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Cowley 1 vs. Witney 1


1 Sanchez, Antonio (-)  0-1  Harvey, Marcus (235)

2 Walden, Andrew (194)  ½-½  Headlong, Timothy (187)

3 Starkie, Ray J (172)  0-1  Richmond, Peter (187)

4 Nixon, Rod (174)      0-1  Truran, Michael (191)

5 Burrows, Nick (171)   0-1  Hackett, Dave G (178)

6 Burt, William (169)   ½-½  Asenov, Pavel (170)

  (ave grade 176)       1-5  (ave grade 191)


Match played on 24 Mar.


Another Monday, another match at Cowley. The heating seemed even more erratic than usual - artic before Gentleman Gerard's intervention, tropical thereafter, and finally back to arctic once the Rose Hill Methodist Church Hall timers kicked in. Apart from that, a highly satisfactory win against a strong Cowley 1 team.


Marcus' game was the first to finish, employing his usual technique of playing a sensible but out of fashion opening, this time 1. b3 (I was pleased to see that 1. g4 didn't make a reappearance), thereafter playing sound moves quickly, and seeing his opponent crumble under the pressure. All very impressive. Tim drew solidly after Andy's exchange sac proved good enough for a draw but no more. Ray looked to be holding Peter all the way - I didn't see the end of the game, so I'm afraid can't report on how Peter managed to notch up the win. I was the last to finish - the Witney Gambit (9. ...... d5 in the Sicilian Lowenthal) struck again as Rod got into a tangle in the opening and shed a pawn, after which various ingenious wriggles proved insufficient. As a bit of a time trouble addict (although not in the same league as some) it's nice to be able to bang out a long opening sequence in double quick time. Dave played what looked like a very controlled game and broke through on the white squares - no doubt mindful of the relevance to opposite coloured bishops of Tarrasch's dictum "Before the endgame, the gods have placed the middlegame", this time Dave kept a few other pieces on the board following numerous episodes this season in which he has been thwarted in opposite coloured bishop endgames despite being various numbers of pawns ahead. Pavel played a very mature main line Najdorf Sicilian and seemed to have a winning advantage, but Will managed to get down to an endgame when his queen and bishop had sufficient activity for the draw. So, once again, a match in which we weren't worse at any point in any of the games.


So one match to go, and we will definitely be going for a 100% match points tally. It's quite impossible to predict what sort of team Oxford University will be fielding in our final match (this season the average grade of the Oxford University teams has ranged from 188 down to 144), so anything could happen. Wish us luck!


- Mike



Witney 1 vs. Banbury 1


1 Harvey, Marcus (235)    1-0  Rowan, Paul (173)

2 Headlong, Timothy (187) 1-0  Staples, Neil (166)

3 Richmond, Peter (187)   1-0  Hibbitt, Arthur (161)

4 Truran, Michael (191)   1-0  Manley, Nathan J (161)

5 Hackett, Dave G (178)   1-0  Jackson, Gary C (154)

6 Koszta, Csaba ( )       1-0  Waddell, Mal (149)

  ave grade 196)          6-0  (ave grade 161)


Match played on 03 Mar.


A convincing enough win against Banbury 1, as pleasant a bunch of chaps as you could hope to meet and thoroughly sporting losers. Dave played Witney 1's new secret weapon 9. ...... d5 in the Lowenthal Sicilian and got a winning position against Gary as quickly as I had done against Robin Nandi in the Oxfordshire Sunday League a couple of weeks before (and, more to the point, demonstrating the competent technique which had singularly eluded me against Robin). Csaba also duffed up Mal in double quick time, but the other games took a bit longer. Marcus did what Marcus does best, making good moves fast in a near-equal position until Paul collapsed in a heap; Peter does what he does best, blowing Arthur away very flashily in a confused tactical mess; Tim did what Tim does best, grinding away on the queen's side before finally crashing through; and I did what I do best, getting a won game early on and then faffing about in an attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


Happily I finished up on the right side of a time scramble with no fewer than twelve seconds on my clock when Nathan ran out of time (and pieces). Yes, I know that Peter Wells can play an entire game in twelve seconds, but he's a lot younger than me and a GM as well.


