Cumnor 2: Second in Division 3!

 

Cumnor 2 finished their season on 21st April with a with a 5-1 win against Witney 3, the culmination of an excellent season which sees them finish second in division 3

In fact over and above this superb result, Cumnor 2 have a unique record this season, they are the only team in the OCA to beat a University team this season!

So clearly his has been a great season for the team, and there have been many fine individual performances

Andrey and Andy stand out, in fact we reckon Andy will win the David Del Nevo prize for the best performance in division 3

(Andrey hasn’t played quite enough games, tied up with first team duty no doubt). But over and above that it is great to see so many new faces playing. I think it’s fair to say Steve chose his teams not with a grand plan of placing high in the division, but more with the idea of giving everybody who wanted it a chance to play. I count 7 new players in the above list – and that indicates the rude health the club currently finds itself in!

 

Match Report: City 1 v. Cumnor 1

 

Last Monday, the 21st March, saw the first team in action away at City 1, on Polstead Road in North Oxford

We were weakened due to illness and the absence of a top player or two, but unfortunately so were City, their captain Phil Hayward having contracted the evil lurgee – Hope you are better now Phil! Nett result was that while we were somewhat outgraded it was not totally without hope, but we would probably need a bit of luck …

As usual I shall go through the games in more or less the order they finished.

Tony finished first. He is obviously learning from his time at Cumnor, as he dropped a pawn early on. And then to be honest I didn’t see what happened after that until he stood up having resigned. City 1 Cumnor 0

Another Bicester loanee, Andrey, was next. Andrey has been having a fantastic season at the top of the second team with a 100% record, helping drive them up to second place in division 3, and here he managed to notch up his first win for the first team – well done Andrey, in this form many more are to come! The game itself was interesting, a roller-coaster with both Andrey and Lanre having chances, with a wild first half and an instructive endgame for the second half. From the first half let’s pick one of many possibilities for our first tactical quiz, from very early on in the game. In the position below white has just played g3, what’s black’s best continuation in the given position?

Answers to the tactical quizzes are at the end.

Anyway the opening and middle game went as follows:

Amongst this madness there are some positional themes going on. Early on Andrey has noted white’s backward pawn on d2, and has made it his plan to attack it – note how he takes with the rook on move 14 rather than the pawn in order to leave the way to it open. Generally this is a good idea, try and leave lines to weaknesses open, though in this specific instance 14 … cxd3 does also look pretty good, the pawn on d3 more or less splitting white’s army in half.

All the above lead to an instructive endgame position where Andrey has a decision to make at move 35 (Yes, I know I’m going to start talking about endgames – d’Souza-Eva, Terrington, stop laughing at the back there!)

Should black take the rook and go into the pawn endgame? The possibility of an outside passed pawn for Black on the queen side is a plus, that is on the queen side black has a 2-1 majority which could be very dangerous in a pawn endgame, but the more immediate issue is that after the exchange of rooks White’s king will be much better centralized and active than Black’s, and for me this is the much more important observation – Andrey swapped off rooks, but I think he should try and activate his king first before he does this. Mr Stockfish and the game continuation seem to agree:

In the final position Black is in real trouble. If it were black’s move, and if he had to move his king he would lose very quickly – after something like Kd8 White can play Kc6 and eat all Black’s queen side pawns leading to a winning endgame. So all white has to do is move has pawns until black runs out of reasonable pawn moves and the black will have to move his king, so losing – The technical term is zugzwang, and this idea of forcing your opponent into  a position where if they could pass they would be OK, but having to move loses, is very common in endgames. A not unreasonable continuation following this theme might be

where white wins by advancing his a pawn, and while black is dealing with that the moving his king to the king side and eating black’s pawns there, and queening either the g or h pawn. Note especially the zugzwang after move 45. h5, where any move by black loses very quickly, but if he didn’t have to move he would be OK

Luckily (and it’s not the first time I will use this word) Andrey’s opponent didn’t spot the zugzwang possibility! I have a lot of sympathy for this, I find it very hard myself, and the game in fact continued

So in the end just one tempo in it, Andrey making contact with white’s king side pawns first was all it took to win. An interesting and instructive game, and I hope it shows that pawns endgames are both interesting and very difficult! And well done again Andrey on your win, the whole game was

That made it City 1 – Cumnor 1

Next to finish was me. To save embarrassment all round I won’t show the game, many apologies to Matt for the result, this went beyond luck. I will however report the exchange after the game

Ian: “Sorry Matt, I didn’t deserve that”

Matt: “I blundered and you spotted it. And I only spotted the trap in the opening because I found it about 2 years ago when somebody played the same line against me”

Ian: “Yes, I know. It was me!”

