Five days of Chess. And they say Shang-ri-la is a mythical place.
Chess = Bliss (usually).
Hence the subject title.
As you now know, Monday was a match night. Well, it turns out that so was Tuesday, this time for Daventry A. We made the journey to play Banbury B in Division One of the Leamington and District League.
Surprisingly, Banbury B won their first match against last seasons' league champions, Kenilworth A. They've managed to recruit one of my Chessmates colleagues, newly crowned Fide Master, James Jackson.
James didn't turn out for Banbury on Tuesday however and so their team consisted of Paul Rowan, Dan Rowan (Paul's son), Mal Waddell and Nick Martin (former captain of the Banbury Bulldogs). I know what you're thinking.... the chess world seems to throw up the same names all the time and yes, it can be a bit like that but it's always nice to see familiar faces. Especially when you're used to giving them a good kicking over the chess board!
My own game (on the dizzy heights of board 2) gave me the black pieces yet again. My opponent, Dan Rowan, is a fast improving player who has a good eye for tactics but (and I'm sure he would admit this) suffers from not being able to channel his nervous energy especially when he is in front. He is still prone to the odd clanger but he's a good competitor and surely worthy of a higher ECF rating than 143. No mean feat since he has only been playing regularly at club level for 3 years or so.
I managed to put Rowan Jnr under a lot of time pressure having taken a few minutes to try to get him out of prepared lines early in the game and by playing in a somewhat passive, unorthodox way. I've since done a bit of research on handling the black side of the Trompowsky.
Funnily enough, when I mentioned my opponents choice of opening to my coach, he snickered and said that I should have put Dan's bishop back on it's starting square and asked him to play a proper move instead! The funnies aside, the Tromp has been used extensively in the past in top tournament play in years gone by and needs some care to negotiate (unless you know what you're doing of course - and I can't honestly say that myself!).
So, onto our game. Once again, I have not annotated this but my initial thoughts are that we both missed opportunities to play better moves. I can't say this was a classic. Dan first offered me a draw after my (I believe) 19th move. My response was to laugh and remind him that he was a pawn up! Dan's a good sport and muttered something back. On the whole, I could tell he was getting nervous and time was becoming an issue for him so I thought I would play on a pawn down and let him sweat it out for a while. I can't say I was feeling supremely confident of my own position as I was having trouble trying to work out exactly what compensation I had for the pawn. The correct answer here, in hindsight, being "not very much".
Having offered me a draw on my move (which he shouldn't be doing - the correct chess etiquette is to play your own move and upon playing your own move, you then offer your opponent a draw. Or you offer a draw and immediately play your own move. Having already pressed his clock, Dan committed a serious breach of chess manners and that helped me with my decision to let him squirm some more (even though he was a pawn up!).
I tried to take things seriously and wanted to get into an endgame where I felt I might be able to fluke a win by waiting for him to make a daft mistake and my mind started wandering dreamily back to the game we had a couple of years ago where he was smashing the heck out of me, only to blunder a whole rook. Sadly for me, those days are gone when playing the younger Mr Rowan. I hope he stops offering draws (I got four draw offers in this game).... you should only offer a draw when you are clearly lost (in your own mind not in your opponents') or just can't be bothered to play because there's a decent football match on in the bar downstairs. If Dan stops offering draws in the middlegame (especially when he has a better position) then his grade will leap up again next year. Bit of coaching advice there for you Dan, if you read this mate!! :-)
So, here's our game in all it's glory. Oddly, by the time I accepted the draw, our position was pretty well dead level according to Fritz. I should have played on!! I guess I just wanted to give him a beating in some blitz games as well (we finished 1.5-1.5 on that in the bar afterwards but I claim the moral victory since the drawn game I should have won... from a lost position of course!).
As for the match, Daventry A prevailed in a 2.5-1.5 win. Here are the results;
Banbury B v Daventry A
Paul Rowan 0-1 Chris Ross
Dan Rowan 0.5-0.5 Tim Lawson
Mal Waddell 1-0 Andy Foulds
Nick Martin 0-1 Kevin Bowman
So, a winning start for the team under new captain Kevin Bowman. Well done to us!!!
Onto Wednesday, our normal club night at Daventry. I made an appearance and managed to add to my 3/3 in our quickplay competition by winninig twice against Andy Foulds. 5/5 for me in that competition then... hopefully I'll be able to report more on this later in the season if we ever get an update from the club!
Thursday night was a review and training session with my "coach". Chris Ross continues to help me out with his little pearls of wisdom. Some of it might sink in eventually. All in all a good evening spent in amusing company.
Onto tonight... Friday and coaching beckons at the Northampton Junior Chess Club... I can't wait!
There'll be another report coming along in the near future. Once I find out when our next match is. Until then, happing chessing!