Gambit 2 played their final match of the season against relegation rivals WB 1, knowing that a draw would keep them up, regardless of the pending LMC decision. WB 1 finally got their act together and brought a strong team. Things began well when Steve Hunter won an exchange against Ross Murphy but then he allowed an attack and his position collapsed. Onos was outplayed by Shabir Okhai. Graeme Jennings played an uncharacteristically poor opening which Richard Truman punished. Mike played nicely against Robert Richmond until he allowed a bishop to get trapped. Drag, after a poor start, recovered to have the best side of a draw versus Robert Taylor (Syston’s, not Ashfield’s), but after missing a mate in one he over pressed and Robert defended well even when short of time and Drag eventually lost. Although it was always going to be a difficult match, nobody expected a 5-0 thrashing.
This result means that Gambit 2 will be relegated unless the LMC remains consistent with decisions already made this season, and rules that Dong was ineligible for Ashfield 1 v Gambit 2. If the LMC rules otherwise, Gambit will eagerly await the LMC’s detailed explanation.
Steve Hunter won the major section of the Nottingham Congress for the second time, having previously won it in 2012. Going into the final round he was a full point clear and needed a draw to win outright, which he achieved, but it looked tricky for a bit.
Pete Mercs won a 5th share of the U185 grading prize after a very interesting and hard fought last round draw v a 194.
9 Gambiteers took part (and John Swain was one of the arbiters). Scores:
Open: Pete Mercs 3, Charlie Grainger 1.5, Mike Naylor 1
Major: Steve Hunter 4.5, Drag Sudar 3, John Huthwaite & Peter Gorecka-Marshall 1.5
Inter: Mick Harper 1.5
Minor: Maggie Gretton 2.5
Gambit 2 threw away the chance to at least draw, and possibly win at Grantham 2, who unsurprisingly brought in a 185 for only his 4th appearance of the season for Grantham 2.
Onos fought well against the aforementioned Jason Dilley, getting down to Q+7 each and it looked drawn, but obviously not as Dilley found a way to win it. Mike played very nicely against Peter Cusick and won an exchange, and then forced off Cusick’s final pawn, giving the exchange back in the process, to leave a won endgame. Tom won a couple of Chris Holt’s queen side pawns early and then withstood a mini counter attack on the king side to win. Drag had a totally drawn position against Andy Hebert and was trying to see if he could convert it to a win but then played the only move on the board that saw him lose a rook and pawn for a knight and the position was eventually lost. Brian had an equal looking game against Ben Mason but then it turned awkward for him as he was getting short on time. Ben made a really bad error in forking Brian’s King and knight with his knight, but Brian missed it and this allowed Ben to win a pawn leaving N+6 v N+4 with 3 queen side pawns rampaging down the board, and Brian lost on time.
Gambit 2’s final match of the season is at home to WB 1 who are a point behind them, for the moment anyway, as this could change if the LMC uphold Gambit 2’s appeal regarding the use of a clearly ineligible player by Ashfield 1 earlier in the season. All the evidence points to an extremely easy decision for the LMC but…
After 5 seasons in division 2 Gambit 3 were relegated after a spirited performance at champions-elect Newark 1. Drag and Charlie drew with Zoltan Tardi and Alex Combie. Keith and Gary lost to Andy George and Ian Burridge. Peter fought well against Dan Jazdzewski and had chances to at least draw but eventually lost.
Gambit 3 were without Hamzah and Onos this season, and several other division 2 teams had very strong board 1 & 2 players. This meant that they were always going to find this season a struggle.
On the bright side, they might win a clock for the club next season by winning division 3.
Gambit 2 escaped with an important victory last night against relegation rivals Ashfield 2. Tom was in a terrible mess v Alan Robinson but as Alan descended into his habitual serious time trouble Tom wriggled away and eventually Alan blundered, handing Tom a victory. Drag, although a pawn up, had no better than a draw but Phil Morgan’s king started to wander aimlessly and Phil allowed Drag to win his advanced pawn and get rid of the opposite coloured bishops to leave R+4 v R+2 and Drag won. Onos was doing fine against Glenn Halfpenny but then it all went wrong. Graeme neutralised Robert Taylor’s attack and the game petered out to a drawn. Mike N was a pawn up against Jerry Herrington and clearly better but messed up before agreeing a draw to secure the points. This win leaves Gambit 2 in 6th place with 7 points, Ashfield 2 7th on 5 and WB 1 8th on 4, with Grantham 2 5th on 8 points. Gambit still have to play Grantham 2 away and WB 1 at home. Ashfield 2 still have to play both WB 1 and Grantham 2 at home.
There could be a twist in this relegation battle if the LMC decides Ashfield 1 fielded an ineligible player against Gambit 2 and WB 1.
In division 2 Gambit 3 have reached the point of no return. They simply must win their final 3 matches to have any chance of staying up, and as one of them is away to champions-elect Newark 1, the odds aren’t great.
In division 3 Gambit 4, having narrowly lost their last two matches, have slipped dangerously close to the relegation places, lying 5th on 9 points with WN 3 also on 9, Grantham 3 on 7 and WB 3 on 4. One victory from their final 3 matches might be enough and they still have WB 3 to play, but Grantham 3 still have to play WB 3 twice but they also have to face WN 3, so this probably won’t be decided until the final round of matches.
Maggie Gretton came joint 2nd in the minor section of last weekend’s Nottingham rapidplay, and Andrew Thompson narrowly missed out on winning the intermediate after losing in the final round. Final scores:
Open: P Mercs 3.5/6
Major: G Jennings 3.5, D Sudar 3
Inter: A Thompson 4.5, C Grainger 4, M Harper 2, D Padvis 1
Minor: M Gretton 5
Keith Brameld sadly passed away last week after a long battle with illness.
