Sax U1800 team get going


Manningtree 11/2 – 21/2 Saxmundham
1Simon Webber1709 0 – 1Mike Usher1784
2John McAllister16730 – 1Matthew Lawes-Wickwar 1650
3David Welsh15061 – 0Hugo Brown1333
4Adrian Sanderson 1497 1/21/2Lee Osmon1364

The U1800 Cup team had a long, dark, wet trip to Manningtree last night but came away with a 2.5 – 1.5 win. Mathew and Mike won, Lee drew and Hugo lost.

Matthew’s game was tight until his opponent made a slip and he crashed through with a nice mating attack. Mike’s game was essentially over in 15 moves when he trapped his opponent’s Queen, though his opponent played on for a while before throwing in the towel.

Lee and Hugo both got into opposite-coloured Bishop endings, which are notoriously drawn – and so it proved for Lee. Hugo’s game, however, was more unbalanced and his opponent had an advanced passed Pawn which tied Hugo’s King down and eventually he lost on time in a lost position. 

Sax B draw to go top!


Bury D2 – 2Saxmundham B
1Daniel Pugh16161/21/2Mike Usher1784
2Anthony Taylor16031/21/2Dominic Carter1659
3Amy John15820 – 1Matthew Lawes-Wickwar1650
4Raf Calumpiano13281 – 0Lee Osmon1364

A visit to Bury on a chilly winter’s evening saw the B team come away with a rather disappointing 2-2 draw (given our advantage on paper) although those two points were enough to take Sax to the top of the table. Lee had the early bath after messing up a K+P ending, but Matthew made up for this by exploiting his young opponents mistakes before breaking through decisively on the K side, winning material and forcing resignation. Dominic and I drew our games in the face of solid play by our slightly lower-rated opponents.

Sax A Going Strong


Stowmarket1 – 3Saxmundham A
1Tim Lunn20311 – 01892Malcolm Lightfoot
2Stephen Lewis19660 – 11844John Feavyour
3James Irwin17880 – 11821Sam Gaffney
4David Green16100 – 11784Mike Usher

The A Team paid a successful visit to Stowmarket, coming away with a convincing 3-1 win.

Lacking our normal board 1 player, everyone had to step up, and Mike was drafted in to prop up the bottom.  In fact he was, for once, the first to finish when his opponent went astray and he was able to win a vital pawn and transition into an easily won minor-piece endgame.

Malcolm, on top board, had the toughest fight, only going down to his  much higher rated opponent in a R+P endgame. John made up for this loss by scoring an excellent win, and Sam rounded off the evening with an exciting and well-executed attack against his opponent’s King.

Sax B Back in Action


Saxmundham B2 – 2Woodbridge B
1Mike Usher17841 – 0Alan Lewis1554
2Matthew Lawes-Wickwar16500 – 1Daniel Such1559
3Hugo Brown13331 – 0Harry Elman1400
4Lee Osmon13640 – 1Bernard Ross1291

After the festive break the B Team were back in action last night, playing host to local rivals Woodbridge B. After a long tussle the match ended 2-2 with all the games decisive, with added drama thrown in at the end.

All the games were hotly contested and lasted well into the evening.  Hugo was the first to finish with a good win, followed by Matthew painfully losing, having built up an excellent position and then blundering.

After suffering during the opening, Mike was able to exploit his opponent’s imprecise play to activate his pieces and go on the offensive. As the Woodbridge player grew more desperate, he decided to sacrifice a piece, unsoundly as it turned out, and Mike closed out the game quite easily, despite being short of time.

Meanwhile, on Lee’s board, his opponent had stopped the clock, complaining of an illegal move. With only 45 seconds left on his clock Mike, as Acting Captain, was unwilling to stop whilst the Woodbridge Captain tried to sort things out, but when it became clear they couldn’t resolve the issue he stopped his game in order to help.

The crux of the matter was that when an illegal move is made, the opponent is entitled to have 2 minutes added to his time. This mattered, given that he only had 29 seconds left! The illegality had arisen after he gave Lee’s King a check, but didn’t announce it. Lee, concentrating hard on other parts of the board played an illegal move (i.e. one that did not get out of check). Whilst Lee was miffed that his opponent didn’t announce check, it is not a legal requirement, and many players do not bother to do so, and so the illegality stood.

