Match report: Clifton A – Clifton B

Date: 21/11/2017
Clifton A
5-1 Clifton B
James Cobb 0-1 Chris Beaumont
John Curtis 1-0 Manuel Sierra
Gareth Morris 1-0 Anton Muller
David Collier 1-0 James Coxwell
Duncan Grossett 1-0 Tomas Jankowski
Igor Doklestic 1-0 Robert Smolka

We’ve had very mixed results against our B team over the years, to the extent that losses to them have cost us the title in the past, so this was a welcome banana skin avoided.

I was first to finish, largely because Manuel played very fast. He played a Schlechter Slav, but quite a passive version, and I greedily took lots of space in the centre, planting a knight on d6. In trying to swap it off Manuel missed a tactic that won me the exchange, but more importantly left his kingside pretty undefended. I crashed through, finishing with a completely unnecessary but satisfying queen sac.

Dunc won next. After playing some Hippo type rubbish he looked a bit worse, but gradually got his pieces to good squares, and won the exchange. He was dominating the centre of the board, and when Tomas tried to counter attack on the kingside it just made things worse. It didn’t last long after that.

Unbelievably, Gareth had exactly the same opening line for the third game running. It’s not that popular a line, so maybe his opponents are colluding? He’d at least looked it up after last week’s debacle and was looking pretty confident. Anton was playing normal-looking moves, but missed a tactic that won Gareth a piece. In compensation he had some scary looking queenside pawns, but Gareth kept them under control, and Anton resigned when he ran out of pieces.

Meanwhile, David was happily hacking on the white side of a London. He did everything right apart from one thing: for some reason he decided to castle queenside. He won some material, but his king started looking very lonely indeed, as James’ pieces starting pointing that way. Davis sacced the exchange back, leaving him three pawns for a piece, and an odd position ensued where it looked like a repetition might be the best for both sides. Instead James allowed a mate in one. Oops.

Igor and Robert had a closed Sicilian, with Igor having a normal slight advantage. That persisted into an endgame, and I assumed a long grind was on the cards. Igor had other ideas, ripping open the position and catching Robert’s king in a bishop/rook/pawn crossfire. Quite impressive, and fun to watch.

On top board the two IMs were playing a different brand of chess altogether. Answering an English with an early h5, James blocked the position, and he and Chris were jockeying for good squares for their bits. It looked to me that James was getting the upper hand, but a surprising late castling by Chris made it very tricky. Then a desirable but flawed central pawn push allowed Chris some tactics, and that was that.

Can’t complain about winning 5-1, so I won’t. The match finished fairly early, so there was a time for a couple (more) social beers afterwards. Which was nice.


Match report: Clifton A – Downend B

Date: 14/11/2017
Clifton A
3.5-2.5 Downend B
James Cobb 1-0 Attila Reznak
John Curtis 1-0 Michael Brigden
Gareth Morris 0-1 Stephen Meek
Duncan Grossett 0-1 Ian Pickup
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Dave Tipper
Igor Doklestic 1-0 Oliver Stubbs

Our first night back in our refurbished venue, and things looked much the same as ever. On there plus side there is a great range of bottled beer, which I’ll be working my way through over the coming weeks. The match was a very close one, not decided until late on in the evening.

Dunc was first to finish. A standard looking Open Sicilian against Ian seemed to be just getting going when I heard he’d resigned. He’d blundered something, losing a piece, or possibly a pawn, and had clearly had enough. We’ve all had days like that.

Dave and David drew soon after that, their Sicilian fizzling out into an endgame. Dave may have been a little better, but with one point already in the bank a safe draw seemed a good option.

Gareth was facing the same c3 Sicilian line as last week, and clearly hadn’t looked at it in the meantime. He went for a different variation, giving up a pawn to get an endgame where he hoped to have counterplay. Unfortunately for him it never arrived, and he got gradually pushed off the board on the queenside. I’m not sure that dropping his glass full of beer was a good idea, no matter how bad his position, but he wiped it up before resigning.

