Match report: South Bristol A – Clifton A

Date: 02/11/2017
South Bristol A
2.5-3.5 Clifton A
Patryk Krzyzanowski 0.5-0.5 James Cobb
Shane Roberts 0.5-0.5 John Curtis
Iain Bourne 0-1 Gareth Morris
Tony Harve 0.5-0.5 David Collier
David Neagle 0-1 Alan Papier
1-0 Default

One might be surprised to be playing South Bristol in division 1 this year, given that they came last last year. I can only assume that they played their best match of the season at an LMC meeting. It’s good to have them there though, the division wouldn’t be nearly as strong if they weren’t.

Both teams were a bit under strength for this match, and we had defaulted board 6 in advance having failed to find another substitute. Seems our club members have a life outside chess, which I’m not sure is acceptable.

I finished first, after reaching an incomprehensible position against Shane. He offered the draw thus: “I offer a draw, since I have no idea what’s going on.” Made me smile, although I wouldn’t try it in a tournament with an officious arbiter. I had no idea either, and the other games looked ok for us, so accepted. We looked at if afterwards, and weren’t much the wiser. Unusually for me I put it through an engine, which said it was dead level. Most helpful.

Gareth and Iain were engaged in a Benoni/Benko type opening. All the initial play was on the queenside, with both players seemingly reluctant to touch their kingside pieces. Iain looked to have a bit of play, but Gareth neutralised it well, swapping into an endgame where he had all the space and much better pieces. Iain got horribly tied down, and while it might have been defensible it was very hard. Gareth missed the win of a piece, while carrying on with his plan of winning an exchange, but it didn’t matter as Iain resigned.

David played a QI against Tony, and lots of shuffling of bits was going on. I can’t say I liked David’s position much, as Tony gained space on the kingside. I think David was quite relieved when Tony offered a draw. It was by no means clearcut, but it did look like a position that Tony could have happily played on.

Alan has been cutting down on his chess to concentrate on other things, so it was very good of him to come out and play for us. His game with David was pretty balanced, with both probing for an advantage, and pieces slowly being exchanged. When I got back from looking at my game Alan was a pawn up in an endgame, with three minor pieces left each. Alan then left a piece en prise, and my first thought was “there goes the match”. Looking closer however, the position was fortunately still at least fine for him, as he was able to gather a few pawns. It looked to be heading for a draw, but then David returned the favour and dropped a piece too, and this time there was no compensation.

That left us one up with James & Patryk still playing. To my uncultured eyes it looked great for James early on, with Patryk playing a bit riskily. I was waiting for a big kingside attack, but I’d probably completely misjudged it since it never happened. Instead, Patryk slowly got his bits sorted out, and with pieces getting exchanged James’ looser structure was looking more and more relevant. It reached a R+B each endgame, with Patryk a bit better, but James put all his bits on the right squares, and once the bishops came off it was pretty even. They played on for a while with one minute plus increment each (still both writing the moves down, oddly), then agreed a draw.

So, a narrow win for us, which we’d have happily taken being one player short. We now have matches every week for the next 6 weeks, and some of us will need to improve if we want to stay near the top of the table.

There’s no report for our last match against Downend A since I was away. Gareth did send me some updates from the match, but they’re mostly the ramblings of a drunken man so I’ll spare you those. It seems like it was a close match; I’ll refer you to the Downend report for details ( despite it containing libellous accusations about me.

I missed the match because I was on my annual trip to the Guernsey tournament. As always it was a great week, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a friendly tournament with good conditions and lots of prawns. Three others from Bristol also went: David Collier, Steve Dilleigh & Peter Kirby, and while our chess didn’t set the world on fire we did enjoy the glorious weather and good food. Steve did best in the chess, winning about twelve bob, but I definitely won the beer drinking prize.

Match report: Clevedon A – Clifton A

Date: 02/10/2017
Clevedon A
1.5-4.5 Clifton A
Michael Townsend 0-1 James Cobb
David Painter-Kooiman 0-1 John Curtis
David Egginton 0.5-0.5 Gareth Morris
David Peters 0-1 David Collier
Andrew Chapman 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Chris Strong 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Chess on a Monday? That must mean a trip to Clevedon. It’s good to have them back in division 1 after their promotion, and also nice not to be there in arctic conditions in January, which is when we usually get to go. For some reason I didn’t see much of the games, probably spent too much time rehoning my ale pouring (and ale drinking) skills.

