Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Knocked out!

Our campaign in the summer chess cup came to an in-glorious end last night when we were knocked out by Jesmond.

Based on the handicap system, a 3-1 result would have seen us through, and things were looking bright when they defaulted on bottom board and Paul Dargan worked his customary magic (more later) to quickly put us 2-0 up.

It then became a tale of two positions that on face of it appeared good for us, but where deeper inspection revealed considerable difficulties:

Tynemouth ChessTynemouth Chess

I'm playing White in the left hand position. I'd messed up a good situation from the opening, and then went in for this position thinking that with Black's knight 'offside' on h5 and queen 'out of the game' on b2, I would still be able to drum up some winning tries. It turns out though that both the queen and knight (controlling g3 and h4) are well positioned, and that White has considerable difficulties, e.g. after Rb1 Qd2, Black is threatening Qe3+, meanwhile Black's a8 rook is threatening to join the game with tempo. Unbelievably White is probably losing already; after 18 minutes thought I found one of the quickest ways:

1 Qb3?? Rxe2 0-1

So, with the score 2-1, Darren Laws had to win his game (right hand position). He's a pawn up but it looks difficult to win: after

1 ... Rb2 (correction, I'd initially posted Rb1+); 2 Nf1 (as 2 Rd3 loses to Rxd2; 3 Rxd2 Nf3+)

You suddenly realise it's even worse than that: White has no constructive moves and can only sit and wait for Black to improve his position. Desperately short of time and needing to win, Darren eventually sacrificed 2 pawns to break his king out of the prison, but the ending was then lost and the flag fall put both Darren and our team out of its misery!

On a happier note, let's finish with Paul Dargan's win. Playing a Sveshnikov as Black, he's generated a typical sicilian counter-attack, reaching this position after White's 17th move:

Here Paul played 17 ... Rc8! and after

18 Kf1? Rxc3! had a crushing attack. The game finished 19 h3 Rxd3!; 20 c3 Be2+; 21 Kel Rxc3! (sacrificing the same rook for the third time!); 22 fe Rc2; 23 f4 Qxd2+; 24 Kf2 Bd3 mate

Analysis shows that White had no good defence after 17 ... Rc8!, Paul gives a variation in ending a beautiful smothered mate if White tries 18 Be2:

18 ... Bxe2; 19 Nxe2 Nf3+; 20 Kf1 Nxd2+; 21 Ke1 Nf3+; 22 Kf1 Qe1+; 23 Rxe1 Nd2 mate:


Paul D said...

Roger - I'm hoping that the second positions (Darren's) has a mistake in it as Rb1+ is en prise !!

As the b-file is the only open file then I suspect that wither Rb2 was played (which forces Nf1 anyway as Rd3 drops a piece to Rxd2 and Nf3+) or the knight starts on d3?

Otherwise, as you say, the ending seems very difficult for White - perhaps put the rook on c2 and play f4...or rook on c3 and play f3

Roger Coathup said...


well spotted, yes ... Rb2 was the move played.

Black followed up with (I think in this order!) ... Rb4; Rd3 g5 (already ... Rxd4 was possible, because of the fork on f3)


Chris the Haymarket Sage said...

Roger, I assume it was von Ryan's Express that hit you? I think that guy has master potential. His talent for making his opponents play badly continues to amaze and slightly annoy me.

Now he's made me forget what else I wanted to say. :-(

Oh yes. My amazing ability to find a reason for any tactical blunder tells me that you wouldn't have lost because of a pin, fork, skewer, removal of the guard, deflection or overworked piece tactic, even if that tactic were several times as complex as the one in your game, because those things have names, and when things have names it gives us a framework into which to insert the patterns we come across in other places, allowing us to recognise them later. It's the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis applied to chess.

Rxe2 is what Burgess and Chandler have called an elastic band move. Piece A captures Piece B in such a way as to expose itself to capture, but defend Piece C, so that if Piece C is captured Piece B can remove the threat to itself by recapturing, while if Piece B is captured Piece C can recapture either on the same square as in your game (elastic band with defence), or on a different square (elastic band with counter-attack). The classic elastic band with counter-attack happens when a knight on c6 captures a defended pawn on e5, uncovering an attack by a bishop on d7 on an undefended bishop on b5. So Capablanca's Freeing Manoeuvre could be considered an elastic band except that nothing gets captured.

If that was explained to me in terms of Pieces A, B and C, I would maybe understand the abstract concept but I would never recognise an analogous situation elsewhere. Since I've known that it's called an elastic band, I've started to see them everywhere.

Roger Coathup said...


no, it was a surprise appearance by a non-cup tied (could you check that please, not that we are bad losers!) John Turnock on board 1.

Yep, the Nxe5, recapturing on d7 still bags a lot of pawns. I didn't know it was called an elastic band... mine was definitely overstretched on Tuesday.


Chris the Haymarket Sage said...

The Reps are Jesmond's first team in the knockout, because historically none of the Knights are interested in playing over the summer. So anyone can play for them who isn't tied to the Rookies. There may have been an old rule about players being tied to their usual league team, but since knockout teams no longer have to represent league teams that rule was abolished.


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