4.iii.2020

 

MCA Div 2

 

 

Aigburth 2

 

3-3

 

Atticus 3

Dave Pearcey (B)

155

0-1

152

Dave Stuttard (W)

Tony McNamara (W)

151

0-1

151

Brian Ewart (B)

Tony Pimblett (B)

143

½-½

135

Ben Ellington (W)

Alex Rawlings (W)

143

1-0

132

Martin Blasczyk (B)

Steven Gerrard (B)

137

1-0

121

Jim Wiseman (W)

Tony Blades (W)

126

½-½

128

Tom Webb (B)

 
“Through portico of my elegant house you stalk
With your wild furies, disturbing garlands of fruit
And the fabulous lutes and peacocks, rending the net
Of all decorum which holds the whirlwind back."

Our match at Aigburth yesterday evening (Wednesday 4th March) was one of the most entertaining I have ever witnessed.  We learned at lunchtime on match day that our line-up would be bolstered by Brian’s availability.  He had originally been planning to travel to Prague on Wednesday to take his place in the World Seniors, but due to the complication around COVID-19 he was available to play.  Since I did not want to upset the line-up further, it allowed me to graciously step aside and take the role of non-playing captain, and I was rewarded by being able to watch some amazing games as they unfolded.

First to finish was Tom.  In a solid structure that resembled the black side of a Caro-Kann, he broke out to win a pawn, but in doing so surrendered the d-file which allowed white some counter-play.  A draw was agreed, at an early stage in proceedings, albeit one that always looked likely to be useful in the final accounting.

Next to finish was top board.  Every player has their own chess DNA, yet Dave plays like a man on permanent tilt.  Pawns are thrust forward to destabilise; pieces rush out to the most aggressive squares.  At one point he had three pieces hanging, presumably on the principle that his opponent can only take one of them at a time.  An engine would probably raise all kinds of objections yet once the smoke cleared it suddenly became apparent that Dave Pearcey’s position was totally lost.

Jim was next to finish.  Out of the opening he looked to have promising potential for a kingside attack, but Steven was able to keep him occupied on the queenside, and neutralise the attack when it came.  The loss of queenside pawns becoming the decisive factor, and Aigburth levelled the match.  Martin looked solid, if slightly cramped in his game and lashed out with h5, looking for active play but creating potential holes.  Once the bishop landed on c4, the thematic pin of the f7 pawn drew the game to a swift conclusion.

A point down, with two boards left to play, the writing looked on the wall.  Ben had misplayed the white side of a Najdorf and not wishing to suffer slowly had played a positional knight sacrifice to neutralise black’s queenside play, but with questionable compensation.  Perhaps still annoyed at himself for his defeat at Brendan’s hands the previous week, he spent time deliberating to such an extent that by the time he had ten minutes left, Tony still had a full hour to play with.  Yet Ben’s great strengths are his tactical play and his coolness under pressure.  With a succession of moves that saw clean through the clouds, and were totally missed by both his opponent and myself, he embarked on a king hunt that ended with a draw by repetition with only 20 seconds remaining on his clock.

Last to finish was Brian, who has been a star turn for the team all season.  Playing the black side of a Sicilian Taimanov, he looked to be doing well, with a pawn menacingly landing on g3 and a knight looking to play the octopus on d3.  Yet Tony, to his credit found some telling counterplay and looked to have the game in his pocket when he walked into a knight fork that led to a better endgame for Brian, which he duly converted with aplomb.

A highly competitive match that finished in a tie that seems a fair result.  The second half to our season seems to be mirroring the first half.  Defeats to Liverpool and Wallasey, followed by a draw against Aigburth.  We will need to match our wins at Southport and Skelmersdale in the next two fixtures to banish any thoughts of the drop.

3.ii.2020

 

MCA Div 2

 

 

Atticus 3

 

2½-3½

 

Liverpool 2

Dave Stuttard (B)

152

0-1

146

Michael Clarke (W)

Brian Ewart (W)

151

1-0

142

Steven Lloyd (B)

John Lambert (B)

141

½-½

150

Ian Stephens (W)

Ben Ellington (W)

135

0-1

154

Bashar Rovezi (B)

Martin Blasczyk (B)

132

1-0

128

Luke Maher (W)

Sanjoy Banerjee (W)

136

0-1

113

Peter Mellor (B)

 
“We that have done and thought,
That have thought and done,
Must ramble, and thin out
Like milk spilt on a stone.”

It is always a pleasure to host our cross-city rivals.  Liverpool were missing a couple of key players, whereas we were able to field a full-strength side for the first time this season.  I was especially intrigued to see how the board four clash would play out between the serial deracinator of foliage (Bashar) and our own arme secrète. 

