British OTB Championship, 2021, Round 4
Round 4, played on 05/10/2021.
In the Championship, the strict colour alternation hitherto experienced by the three Yorkshire players was broken, as eventually happens. Thus Robert Starley got a second White in a row, while Andrew Ledger and Svetlana Sučikova received their “expected” Black.
Once the dust had settled, Mark Hebden had moved into the sole lead, on 3½ out of 4, with Andrew Ledger 2nd equal with a number of others on 3 out of 4.
Andrew Ledger, who was one of five players in the joint lead, on 2½ out 3, had Black received the down-float, to David Eggleston of Durham, the two being fairly evenly matched. The opening was a Petroff, but the line followed was one of those which ends up looking more like a Queen’s Gambit variation. Things were fairly dull-looking until, on move 15, White sacrificed a rook for a bishop and at attack. Whether this was known “theory”, preparation, or something conjured up at the board is unclear. The resultant hairy position ended at move 27 as Black forced a repetition.
(To return to this page after playing through a game, use your browser’s “back” function.)
Robert Starley had White against Phil Brooks of Ashtead in Surrey, who is of roughly comparable strength. As with a game in the previous round, www.chess.com was showing no moves, and a win for White. Meanwhile the analysis engine was feverishly analysing the starting position, concluding that White’s initial advantage of having the first move was equivalent to just over half a pawn (+0.51). As the “result” had not been posted to chess-results.com, it seemed something somewhere was not plugged in properly. However, whereas in the previously mentioned game play had started on screen after about 15 minutes, this time nothing happened, and continued happening throughout the playing session. Perhaps it Black had a dodgy curry the evening before. These electronic systems frequently lack adequate facilities to effect basic communication in such circumstances.
Svetlana Sučikova had Black against Steven Willison, whose lower rating suggested hopes for a win for the Yorkshire player were in order. The opening was a French defence in which centre pawns get swapped off rather than blockaded, and after Black castled on the King’s side, it looked likely White planned to castle on the Queen’s side and then hope to throw everything within reach at the black king, or else push down the centre, and the latter was the plan adopted. Thus, after move 24, White had a passed, albeit isolated, pawn at d5, which in time advanced to d6. Black blockaded the pawn, and then it seems White must have lost on time trying to work out how to continue. Again, the electronic systems fail to real this sort of information.
To pass the time while waiting for people to move, the writer strayed onto the commentary channel to see if anything was being said about any of the above games, but all there was at that point seemed to be a look at the previous round’s games. Nevertheless, it was mildly interesting to see a totally unrecognisable Jonathan Mestel – totally unrecognisable as I had not seen him since a Sunday Times match about 50 years ago, when Manchester Grammar A played King Edward VII Sheffield B in Sheffield, and KES A-team members had to rumble their B-team captain for fiddling for players ages, as we regarded our counterparts from across the Pennines with too much respect (we had seen them earlier when we played their B team in Manchester) to allow our B-team captain to get away with cheating! Ages were duly corrected!!