Match Report: Cumnor 1 v. Oxford University 1

Last night we welcomed University 1 to the Old School – possibly the first time this has ever occurred given our recent promotion to the top tier. Of course we expected this to be a tough match, University 1 have been winning everything for a number of years now, but when the first of their players arrived it turned out we may have a glimmer of a chance – a number of their strongest players were busy over the weekend so could not play. That said when the rest of the team arrived while it was true that it was not as strong as we feared we were still somewhat outrated, especially on the top boards. This was not going to be easy!

I say “when the rest of the team arrived” that in itself was a bit of an story. I won’t name names but a couple of their players missed the Cumnor bus stop and ended up at the Greyhound in Wooton. A rescue car was sent out and they started their games about 20 minutes late. We didn’t even start their clocks – maybe we’re too nice …

Partially because I don’t have a long train journey today, partially because I didn’t see too much of the other games this week (I was trying to dig myself out of the mess I made of the opening) this weeks report will be much shorter than last time, and so apologies for the lack of deep, laser like analysis of the intricacies of all the games :)

Nigel was first to finish, losing to Filip Mihov. No shame there, Filip’s record in OCA competitions is remarkable, 24/26 in the now 3 seasons he has been playing. It was a Kings Indian but Nigel’s king side play just didn’t seem to kick off, while in next to no time Filip had lots of open lines on the queen side. Cumnor 0 University 1.

Gareth was next. Gareth grabbed his opponents Queen Knights pawn. It was poisoned, a nice line closing combo won a piece for his opponent and it was always going to be difficult from then on. Cumnor 0 University 2

Mark was next, but for reasons I’ll explain below yet again I didn’t see the important part of his game. Mark was on the white side of an advance French, and while very early on Chris seemed to be doing nicely against Mark’s centre as the game progressed Mark’s position seemed to get better and I was very hopeful. Then the next thing I know is Mark had lost – apparently dropping a piece in a winning position. Bad luck Mark, we’ve all been there. Cumnor 0 University 3

The next few games all finished fairly quickly. The first was mine against Max, about 10 minutes after Mark’s finished, and the time scramble was why I missed much of his and the other games from this point. I’d misplayed the opening dropping a pawn, but had managed to make enough of a mess that I was back in the game. Both of us made mistakes in ever increasing time pressure, until right at then end we repeated moves. In a position where I had a winning combination … I’ve put the position below, try to solve it in less than 15 seconds with a clock ticking against you. But that was the match gone, Cumnor 0.5 University 3.5

White to play and win

I missed the majority of the last two boards. All I’ll say is both our unbeaten guest star Tony and Liam looked pretty comfortable in their games, Liam in particular having nice pressure against his opponents weakened pawn structure. Anyway the important bits happened while I was scrambling against Max, and both in our favour.

So the final score was Cumnor 1 2.5- University 1 3.5.

Rather than looking on the missed chances I think we can be pretty pleased – we expected nothing from this match, and somewhat out gunned we gave them a real run for their money.

Still top of the table!

Witney 1 is next week, a top 2 clash, another tough match.

Busy Nights at the Club Coming Up

The over the board Chess season is now up and running. For the next two weeks, 21st and 28th October, both teams will be playing League Matches. The Club will be open for social Chess but there numbers will be down as 12 players will be involved in the matches two weeks running.

Cumnor One will be playing against Oxford University 1 on the 21st and Witney 1 on the 28th, both matches will be at home. Cumnor One currently sit top of division one with two wins from two but these two matches will provide some tough games for the first team. Oxford University 1 will be playing their first match of the season as the University teams as they need fit their matches around the academic year.

Cumnor Two will be playing their first matches of the season after two false starts. They will be playing Cowley 3 on the the 21st and then Oxford University 3 on the 28th both of the matches will be away from home. Originally Cumnor two’s season should have started against Abingdon School on the 4th October but it was postponed due to Abingdon’s Michaelmas fair. Then the Oxford University 3 fixture was also rearranged after they had some issues with the fixture pile up.

