Saturday, 1 May 2004

Archive: UNCUT! 30

The Sean Marsh Chess Column
Column 30
May 2004


Dear Readers,

Poor ‘Big’ Ron Atkinson. Caught out by the old ‘leave the microphone on’ trick, he dropped his guard and fell into the obvious trap. Of course he will be back but it may take some time; he will probably have to start on Sky 25, commentating on local school matches before working his way back up. Until then, we’ll have to do without his manifold words of wisdom and pithy comments, such as…

'Well, either side could win, or it could be a draw'

'He's really gambled all his eggs'

'I would not say that Ginola is the best left-winger in the Premiership, but there are none better'

Of course, such controversial matters are often a matter of perspective. It is always a mystery to me why ‘the man in the crowd’ can freely shout at someone ‘You lazy ******* ****!’ without any sense of the abuse he is causing, yet as soon as he adds any word with specific racial connotations, the same man can be arrested and subsequently hung, drawn and quartered.
Or, in the case of football commentators, muzzled. If he’d been insulted an Irishman and called him a lazy P***y, I doubt he’d have suffered the same fate. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Surely the two things are the same and should be treated as such. Or is my perception at fault here?

Ahhhhhh the delights of spam! It started life as an acronym for ‘Specially Pressed American Meats’ and one does still enjoy the occasional Spam Fritter from the local Barnacles. If you remember an old show called ‘Budgie’, starring the late, great Adam Faith, you may remember a character called ‘Laughing Spam Fritter’.
The famous Monty Python sketch, which enhanced the ubiquitous nature of spam, will also live on through history as a fun and novel entertainment. But spam has evolved into something apparently designed purely to annoy.
I mean, how many of us are actually going to be stupid enough to actually buy something from the copious amount of rubbish adverts we receive every day via e-mail? Dodgy software, male enhancement pills, alternative medicines…is it likely that we chess players are going to be remotely interested in any of those things?
Of course not. The people who generate the junk should try tailoring their adverts to suit their targets. For instance, if we received an e-mail promising to improve our performances against the Nimzo-Indian Defence, raise our standards in tough tournaments or enable us to keep our end up in the most testing of endgames we’d all be ordering things by the dozen.
It would seem to me that the people who dish these things out suffer from a complete lack of perspective. Or maybe they are right all along and their aim really is just to annoy us all and give us a mass case of repetitive stress injury caused by hitting 'delete’ a few thousand times.

And what has this got to do with chess? Well, nothing at all, except the theme this month is ‘perspective’ – something which could be said to have a big influence on the outcome of this season’s county championship...

The twists and turns of a tournament lasting the length of a domestic season can never be predicted. So much effort is required over seven months. Trying to keep it for that long is certainly no easy matter.

This year’s County Individual Championship produced enough surprises to last for several seasons and a final round that nobody would have believed possible.

My own chances of retaining the title it had taken me 20 years to win had taken a massive blow in the very first round when I took a tumble after a fascinating encounter with Ian Elcoate (see UNCUT! 26). For a long time it seemed as if the stalemate I could have forced towards the end of the game would be the missed half-point that I would be forced to regret for a long time.

However, the three leaders were content to draw with each other and nobody was able to establish a commanding dominance. Steve Dauber dropped a valuable half-point to Ian and Paul Gregory was quite fortunate to escape with a draw against John Garnett.
Meanwhile, former champion Mike Closs had played a very professional tournament. He had drawn with his three main rivals and beaten three of the pack, leaving him needing just one more victory to be assured of at least a play-off for the title. However, last rounds have rules of their own and one has to expect the unexpected….

