Match Report – Witney 1 v. Cumnor 1

On May 9th the first team had its last match of the season, away at Witney

This was actually a rearranged match, Witney were missing a few of their players for the original date, and as it was more or less a dead rubber we agreed to move it to the very last day of the season so we could face their full strength – maybe we are too nice …

So on a sunny early summer evening, far removed from the dark of the reverse fixture in the Old School with broken heating, we found ourselves to be out-rated on every board. Despite that there were a lot of interesting games, but I’ll keep things short so the main focus can be on Nigel’s extremely fine game on top board.

On board 6 Andrey faced a newcomer who does look fairly useful …  Darryl certainly knew how to play against the Chigorin defense to the Queen’s gambit, winning material in the late middle game and converting fairly easily. Witney 1 Cumnor 0.

On board 5 John faced Howard Searle, meeting the Modern Defence with an Austrian attack which looked promising for a while but ended in a fairly early draw. Witney  1 1/2 – Cumnor 1/2.

Liam was on board 4 against Adam Sieczkowski, a junior that I know to my own cost is very useful.  An extremely complicated game resulted, with Adam pressing on the Queen side, and in the end his better coordinated pieces pushed through. Witney 2 1/2 – Cumnor 1/2.

Mark’s game against Francis Parker was the first of a couple of games to feature heavy material sacrifices. It all started with a Two Knight’s Defence, Francis playing the Ulvestad variation , a line which Mark said after the game he had never seen before. Madness soon ensued, Mark going a rook down but with the black king in the centre and mating threats based on an advanced pawn on c6. I have to say whenever I saw it I never really believed Mark had enough, and while he won back some of his material the game went into an R+B v. R endgame that Mark couldn’t hold. Witney 3 1/2 – Cumnor 1/2.

On my board, 2, I face Mike Truran. As the one time we have played before we went into a Modern Benoni, Mike this time playing the Taimanov Variation, aka the Flick-Knife Attack . Once considered almost a refutation of the Benoni, Black is now considered OK, but it is certainly good to know the theory if you are going to go down this line. And indeed Mike and I followed book lines until move 15 when I deviated saccing a pawn to get a chance an the initiative. This proved to be just the warning tremors, two moves later I sacced a knight to open up Mike’s king and many round the table thought I had a winning attack. Unfortunately Mike found the only defence, a line I hadn’t deeply looked as it involved moving his king to a square where I could check and apparently gain tempo, and then I failed to follow up properly – repeated sacrifices followed but in the end I resigned because, as Liam put it, I “had run out of things to sacrifice”. And to add insult to injury even if I had found the correct follow up the semi-conducting monster shows that the initial knight sacrifice was unsound, though the refutation is not that easy to see. Oh well, such things never bothered Tal … the only difference being he tended to get away with it! Witney 4 1/2 – Cumnor 1/2

I would normally have filled out some of the details above, but pride of place must go to Nigel’s excellent win on top board against Dave Hackett – one which Matt Rose judged of such high quality as to win the Ray Starkie prize for the best game played in the OCA this year! The turning point of the game was a fine line closing combination which netted Nigel the exchange, a plan he must have seen some moves before actually playing it. Here it is, watch out for 21 d5!:

Nigel had now won material, but Dave has a definite initiative, and he proceeded to throw what he had at the White king – which Nigel calmly refuted with nerves of steel, just taking whatever gifts Dave offered until there was nothing left despite the alarming concentration of black pieces near his king. I was particularly impressed by 32. Ne2, I thought while watching 32. Nf3 was obvious, but as Nigel explained on f3 there is always the chance of Rxf3 opening up the white king’s position, and also from e2 the knight gives useful cover to g3. Anyway here’s the whole game:

In the final position b8=Q+ will defuse all Black’s remaining threats, and leave the win trivial. And so quite possibly the last game to finish in the whole of the OCA season wins the best game prize – Well played Nigel! Simon Terrington has published a YouTube video discussing the game.

So the final result in a match filled with exciting games was 4 1/2 – 1 1/2 to Witney

We finish the table second from bottom, but in reality part of the mid-table pack that represented how closely many of the matches have been fought this season, a result we can be proud of given the loss of some of our stronger players at vital points in the season.

 

 

 

 

Match Report: Cowley 1 v. Cumnor 1

 

Thursday 10th Feb saw us travel to far end of old Oxford town, to Rose Hill Church to play Cowley 1

A win for either team would see them go second in the league, but it would be a tough one for us, missing a few of our top players we were giving away over 100 rating points per board (about 15 in old money). But try we must, and try we did, and in the end the match was close on almost all the boards, and could have gone either way.

“Almost” I stress. The exception was mine. Advice to anybody playing a wunderkind: Don’t get your queen trapped on move 14. This turned out to be a very poor strategical decision on my behalf when playing Kenneth Hobson, rated 2090 at a very tender age, and I only carried on after losing it for a rook to avoid losing a miniature. The less said about it the better, apart from me apologizing to Kenneth for playing on; I should have resigned on the spot –  and probably would have done if I wasn’t off the beer at the moment.