Anyway, that's the Division 1 title secure for the fourth season in a row for the fourth season in a row (so long as we don't rack up too many default points through Tim and his passengers taking the scenic route to our final two away matches.


- Mike



Witney 1s vs.  MCS/B1


1 Harvey, Marcus (235)    1-0  D'Souza-Eva, Jon (185)

2 Headlong, Timothy (187) 1-0  Place, John F (154)

3 Koszta, Csaba ( )       1-0  Cole, Graham (153)

4 Hackett, Dave G (178)   1-0  Cole, James (135) 

5 Asenov, Pavel (170)     1-0  Bush, Ian (123)

6 Gentry, Alan (142)      ½-½  Sayers, David (119

 (ave grade 182)         5½-½  (ave grade 145)


Match played on 18 Feb.




Press ganged into being Captain again while Mike was away on business I was fortunate that we were playing a friendly club from MCS/Blackbird Leys and in Dave Sayers a player I have known for over 40 years - frightening!


Before start of play we were one player short as Peter did not travel because of the sad loss of his mother. Luckily Alan Gentry was on hand to step in on board 6.


I was paired again against James Cole a young player with promise who I had struggled against in the away match which ended in a draw partly because of his good play and the fact that Chelsea were playing a Champions League match. This time I was ready and more importantly I had the white pieces. James played c5 and we entered my favourite Closed Sicilian. The strategy James adopted was to block the pawn chain on the queenside which gave him no counter play as I launched my kingside attack. A neat sacrifice on f5 opened up his king quickly and just as mate was about to be delivered James resigned. Nice game by me if I can be so boastful!


The next to finish was Csabe who with black played the following e4 e6, d4 d5, Nc3 f5!??! I am not sure how Mr T would have reacted had he been watching. Having said that not only did Csabe gain a large amount of time but every time I looked at the position Black's advantage improved with every move as clearly Graham was in shock about how to deal with the pawn on f5. The advantage materialised into a win very neatly.


Marcus continued his demolition of good 180 plus players with quick play and exerting pressure which eventually pays dividends. 3 - 0 to Witney.


Pavel kept his cool in a very difficult position where clearly he had the advantage but it would have been so easy to go wrong. He was helped by his opponent not having much time which meant he did not always find the right

move but it is easy watching from the sidelines. 4 - 0 to Witney.


Alan's game against Dave Sayers was a classic case of lots of tactics on both sides and certainly was a case of who dares wins as they had both missed winning chances. Fearing the worse and getting short on time Dave made Alan a timely draw offer which after long consideration Alan accepted. Afterwards it was pointed out to Alan that he was probably winning but given the way the game had ebbed and flowed a draw was a fair result.


Tim was probably the only Witney player to struggle to gain an advantage against a very resilient John Place. John had chances on the kingside and instead of pressing ahead he started to defend on the queenside which all too often is flawed against Tim's good queenside play. John was also handicapped with time pressure and maybe did not play the best moves but as soon as Tim scented blood he was not going to let John off the hook. 5.5 v 0.5 to Witney.


All in all a fantastic evening which made us get ever closer to retaining the title.


- Dave Hackett



Cowley 2 vs. Witney 1


Our away match at Cowley took an untoward turn when Tim and Csaba failed to materialise at the appointed time and place. It appears that an unscheduled night time trip around of the scenic delights of Headington had taken place, culminating in a visit to the splendours of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. Happily a (somewhat panicky) call to the estimable Mrs T of Ducklington Towers, manning the emergency switchboard for just such crises as these, soon set them on the right course and they eventually turned up only twenty or so minutes late. Quite how Tim 'Columbus' Headlong managed his remarkable feat of navigation remains unclear, given that he has been a regular visitor to Cowley CC's home venue for more than a decade. Probably least said soonest mended though, as the saying goes.


