Qg2 Rxd1+ 33 Bxd1 Qxd1+ 34 Qg1 Qf3+ 35 Qg2 Qxg2+ 36 Kxg2 d4 37 Kf2 Bd5 38 Nxd4 cxd4 39 Ke2 Bc4+ 40 Kd2 Bb4+ 41 0-1

These rounds left Steve Hilton and I on two points and paired together in round three. Neither of us played adventurously and, with queens exchanged and no obvious scope for an attack, I accepted Steve’s offer of a draw. The pressure was now on Steve and me to gain the maximum from the remaining four games. In round four, Hilton v Whitehouse was a long hard struggle. It started as a Queen’s Gambit but became more like trench warfare. 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 h6 6 Bh4 0-0 7 cxd5 exd5 8 Nf3 c6 9 Be2 Bf5 10 0-0 Ne4

11 Bxe7 Qxe7 12 Qb3 Qc7 13 Nxe4 Bxe4 14 Nd2 Bh7 15 Rac1 Qb6 16 Qc3 Nd7 (From here it requires great technique or enterprise for either side to gain an advantage) 17 Nb3 Qc7 18 Nc5 Nxc5 19 Qxc5 Qb6 20 b4 Bf5

21 a4 Qxc5 22 Rxc5 a6 23 Rfc1 Bd7 24 a5 (is preserving the possible b5 advance a better plan?) Rfe8 25 R5c3 Re7 26 Bd3 Rae8 27 Re1 f5 28 g3 g5 29 Rcc1 Kg7 30 Kg2 g4 (playing black I would have tried to make some progress with h5 and threats of opening one of the kingside files) 31 Bc2 h5 32 Rg1 Kf6 33 Rge1 Kg5 34 f4+ Kf6 35 Kf2 Rh8 (35...h4 is better) 36 h4 Rhe8 (...gxh3 would force White to play carefully and could give Black chances but now a draw seems inevitable) 37 Bb3 Re6 38 Ba4 Re4 39 Rc5 R4e7 40 Rc3 Re4 41 Bb3 R4e7 42 Bc2 Re6 43 Rc5 R6e7 44 Ba4 Kg6 45 Rc3 Re4 46 Bc2 R4e7 47 Ke2 Kf6 48 Kd2 Ke6 49 Bd3 Kd6 50 Bb1 Ke6

51 Ba2 Kf6 52 Rc5 Re4 53 Kd3 R4e7 54 Bb3 Rb8 55 Ba4 Rbe8 56 Kd2 Kg6 57 Bc2 Kf6 58 Bd3 Rb8 59 Rc3 Rbe8 60 Bf1 Rb8 61 Ra1 Ra8 draw.

Since I won in this round and rounds five and six while Steve and Philip Gordon drew their game in round five, I reached round seven knowing that I would win the tie-break even if I lost to my final opponent, Jim Cuthbert. I was, however, not prepared for the tough resistance that Jim produced. Cuthbert v Armstrong was level until move 25. Here Jim lost material. But even then Jim did not lose concentration.

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 g6 3 e4 d6 4 h3 Bg7 5 Bd3 Nbd7 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bxf6 Nxf6 8 Nf3 Bd7 9 Bc4 e6 10 Rb1 0-0 11 0-0 Nxe4 12 Nxe4 d5 13 Bxd5 exd5 14 Nc3 Be6 15 Re1 Rc8 16 b4 c6 17 a4 a5 18 Na2 Rb8 19 c3 Re8 20 Rb2 axb4 21 Nxb4 c5 22 Na2 Qc7 23 Rb5 b6 24 dxc5 bxc5 25 Re3 d4 26 cxd4 Bxa2 27 Rxe8+ Rxe8 28 Rxc5 Qd6 29 a5 Rb8 30 Qd2 (Now, I should play safely with Bd5, exchange pieces and win the ending. But the foolish notion that Bxd4 led to a prettier win and Jim finding the best response gave me problems.) 30.... Bxd4 31 Rc1 Rb1 32 Rxb1 Bxf2+ 33 Qxf2 Bxb1 34 Qe1 Qc5+ 35 Kh2 Bd3 36 Qe8+ Qf8 37 Qxf8+ Kxf8 with advantage to White. However 38 a6 Bxa6 led to an agreed draw. Black may have winning chances but a draw is a fair result.

The final standings were: Armstrong (retaining the championship) 6, Hilton (second on tie break) and Gordon 5.5, Whitehouse (grading prize) 4, Brown and Gailans (grading prizes) 3.5, Phillips, and Cuthbert 3, Lightowler (grading prize) 1.5, Harrington 0.