Yorkshire born Keith, a Sheffield Wednesday fan, joined Oxclose in 1988 and we immediately knew the club would be more fun.
He employed his attacking style of chess for 22 seasons for Oxclose, Fiveways and Bunkers (now Central), and also played in the Derby & District Chess League, initially as one of the Oxclose group who played for Charnwood Knights and later for Oxclose in the 1990s.
In September 1990, Keith, Tom Carter and I all had the same grade, 122, so we decided the board order with a series of 5 minute games. Keith came third but didn’t mind at all even though he was a stronger player than both Tom and me, and he went on to score 12-2-1 that season on board 5 in division 2 for Oxclose 2.
This photo was taken in 1994 in my then ‘local’ after a large group of Oxclose players had returned from the Scarborough congress. This photo neatly captures Keith’s open, friendly and fun character. Keith was great company and always saw the positive side of things. Several of us spent many a happy hour playing chess with Keith, at his or ours, over a beer or two, and he was a fantastic team mate, playing in the same team as me for over a decade.
He will be remembered very fondly by those who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Yet another unexpected twist in this exciting 1st division relegation battle. The 2nd team team managed to draw with the 1st team even without Graeme Jennings who has been on fire this season.
The club’s newest member Tom Adams was brought into the team for only his 2nd graded game this season, and he stunned everyone by beating draw specialist John Swain who was unbeaten this season and had lost just 1 from 13 games last season, an achievement made even more remarkable by the fact that Tom last played OTB graded chess in 2013-14.
Drag Sudar moved up from board 4 to board 3 as he felt Pete Mercs’ open style of play would suit him more than John’s closed style, and so it proved, albeit Drag was lucky in that Pete spent so much time early on that he didn’t have enough time to find the winning moves in a knight and pawn endgame, and Drag escaped with a very valuable draw.
John Tassi felt confident going up against Brian Hayward’s rather predictable opening and eventually he got behind Brian’s position and would probably have won anyway but Brian’s flag fell.
Meanwhile Mike Naylor gallantly resisted Ray Evan’s trickery but eventually lost to a tactic, while Onos could have won a pawn giving Mike Barnes attacking chances but in declining the ‘offer’ he found his position bombarded by an indefensible attack.
This result leaves Gambit 2, Ashfield 1 and Ashfield 2 on 5 points with WB 1 on 2 points.
Gambit has been saddened by the news of Steve’s death on 11 December.
Steve was a very good friend of several Gambit members with some friendships going back 40 years to when he played for Raleigh chess club.
Steve left Nottingham in the early 80s to gain a 1st class honours degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He worked for almost 20 years at the top government research establishment in Great Malvern, and became a chartered physicist in 1999.
During his time in Malvern he played in the Worcester, Dudley and Birmingham leagues and in many congresses.
On his return to Nottingham in 2008 he joined Central chess club and soon became their 1st team captain. He readily bought into Central’s philosophy of being a social club that happened to play chess. Whenever he faced his long time friend John Tassi over the board in Central 1 – Gambit 2 matches, a quick draw would be followed by an even quicker retirement to the bar.
He was also a great supporter of CWANG, which began as a friendly between Bunkers (now Central), Ashfield and Gambit in 2005. He took part in every one since 2008 and, as his 4-12-16 record shows, he rightly regarded it as a fun social event rather than a competition.
It will be very strange going to U160 away matches without him. After the matches, win, draw or lose, Steve, John Tassi, Mark Radford and I would find ourselves a suitable hostelry in which to perform post match ‘analysis’, without the ‘analysis’.
He will be greatly missed, both as a chess colleague and as a friend.
Gambit 2 & Gambit 4 went to WB yesterday to play WB 1 & WB 3 respectively, only to find that the function room had been replaced by a pool area, with the matches having to take place in a cramped corner of the main bar area, where the pool table used to be. Both WB captains, Chris Budd & Bob Abrahart were very apologetic, and once their final home match before Christmas is played next week, ironically against Gambit 3, presumably they will be seeking a new venue.
So the teams squeezed together to play, accompanied by pub music and crowd chatter.
The 4th team had a night to forget as both Derek Padvis and Andrew Thompson dropped rooks and Maggie Gretton faltered at the end of her game, leaving Gary Hopkinson and Mick Harper to secure two draws to prevent a white wash.
Gambit 2 had a night to remember as they achieved a fabulous victory over a WB team whose average grade was higher than that of Gambit 2’s highest graded player, thanks to a nice win by John Tassi over Chris Budd and 3 absolutely superb performances on the top 3 boards against far higher graded opponents.
On board 1, Onos Kofi-Ofuafor won an exchange and kept his cool to withstand some pressure from Robert Richmond before checkmating him. On board 3, Graeme Jennings played masterfully, sacrificing a pawn to invade Richard Truman’s king side and win a piece – game over. On board 2, Mike Naylor faced WB 1’s latest recruit from Syston, Shabir Okhai, graded 194, but showed no respect for grades as he played a lovely exchange sacrifice. Okhai had to return it later to equalise. Mike gave up his rook to stop Okhai’s last pawn promoting. Okhai had to do the same but, seeing that Mike had only 7 seconds left, he decided to allow Mike to promote the pawn, hoping to win on time, and Mike was so absorbed in the game he didn’t notice his time running out and lost a game that he fully deserved to at least draw. The only poor performance was by Drag Sudar who played some dreadful moves that were punished by Ben Pickering.
This brilliant victory sends Gambit 2 above both Ashfield teams and gives them real hope of staying up.