British OTB Championship, 2021, Round 1
The scene is set in a notice about the overall event.
In round 1, played on 02/10/2021, the three Yorkshire players in the Championship did their fair share of grovelling, with varying degrees of success. All three had White, which means they are somewhat less likely to play each other in later rounds.
Robert Starley had White against the stronger IM Joseph McPhillips, who played one of those “You can’t play that, surely!” defences, where knowing the analysis and variations inside out can be worth more than in simpler openings. White took the bait, manoeuvring his bishop to h5, where it stayed for the rest of the game. Black semi-castled on the queen’s, with his king wandering from e8 to c7, and his game sprang to life when he was able embarrass White’s king, which had castled queen’s side in the normal way. White grovelled as best he could in the given position, but was despatched with efficiency.
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Svetlana Sučikova had White against FM Marcus Harvey, and was also outrated. She emerged from the opening with a position which was, it seems fair to say, “grovelsome”, and drifted into a rook and pawn ending a pawn down, and, moreover, with her opponent having an outside passed pawn. To the less-skilled writer, it seemed Black had excellent winning chances, even if it was not definitely theoretically winning. However, White played the ending well, and converted a grovelling middlegame into a respectably drawn ending!
Andrew Ledger had White against a weaker opponent, Oliver Stubbs, yet in the opening seemed to be grovelling somewhat, apparently with a plan: grovel, equalise, keep the pieces on, realise the potential advantages of the position and eventually win, albeit relying on some help from the opponent. In the ending, White was a pawn up in an opposite-coloured bishop ending in which White had 3 connected passed pawns while Black had 2 connected passed pawns. It demonstrated, to paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, “three pawns good; two pawns bad.”
Meanwhile, in the Under-8, Benedikt Pytel of Hull lost his two games with Black, but won his two games with White, and so enters the second and final day (Sunday) with a respectable 2 out of 4.