We’ll go in board order today:
James was white in an odd Slav, with Michael’s bishop hopping from g4-e6-g4. Do bishops hop, or is that just knights? Anyway, James pushed an early e4, which looked a little loose, and it got a bit complex so I went to look at other games at that point. No doubt James had it all under control, and he went on to register his first win of the season.

My game threatened to be a dull draw. Not much was going on, and my main plan was to avoid exchanges as much as possible and see if anything turned up. Something did turn up, when David sacrificed a piece on an empty square. It was very pretty indeed, but unfortunately for him also completely unsound, as he noticed as soon as he’d played it. David got a bit of compensation, but not a piece worth, and with his last ditch attack going nowhere he resigned.

Gareth was also white in a Slav. In this one the queens disappeared quickly, and sparring for good positions for pieces was the name of the game. It looked like Dave might be getting the upper hand, but it was difficult seeing it being anything but a draw. And that’s what happened.

The battle of the Davids on board four produced a standard looking closed Sicilian position. One thing I know about these types of position is that David (Clifton variety) plays them very well. Next time I looked he had won, so he might have played this one well. Or David (Clevedon variety) may have blundered. I really have no idea.

Dunc and Andrew played a very interesting looking game, with pieces all over the place. I wasn’t sure who was better in the opening and middlegame, or even when I looked at the end. Dunc was a pawn up in a N+P ending, but Andrew was very active. My immediate thought was that it was probably drawn, but not easy to play for either side. After some adventures they reached a properly drawn position, and shook hands.

On board 6 something had gone very wrong with Igor’s Sicilian, and he had a truly horrible position. Chris had the two bishops, total control over d5, more space, and several other advantages. There wasn’t a knockout blow however, and Igor is a tricky guy. When I looked next they’d reached an endgame with Igor a pawn or two up, but Chris still had his two lovely bishops and was by no means worse. Wandering back a bit later Chris was the exchange for a couple of pawns up in a much simplified position, and they (probably sensibly) repeated moves.

So, a second win for us, just about deserved, but the scoreline flattered us a little. The rest of the league will be quaking once we get into our stride. Possibly.


Match report: Horfield B – Clifton A

Date: 26/09/2017
Horfield B 2.0-4.0 Clifton A
John Richards 0.5-0.5 James Cobb
Jon Fisher 0.5-0.5 John Curtis
Chris Jones 0-1 Gareth Morris
Bob Radford 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Brent Perrin 0-1 Igor Doklestic
Nigel Pollet 0.5-0.5 Tomas Jankowski

First match of the season for us, and with our home venue being refurbished we swapped to Horfield’s venue for this match.

I finished fairly early. Jon played his usual 1.b3 against me, and although I know a bit of theoretical stuff against that I decided to make something up instead. I wasn’t really in the mood for thinking too much, so swapped some pieces off, hoping to get a slight advantage, but missed an idea for Jon, after which I was lucky not to be much worse. We ended up in a fairly blocked position with good knight vs good bishop and not much to be done.

Dunc finished around the same time. He was playing some kind of Hippo against Bob, but after looking a bit scary for him early on it all got a bit stuffed up and a draw was agreed. There’s a hippo getting stuck in the mud joke here, if I could be bothered to think of one.

James and John were engaged in a complex looking Grunfeld, with both sides having good squares for their bits. I can’t say I really understood what was going on, so I’m going to say it was around equal. When I looked after my game was finished it really was about equal, and John could perhaps have ended up better if James hadn’t swapped off into a R+P ending. They had 5 pawns each, and although James had more space and one of John’s pawns was weak, it was just drawn. James pushed for a bit, and John was accurate, then they shook hands. A very good result for John.

On board six Tomas looked to have the better game, but it was hard to see what he could do to improve. He and Nigel sparred for a while, and they eventually ended up in a level endgame. Nigel offered a draw, but Tomas turned it down and instead
played a move that lost a pawn. I’ve done that before. A couple of moves later Tomas offered a draw back, and rather than trying to win in their mutual time trouble Nigel accepted.

