HICC Club Champs - The Race is ON!

HICC Club Championships 2015

The race is on for the Club Champion title at the HICC as the top division enters its final weeks.  Here we feature some games from earlier this month on the 10th, and one from the week after on the 17th.  After last nights round the top contenders only have 1 or 2 people to play and it's a tight race at the top.

Heading into this round the leaders stood thus:

  1. on 5 out of 6 Kevin Bonham and David Rolph
  2. on 4.5 out of 6 Ian Little
  3. on 5 out of 7 Andrew Smith

Before we get into the heavy play of the Championship Division, there is an interesting game from the Faster Division between Pridmore and Rowlands

PRIDMORE,Oliver (251) - ROWLANDS,Nathan [A34]

HICC Club Championships 2015 (faster division)  10.08.2015

1.e4 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3

Not your standard Sicilian, and not your standard English either.

Position after 5.e5

4...e6 5.e5 (diagram right)

A little too aggressive this early in the game.  5.h3 sets up the threat of e5 without worrying about Ng4.

5...Ng4 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ngxe5

White is down a clear pawn.  He has some slight compensation in space and open lines for his pieces, but this will evaporate soon.

8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bf4 Ng6 10.g3?

The idea behind this move is logical, develop the light squared bishop, castle, and not retreat you pieces.  However, black simply snaps of the bishop and claims the long term bishop pair advantage and ruins whites pawn structure at the same time.

Position after sideline 13.Nc3

10.Bd6 keeps some pressure in the position. 10...Bxd6 11.Qxd6 Qb6 12.Na4 Qa5+ 13.Nc3 (diagram left) white is still a pawn down, but has some annoying pressure against blacks king.

10...Nxf4 11.gxf4 Be7 12.Be2 0–0 13.Rg1 d5 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.Qd4 Bf6 16.Qd3 Bh4 17.Qh3 e5 18.Qg2 Bf6

White has gone on the attack and has tried to use the open g file to his advantage, but black has defended well and now white's king is trapped in the centre, castling queenside is dangerous, and there is no good way to continue the attack.


Position after sideline 24...Rc2

19.Qxd5 is a better try 19...Rb8

(19...Qxd5? 20.Nxd5 Bd8 21.fxe5 white is fine here, material is equal and blacks pieces have been pushed back.)

20.fxe5 Qxd5 21.Nxd5 Bxe5 22.Ne7+ Kh8 23.Nxc8 Rfxc8 24.Rb1 Rc2 (diagram right) black will go a pawn up again and have nagging pressure on the weakened white structure and king, but with opposite colour bishops white can play for a draw.


An unfortunate mistake that gives white a chance.


Position after sideline 21.Nxf6+

the correct move, forcing the black queen back to d8.  If the queen does not protect f6, then Nxf6+ mates by force.

20...Qd8 21.h4?

An opportunity lost, while 21.Nxf6+! (diagram left) is no longer mating by force, the discovery on the rook will spell doom for black. 21...Qxf6 22.Qxa8

21...Rb8 22.h5 h6 23.0–0–0 Bb7

The moment has passed and black has regained control of the position.  White has castled into open lines with all his pieces on the opposite side of the board.  If his attack does not pick up steam the black counter attack will be decisive.

Position after 27.Rf5

24.Bf3 Bxd5 25.Rxd5 Qc7+ 26.Kd2

26.Kb1?? Rxb4+ 27.Ka1 Qc3#
26.Kb2?? Rxb4+ 27.Ka1 (27.Ka3 Qc3#) 27...Qc3#
26.Kd1 exf4 as in the game.

26...exf4 27.Rf5? (diagram right)

In some ways a hard mistake to see, and a logical move to try and continue the attack, but with the white king so exposed in the middle of the board it's fatal.


Final position.

27...Qc3+ 28.Ke2 Qc2+ 29.Ke1 Bc3+ 30.Kf1 Qd3+ 31.Be2 Qb1+ 32.Bd1 Qxd1# Is the fastest way to mate.

