Richmond A v Surbiton A 19-04-22

Our penultimate match of the season saw a visit from Surbiton A in a match which would have a bearing on second place in the league. I’m unable to provide a first hand report as I was at a concert, but was able to get there in time to pick up the results at the end of the evening.

Currently the match is undecided: we’re 3:2 up with one game for adjournment (remember them?). Update (26-04-22) – the unfinished game on board 4 was agreed drawn, giving us a 3½:2½ victory.

  1. Gavin Wall (2284) ½:½ Altaf Chaudhry (2070)
  2. Mike Healey (2267) 1:0 Paul Dupré (1968)
  3. Bertie Barlow (2006) 1:0 Nick Faulks (1906)
  4. Raghu Kamath (1885) ½:½ Heiko Cassens (1900)
  5. Maks Gajowniczek (1750) ½:½ Henry Shard (1863)
  6. Victor Bluett (-) 0:1 Graham Alcock (1793)

I understand that Mike had a quick win and Bertie an impressive win, while Gavin’s former Pakistan international opponent agreed a draw in what might have been a winning position. Raghu’s adjournment appeared to be a highly unclear position with most of the pieces still on the board: Raghu was attacking on the kingside and his opponent on the queenside. We’ll have to see what Stockfish thinks!

Thanks to all for playing, and especially to Mike who captained the team on the night, and to Sampson for his help. Well played Mike and Bertie!

A report from Mike:

A very tight affair between Richmond and Surbiton. So tight that on the top four boards, the first piece left the board at 8.15! Many closed games and slow building attacks.

On 6 Victor faced what every player doesn’t need – negotiating the unique intricacies of a Benko against a very active player. White got in a muddle, a piece went awry, then the game.

Meanwhile on 1 Surbiton’s Chaudhry had hit upon the genius tactic of repeatedly failing to press his clock, a sure fire way to wind up our Gavin! An ominous pawn landed on f3, but things started going horrifically wrong. Using the patented titled player draw offer, Chaudhry was dumbstruck into accepting. Moments later he was announcing to the room he should have declined, having been shown the win. The joy of an IM result AND the pleasure of moaning about it for years on end! Perfect!

Bertie saved Richmond’s blushes with a gorgeous game on 3. As Nick commented in post match drinks, his mistake was forcing Bertie to play rather than striving for a tame draw. I’ve certainly been enjoying the Barlow bloodlust this season!

On 5 Maks played a former Richmond junior, and got a very pleasant position from his Sicilian. Exchanging down to rook and opposite bishop each, while Black was in complete control White defended smartly. Realising any winning attempt would probably backfire, Maks sadly conceded to a draw. Still, as seen from his games online in Richard’s tournaments, Maks has definitely become a stronger player over lockdown, always pushing for the win even against much higher rated players.

I played my usual offbeat nonsense on 2, and Dupre ended up a bit squished in a Philidor. Amusingly Stockfish had zero criticisms of White’s play apart from moves 2 and 3!?

That leaves the adjourned board 4, where Raghu was playing a calm slow attacking game. The final position is a bit of a mess, but looking over some lines it looked like White should be on top, even if a clean kill wasn’t leaping out at us.

Our season concludes with the return encounter with Surbiton on Tuesday 3 May. We’re anticipating another close match.