There was a sombre mood at Shifnal & Telford on Wednesday night on account of the fact that Iain Wilson, previous President of the Shropshire Chess Association, had died that afternoon. Iain had been suffering from cancer for a while and was a good friend of Shropshire Chess over many years, as well as of many of us individually. There was probably no better way of honouring Iain’s memory than by having a good scrap over the board, and it’s fair to say that each and every player duly obliged by giving it their all; no short, “grandmaster” draws!
On top board, captain Jamie Hopkins declined Dave Gostelow’s habitual early draw offer, feeling that he had a slight edge already, and maintained his 100% start to the season by managing to see off the challenge of Gostelow when he broke through to his 8th rank, leaving a fairly straightforward position then, and, even more remarkably, managed to finish with more time than his opponent!
Dan Lockett on board 5 started off OK, before his position deteriorated slightly and got worse from there on out! After a long think, he concluded that a potential attack on the Kingside wouldn’t work, so opted to attack even more by sacrificing the exchange in order to force the issue. Unfortunately, this turned an inferior yet salvageable position into a lost one.
David Everington’s game against Richard Gillespie on board 4 is covered in more detail on the interesting games page – he managed to secure a victory.
With Peter Kitchen on board three having fallen to the dangerous Nazif Nazif in a Ruy Lopez (which meant that both games on boards three and four finished as a Black win in the Ruy Lopez), the pressure switched to the remaining game – Francis Best taking on John Footner on board 2. For full effect, I shall hand over responsibility of the narrative to Francis himself.
“My opponent, John Footner, is an experienced warrior, renowned for his deep, strategic play, particularly in correspondence chess over the years. I therefore wanted to play something a little off-beat. I ended up on the black side of a Chigorin defence against the Queen’s gambit. Fairly early on, the position dictated that I swapped off both my bishops for John’s knights. In addition, white had a central pawn majority, which could prove significant if becoming mobile. I could see that a central advance by white, followed by an opening of the position to give wide scope for his bishops could well prove decisive.
The one saving grace of my position was that it was solid, without any major weaknesses, and I had managed to get active piece play early on. This latter factor could easily be dissipated, however, once White consolidated. There were some pawn weaknesses in the white camp too, although it was hard to see a way of exploiting them.
In the end, just as we were both getting fairly low on time, we exchanged down to an ending where John had a bishop and pawns against my knight and pawns. Having temporarily sacrificed a pawn in order to prevent White’s rooks penetrating, I was somewhat surprised to find myself a pawn up, although I didn’t consider it enough to win. In fact, clearly John felt he still had the upper hand and my team mates were a little apprehensive as time wore on. As we were down to less than two minutes each, I offered a draw (partly insurance against a win claim on time by the opponent). John declined, saying, “I think I’ll try for a win.”
Shortly afterwards, however, I was able to sacrifice my knight for white’s last remaining pawn and John conceded the draw. It was only at this point that I realised that this was the last game to finish and the result determined the outcome of the whole match – a draw!”
Shrewsbury A 2.5-2.5 Shifnal and Telford A
- J. Hopkins 1-0 D. Gostelow
- F. Best 0.5-0.5 J. Footner
- P. Kitchen 0-1 N. Nazif
- D. Everington 1-0 R. Gillespie
- D. Lockett 0-1 R. Thompson