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23.4.13 - City 1 vs. Witney 1

1 Manley, Jon P (192)   0-1 Harvey, Marcus (223)

2 Hayward, Philip (180) ½-½ Richmond, Peter (197)

3 Brown, Matthew (180)  1-0 Girdlestone, Paul (189)

4 Terry, Sean (165)     1-0 Truran, Michael (189)

5 Dixon, Leif (167)     ½-½ Headlong, Timothy (186)

6 Biswas, Karl (149)    ½-½ Hackett, Dave G (183)


Played on 22 Apr.


Not with a bang but a whimper ...


- Mike.


21.3.13 - Cowley 2 vs. Witney 1

1 O'Reilly, Gerard (198)  0-1  Harvey, Marcus (223)

2 Lang, Heather LE (179)  1-0  Richmond, Peter (197)

3 Nandi, Robin J (177)    0-1  Truran, Michael (189)

4 Burrows, Nick (161)     0-1  Hackett, Dave G (183)

5 Mate, Maria (146)       ½-½  Edwards, Derek F (139)

6 Keeling, David (144)    0-1  Asenov, Pavel (127)


Played on 18 Mar.


Avid readers of the intrepid Witney 1 correspondents' reports from far-flung climes (oh all right then, Banbury and Didcot) will know that in our last missive we exuberantly claimed the Division 1 title. As it turns out, the reversal of one of City 1's two match point defaults (for reasons unknown, but I suspect an Oxfordshire Chess Association website software error) cast us all into a slough of despond for a couple of weeks as we realised we not only had to not lose to Cowley 2 but also avoid losing to City 1 by 5½-½ in the final match of the season.


As it transpires, our fears proved groundless (OK, that's enough heavy irony). Undeterred by an intermittent heating system and the raucous tones of the philately club auctioneer from the next room (well, at least it wasn't bingo), the Witney Massive, for the first time this season comprising players from three separate Witney teams (big thanks to Derek and Pavel for going above and beyond) did the business against a resilient Cowley 2 team keen to secure second place in the league. Unusually, my game was the first to finish as Robin (unacquainted with the 4. Bf4 line in the Queens Indian which Tony Miles was playing probably before he was born, but which was all the rage when I was in my prime back in the early '80s) opened up the centre just a bit too early, lost a pawn and then dropped a piece in trying for compensation). So I was left in the unaccustomed role of prowling around looking at the games, tutting at moves I wouldn't have played and generally fretting. I need not have worried. Pavel rose to the occasion magnificently, crashing through on the queen's side and the centre while making light of David's king's side attack, and Marcus saw off Gerard in the style we have become accustomed to - playing good moves fast, getting his opponent in time pressure and ruthlessly exploiting time trouble errors. Marcus seemed very pleased when I compared his style to that of a junior Magnus Carlsen, but to be fair I don't think the comparison was unjustified. So the title was secure and I could stop prowling, tutting and fretting.


Derek fought back well against Maria after being in trouble early on, and generously offered a draw to secure the match win when he could easily have played on for the full point. So not just a match draw but a match win - well done Derek. After that, everything else was going to be a bonus - which Dave duly provided. My assumption when spectating was that Dave had jettisoned too many pawns in a complex Kings Indian Defence in which he had some king's side threats but a non-existent queen's side. What did I know? As Dave ably demonstrated afterwards, he had it (mostly) under control and Nick was swept away in a tactical avalanche which reminded me of some of Dave's games when he was a young lad. (We've been friends for over thirty years now, and he's still denying having lost to me when I was at Oriel College. Note to self - make sure to dig out the game and post it on the Witney CC website). Peter's was the last game to finish - Heather grabbed one hot pawn too many and found herself 'rebus in angustis' (as they say in Warrington), but Peter missed a win (ably demonstrated later on by Cowley stalwart Will Burt) and Heather competently converted in Peter's time trouble. To be fair, Heather had also missed a win earlier, so on balance it seemed fair enough.


So off to the Prince of Wales after the match to celebrate the title. Will and Heather bought the drinks, maybe as an inducement for us to see off City 1 and help Cowley 2 finish second. Or maybe they just wanted to congratulate us on the title. On balance, I err towards the second view.