Gareth & Chris played a very odd Dutch, with Gareth looking good. He was up a pawn, and then the exchange. Chris got compensation though, with a good central passed pawn. When this turned into two passed pawns I was worried Gareth could be worse. Gareth got the queens off, when I thought it’d be drawn, but one of the central pawns got chopped off somehow, leaving Gareth a clear exchange up. He then just had to engineer a position where he could sac it back and win the pawn ending, and he managed this nicely.

Igor’s game was fun to watch, probably less so to play. A dull exchange French livened up when Igor faffed about too much, and Brent started a kingside attack. It was pretty bad for Igor, and I’m sure there was a winning knight sac missed somewhere. Igor kind of survived the first wave, and even managed to win an exchange with a good cheapo, but it was getting more and more desperate, with Brent’s queen & knight threatening all kinds of nasty things. Igor kept playing tricky moves, and eventually Brent blundered, dropping his knight (with king to follow) for nothing.

So, we won 4-2, but it was all pretty unconvincing. The Horfield guys played very well, and a drawn match would have been the fairest result. But chess isn’t fair, and we’ll take the win.



Match report: Clifton A – University A

Date: 25/04/2017
Clifton A 4.5-1.5 Bath A
James Cobb 1-0 Bogdan Manghiuc
John Curtis 1-0 Philipp Prasse
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Morris Stranger
Gareth Morris 0.5-0.5 Denis Fradkin
Igor Doklestic 0.5-0.5 Ravi Sharma
Default 1-0

The last match of the season, with us looking for a good win to try to sneak into second place, but mostly just looking forward to getting the season over with. The University only had five players, and Dunc decided to have the evening off.

Igor was first to finish. Playing black in a Sicilian, the game briefly threatened to get interesting with opposite castling, but Ravi forced the queens off, and there wasn’t much going on after that.

Since there was nothing riding on the match I decided to have a few beers and just attack. It was probably all nonsense, but at least had the advantage of making Philipp think. We ended up in a position with just the heavy pieces left, and I managed to get a kingside bind which was hard to escape. The unstoppable advance of my h pawn sealed the game.

Bogdan essayed the Scotch gambit against James. This sort of thing is never a bad idea against good players, indeed I vaguely remember James doing the same thing against Mickey Adams in the 4NCL many years ago. The trouble with these openings is that black can usually just give the pawn back, and James did that, leaving an endgame that I thought was a bit better for James, while he thought it was much better for him. Whatever, James knows what to do in these positions, and despite Bogdan’s stubborn defence he brought home the point.

David played the Kings Indian against Morris’ London system, and while he gained a nice centre there didn’t seem much that either of them could do. Fair play to them, they shuffled bits late into the session, then agreed a draw just before time trouble randomised it.

Finally, Gareth was making stuff up against Denis’ Lundin defence (look it up). It seemed Gareth was getting behind in development early on, but he held it together and had much the better of the middlegame. He got into an endgame a pawn up, but as many times before this season had spent too long getting there, and his clock fell. Luckily, again, Denis had no bits left by then, so a draw.

So, the end of another season. We didn’t manage a repeat of our unexpected success of last year; there were some good games, and good matches, but overall we were much too inconsistent to challenge for top spot.


Match report: Clifton A – Bath A

Date: 18/04/2017
Clifton A 2.5-3.5 Bath A
James Cobb 1-0 David Buckley
Gareth Morris 0-1 Aitor Garcia-Ruiz
John Curtis 0.5-0.5 Horia Bogdan
Duncan Grossett 0-1 Adam Musson
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Clive Walley
Igor Doklestic 0.5-0.5 Christian Brown

Another match, another mix of good play and bad play, which has been the story of our season. At least the beer was good.

David was first to finish, again. He looked, to my inexpert eyes, to have done everything right in a Najdorf, but apparently he was more worried than me about Clive’s attacking chances, and readily agreed a draw.

Dunc also finished quickly, but rather less successfully. In a kind of delayed exchange Spanish he got his pieces stranded on the queenside, and Adam was eyeing up his king. A quick bishop sac, a rook lift and that was that.