Dave was first to finish, to our detriment.  What immortal hand or eye doth frame Dave’s fearful asymmetry?  When it works it is oftentimes astonishing, but this was a night of the other kind. 

Thankfully Brian was able to effect a swift redress, barrelling through in an Accelerated Averbakh against (on this occasion) a hapless Steven Lloyd, whose exertions at the weekend in Frodsham may have taken their toll. 

Martin and his opponent were locked in a blitzkrieg in a Scotch Four Knights, which was ultimately decided when white injudiciously allowed a trade of two rooks for a queen in an otherwise equal position. 

John and Ian halved in a game I had (perhaps unfairly) reckoned lost, which left just Ben and I to finish. 

I had suffered an opening malfunction, which effectively gave odds of a- and b- pawns albeit with some compensation by way of a lead in development.  The equation between material and initiative was in the balance but Peter defended accurately as my fightback ran out of steam.  Two and a half points each. 

Ben and Bashar had debated a Panov-Botvinnik, which had simmered on a low heat, but came to the boil in spectacular fashion.  Both players had two and a half minutes remaining when Ben detected a mating net.  He allowed his clock to drop to forty seconds as he coolly calculated the prospective win.  But all which glisters is not gold and Bashar, at fourteen years of age, was able to guide his team to a scintillating victory. 

On a personal note, and on behalf of Atticus Chess Club, I would like to wish a speedy return to health to Dave Leeming, whom we missed on the night and look forward to welcoming back soon as the mainstay of a solid team.

Wallasey A
157 4.5 : 1.5 Atticus 3 132
1
Davies, Phil
164
0-1
Ewart, Brian R
148
2
Hughes, Greg
161
1-0
Lambert, John F
145
3
Coffey, Mike J
162
1-0
Blasczyk, Martin
132
4
Brine, Phil A
156
1-0
Banerjee, Sanjoy K
129
5
Latham, Chris
141
0.5-0.5
Wiseman, Jim K
122
6
Smiley, Stuart
-
1-0
Sleeman, Howard D
114

 
"The wandering earth herself may be
Only a sudden flaming word,
In clanging space a moment heard,
Troubling the endless reverie."

If you have a modicum of ambition, you want to pit yourself against the best, and at least far as Division 2 of the Merseyside League is concerned, Wallasey are it.  A model of consistency, they are in pole position to make a swift return to the top flight, and although we were without one or two key players for this match-up, I always felt we had enough about us to cause an upset if we were on top of our game.

Jim played impeccably against a Sicilian where 2…Nc6 seemed to yield to a tamer position that is usual, built a solid base and as his b-pawn gaily marched towards promotion, look poised to strike an early blow in the match  Yet, the hardest thing in chess is winning a won position, as the saying goes, and an almost scandalous piece of opportunism allowed his sharp-witted opponent to salvage a half-point.

My own game was next to finish.  After a dozen or so moves, I had a slight edge in a QGD Ragozin, yet in all honesty that was about as good as it got, as Phil comprehensively outplayed me from there on in, and duly wrapped up the point.

Martin looked to have a nice position from a Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation, yet his kingside pressure left holes behind for his opponent to exploit.  Mike emerged with a technically won endgame and duly converted.  John too succumbed to a clinical masterclass, as Greg subtly insinuated his way to a won endgame without ever seemingly breaking sweat.

Not for the first time this season, the performance of the night came from Brian on top board.  After a bout of flu, he had only declared himself fit 24 hours previously, yet in a Catalan, that began cagily, Brian exploited a premature queenside evacuation of the major pieces by his opponent to seize control in the centre, resulting in winning a piece.  Mate in four somehow came and went, yet Phil graciously threw in the towel realising there was nothing to be salvaged.

The final game to finish was Howard’s, who looked to be slowly suffocating from the opening, against an opponent who is a good deal stronger than board six would suggest.  Eventually, as material was traded, the position took on a sharp character, but in the tactical melee, there only looked to be one winner.

A deserved win and an all round display of excellence from the league leaders, but nothing to be ashamed of on our part.  We took on the best, and brought our best to bear.

 

6.i.2020

 

MCA Div 2

 

 

Prescot & Knotty Ash 1

 

3-3

 

Atticus 3

Kevin Sartain (B)

159

1-0

149

Dave Stuttard (W)

David Owens (W)

156

1-0

148

Brian Ewart (B)

Mike O’Mahony (B)

145

1-0

145

John Lambert (W)

Michael Delaney (W)

141

0-1

131

Ben Ellington (B)

David Al-Daini (B)

131

0-1

129

Sanjoy Banerjee (W)

Bob Amos (W)

115

0-1

121

Steve Burge (B)

 

“Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?" I cried

"Or a rather tough worm in your little inside"

With a shake of his poor little head, he replied

"Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!"

