B-Team Captain Jonas has high hopes for this year, aiming to join our A-Team in division 1 by winning the 2022-2023 season. To this end, we have been fortunate to get to a good start, barely clinching out this close match by 3.5 points to 2.5.
The games were hosted at our very own SU building, in the same Gromit Room you all know and love, to the usual bemoaning of our more mature, car owning opponents, who struggled through traffic and parking spaces (or lack thereof).
When we visit them in the next half of the year, it will be our turn to whine about our buses (or lack thereof, see Gallagher, I.)
Several of our games showcased the element of fatigue in classical time formats. Conor, who dexterously snuck into a drawn opposite color Bishop endgame from a losing position, has likened the mental challenge of a league match to a 3 hour long exam. In this vein, both Dougie and Sam unfortunately lost very late from strong positions, when the thought of a glass of cider and warm dry socks are hard to get out of your head, and suddenly your time has run out, or a random fork befalls you. Jonas’ opponent also started off very strong, but ultimately fell off in the later stages of the game.
In fact, Topalov, one of the top 10 players in the world in the 2000s, attributes Magnus Carlsen’s prowess to his mental fortitude and stamina, stating “Magnus’ huge advantage is that he’s able to play well for a very long time, to make a lot of good moves, as if forever. His brain works well after the fifth, sixth, seventh hour of play.”
First to finish was Garegin, playing as White, with a brilliant Knight sacrifice, which ultimately would see winning the Black Queen in exchange for two pieces and a Rook…
Normally, three minor pieces are considered better than a Queen, let alone two minor pieces and a Rook! I myself wouldn’t have gone for this continuation. However, it is the computer’s top choice, owing to Black’s King being drawn out towards the middle of the board, and White’s spare Bishop and Rook get in such great positions that Black will be forced to shed back material to avoid getting checkmated.
Black declined Garegin’s gift, and decided to give up the exchange to soothe the tension, which did not fix any of his problems. Board 4 was the first to clear 30 minutes in.
Jonas on board 3 faced a “Naroditsky recommended prep bomb”, having played an absurd 21 computer recommended moves in a row! On the 22nd move, White started to go astray, failing to narrow in on a potent King-side attack, which neither player had thought possible or foreseen. Instead, it seems as though Black is winning the exchange.
On the left hand side, we have a situation where a King-side attack was possible for White, wherein the a4 Knight is voluntarily dropped. Notice the vulnerable King on h7.
What happened next is a known pit-fall for attacking: check spam.
Somehow, the same vulnerable King swam all the way to a7! On the right hand side we have a photo from the same board, however White spent a considerable number of checks to chase the Black King to safety! Better would have been to try and cage the Black King first, although easier said than done. Ultimately, only one side can claim having a cozy monarch.
I myself have recently come to employ and enjoy the Smith-Morra Gambit, to the derision of my peers. Its sound, I swear! In any case, I had quite a fright around move 13. I looked at the board, and came to the dreadful conclusion that all my pieces were stuck, and had nowhere useful to go. In my desperation, I did the only thing any semi-competent amateur would do, push a Pawn. h4!
This is not a model move by any means, but it gave my opponent an opportunity to blunder, which is exactly what happened. In the next two moves, I received tremendous squares for my two Knights and Rook. Fischer said “Tactics flow from a superior position,” and this is such a case.