– from Mike Forster
After a cracking overnight thunderstorm and a late night rain dance from Meri to celebrate a slight dip in the heatwave, (only 30 degrees today!) the team emerged especially early for the 10am start. It was a particularly tough round in terms of opposition, and the final score of 8 points for the round does not do justice to the sustained effort by the young English players – with some games going well over 4 hours.
First out was Alexander, who found the nice mate in 4 with white to play from this position *
Oli won a convincing K+P ending to finish soon after, and Jonathan also played well to exploit a pin on the light square diagonal from a4-e8 that won material and then the game. Gabriel also played well as white gaining a strong initiative from the opening with a great knight outpost and lots of chances. Eventually he won with a knight fork / double-attack winning all black’s remaining pieces.
Daniel Finn also took a lead in development straight out of the opening and had strong pressure on the open d-file. He won material with a nice double-attack in the middlegame and simplified with a forcing tactic to reach a clearly won endgame.
His brother Thomas was particularly unlucky to be caught in an interesting theoretical position where his opponent was playing very confidently. With some calculated risks Thomas had to expose his king a little in order to gain two strong pawns in the centre, which were making good progress when a miscalculation let black into the game and forced Thomas to lose a rook.
There were other nice wins by Ethan and Reuben – and some good draws by Charlie and Freddie. Charlie was unlucky not to gain more – after his opponent appeared to have lost on time before it was realised that the 30 second increment was not being applied correctly on the clock. Freddie managed to save an endgame the exchange down and should be especially pleased that his tenacity was rewarded.
The game of the round was the battle between Vincent and the Serbian 1st seed – which could easily have gone Vincent’s way – and culminated in an epic 2R+N vs Q+2P endgame – where sadly for Vincent – the Q and pawns eventually triumphed – but a great learning experience leaving everyone hungry for round 4 – with just enough time for a quick lunch.
* Answer: 1. Re1+ Re2 2. Rxe2+ Kf5 3.Nd4+ Kf4 4. Nd5#
Again some very tough pairings with many of the English juniors outrated. The juniors finished with 11 points – with again, many long and hard fought games.
First to win was Samir who managed to find a great rook lift to the fourth rank to win material and then the game.
Lawrence had a superb finish in this position. Black to play and mate in all variations **
There were nice wins for both Jason, Laura, Leo and Jonathan – who all steadily accumulated material and converted to get the wins.
Thomas had a more exciting win after sacrificing a rook to get a strong attack, after an error from his opponent Thomas got the point when he had a forced mate in 6.
Oli and Charlie both drew K and P endings. With Charlie taking a 3 fold repitition and Oli drawing in 98 moves.
Amardip won an interesting Rook endgame where as white his Rook was in front of a pawn on the 7th, but black had a Rook on b2 ready to grab whites kingside pawns if it got the chance. Amardip did well to manage to move the R on b8 with check and then Queen the pawn.
Matthew won as white with a good positional pawn sacrifice that established a dominating rook on the d-file which later occupied d8 and tied down black. Eventually a Knight reached an outpost on d6 and the pinned black bishop on c8 was lost – with a win for white.
Last to finish after four hours was Freddie who as black had been equal for most of the game but was unlucky that the opposite coloured bishop ending he eventually reached with just one pawn down was losing – after white managed to generate two past pawns and forced one of them through.
** Answer: 1… Qe3+ 2. Qf4 Qe7+ 3. Kf5 Qf6# or 2 Rf4 f6+ 3. Kg4 Qe1# or 2. f4 Qe7 leading to mate.