- Mike.


06.3.13 - Witney 1 vs. Didcot 1

1 Marcus Harvey (223)    1-0  Andreji Olehnovics (-)

2 Paul Girdlestone (189) 0-1  Nick Gough (178)

3 Tim Headlong (186)     1-0  Bernard Cooper (156)

4 Dave Hackett (183)     ½-½  Andy Robins (155)

5 Mark Hannon (182)      0-1  Martin Sheridan (146)

6 Pavel Asenov (127)     1-0  Robert Jacobs (139)


- played on 05 Mar.


Pressed into being captain for the night, the burden was given extra significance with the knowledge in the morning that University 1 had defaulted against Cowley 2 which meant a win in the evening would secure the title.



Mr T wanted me not to tell the players before the match so I was the only one in the venue who knew what was at stake. The match started well as Pavel showed his true potential with a quick fire win in less than 40 minutes – 1-0 Witney.


The Marcus mean machine continued to show no sign of stopping as he put away a good opponent to make it 2-0.


For the next hour the match flowed along the lines of my game. I had got myself into a good position only to start to drift and lose my way. I lost a pawn (20 years ago it would be a sacrifice!) but my comfort was that my opponent was starting to get into time trouble in a position which I had still had a slight edge despite the loss of the pawn. I glanced over to Tim's position and noticed he was the extra pawn up. To my shock he offered Bernard a draw which I found out later was in a lost position. To his credit Bernard turned it down and went for the win. A few minutes later my opponent also offered me a draw to which I probably played my best move of the match by deciding to take 5 minutes to think about it as I thought I needed to secure the win. It is easy to take time when you are ahead on the clock! As I was trying to work out the complications in my position there was gasp from Bernard who had just blundered and resigned immediately. Tim apologised and not for the first time this season Tim won when it seemed he was on the brink of losing. My draw offer was still on the table by which time I had convinced myself that I was winning. Then I started hearing voices. Mr T huffing, puffing and moaning that I had not accepted the draw to secure the title. I continued to look at the position but these voices were getting louder and louder! Worried about the effect it would have on our friendship should I continue and lose I decided to accept the draw to secure the title. Andy and I went through the position after and we both agreed I had good winning chances.



I went over to see what was happening on board 5 and noticed that Mark had less than 40 seconds left on his clock in a promising position which needed accurate play. Unfortunately for Mark the clock was not helping and his promising position was starting to fade into a tricky ending in which he was probably worse. When he was down to 7 seconds and his opponent still had 13 minutes he decided to resign.


Paul on board 2 was the exchange down but did have compensation in a very delicate position. Both players had less than 3 minutes and Nick showed good endgame technique with a powerful rook against an overworked bishop. Both players created passed pawns but Nick’s rook was able to cut off Paul's advance pawn when the bishop could not stop Nick's h-pawn. Paul resigned with less than 2 minutes left. Paul later confessed that he had turned down a draw which seemed to be the theme of the evening.


Three draws offered but only one was accepted but it turned out to be the most important one! I think the captain would be proud of me!


- Dave


13.2.13 - Witney 1 vs. Cowley 1

1 Wells, Peter (225)      1-0  Starkie, Ray J (187)

2 Harvey, Marcus (223)    1-0  Burt, William (174)

3 Richmond, Peter (197)   1-0  Nixon, Rod (174)

4 Truran, Michael (189)   1-0  Rasell, Geoff C (151)

5 Headlong, Timothy (186) 1-0  Robson, David W (143)

6 Hackett, Dave G (183)   1-0  Keeling, David (144)


- played on 11 Feb.


Our first league whitewash for many a long year! And a generally bad evening for Cowley CC, with Cowley 2 also losing 1½-4½ against City 1. Cowley 1 were missing their top board, new recruit Endre Ambrus (who has yet to drop a half point for them and has an impressive FIDE 2324 rating - well, impressive compared with mine), so all their players having to move up a board seemed to have a big effect. I would like to say that the result flattered us (and it probably did), but on the other hand from what I saw of the games we never stood worse in any of them. Marcus and Dave both pulled off sharp wins which I am hoping to see published on the Witney website soon (gents, if you could send me your fine efforts I would be eternally in your debt). Marcus's win can be replayed here.


