Saturday, 7 November 2015

Game 7 - club match. Hastings vs Swale

Hastings vs Swale - Board Three
Saturday 7 November 2015
White: M Bryant (147) - Black: K. Nevols

Hastings is the home of British chess. It has hosted many international tournaments, the best known being 1895 which featured the world's best players of the day, and has an annual chess festival. Anyone who has been anyone in chess has been to Hastings.

It is perhaps the only chess club in the country to own its own building - and the building, an old terraced house, has a fascinating collection of portraits, cartoons and graphics. A visit there is a joy for anyone interested in chess history.

So, after a long journey through the Kent and Sussex countryside, we arrived in time, squeezed into a small room, and away we went.

1. e4 d5

And out comes the Centre Counter again.

2. e5 Bf5

This line often ends in a French/Caro-Kann type position with the bishop already developed. Some people play c5.

3. h4!?

In this game, my opponent decides to open by throwing pawns at me.

3. ..  h6?!

Obviously not 3. e6? which walks into 4. g4, but 3. . h5 is better. As we will see, I get cramped with space, and I could have kept the h6 square for the knight.

4. d4 e6

My plan is now c5, Nc6, and so on.

5. g4 Be4
6. f3 Bg6

6. ... Bh7 is better.

7. a3

Well, I'm baffled by now. He has played seven pawn moves. On the other hand, I have only one piece developed and am already getting cramped in space. Afterwards he told me he should have played 7. Be3 to avoid my upcoming manoeuvre to dislodge his king.

7. ... Be7

(The computer recommends 7. .. h5 with 8. g5 c5 or 7. .. c5 straight away).

8. h5 Bh4+
9. Ke2 Bh7

Now it is really time we both got some pieces developed.

10. Be3 Nd7
11. Nd2 Be7
12. f4 c5
13. c3 Qb6

He has one hour and six minutes left and I have 41 minutes left for 22 moves, so his bizarre system has already got him the benefit of time.

As you can see, my main problem is my king's knight stuck on g8. I could not see a way I could shift it. I was also trying to see how I could exploit White's open spaces.

14. b4 cxb4
15. axb4

He was concerned here about 15. ... Qb5+ (?) 16. Kf2 Bd3 aiming to have some play on the white squares, although 17. Ra5! wins material.

15. ... f6

But instead I am still trying to think how I can sort the kingside out. 15. .. Bd8 with Nge7 is probably a better plan

16. Kf2

Stopping any Qb5 ideas.

16.   .  a5??

A sudden rush of blood to the head. I could only see 17. bxa5 Rxa5 hoping to liquidate the queenside and play Bd8, Ne7 and castles to at last get the kingside sorted. But this is just a blunder causing weaknesses and losing a pawn. Simply Qc6, Qc7 or Bf8 were calmer. White, although better, at present does not threaten anything, so Black has a little bit of time.

17. Qa4!

Suddenly White is better and Black is lost. There is a pin down the a-file, a pin on the knight with Bb5 coming, Nb3 is also on its way, and still the kingside is undeveloped. Already I had that sinking feeling one has when one realises that they dropped a clanger.

17. ...  Qc7

After much thought, I can see some faint hopes for a counter attack.

18. Bb5 b6
19. Ne2

Defending c3 and releasing the kings rook. So far he has only used 15 minutes and had an hour left for 16 moves.

19. ... g5!?

Whereas I only had 23 minutes left for 16 moves. This move is more or less forced. I have to make some attempt to get an initiative rather than wait for him to pile up on the queenside. If now 20. hxg6 Bxg6 and I intended to follow with h5. (21. f5! with Nf4 to follow ensures Black does not have time for h5).

20. Rhc1

To release the knight from defending the c-pawn and also to think about c4 in the future.

20 ... Kd8

To unpin the knight. Now only 17 minutes left for 15 moves.

21. Nb3 fxe5

Here we go. A desperate counter attack against his king.

22. dxe5 gxf4
23. Nxf4 Bh4+
24. Ke2 Qxe5

A piece sacrifice to centralise the queen.

25. Bxd7 Nf6
26. Bxe6 Bg5

He now invested some of his extra time into a deep thought and decided to return the piece with a good defensive move. I thought he might play bxa5 to defend with the queen to which I considered Re8.

27. Rf1! Bxf4
28. Rxf4 Qxe6

So material is level and neither king is too safe. But White's pieces are far more active.

29. Nd4 Qd6
30. Qc6

Simply winning a piece.

30 ... Ne8?

A blunder to be explained by the fact I only had a minute left. But 30 .. Qxc6 31. Nxc6+ Kc7 32. Rxf6 is lost anyway.

31. Qxa8+ Resigns

Another devastating defeat. My 'comeback' had so far resulted in three draws and four losses with no wins. In none of the games was I ever close to winning. In my defence, I had not played over-the-board regularly for over 20 years, and all my opponents had been strong graded, with one exception, at least in the 140s.

However I was now beginning to doubt the wisdom of playing again. I enjoy playing through chess games in books, magazines and playing online, but it would not be much fun losing over the board time and time again and letting the team down.

I had by now paid for a year's membership so I might as well carry on. But I decided if I spent the whole year losing, I might decide to go back to the online poker.

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