Match Report: Cumnor 1 v. City 1

Well for our second match in two weeks we welcomed City 1 to the Old School. With all due respect to Didcot, our previous week’s opponents, we expected it to be a much tougher match, partially because a few of our stronger players were not available, but mainly because City 1 in the before times were an extremely strong team, challenging University 1 for the title, while we are but newcomers to the top table. But we live in strange times, so while City had two very strong players on the top boards in Jon Manley and Phil Hayward, lower down there were a lot of new faces – great for the OCA, great for chess, but this also meant the match was going to be much tighter than we expected.

As in the previous report I’ll go through the boards in (roughly) the order they finished. Mark finished first, and to be honest I missed the vital phase. At one point it all looked fairly equal, a moderately complex queen-less middle game, at the next Mark had powerful rooks on the semi-open b and c files blasting away at the queen side castled white king, supported by his white squared bishop on f5. It looked to me that white was in all sorts of trouble, especially on the white squares, and so it proved – the next time I looked Mark was a rook up. 1-0 to Cumnor.

For the second time in two weeks I was second to finish. William played the Grand Prix Attack against my Pirc/Modern, but I managed to force the exchange of his white squared bishop – I had learnt after a few bloody noses from Joe in the Cumnor Clash that this makes white’s attack a lot less powerful. Anyway it sort of transposed into a strange Sicilian Dragon, and when William tried to attack he over-pressed and dropped a pawn. And then in trying to win back the pawn he ran into a nasty pin that bagged me a knight. After that it was a little bit one way traffic, and after struggling for a bit William resigned. Cumnor 2 City 0.

Tony and Liam finished more or less at the same time. Tony handled Tamal’s attack from a Stonewall structure very nicely – while the pressure down the g file looked nasty and sacrifices were very much in the air Tony realised that he could just calmly run his king to the centre, leaving the attack dissipated and White in a better position. And a pawn up, which became a piece as Tamal struggled to stop that extra pawn queening. And again there was a bit of a struggle after that, but soon Tony recorded his debut win for Cumnor, well played! Cumnor 3-0 and couldn’t lose the match.

Liam’s was like mine a Grand Prix Attack, but against a Sicilian rather than the Pirc, and Liam was white. And interestingly, at least for me, it resulted in a “Symmetric Benoni” structure:

The reason I mention this is I am currently studying “Chess Structures – A Grandmaster Guide” by GM Mauricio Flores Rios,

and the next chapter I’m going to read is on the “Symmetric Benoni”, so let’s see how it applies to Liam’s game. The position at move 21 is

Now GM Rios says in his book “… White usually retains a small spatial advantage. This a advantage increases if White manages to expand on the kingside, restricting Black’s pieces substantially. Black’s play can be rather difficult, and great precision is required to avoid being asphyxiated. A main theme in this variation is whether Black manages to trade off some minor pieces to decrease his space problem. In addition, the control of the e4-square is often an important factor to determine whether Black can equalize or not”. So how is Joseph doing currently? Not bad must be the assessment, he’s swapped off a couple of minor pieces, and he’s got some control of e4, and while White has started to expand on the King side nothing too much has been achieved yet, though g4 looks as though it is coming soon. And Mr Stockfish puts it about equal, maybe a small advantage to black but it is minuscule. “But, but, but what about that knight on d4? Doesn’t black have to deal with that now?” we all cry. NO! 21 cxd4 Qxd4+ drops at least one pawn, so black does have time to ignore this “threat”. Thus, given what is said above, 21 … h5! is the move. It holds blacks position together by stopping g4, so keeping pressure on e4, and incidentally threatening the somewhat embarrassing Bg4. Instead Joseph played 21 … Bxd3?!, arguably the losing move as it loses control of e4 and g4, and so white can be expected to expand on the king side. See how Liam takes it from that point:

Yup, squeezed to death. These GM’s know what they are on about … 4-0 Cumnor.

This left the top two boards. Phil had played the Dutch as is his want against Gareth’s 1 d4?. I don’t understand the Dutch. It always seems to me that black has no space and the pieces aren’t working, and then black wins by crashing through on the kings side. To me it looked like Gareth was a bit better early on having a bit more space and better pieces, but Phil is a good player, and slowly worked his way into the game, and guess what – eventually his attack crashed through on the king side. 4-1 Cumnor.