Peter R had a complicated tussle with Rod, but always looked to have seen a bit deeper into the position and finished plenty of material up after refuting Rod's attack. I had nagging pressure throughout against Geoff's Dutch Stonewall, but probably missed a couple of better options which allowed Geoff to cling on; just when he was in sight of a draw, however, Geoff panicked needlessly, sacrificing a piece to push a passed pawn which got to the seventh rank but (unfortunately for Geoff) no further. Ray played well against Peter W, but missed a tactical point in the middle game which left his king side bearing a remarkable resemblance to Swiss cheese. Various of Ray's pieces dropped off, and Ray resigned like the gentleman he is on the basis that Peter's minute and a half or so left on the clock was going to be ample time to polish him off. Tim was the last to finish, grinding David down in a rook and pawn ending with an excellent display of how to make bricks without straw.


With a game point advantage which now stands at +17 over University 1 in second place, I am going to be mightily annoyed if they somehow scramble level with us on match points and sneak the title on head-to-head results. But I warbled on about that for quite enough time (and probably bored most of you rigid) in my previous report. And if that did happen, to be fair we would only have ourselves to blame.


So onwards and (hopefully) upwards, with City 1 in the Frank Wood Shield semi-final our next target. A Witney 1 v Witney 2 final is still on the cards!


- Mike.


05.2.13 - Banbury 1 vs. Witney 1

1 Portman, Carl (175)    0-1  Harvey, Marcus (223)

2 Vikanis, Georgs (175)  ½-½  Richmond, Peter (197)

3 Jackson, Gary C (171)  ½-½  Truran, Michael (189)

4 Staples, Neil (167)    0-1  Headlong, Timothy (186)

5 Manley, Nathan J (162) 0-1  Hackett, Dave G (183)

6 Martin, Nick (135)     0-1  Bourne, Johnathan (169)


- played on 05 Feb.


Shivering in a deserted car park on a cold, rainy and windy February evening in the middle of Banbury wondering whether it's free parking or not and where the hell Banbury CC's new venue is - welcome to God's own country. Arriving at the venue two minutes before kick-off after numerous wrong turns in Banbury's notorious traffic system, we anticipated a tough match against a solid team of 160+ players all the way down, and so it proved - although to be fair we never looked worse in any of the games. After the downbeat start to the evening, Marcus introduced a much-needed note of levity to proceedings by opening 1. g4, inducing mirth and incredulity among the assembled populace in equal measure. But as Marcus himself said, there are no bad White openings (not strictly true Marcus - I challenge even you to play 1. f3 and get a decent position).


Dave was first to finish, carrying out a sprightly kings side attack which you can play through here. His admission afterwards that he hadn't seen the mate until he got there in no way took the gloss off a fine win. Peter R's manful attempts to complicate matters just failed to break down Georg's stout defence, but in the other games the Witney players all enjoyed pleasant edges, with everyone but yours truly converting in due course - and I was a bit unlucky after nursing a positional edge most of the way through until Gary found a clever way to unravel. Even then I missed a few better continuations that might have brought home the full point. Hey ho. Moral of story - don't run short of time after thinking unnecessarily about obvious moves earlier on.


Then back out into a cold, rainy and windy February evening for the cold, rainy and windy drive home. And we had even missed last orders. Local league chess just doesn't get any better than this.


- Mike.


03.2.13 - Witney 1 vs. OxUni1

1 Wells, Peter (234)    0-1  Schmidt, Jan (-)

2 Harvey, Marcus (213)  ½-½  Chiu, Howard (-)

3 Richmond, Peter (200) 1-0  Pranjal (-)

4 Truran, Michael (189) 1-0  Yu, Jeffrey (172)

5 Hackett, Dave G (189) 1-0  Lawrence, David (167)

6 (-)                   1-0  _default (-)


- played on 28 Jan.


