Club Venue: Ducklington Village Hall, OX29 7UX



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Fifteen hopefuls turned up on Monday 17 January 2011 to take on Grandmaster Peter Wells. Although numbers were down on last year this did not detract from the exciting play on show, and there was a good mixture of playing strength with representation from all three Witney teams together with a few players outside the club. There was also representation from the junior section of the club in the form of Joseph and Jake who both displayed good play but succumbed to the Grandmaster.


After a succession of wins by Peter, he dropped his first half point to his strongest opponent in the shape of Mark Hannon from Witney 1. Mark played the Slav and, after catching Peter in a line he was less well acquainted with, held a small material advantage in return for Peter's lead in development. Although Mark was able to hang onto his extra pawn, several pieces were exchanged and as the game headed towards an ending with bishops of opposite colours Peter asked Mark if he was playing for a win! This tacit draw offer caused much general amusement. A draw was agreed shortly after. [game]




Buoyed with his success Mark accepted Peter's invitation to play another game, a decision that he regretted soon into the opening, as his position deteriorated move after move as Peter increased the pressure. Mark sacrificed material to try and unlock his position but Peter accepted the material while still keeping control of the position. Mark had no choice but to resign. Mark had clearly forgotten Hackett's First Law "Never go back for a second helping" (as seen in Dave's craven but realistic refusal to play Peter again after beating him in last year's simul). [game]


Without doubt the best performance of the evening came from Gareth Stevens of Cumnor Chess Club. Playing against a sharp line in the 2. f4 line of the Sicilian Defence, Gareth was always on the back foot but managed to find an ingenious saving defence which thwarted Peter just when he thought he had a forced mate and which forced the game into a rook and pawns ending. Gareth, although still a pawn down, showed tremendous technique in advancing his king as Peter pushed his passed pawn and generated enough counter-chances to exchange down to a R + RP v R endgame. Although the position was a technical draw, Peter could have tortured Gareth for several more moves in an attempt to win, but magnanimously offered a draw in recognition of his sterling performance.


This concluded a very successful evening with Peter only dropping two half points and in many cases playing two games and winning both of them. Our thanks to Peter who made it such an enjoyable evening who positively bounded around the boards despite apparently having a knee problem, and whose friendliness towards his opponents and willingness to allow players to play second games and to pass if they were not ready to move was greatly appreciated by everyone.





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