All the other boards were keenly fought. On board 4 Tony got a fine result drawing with Graham Cole. In a classical French Defense early on Graham established a knight on d6, but as time went by it was clear it was more impressive than effective. The queens came off, then the knight, and a draw was agreed in a position where it was far from clear how either player could make any progress.

On board 6 Andrey was facing Bob Waugh, a tough one indeed for him. Early on Bob seemed to have pressure, but Andrey fought it off and then came up with an pawn sac to open the g file against Bob’s king which was sitting on g1 – when I saw it I have to admit I didn’t really believe it but it certainly showed imagination, and did offer practical chances. But Bob is an experienced warrior, grabbed the pawn, and survived to tell the tale ending up material up in an endgame which he did in the end convert but not without a fair bit of excitement along the way – well done Bob, and bad luck Andrey, one slip and it could have gone the other way.

On the other 3 boards we had real winning chances. Going in increasing order of those chances Gareth was white against Rich Weston on board 5. All was going fairly routinely until, in a slightly better position, Gareth offered the Greek Gift:

Any chess player above the very casual should know this idea, sacrificing the bishop on h7 (or h2) to draw the king out, which will get attacked with Ng5+ and then the queen coming into the attack, on h5 or g4. And all my ex-colleagues at MCS are probably smiling now as I was well known for offering dodgy Greek-gift type sacs at any opportunity – a game against Liam contains a fine example of the rubbish I can come up with, and that has even made it as a Lichess Puzzle. Anyway the game continued with Rich finding what is often the best continuation

The king is out in the open, and the queen ready to come into g4. Is it enough for the bishop? To be honest Stockfish thinks not, and given my vast experience of bad Greek Gifts I have to in principle agree. As a rule of thumb the attacking side tends to need one more attacking piece over and the the above the queen and knight, often it is a rook coming in via the third rank. However I stress “in principle”, certainly at most club players level white has real chances. Rolling forward a few more moves comes to the crunch moment

Here Gareth played the obvious Nh7+ picking up the exchange, but removing his best placed piece and dissipating his initiative, which is everything in this position. Now it is very easy to play other people’s positions when material down, but the cool Be3 leaves the position about equal according to Mr Stockfish, white having compensation for the material sacrificed due to the open position of the black king and better development. But very easy for me to find with an engine, very hard to find while a rook is on offer at the board with the clock ticking. Anyway Rich gained the initiative from that point, and carried on to win very effectively, his two bishops dominating the white rook:

Board 3 was closer – Mark Sayers was facing his bunny, Will Burt (Will’s words, not mine!) I can’t deny this possibility was in my mind when I chose the board order – Mark has had two very nice wins in his last games against Will. And for a long time it looked as though it might be 3 out of 3, Mark going two pawns up in the opening. Will had pressure in compensation but it certainly didn’t look enough, and on its own Mr Stockfish agrees. But Mr Stockfish doesn’t look at the clock, and dealing with Will’s pressure ate a lot of Mark’s time, so while Mark did sort his position out time was running short, and in the scramble it eventually went pear shaped – well played Will:

Oh dear! Well at least we had Nigel on Board 1 showing us all how to play. Against Mike Handley’s Dutch he managed to obtain a very nice position where Mike’s bishops in particular seemed to be very ineffective – and play against weak e and f pawns bagged the both of them. Now I’ve made clear how little I understand the Dutch before, so I’ll quote Nigel on some of his thoughts and then show the game:

Where he seemed to go wrong most was in not developing the Nb8, which should have been ready to retake on f6 (which is why I chopped off the Nf6 as soon as it looked like he was about to play Nbd7). Then Dutch players aim to get in Nf6-e4 at some point and as soon as I pinned the f6 N I felt my control of e4 was good.
I think I was most pleased by the move by which I returned my N from b3 back to d2. I vaguely remember reading that strong players can admit to themselves that they got it wrong and can go back to square one. My N should probably have gone to c3 in the first place, but having gone to d2 it should have stayed there to support e4.

As can be seen Mike’s bishops didn’t get into the game until right near the end, and by then, like Mark, he was another victim of the clock after sorting out his troubles – he lost on time.

So I have to say I think Cowley deserved to win, but the score line doesn’t quite do us justice, and given the rating difference we can’t be too displeased.

Down to fourth, I’ll still take that!

Next off to Wantage in the cup.

Match Report: Didcot 1 v. Cumnor 1

 

So last Thursday, the 24th January, saw Cumnor 1’s first match of 2022, away in the Deep South at Didcot.

Following our great first half of the season a win or a draw would see us go second, over taking Banbury, and as such we got out about our strongest side. Unfortunately, at least for us, Didcot also had pulled out all the stops and the match card looked very closely balanced:

Don’t be deceived by Joe Conlon’s rating – he is a very strong titled player coming back to “proper” chess after a bit of a break.

