Wednesday, December 12, 2012

There's a fine fine line

For those of you who have seen the hilarious Avenue Q Musical you will be aware as to how this article's title has been chosen. For those who haven't a clue take my word it is one laugh after another and unashamed political in-correctness!

So my story begins a couple of months ago at Norton Radstock school on October 6th 2012. Norton Radstock chess club was celebrating its fortieth anniversary and decided to ask Grand Master Matthew Turner to show us how chess should really be played. He played against 27 chess players drawn from Radstock and other local chess clubs including Frome, Trowbridge and Bath. I was the only delegate from Trowbridge that could attend, but I noted a few respectably rated players including Tim (187) and Fenella Headlong (161) from Brown Jack and Witney.

Arriving at the venue I was informed that there would be certain rule changes that would make this different from other simultaneous displays. Here we go I thought, this would surely be be to our detriment. Then to my astonishment I am told about the changes:

Firstly, every single competitor could chose their own colour! Wow I had never played in a Simul before where I could be white....but just hang on a minute I have studiously prepared the previous week against 1. e4, 1. d4, 1. c4, 1. F4, 1. Nc3 1. G6 etc...What do I do now just 15 minutes before battle commences? Make up my mind to choose the white bits of wood of course (I had already swapped a couple of plastic pieces from the board next to me I have to confess!), but what if...? No white will do.

Secondly, we were all allocated 1 hour 15 minutes to make our moves, and GM Turner had 1 hour 45 mins - fair enough as GM Turner has to wander around in a big square to reach every player whilst we have the luxury to sit around and relax without resorting to our phone or ipad software of course!

Thirdly, we could elect to 'pass' as many times as we liked during a game. Again this was quite unusual as normally you would be limited to a maximum of three passes. Of course if you went down this route too many times early on, your 1 hour 15 would soon be eaten away.

After a quiet opening which Matthew Turner had gained just under a point advantage (-.83 according to one of my trusty software partners Hiarcs 14 - btw at move 12 I am apparently 0.5 ahead against a GM..awesome) the following position was reached......

[Event "Simultaneous Norton Radstock"]
[Date "6 Oct 2012"]
[White "Me"]
[Black "GM Matthew Turner"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 b6 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3 Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Rc1 a6 11. h3 c5 12. Re1 Rc8 13. Qe2 c4 14. Bf5 g6 15. Bb1 b5 16. a3 Ne4 17. Bf4 Nxc3 18. Rxc3 b4 19. Rc2 bxa3 20. bxa3 Bxa3 21. h4 Be7 22. h5 Bc6 23. Bh6 Re8 24. Ra2 Bb5 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Bf4 Bf6 27. Qc2 Kg7

There followed 28. g4 to uproarious laughter from Matthew "ah the other pawn" he said unable to suppress his mirth, "actually its quite a nuisance" he said probably thinking I might have been offended. Earlier on move 21. h4 I had made a point about how my h-pawn had been the lone attacker). Now this wasn't necessarily the best move but it was 'only' a simul......!

The game continued for another 14 moves or so when the position outlined in the second diagram was arrived at: I had sacrificed a knight a few moves earlier in a desperate bid for counterplay.......but my attack has effectively lost steam and my resignation is imminent:((

There are nearly forty moves available for black three clearly winning, many levelling the sides, but many more could/should lose outright for black despite being a piece to the good. I know that I make a point about knowing when to resign but sometimes don't follow my own advice!

Then Matthew played.............Qb7??

This was an unbelievable stroke of luck a total miscalculation on his part, - now ok he had been playing 27 games at a time having just won 23 out of 24, now ok he had also given the choice of colours to all-comers, (nearly all chose white, including me), he had just beaten Tim Headlong after a tough game and had Fenella and one other game left, but he had given himself 105 minutes against our 75 mins for each game - lol!

I looked at my clock knowing the next move was obvious.....30 seconds or so and counting (my count) Matthew had just 25 minutes! Surely now Bd5 and it cant go on much longer..make the move BE4.. BE4 BE4.. I did, and at this point Matthew Turner said, and I quote...."I suppose the uninitiated would assume I have brought your piece into the attack". 'You might say that" I said with a smirk. Exactly well played G, A chill ran down my spine surely this is a winning position? Well it certainly looks that way.

Indeed it is is clearly winning, +6 or +7 whichever software variant you use, there are some very interesting continuations but with just a few seconds left on the clock I could not find the winning moves and resigned just as the flag was about to fall, even missing an opportunity to get my piece back! It transpires that instead of Bd5 by white - Fxg6 is an unavoidable mate in 11 for black, that would have been an awesome way to lose!! By the way final result Matthew 26 the rest 1 his one loss to Norton Radstock chess player Andrew Gredziak current grade 113. Nice scalp.