Mike went wrong early on against me, misjudging a queen exchange and subsequent pawn push. Rather than go for a sad looking endgame Mike tried an active defence, but unfortunately for him it didn’t really work, and I ended up with a couple of extra pawns as well as all the play. There wasn’t a lot Mike could do, and after I’d got all my bits out and pushed my central pawns he decided it was time to put the bits back in the box.

The last two games to finish were the most interesting. James and Attila reached a complex position which was difficult to call. A tactic won James a piece, or Attila may have sacrificed it, but either way there was plenty of compensation. From the sidelines it wasn’t at all clear to me, but James got his pieces into the white position and forced the win of queen for rook while also avoiding his back rank problems. It all looked rather impressive. All in all a very hard-fought game by two very strong players.

On board 6 Igor and Oliver had castled on opposite sides, which is always fun too watch. Early on Igor’s attack looked much the faster but no knockout blow was found. Igor won a pawn, and another complex position arose, with BvN, and a queen & rook each. I thought Igor might be a touch better, but Oliver played it well and the queens came off leaving him a pawn up. A rook and bishop with pawns can be dangerous though, and a march of his a pawn won Igor the exchange. It went on many more moves on the increment, but Igor eventually brought home the point.

Overall a fun and exciting match, with many thrills and spills, some of them literal. The Downend guys played well and we were a bit lucky (again), but as ever we’ll take the win.

Match report: Clifton A – University A

Date: 06/11/2017
Clifton A
3.0-3.0 University A
James Cobb 0-1 Mark Cleary
John Curtis 0.5-0.5 Bogdan Manghiuc
Gareth Morris 1-0 Philipp Prasse
Duncan Grossett 1-0 Victor Kupper
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Leonidas Tsilipallos
John Waterfield 0-1 Denis Fradkin

This match started in a farcical manner: at 7:30 both teams were present, but we didn’t have any boards, sets or clocks. Our temporary venue won’t let us store equipment there, and some crossed wires meant that the person meant to be bringing everything didn’t arrive. Luckily our opponents very kindly offered to get some of their equipment to allow the match to go ahead. We are very grateful to them for that. It meant we started a bit late, and that Clifton players had reduced time, but that was far better than either defaulting or rescheduling the match.

With less time for my game I didn’t see as much of the others as usual. What I did see was clear, the students were generally outplaying us.

I certainly didn’t see much of John’s game, for when I first looked he was already getting mated. Ouch. To counter that, I thought David was doing well early on, and he might have been able to come out ahead from a tactical skirmish, but the way it went left them in a fairly level endgame. Despite them playing on for a while nothing much happened, and a draw was duly agreed.

Dunc and Victor had an interesting game, entering an endgame that I found very difficult to assess. It looked like they were both trying to win, which is always fun for the spectators. Dunc had bishop against knight, but it was the pawn imbalances that made it interesting – Victor had a central mass while Dunc was pushing on the queenside. Dunc eventually broke through, although I missed exactly how.

Mark and James started off looking like two people who had only just learnt the moves, with both queens roving about before any other pieces had been developed. No doubt it was that thing they call theory. The queens got swapped, with James a pawn up but Mark having a lot of play. Mark played it very calmly, developing his pieces and stopping any counterplay. Pieces slowly came off, Mark getting his pawn back in the process, eventually ending up in a pawn ending that was just won for white. From what I saw it looked like a very good game from Mark.

In my game I played 10 moves on autopilot, then spent 20 minutes wondering what on earth to do. It was probably just level, but I didn’t like my position at all. I tried a queenside push, which was a bit risky, and Bogdan was clearly eyeing up my king. I think he should have focussed more on the other side of the board, since I was able to neutralise the pressure and enter an endgame that was slightly better for me. It was really only visually better though, I couldn’t see any way through and with my clock ticking down I took a perpetual. I haven’t looked through the game, but I’m sure Bogdan must have missed something good somewhere.

That left us one down with Philipp and Gareth still going. A c3 Sicilian had left an odd ending where Philipp looked a touch better to me, but that may have been a misconception since Gareth had rejected a draw offer. By crunch time they had rooks and a bishop each, and it should have been a draw. Time and match pressure make these things hard though, and the last 20 moves or so were the usual mixture of good and bad. Philipp made the last mistake, allowing both sides to queen a pawn, but immediately losing his to the dreaded skewer.