After that things progressed much more smoothly. Tim and I agreed relatively quick draws in even positions (Tim at least having the excuse of somewhat unsettled nerves after his nocturnal peregrinations), but the other four games were all to our advantage, and it was something of a surprise to the spectators that only Csaba (apparently entirely unruffled by all the pre-match excitement in Tim's company) was able to bring home the full point after smoothly converting a couple of pawns' advantage. Dave was somewhat unlucky, finding himself in a technically drawn opposite coloured bishop ending despite being two pawns up; Pavel offered the draw to secure the match for us (but in truth by then most of his winning chances had evaporated); and Marcus hammered away enthusiastically for most of the session before 'Doc' Walden convinced him that two pawns for the exchange (including a protected passed pawn on the seventh) were sufficient to secure the draw.


So we remain four match points clear of the field, and two wins out of the remaining four matches will do the job. With two home matches to come against MCS and Banbury we remain heavy favourites for the title, but as we know nothing is certain in this life except death and taxes.


1 Walden, Andrew (194)      ½-½  Harvey, Marcus (235)

2 Wang, Maria (176)         ½-½  Headlong, Timothy (187)

3 Waugh, Bob (-)            ½-½  Truran, Michael (191)

4 Wang, Anna (155)          0-1  Koszta, Csaba ( )

5 Nandi, Robin J (153)      ½-½  Hackett, Dave G (178)

6 Rasell, Geoff C (144)     ½-½  Asenov, Pavel (170)


Match played on 10 Feb 2014.


- Mike.



Witney 1 vs. OxUni1


If there can ever be an unconvincing 6:0 scoreline, this was it. Tim hung a rook at the end of his game; his opponent, instead of taking it, exuberantly played Rf8 ch to clear a path for his queen to mate on g7. Unfortunately for him, Tim's reply Rxf8 was also check. Worse still, Tim's opponent then picked up his queen to deliver mate. Tim's observation that he therefore had to fend off the check (by interposing her majesty) brought proceedings to an abrupt end. I spent an hour and a quarter of my allotted time finding a series of entirely indifferent moves, culminating in a howler which allowed my opponent to either win my queen or mate in two. For once my luck was in, and thereafter I decided that it wasn't worth wasting any more time actually trying to calculate good moves. Unsurprisingly my play improved no end from then on. Csaba, our new recruit - welcome on board Csaba!), and Peter R managed to eke wins from rook endings, at least one of which (Csaba's) was clearly drawn at one stage. I didn't see much of Peter W's game, but he told me afterwards that he too had been affected by the general malaise after a smooth start to the game. Only Marcus seemed to win entirely convincingly.


Still ...... our destiny remains in our own hands, and if we can see off City 1 next Monday we will be odds-on for the title.


1 Wells, Peter (234)           1-0  Chiu, Howard (204)

2 Harvey, Marcus (227)         1-0  Alsamra, Eyad (-)

3 Headlong, Timothy (188)      1-0  Brackmann, Hendrik ( )

4 Richmond, Peter (188)        1-0  Lim, Sean (149)

5 Koszta, Csaba ( )            1-0  Bentham, Sam ( )

6 Truran, Michael (188)        1-0  Bhalla, Krishan ( )


Match played on 21 Jan.



Banbury 1 vs. Witney 1


After the fiasco of Witney 1's default against Wantage 1 in the Frank Wood Shield (many thanks to Wantage CC for their high standards of sportsmanship and willingness to play to the spirit rather than the letter of the rules it was nice to meet up with our old friends at Banbury, a club with the refreshing attitude of actually wanting to play chess. It was even nicer to see that the lighting was much improved, new tables had been purchased and the 21st century had arrived in the shape of a new set of digital clocks. So all in all a much improved experience over previous visits to the Frozen North.


