This week, I made some more good use of my return to the UK by playing some Tuesday evening blitz after work in the Sam Black Memorial Open Blitz in Wanstead, London. Professor Sam Black is a former chairman of the North London League and this tournament was set up in his memory when he died in 1999. Past champions include GMs Gawain Jones, Tamas Fodor and Cherniaev while GM Bogdan Lalic has been a regular guest (even winning it with 12/12 in 2014 – the only person ever to do so!) More details are available on the website at http://www.northcircularchess.co.uk/samblack.html.
My “Chess for Life” co-author Natasha spotted the tournament, having good memories of the venue from county matches many years ago. Indeed, the venue is very nice with a great selection of pubs in the surrounding streets! The tournament is 6-rounds and double-games (so everyone plays 12 games) with 5 minutes per game.
This year the field was led by myself, Bogdan, John Richardson and the Lithuanian IM Antanas Zapolskis (born 1962). I have nothing but praise for the organisers who managed to keep a tight schedule with a smile while doing all pairings by hand! Very impressive!
In the end I came out on top with 11.5/12 with Zapolskis in second place with 10/12 (winning all his games except the two he lost to me) Bogdan got back to 3rd place on 9,5/12 by winning his last match against Natasha.
The draw I dropped to John Richardson was my most entertaining game of the tournament, although it’s a bad sign when my memory of the game fails me after a certain point. That normally means that so many blunders took place that I can’t make sense of my recollections. However, the first 30 moves are enough to give you a taster I think! A playable version of this game is available at http://cloudserver.chessbase.com/MTIyMTYx/replay.html
Richardson,John R – Sadler,Matthew D [A57]
Sam Black Memorial Open Blitz (6), 05.06.2018
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.b6 d6 6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.a4 Qxb6 8.a5 Qa7 9.e4 g6 10.f4 Bg7 11.Nf3 0–0 12.Bc4 Rb8 13.0–0 Rb4 14.Qe2
[Slightly distracted by the manic time scramble on the next board, I had made a pretty poor impression of a Benko player! White has a beautiful setup, and Black’s only counterplay involves weakening his kingside – by playing a move like …e6 – or moving pieces away from the kingside – with a manoeuvre like …Ne8–c7–b5. Neither are tempting but doing nothing is also not an option, so I asked my king to be brave and looked for piece counterplay.]
14…Ne8 15.e5 Nc7 16.b3 Bb7 17.Bb2 Re8
[17…Rxb3 18.Bxb3 c4+ 19.Kh1 cxb3 was what I had been teeing up for, but it looked less appealing when it came to playing it. So instead, I kept waiting.]
[Ouch. That looked nasty! I decided that my queen had to return, but missed John’s next move.]
[Worse news! After some thought, I came up with a neat little trap]
19…Kxf7 20.e6+ Kg8 21.exd7 Rf8 22.Qxe7 Qd8 23.Qxd6 Bd4+ 24.Kh1 Rf6
[Trapping the queen! Even discussing the game with John after the tournament, we were both blind to the very obvious]
[25.Qxc7 Qxc7 26.d6+ winning! I should have played 24…Rxc4 first when my trap really would have been genius! I had been expecting 25.Qxf6 which looked somewhat worrying too. John however came up with a typical bit of blitz craziness!]
25…Rfxb6 26.axb6 Nb5 27.Nxb5 Bxb2 28.Rae1 Qxd7 29.Nc7 Kg7 30.Ne6+ Kh6 31.f5 Bxd5
[and now in a position that my engine says is slightly better for White(!) my memory fails me. Suffice it to say that in the ensuing time-scramble, I got to queen and bishop vs two rooks, lost my queen for a rook, then captured John’s rook and we finally agreed a draw with seconds on our clocks!]
Perhaps my best game of the event was the very last one. I really liked the way my pieces coordinated!
Spearman,David – Sadler,Matthew D [D00]
Sam Black Memorial Open Blitz (12), 05.06.2018
1.d4 Nf6 2.c3 d5 3.Bg5 c5 4.e3 Qb6 5.Qc1 Nc6 6.Nd2 Bf5 7.Nb3 c4 8.Nd2 Rc8
[Black can be fairly happy with his opening as White is not yet able to challenge Black’s bind on the queenside with 9.b3. White therefore tries to undermine Black’s pawn structure from another angle.]
[9.b3 cxb3 10.axb3 Nb4 wins]
[A very risky idea, especially after White’s previous move.]
10…Bh6 11.Kf2 e5
[The exchange of White’s dark-squared bishop makes itself felt: …Bxe3+ followed by …exd4 is already a threat!]
[l liked the way I mobilised my rooks and put my king to safety in the next few moves! …Kd8 frees e8 for the king’s rook.]
[Threatening …Bxe3+ amongst other things.]
[With the threat of …Bxe2 followed by …exd4.]
[Preparing to double rooks on the e-file]
16.Qd2 Rce7 17.Re1 Kc7
[Getting the king out of the way of the queen on d2.]
18.Nc1 Be4 19.Bg2 exf4 20.exf4 Ne5
[A nice idea that I couldn’t resist playing while considering my 19th move! Strangely, there isn’t much of a threat, so White could play a solid waiting move like 21.Rhf1! However, my opponent feared the check on g4 (not surprisingly) and decided to remove the knight on e5.]
21.Nxe5 fxe5 22.Bxe4 exf4 23.gxf4 Rxe4
[23…Qf6 did flash into my mind and was probably even stronger, but the simple text seemed good enough to me.]
24.Rxe4 Rxe4 25.Ne2 Qf6 26.Kf3 Qh4 27.b3 Qh5+ 28.Kf2 Qh4+ 29.Kf3 Qh3+ 30.Kf2 Qg4
31.bxc4 Bxf4 32.Nxf4 Rxf4+ 33.Ke1 Qf3 0–1