All in all a draw was a fortunate result for us. The university team played very well and deserved more from the match. They’re also a nice bunch, and we’re very grateful for them helping us out after our equipment debacle.

Match report: South Bristol A – Clifton A

Date: 02/11/2017
South Bristol A
2.5-3.5 Clifton A
Patryk Krzyzanowski 0.5-0.5 James Cobb
Shane Roberts 0.5-0.5 John Curtis
Iain Bourne 0-1 Gareth Morris
Tony Harve 0.5-0.5 David Collier
David Neagle 0-1 Alan Papier
1-0 Default

One might be surprised to be playing South Bristol in division 1 this year, given that they came last last year. I can only assume that they played their best match of the season at an LMC meeting. It’s good to have them there though, the division wouldn’t be nearly as strong if they weren’t.

Both teams were a bit under strength for this match, and we had defaulted board 6 in advance having failed to find another substitute. Seems our club members have a life outside chess, which I’m not sure is acceptable.

I finished first, after reaching an incomprehensible position against Shane. He offered the draw thus: “I offer a draw, since I have no idea what’s going on.” Made me smile, although I wouldn’t try it in a tournament with an officious arbiter. I had no idea either, and the other games looked ok for us, so accepted. We looked at if afterwards, and weren’t much the wiser. Unusually for me I put it through an engine, which said it was dead level. Most helpful.

Gareth and Iain were engaged in a Benoni/Benko type opening. All the initial play was on the queenside, with both players seemingly reluctant to touch their kingside pieces. Iain looked to have a bit of play, but Gareth neutralised it well, swapping into an endgame where he had all the space and much better pieces. Iain got horribly tied down, and while it might have been defensible it was very hard. Gareth missed the win of a piece, while carrying on with his plan of winning an exchange, but it didn’t matter as Iain resigned.

David played a QI against Tony, and lots of shuffling of bits was going on. I can’t say I liked David’s position much, as Tony gained space on the kingside. I think David was quite relieved when Tony offered a draw. It was by no means clearcut, but it did look like a position that Tony could have happily played on.

Alan has been cutting down on his chess to concentrate on other things, so it was very good of him to come out and play for us. His game with David was pretty balanced, with both probing for an advantage, and pieces slowly being exchanged. When I got back from looking at my game Alan was a pawn up in an endgame, with three minor pieces left each. Alan then left a piece en prise, and my first thought was “there goes the match”. Looking closer however, the position was fortunately still at least fine for him, as he was able to gather a few pawns. It looked to be heading for a draw, but then David returned the favour and dropped a piece too, and this time there was no compensation.

That left us one up with James & Patryk still playing. To my uncultured eyes it looked great for James early on, with Patryk playing a bit riskily. I was waiting for a big kingside attack, but I’d probably completely misjudged it since it never happened. Instead, Patryk slowly got his bits sorted out, and with pieces getting exchanged James’ looser structure was looking more and more relevant. It reached a R+B each endgame, with Patryk a bit better, but James put all his bits on the right squares, and once the bishops came off it was pretty even. They played on for a while with one minute plus increment each (still both writing the moves down, oddly), then agreed a draw.

So, a narrow win for us, which we’d have happily taken being one player short. We now have matches every week for the next 6 weeks, and some of us will need to improve if we want to stay near the top of the table.

There’s no report for our last match against Downend A since I was away. Gareth did send me some updates from the match, but they’re mostly the ramblings of a drunken man so I’ll spare you those. It seems like it was a close match; I’ll refer you to the Downend report for details ( despite it containing libellous accusations about me.

I missed the match because I was on my annual trip to the Guernsey tournament. As always it was a great week, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a friendly tournament with good conditions and lots of prawns. Three others from Bristol also went: David Collier, Steve Dilleigh & Peter Kirby, and while our chess didn’t set the world on fire we did enjoy the glorious weather and good food. Steve did best in the chess, winning about twelve bob, but I definitely won the beer drinking prize.

