Monday, 1 December 2003

Archive: UNCUT! 26

The Sean Marsh Chess Column
Column 26
***December 2003***

Bread and Circuses

Dear Readers,

This has been a particularly busy few months, with the Chess Links Project taking up a good deal of my time. However, with Christmas now just over a year away, I thought it was time to catch up with a few recent events, so here’s a brand new column just for you…

It has not escaped the attention of the masses that I have already managed to lose a couple of games so far this season curiosity has been running high and details have been in demand….
…but before all that, I have to tell you that the Chess Links Project is going extremely well and that full details of our latest exploits can be found on the website.
Grandmaster Keith Arkell made a special visit to support the project with two very popular and enjoyable simultaneous displays. Go and read all about it! And then I’ll tell you about my recent defeats…

…Back already? Shouldn’t you be out doing some shopping rather than vulturing after details of my defeats? Christmas shopping provides us all with shared experiences, developing a race-memory to warn off future generations from such foolish exploits. For example, I think I can say with some confidence that…..

We've All Been To Argos Hell

...I think I set a new British Record in Argos the other week. All I wanted to do was return a broken Hoover and get a replacement. The whole process lasted no less than 73 minutes! The big sticking point came when they said the replacement one wouldn't carry a year's guarantee because six months had already been used up. But that was used up on the broken Hoover and I didn't see why it shouldn't start again with the new machine.
So I gave them the Hoover back and asked for a full refund, and with that refund I bought the same Hoover, as if buying it without the complication of being a replacement, thus getting the full year guarantee. This cunning procedure proved a bit too much for them to handle and it took them ages to make all sorts of phone calls and checks. 73 minutes!!
On the counter, there was a little bell and a message saying something like, 'If you have been happy with your service here today, ring the bell and make us feel good.'
Did I ring the bell? I Don't THINK So!!

And the moral of the story? Nature abhors a vacuum – but Argos makes it mighty difficult to replace one.

Just before showing my defeats, I must say that the reaction to my last column was somewhat mixed, with high praise for handling a difficult subject from some and criticism from others. There was also a suggestion that I should write a column about other conditions, such as manic depression, but I’m in two minds about that. Oh well, at least people read it and from the point of view of bringing a serious matter to the attention of the local chess community, I think it did the job.

Another great recent talking point was the poor showing of Middlesbrough Rooks against arch-rivals Elmwood in an important league fixture. There can be no doubt whatsoever than captain Tony Kiddle did his upmost to ensure that
The Rooks fielded a full team and, despite knowing in advance that the team wouldn’t be at full strength, he didn’t try and rearrange the fixture. An unfortunate set of circumstances ensured that The Rooks defaulted two boards and consequently struggled to make any impression at all against a strong Elmwood side.
The 6-0 scoreline was predictable under the circumstances. A couple of years ago, The Rooks beat Elmwood by the same score, so what goes around, comes around I suppose. Make no mistake – The Rooks are still very much in the title race and once their key players return they will once again be a force to be reckoned with. Respect between the two teams remains high. There was no gloating from the Elmwood players, no matter what the casual observer might think.

Give the people what they want!

Okay, okay…I shall now provide a few details of a recent defeat you have been waiting to see…