My game was another interesting one. I was probably a bit worse through the opening, but it felt like my kind of position, and when I managed to exchange a couple of bits and break in the centre it all felt good. It was still only equal, and with both Horia & me trying to win it could have gone either way. A few tactics, a few bits flying about, and it all fizzled out into a dead drawn endgame. Such is life.

Meanwhile, Igor was looking to attack on the white side of a closed Sicilian. It all looked a bit slow, and in response Christian was motoring down the centre and queenside. When I next had a peek it had all gone horribly wrong for Igor, with way too many black pieces wedged in his position, and I mentally chalked it up as a loss. Igor fought though, and a draw was agreed in a strange ending that looked easier to lose than win, for both sides.

James continued his good form with a nice game against David. He played a Nimzo and focussed on initiative and activity rather than structure and material. That in itself means I probably didn’t really know what was going on. It looked good though.

Last to finish, Gareth had a long, complex game against Aitor. Gareth looked fine to me, with an advanced pawn and good squares against Aitor’s two bishops. Something must have gone wrong though, since when I next looked he was the exchange down with some, but not enough compensation. Aitor wrapped it up cleanly.

Finally, congratulations must given to Downend A on winning the league. They’ve been much the best team this year and thoroughly deserved their victory.


Match report: South Bristol A – Clifton A

Date: 16/03/2017
South Bristol A 1.5-4.5 Clifton A
Paul Helbig 0-1 James Cobb
Patryk Krzyzanowski 0-1 John Curtis
Shane Roberts 0.5-0.5 Gareth Morris
Richard Garrett 0.5-0.5 David Collier
Tony Harvey 0-1 Duncan Grossett
David Neagle 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Despite the comfortable-looking scoreline this was a tough match with hard-fought games. The exception to that was on board 4, where it didn’t seem like Richard and David were in the mood. A dull opening led to a quick handshake, and presumably a beer or two.

On top board James had played Bg5 then Bc1 by move 4, which I guess you can get away with without looking silly when you’re an IM. An unbalanced position arose which it looked like James played extremely well, causing Paul to have to cope with some crafty tactics. Paul lost or gave up his queen for rook and knight, and James converted smoothly. He’s played some really good stuff recently.

Dunc found himself in a slightly passive position against Tony, but at least he hadn’t blundered a pawn on move four like in the previous match. Tony was pressing, confidently advancing his g pawn and gaining more space, but while I was otherwise engaged things turned around, and next time I looked Dunc was a pawn up with a nice protected central passed pawn. Tony battled hard, but Dunc won through in the end.

Meanwhile Igor was embroiled in a fairly unexciting looking closed Sicilian. It was quite blocked, and pieces were slowly coning off. Igor tried to make something happen in the endgame, but it always looked like a draw.

My goal for the last couple of years has been to play more interesting games, and this was a fun one. We quickly reached a novel and very unbalanced position: I had a good structure but Patryk had two bishops and the initiative. Gradually I managed to gain space in the centre and nice squares for my knights, while Patryk was trying to aim at my king, who was feeling a bit breezy after castling long. Fortunately for me my central pressure was quicker than his attack, and when Patryk tried to hide his king on the kingside it got chopped down by a sneaky rook lift.

Meanwhile, Gareth had been lunging away as white in a Pirc, but his pawn advances only seemed to give Shane lots of nice squares, plus a rather scary bishop. In truth it looked horrible for Gareth, and he was holding on for dear life. Chess is tricky though, and Shane went wrong, leaving Gareth with a winning ending. He spent too much time however, and there followed a (rather comical to watch) period of mutual bashing out of moves. Gareth’s flag eventually fell, but by that time Shane was down to a bare king, so the point was split.

After this result we’re still in the hunt for second place (or first if all the Downend players decide to give up chess). South Bristol however have a real struggle on their hands to avoid the drop.


Match report: Horfield B – Clifton A

Date: 27/02/2017
Horfield B 2.5-3.5 Clifton A
Phil Nendick 0-1 James Cobb
John Richards 0.5-0.5 John Curtis
Peter Kirby 0-1 Gareth Morris
Michael Harris 1-0 Duncan Grossett
Mike Levine 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic
Jon Fisher 0.5-0.5 David Collier

There’s winning ugly, and then there’s this. I struggle to remember a match where we less deserved to win.

