Jan 27, 2024

Theory and practice. Milton Keynes A v Luton B League Match

On Thursday 25th of January, the second team who play at the University of Bedfordshire travelled to battle against the first team who play at the Open University. Without our talisman Octavian, all but the top board for Luton were outrated. Daunted, our ambition was to avoid a match white wash loss on every game. Luton B boards 1 - 5 were Marek Gladysz, Humayun Mirza, Aleksandar Jushasz, Daven Patel & Des Welton. Over the boards on 1 - 5 for Milton Keyes A we faced Alan Heath, George Ward, Dominic Watson, Peter Hawes & Sumit Bhalla.

With the clocks ticking, all games were still in play after an hour. However, Daven was firefighting on board 4. Having castled Kingside in a Catalan set up, Peter had launched a vicious attack with his Knight, forking heavy pieces and winning with ease. I suspect that Peter Hawes playing strengh is much stronger than that listed on the ECF. In Daven's words, "I got smoked."

Milton Keynes A 1 - 0 Luton B

On board 2, my opponent for the evening was gentleman George Ward. I knew he was much higher rated than me. I also knew that he played the Reti as White. So ahead of the match, I did some theory. Richard Palliser's "Beating Unsual Chess Openings" and Neil McDonald's "Starting out: The Reti" both recommended 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d5 and if 3.b4 f6!, preparing to advance in the centre with e5. Which is exactly what happened in our game. George locked the pawn centre and I tried to target his backward pawn on e3, but couldn't find a way and I accepted a draw in the endgame.

Milton Keynes A 1.5 - 0.5 Luton B

Marek's game on board 1 was going well. He played the English opening, and a massive build up of pressure on the c file with Rooks, Queen and Knight joining an attack on a backward pawn. Alan valiantly resisted, but Marek would not be denied, winning his game and giving valuable point for the team. You can play through his fine win below.

Marek Gladysz - Alan Heath League Match

Milton Keynes A 1.5 - 1.5 Luton B

Aleks on board 3 was facing the giant slayer Dominic Watson and they'd reached a Bishop & Pawns endgame. Dominic was a pawn up on the Queenside and politely refused an offer for a draw. Aleksandar had to fend off pawn advances on both wings and was far behind on his clock. Aleks played a solid defence and position became a draw.

Milton Keynes A 2 - 2 Luton B

End of the evening and all eyes turned towards board 5, with Des playing Sumit. The game had not reached the first time control on move 35 and Des was down to his last few minutes. His King's Indian Attack had gone well, and he offered a draw - declined!

Des then gained a pawn a winning postition, but had seconds left to make the time control. You need strong nerves to play chess in time pressure, but not be so nervous that it shatters your concentration - which is what appeared to happen here. In a Rook, Knight and pawns endgame, Sumit invaded with his Rook into Des's position, in an attempt to capture pawns on the third rank, only to blunder his Rook en prise. Luton B was about to win the game and the match in a shock result!

But Des now had just seconds left on the clock and missed it. Sumit played quickly, perhaps to try and flag Des. And for the next few moves, neither player noticed the hanging Rook. Eventually, Knight's were exchanged and the Rook was saved, but Sumit was still down a pawn. Then Des tried invading to with checks and attacks on Black's pawns. Now Rooks were eating pawns on both sides, but it was Sumit's Rook which had the bigger meal, and the win by resignation.

Milton Keynes A 3 - 2 Luton B

Luton B was out rated on boards 2 - 5, so the result was better than we'd anticipated, and very nearly an upset. But now, Milton Keynes A now lead division 2, ahead of Luton A.

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