Dear chess friends,
On Saturday, the Novelty Destroyers’ HSB cup team played their match in a packed Schaakhuis. An unfortunate encounter for me personally. I am also an active member of Schaakhuis, and play for their second team in the HSB competition. But this is the HSB cup (knock-out format on 4 boards only) and we are determined to win it with the Destroyers this year! Last year, we were kicked out by Schaakhuis in the Schaakhuis in the same round, so this was the right time and place for revenge.
At the same time, the KNSB cup match (national level) Schaakhuis – Caissa was played. Alas, GM Hans Ree (chess journalist and member of Caissa) did not make an appearance. But the team from Amsterdam had an IM (Arno Bezemer) and three other strong players of +-2200, so it was going to be tough for Schaakhuis. Both matches started a bit after 13h. Before the game, Paula expressed her amazement about the obscure places that are used for chess matches in the Netherlands… Churches, basements, scouting club houses and now this tiny shabby café…
I was not too unhappy about the line-up we were facing. I was playing David on board 1, one of the stronger guys, but he likes to take his time (like me), so I was confident that I could keep more time on the clock than him. At first, I was quite happy about the opening, because David used a lot of time, whereas I have a lot of experience with the opening.
On my left, Paula’s opponent Boudewijn arrived at the board a bit late, which was a bit strange, because he was already in the Schaakhuis earlier. When the game eventually started, an accelerated dragon appeared on the board, with Paula defending the black pieces. Both players were in for a fight. Boudewijn went straight for Paula’s king with f3, g4, h4. Paula countered on the queenside, where normally the white king would reside. Except: Boudewijn’s king was still on e1 (and the queen on d1)! So it was hard for me to evaluate. I trusted that Paula’s rating surplus would somehow start to tell at some point, and I guess it did. (Of course, Boudewijn lamented after the game: “I had +1.9!”, but we all know what that is worth in a practical game.)
Boards 1 and 2
The game of the day was, without a doubt, played on board 4 by Cesar. Funnily enough, just like me, his opponent Bilal also tried his luck in the Bird opening (1. f4?!). As so often, Cesar’s creative play was objectively not that great, but things became very complicated and sharp. I was not worried, because it was exactly the type of position that Cesar likes, and he has already won many similar games, even with very little time on the clock.
When I saw that Feike got his beloved Morra gambit accepted on the board, I thought he was going to win for sure. He had a lot of pressure and black was passive.
Boards 3 and 4
Meanwhile, I liked my position less and less and I just couldn’t find a constructive plan. So I decided to basically do nothing and try to keep a bit of time advantage on the clock. If the score would require me to go all out, then I would try something later. But then, Paula crashed through to reach Boudewijn’s king that was still stuck in the middle and won. And shortly afterwards, having come back from a dead lost position and with mere minutes on his clock, Cesar mated a devastated Bilal. 2-0 up! What a luxury!
The rest of my game was rather affected by this situation, combined with time trouble. David went for an exchange sacrifice, which I first thought was just desperation, but then I realised that it was probably just rather good for black, especially when I realised that my planned invasion with Rd1-d7 did not work. So I decided to sacrifice back the exchange to try to draw the endgame with opposite coloured bishops. However, with rooks on the board, it was not so easy. I erroneously sacrificed a pawn to stay active and go for a mating attack (it was possible to defend passively), but this should have failed. We both missed the rather easy defence with 36. … f5! (David was in severe time trouble.) After that missed opportunity for him I was obviously winning, but given the match score and my time also dropping under two minutes, I decided to accept his draw offer. Some technique is also still required in the final position to win it. Meanwhile Reggy had made a remarkable comeback against Feike, and the position was now completely equal, so the players were happy that the match was decided, so they could also make a draw without any consequences.
3-1 with no losses, a very nice afternoon of chess in the Schaakhuis! We now will have to play the Westlanders from WSC in the semi-final. The Schaakhuis KNSB team also lost 3-1, the opposition was simply too strong. Cesar and I stayed a bit to analyse his amazing game. It was really difficult to find the best moves in many positions without using his mobile phone.
I add my own game, don’t try this at home, folks!
Schaakhuis Beker 1810 – Novelty Destroyers Beker 1963 1-3 1 D. Jonkman 1884 – D.H.M. Dekker 1838 ½ – ½ 2 B. van der Haar 1793 – P. Craciun 2089 0 – 1 3 R.B. Brouwers 1879 – F. Liefrink 1962 ½ – ½ 4 B. Yalçin 1682 – C.C. Fernandes João 0 – 1