4NCL Poole Patzers – Rounds 1&2
John had done a great job over the last few months getting the band together ready for the new season of the 4NCL. Some issues had arisen regarding a new venue in Daventry (where?) and hotel room availability, but John had managed to arrange everything just nicely. A single room for me and I don’t care about anyone else to be honest.
The venue itself was excellent: good food available on arrival, a bar open until 4am, an excellent playing hall and analysis rooms. The only unfortunate issue was the toilet seat in my room. Gentlemen, you know what I am saying, when the seat bit stays up and then ‘surprises’ you when you don’t need it to. I wasn’t happy, until I found out that everyone else seemed to have the same issue. Then I laughed.
John and Dragi planned to rock up on the Friday evening to avoid missing out on a couple of beers and a chat, but were delayed by their need to follow the denouement of Mike Waddington’s Seniors campaign. Mike and his wife were kind enough to provide transport as a reward. The rest of us drove up on Saturday morning, which was quite bearable.
Day1: Poole Patzers vs Iceni 3
You may know that Garry Kasparov would always have a long walk to clear his mind on the morning of a key match, well Mike went one better than that and participated in a park run on the Saturday morning! He came 5th, passing many younger runners who wilted under the pressure; a metaphor for Mike’s playing style perhaps?
John went for a swim instead, although, I am happily advised, he kept out of the sauna. So, splashing around in deep water; a metaphor for John’s playing style perhaps?
And so to the match. You can’t rely on gradings in the 4NCL – beware the 12yo on 1650! But we were confident looking at the match ups. The good news, from a match score perspective, was that Iceni 3 had defaulted the bottom board a few days previously, so we started +1 with Iceni -0.5. Bad news for Dragi who was laid off for this match. He did take this quite literally and laid down to sleep after delivering a Churchillian speech: ‘Win!’ There you go John, that’s how to inspire the team.
Board4: Let’s start with our newest Patzer, Martin Clancy, and what a lovely start. From Board3, I had the pleasure of watching a lovely Ruy Lopez, with Martin on the White side. His youngish opponent did make a slight tactical mistake (c5 was required) early on allowing Martin to quickly build a strong position, with raking bishops and a centralised queen, very AlphaZero IMHO.
Board2: John was slow-playing the White pieces, as he does, after e4/e5 and was taking great care of his structure. David Fuller once said ‘Love Your Structure’, after hearing Nigel Short say it on a video. John reports a couple of slight opening errors early (I didn’t notice), and despite Blacks pieces swarming around John’s un-castled king, all was under control and a smooth point was collected. That’s John in a nutshell, I think. No fuss.
So already 3 points vs minus a half, so the match result was secure.
Board5: MartinO was having fun trying not to get mated after an unconvincing, by his standards, opening phase on the Black side of a (sort of) Kings Indian. With White +3.0 at one stage, Martin hung in and achieved some excellent counter-play subsequently getting his Q+R on the eighth rank. With his opponent flagging, Martin applied ‘foot on throat’ tactics to take the full point.
Board3: I had the better of the opening against a jovial Danny Rosenbaum and was pushing for the killer blow. Then this interesting sequence happened:
Board1: MikeW was expecting fireworks! No, he really was, as he had plans to see a fireworks display later that day. But that aside, his Black side of a Benko Gambit Declined didn’t seem to go quite as planned and he looked worse in a complex position. Changes of fortune in the late middle game saw a tactic to gain a significant plus for Mike, quickly followed by a missed Zwischenzug in a more complex tactical sequence providing White with a winning position. Bad luck Mike.
Match Score: Poole Patzers (4.5 – 1) Iceni 3
A fair result I think. Did I say that the Hotel bar area was very pleasant? Albeit with too many (young) chess players tapping furiously on laptops – well, you can’t have everything.
After making sure that the bar area was in fact very pleasant, taxis were order to take us to the most salubrious eatery in town – Wetherspoons! The beer was cheap and the beef patties were drier than the bottom of my shoe during a hot summer. Afterwards, the Dun Cow across the road served a nice pint to moisten our parched throats. Unfortunately, we were so excited that we forgot to pay the bill (we remembered this morning!). We will go back again in January, mainly to pay the outstanding bill.
Day2: Poole Patzers vs Iceni 2
And so we progress to the next Iceni team. Buoyant after the previous day, we felt confident.
Board1: Mike was playing the White side of a French with 3.Bd3 to which his opponent played 3…b6, leaving c6 somewhat weak. Development progressed until reaching the following.
Board3: I was having quite a fun time, playing aggressive moves against my opponent’s Philidor Defence, oblivious to the computers negative thoughts of some of them. Nevertheless, I was trying to play ‘interesting chess’ and I was succeeding.
Board5: Dragi had been rewarded for his previous day’s walkover with the White pieces. A standard long drawn-out affair was in the offing and Dragi didn’t disappoint. With two wins in the bag this was just what the doctor had ordered.
Board4: MartinC had the Black pieces in a Closed Sicilian with Bg2, in which, as can be the case, nothing much happened for a good while. White seemed a bit better, then Black seemed a bit better when Martin got a Rook on c2. Another solid draw?
Board6: MartinO had the Black pieces as punishment for giving us all a shock the previous day. Another Closed Sicilian, although, as we discussed afterwards, Martin’s d4 push did allow more play to White than Black. White’s Qh4/Bh5/Ng5 formation looked threatening but Black’s Nh6 held everything together. Some simplification was forced and calm was restored.
Board2: And John was internally chuckling to himself as he had secured the enormous advantage of the two bishops with the Black pieces. John has this thing about the Two Bishops being ‘a nice little advantage which you can nurse’ (or something like that) and so he was happy and pressing for his TENTH (yes tenth) over-the-board victory on the bounce.
The two Martins agreed draws in quick succession and John, ever the thoughtful Captain, offered his opponent a draw, expecting a robust snort. But John’s hand was ripped off and the match result was settled. John’s sequence was ended, but he felt it was worth it to secure the team victory. Leading from the front!
Dragi’s opponent didn’t seem to have got the memo regarding getting off early and so Dragi, with the better position, had to wait for a draw until I was half way down the A34!.
Match Score: Poole Patzers (4 – 2) Iceni 2
So the best day in Poole’s 4NCL history! OK, it’s not a long history, but it’s history nevertheless. Two match wins and only one loss over the weekend. And we weren’t playing, well, Patzers, along the way!
All games can be found: https://www.4ncl.co.uk/replay/2223/otb/div4.htm
A good standard of chess was played; some exciting positions and tactics, and Fritz was reasonably complimentary afterwards. The only two downers were: dodgy toilet seats and the Wetherspoons burgers, probably in reverse order now I think about it. Never fear, John, like Michael Caine, commented: ‘Hang on Lads, I’ve got a Great Idea’ (involving AirBnB) he said on the way to the bar. Watch out for the next instalment of ‘The Daventry Job’ in 2023!
No groups photo this time. Sorry. Just a picture of the playing hall. No need to thank me.
November 7, 2022