Denise Mosse – Mike Closs
County Champs (7), 16.04.2004

(Notes by D.M. Mosse)

1.e4 The score before this game was very large - something like 10–0 to Mike .
1...d6 2.d4 Nd7 Capa tried this against d4 c4 and e4 d4.
3.Bc4 Ngf6 4.Qe2 e5 Don't think Capa ever transposed to Hanham Philidor's.
5.Nf3 h6 Bad - but methinks it's forced - or maybe play ...d5.
6.0–0 c6 7.a4 Be7 8.Rd1 Qc7 9.c3 0–0 10.Nbd2 Re8 Even though I didn't exploit this properly I don't like it. Plus, Mike will always be ten tons better than me.
11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Nf1 a5 Can't see why this is good.
13.Ng3 Bf8 Going into a Ruy Lopez type position but with White's Bishop on c4.
14.Be3 Nc5 With this move Black encourages me to gambit a pawn.
15.Nh4 Debatable.
15...Ncxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Bxh6 Nxc3 18.bxc3 gxh6 19.Qe4 Be6 20.Bd3 Destiny calling for this Bishop. 20...Bg7 Starting to think Mish was doing his usual against me.
21.Qh7+ Kf8 22.Bf5 Qe7 23.Bxe6 Qxh4 Maybe taking the Bishop was better.
24.Bd7 Red8 Sets himself up. When the chance comes I don't take it but Mish doesn't rectify and then I do spot it.
25.Rd3 Qf6 26.Rf3 Qe7 27.Rg3 Still thought I was struggling but watch the Exocets!.
27...f6 28.Bf5
Missed it! 28...Rd2 So did Mish. 29.Be6! Qxe6 30.Rxg7

This left Steve and I in a position to draw our last round game to share the title, which we duly did. Critics will jump in at this point and say we should have gone for blood. Well, blame me, I had the White pieces and after the trials of a lengthy and difficult tournament decided to ‘stick’ rather than ‘twist’.

This little cross table, showing the results between the top four graded players, tells its own story.

SM XX draw draw 1-0
SD draw XX draw draw
MC draw draw XX draw
PG 0-1 draw draw XX

The game which really gave me the chance to finally obtain an opportunity to battle for top honours was the penultimate round. I was amazed to still be in with a shout but only a win would do. The opening was interesting…

Paul Gregory – Sean Marsh
County Championship, Round 6

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e5
What can we say about the Albin Counter-Gambit? The public perspective is one of an unsound trinket, rightly buried amongst the treasure of ‘real’ openings.
In his famous tournament book, ‘St. Petersburg 1914’ Tarrasch explained why he played 3 e3 in this position against Alekhine,
‘On principal, I accept no gambit as the first player, for if I must defend myself as the second player and should also defend myself as the first player, when should I then really enjoy the pleasure of attack?'
That game was drawn. Maybe Tarrasch was also a little bit concerned about trying to hold the fiery young Alekhine in a tactical battle. Alekhine later repeated the Albin against the great Lasker but the old fox, who delighted in solving problems over the board, won after a complicated struggle.
In ‘My Fifty Years of Chess’ , in the game Marshall – Janowski, Havana 1913, Frank Marshall makes an interesting comment on the position after Black’s second move,
To play this counter-attack against a player of equal strength with the idea of gaining a point is ridiculous!’
Did Marshall forget that he had played the gambit himself on numerous occasions – even against Janowski!– or was this comment actually from the pen of ghost-writer Fred Reinfeld, rumoured to have written a large amount of the book in question?

3 dxe5 d4 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 Bf5 (This line hopes for a quick ..Nb4) 6 a3 Qd7 7 b4 (A standard plan in the Albin – aiming for a quick storming of the Queenside, where the Black King most often goes. However, it gives the possibility of the shot…) 7 … Bxb4 8 axb4 Nxb4 9 Qa4

(After lengthy thought…White looks to be in a bad way, but it is at this moment that he can force an advantage with the stunning 9 e6! fxe6 10 Ne5! Qd6 11 Nd3 and despite the mess White should consolidate. Needless to say I didn’t see 9 e6! at the time. As played, Black gained the advantage on the board and, psychologically, White was in an understandably bad way.) ….and Black converted the advantage without the need of a second session.


Norman Stephenson, the current Senior British Champion, will be giving a simultaneous display to approximately 25 local juniors as part of the ongoing Chess Links Project.

Sean Marsh

May 2004