Sunday 29 April 2018

Project 30: Chess for Life Event (5)

Today we conclude our coverage of the Project 30: Chess for Life event with a look at positions from some of the games from the simultaneous display.

GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan played 32 people simultaneously, moving from board to board and replying instantly to their opponent's moves. They even gave their opponents the choice of colour, which is rare in simultaneous displays.

Mike Pointon vs. Matthew and Natasha
In this position, the white centre looks imposing but Matthew and Natasha were quick to target one of the key pawns. They played 
10 ...Bg4 and after 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Qxd4 the demolition of the formerly impressive centre had begun and they went on to win. 

The following game, played against the Chairperson of the Cleveland Chess Association, saw our guest stars steadily gain an advantage with black before finishing off with a big attack.

Brian Whitaker vs. Matthew and Natasha

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Be7 5. c3 O-O 6. Nbd2 d6 7. O-O Nd7 

At first glance it looks odd to move the knight backwards to d7 but it is going to annoy White's bishop on c4. Additionally, Black is limbering up to advance the pawn to f5 to create attacking chances on the kingside.

8. Bb3 Kh8 9. Nc4 Nc5 10. Be3 

White should have preserved the white-squared bishop with 10 Bc2. It may be blocked in there at the moment but an eventual d3-d4 will replenish its scope.

10 ...Nxb3 11. axb3 f5 12. exf5 Bxf5 13. Qd2 Qe8 

Black's is taking the initiative and the queen is ready to swing over to the kingside to help with an attack on the white king.

14. Rfe1?! 

This looks like a reasonable move to centralise the rook but suddenly the white knight runs short of decent squares. 14 d4, to create some action in the centre, was a better try - but Black would keep the initiative with 14 ...e4. 

14 ...Bg4 

Now the knight has to run away as White cannot allow the kingside to be shattered by 15 ...Bxf3. 

15. Ng5 h6 16. Nh3 Qh5 17. f4 Bxh3 18. gxh3 Bh4 19. Rf1 

Black has a large advantage and needs to bring another piece into the attack. A rook lift is the best way to proceed.

19 ...Rf6 20. fxe5 Rg6+ 21.Kh1 d5 22. Na3 Qxe5 23. Rad1 

Black needs to find a way to check with the queen along the long white diagonal. This is achieved by offering an instructive pawn sacrifice.

23 ...d4! 24. Rg1 Qd5+ and White resigns (0-1) After 25 Rg2 dxe3 the king is still suffering under the very strong attack and he will be lots of material down too. Against players as strong as Matthew and Natasha that all adds up to an inevitable defeat.

We conclude with the encounter which earned the Best Game Prize, in which Matt Jackman came close to victory.

Matthew Jackman vs. Matthew and Natasha

1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 c5 3. c3 Nc6 4. e3 Qb6 5. Qb3 Qxb3 6. axb3 e6 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. Bd3 Bd7 9. Nbd2 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. h3 Rfc8 12. Rfc1 

White has a slight edge in this position, due to his more active pieces. Black's next move is a mistake and it allows Matt's bishop to infiltrate the queenside, eventually helping him to win a pawn.

12 ...b6? (12 ...a5 would prevent the forthcoming invasion) 13. Ba6 Rf8 14. Bb7 Rae8 15. Ra2 cxd4 16. exd4 Ne4 17. Nxe4 dxe4 18. Nd2 g5 

Strong players do not wait around for their position to simply grow worse. Here they take direct action on the kingside to try and distract Matt from his gains on the queenside.

19. Bh2 f5 20. Bxc6 Bxc6 21.Rxa7 f4 22. Re1 e5 23. Rc7 Ba8 24. dxe5 e3 25. fxe3 Bc5 

Black's bold kingside advance has led to some serious play. Matt decides to sacrifice the exchange to relieve the pressure on the dark squares. Materially, he is still going to be fine but accurate play is required from this moment on.

26. Rxc5 bxc5 27. exf4 gxf4 28. Nc4 

A mistake, as Black could now crack open the white king with 28 ...f3. In the game, however, they chose a different method - another rook lift. White should have added more control to f3 with 28 Kf2, after which it is still anyone's game.

28 ...Re6 29. Rf1 Rg6 30. Rf2 f3 31. g3 Ra6! 

A very nice change of direction for the versatile rook, which now threatens to invade on a1. 

32. Kh1 Ra1+ 33. Bg1 Rd8 34.Nd2 

Black now forces a decisive material advantage. Can you see which move they played to force White's resignation?

Matt Jackman, happy with his Best Game Prize.

Thank you to everyone who supported this very special event.

Here are links to earlier parts in this series:

Project 30: Chess for Life (Announcement)

Project 30: Chess for Life (1)

Project 30: Chess for Life (2)

Project 30: Chess for Life (3)

Project 30: Chess for Life (4)

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Project 30: Chess for Life Event (4)

Photo © Mike Sturman
Today we continue our coverage of the Matthew Sadler and Natahsa Regan special event with a gallery featuring various moments from the event, with additional photos by Mike Sturman.

Photo © Mike Sturman
Photo © Mike Sturman
Photo © Mike Sturman
Photo © Mike Sturman
Photo © Mike Sturman
Matt Jackman won the Best Game Prize,
kindly donated and signed by Natasha and Matthew

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Teesside Megafinal - Entries Closing Soon

Entries for our Teesside Megafinal will close on 30 April.

The online entry system can be accessed here.

All players Under-11 (i.e. Primary School) need to have qualified via their own school or club Delancey UK Chess Challenge tournament.

All players Over-11 (i.e. Secondary School) do not need to have qualified via a tournament and can enter directly.

Further details can be found here.

Meanwhile, this new video will tell you what to expect on the day.

Monday 23 April 2018

Project 30: Chess for Life Event (3)

Project 30's big chess event brought GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan to Yarm School for a full day of exciting activities.

In the first part of our special report we looked at the lectures and in the second we recalled the practical exercises.

Immediately after the short lunch break it was time to set up for the big simultaneous display, in which our stars would play alternate moves (known as a 'tandem simultaneous display') on 32 separate boards. This is a very large number of people to play simultaneously. Most displays feature 20 people, give or take a couple.

The point of such events is to level up the playing field as much a possible. The titled players are clearly better at chess than anyone else in the room but their strength is potentially diluted by having to move as soon as they appear at each board, by the potential differences in their independent plans and by having to think about 32 different positions, all going on at the same time.

Juniors - aged eight upwards - were joined by parents, teachers and a couple of local club players.

Just before play started, the competitors were given the opportunity to buy a copy of Chess for Life and to have it signed by Natasha and Matthew. We were very pleasantly surprised by how many people made the most of the opportunity!

The games were a delight to watch, as Matthew and Natasha sped around the big square of tables, both concentrating hard so as not to fall for any devious traps.

Showing real class, the stars allowed the players a choice of colour and even played a second game against those who lost within the first hour or so.

There were lots of great games before the final checkmate was delivered, making it a score of at least 32-0 to our visitors (plus however many extra games they allowed - possibly closer to 40-0 in total).

What a fabulous display!

Congratulations to everyone who took part and especially to Matthew and Natasha, who kept smiling and encouraging all of the players throughout the event.

There are still a few more reports to come, as we have lots more pictures and some moments from the games to show.