Aren’t we supposed to learn things? Anyway tactical quiz 2 is the little combination Matt found (twice!) against me:

I’d played (twice) Re1 last move to support e6 in response to the expected d6. Why is it not a very good plan, and in particular why is Bxe6 poor? Answer at the end, and somehow the game made it City 1 – Cumnor 2.

Liam was next, another roller coaster of a game where either side could have won, but again luckily it was Liam who made the second to last blunder, to misquote the learned Dr Tartakower. Here is most of the game, what is the nice move that Liam found that finishes it off rapidly at the end?

Amazingly it was now City 1 – Cumnor 3 and we couldn’t lose the match!

Soon after Mark finished on board 2. Outgraded he had been under the kosh most of the game, with Ross having strong pressure on the king side. To be honest I was amazed Mark had survived that long, but eventually the tightrope walking came to an end and Ross caught Mark’s king with his doubled rooks on the open h file against a king side castled king. City 2 – Cumnor 3

That left Nigel and Arya on top board. Nigel had thrown everything including the kitchen sink at Arya in a fantastic attacking game:

It might not all be amazingly sound, but defense is harder than attack, and holding it all together when the match depended upon it was a great display by Arya, it would have been so easy to go wrong – and well played Nigel, very entertaining stuff, and Liam and I kept spot perpetuals or better which on deeper thought went away, it was a great game on which to finish such a close match.

So City 3 – Cumnor 3 in the end, a result we can be very proud of, even if we rode our luck:

Still fourth!

Next up the big mid-table derby against Banbury.

Answers to the tactical questions. As these are real games they are a bit more messy than normal tactical quizzes, but I’ll show the main lines. Firstly from Andrey’s game while dxc4 as played is pretty good Black can get a winning advantage by

This idea of a queen attacking a rook from the centre of the board after g3/g6 or similar comes up once in a while; it’s worth remembering.

The trap now officially named after Matt Brown goes

when either White drops at least a pawn (the a1 rook drops in many lines), or (least bad) leaves his king almost completely open to attack (as I know very much to my cost).

Liam’s game finished off

 

Four BLTs at the Club

 

Well last night as both Cumnor 1 and 2 had a break from the league and cup it was time to crack on with the internal club competitions – these are The Players Cup for members of the first team squad, and the Bill Laar Trophy, locally known as the BLT, for everybody else. Six games were played in total, 4 in the BLT, and 2 in the Players Cup.

In fact last night was Grand Prix night in the Players Cup, both games featured this aggressive set up for white which can be played against a number of black approaches – Liam used it against Nigel’s Sicilian and Tony against my Pirc/Modern, but it wasn’t a total success for the white side, Nigel winning and me having the better of a draw with Tony. After this Nigel is currently well ahead in the competition

(the current score can be found on the ECF LMS) but is catchable, especially by Mark, the only person to take points off Nigel so far.

In the BLT Allan Evans won the battle of the Al(l)ans, newcomer Callum beat Pedro to take the overall lead in the competition, and Andrey won in his nice, tidy positional style, but game of the evening was the utter madness that erupted on the board between Jonathan and Robin – part driven by the short time control (45 minutes) no doubt as indeed Robin won on time, though he is better in the final position:

 

Now That’s Chess! Anyway as mentioned Callum now leads the BLT overall

A long way to go in both competitions, they follow the calendar year rather than the league’s seasons, so much time for twists and turns – and games like Jonathan’s and Robin’s!

2021-2022 Frank Wood Shield

The first round of the Frank Woods Shield has now been completed and I am happy to report both Cumnor teams are into the next round, which is the Quarter Finals!

Cumnor 1 (which for this tournament have been called Cumnor Six Horsemen of the Apocalypse) had a bye in the first round and would play either Banbury Misfits or Wantage Alfredians in the Quarter Finals. Wantage in a small shock beat Banbury in the FWS last night (03/02/22), so they are the Horsemen’s next opponents in an AWAY match that is to be played by 1st March. They managed to beat their higher rated opponents by four points to two and didn’t even need to rely on the handicap system.