I excuse James from this: he soon established a dominating position, and despite Phil’s stubborn defence the game reached its logical conclusion.

My game was something else entirely. As black I found myself in a Giuoco Piano, an opening I haven’t played since I was about 8. I had a nice position, but then dropped a piece. It was worse than a blunder, I pretty much forced John to win it. I nearly resigned, but decided to hang in there and see if anything happened. It did eventually, John allowing me to complicate things, although it was still completely lost. One mistake from John and it turned around, leaving me a winning endgame, which I went on to play abysmally and drew. I’m perfectly happy with that though, the draw was undeserved and a win would have been outrageous. Neither John nor I will be including this effort in our best game collections.

Meanwhile, David looked to have a nice opening against Jon. He went for the win of a pawn, but in hindsight maybe that wasn’t the best idea. It looked to me like Jon could become seriously better, but fortunately it all liquidated into a drawn ending.

Igor was playing some Bird’s opening nonsense against Mike. I didn’t like Igor’s position much, but it all got a bit stodged up, and it was no surprise when they agreed a draw.

Dunc had me bamboozled. He had given up a pawn and exchanged queens by move 5, and he was probably already objectively lost. There were still lots of bits on the board, but Michael kept it all under control well, slowly moving forward. I missed the middle bit of the game, where apparently Dunc had conjured up good drawing chances from somewhere, but by the end Michael’s pieces had infiltrated and it was soon all over.

All sorts of stuff was going on on board 3, where Gareth and Peter were battling in a Samisch KI. It looked fairly normal to start with, but got rather odd in the ending. Both sides had passed pawns close to queening, and there were exposed kings too. I watched the last dozen moves or so, and it looked like both Gareth and Peter were trying their best to lose. Gareth seemed to be winning, then losing, then winning again, then losing again, and finally won with a nice tactic. He only had a couple of seconds left at the end, and the game could easily have gone either way. It was a lot of fun to watch.

So, we scraped a narrow win, but could have had no complaints if we’d lost heavily. Horfield B are not completely safe from relegation, and I hope this mishap doesn’t come back to haunt them.


Match report: Downend A – Clifton A

Date: 14/02/2017
Downend A 2.0-4.0 Clifton A
Henry Duncanson 0-1 James Cobb
Richard Savory 0-1 John Curtis
Chris Russell 1-0 Gareth Morris
Nigel Hosken 0-1 David Collier
Jerry Humphreys 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Michael Brigden 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Could there possibly be a more romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day than a chess match at Downend? David’s email to the team reminding us of this match had the subject ‘St Valentine’s Day massacre?’ and it nearly was a massacre too, but not in the way we were expecting given the relative fortunes of our teams this year.

David led the way with the first win, playing an excellent game against Nigel. A normalish closed Catalan looked to offer equal chances, but Nigel seemed to overextend, which may have been asking too much of his position. David manoeuvred well, and picked up a queenside pawn. The ending looked tricky to me at first, but David brought home the point very smoothly.

Meanwhile Duncan had tried an early b3 in a Sicilian, an idea I’ve never understood. Jerry wasn’t seemingly concerned, and they both got their bits out sensibly. As he is wont to do, Dunc spiced things up a bit by castling queenside, although getting real attacking chances looked optimistic. He tried though, but Jerry kept things together, and eventually got into an ending that was quite a bit better for him. Dunc was certainly worried, but maybe Jerry went wrong sometime after that, because the next I knew they’d halved out. If I were writing the Downend report I’d no doubt insert a comment here about Jerry and draws, but I’m not, so I won’t.

My game was fun to play, albeit quite confusing. Richard played down the same line I’d had a couple of weeks ago, but deviated with what looked like an improvement. Some odd things happened, leading to Richard having a huge looking pawn chain (g4, f5, e6), but a nice sequence at least gave me all the black squares as compensation. It was probably around equal, but then a tactical oversight let me take his big e6 pawn for nothing, which was nice. Richard told me afterwards that he’d seen the refutation of his move, but had forgotten and played it anyway. I know the feeling. It took me quite a while to secure the win, probably making heavy weather of it, but it was really just a matter of time, particularly since Richard had very little time left.