SM v Ian Elcoate
Notes by Ian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4
I had spent the previous evening studying the Saemisch as that is what Sean plays!
7...Bg7 8.Bb5+ Nfd7 I know Nbd7 is regarded as playable but black needs to know what he is doing in that line.....and I don't!
9.Be2 Qh4+ a la Watson.
10.g3 Qe7 I'm never totally sure where the queen should go but after Be2 e7 has to be the square. 11.Nf3 0–0 I've now run out of theory the move is [11...Nb6 12.0–0 Bg4 13.e5 0–0 14.Ne4 dxe5 15.d6 Qe8 16.fxe5 N8d7 which looks fine for black]
12.0–0 Re8= 13.Nd2 Nb6 Finally remembering the idea behind this line.
14.Bb5 Bd7 15.a4 a6 [Maybe the immediate 15...f5 ] 16.Bxd7 N8xd7 17.a5 Nc8 This retreat looks a bit ugly but is fine as it supports the b5 push.
18.Re1 b5 19.axb6 Ncxb6 20.Nf3 I believe I have come out of the opening equal which is an achievement against a player of Sean's calibre. I now spent a long time coming up with a suitable plan.
20...Qd8 21.Qc2 f5 and that was it. I also had the alternative of Qc7-b7 which may have been better.
22.exf5 Rxe1+ 23.Nxe1 Bd4+ 24.Kh1 Qe8 25.Nf3 Bxc3 26.bxc3 Nxd5 27.Bb2 Ne3?! [27...gxf5 28.Qxf5 N7b6] 28.Qd3 c4! Well at least I think this is a very good move restricting the bishop and it comes in very useful later on.
29.Qd4 Nxf5 30.Qd5+?! [30.Qxc4+] 30...Kg7 31.Re1
Time is getting very tight around here.
31...Qg8 32.Qb7 Rd8?! [32...Qc8] 33.g4 Qf7
The only fighting move 34.Ng5?! [34.gxf5 Rb8 35.f6+! Kxf6 36.Qc7 Qd5 37.Qxd7 Qxf3+ 38.Kg1 Rb7 39.Qe6++- None of which I had seen during the game] 34...Rb8 35.Qg2?! Nh4! Making life difficult, in the spirit of the Benoni.
36.Qd2 Qf6 37.Re6?
I think this is a mistake. I was worried about [37.Ne6+ Kg8 38.Qxd6 Nf3 39.Re2] 37...Rxb2 The only move and I think black is ok now.
38.Qxb2 Qxf4 39.Re7+ Time was becoming very tight again as I had thought hard about the consequences of Rxb2.
39...Kg8 40.Qe2?! [40.Rg7+ Kh8 41.Rxh7+ Kg8 42.Rg7+ Kh8 is a draw and is what I expected.]
40...Qxg5 41.Qe6+ Kh8 42.Re8+ Kg7 I now had about 2 minutes left for all my remaining moves.
43.Qe7+?? losing to 43...Kh6 44.Qxg5+ Kxg5 45.Rd8 Ne5 46.Rxd6 Kxg4 47.Rd4+ Kh3 48.Re4 Ng4 49.Rf4 g5 oops! 50.Rf7 [50.Rf3+ Nxf3 stalemate] 50...Nxh2 Sean has not got a lot of time now. 51.Kg1 g4 52.Rxh7 g3 53.Rg7 N4f3+ 54.Kh1 Ng4 55.Rh7+ Nh4 56.Rf7 a5 at last I've noticed my a-pawn. 57.Kg1 a4 58.Rf1 a3 59.Ra1 Nf3+ 60.Kf1 g2+ 61.Ke2 g1Q 62.Rxg1 Nxg1+ 63.Kd2 a2 64.Kc2 a1Q 65.Kd2 Qb2+ 66.Kd1 Ne3+ with about 20 seconds to spare. 0–1

I was going to put some notes to the game too, but I don’t honestly think I can add much more to what Ian has already given us. I thought that 34 Ng5 was virtually forcing resignation when in fact just taking the Knight – the very justification for my previous few moves – should have won the game. I spotted the stalemate possibility on move 50 but my objectivity had gone by then and after using up a lot of time talking myself out of forcing the half-point split I decided to risk everything. I still thought the Rook would break free and cause mass destruction in the time-dash but I was wrong.

The game certainly had an epic feel to it, in true Benoni fashion. Well played, Mr. Elcoate! You played fantastically well.

So there you have it! The story of how I was caught up in the festive spirit a little too early this year. Philanthropist? Me? No chance – you know I never touch a drop!