Match report: Clevedon A – Clifton A

Date: 02/10/2017
Clevedon A
1.5-4.5 Clifton A
Michael Townsend 0-1 James Cobb
David Painter-Kooiman 0-1 John Curtis
David Egginton 0.5-0.5 Gareth Morris
David Peters 0-1 David Collier
Andrew Chapman 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Chris Strong 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Chess on a Monday? That must mean a trip to Clevedon. It’s good to have them back in division 1 after their promotion, and also nice not to be there in arctic conditions in January, which is when we usually get to go. For some reason I didn’t see much of the games, probably spent too much time rehoning my ale pouring (and ale drinking) skills.

We’ll go in board order today:
James was white in an odd Slav, with Michael’s bishop hopping from g4-e6-g4. Do bishops hop, or is that just knights? Anyway, James pushed an early e4, which looked a little loose, and it got a bit complex so I went to look at other games at that point. No doubt James had it all under control, and he went on to register his first win of the season.

My game threatened to be a dull draw. Not much was going on, and my main plan was to avoid exchanges as much as possible and see if anything turned up. Something did turn up, when David sacrificed a piece on an empty square. It was very pretty indeed, but unfortunately for him also completely unsound, as he noticed as soon as he’d played it. David got a bit of compensation, but not a piece worth, and with his last ditch attack going nowhere he resigned.

Gareth was also white in a Slav. In this one the queens disappeared quickly, and sparring for good positions for pieces was the name of the game. It looked like Dave might be getting the upper hand, but it was difficult seeing it being anything but a draw. And that’s what happened.

The battle of the Davids on board four produced a standard looking closed Sicilian position. One thing I know about these types of position is that David (Clifton variety) plays them very well. Next time I looked he had won, so he might have played this one well. Or David (Clevedon variety) may have blundered. I really have no idea.

Dunc and Andrew played a very interesting looking game, with pieces all over the place. I wasn’t sure who was better in the opening and middlegame, or even when I looked at the end. Dunc was a pawn up in a N+P ending, but Andrew was very active. My immediate thought was that it was probably drawn, but not easy to play for either side. After some adventures they reached a properly drawn position, and shook hands.

On board 6 something had gone very wrong with Igor’s Sicilian, and he had a truly horrible position. Chris had the two bishops, total control over d5, more space, and several other advantages. There wasn’t a knockout blow however, and Igor is a tricky guy. When I looked next they’d reached an endgame with Igor a pawn or two up, but Chris still had his two lovely bishops and was by no means worse. Wandering back a bit later Chris was the exchange for a couple of pawns up in a much simplified position, and they (probably sensibly) repeated moves.

So, a second win for us, just about deserved, but the scoreline flattered us a little. The rest of the league will be quaking once we get into our stride. Possibly.


Match report: Horfield B – Clifton A

Date: 26/09/2017
Horfield B 2.0-4.0 Clifton A
John Richards 0.5-0.5 James Cobb
Jon Fisher 0.5-0.5 John Curtis
Chris Jones 0-1 Gareth Morris
Bob Radford 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Brent Perrin 0-1 Igor Doklestic
Nigel Pollet 0.5-0.5 Tomas Jankowski

First match of the season for us, and with our home venue being refurbished we swapped to Horfield’s venue for this match.

I finished fairly early. Jon played his usual 1.b3 against me, and although I know a bit of theoretical stuff against that I decided to make something up instead. I wasn’t really in the mood for thinking too much, so swapped some pieces off, hoping to get a slight advantage, but missed an idea for Jon, after which I was lucky not to be much worse. We ended up in a fairly blocked position with good knight vs good bishop and not much to be done.

Dunc finished around the same time. He was playing some kind of Hippo against Bob, but after looking a bit scary for him early on it all got a bit stuffed up and a draw was agreed. There’s a hippo getting stuck in the mud joke here, if I could be bothered to think of one.

James and John were engaged in a complex looking Grunfeld, with both sides having good squares for their bits. I can’t say I really understood what was going on, so I’m going to say it was around equal. When I looked after my game was finished it really was about equal, and John could perhaps have ended up better if James hadn’t swapped off into a R+P ending. They had 5 pawns each, and although James had more space and one of John’s pawns was weak, it was just drawn. James pushed for a bit, and John was accurate, then they shook hands. A very good result for John.