28.Bd5 Qc3+ 29.Kd1 Re8 30.a3 Qd3+ 31.Kc1 Rbc8+ 32.Bc6 Re2 33.Rc5 Qd2+ 34.Kb1 Qb2# (diagram left)

Many roads lead to Rome, white's attack was no match for the speed of black's counter.







SMITH,Andrew (1640) - ROLPH,David (1678) [A16]

HICC Club Championships 2015 10.08.2015

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5

4.e5 leads to crazy town... 4...d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.fxg7 (6.dxc3 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1 exf6) 6...cxd2+ 7.Bxd2 Bxg7

4...cxd5 5.e5 Nfd7 6.d4 e6 7.f4 Nc6

From an English to a sort-of-French, (I'm sure there's a joke there somewhere) white enjoys a nice space advantage.

8.Nf3 Be7 9.Be2 0–0 10.0–0

Black is now at a cross-roads, the absence of the c pawn means standard French ideas aren't as effective.  Finding a decent plan here is not easy for black.


10...f6!? the normal French break, but white doesn't have to take on f6.  Instead he can ignore the move and leave black squirming for space.
10...a6!? with ideas of b5, Bb7 and putting rooks on the c file.

Position after sideline 14.Bxh7+

11.Kh1 a6 12.Bd3 Qa7

12...Nxd4? beware the trap! 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Bxh7+ (diagram left) a nice variation on a standard French trap.

13.a3 b5 14.Ne2 Nb6 15.g4 f6

15...Bd7 16.Qc2 h6 saves the h pawn, but gives white all sorts of hooks and targets for his kingside attack.

16.Qc2 (diagram below) Bd7 17.Bxh7+ Kh8 18.Nh4

Position after 16.Qc2

This move aims to continue the attack, but it gives black a chance with 18.Qd3 f5 19.gxf5 exf5 20.Bg6

18...f5 19.gxf5

19.Ng6+? doesn't work 19...Kxh7 20.Nxf8+ Rxf8 and black is ahead.

19...Bxh4 20.fxe6 Be8 21.Rf3 Rc8

The game has taken a turn for the equal.  White has 3 pawns for the piece, but his attack has stalled a little, and now his king is just as exposed as black's. White still has the initiative, but if black can regroup he can hold the position.

22.Qd3 Qe7

22...g5! (diagram below) this move seems bonkers, but is remarkably okay as the movement of the pawn creates an attack on the bishop, and allows the faster movement of blacks pieces to the kingside. 23.Bg6

Position after sideline 22...g5

a) 23.fxg5 Rxf3 24.Qxf3 Qxh7

If black wants to fight on he can try 24...Kxh7 but the dark squared bishop drops in all lines after 25.Qg4 and the game will become equal but unbalanced.  White will retain the extra pawns for the piece, and with each echange those pawns are becoming more valuable. 25...Bg6

(25...Bf2 26.Qf5+;
25...Bxg5 26.Bxg5;
25...Be1 26.Be3 Ba5 27.b4 Nxb4 28.axb4 Bxb4

26.Qxh4+ Kg8)

Position after sideline 26.Qh6+



25.Qf8+ Qg8 26.Qh6+ (diagram right) white has nothing better than the perpetual here.

b) 23.Bf5 Bh5 24.Bg6 Bxf3+

24...Bg4 25.h3 Bxe6 (25...Bxf3+ as with the previous variation.) 26.fxg5 Rxf3 27.Qxf3 Kg8

25.Qxf3 Qg7 26.Qh5+ Kg8 27.f5 and despite being down an entire rook, it is white that is pressing the advantage here with threats of f6, and then f7.


Position after 23...g5


23...Bxg6 24.Qxg6 Qg7 25.Qh5+ Qh7 26.Qxh7+ Kxh7 27.f5 and the pawns could prove more valuable than the piece.
23...Qg7 24.Bxe8 g4 25.Rf1 Rcxe8 transposes to some lines with the 23...g4 move order.