I don’t understand the Dutch. But I do understand the Pirc, and the last game to finish, the top board clash between Jon and Nigel, showed a fascinating example of what can occur. It’s also very much an example of what *not* to show the kids, at least when it comes to teaching them about development and the opening in chess … Here’s the game:

 

So what’s happening? Black seems to make weaknesses preparing Bg7, then never plays it and instead makes lots of pawn moves – look at the position at move 10. How can this be sound? This isn’t what we were taught! The point is after 5 Qd2 Black knows white’s plan – Bh6, swap, 0-0-0, h4 h5, sac, sac, mate. So if this is the plan why castle king side into the attack? In fact why even play Bg7 if white is just going to swap the bishop off? You can play Bxh6 just as well from f8 as g7. So the idea in not playing Bg7 and 0-0 is to save a move or two to further plans elsewhere, in particular on the queen side. If Black can make enough noise over there white might chicken out of queen side castling, and if white does that the sac, sac, mate plan doesn’t work.

So this is the point – Nigel’s queen side demonstration eventually makes Jon decide to castle king side, at which point the hack attack down the h file is no longer on and now Nigel can decide how to place his king in safety, which, complete with a nice sidestep, he achieves by marching it to the queen side. At which point Black has his own king side chances, but he has to keep an eye on white’s sacrificial ideas like Nxd6 or Nxc5.

So a nicely complex game between two very good players, ending in an honourable draw when both were running a bit short on time. So in the end Cumnor 4 1/2 – City 1 1/2:

Top of the table a while yet!

Match report: Cumnor 1 v. Didcot 1

So last night chess returned to Cumnor Old School for the first time in over 18 months!

It was so nice to welcome Didcot 1 for one of the opening matches of the 21-22 season, and just great both to see so many familiar faces after all this time and to welcome a new one or two into the fold. COVID of course meant we had to be careful about a few things like keeping socially distanced where possible and having the Old School’s windows open in late September, but all in all it didn’t intrude too much into an enjoyable evening.

As for the games Stuart was first to finish. He dropped a pawn to Andy early in the opening, only for Andy to return the compliment with interest, losing a knight to a queen fork. It was over soon after that once Stuart activated his pieces, 1-0 Cumnor.

I (Ian) was next. I had a bit of an advantage out of the opening – more space; a bit of an initiative; a little bit of pressure down the d file; more active pieces. Basically while I had no game winning threats white’s position was easier to play than black’s. Florian worked hard to activate his pieces, but as is typical in such position he got a bit too optimistic, which lead to dropping a knight, and soon after the game. 2-0 Cumnor.

Eldar was playing a fascinating game on board 1 against Nick Gough, a heavyweight clash indeed! Eldar on the black side of an Advance French had grabbed white’s pawn on d4 with his queen, so while a pawn up his queen had very few squares and it would have been so easy to let it get trapped. One position I remember distinctly. On first glance Be3 won the queen, but on looking harder back rank threats saved it – all very complicated! Anyway Eldar navigated all the problems, and as is his way won with the extra pawn. In fact Eldar has previous here, winning a very high quality game in the same line against Dave Hackett in 17-18 4NCL, see below for the game.

So Cumnor were 3-0 up, and couldn’t lose. but the other 3 boards were far from foregone conclusions. Simon’s game on board 5 against Gary Reynolds was interesting. Gary as white had mangled his pawn structure with doubled, isolated h pawns to gain pressure down the open g file against a backward pawn on g7. On going through some of the game afterwards Simon and I demonstrated our different chess philosophies, I very much liked White because of the pressure, Simon preferred black because of the long term structural advantage. As is often the semi-conducting monster told us the truth was somewhere in between … Let’s say dynamic equality. After various excursions Simon lost in the endgame – I suspect as much because he was much lower on time as anything else. 3-1 to Cumnor.

I didn’t see the end of the other two games as I was going through Simon’s with him. On board 6 I thought Mark looked good early on, but his opponent managed to unravel his position and established a strong knight on e5 which Mark couldn’t kick away with a pawn. It went down to a Q+B endgame, which Tony won – 3-2 to Cumnor.

