Report for Cardiff by Stuart Hutchings
Round 5 Report
1 - 0
Ѕ - Ѕ
1 - 0
1 - 0
0 - 1
0 - 1
Graz's seeding is so high because of a registration of a 2450 GM, so on paper this match was always going to be close, and at one stage things were looking very rosy for us.
The Georgian GM played a very slow Queen's Gambit Declined with 4,e3 which in effect turned into a Queen's Indian. The position was fairly evenly balanced, but Charles once again ran very short of time. He had just passed move 20, and only had about 3 minutes left to get to move 40, plus 30 second increments. Late in this session Charles decided to sacrifice a bishop for 3 pawns and some attacking chances, probably not quite good enough, but his opponent went wrong, only for Charles to return the compliment on move 42. His opponent then safely consolidated and won with a swift counterattack.
In a g3 Grunfeld, the Austrian IM played the solid dxc4, Be6-d5 line, and offered a draw on move 21, which James accepted as he was certainly no better, maybe marginally worse.
(Boards 3 - 5 were all Austrians). The game started 1.g3 e5 and transposed into an English Bc5. Both sides rarely ventured into each other's half, with white leaving his K in the centre and developing his rooks via a2 and h2 (!), then pushing his kingside pawns. A few lines became open, and with white running short of time, Tim (as with board 1) sacrificed a bishop for 3 pawns and an attack. W in time trouble showed terrific resourcefulness, particularly in the use of his 2 Ns. Tim only missed perhaps one improvement, but his opponent played some really good (mostly counter-attacking) moves in time trouble, eventually forcing K's Tim to run and actually end up being mated on f2.
John answered his opponent's Scandinavian (1.e4 d5) with 2.d3, and soon the queens were exchanged on d1. John developed a nice position early on, and I was already mentally chalking up the win. However, John's plan of breaking through on the queenside lacked bite, but B was making good progress on the kingside. John got his pieces in a 'bit of a pickle', with B netting a pawn, still with the better position, then a piece not long afterwards. An unusually indifferent performance by John in the type of position in which he normally excels.
After 1.e4 e6, Alan's opponent came up with 2.h3, and continued in the same vein with some more strange moves, when at one point his position looked more like a Fischer random position with B on h1, R on g1, K on f1, N on c1. Enterprising stuff maybe, but Alan just took over the centre and ended with a simple combination on the kingside winning a whole rook.
John's opening was a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit/Caro Kann, back into a BDG (1.d4 d5 2.e4 c6 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.f3 exf3), which turned out really well for W. B kept his extra pawn with some desperate play e.g. a7-a5-a4, Ra8-a5-f5), but got his K stuck on f8. W couldn't manage to finish his opponent off, but transposed into a very superior R+B v R+N (with a number of pawns each) ending. John picked up/his opponent dropped pawns as though they were going out of fashion, and a position was reached with white having R+B+3 pawns (on a4, b3 and d4) against R+N. All over you would have thought, despite Black deciding to play on because the match result could be effected (at that time standing at 2Ѕ - 1Ѕ in favour of Graz with only boards 1 and 6 not finished).
John then proceeded to play rather poorly (it's lucky I've got strong nerves), and made absolutely no progress, eventually deciding to concede B+p for N. W should have kept the connected a + b, but instead kept the b + d, although this should still be a trivial win. Somehow the b pawn dropped off (still winning !), but then John placed his rook badly and his opponent had the chance of a simple draw. Fortunately for John, his opponent missed this opportunity, and eventually on move 95 managed to force resignation, and hence avoid the ignominity of appearing in a 'how not to play endindgs' book (!). Joking aside, it's good that John has overcome his 'medical problems' and has chalked up a win.
A very disappointing result in a match we could, and probably should, have won. It sadly leaves us in equal 54th position with Pristina (with whom we drew), with one drawn match, with only Galway with 5 losses behind us. The latter today lost 3Ѕ - 2Ѕ against Belfast despite a Galway player winning the following game: 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nc6 4.Bxg7 (1 - 0). Nidum lost 1 - 5 against 31st seed Charleroi, with Richard Jones winning his game.
Tomorrow's pairings are:
Table 28 (bottom one !) Cardiff - Galway
Table 27 Nidum - Pristina
With 2 wins in the final 2 rounds, Cardiff can still equal their best ever performance, here's hoping.
Captain, Cardiff Chess team