24.Rf1 Qg7 25.Bxe8 Rcxe8 26.f5 Qh7

23.Rh3 g5 (diagram left)

unfortunately now g5 is not as effective.




24.Bf5! essentially a deadly passing move, white keeps the position stable and threatens fxg5 with a crushing attack. If black tries to capture first with 24...gxf4 then the logical 25.Bxf4 brings all of white's remaining pieces into play and an equally crushing attack.

Position after 26...Kg7

24...Qxh7 25.Qxh7+ Kxh7 26.Rxh4+ Kg7 (diagram right)

The position is once again equal, it's pawns vs pieces from here on.  With the queens off the board the blistering attacking chances and ultra sharp lines have been reduced.

27.Bf4 Ne7 28.g6 Nf5?

This allows white an opportunity to penetrate blacks 7th rank.

Position after sideline 29...Rc2

28...Nxg6 again looks bonkers, but is tactically okay for black as he starts to get decent counterplay with the rooks being on open files. 29.Bh6+ going for the skewer doesn't work because of 29...Kg8 30.Rg1 (30.Bxf8 Nxh4 31.Bc5=) 30...Rf2. 29.Rg4 going for the pin also fails to 29...Rc2 (diagram right) when white doesn't have the time to pile up on the g file before black strikes.

29.Rh7+ Kxg6 30.Rb7 Nxd4

30...Nc4 is no good 31.Rg1+ when black must lose a knight anyway to stop from being mated. 31...Ng3+ 32.Rxg3+ Kf5


31.Rxb6 is also winning

Position after 35.Rxb6

31...Kf5 32.Nxd4+ Kxf4 33.Rf1+ Kxe5 34.Rxf8 Kxd4 35.Rxb6

While black has regain one of the pawns for the piece the exchanges favour the side with the extra pawns, blacks pieces are also in a bind and looking a little passive on the back rank.

35...Ke5 36.Rb7?!

Like in so many cases with pawn endgames tempo is everything.  This move allows black a critical tempo which could have made the difference between a win for white, a draw, or a win for black!

36.e7 makes sure black has no tricks up his sleeve. 36...d4 37.Kg2 and the king is in the square of the pawn and in the absence of all else, white will run the h pawn home.

Final position

36...d4 37.Kg1 d3 38.Rf2?

Now black has chances for counterplay.


Unfortunately black did not see the tricks.

38...Rc1+ 39.Kg2 (39.Rf1?? d2 and black queens in all lines.) 39...Bc6+ and the tables have turned dramatically.

39.Rd2 Rc1+ 40.Kf2 Rc2 41.Ke3 Kxe6 42.Rxc2

The endgame is lost for black, even if white gives up both rooks for the d pawn and bishop, the outside passed h pawn makes it a win for white.


MacFARLAN,Rod (1727) - BONHAM,Kevin (1916) [C01]

HICC Club Championships 2015 HICC Clubrooms, 10.08.2015

Position after 15...Bf4

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Be2 Nf6

5...Ne7 with the idea of meeting 6.Bg5 with 6...f6 is a way to break the symmetry early in the game.

6.Bg5 0–0 7.0–0 Bf5 8.Nbd2 Nbd7 9.Re1 c6 10.Nf1 Qb6 11.Bc1 Ne4 12.c3 Qc7 13.Nh4 Be6 14.Bd3 Nef6 15.Nf5 Bf4 (diagram right)

15...Bxf5 16.Bxf5 Rae8 is another way to play the position; it's really a matter of taste.  In this variation black has given up his bad bishop but has had to concede the bishop pair. Black can argue that with his challenge on the open file, there is some potential to make use of his superior development.

Position after 17 Raxc1

16.Qf3 Bxc1 17.Raxc1 (diagram left)

We now enter the typical French exchange middlegame.  The symmetrical structure makes the position very drawish, but there is venom in the position if one player gets a little too complacent and falls asleep at the wheel.

17...Rfe8 18.Qg3 Qxg3 19.N1xg3

With the queen exchange much of the potential has been taken out of the position.  White has activated his knights and can argue a symbolic advantage due to his better minor pieces, but it isn't much in practice.

