Jan 10, 2024

A Team Action at the University of Bedfordshire: Luton A v Milton Keynes A

First league match for Luton Chess Club of 2024 was held at the University of Bedfordshire on the 9th of January. At home, it was Luton A, boards 1 - 5, Tommy O'Brien, Julian Hudson, Michael Joseph, Samir Vora and Dixon Jones as captain. The visitors were Milton Keynes A, boards 1 -5, Andrew Bowler, George Ward, Dominic Watson, Elliot Long and their captain Sumit Bhulla.

Whilst Luton Chess Club were playing games in the open area of the ground floor of the University Library, the match took place a quiet room in the second floor of the Campus Centre. The match that followed was full of drama.

First result came on board 2, Julian with the White pieces against George Ward. This was an exciting game, with lots of tactical play requiring both players to think hard to be accurate. There was a dance of the Knights, in the centre, Black attacking White's King from the Queenside, and White countering with his Bishops and building up pressure on the d-file with Rook and Queen. George offered a draw at the end of a tactical exchange of pieces, which Julian refused. Black then dramatically took the White's g3-Pawn with check which could not be re-captured by White's f2-Pawn because it was in a classic pin against the King by a Bishop. But this was parried by returning Bishop to the rescure from a8-g2. Julian then counter attacked in a stylish finish, sacrificing Rook and then Queen for the Bishop that was pinning that f2-Pawn and George had to resign.

Luton A 1 - 0 Milton Keynes A

Soon after this, it was board 4 and Samir playing White against Elliot Long. Samir played a King's Gambit, which Elliot did not immediately accept. When Elliot did take the f-Pawn, it turned out to be a mistake, according the Fritz, as it allowed Samir to play d4 backed up by c3 to control the centre. Elliot tried castling long, Samir castled Kingside but Black's g5 pawn thrust to attack the King, though reasonable as a strategy, was a tactical error, as it allowed a discovered attack on Black's Queen and an X-ray attack on a Rook. Elliot gave up his Queen and played on on valiantly but Samir's mounting attack on the Queenside left Black's King no hiding place and it was another win for the home team.

Luton A 2 - 0 Milton Keynes A

At this point, skipper Dixon should have been pleased, especially since the board 5 battle of the Captains looked even and a draw would mean we would at least not lose the match. Sumit played an early Bishop to f4 which Dixon targetted then exchanged with his King's Knight, saddling White would doubled Pawns on the f-file. By move 20, the fortunes on the board had fluctuated with both sides gaining and then losing advantage. The swings became increasingly wild, but eventually Sumit gained a winning advantage and mating attack to win the game.

Luton A 2 - 1 Milton Keynes A

With the board 5 win, Milton Keynes could still win the match and the next game to end was on board 3, Michael Joseph with the Black pieces against Dominic Watson. Dominic had beaten the mighty Steve Ledger last week at the Bedford individual championship and so was on form: Michael only recently returning to league match play so he was up against it. I didn't follow the game closely, but the team breathed a sigh of relief when the game ended in a draw meaning Luton A would not lose the match.

Luton A 2.5 - 1.5 Milton Keynes A

The last shall be first and board 1 had turned into an endgame thriller; Tommy was playing against a determined Andrew Bowler. Tommy playing Black had reached a Rook and two pawns against Andrew's Bishop, Knight and four pawns. To me, it looked as if Andrew had the advantage with pawns on either side of the board, but he was running out of time, and had to win the game, to ensure his team didn't lose the match. Tommy had much more time on his clock, made use of the greater mobility of the Rook, pins, and King maneovres to gain a pawn, then a piece. Andrew wasn't giving up but Tommy played took his time, separated his King from his Bishop and was about to make his Pawn into a Queen when Andrew's clock read zero.

Luton A 3.5 - 1.5 Milton Keynes A

The final result mean that Luton A retain their top place in division 2, six points clear of the second placed team Milton Keynes A

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