Stafford’s rocky start to the Cannock Division 2 season continued on Thursday, as they hosted Rushall. Ken McNulty finished first on board 2. From a slightly unusual opening, Ken transposed into a more familiar Reti. A timely d4 push allowed the swapping of Queens while gaining space and a strong queenside pawn chain. The small advantage wasn’t enough to tempt Ken to play on for a win though, as he accepted his opponents draw offer after 19 moves.
Ray Hyde was next to finish. A couple of small mistakes early in an exchange variation of the French defence left Ray in an uncomfortable position for much of the game. An exchange of bishops that left him with a knight at b8 only served to worsen the position, but Ray offered a spirited fightback and probably gained more play than the earlier position would have suggested. However, Ray finally recognised which way the game was heading and offered the hand of resignation to a rather surprised opponent.
Sumit Raisinghaney’s game was finished shortly after and followed a similar pattern. Coming out of a series of exchanges with doubled h-pawns and an extremely ‘fragile’ defence, Sumit soon found himself on the wrong side of a pair of rooks that were doubled on the g-file in defence of an advancing passed pawn. Sumit spotted a potential weakness in his opponents position and embarked on a last-gasp attempt at a mating attack, but his opponent was wise to it and secured his own position before clearing up the last of the loose pawns. The inevitable resignation soon followed and the visitors had the match tied up.
Late stand-in*, Andrew Leadbetter was last to finish. An exchange took place early in the game that left Andrew with 3 pawns for a Bishop (he later admitted that this wasn’t planned – well not by him anyway!) The extra pawns were duly pushed up the board, and Andrew was defending a pawn that he had managed to lodge on e4, but as the pieces were exchanged off, it was the minor pieces that showed their strength as the Rushall player’s rook and bishop worked their way in behind enemy lines and were able to pick off some stragglers whilst coping with any attempts at pawn promotion. The game was conceded shortly before the time control was reached, leaving the final match score at 4.5 – 0.5 to Rushall.
*Kazik was originally supposed to play on board 2, but having been reminded that it was his wedding anniversary, he decided that he would like to celebrate a few more and so pulled out of the match. Let’s hope his evening was more enjoyable than ours.