Position after 19...b6


19...b6 (diagram right)

For anyone to get anything out of the position the structure has to change.  For better or worse black will be the one to change the pawns in an attempt to liberate his bishop.

20.Nd6 Red8 21.Ndf5 Kf8 22.Ne2 g6 23.Ne3 Kg7 24.Nf4 Nf8 25.Nxe6+

25.f3 (diagran below) keeping the knight out of e4 and creating a hole for the king to move into the centre later on (should the position turn into a pawn race) is a good "passing move" option that keeps things a little awkward for black.

Position after sideline 25.f3


This exchange has benefitted black much more than white.  Like in so many French variations when white initiates the exchange of black's light squared bishop, black generally benefits. In this case the white's knight was much more active than blacks bishop.

26.g3 Ng5 27.Kg2 Nge4 28.f3 Nd6 29.Nc2 a5 30.Re2 Ng8 31.Rce1 Rdb8 32.a4 b5 33.axb5 Nxb5 34.c4 dxc4 35.Bxc4 Nd6 36.Ne3 Rb4 37.Rc1 Rab8 38.Rcc2 Ne7

Both players have manoeuvred for some time with black manufacturing the required pawn breaks.  With some of the pawns removed white's bishop has become more active.


The movement of the bishop discovers an attack on the d pawn, this proves fatal for the pawn as black can quickly gang up on it. 39.g4 a quiet move that takes away some critical squares from blacks knights.

39...Nef5 40.Nxf5+ Nxf5 41.Rcd2 Rxd4 42.Rxd4 Nxd4

Black has now won the d pawn with tempo, but will it be enough of an advantage to bring home the win?

43.Rd2 c5 44.Kf2 Rb4 45.Bd5 Kf6 46.f4 Ke7 47.Ba2 f6 48.Bd5 Rb8 49.Bc4 Rb4 50.Ba2 Kd6 51.Bg8 h6 52.b3 Kc6

 Position after 55.Bf7

Position after 55.Bf7

52...a4!? creating an outside passer. 53.bxa4 Rxa4
52...g5 53.fxg5 fxg5 potentially makes it easier for black's king to invade, and black doesn't have to worry about white's bishop hitting the pawns again.

53.Rd3 a4?!

Now this idea has some tactical flaws.

54.bxa4 Rxa4 55.Bf7 (diagram left)

Winning back the pawn when black can't parry both the threat of Bxg6 and Be8+ at the same time.

Position after sideline 58...Re2#

55...Rb4 56.Be8+ Kb6 57.Bxg6 Rb2+

One last trap before forcing the draw.


58.Ke3?? Re2# (diagram right)

58...Ne2+ 59.Kh1

59.Kf1 prevents the forced draw as in the game, but white is fighting without any weapons. 59...c4 60.Rd6+ Kc5 61.Rxf6 Nd4 62.h4 c3 63.Bh7 Rb7 64.Bd3 Re7 65.Rxh6 Re3 66.Rh5+ Kb4 67.Bb1 Rxg3 White has fought on, but traded a drawn position with pawns, to one that will most likely end up with no pawns.  The likely conclusion is black will round up the remaining white pawns and force white to trade the bishop for his advanced pawn.  This will leave R vs R+N which, barring any immediate knight forks and rook pins, is considered a theoretical draw.

Final position

59...Rb1+ 60.Kg2 Rb2 61.Kh1

61.Kf3 Nd4+ 62.Kg4 Rxh2
61.Kf1 c4 as above.
61.Rd6+ Kc7 62.Rxf6 Nxf4+ 63.Kf3 Nxg6 64.Rxg6 Rxh2 65.Ke4 this is drawn as white's king will march over and collect the extra pawn. 65...Rd2 66.Rxh6 c4 67.Ke3 c3 68.Rh1 Rb2 69.Rc1 c2 70.Kd2 Rb1 71.Rxc2+ Kd6 72.Rc4 Rg1 73.g4 Kd5 74.Ra4 and neither player is making any real progress.

