Feb 29, 2024

Luton A 4-1 Bedford B. The A Team return to the top (and avenge their only loss).

There were two big matches on Tuesday evening. The big one, Luton A vs. Bedford D at the University of Bedfordshire and the little matter of Luton Town vs. Manchester City for the FA cup. Traffic into Luton was backed up on every road, the start of the match delayed, the volume turned up to 11. The question on everyone's mind. Could Bedford D's hothouse flowers bust Luton's stronger on paper team again?

Bedford D turned up with exactly the same side and in the same board order who won against Luton A in December last year: Ramsery Dairi, Lucian Cox, James Grimditch, George Griffiths and Robert Wilson. Luton A was a changed side. Julian Hudson, Tommy O'Brien were switched, Michael Joseph replacing Daman (on study leave) and Alexandar Juhasz switching places with Dixon Jones. Would captain Dixon's team order change strategy work?

With three internal rated club matches being played at the library, and two juniors to be trained, it was nearly 10 pm before I headed over room G225 at the University Campus centre to watch the match. I arrived to find Julian, Tommy and Alexandar's had finished.

Julian and Tommy had won their games, which given their rating advantages of 250-300 elo was perhaps not unexpected. But they were playing the two best current juniors Bedford, a club with a history of young players becoming chess stars. Ramsey is already the England U 12 champion, Lucian from the formidable Cox famlly. The board 1 and 2 games can be found below.

Ramsey Dairi v Julian Hudson

Tommy O'Brien v Lucian Cox

Alexandar's game on board 4 was a fascinating encounter against one of the few unbeaten league players this season, George Griffiths. Alexandar played a Reti, castling Kingside, attempting to control the centre from afar, hypermodern style. George countered by placing pieces in the centre and castled Queenside. Alexandar held the position, but George seemed to have the momentum, and forced and exchange of pieces leaving White with a backward pawn on the d3-square. Tatical exhanges followed which required accuracy and the position remained equal. George then played a bold Queen for two Rooks exchange and then a beautiful Knight sacrifice for an eventual passed pawn on the d file. George had calculated well, but Alexandar was able to hold off the advance of the pawn. George played for a Kingside attack on White's second rank with both Rooks. Alexandar played to fork one Black's rooks for mate in one, or gain a Rook, which would have worked but he put his Bishop on the wrong square. It was subtle misake, and cost him the game, but credit to George Griffiths who appears to be playing far above his official rating.

With Luton A 2-1 ahead, the match at Kenilworth road was Luton 2-3 Manchester City. Could it be a double win for Luton this evening?

Next to finish was James Grimditch vs Michael Joseph. James played a Queens Pawn game, placing his Bishop on f4 but not playing the conventional c4 to challenge the d4 square. Michael countered with Nf6, g6, Bg7, d6 set up, and eventually c5 rather like a Sicilian Dragon. The b-file was opened, for an exchange of Rooks. The game looked even, perhaps with a slight advantage to Black. But then, Michael invaded and attacked the King with his Knight, taking pawns, then exhanging Queens and winning a Knight, at which point James had to resign.

Luton had won the match 3-2 with a game in hand still in play. But by this time, the FA cup 5th round match was over, and Luton Town FC were out, losing 2-6 to Manchester City. At least there wasn't going to be a traffic jam on the way home.

Final game of the evening was Robert Wilson v Captain Dixon Jones. Another Queens Pawn game, but here, Dixon played a semi-slav. Robert thrust a Knight into Black's position on e5, and Dixon did the same planting a Knight on e4. An exchange of minor pieces later, the position remained equal. The centre locked, DIxon started to attack the Kingside and eventually a miscalculation by his opponent secured the win.

Final result Luton A 4-1 Bedford D.

Congratulations to Luton A, overturning the result of their first encounter against Bedford D and in so doing, regaining the top spot in the division.

But this is a very strong Bedford side, that Luton B must face in their next away match the following week. No pressure then.

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