CSC/Kingston 2 shape up well against big guns in 4NCL

CSC/Kingston 2 win on Saturday but lose on Sunday against very strong opposition to leave them joint third in the table after the first two 4NCL weekends

Even division 4 of the 4NCL can be very strong, as the new CSC/Kingston team discovered at the weekend. On Saturday, against the Gloucestershire-based club of Wotton Hall, we were outrated on every board but still managed a miraculous 4-2 victory, with wins for Maurice Lawson, Petr Vachtfeidl and Jon Eckert, and fighting draws on the top two boards by Daniel Sparkes and Peter Hasson against opponents rated 2200 or more. A tremendous performance by the team, ably marshalled as ever by Kate and Charlie Cooke.

On Sunday the opposition, Average Wood Pushers A, were even stronger. All their players were rated above 2000 and their average rating was 2099 – surely more than good enough for division 3, to which they look destined to win promotion. We were outgraded by an average of 270 points a board, and went down to an honourable 4.5-1.5 defeat, with another excellent win for Petr Vachtfeidl and a fine draw for Peter Hasson against another player rated 2200. Both Vachtfeidl and Hasson had memorable weekends.

On the other boards, Maurice Lawson fell foul of some neat tactics by Aidan Rawlinson; Max Selemir launched a bold attack that didn’t quite work out as his opponent mobilised his bishop pair to good effect; and Jon Eckert’s Grand Prix attack made little headway against Mitchell Burke’s expertly played Sicilian. But the prime idiot of the day was me, as I managed to resign against Yaoyao Zhu (rated 2056) in what I later discovered was a drawn position, as shown below.

It looks hopeless – at least I thought so. And, even though I had oodles of time, I didn’t bother to calculate or count the moves. It actually ends in forced stalemate: 47… Kb6 48. Ke5 Kc6 49. Kf6 Kd6 50. Kg7 Ke6 51. Kxh7 Kf7 52. Kh8 Kf8 53. h7 Kf7 1/2-1/2

I am so mortified I have had to share this Réti-ish position with the world immediately as a sort of catharsis. Don’t trust your eyes; trust your brain! Calculate, calculate, calculate. Or as Tartakower might have said: “No one ever drew a game by resigning.” I am utterly furious with myself. Bang goes the prospect of sleep tonight. What a desperately painful game chess is.

So a good weekend for CSC/Kingston 2, but a very bad weekend for me. Maybe it really is time to retire!

Stephen Moss