Clash of the Titans! However, for what was potentially the title decider University 1 handicapped themselves from the off by defaulting a board. I commented in an earlier email to the Witney 1 players that the University 1 team tends, like fine wines, not to travel well. Unlike fine wines, however, on this occasion they also found themselves a bottle short of a half-case. OK, enough of the vinous allusions and on to the play. Tim kindly stepped down, chauffering duties from Swindon and a hard day at work all proving too much, so it was left to him to perform the nail-chewing kibbitzer duties so ably discharged by me in our previous match. All of the games were gritty and hard fought, and most went down to the wire. Marcus finished first, playing so fast that Howard, although better for much of the game, ran himself too short of time to take advantage. Peter R finished next.


Conversation in the pub afterwards: Mike to Peter: "So your inspired Petrosian-like sacrifice of the exchange was actually a one-move blunder?" Pete to Mike: "Absolutely." Be that as it may, the sacrifice/blunder gave him so much play that on balance his opponent may have regretted accepting it, and after he gave back the exchange to gain some space (intentionally) and then jettisoned a pawn (unintentionally), Peter wrapped up efficiently, his queen sacrifice to force home a passed pawn earning much admiration from the assembled throng. Both Dave's and my games went down to the last three minutes. Dave coped efficiently with a line in the Kings Indian Defence which he had clearly never seen before, so well done Dave for over the board improvisation. Dave's growing initiative was matched only by his opponent's wish to throw as much material at him as he could, and although Dave maybe missed more efficient ways to wrap up, in the end an extra piece proved more than enough. I had a plus from an early stage against Jeffrey in an Exchange Queens Gambit Declined, a variation I have played for around eight decades and so feel vaguely at home with. With the match score significantly in our favour and Dave on the point of winning I (rather astutely, though I say it myself) offered Jeffrey a draw. To his credit, Jeffrey turned down the grading points on offer in favour of playing on for the team, but in a somewhat worse position his efforts to complicate matters merely rebounded on him. Peter W's was the last game to finish, with Peter losing on time when a piece and assorted pawns up and with opponent having around five seconds on his clock himself - but by that stage the match result was done and dusted.


I just want to comment on the result of Peter's game in a little more detail. Quite apart from the sympathy one feels for Peter at what was essentially a random outcome to a game played in a pretty logical and sensible way by both players, the following points are maybe pertinent:

  1. It's not just Peter's game that was spoilt by the OCA's perverse refusal to adopt incremental time controls for those clubs with digital clocks. Countless games have been ruined by one player simply running out of time before reaping the due rewards of previous good play. Incremental time controls would go a long way to solving the problem, with still enough time to get down to the pub for all but a handful of games.

  1. The OCA's current tie-break method for teams tied on match points is head-to-head results - so given that Peter did not draw, or indeed win as his play deserved, should University 1 finish tied on match points with us they will win the title, having won 5:1 in their home match against us. It seems bizarre to me that the outcome of the league title can be decided by a five second episode in a single game rather than by overall consistent performance over the course of a season (and we currently have a nine point game points advantage over University 1).

Anyway, not that I'm ranting...... Witney 1 will endeavour to ensure that it doesn't come to that by winning all its remaining matches and staying two match points ahead of University 1!


- Mike.


13.12.12 - Witney 1 vs. Cowley 2

1 Harvey, Marcus (213)    1-0  O'Reilly, Gerard (201)

2 Girdlestone, Paul (194) ½-½  Nandi, Robin J (166)

3 Richmond, Peter (200)   ½-½  Burrows, Nick ( )

4 Hackett, Dave G (189)   1-0  Shiner, David ( )

5 Truran, Michael (189)   1-0  Keeling, David (141)

6 Gentry, Alan (161)      1-0  Robson, David W (141)


- played on 03 Dec.


In the end a comprehensive enough win, but as so often the ravages of the Oxfordshire Leagues' unforgiving time control had a part to play. The sooner incremental time controls are introduced the better! I won quickly after my opponent blundered a piece when a knight sac instead would have left him some chances, as did Dave when Black allowed a knight irruption (a word I've been wanting to use in one of my reports for some time now) on e6.


Peter wasn't feeling well and took a relatively quick draw, leaving us two ahead with well over an hour of the match still to go. Although Marcus won smoothly, converting a persistent edge into a rook ending in which a monster passed pawn on b3 condemned Gerard to complete passivity, the final two boards to finish were both affected by the clock. Robin, with a clearly won position against Paul but with only 30 seconds or so left, felt obliged to offer a draw, while Dave Robson after sacrificing a piece (to be fair somewhat involuntarily) for a big attack lost his way in time trouble and lost on time after missing a nice tactic by Alan. Post mortem analysis showed a win for White even against best play, so Alan was able to go home with his positional judgement vindicated. Happily neither game affected the match result, but to my mind it's not a good way to finish a game after three hours' hard work.