So it came down to board 3. The last time I saw Nigel’s game he was 2 pawns down in a N+P endgame. But, as is his way, he managed to swindle a win. Nigel, how do you keep doing this? A few lessons would be much appreciated. 4-2 to Cumnor!

So a tough and exciting match – I think we just deserved to win it, but then again I’m biased. And with Cowley drawing at Banbury it leaves us top of the table!

Three Month Membership to the Club for Free!

“Cruel as it may sound’ but the COVID-19 lockdown was a boom for chess”

said five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand at the end of last year. We at Cumnor Chess Club would have to agree with him.

Its been a funny old 18 months or so but Chess has handled it pretty well.

Not just the lockdown, Netflix’s hit The Queen’s Gambit, has been a driving force behind at least some of it.

With an audience of 62 million in its first 28 days it did reawaken many peoples love of the game along with bringing new people to the game.

Chess has never been more popular.

Chessboard sales jumped 87% in the US after the show’s release. Lichess announced this week that 4 billion games have been played on the platform and Chess.com had 2.7 million new accounts setup last November, the month of the Queens Gambit release.

The club opened it’s doors at the beginning of September and it has been great meeting people and playing over the board again. We would like to give everyone a chance to come and enjoy our favourite game. So the Club will be free to all old and new members until January 2022! That gives any you 12 weeks of over the board matches, friendly and competitive games and even a chance to play in the league for free!

We are in a very fortunate position that this has happened and hope the offer gets taken up.

Cumnor One will play the first league match this coming Thursday the 30th September against Didcot 1. In fact this will kick off the season along with the Banbury 1 v Cowley 1 match, the first set of league matches since early March 2020.

More information can be found on our New Members page.

Fixtures are out

Please spread the news far and wide: The fixtures for 2021-22 have been released!

Cumnor 1 will be playing in the first division with 6 other teams: Didcot 1, City 1, Oxford Univ 1, Witney 1, Banbury 1 and Cowley 1. This should provide some tough games but with Covid we will have to wait to see the strength of some of these teams.

Thu 30-Sep-21 Cumnor 1 v Didcot 1
Thu 07-Oct-21 Cumnor 1 v City 1
Thu 21-Oct-21 Cumnor 1 v Oxford Univ 1
Thu 28-Oct-21 Cumnor 1 v Witney 1
Thu 18-Nov-21 Banbury 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 25-Nov-21 Cumnor 1 v Cowley 1
Mon 24-Jan-22 Didcot 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 10-Feb-22 Cowley 1 v Cumnor 1
Mon 21-Mar-22 City 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 31-Mar-22 Cumnor 1 v Banbury 1
Mon 11-Apr-22 Witney 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 28-Apr-22 Oxford Univ 1 v Cumnor 1

Cumnor 2 will be playing in the third division (so I guess we should celebrate a promotion at some point) with 6 other teams: Abingdon 1, Oxford Univ 3, Cowley 3, Wantage 2, City 3 and Witney 3.

Mon 04-Oct-21 Abingdon 1 v Cumnor 2
Thu 14-Oct-21 University 3 v Cumnor 2
Thu 21-Oct-21 Cowley 3 v Cumnor 2
Thu 04-Nov-21 Cumnor 2 v Wantage 2
Mon 22-Nov-21 City 3 v Cumnor 2
Mon 06-Dec-21 Witney 3 v Cumnor 2
Thu 03-Feb-22 Cumnor 2 v Cowley 3
Thu 17-Feb-22 Cumnor 2 v City 3
Tue 22-Feb-22 Wantage 2 v Cumnor 2
Thu 03-Mar-22 Cumnor 2 v University 3
Thu 17-Mar-22 Cumnor 2 v Abingdon 1
Thu 21-Apr-22 Cumnor 2 v Witney 3

I am looking for our first competitive over the board game in over 18 months! If you would like to get involved in the best Chess Club in the whole wide world check out our New Members page, (the “best Chess Club in the whole wide world” claim was taken by a small sample of Cumnor players who were asked the question).

Cumnor 1 Captaincy

A Message from Steve

“The King is dead, long live the King.
Well, not literally, thankfully.

Liam has handed in his Cumnor 1 captaincy.

