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Bangor Chess Seeds Piped

"Chess Notes" from County Down Spectator, 18 Mar 2004

Last weekend the City of Belfast Championship saw Bangor players Steve Scannell and Richard Proctor rated as top seeds in the Senior and Junior classes. A tournament review shows the vagaries of chess with a few spectacular upsets; up-and-coming youngsters demanding attention and not-so-young old-hands stamping their authority. Seedings didn't count for much after all.

Seniors competed for the Nemtzov Cup. Bangor were well represented with Ron Henderson, Damien Lavery, Philip Todd and David Grzymek all making strong challenges along-side Steve. The highlight of the competition was the match between Sam Moore (Civil Service 1693) and Tom Clarke (Clifton House 2178). Tom sacrificed a pawn (a big deal at this level) to gain advantage but instead Sam forced exchanges to gain an excellent win with his extra pawn in the end-game. Far from being crushed, however, Tom came back to win all his other 5 games and claim the cup. Some wags suggested, rather than Sam's victory stimulating Tom's play, he was more fearful of Richard Proctor's offer of a middle board for Groomsport.

Richard was in action himself, playing for the Henderson Cup. His opening game against youngster Ananda Srinivasan (Fisherwick) seemed an unreasonable match-up with nearly 40 years between the two. Ananda relished Richard's attacking play and not only gave as good as he got, but gave a little more to claim the win. It took another loss before Richard came back to form and finish with 4 wins. Also for Bangor, Richard Montgomery echoed the burgeoning potential of Ulster's young players by gaining 3.5 points over the weekend including an excellent win over Stewart McConaghy (Bombardier). But it was old-hand John Orchin (Hillsborough) who eventually took the Henderson Cup home with 5 full points; this was John's first major win since 1980.

Templar

Last Wednesday, Templar travelled to Fortwilliam. With Martin Moorcroft and Kevin Agnew both unavailable the team were glad to welcome Mike McKimm back and give Richard Montgomery his first taste of league competition. Templar felt confident.

Drew Ferguson on board 5 was first to fall. After a disastrous mistake allowed Dermot Neary's Queen to steal a Rook, Drew was unable to gain advantage from his superior position and Dermot's trapped back-row. Eventually Dermot forced exchanges to let his material advantage win the game.

Richard Montgomery's first outing on board 4 did not fare much better. Loose play against John Cahoon's usual vigorous defence cost Richard a piece. Caught in a viscous trap Richard was soon forced to concede.

Mike McKimm returned on board 3 against Ed Morgan and had gained a stronger position in the middle-game. But Ed had established a dangerous mating threat with a Bishop and advanced pawn trapping Mike's King in the corner. Treading warily, Mike carefully advanced Rooks and Queen toward Ed's back rank. Despite a few very nervous moments, Mike emerged victor.

Philip Todd faced a very strong Eamonn Walls on board 2. Philip defended well against Eamonn's knowledgeable opening. Later analysis suggests Philip's defence, although correct, has a fundamental flaw; after Eamonn exchanged Bishops, Philip lost all counter-play allowing Eamonn's White pieces to dominate the game and eventually win. Over the weekend, Philip got revenge for this defeat with an excellent win against Eamonn in the Nemtzov Cup.

Last game to finish was David Grzymek against Martin Donaghy on board 1. David had established a strong position into the middle-game but Martin refused to give ground and managed to thwart David's advances. But David cut-off all possibility of counter-play for Martin, and in a battle of attrition finally forced Black to concede.

Disappointment for bottom boards with the team losing 2-3.

Good news from Kevin Agnew. Bright and cheerful, Kevin checks in having survived his operation in good heart; no prognosis yet but he promises to let us know on this weeks club-night. Doubtless he has not been idle in his convalescence; whoever he plays in RVH is due for a lesson in theory.

Winston

Winston entertained CIYMS in Groomsport last Thursday. CIYMS have established a firm hold of 2nd spot in the league; a difficult prospect for Richard Morrow's team.

Bottom boards, Gary Johnston (4) and Owen Wilson (5) dropped early, out-gunned by Norman Judge and Alan Burns. Though Gary's gift of a Queen to Norman didn't help any.

Top board Evan Bell faced an on form Calum Leitch. Although defending with Black, Evan gained material advantage in the middle-game and was prepared to launch a major attack. Calum responded with a stunning combination which dramatically turned the tables forcing Evan back, urgently on the defensive. Now robbed of counter-play opportunities, Evan could do little against Calum's forceful attack.

In the absence of Ken Browne, Richard Morrow moved up to board 2 to take on Bill Ferguson. Richard opened well and with aggressive play forced an error from Bill. Not sufficient to gain an overwhelming advantage but enough to forestall any ambitions for Black. Bill accepted Richard's offer of a draw; an excellent result for Richard rated 1285 against Bill on 1726.

David Symmington (1146) on board 3 also faced very strong opposition from John Strawbridge (1627) and with the disadvantage of Black. Accurate defensive play from David kept the game balanced through the opening. The slow positional game allowed David to fortify his defences until John was forced to acknowledge a draw.

Although only gaining 1 point from the match, this was an excellent performance from Winston's top boards.

Fixtures

This Week: Division 1 teams and Templar play their final league match. Carnegie travel to North Belfast on Thursday while the other 3 matches are at home; Groomsport play Clifton House, Winston play Randalstown and Templar take on RVH.

Next week: no league fixtures so the first full club-night for quite a while.

Final Week: 1st April, only Winston have a league match, their last, against Hillsborough

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