British OTB Championship, 2021, Round 2
In round 2, played on 03/10/2021, the three Yorkshire players in the Championship all had Black, as expected as they all had White in round 1.
Robert Starley had Black against the weaker Amirabbas Mehrafarin, and on paper was expected to win. White’s king looked a bit shakey, with doubled, isolated f-pawns and isolated, advanced h-pawn. Black let a Q-side pawn go, to press on with an attack, but success looked as though it was going to be difficult. Black’s last Q-side pawn went as well, then after move 40, White’s K-side began to crumble and Black won rapidly thereafter.
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Svetlana Sučikova had Black against FM Hamish Olson, and was outrated to an extent which suggested things would be difficult. A strangely imbalanced position arose, with Black having R, 2B, N and 4P versus 2R, B and 7P, in other words B and N for R and 3P. White had 3 passed pawns (2 of them doubled) which looked like eventually leading to a win. In the event, White swapped off one of Black’s bishops (at the cost of a weakened K-side pawn structure), then deflected a defensive knight by sacrificially advancing a menacing pawn, so that he could double rooks on the seventh rank. This occupation of the seventh had little short-term effect, apart from picking off one pawn, but trapping the Black king on its back rank became important in the ending. In time White sacrificed his rear f-pawn to accelerate the emergence of his king, but that reduced the material imbalance so that Black had B, N and 3P versus R and 4P. However, White was then in a position to push his front b-pawn, and it seemed White’s king would stroll across to the Q-side, and then the advanced passed b-pawn would bring a win. Significant, perhaps, was the fact that if advancing the front b-pawn won a piece for the pawn, then the rear b-pawn could advance to take its place! Then Black forced a passed e-pawn (which manoeuvre also served to avoid K-side pawns being picked off), and that meant White could not liquidate things by the advance of the b-pawn, as then the black e-pawn could run without being caught. By move 57, or before, this was the only game still in play. As White was making no headway on the b-file, he eventually sacrificed rook for bishop, whereafter he had eliminate the remains two black pawns in what was probably just a way of forcing a draw, which was shortly agreed.
Andrew Ledger had Black against the slightly higher-rated IM Joseph McPhilips, who had beaten Robert Starley in round 1. In the middlegame, each player had 2 rooks and a bishop (of the same colour) and 6 pawns. White’s pawns were somewhat the weaker, but engineering a Black win looked as though it would be difficult, and a draw was agreed after White’s 29th move.
Meanwhile, in the Under-8, Benedikt Pytel of Hull, who in round 1 had lost his two games with Black but won his two games with White, scored a win, a draw and a loss on the second and final day (Sunday) ending on a modest but respectable 3½ out of 7.