Category Archives: Francis Moan

Bolton Easter Chess Congress 2016 – Nxe4 :)

I took part in my second chess congress today and scored 3½ points from 5 games.

Friday win, loss,
Saturday win,
Sunday draw, win

That’s how it went.

The Saturday win was against a child. I thought I had checkmate in about 2 moves, but he kept sacrificing material to stay alive and wriggled around for about 7 moves. I think he will make a good player, as he saw all the threats, …, he just needed to see them sooner, and that will come with experience.

But the game I enjoyed the most was Sunday’s. My opponent was a little higher rated than I am, so that made it a tough game. He had the advantage in the middle game, according to some computer analysis, so its also pleasing to fight back, and without any great blunder, claw things back little by little.

The game went to a rather unusual endgame, king and two knights plus lots of pawns each. My king seemed to defend the root of my pawn chains in a V shape where his king could not be on both edges of the board (top of the V) to defend the roots of his chains, and that advantage gave me a win.

The position above occurred in the game. I had played Nc5 and regretted it, when he had replied Nc8. He threatens to take my d pawn with check. If I push it, he can fork me and capture it. If I push my b pawn which is the next closest to queening, I am not much better off with an identical situation in mirror image.

I calculated Nxe4, which I think surprised Eric from our club, who was watching.

My idea was, that it
it protects against an immediate Nxd6 by black,
it allows white to play Kc5, preventing the black knight checks and 7th rank protection.
it neutralizes blacks king side pawn majority,
it leaves black with a blocked f pawn and no semi-passed pawns.

I calculated black then needs 4 king moves to clear a path for queening and another 3 pawn pushes to advance his pawn to the eighth rank. 7 moves in total. White needs Kc5 and 3 pawn pushes to queen his b pawn, a total of 4 or five if you count the capture Nxe4.

A grand master once said not to look for the best move, but to look for an executable plan.
It might not be best play, nor the computer move. But Nxe4 reduced the complexity of calculation to something my brain could handle and gave me a way to actually win my won position.

Paranoia Nightmare scenario


My nightmare scenario that I was trying to avoid was that my knight would be distracted on Black’s side of the board, and that he could then exploit his king side majority. Trying to turn that into an illustation was not easy, as there are many variations, and the worry is that he will execute a variation that you didn’t see. In practice there would have been unforseen checks (which I have to show to keep the diagram legal chess), so it was not perhaps as dangerous as I imaginined. Some of the moves above are rubbish, but they give you an idea of my worries!

Oh, Francis Moan played in the Bolton Chess Congress. I didn’t get to speak to him as he was playing at the time. Nice to see you are well Francis.

voeux 2016-2

Ivan’s 2015

A new year started, filled with things that haven’t yet happened.

And what about the one just gone?
Well, it came and went quite quickly it seems. That’s not a bad thing as I am working my way out of debt now that I am working again, and I’ve a bit over a year to go.

Tax form, best forgotten.

I went to Dover for the weekend and had a great meal in a Chinese restaurant. It was my kind of place – fixed price and eat as much as you like. The film ’50 shades of Grey’ had been released and I remember a quite decorative display in a lingerie shop.

February is also memorable for something else. Sophie’s mum went into the maternity unit to give birth to Sophie and I went to visit. We got to chat a little. I enjoy her company but we rarely communicate. I found out the first day we met that I enjoy her company. It’s saddens me that it’s a one way thing. I have since learned that she is a wonderful mother and I would like to see her, Sophie, and sister more often; but I don’t argue about it or push it, because I have another 18 years of this to get through as smoothly as possible.

The big event for me was the birth of my daughter Sophie at the start of March.
I am a proud dad. I had a few meals out when Sophie was quite young and they were great days. A few times we went to Frank and Benny’s in Denton where they play old 60s rock and roll music.
Sophie has a sister that likes dancing and we used to dance in the aisle, often getting in the way of the servers but they never complained.

I got back in touch with an old friend Lars.
And immediately lost touch again.

