Thursday, 14 July 2011

Middlesbrough Congress - Darlington on tour

Between the 08 - 10 July 2011 Middlesbrough held its annual chess congress at the magnificent riverside stadium.

The congress was held in the spacious and light legends lounge.

The congress was well attended and even included an international Master Jonathan Hawkins.

If you want to be an IM you better hit the books.  Plenty of opportunity to buy them courtesy of Chess Direct Ltd.

 Severn Darlington members attended the congress.  Below are some interesting posotions and game snippets from a few of the games.

First up is a game from Bill Metcalfe, can you find a good move?  We will be seeing more of this game in the coming weeks, as it will be a featured member game.  Answer at the end of the blog...

One of the features of the above game is the unbalanced nature of the material.  These unbalances can lead to the most interesting positions in chess.  Which leads us nicely to the next position.

White (Niall Garner) has just played 21.Rf5!  Black is short on time, so tries to swap off his queen for two rooks and ease the pressure he is under, starting with 21...Qxg3, 22.Nxg3 gxf5, 23.Nxf5+

Black may be regretting his idea as a knight and queen near an open king can often lead to a decisive attack. Play continued 23...Kh8, 24.d4.  White wants to open the long diagonal where the king stands which is probably a winning attack, but while I was watching the game I couldn't help thinking the simple and obvious Qh6 may be best e.g.
(24.Qh6 with a mate threat Rg8, 25.Qxc6 picking up a pawn and hitting the uncoordinated rook. Rb8, Next White would want to involve the second knight, at home I noticed that 26.Nb5!  is decisive, as it threatens another pawn, but also with the threat of  Nd6-Nxf7#)
Back to the game
24...cxd4, 25.Qxd4+ f6 and now 26.Qd6 will win a pawn and is similar to the analysis above.  Playing a weekend congress is a long and tiring affair and mistakes are common in the later stages of games.  Here White plays 26.g4?! with the intention of weakening the blocking pawn on f6, but Black plays a good move 26...Ne5

White has to respond to the fork threat allowing Black Bxf5 when his rooks connect and make a tougher fight.  Play continued for another 10 moves before White offered a draw saving his energy for the final round.

The next position is from one of my games and can not match the previous positions, but its the only game I won, so humour me.
White has just played 31.Rac1 attacking the backward c-pawn.  But Black ignores that threat and invades White's position with 31...Qf4, the advanced pawns allow the queen access into White's position which should win something.  Clearly White hadn't seen this move and the shock value was enough to induce a howler 32.Rhf1??
Which leads to mate in two, although I took 3, 32...Qh4+, 33.Kg1 Qg3, Kh1 Kg2#

Finally we see Richard Harris in action.

Richard decided to exchanges Queens earlier as he was a pawn up with an outside passed pawn.  An easy win perhaps?  Black responded by playing 1...g5, there followed 2.hxg5 hxg5 and the point went to Richard. Remember the square rule (Passed Pawns and the square rule) White's king can step  inside the square and can easily stop the pawn and did.

However what happens if Black pushes past the pawn and refuses to capture? 2...h5!
The Black pawn is now immune from the White king, as the king is too far away.  Ok White has his own outside passed pawns, the d-pawn and g-pawn are both in reach of Black's king.
3.a4 h4, 4.a5 h3, 5.a6 h2, 6.a7 h1Q, Black queens first with a very important detail.

Black's new queen covers White's queening square.
Has White just had the luckiest escape of his life?  Should Black have won?
No.  There is a line that draws.  Looking at the last diagram we realise that the long h1-a8 diagonal is key, so White can try 3.d4
Black can try pushing his h-pawn queening first, but then White will have a queen on d8 the next go, and White may be able to use his extra pawns to win.  As previously discussed Black's king is in both pawns square so Black should probably try 3..Kg6, 4.d5 Kxg5 and now this detail is important, as White can now push his a-pawn.  Black still queens first, but this time the diagonal is closed!!
5.a4  h4, 6.a5 h3, 7.a6 h2, 8.a7 h1Q, 9.a8Q
Black now has the first check and should be able to draw easily with multiple checks.  What an interesting position!!!
Back to Bill's game
Did you spot Ne6+ winning the queen, note the f-pawn is pinned.

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