61...Rb1+ 62.Kg2 Rb2 (diagram left)

with a draw agreed.


After the excitement of the previous round the scores were shaken up.  With Bonham's draw and Little's win they found themselves on top, while Smith and Rolph have equal points lost with Smith having played the extra game.

  1. on 5.5 out of 7 Kevin Bonham and Ian Little
  2. on 6 out of 8 Andrew Smith
  3. on 5 out of 7 David Rolph

The stage was set for a showdown between the leaders and they didn't disappoint.  While the game was a miniature in favour of the higher rated player, the game was out of the ordinary, and entertaining.

BONHAM,Kevin (1918) - LITTLE,Ian (1465) [A16]

HICC Club Championships 2015 17.08.2015

Position after 4...Bg4

1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 d6 4.g3 Bg4!? (diagram right)

This move looks like school chess, but it seemed to take advantage of the problem white has on his light squares and makes it clear that black is looking for a chess fight, not a theoretical battle.  4...c5 is probably the best move in the position but often the positions after d3 leave black searching for an effective pawn break.


A logical move, but nothing challenging for black.

Position after 8...Bh3

5...Qc8 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.Nge2 Rb8 8.d4 Bh3 (diagram left)

This was the idea of moves 4 and 5, if it isn't played now black always has to calculate lines with threats of d5 kicking the knight, and then Qa4+ and taking on a7, and then worrying if the bishop will hang as the white queen is hitting the rook.

9.0–0 Bxg2 10.Kxg2 Bg7 11.f4

White is not holding back, the aggresive f pawn thrust makes his intentions clear.


Position after sideline 15...Nd7

Black does not want to allow white to simply steam-roll through the centre.  While a computer engine may live to fight another day, a mere human would likely perish. 11...0–0!? 12.d5 (12.e5 Nh5) 12...Na5 13.Qa4 b6 14.b4

12.fxe5 dxe5 13.d5 Nd4 14.Nxd4

14.Qd1 Nxe2 15.Qxe2 0–0

14...exd4 15.Qb5+ c6?!

15...Nd7 (diagram right) and the position is equal, black will castle and the game will continue.

16.dxc6 dxc3??

Black can survive c6 if he castles here, but black gets greedy and fails to calculate the simply punishing reply.

Final position

17.c7+! Nd7

17...Kf8 18.cxb8Q Qxb8 19.e5 Ng4 20.e6 and black will get crushed.

18.cxb8Q Qxb8 19.Rxf7

With the protection taken away from the knight white crashes through mercilessly.  There is nothing black can do.

19...Kxf7 20.Qxd7+ Kf6 21.Bf4





This left the top 4 separated for the first time in several weeks, and every point counts as places 5 and 6 are only separated by half a point.

  1. on 6.5 out of 8 Kevin Bonham
  2. on 6 out of 8 Andrew Smith
  3. on 5 out of 7 David Rolph
  4. on 5.5 out of 8 Ian Little
  5. on 5 out of 8 Scott Cohen
  6. on 4.5 out of 8 Alex Nagy

ROLPH,David (1678) - MacFARLAN,Rod (1727) [B09]

HICC Club Championships 2015 24.08.2015

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.e5 dxe5 6.fxe5 Nd5 7.Bc4 Nxc3

Position after 8...e6

7...Be6 black can't be wrong here, he's parrying the threat while developing a piece.  While the game move does double white's pawns, they weren't a disadvantage at all in the game.

8.bxc3 e6?!

black has entombed his light squared bishop and opened lines to his king.  8...c5! striking at white's centre immediately and creating tension in the position.  If black doesn't challenge the centre, he will get steam-rolled.

8...0–0 getting the king to safety, and then getting on with the job of development and challenging the centre.

