Atticus Open: Report on Round 4

The humid evening of Round 4 began with cautious play on most of the boards. Steve Winstanley was having none of that however, as he boldly sacced a bishop on f7 just in the opening. A well-known line apparently but I thought both sides were losing! Board 1 saw the only players with 100% records so far clash. Mark has taken some notable scalps so far but facing David Lawson would be a stern test. Material became liquidated fairly quickly but David manoeuvred his knight into a dominant square. John Lambert and Steven Carr`s game reminded me of one of those World Cup knockout rounds where neither team has a shot until extra-time. David Odunaiya was pressing Steve Philp`s position and Steve responded with some `clever` moves which led his minor pieces away to the edges of the board: but were they sound? Luke, playing black, had his theory ready for Brian Ewart it seemed and black seemed to be posing tiny problems which gave Luke a comfortable game. Tom Bimpson sacced a pawn for a lead in development and more space. The other games seemed too close to call, however..

In his game with Josh, Ben left his king-side somewhat unmanned and Josh took advantage with a bishop sac on h3, leading to the first result of the evening. Brian Caulfield`s position didn`t seem too bad against Phil, but a pin led to a fork and worse was to follow. David Lawson`s knight proved to be most restricting for Mark and further weakening of his kingside pawn structure led to a decisive f4 pawn push from David, who now stands on the 100% summit unchallenged.

(I should also mention Nigel`s excellent draw against Mike Coffey, a match played earlier in the week, illustrating how tough the overall field in this tournament is.)

Luke continued to pose Brian problems and an error from the latter saw Luke pick up a three pawn haul, enough to settle the matter, and a very well-played game by Luke which I have chosen for this weeks Game of the day (Alan Hansen may well cover this weekly item upon retiring from Match of the Day, `terr-ible defending..` etc).

Around the same time, Tom`s investment (pawn sac) started to pay dividends and his space advantage became an attack, which became a win shortly thereafter. Steve Philp`s minor pieces had by now started to seek their fortunes in a different hemisphere to their parent and David Odunaiya could a smell mating net in the air, and duly executed it.

By now, Steve Winstanley`s investment (piece sac) was looking a little reminiscent of a Nick Leeson portfolio, and a blunder saw a Jeremy win, who had maintained his king on e6 throughout with balls of steel (let`s not mince words..)

The last game to finish had of course the most dramatic finish. John Lambert and Steven Carr both down to non-recording of moves time in extra-time. In fact penalties. But John had Tim Howard in goal and that was that.

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