On board six Tomas looked to have the better game, but it was hard to see what he could do to improve. He and Nigel sparred for a while, and they eventually ended up in a level endgame. Nigel offered a draw, but Tomas turned it down and instead
played a move that lost a pawn. I’ve done that before. A couple of moves later Tomas offered a draw back, and rather than trying to win in their mutual time trouble Nigel accepted.

Gareth & Chris played a very odd Dutch, with Gareth looking good. He was up a pawn, and then the exchange. Chris got compensation though, with a good central passed pawn. When this turned into two passed pawns I was worried Gareth could be worse. Gareth got the queens off, when I thought it’d be drawn, but one of the central pawns got chopped off somehow, leaving Gareth a clear exchange up. He then just had to engineer a position where he could sac it back and win the pawn ending, and he managed this nicely.

Igor’s game was fun to watch, probably less so to play. A dull exchange French livened up when Igor faffed about too much, and Brent started a kingside attack. It was pretty bad for Igor, and I’m sure there was a winning knight sac missed somewhere. Igor kind of survived the first wave, and even managed to win an exchange with a good cheapo, but it was getting more and more desperate, with Brent’s queen & knight threatening all kinds of nasty things. Igor kept playing tricky moves, and eventually Brent blundered, dropping his knight (with king to follow) for nothing.

So, we won 4-2, but it was all pretty unconvincing. The Horfield guys played very well, and a drawn match would have been the fairest result. But chess isn’t fair, and we’ll take the win.



Match report: Clifton A – University A

Date: 25/04/2017
Clifton A 4.5-1.5 Bath A
James Cobb 1-0 Bogdan Manghiuc
John Curtis 1-0 Philipp Prasse
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Morris Stranger
Gareth Morris 0.5-0.5 Denis Fradkin
Igor Doklestic 0.5-0.5 Ravi Sharma
Default 1-0

The last match of the season, with us looking for a good win to try to sneak into second place, but mostly just looking forward to getting the season over with. The University only had five players, and Dunc decided to have the evening off.

Igor was first to finish. Playing black in a Sicilian, the game briefly threatened to get interesting with opposite castling, but Ravi forced the queens off, and there wasn’t much going on after that.

Since there was nothing riding on the match I decided to have a few beers and just attack. It was probably all nonsense, but at least had the advantage of making Philipp think. We ended up in a position with just the heavy pieces left, and I managed to get a kingside bind which was hard to escape. The unstoppable advance of my h pawn sealed the game.

Bogdan essayed the Scotch gambit against James. This sort of thing is never a bad idea against good players, indeed I vaguely remember James doing the same thing against Mickey Adams in the 4NCL many years ago. The trouble with these openings is that black can usually just give the pawn back, and James did that, leaving an endgame that I thought was a bit better for James, while he thought it was much better for him. Whatever, James knows what to do in these positions, and despite Bogdan’s stubborn defence he brought home the point.

David played the Kings Indian against Morris’ London system, and while he gained a nice centre there didn’t seem much that either of them could do. Fair play to them, they shuffled bits late into the session, then agreed a draw just before time trouble randomised it.

Finally, Gareth was making stuff up against Denis’ Lundin defence (look it up). It seemed Gareth was getting behind in development early on, but he held it together and had much the better of the middlegame. He got into an endgame a pawn up, but as many times before this season had spent too long getting there, and his clock fell. Luckily, again, Denis had no bits left by then, so a draw.

So, the end of another season. We didn’t manage a repeat of our unexpected success of last year; there were some good games, and good matches, but overall we were much too inconsistent to challenge for top spot.


Match report: Clifton A – Bath A

Date: 18/04/2017
Clifton A 2.5-3.5 Bath A
James Cobb 1-0 David Buckley
Gareth Morris 0-1 Aitor Garcia-Ruiz
John Curtis 0.5-0.5 Horia Bogdan
Duncan Grossett 0-1 Adam Musson
David Collier 0.5-0.5 Clive Walley
Igor Doklestic 0.5-0.5 Christian Brown

Another match, another mix of good play and bad play, which has been the story of our season. At least the beer was good.

