NICS vs Lindores

After complicated too-ing and fro-ing by email & phone between NICS, Lindores and the League Controller a match-up was finally confirmed. Unable to secure accommodation in the Pavilion, NICS decamped to the Holywood Arches to continue their onward league quest. Yet another opportunity to create an upset for a Silver King contender.
NICS vs Lindores

Board 3: Alan Burns

Wednesday's match saw a powerful Lindores full squad of 6 boards out-ranking a typical NICS team. The fixture should have been played at NICS but accommodation issues and conflicting UCU commitments forced a rescheduled location to Lindores Cafe. However, by agreement, NICS retained home team (dis)advantage with their odd boards playing black. Between the two clubs they could have fielded a pretty good ex-Bombardier team: Lindores' Ross Harris & Paul McNaughton plus NICS Mark Newman from last year's Shorts team, Drew Ferguson from the early noughties and of course Cal Leitch from his school-days when he was still young and full of promise. Despite this erstwhile camaraderie, there was no quarter offered, none asked - Lindores really do have ambitions!

Board 1: Gabor HorvathTop board Mark Newman, as black, played the Ruy Lopez against Gabor Horvath. With a central pawn push leaving the d5 pawn weak, an attack on its sole defender - the undefended Knight on f6 - meant a swap once the his Queen was committed to defend. The lost pawn had been crucial for the pawn push; the centre fell and Mark was left to try and take what little advantage he could from marginally better development and Whites inactive Queens Knight. Gabor developed quickly, won another pawn and then a piece. Mark could do little else but resign - a piece down and nothing to show for it!

Alan Burns on board 3 gave white advantage to Ross Harris and promptly dropped a pawn. As ever, persevering, Alan regained the pawn and seemed to be gaining the upper-hand claiming a second pawn. Then he decided to count his pieces - lo and behold, he had lost a knight somewhere (haven't we all done that!). Fortunately no-one else was looking so he could then claim after the match "I nearly had the game but Ross played brilliantly; he is well under-rated!"

Board 4: Paul McNaughton & Drew FergusonJust for balance, board 4 Drew Ferguson took white against Paul McNaughton's over 400 point rating advantage; not surprisingly their first ever match-up. White survived into the middle-game maintaining an even position: Black was shaping up for a king-side attack targeting h2 while White had a Rook on the half-open c-file. Black probably was in better shape with an especially irritating white Bishop on g6 keeping White contained. But he overlooked Nh4 hitting the bishop and doubling g-pawns in front of his king; White now had a clear advantage - if he knew what to do with it. By now White also had a distinct 20 minute advantage with only 20 minutes left on Black's clock possibly heading for time-trouble in a complicated position. Sadly Drew threw it all away pushing too hard with his Queen and getting caught in a horrible knight-fork; an error compounded with some ill-considered moves losing material by the fistful and ultimately the game. A disappointing end to an otherwise tense game.

Board 5: Geoff HindleyA slowly-developing game on Board 5 with some good moves on either side.  However, Ian Kilpatrick as White gradually gained a material advantage from Geoff Hindley. In time trouble from move 36 onwards Geoff started to make mistakes.  Ian had a 2 pawn advantage going into a Rook & Knight end-game when Geoff blundered away his knight. Ian failed to maximise his advantage with Black's Rook sitting en prise, instead,  avoiding a stalemate trap from Geoff, he pushed through a pawn. But Ian did not need to promote, time had run out for Geoff.

Board 6: Pete Storey playing Shane Kerrs retired in the back room, quietly stunned. Evidently Pete did not fare terribly well. This left NICS facing another whitewash with only one game still in play.

Board 2 was the final game to finish. A flank opening produced a typical hypermodern v. classical scenario with Lindores captain Calum Leitch, playing black, establishing a big centre while David McAlister tried to undermine him with activity on the queen-side. David found a way to win a pawn by exploiting a pin, and Calum gambled on an attack with pawn to h5. Complications intensified, White's bishop pinned two rooks against the Black King but was forced instead to capture a Black Knight checking on f3 (with the threat of a Queen mate on h2). Calum had a threatening looking pawn on f3 and David decided to capture it despite the risk of a dangerous double attack. Calum declined to go for a win of a piece because it would allow David to expose Black's King position (with the possibility of a perpetual at least) and instead tried to win the exchange. Board 2: David McAlister and Calum LeitchDavid found a spectacular Queen manoeuvre to avoid losing material and was now two pawns up. However he had much less time left with still plenty to do to win the game and offered a draw. Calum demurred, preferring to play on before remembering that sacrificed second pawn. Realising he could not force the win, Calum returned the draw offer with David now down to less than a minute. Draw accepted and NICS barely avoided a third horrendous whitewash in a row.

Well done David for saving something of NICS tattered and abused honour; thanks to Lindores for a comfortable and entertaining evening - nice coffee by the way.

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