So that's it until the New Year. Witney 1 will finish 2012 perched (somewhat precariously it has to be said) at the top of the table, but at least our fate remains in our own hands.


- Mike.


22.11.12 - Didcot 1 vs. Witney 1

1 Gough, Nicholas L (183)  0-1  Harvey, Marcus (213)

2 Olehnovics, Andrejs (-)  ½-½  Richmond, Peter (200)

3 Cooper, Bernard D (155)  ½-½  Hackett, Dave G (189)

4 Sheridan, Martin (143)   0-1  Headlong, Timothy (187)

5 Jacobs, Robert B (129)   0-1  Bourne, Johnathan (-)

6 Reynolds, Gary (127)     0-1  Gentry, Alan (161)


- played on 21 Nov.


An excellent result against Didcot 1 on Wednesday evening. As I wasn't present (Alan ably taking over as captain in my absence), I can't report on proceedings in any detail other than to say that: (a) Dave was obviously in the slough of despond following Chelsea's capitulation the previous evening; (b) congratulations to Johnathan on his first game (and win) for Witney 1; and (c) my absence clearly has a positive effect on the team's performance - perhaps I should do it more often.


- Mike.


08.11.12 - Witney 1 vs. Banbury 1

1 Richmond, Peter (200)    1-0  Vikanis, Georgs (184)

2 Hackett, Dave G (189)    1-0  Jackson, Gary C (171)

3 Truran, Michael (189)    1-0  Portman, Carl (168)

4 Headlong, Timothy (187)  ½-½  Manley, Nathan J (156)

5 Gentry, Alan (161)       0-1  Trewhela, Paul ( )

6 Searle, Howard AJ (151)  1-0  Poderico, Francesco (137)


- played on 05 Nov.


So a return to winning ways after a couple of serious wobbles over the last couple of matches, but the result was much closer than the score suggests. After an hour or so Peter had a big edge, but Alan had got himself into a terrible tangle and looked completely lost, none of Dave, Tim and Howard with the white pieces had any demonstrable advantage, and my position was complex and unclear. Thereafter things took a decided turn for the better; Peter converted his advantage smoothly into a winning endgame, and although Tim's game rapidly petered out to a draw Francesco stumbled into a very nasty pin which cost him a piece, Howard mopping up convincingly. So two up with three to play, with Alan fighting back against Paul's uncertain play and Dave having all the pressure against Gary.


Even though Alan blundered just when he looked on the verge of a great recovery, my strongly centralised major pieces against Carl persuaded Gary to decline Dave's draw offer - an unfortunate decision as he subsequently overpressed. So two up and the match was won. Carl battled manfully to generate a kings side demonstration in the face of my own dangerous attack, but both the position and the clock was against him and (despite a valiant effort on my part to drop a rook) once all the major pieces came off a simple pawn ending resulted.


So our season now takes a two-week break, interrupted by next Monday's simultaneous display by GM Peter Wells. If you would like to come along, please let me know as soon as possible.


- Mike.


03.11.12 - Oxford Uni 1 vs. Witney 1

1 Panjwani, Raja (-)    1-0  Harvey, Marcus (213)

2 Schmidt, Jan (-)      1-0  Richmond, Peter (200)

3 Smith, Chris (183)    ½-½  Hackett, Dave G (189)

4 Chiu, Howard (-)      1-0  Truran, Michael (189)

5 Panayotov, Ivo (157)  1-0  Hannon, Mark (184)

6 Lawrence, David (-)   ½-½  Edwards, Derek F (141)


- played on 01 Nov.


Humph. I could dwell on Witney 1's worst defeat that I can remember, but going to bed instead sounds like a much better idea - MT.