 

After a tough baptism this season, Atticus 3 are now able to approach games with some optimism and what is a rather more settled squad.  We were without Martin for this fixture, which enabled me to slip back into an otherwise unchanged team from our win against Skelmersdale, yet I have always found Prescot a tough venue to play at. 

The early signs were that the “Alder Road hoodoo” was in full grip as Dave blundered early and was compelled to resign on the spot.  Matters look bleak when Brian and John both succumbed to kingside attacks in what looked to be textbook like games from their opponent. 

Three to zip and I was beginning to wonder if we were about to begin the new decade with dark chapter, but resilience is the watchword for this team.  Steve has been unbeaten for us this season, yet recognised that only a full point would do, navigated his way through an ultra-tactical skirmish in the French Defence to emerge the exchange ahead and duly convert the endgame. 

L’arme secret seemed to be in a more subdued mood that I am accustomed to seeing, deploying his pieces in a quasi-hedgehog, with the familiar demilitarised zone of the fifth rank, and waiting for white to over-extend.  The last I witnessed of this game, Ben was wiggling his finger calculating an exchange that was winning, before playing the devasting Nxb4+ 

But by such a time, my own game was entering its final stages.  My opponent played the intriguingly named “Siesta Variation” of the Ruy Lopez Deferred Steinitz, which is essentially like the Schliemann with d6.  In any case, I was not caught napping (!) and gained a free pawn.  Enough is as good a feast, and helping myself to seconds on b7 was a mistake and led to a long period on the back-foot, but managing to trade dark-squared bishops and the queen for two rooks, resulting in a Q+Kt+5P v 2R+B+3P endgame, where I was always comfortable. 

It was only after my opponent resigned that I learnt Ben had also duly converted and we had climbed our Everest.  We are now unbeaten in four matches, and reach halfway comfortably mid-table, having played every fixture as underdogs.  A great team effort in the first half of the season, and leaving me with much optimism for the second half!

Atticus 3
138 4.0 : 2.0 Skelmersdale 1 141
1
Stuttard, David
149
1-0
Melia, Steven
168
2
Ewart, Brian R
148
1-0
McGreal, Mike
160
3
Lambert, John F
145
0.5-0.5
Cowell, Russell
137
4
Ellington, Ben
131
1-0
Stanfield, David snr
134
5
Blasczyk, Martin
132
0-1
McHugh, Bart
128
6
Burge, Steve J
121
0.5-0.5
Quickfall, Andy
116

 

Tonight’s match was on a knife-edge until very late in the piece, and that we were able to ultimately take home the points was due to some solid and some quite scintillating performances across the team. 

By prior arrangement, Steve had kindly agreed to act as stand-in captain on the night, since due to work commitments I could not be sure to arrive in time.  The denouement of this particular episode of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” saw my taxi from Manchester Airport arrive at the door the Cross Keys at 7.28pm, which afforded me the luxury of being able to watch the games from start to finish. 

Ben was first to finish.  There is a brutal poetry to his chess right now, of the kind that would surely have appealed to Norman Mailer.  Starting briskly from the opening bell, he dropped his opponent to the canvas inside the opening few rounds, and continued to rain blow with deadly accuracy until the towel was duly thrown. 

Shortly afterwards Steve locked up a further half-point, in a fashion that is starting to haunt my dreams with its familiarity.  Like his beloved football team, he is yet to lose this season and long may that last! 

Brian was next to finish, playing a textbook game which began with kingside pressure, developing into a breakthrough in the centre establishing a strong, centralised knight pair before finally infiltrating his opponent’s position with queen and rook who took personal responsibility for the surrender treaty. 

Martin had looked in a precarious position from early on, with an exposed king, but fought hard and turned weakness to strength in the form of counter-play as his h-pawn began to march.  The result was still hanging in the balance when a late tactic sealed the point for his opponent in the cruellest fashion. 

John looked rock solid in his game, with a slight positional advantage for much of the game, but Russell was able to fight back and equalise. 

Which left all eyes on the game between Steven Melia and Dave Stuttard.  Steven is a class act and will not drop many points this season.  Coming out of the opening he looked handily placed to prevail, but Dave managed to find some sharp play which culminated in piece versus marching kingside pawns where Dave was able to force resignation with just seconds remaining on his opponent’s clock.