Position after 13...O-O


9.Ba3?! looks good, but isn't so 9...Bxe5 10.Bb5+ (10.dxe5? Qh4+) 10...c6 11.dxe5 cxb5 (11...Qxd1+ 12.Rxd1 cxb5 13.Nf3) 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.0–0–0+ Bd7 black is up a pawn in exchange for some positional problems, but if he can solve them then he'll potentially stand better in an endgame.

9...b6 10.Ba3

taking advantage of blacks exposed kingside.


Position after sideline 13...Nf5

10...c5 blocking the bishop and challenging the centre at the same time.

11.0–0 Nc6 12.Qd2 Ne7 13.Ng5 0–0? (diagram above)

castling into the attack.  13...Nf5 (diagram right) the only way to block out the attack.  White can press on, but it's easy to over-press and get into trouble himself.

14.Rxf7 Rxf7 15.Nxe6?!

15.Bxe6 is the correct way to continue the attack. 15...Bd5 16.Nxf7 Qb8 17.Nh6+ Kh8

(17...Kf8?? 18.Qf4+ Bf6

(18...Ke8 19.Qf7+ Kd8 20.Qxe7#)

19.Qxf6+ Ke8 20.Qxe7#)


18.Bxd5 Nxd5 19.c4 white will win material and has a massive positional advantage.  If black tries to save the knight with19...Bxh6 then his troubles only increase with20.Qxh6 Nc3 21.Qe3 Na4 22.Rf1


Position after Qd7

15...Qd7?! (diagram right)

15...Qc8! holds everything together.  Remember white has sacrificed an entire rook for the attack and so even if he "wins" an exchange, he'll still be down a piece. 16.Ng5 (16.Bxe7 Rxe7) 16...Bd5 17.e6.

a) 17.Bxd5 Nxd5 18.Nxf7 Qa6 19.c4 Qxa3 20.cxd5 Kxf7;

b) 17.Nxf7 Bxc4 18.Bxe7 (18.Ng5 Nd5) 18...Kxf7;

c) 17.Qd3 Qf5 18.Nxf7 Qxf7;

17...Rf5 18.Bxd5 (18.Bxe7 Bxc4) 18...Nxd5

16.Ng5 Bd5 17.e6

the subtle difference between 15...Qc8 winning and 15...Qd7 is now this comes with tempo.


Final position

17...Qxe6 18.Nxe6 Bxc4 19.Nxg7 Kxg7 20.Bxe7 Rxe7 black has rook and piece against queen and pawn, with advantage to the queen, but this is better than the game.

18.exf7+ Kf8

18...Kh8 only delays the inevitable 19.Bxd5 Qxd5 (19...Nxd5 20.f8Q+ Qxf8 21.Bxf8 Rxf8) 20.Bxe7 a5 21.Qf4

19.Qf2 Bh6 20.Nxh7+ Kg7 21.f8Q+ Qxf8 22.Nxf8


With all the games in the most recent round going the way or rating, the Championship all but hinges on the Kevin Bonham vs David Rolph game to be played soon.  The current standings are:

  1. on 7.5 out of 9 Kevin Bonham with only Rolph left to play
  2. on 7 out of 9 Andrew Smith with only Midson left to play
  3. on 6 out of 8 David Rolph with Bonham and Midson left to play
  4. on 6.5 out of 9 Ian Little with only Rowlands left to play

If the remaining games between the top 4 all go by way of rating, the final score card could look like this at the end of the tournament:

  1. on 8.5 out of 10 Kevin Bonham
  2. on 8 out of 10 Andrew Smith
  3. on 7.5 out of 10 Ian Little
  4. on 7 out of 10 David Rolph

However, if the Bonham vs Rolph game goes another way, then we could have a tie for first and a tie for third. If the game is a draw then Kevin Bonham and Andrew Smith will tie for first, and Ian Little and David Rolph will tie for third.  If David manages to defeat Kevin, then David Rolph and Andrew Smith will tie for first, with Ian Little and Kevin Bonham tying for third.

But we all know anything can happen on the chess board and upsets always crop up when least expected.  With so many people hot on the heels of the top 4 then any draw, or upset could see an entirely different finish to the 2015 HICC club champs.