Cumnor 2 (who are called Cumnor Six Donkeys of the Acropolis) had a match in the first round against Cowley Conundrums however Cowley could not get a team out for the match and had to forfit. Steve said at the time “We were looking forward to the match very much. Thanks (for Cowley) for letting me know in good time.”. The Donkeys will play the Witney Weavers in a home match before 1st March.

A quick glance at the draw shows us that Cumnor have a quarter of the teams (2 from 8) left in the competition (admittedly due to some luck), and that both teams are in the top half of the draw (to use a Tennis explanation). This means they could meet in the semi’s if they both get through these tricky ties, this is the first time Cumnor 1 would play Cumnor 2 in any over the board competition. The draw also kept us away from the University Alpha (University 1 team) until the final, if either team makes it that far. Cumnor have had a good relationship with the Frank Woods Shield over the years, winning it in the 2017-18 season, more information about our record can be found at the bottom of our Team’s page.

More information about this season’s Shield can be found here.

The Players’ Cup and Bill Laar Trophy – Follow the latest results online

The COVID pandemic has taught us many things, some important, some less so – and one of these is how to use the ECF LMS to organize competitions.

This seemed too good an opportunity to miss as our internal trophies restart with the New Year, so reasonably up to date versions of the scores are can now be found there.

For the Players cup, which is for most of the first team squad, here are the current standings, the cross-table is here, and go here for the individual game results.

The Bill Laar Trophy is for all other players at the club. Here are the standings, the cross-table, and the game results. [Note as of 16th Jan to my knowledge no games have been played – it will be populated soon!]

 

Cumnor at the Witney Congress

Last weekend saw the return of the Witney congress, its first running in the post-Covid era. Three Cumnor players took part, Nigel in the open, myself (Ian) in the under 2000 section, and on loan from Bicester guest superstar Tony in the under 1800. It was great to see another sign of the return to some form of normality in the chess world, but in many ways even more great to see so many faces I hadn’t see for so long, 2 years in some cases.  As usual Mike Truran and his team organized it all excellently – a special mention going to the arbiters Matt Carr and Hannah Richmond for doing what I view as the job from hell; hopefully nothing to controversial happened, I certainly didn’t notice any major problems.

So back to normality? Well mostly, of course Covid had to be respected, but one big innovation, at least for me, was the use of electronic boards in the open section which allowed the games to be followed on the internet in real time, giving the best of OTB and online all in one package! The sign of things to come, possibly, but not for a while yet – these things are not cheap but increasing use can only be a good thing. As a result all the open section games are already available .It looks as though the rest of the games will be on the Witney web site, but as that relies on old fashioned manual entry (and deciphering hand writing!) they’re not there as I type this.

So how did we do? Well Nigel got 2, and I got 2.5, but Tony continued his great form to score 3.5/5 for a share of third, half a point of the leading pair; full results can be found here . Speaking for myself I had some fun and tough games, and played not too badly. Maybe I could have got 0.5 points more, but then again there were a lot of good players in the U2000 section, especially the youngsters, and it was won by two very good juniors, Kenneth Hobson and Tashika Arora.

So let’s have a quick tactical quiz or two! I’ll put answers at the end after a game from each of us. So firstly from Tony’s round 5 game. Your are black. You have to win to have a hope of first place. Time is fleeting. What should you play?

Now one from my fourth round game against Matthew Deacon, a very useful 12 year old. It really was a full blooded encounter, starting with my Smith-Morra Gambit against his Sicillian and no messing about from beginning to end. Anyway here’s where I missed my big opportunity – White to play and win:

Solutions to the above follow the games

Ok, my choice of games from each of us. First Nigel’s first round win, and Tony’s fourth round victory, both of which show in very different ways a nice understanding of minor piece endgames

And one from me, the one I enjoyed the most, my first round game against the top seed in my section. Another no holds barred game ending in a draw, a genuine 1 e4 e5 game:

So now the solutions to the puzzles above. Note being real games they are more complex than most puzzles, so I’ve shown the most thematic lines – believe me bung them in the engines and the evaluation won’t change:

Anyway thanks again to Mike Truran and his team for a very enjoyable weekend, and well done to Tony on his prize!