Southport 1
143 2.0 : 4.0 Atticus 3 134
1
Sage, Geoffrey W
163
0-1
Ewart, Brian R
148
2
Wright, Fergal
166
0.5-0.5
Lambert, John F
145
3
Dansey, Paul
144
0-1
Ellington, Ben
131
4
Ramsey, Phil
130
0.5-0.5
Blasczyk, Martin
132
5
Nadin, Karl
128
0.5-0.5
Banerjee, Sanjoy K
129
6
Kennedy, Carl
128
0.5-0.5
Burge, Steve J
121

It was a pleasure to welcome Brian back into the fold, fresh from his exploits representing England at the European Senior Team Championship in Lošinj, Croatia, where he achieved a silver medal on Board 5.  I felt like a football manager who had signed a new striker, but how would he fare on a cold November night in Southport?

First to finish was Ben, who came, saw and conquered, eviscerating his opponent in 17 moves, and spending the rest of the evening regretting leaving the house without more change for the bar.

Steve Burge then extended his unbeaten run for the team this season, with a draw in his customary Classical Dutch.  Martin also earned half a point in what appeared to be a sort of King’s Indian, with white aiming at a modest deployment of his forces.

My own game was one to forget.  Dead lost out of the opening, I scrambled my way to an undeserved draw.  Yet it meant we needed only a share of the spoils on the top two boards to achieve our first victory of the season.

Brian had managed to win a queen for a rook, and looked overwhelming favourite, but as his clocked ticked under five minutes, it was no done deal.  Equally nerve-wracking (at least for his captain) was John’s courageous refusal to settle for a draw in a dead equal position, declining both a draw offer and a draw by repetition and seemingly going out of his way to find a creative and hair-raising way to keep life in a king and pawn endgame.

Thankfully Brian’s opponent then blundered while trying to apply time pressure and resigned with mate in two on the board, leaving John to finally settle for a half while he still had enough ticks left.

Overall a match played in a good spirit between the teams.  Improbably the win raises us to mid-table, and sets us in good spirits for an away trip to Skelmersdale in a fortnight.

If you squint your eyes these days, it is difficult to tell Atticus 3 and Atticus 4 apart, which is to say that once again we were missing key players, and with l’arme secrete struck down by flu on the morning of the match, had to borrow another player from Jim’s team to achieve a full turnout. 

Mean, mode or median, we were once again up against it, as was always likely this season even if we had all our listed players available.  Yet if there is a spirit I would aspire to for this team, it would be that we relish a fight, and tonight it was so!

With our top two boards unavailable, we knew we had an uphill struggle to take anything from a full strength Wallasey side, who came down last year from Division 1, and look like early favourites to make an immediate return.  Yet all of our players are more than capable of achieving a result against such high calibre opponents, and as we sat down to play, I was hopeful we would have chances if we were game enough to take them.

As this was our first match of the season, I would like to thank Jim for his excellent leadership of this team over a number of seasons.  I am sure Atticus 4 will have a successful season under tenure.

The cross city rivalry with the excellent Liverpool Chess Club was a good test of where we are right now.  Even without two of their listed player, they were able to field a foreboding line-up, but I have quiet confidence in this team.

Rnk
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Pt
Boards
1 Wallasey AX2.53.55.05.03.55.5 X 3.55.04.5 6.0 18 44.0
2 Liverpool 23.5X3.52.53.53.52.5 X3.53.03.5 13 29.0
3 Southport 12.52.5X3.52.04.03.5 2.52.5X 4.54.5 10 32.0
4 Aigburth 21.03.52.5X3.03.53.5 1.03.0 X3.03.0 10 27.0
5 Atticus 31.02.54.03.0X3.04.0 1.52.5 3.0X 7 24.5
6 Prescot 12.52.52.02.53.0X3.5 1.53.0 X4.5 6 25.0
7 Skelmersdale 10.53.52.52.52.02.5X 0.0 1.5 1.5X 2 16.5

Rnk
GP
W
D
L
Pt
Boards
1 Wallasey A1090118 44.0
2 Liverpool 2961213 29.0
3 Southport 11050510 32.0
4 Aigburth 21034310 27.0
5 Atticus 392347 24.5
6 Prescot 192256 25.0
7 Skelmersdale 191082 16.5