The match itself went very well, with no serious wobbles on any board. Marcus insisted on playing 1. g4 amidst much tutting from the assembled greybeards (i.e. me) - but of course when you're as strong as Marcus is you can (usually) get away with pretty much any old rubbish in the opening. Peter played solidly, picked up a couple of pawns and won smoothly. Nathan either blundered or sacrificed a piece in the opening (if the latter, maybe 'post hoc ergo propter hoc') and got three pawns for it, but once I managed to untangle his game rather fell apart. Tim picked up a pawn from nowhere and converted easily enough (helped by Neil's time trouble it has to be said). Dave's Advance French worked very well, and although Nick's position may have been tenable the pressure finally told. On bottom board Pavel justified our high hopes for him as he won a piece fairly quickly and was never in trouble thereafter.


So the start of December sees us handily placed two points clear of the chasing pack. A win against Cowley 1 next Monday will consolidate the position in the run-up to Christmas, but, as they say, 'there's many a slip .....'


1 Hibbitt, Arthur (161)   0-1  Harvey, Marcus (227)

2 Rowan, Paul (161)       0-1  Richmond, Peter (188)

3 Manley, Nathan J (159)  0-1  Truran, Michael (188)

4 Staples, Neil (158)     0-1  Headlong, Timothy (188)

5 Martin, Nick (148)      0-1  Hackett, Dave G (183)

6 Rumsby, Stephen (137)   0-1  Asenov, Pavel (147)


Match played on 03 Dec 2013.


- Mike.



MCS/B1 vs. Witney 1


Witney 1 maintained their unbeaten start to the season and are already in the lead in Division 1 after only three matches. I was away on business so can't comment on the result in too much detail, but from the look of the match card the pre-season relegation favourites, although heavily outgraded on all boards except the first, put up a hard fight and it was down to our Witney 2 volunteers Alan and Derek to see us home on the night. Many thanks both! - Mike.


1 D'Souza-Eva, Jon (185) ½-½  Headlong, Timothy (188)

2 Place, John F (149)    ½-½  Richmond, Peter (188)

3 Cole, Graham (147)     ½-½  Girdlestone, Paul (183)

4 Cole, James (126)      ½-½  Hackett, Dave G (183)

5 Bush, Ian (126)        0-1  Gentry, Alan (152)

6 Sayers, David (121)    0-1  Edwards, Derek F (143)


Match played on 06 Nov.



City 1 vs. Witney 1


1 McKenna, Jason (195)    0-1  Wells, Peter (234)

2 Hayward, Philip (176)   1-0  Harvey, Marcus (227)

3 Terry, Sean (171)       0-1  Headlong, Timothy (188)

4 March, Mike (170)       1-0  Truran, Michael (188)

5 King, Simon E (143)     0-1  Richmond, Peter (188)

6 Yates, John O (142)     0-1  Hackett, Dave G (183)


Match played on 07 Oct.


Witney 1 vs. Cowley 2


1 Richmond, Peter (188)   ½-½  O'Reilly, Gerard (190)

2 Truran, Michael (188)   1-0  Lang, Heather LE (186)

3 Headlong, Timothy (188) ½-½  Burrows, Nick (168)

4 Hackett, Dave G (183)   ½-½  Nandi, Robin J (154)

5 Hannon, Mark (181)      1-0  Rasell, Geoff C (147)

6 Asenov, Pavel (147)     1-0  Mate, Maria (140)


Match played on 14 Oct.



  1. Oxford City have had their premises (partially) refurbished - new lights and new chairs. No new players unfortunately. And the playing conditions are as cramped as ever. Happily (well, unhappily in my case) Peter R and I finish early, which eases the congestion considerably.

  2. The Cowley 2 match sees beards (maybe for the first time ever) on the first two Witney boards. Peter R has now had his beard done professionally, and very smart it looks too.

  3. Pavel makes his first appearance as a Witney 1 regular against Cowley 2 and wins impressively. Various greybeards on both teams are observed nodding their heads appreciatively (and hopefully sagaciously).

  4. Shock horror - Marcus loses his first game for some time in the City 1 match. Even more surprisingly, he loses on time. He'll be back though.

  5. Mark has a very nice game against Cowley 2.


- Mike.





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