The annual Williamson Shield took place on the final weekend of January at its familiar location within the Stormont Estate, Belfast. Its perennial winner Stephen Scannell, the 'Phil Taylor' of Ulster chess minus the tattoos and beer belly (well tattoos anyhow..sorry Steve) was absent. Both 1st and 2nd seeds, Michael Waters and John Cairns, gladly filled the breach to pick up joint winnings on 5.5 with a handy £150 going into each of their back pockets, thus rewarding an arduous weekend's toil. Picking up the bronze was surprise package Ryszard Kaczorowski who upset the high flying Eamon Walls in the last round, a player who earlier that morning snuffed out your blogger's lingering tournament hopes....nuff said.
Moving on I would like to briefly examine a couple of critical positions from my weekend games which I think the reader may find of interest. First off was my Saturday evening game with John Cairns.
After a slightly unorthodox version of the Pirc (leaving theory on move 7) a situation arose where black has bagged 2 pawns, with white having compensation in the shape of a disorganised black piece arrangement and an exposed king. In the diagram below white has just played 23 Nf3 hoping to win the g pawn and open the g file for his heavy pieces in the process, as you can see from the arrows.
Black, as most engines point out, should have ignored this and swapped off the menacing white bishop on e5, instead of defending with Bh6 as played in the game. Cairns, I'm sure, after playing the immediate 24.Nxg5! had in mind the motif shown below, which leads to material meltdown for black!
In the game I avoided this scenario by playing 25...e6 and 26..Kxf7 however with 26.h4 and 27.Rxg5 black regains his piece and opens the g file as intended. As you can see from the remainder of the game black's position is collapsing and resignation soon follows in swift order. Although disappointed, due to being on the wrong end of a crush, I was impressed none the less by the ruthless economy of the white attack.
For all you lovers of the 'chess study' type of positions I think you may find the finish to my round 5 game against William Storey amusing. As you can see from the diagram below white has just played Kg5?..allowing white to play g7.
It soon become apparent to William that his king has prevented his rook from guarding against the queening on g8 by placing itself on the g file. Therefore he decides to keep checking the black king, so the question for my readers is... Which square does the white king have to go to in order to keep alive winning chances?
Don't look down until you have it!
Yes you guessed it... a8! From here black has run out of checks and is helpless to prevent white queening and winning. As my king was making its away across the board a knowing smile from Denis Wilkinson, who was spectating on the sidelines, indicated that he also knew the destination of the white monarch. A scenario which makes an exception to the rule that an outside passed pawn is deadly for the opposition, in this case black can only rue that it was still alive to give shelter to the white king!
Barring this piece of chess farce it was a forgettable tournament for myself as I was very lethargic throughout large parts of the tourney, this I can only put down to the early rises which have been foreign to me due to unemployment in the previous months... excuses, excuses. As the tourney included several rating prizes there was plenty of incident and drama in the final rounds with Alan Burns defeating Martin (the big one partner) Kelly to claim one of these. At one stage the 'at times mercurial' Burns had a material advantage so large against the 'distracted' Kelly, it looked as though he'd emptied a spare set of black pieces onto the board whilst Kelly wasn't looking. A swindle not too improbable taking into account Kelly's state at the end of a long tournament. Elsewhere there was a last round defeat for Kevin Agnew against the lone belle of Ulster chess, Karina Kruk, in a minor piece endgame. This may signal an increase in chess dvd endgame nights in the Agnew household (if your reading Paul Mac).
This ends my blog on the Williamson Shield 2010 and I hope to do more in the future.