It was around 2002 when this quiet, very keen chess playing lad aged 12, joined the club. He was a pleasure to teach and to play against. Over the years his game grew stronger and stronger, and it wasn’t too long before he started to make me think, rather than I making him think. Liam, has been a steadfast part of our club for many many years.

By 2009 we had enough players to introduce a second team. I needed someone to Captain the new team. With Cunmor 1 in division 3, Cunmor 2 started in division 4. Liam, aged 19 took on the job of Cumnor 2 captain but by the 2011-12 season it was apparent that Liam had over taken me in rating points and became First Team captain.

One of the many trophies won by Liam over the years.

Within ten years of hard slog he managed to get Cumnor 1 to win Division 2 in the 2018/19 season, promoting Cunmor 1 to Division 1 and winning the Frank Woods Shield too. An epic event for such a tiny club.

Well done Liam. Brilliant work.

The C1 captaincy baton has now been passed onto our extremely capable and very efficient Ian Bush.
Many thanks Ian for excepting the position. The club is most grateful.

The second revised league fixtures are now posted on the OCA web site.

The fixtures may alter a little with a third revision before the season starts at the end of September, but not by much I’m sure.
C1 matches are currently set to start at home, Thursday 30/09.
C2 matches are currently set to start at home , Thursday 21/10

By the way, we had three new members show up at the club last Thursday.

Hope to see more of you over the coming weeks.”

A Message from Liam
“Thank you Steve, its been a pleasure. I still plan to be a semi-regular player for the team.”

Witney Online Rapidplay 2021

I’m pleased to say that we’re running the Witney Online Rapidplay again this year. Details below:

Date: Sunday 19 September.

Sections: Open, Junior Major, Junior Minor.

Entry fee: £5.00 for ECF members/supporters.

Trophies: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, best performance prize in each section.

No of rounds: Six.

Round times: 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 2:30 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:30 pm.

Time controls: 20 mins + 10 sec increment Open and Junior Major, 10 mins +5 sec increment Junior Minor.

Tie-breaks: sum of progressive scores followed by sum of opponents’ scores.

Rating: Games will be ECF online rated.

Online platform: Lichess.

You can find the entry form here: https://form.jotform.com/212421176513345, and information about the day here: http://www.witneychess.co.uk/witneyrapid21_information.htm. There’s other useful information like playing online games on Lichess, fair play guidelines, terms and conditions etc on the Witney Chess Club website: http://www.witneychess.co.uk/index.htm.

Do please support us if you can!

Kind regards
Mike Truran

Open Club nights start on the 9th September

So last tonight concluded our regular online Thursday evenings, and great fun they were.
For the past eighteen months we’ve been able to continue playing chess with each other. This of course was due to Graham Cluley building the platform at the start of the first lock-down in March 2020.

Thanks a million Graham, it was a god send.

Next week we shall reconvene once again at the club.
Thursday 9th September at 7pm.

The OCA 20/21 season commences during the last week of September. Only three divisions this season, as a number of clubs have reduced their teams.
Cumnor 1 remain in Division 1, and Cumnor 2 play in Division 3.

When we meet next Thursday can we please do the following:
Bring a mask, in case you wish, or your opponent wishes you to wear one.
Bring your own refreshments, and take any empties and waste home with you.
Sanitiser will be available. Please use the sanitiser prior to playing a game.

The club now has seventeen digital clocks, which is enough for match and club play during the same evening. The OCA 20/21 season requires digital clocks to be used only. We have therefore complied with this new ruling. The club will still have a few analog clocks on site should they be needed by anyone.

We looking forward to next Thursday, fingers crossed it will be permanent.

Message from Steve Bennett 03/09/2021

Welcome Back!!!

We are pleased to announce that the Club Nights will return on Thursday the 9th September 2021.

Its been a long time since we played an over the board game in the Old School House and talking to the regulars everyone is really looking forward to it.

The 2021-22 season will start in earnest at the end of September. This season there will only be three divisions instead of the usual four. Cumnor 1 will play in Division 1 and Cumnor 2 in Division 3.

If you have taken up Chess during the lockdown or watched the highly successful Queens Gambit on Netflix please come along. We have a friendly club and the first night is free so you have nothing to lose!

All the information for old and new members can be found in the About and New Members Section pages.