G = Number of matches played; S = Win; R = Draw; V = Lost

03rd September 2019 19:45
Round 1 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 1 Liverpool 2 152 : 8 bye
2 2 Atticus 3 126 1.0:5.0 7 Wallasey A 158
3 3 Aigburth 2 142 3.5:2.5 6 Prescot 1 135
4 4 Southport 1 138 3.5:2.5 5 Skelmersdale 1 140
23rd September 2019 19:30
Round 2 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 5 Skelmersdale 1 142
2 6 Prescot 1 143 2.0:4.0 4 Southport 1 143
3 7 Wallasey A 152 5.0:1.0 3 Aigburth 2 140
4 1 Liverpool 2 141 3.5:2.5 2 Atticus 3 131
07th October 2019 19:30
Round 3 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 2 Atticus 3 133 : 8 bye
2 3 Aigburth 2 140 3.5:2.5 1 Liverpool 2 139
3 4 Southport 1 143 2.5:3.5 7 Wallasey A 152
4 5 Skelmersdale 1 140 2.5:3.5 6 Prescot 1 136
21st October 2019 19:30
Round 4 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 6 Prescot 1 144
2 7 Wallasey A 153 5.5:0.5 5 Skelmersdale 1 133
3 1 Liverpool 2 144 3.5:2.5 4 Southport 1 144
4 2 Atticus 3 127 3.0:3.0 3 Aigburth 2 132
13th November 2019 19:30
Round 5 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 3 Aigburth 2 145 : 8 bye
2 4 Southport 1 143 2.0:4.0 2 Atticus 3 134
3 5 Skelmersdale 1 131 3.5:2.5 1 Liverpool 2 140
4 6 Prescot 1 134 2.5:3.5 7 Wallasey A 152
28th November 2019 19:30
Round 6 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 7 Wallasey A 158
2 1 Liverpool 2 148 3.5:2.5 6 Prescot 1 141
3 2 Atticus 3 138 4.0:2.0 5 Skelmersdale 1 141
4 3 Aigburth 2 140 2.5:3.5 4 Southport 1 135
07th January 2020 19:30
Round 7 (First Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 4 Southport 1 144 : 8 bye
2 5 Skelmersdale 1 119 2.5:3.5 3 Aigburth 2 143
2 Pat Noonan played Board 5 for Skem. Aigburth defaulted on Board 6.
3 6 Prescot 1 141 3.0:3.0 2 Atticus 3 137
4 7 Wallasey A 157 2.5:3.5 1 Liverpool 2 152
21st January 2020 19:30
Round 1 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 1 Liverpool 2 152
2 7 Wallasey A 157 4.5:1.5 2 Atticus 3 132
2 Board 6 Atticus: Howard Sleeman
3 6 Prescot 1 143 3.0:3.0 3 Aigburth 2 143
4 5 Skelmersdale 1 133 1.5:4.5 4 Southport 1 144
03rd February 2020 19:45
Round 2 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 5 Skelmersdale 1 142 : 8 bye
2 4 Southport 1 135 4.5:1.5 6 Prescot 1 137
3 3 Aigburth 2 141 1.0:5.0 7 Wallasey A 154
4 2 Atticus 3 139 2.5:3.5 1 Liverpool 2 139
17th February 2020 19:30
Round 3 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 2 Atticus 3 133
2 1 Liverpool 2 136 3.0:3.0 3 Aigburth 2 140
3 7 Wallasey A 151 3.5:2.5 4 Southport 1 137
4 6 Prescot 1 131 4.5:1.5 5 Skelmersdale 1 133
02nd March 2020 19:45
Round 4 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 6 Prescot 1 144 : 8 bye
2 5 Skelmersdale 1 0 0.0:6.0 7 Wallasey A 152
3 4 Southport 1 140 2.5:3.5 1 Liverpool 2 130
3 K payne on board 6 for Southport
4 3 Aigburth 2 142 3.0:3.0 2 Atticus 3 134
18th March 2020 19:30
Round 5 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 3 Aigburth 2 145
2 2 Atticus 3 133 : 4 Southport 1 144
3 1 Liverpool 2 152 : 5 Skelmersdale 1 142
4 7 Wallasey A 158 : 6 Prescot 1 144
02nd April 2020 19:30
Round 6 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 7 Wallasey A 158 : 8 bye
2 6 Prescot 1 144 : 1 Liverpool 2 152
3 5 Skelmersdale 1 142 : 2 Atticus 3 133
4 4 Southport 1 144 : 3 Aigburth 2 145
14th April 2020 19:30
Round 7 (Second Leg)
Fixture
TNo
Home
Grade
Result
TNo
Guest
Grade
1 8 bye : 4 Southport 1 144
2 3 Aigburth 2 145 : 5 Skelmersdale 1 142
3 2 Atticus 3 133 : 6 Prescot 1 144
4 1 Liverpool 2 152 : 7 Wallasey A 158

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