Well, what to say … After riding our luck a bit through the first half of the season the chickens came home to roost, so I’ll keep this short but the most important thing is we were outplayed – Didcot were definitely the better team on the night. I’ll gloss over Mark and Eldar who both had games they probably want to forget, and while Liam had more chances it probably won’t feature amongst his top 10 either. Even Nigel, one of our three draws, I know was not happy with his play. So that leaves me, and especially Stuart.

My game was fun if not wonderfully correct:

I got move-ordered in the opening going into a setup Peter obviously knew much better than I, and my 10. O-O was just very short-sighted, I knew the form his attack would take and I castled straight into it. Having no sensible counter-play I managed to make some complications with 20 Nfd5 which I muddled through  into a better endgame, which I then misplayed. Thankfully for me Peter missed a horrible blunder by me near the end (in time trouble) and it ended as a draw – probably overall a fair result, though I came away feeling a little lucky.

Stuart’s game was also not a thing of subtle strategy, here it is, along with some annotation that Stuart sent around:

I first wandered over at about move 15, and was amazed to see Black’s King so open – “this looks fun” was very much my thought. I don’t play 1.d4? nor the Kings Indian (except by transposition), so I don’t know if this is mainline theory but it does look like a good try by white! Stuart did everything but win it – he just needed to get the knight out and get on with the attack rather than worry about niceties such as the e4 pawn – something it is much easier to say when firstly it is not your game, and secondly somebody has kindly provided some analysis! Anyway Joe survived Stuart throwing the kitchen sink at him, and an honourable draw was the result – and a good game to look over.

So 4.5-1.5 was the final result

Oh well. Well played Didcot again, and I really shouldn’t feel upset that we are “only” third in the table!

 

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).

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

Ray Starkie Prize for the Best Game During the Season

You have only until Easter Monday to submit your best game of the season!

Well we’re coming to the end of season like no other and that means it’s time for the Award Ceremony. Lacking our usual structure what we can give out is limited, but we will hand out the Lester Millin trophy to the best junior, and we also intend to award the Ray Starkie trophy for the best game played in the two Mike Duck tournaments.

With regard to the latter Matt Rose has again kindly agreed to act as judge. So get your amazing brilliancies and subtle positional masterpieces to Roger Thetford via email in pgn format – You can contact Roger with the contacts link which you can find on the left hand side of the page, or via the link below. The deadline for submission is 5th April (Easter Monday), and the winner will be announced at the May committee meeting.

Link: https://www.oxfordfusion.com/oca/GetUser.cfm?EditItem=13

2020-21 Season Goes Online

With the Coronavirus epidemic still being a problem and government rules changing every 10 minutes it has been decided that the Oxfordshire Chess League will move entirely to an online tournament for the coming season. Notes from the AGM can been seen below with the new tournament starting at the end of October.

More information will be published in due course.

*Notes from AGM*

For the 20/21 season, the OCA league will not compete as we normally do.

Instead, there shall be two separate Swiss tournaments played online. The platform will be lichess.org. The first tournament starts on the week commencing Monday 26th October. This tournament will consist of six rounds with a game played every week for six weeks. Game time will be 45 minutes plus 15 seconds per move.

All the teams will be pooled together, with the fixtures pulled out of a hat.

Cumnor will enter both of our teams into both tournaments. Liam will run the first team while Steve will run the second.

During the meeting we found that a number of clubs had difficulty being able to put out all of their teams to play online. Most notably Banbury, whom are only able to field one team to play online this season. Bicester said they cannot field a single team. Didcot said it could field one team and Wantage stressed they were struggling.

The second Swiss tournament will take place after Christmas, and will consist of eight rounds, with a game played each week over eight weeks. Depending on how the first tournament works, may influence how the second tournament works. For example two tiers, one for stronger teams and the other for weaker teams.
Nothing concrete was concluded, but the general consensus is to make it as simple as possible.

Your new Over the Board chess grades will not be affected by these tournaments. These online games qualify for an ECF online grade.

It was suggested that only players with ECF membership may take part. This is one of the things that Ian is going to clarify.

A few clubs stressed a preference for a team to consist of four players only for the 20/21 on-line tournaments. This was voted out by a significant majority of the clubs wishing to maintain six boards. This of course means more of us can get involved in this season’s online competitive chess.

The Swiss tournaments will be played weekly. Matches will be played on the evening of the clubs normal club night. Therefore, if Cumnor teams are drawn first, then we shall play the fixture on Thursday as usual.

I believe only Cumnor and some of Cowley’s teams play on Thursdays. No club plays on Fridays.

2020-21 Season

We need to come together to put in place how the League will work this coming season.

The season traditionally starts in October so if you have ideas, queries or concerns please let Ian or Roger know.

“The 20-21 season is rapidly approaching. Due to the current pandemic it will be very different from any in recent history. Concrete proposals to address this will be made at the AGM in September, and will be available in full later this month. However we thought it best to provide as early as possible an outline of the ways that we might play chess next season in order to obtain feedback, and to this end the document linked to below discusses how the league might be run next season. Comments on the proposals contained therein would be much appreciated. If you have any please either contact your club representative, or send an email to the League Secretary, Roger Thetford”

Ian Bush OCA Chairman