David was first to finish, again. He looked, to my inexpert eyes, to have done everything right in a Najdorf, but apparently he was more worried than me about Clive’s attacking chances, and readily agreed a draw.

Dunc also finished quickly, but rather less successfully. In a kind of delayed exchange Spanish he got his pieces stranded on the queenside, and Adam was eyeing up his king. A quick bishop sac, a rook lift and that was that.

My game was another interesting one. I was probably a bit worse through the opening, but it felt like my kind of position, and when I managed to exchange a couple of bits and break in the centre it all felt good. It was still only equal, and with both Horia & me trying to win it could have gone either way. A few tactics, a few bits flying about, and it all fizzled out into a dead drawn endgame. Such is life.

Meanwhile, Igor was looking to attack on the white side of a closed Sicilian. It all looked a bit slow, and in response Christian was motoring down the centre and queenside. When I next had a peek it had all gone horribly wrong for Igor, with way too many black pieces wedged in his position, and I mentally chalked it up as a loss. Igor fought though, and a draw was agreed in a strange ending that looked easier to lose than win, for both sides.

James continued his good form with a nice game against David. He played a Nimzo and focussed on initiative and activity rather than structure and material. That in itself means I probably didn’t really know what was going on. It looked good though.

Last to finish, Gareth had a long, complex game against Aitor. Gareth looked fine to me, with an advanced pawn and good squares against Aitor’s two bishops. Something must have gone wrong though, since when I next looked he was the exchange down with some, but not enough compensation. Aitor wrapped it up cleanly.

Finally, congratulations must given to Downend A on winning the league. They’ve been much the best team this year and thoroughly deserved their victory.


Match report: South Bristol A – Clifton A

Date: 16/03/2017
South Bristol A 1.5-4.5 Clifton A
Paul Helbig 0-1 James Cobb
Patryk Krzyzanowski 0-1 John Curtis
Shane Roberts 0.5-0.5 Gareth Morris
Richard Garrett 0.5-0.5 David Collier
Tony Harvey 0-1 Duncan Grossett
David Neagle 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Despite the comfortable-looking scoreline this was a tough match with hard-fought games. The exception to that was on board 4, where it didn’t seem like Richard and David were in the mood. A dull opening led to a quick handshake, and presumably a beer or two.

On top board James had played Bg5 then Bc1 by move 4, which I guess you can get away with without looking silly when you’re an IM. An unbalanced position arose which it looked like James played extremely well, causing Paul to have to cope with some crafty tactics. Paul lost or gave up his queen for rook and knight, and James converted smoothly. He’s played some really good stuff recently.

Dunc found himself in a slightly passive position against Tony, but at least he hadn’t blundered a pawn on move four like in the previous match. Tony was pressing, confidently advancing his g pawn and gaining more space, but while I was otherwise engaged things turned around, and next time I looked Dunc was a pawn up with a nice protected central passed pawn. Tony battled hard, but Dunc won through in the end.

Meanwhile Igor was embroiled in a fairly unexciting looking closed Sicilian. It was quite blocked, and pieces were slowly coning off. Igor tried to make something happen in the endgame, but it always looked like a draw.

My goal for the last couple of years has been to play more interesting games, and this was a fun one. We quickly reached a novel and very unbalanced position: I had a good structure but Patryk had two bishops and the initiative. Gradually I managed to gain space in the centre and nice squares for my knights, while Patryk was trying to aim at my king, who was feeling a bit breezy after castling long. Fortunately for me my central pressure was quicker than his attack, and when Patryk tried to hide his king on the kingside it got chopped down by a sneaky rook lift.

Meanwhile, Gareth had been lunging away as white in a Pirc, but his pawn advances only seemed to give Shane lots of nice squares, plus a rather scary bishop. In truth it looked horrible for Gareth, and he was holding on for dear life. Chess is tricky though, and Shane went wrong, leaving Gareth with a winning ending. He spent too much time however, and there followed a (rather comical to watch) period of mutual bashing out of moves. Gareth’s flag eventually fell, but by that time Shane was down to a bare king, so the point was split.

After this result we’re still in the hunt for second place (or first if all the Downend players decide to give up chess). South Bristol however have a real struggle on their hands to avoid the drop.