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.

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

The 2021-22 Season!

Some great news… Over the Board League Chess will be back in the Autumn with Cumnor 1 remaining in Division One while Cumnor 2 will join the combined Division Three and Four, which will from now on be called Division Three. All this is yet to be confirmed but it is exciting! Cumnor is currently planning to open the doors in September.

Roger Thetford’s report follows:

Responses from the clubs revealed that we had 22 teams plus two possibles for next year’s ODCL. Banbury could confirm only one team but may be able to raise two; Oxford Brookes would like to enter a team but will not know until September whether they have enough players. The Committee meeting held on 19 May decided to allow the clubs until 30 June to enter any further teams, after which the fixture list for the 2021-22 season will be set up.

When we abandoned the 2019-20 league we said that relegation and promotion would not apply. Applying this and eliminating the missing teams from the bottom upwards removes Banbury 3, Bicester 2, Cowley 5 and 6, Didcot 3 and Witney 4, leaving the divisional structure as 8-8-4-3. Combining the bottom two divisions and adding the possible new Brookes team to the new Division 3 gives the following.

Division 1 (8 teams): Banbury 1, Cowley 1, Cowley 2, Cumnor 1, Didcot 1, Oxford City 1, Oxford Univ 1, Witney 1.

Division 2 (8 teams): Banbury 2, Bicester 1, Cowley 3, Didcot 2, Oxford City 2, Oxford Univ 2, Witney 2, Wantage 1.

Division 3 (8 teams): Abingdon School, Cowley 4, Cumnor 2, Oxford Brookes (possible), Oxford City 3, Oxford Univ 3, Wantage 2, Witney 3.

This structure, agreed by the Committee, is provisional, depending on decisions from Banbury and Oxford Brookes. Unless an influx of extra teams allows us to revert to four divisions, rule- changes will be proposed at the AGM to reflect the new three- division structure. (The AGM date was set as Thu 16 Sep.)

All of this assumes that we will be able to return to OTB chess by October.

OCA Blitz @ Cowley – Thursday 8th April

Following what seemed to be an enjoyable night of Chess in Feb we shall be rerunning the OCA Blitz @ Cowley event, this time on Thursday 8th April. Again Dave Robson of the Cowley club has very kindly allowed us to reuse what he set up. As for the Cowley Blitz there will be no admission fee, and there will be no prizes. However, we will recognize, and announce the names of those players who in different circumstances would have won the usual prizes for finishing first, second, third, or as best female player, best slow starter, etc., etc.

The blitz will start at 7:30 p.m. and finish at 9:30 p.m. Any games running after that time can be completed, but they will not contribute towards the final standings. To provide a bit of variety, this time we shall be using the slightly longer time control of 5 minutes for the game, plus an extra three seconds for every move you take.

If you didn’t play in the earlier events, you will need to join the Cowley Blitz Team on Lichess (note if you did play this step is unnecessary). To do this:
First get a Lichess account from Lichess. They’re free
Then Send an email to CowleyBlitz@gmail.com stating:
a) Your real name
b) Your Lichess username
c) Your age (if you want to be in contention for recognition as a best junior player)
d) If you are female (if you want to be in contention for recognition as a best female player)
Finally visit the Cowley Blitz Page and click on the “Join Team” button, There will be a delay until the administrators approve your request.

Once you are a member of the Cowley Blitz team you enter as as follows: On the night of the tournament five or ten minutes before the tournament starts, click on the tournament link and then click on the green “Join” button which you can find just above the list of players who have already entered. At 7:30, the Lichess site will then pair you with your opponent, and the game will begin.

A few gotchas …

If you need to resign or to offer a draw, you must hit the relevant button twice. You can disable this behaviour in your Lichess profile.

At the end of your game, you will need to hit the labelled button to return to the tournament. Lichess will then pair you up with your next opponent.

The tournament is of an “arena” format, so there isn’t a fixed number of rounds. You can get more information at Arena Help. You can start the tournament late, or leave early, but the more games you play, the better the odds of you winning! Note that we have disabled “beserking” and extra points for winning streaks.

Have fun! For any questions, please email CowleyBlitz@gmail.com