However, neither Mike or the Woodbridge Captain could remember how to alter the clock to give the player the extra time., which was a little embarrassing. The matter was resolved when Lee sportingly resigned the game, as he was worse and was only playing on because of his opponent’s acute time trouble. You can guess what Mike’s homework was for the evening…..!

Sax B on a roll….


Saxmundham B3 – 1Bury St Edmunds C
1Mike Usher17771 – 0Robert Jones1692
2Dominic Carter16511 – 0Rowan Kent1590
3Matthew Lawes-Wickwar13001 – 0Hugo Smith1459
4Lee Osmon13720 – 1Craig Bradshaw1442

Sax B continued their winning ways by beating Bury C in a top-of-the-table clash at Benhall last night. Dominic, Matthew and Mike all won in good fashion to make up for Lee’s early loss.

Matthew is having a great run of games at the moment, and won in style. In the diagramed position, playing Black, he found the excellent 31…Ng4! The game finished 33. Rxe2 Rxe2 34. Nh4 Bf6 35. Nxg4 Bxh4 36. Rf2 Bxf2+ 37. Nxf2 Qf3 38. Qf1 Qe3 39. Kg2 Re1 40. Nd1 Qd2+ 0-1

Tough Fight at Manningtree


Manningtree B2 – 2Saxmundham A
1Rod Saines1850½ – ½Simon Wilks1936
2Robert Stephens1735½ – ½Malcolm Lightfoot1896
3Simon Webber16891 – 0Sam Gaffney1833
4John Price15450 – 1Mike Usher1773

Despite being much stronger on paper, Sax A struggled against a plucky Manningtree team. Simon and Malcolm were never in trouble but couldn’t find a breakthrough. Sam was winning his game quite comfortably but then inexplicably fell into a mate. Mike evened the scores by piling the pressure onto his opponent until he eventually cracked.

Sax thrash Manningtree


Samundham AManningtree B
1Simon Wilks1997½ – ½
1 – 0
Simon Webber1911
2Malcolm Lightfoot17680 – 1
1 – 0
Robert Stephens1812
3John Feavyour19551 – 0
1 – 0
Adrian Sanderson1722
4Sam Gaffney1671½ – ½
1 – 0
John McAllister1662
6 – 2

Sax A had a comfortable win in the Division 2 Rapidplay Cup to win through to the next round.

Mike claims an FM scalp!

Here is Mike’s win from the recent 4NCL weekend, with his own notes.

Mike Usher (1721) – Mike Waddington (2112)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5

I usually play 2.Nf3 to avoid stuff like the Benoni, but for some inexplicable reason played 2.c4.  Now I was facing an FM with no prep! I remember thinking ‘and I bet he plays the Benko’…..!?

3.d5 b5 4.Nd2

I dragged this line from somewhere in my memory and hoped that at least we were both now out of our opening knowledge. The idea is to play e4 quickly. He thought for a while (encouraging!) before playing:

4…b4 5.e4 d6 6.Bd3 g6 7.f4 

Aggressive, but I figured there was no point waiting around for him to outplay me!

7…Bg7 8.Ngf3 O-O 9.h3 Nh5 10.Nf1 e5 11.fxe5 dxe5 12.Be3 Nd7 13.Qd2 Nf4 14.Ng3 Bh6 15.O-O Qe7 16.Ne2 g5 17.Ng3 Nf6 18.Bc2 Rd8 19.Qf2 g4 20.Bxc5 Qe8 21.hxg4 Nxg4 22.Qe1 a5 23.Nh4 f6 24.Qd1 Bg5 25.Nhf5 Bxf5 26.exf5 h5 27.Ne4 Rac8 (see diagram)

Stockfish gives White a healthy advantage (+3.1) here, but I was feeling the pressure on the King-side and wanted to open up some lines to counter-attack, so I played:


and the evaluation turns to -2.2! I should have stuck with my first plan of 28.Ba4 Qf7 29.Bb6 Rxc4 30.Nxg5 fxg5 31.Bxd8 with a decent advantage (Stockfish suggests 31…Qa7+ 32.Kh1 Nf2+ 33.Rxf2 Qxf2 34.Qf3 Qxb2 35.Rf1 should still be winning).

