The following report has been provided by Ian Wallis, winner of this season’s Club Championship:
After six rounds Steve Gregory and I were tied for first place, so a play-off was needed to decide the championship. Historically this used to be a six game match played over the summer, however as the Ipswich club no longer meets during this time, it was reduced to a single game. In the event of a draw it was agreed that there would be another night set aside for rapid games with reducing time controls until a winner emerged. Fortunately that was not necessary as I won a very fluctuating final game against Steve.
None of my games are worthy of publication in full so here is a selection of some critical positions from some of them:
Round 1 – White v Les Jones
White is better here but Black could prolong the game with Kg8 for example. However he played to reduce the material deficit and walked into mate with 42… Rxf3? 43. Qc8+ Kf7 44. Qe8#
Round 3 – White v Martin Fogg
Martin had encouraged me to sacrifice in order to reach this winning position which I tried to mess up by playing inaccurately.
26. Re3 (now Black can escape with 26… Rb6 27. Rxe6 Bxe6 with three pieces for the Queen). Fortunately 26… Kf7 was played and after 27. Rxe6 Bxe6 28. Qe5 1 – 0 three moves later. Back to the diagram: 26. Rxd7! was the correct continuation (26… Qxe2 27. f7#).
Round 5 – White v Alex Sheerin
17… Bc8 is forced to meet 18. Nf5 with Bxf5. Alex didn’t notice the threat and after 17… Rac8 18. Nf5 Qe6 19. Qg4 had to give up his Queen to prevent immediate mate.
Round 6 – Black v Michael Cook
I had obtained a comfortable position from the opening and if White had continued with something like 13. 0-0 Nc5 14. Bc4 the game would be balanced.
However knowing Michael’s preference for knights I was expecting the game continuation 13. Ba6? Bxa6 14. Qxa6 Nc5 15. Qe2 Nd3+ 16. Kf1 Nxb2 and despite Mike putting up a valiant defence I won after 60 moves.
Playoff – White v Stephen Gregory
This game reminded me of games from the final rounds of the recent US championships where the pressures of winning a national title produced many errors. I can’t say we had the same excuse but there were plenty of errors in this game. Having misplayed a favourable opening I reached this position just before the time control.
35. Rb1 was probably best taking the line of most resistance, however Steve had only seconds for his next move and feeling Black was better I decided to mix it with 36. d5?! cxd5 was the automatic reply (36… Qb3! is probably winning) 37. c6 was the idea. … Qb3 (keeping the advantage but no longer winning) 38. Qc3? (throwing the game away) 38… Ra2+ 39. Kf1 Qa4? (returning the compliment – Rf2+ 40. Ke1 Qa2 is simply winning) 40. Qc5 (now White is much better) … Kf7 (… Rf2+ was an improvement, although 41. Ke1 Kf7 42. c7 Qa6 43. Qxf2! should decide) 41. Qb6? (41. c7 wins as … Rf2+ can be met by Qxf2!) … Qa8? (the final error … Rf2+ 42. Qxf2 Nxf2 43. c7 Nd3 44. c8=Q Nxc1 45. Qxc1 was more challenging.) 42. Qb7+ the rest was straightforward …Ke8 43. Qd7+ Kf8 44. Ng6 Kg8 45. Qxe6+ Kg7 46. Qf6+ Kh7 47. Qf7#.