Had a bank holiday and cleaned the house a little. I even ended up buying a new vacuum cleaner. Okay, I admit it, I had a lot of help.

I am not sure of my dates, but sometime around June I went to Sheila’s birthday party. It was noticeable that all the chess players sat on the same table and we were all single. I got drunk, danced a bit, and generally had a good time.

I went to London for the weekend. It was nice to get away from life as usual. The weather wasn’t too bad and the main activity was walking around public parks and sight seeing. I remember a restaurant too where the pizza was so good I ate the same thing at the same place the night after.

I took part in the Manchester chess congress.
One of the games I lost was to an adolescent whose father is a grandmaster. He played a bishop sacrifice against me and that one move highlighted different chess abilities.
One of our players could not see the move after 5 minutes of studying the position.
Tim saw it immediately. And Ali looked, said well not a bishop sacrifice, laughed, and said that doesn’t work.

I also had a memorable day turning up to a work;s pub crawl on the real ale trail, and — me being different as usual — drinking cider instead of real ale, and only going to one of the pubs.

Sidonia’s wedding.

I went to the wedding of George and Sidonia, and outside the church was a boy
of about 10 with a crush on the bride, chanting her name over and over to himself to while the other lads were sword fighting using branches of fir trees. Kindred spirit.

Halloween. Sophie was dressed as a small Frankenstein with green war-paint smeared over her face with an appearance on her skin rather like grass stains after sitting on a damp lawn in white trousers. It was a rather special day. We were together for a long time enjoying each others company without the desparation to get back to mum, or crying for any of the reasons that babies do cry after a while. And for a change, Sophie’s sister was happy and busy enough to ignore me. No dancing required.

Bizarrely, what I remember most from November was an exchange of e-mails. Francis has not been to the chess club for some time. I certainly miss playing against him. He is a better player and I have a lot to learn from him, but I do beat him at times. I remember winning one game where he told me where I went wrong. He took back what he thought was his
mistake, in order to show me he really had a winning position, and lost again.
Okay, gloating and showing off over. Like I said, Francis is really a far better player
and I am sure I am not the only one at the club that misses him. Come back soon!

December is a basically Christmas and I am not a person that usually likes Christmas. This Christmas in some ways followed the usual pattern. Coming up to Christmas my regular Friday with Sophie didn’t happen. Okay, the mum had something on; I don’t like it, but I can understand it. Then the next week. And Christmas. And New Year. I spent my Christmas alone.

At work we had a few Christmassy events: meals out, a party, Secret Santa etc. But the dance floor was crowded and although it was fun, the dancing doesn’t match rock and rolling at Frank and Benny’s, waltzing down a street, or dancing with a bride on her wedding day.

January 2016.
I will be hanging my 2016 calendar in front of me at work, and starting the year in my brand new scarf and Xmassy pullover with a Reindeer on it: a present from my aunt. I shall wear the pullover for the 12 days of Xmas and the scarf for longer.

Every year I get a new year’s wish from my friend Christof. He takes photos of his friends and makes them look like classic works of art, war time picture etc. He can find hidden qualities and bring out the best in anyone. I have decorated this post with one of his pictures. Many thanks to Xtof and his lady friend for the picture and being allowed to use it.



Best Move?

Just my imagination?

We played against Marple again last week. As I passed one of the boards I saw an interesting position and thought I could see a good move for white. I didn’t want to draw attention to the position so I took photos of several games. However for this photo I zoomed in on the board.

This is the position
r2qk3/pp1p1p2/4p1p1/3pP3/2nB1PQb/2NB4/PPP5/2KR4 w – – 1 1

What I thought I had seen was Bxg6: a sacrifice, but if recaptured it is a bishop for two pawns and the queen comes in with check, and there is a rook ready to come across and enter the action. Since the players are rated higher than I am, and the move was not played, I wanted to know if I was right.

I fired up the chess engine Houdini at home tonight and Houdini said R-h1. But I left Houdini running and after a while it preferred my move. It is nice when that happens! The variation shown below is not black’s best defence. But it shows what might happen if black were to recapture.