24.10.12 - Cowley 1 vs. Witney 1

1 Ambrus, Endre (-)        1-0  Harvey, Marcus (213)

2 Starkie, Ray J (185)     0-1  Richmond, Peter (200)

3 Burt, William (176)      1-0  Hackett, Dave G (189)

4 Nixon, Rod (165)         ½-½  Truran, Michael (189)

5 Paxton-Doggett, P. (162) ½-½  Headlong, Timothy (187)

6 Rasell, Geoff C (161)    0-1  Hannon, Mark (184)


- played on 22 Oct.


Oops. And just when it was going so well. Our long run of match wins stretching back more than a season came to a shuddering halt at the hands of a Cowley 1 team that took its chances, handled the clock better and was not particularly favoured by luck. The first two hours and fifty five minutes of the match saw us stagger into a 2½-½ lead; Peter R collected substantial amounts of booty when Ray's pieces got into a tangle on the king's side, but Mark was lucky both to survive some hairy moments in the middlegame and to be on the receiving end of the worst endgame decision Geoff will make in many years in swapping rooks off into a lost pawn endgame, while Tim ran himself too short of time to exploit a couple of pawns' advantage in a queen endgame.


Buoyed by Marcus' covert thumbs up regarding his own prospects and getting slightly nervous regarding my own with only five or so minutes left on the clock, I wimped out and took the draw against Rod when I could have played on with some technical problems to solve but with a solid extra pawn. Bad mistake. Marcus, unusually for him, left himself too short of time to solve the problems of a knight v bishop ending in which Cowley's new star recruit Endre Ambrus (current FIDE rating 2324, best ever FIDE rating 2407) squeezed out a nice win from a nagging edge, while Dave, having earlier rather ambitiously traded a rook and a pawn for two minor pieces, saw any initiative he might have had evaporate. With thirty or so seconds left on his clock Dave turned down the chance to force Will to checkmate him with B+N+K v K, and even when he resigned Marcus felt that he had decent drawing chances. But in truth with so little time left on his clock he was never going to make it home in one piece.


So we really only have ourselves to blame against a team we out-rated heavily on five of the six boards; in particular our clock management in four of the games left something to be desired. That said, it's still early days in the season, and our destiny is still very much in our own hands.


- Mike.


16.10.12 - Witney 1 vs. City 1

1 Wells, Peter (234)      ½-½  Manley, Jon P (192)

2 Harvey, Marcus (213)    1-0  McKenna, Jason (187)

3 Richmond, Peter (200)   ½-½  Hayward, Philip (180)

4 Hackett, Dave G (189)   1-0  Terry, Sean (170)

5 Truran, Michael (189)   1-0  Dixon, Leif (162)

6 Headlong, Timothy (187) 1-0  King, Simon E (149)


- played on 15 Oct.


So the season is underway with a solid result against a strong City 1 team missing only their top board Matt Rose and fielding new recruit Leif Dixon from Cambridge. We didn't look in much trouble on any of the boards, finally running out 5-1 winners.


Peter W on top board seemed to have a slight advantage at various stages of his game, but Jon 'found the right moves at the critical moments' according to Peter and the game resolved into a drawn rook ending. The board 2 encounter saw Marcus Harvey's first run-out for Witney 1 - welcome Marcus!


In a heavyweight King's Indian-type position Marcus found a clever way to trade two knights for a rook and a monster d pawn, and Jason's time trouble and tangled pieces on the king's side did the rest. On board 3 Peter R and Philip played out a complex middle game, trading heavyweight punches to no great effect, and a draw always seemed the logical outcome. Dave on board 4 justified his new grading by duffing up Sean in a closed Sicilian game in which Sean, after opening up the centre prematurely, perished rapidly from a nasty attack of multiple pins. Leif on board 5 found an interesting way of losing a pawn on move 6 which I hadn't seen before (and so was quite pleased to have found over the board); in time-honoured tradition I returned it for a big positional advantage and another monster d pawn which cut White's position in half. When said pawn got to d2, forking rook and bishop, Leif decided he had seen enough. Tim on board 6 won smoothly; Simon's king's side attack in a King's Indian defence never got going and Tim swept through on the queen's side.


A good start to our campaign to retain the Division 1 title, but of course there will be many more tough battles to come!


Here are the games from this match - with thanks to Sean Terry, Oxford City.


- Mike.





© SC


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