County Matches

Steve Rumsby is looking for players in the county matches.
Oxfordshire is in a little league with Buck, Berks and Hants and there
are 6 matches a year which are held on Saturday afternoons, details of
the first match below. Genuinely all standards catered for, and it’s a
nice leisurely 2hrs for all your moves.

The first County match is on the 13th November away to Bucks.

The Bucks venue is
Prestwood Village Hall, 1 Wycombe Road, Prestwood, Great Missenden,
Bucks. HP16 0NZ

The start time is 2.00.

If you are available and would like to play can you please let me
know. I am hopeful of fielding a team of 20 across the whole ability
range.

I will send out a list of all the match dates shortly.

If anyone would like a chance to play for the Oxfordshire Team drop Stephen Rumsby an email.

stephen.rumsby@maidford.plus.com

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).

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.

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

ECF President’s Award for Steve Rumsby,

Cumnor Chess Club would like to offer our congratulations to Steve Rumsby.

The following was taken from the ECF Newsletter that has just been published and the Oxfordshire Chess Association website:

ECF President’s Award for Steve Rumsby, Banbury

Congratulations to Steve Rumsby from Banbury Chess Club, who was presented with his ECF President’s Award for Services to Chess.

The Award recognises that for over 30 years Steve has been the Chairman of Banbury Chess Club. Steve has overseen the growth of the club from initially fielding two teams in one league to the latest season where the club fielded four teams in the Leamington League, three teams in the Oxford League and entered all the available league cup competitions. In recent years, Banbury entered a team in the 4NCL. Virtually every year, Steve has captained one of the club teams.

Steve’s wider contribution to chess is seen in his work for the Leamington and District Chess League. He is, and has been for a number of years, both the league’s webmaster and fixtures secretary. At the start of the 2016-2017 season Oxfordshire County were unable to find a volunteer to captain the Under 150 county Team. Steve at short notice volunteered and led the county team to 5 wins from 6 matches. They ended that season as Chiltern League Champions. Steve has continued in this county captaincy role. Steve is highly regarded by chess players in an area stretching from Birmingham down to Didcot.

Steve (right) receives the President’s Award from Leamington League chairman Ben Graff

The New Season

Looking out of my window this morning I can confirm Autumn has clearly started but in good news the chess season kicks off next month!

So pop down to the club for some pre-season friendlies this evening.

The Oxfordshire Chess Association’s AGM is being held at Cowley Chess Club at 7.30pm tonight (Thursday 13 September) so a few members will be attending this but the club remains open.