James won soon after me. All his games with white against Henry look much the same to me: a Catalan, some subtle shuffling of bits, queenside pressure being applied, switch to kingside attack. Maybe it’s just me. In any case it worked this time, and looked impressive to me, much like Henry’s win against James earlier in the season.

While all this was going on Igor and Michael were happily chugging along in a QI. Michael looked to have a small edge early on, but it was nothing major. Next time I looked the position had changed somewhat: Igor’s kingside pawn structure was compromised, but his remaining minor pieces were very active. I missed everything after that, but apparently Igor missed a win somewhere along the line.

Finally, Gareth and Chris were battling it out in a Classical Dutch. Chris transformed it into a Stonewall in response to Gareth’s queenside lunges, but it still looked good for white to me. Suddenly a nice tactic appeared, and Gareth managed to nab a couple of bits for a rook, which was the cue for him to go and buy a pint. White must have been much better, but Chris is a very good, tricky player, and he also had a very active queen. Gareth decided to go for an attack, giving back his material advantage. Unfortunately for him he didn’t get it quite right, and Chris got into a winning endgame.

So, a few ups and downs but overall a successful evening. It almost certainly won’t have much effect on the final standings, but it’s good to remind people that we can, on occasion, still play chess.


Match report: Clifton A – Clifton B

Date: 07/02/2017
Clifton A 3.5-2.5 Clifton B
James Cobb 0.5-0.5 Chris Beaumont
John Curtis 0-1 Dominic Bennett
Gareth Morris 0-1 Manuel Jiminez
Duncan Grossett 1-0 Anton Muller
David Collier 1-0 Abshir Ahmed
Igor Doklestic 1-0 Stefano Gallini

Our matches against the B team have been anything but straightforward over the years, and this one was no exception. I always find them a bit strange, playing your mates and pretending it’s important. I didn’t pay that much attention to the games this time, so the report may be even less factual than normal.

The games on the bottom two boards finished first. David got a level position out of the opening, and it looked pretty dull to be honest. After a while it started getting a bit spicy, and David won the tactical battles and cleaned up nicely. Igor won soon afterwards, gradually outplaying his opponent, whose king was wandering around the board, somewhat like me trying to get home after a heavy Friday night.

On board four Dunc and Anton were involved in an open Sicilian, just like real chess players. After a while Dunc got the upper hand, winning a pawn. The game still looked complex though, so I was surprised that when I next looked it had simplified to an ending where Dunc had two bits for a rook, which he duly converted.

3-0 at half way looks good, but then things started too go wrong. Against me Dom had essayed a slightly odd version of the Stonewall Dutch. After a bit of a ponder, I decided to make it interesting and castled queenside. I was a bit better all the way through, and we ended up in a position where I was a pawn up, albeit with some king issues. A pawn soon turned into an exchange, and I thought it was all under control. It might well have been too, but in the space of about four good moves from Dom (combined with a few bad moves from me) I was getting mated. Never mind, it was a fun game.

Meanwhile, Gareth had played a Czech Benoni, one of my old favourites. It was all fairly thematic, with Gareth exchanging his bad pieces to offset the space disadvantage. It didn’t really seem to be going anywhere though, and an ending ensued that looked very even. I don’t know what happened next, but the next three times I looked Gareth was a pawn down, then the exchange down, and finally a rook down. Manuel gave mate with about 10 seconds left on his clock.

That left the two IMs battling it out on top board. Watching while sat next to the game, I will admit to being baffled. Playing black, James got out of mainstream theory on move two, gave away all the central space, for ages only moved his knights and just for good measure pushed his h pawn up the board. I don’t feel qualified to say whether it was madness or genius. What it did leave was an interesting position, one that I won’t pretend to understand. I’m sure lots of interesting stuff happened next, but all I really remember is that it finished in perpetual check.

So, we won by a whisker. The B team’s loss will help the other teams near the foot of the table more than the win will help us near the top. As I say, these matches are strange.