Three Brave Knights And The Fool (Defeat The Horsey)
Reporting in English this time! Perhaps for future times as well, so that our non-Dutch speaking members can also read some of the stories without having to rely on a web translator!
So here’s the ‘middle’ cup team of Eindhoven, playing in the open category of the NBSB Beker. Alessandro had rallied an interesting mix of players for the night. New to the team, and relatively new to the club, is Oscar Torcal Miguel. He has clearly already made a very strong impression, both in the internal competition and for the Eindhoven national cup team where he’s also won his first game. Alessandro had also noted that none of the constituents of Kempen Combinatie were playing in the NBSB Beker, and as such I and Morris weren’t suffering from our usual problems of ‘dual loyalties’, and both of us tend to jump at the chance of extra games. All together a strong mix which would have a good shot against ’t Paardje (here translated for the title to the Horsey) and advance to the second round.
On the way there was some traditional ‘swapping of war stories’ – tales of games and matches in the past. Alessandro had a nice tale for us, when playing long ago and far away an opposing team had once made the bold prediction that they would be winning the game against the team Alessandro played for by 7½-2½ – only to reach that actual score as well in the match, except of course as a loss. A fitting karmic punishment for their hubris. A cautionary tale that I have no doubt might have also been meant as a warning. For of course we were aware (though we didn’t say it out loud); the numbers were in our favour. Underestimation and boasting would get us nowhere – just playing properly and winning our games would do the trick. So we paid attention.
Well, at least three of us did. The fourth was clearly not paying attention. The remainder of the story will leave no doubt as to who exactly the fourth was.
’t Paardje plays in a nice hotel in the middle of Made, which had some personnel trouble and as such had to close down early each evening at 11 – hence also why time was important. We were welcomed and informed of what the specific time controls were that we were using during the match. This was something with increment, which – again – our fourth player did not really pay attention to, as he had confidently read both his e-mail and the NBSB competition rules at NBSB-Bekercompetitiereglement.pdf, which both clearly stated – 40 moves, and 15 minutes time at the end. And hey, his clock didn’t add any time when he played his moves, so it was as he thought it was. Right? _Right?!_
Well, concerns like that weren’t quite on our minds yet. First, on to the start!
Alessandro picked a strong setup, first taking advantage of an important pawn on e4 left underdefended, then calmly developing as his opponent missed the mark. A lost white bishop backed off from the center to g3, underestimating that Alessandro’s pawn could run straight from f7 to f4 and trap it in the corner. Unwilling to play on a piece down, Alessandro’s opponent resigned. Afterwards I overheard something about ‘whoever gets to f4 first wins’. Guess that at least for this game this was true!
In the meantime Oscar had also taken a strong and active position after a calm buildup in the opening. This activity ended up overwhelming his opponent, who also ended up losing a piece rather quickly. It was done in a little more moves than Alessandro was – in 25 instead of in 15 moves, but again a really convincing victory!
And not far behind with his victory was Morris, who after a slightly offbeat Sicilian (which even contained a threat that both Morris and his opponent missed in the game!) developed well and found himself the recipient of some loose threats against his king. His counter was swift and decisive and completely sealed the deal. Here’s the final snippet of the game:
Keep in mind; this was a 13-mover after which I was the only one left playing, 3-0 ahead. The match is already won and there is zero pressure on me to win the game, except of course to achieve a clean sweep and win on all the boards. And at this point, I also have the chance to go to a clear advantage as I can take the isolated d-pawn of my opponent.
Then I obstinately do _not_ make the obvious move of taking the pawn, reasoning that the endgame might not be won, and do my own thing. Naturally, this slowly sends my advantage slipping away. Then, just to avoid high drawing potential on the board (unequal bishops…) I end up digging myself a deeper and deeper hole until I am actually worse and in serious danger of losing. And all the while, this takes enough time for Oscar to get hungry enough that he briefly left to grab a pizza at a local shop, and for Alessandro and Morris to crack out a fair few blitz games, no doubt shaking their heads each time they look at my board. To look at this part of the game is painful; I am sparing the reader this.
A sudden stroke of luck brought me back in the game, as my opponent thought he had a check when he didn’t, and this cost him a pawn and the initiative. More trouble was however brewing; I had run nearly out of time. Confident I still had extra time afterwards, I let the flag fall, at which point my opponent pointed out my time was up! What?!?! I was still writing down my moves, both me and my opponent had clearly made it to 40, so _where did the extra time go?_
As it turned out: Alessandro had done some quick crisis management to ensure that the situation was put to rights, as he had already noted that I wasn’t getting any increment. While my clock was running out, he was discussing with the team leader of ’t Paardje what to do and get a clock ready for usage, and left Morris in the room so that I wasn’t going to accidentally concede the game and dig myself deeper. Fortunately, when my flag fell and my opponent pointed it out to me, my response was first one of complete confusion before I thought of conceding, which gave Alessandro enough time to arrive with a clock with extra time and now with the correct time controls set on it. So then we continued, for the final stretch, here printed in full…
Well, so we did get the full sweep in the end! However, one can clearly doubt the way we got there, considering how much I seemed to have dodged karmic justice in this game. By all rights it should have been a draw.
The way home did have some cool ideas that perhaps need to hit the website at one point as well. Morris suggested a “guess the player” game, where we’d show games to people without telling who was behind the board; and then of course take the games that would actually surprise people: 15-move miniatures for a player known for gentle positional play, or endgame grindathons for somebody who mainly produces short tactical blowouts. All in all, a good showing for Eindhoven (discounting of course my own game 🙂 ) and a result that gives confidence for the rounds to come!
Paul van Zon