28…Rxc5 29.Nxc5 Rxd6!

I was expecting 29… Nd3 winning back the exchange, but this came as a shock. Taking the rook leads to a pretty mate 30.Qxd6 Ne2+ 31.Kh1 Ng3+ 32.Kg1 Be3+ 33.Rf2 Bxf2⌗ so I continued:

30.Qe1 Rd2??

Black returns the favour. Accepting the rook now loses the queen to Nh3+, but there is a sting in the tail…!

31.Qxd2! Nh3+ 32.gxh3 Bxd2 33.Ne4!

33.hxg4 Be3+ 34.Kg2 Bxc5 was what my opponent had calculated, with advantage to Black. My move saves the knight and after:

33…Be3+ 34.Kg2

the Black knight can’t move because of Nxf6+ winning the queen, so White ends up with a healthy bunch of pieces for the queen. The game continued:

34…Qc6 35.hxg4 hxg4 36.Rad1 Bd4 37.b3 Kg7 38.Rh1 a4 39.Rh4 axb3 40.axb3 Qa6 41.Rxg4+ 

I actually missed a forced win here. After 41.Rdh1 the Black king is trapped on the back two ranks and can’t avoid mate. The text is also winning, but I had to be careful to keep his queen away from any chances of a perpetual check. Having reached the time control I now had some time to think. 

41…Kf7 42.Rg6 Qa2 43.Rxf6+ Ke7 44.Re6+ Kd7 45.Rd2 Qa1 46.Bd1 Qa8 47.Rxe5! 1-0 The bishop is lost and with it all hope.

U1800 Cup disappointment


Bury St Edmunds31/21/2Saxmundham
1Steve Lovell17961 – 0Mike Usher1767
2Bob Jones17031 – 0Dominic Carter1663
3Mark Heffer16821/21/2Matthew Lawes-Wickwar1300
4Laureano Garcia16901 – 0Lee Osmon1375

Saxmundham kicked off their campaign in the U1800 Cup (a competition for teams of four, whose players are all rated below 1800) last week with a tough trip to Bury St Edmunds.

For Sax, this was essentially our B Team playing. Bury were much the stronger team on paper and duly won convincingly 3.5 -0.5. For us, Matthew’s sterling effort on board 3 earned a draw and prevented  the whitewash. Lee was quickly dispatched on board 4 and on top board, Mike managed to drop a vital pawn in a complex middle game and that was enough. Dominic seemed to have reached a drawn R+P endgame, but then went wrong and lost quickly, to cap a very disappointing night.

Sax success at 4NCL

Five club members were in action over the weekend 5-6 November in the 4 Nations Chess League, playing for the three Iceni teams (managed by our own John Feavyour, and including players from further afield). The Saxmundham players produced some good results against strong opposition.

Simon (rated 1924) played one game for the 1st team and one for the 2nd, with a win and a draw (against a 2023 rated player).  Sam (1833) also had a win and a draw (v 2003 rated player) for Iceni 2, whilst John (1855) also recorded a win and a draw.

Dominic (1653) and Mike (1721) were playing for Iceni 3, and the team struggled against two strong teams (as well as carrying a default on 6th board) with the team being significantly out-graded on every board. Dominic lost both games (to opponents rated 1938 and 2003 so no disgrace there), whilst Mike lost on the Sunday to a 1968 player, but on the Saturday had the immense satisfaction of beating a 2112 rated FM (FIDE Master), a ‘personal best’ for him.

In Simon’s win, the diagrammed position was reached after 35 moves with Simon (Black) to play. He played 35…Rfa8 with a significant advantage, although it took him another 40 moves to seal the victory, but missed the even better 35…Nc4! winning the exchange due to the pin on the b pawn.