The Essex first team, having won the Southern Counties' Championship with seven wins from eight matches, must have approached this match with a certain trepidation: their one loss in the SCCU event was to Middlesex. For the quarter-finals, though, the Middlesex team was considerably depleted in comparison to the side they fielded in February, and they arrived short of two players. In the first encounter, a 20-board match, veteran IM Bob Wade played on board 12. For the second he had been promoted to board 6.
However, whereas Middlesex were weaker than in the first meeting, Essex were definitely stronger. Richard Manning, the Captain of the Essex team, had been working hard cajoling, persuading, and recruiting as strong a team as Essex can have fielded for many years. Brian Kemish returned from Swindon for the match. Richard Britton, whose clubs are listed as Lewisham and Barbican, revealed a hitherto unknown allegiance to Essex, and Marc Bautista, that veteran of the Essex Junior circuit, was persuaded to abandon his A-level studies for the afternoon in order to Move for his County. All of this hard work actually ment that Essex outgraded Middlesex, but by less than half-a-point per board.
When the match did begin, the early results indicated that the outcome would be close. Richard Britton's Advanced French was going nowhere. Brian Kemish successfully neutralised a very experienced and dangerous attacking player, and David Sands experienced no difficulties with the Queen's Gambit Accepted. David Millward escaped from a worrying position and Jeff Goldberg sent his Welsh International opponent to sleep with the London System.
Having the two defaults in the bag meant that every drawn game brought Essex closer to their target of 8½ points. Eventually Essex achieved their first win from playing chess when Gary Kenworthy, playing white, beat Paul Cawte in an exciting double-edged game and this was closely followed by Marc Bautista's king-side attack breaking through. Middlesex pulled one back when John Hodgson, who had achieved a sound middle-game position, sacrificed unsoundly and lost. The final win for Essex was John Manley's over Bob Wade. Bob had attempted to make use of John's time trouble by muddying the waters with an unsound knight sacrifice, but once it was evident that the time control had been reached, Bob lay down his king.
One of the most satisfying aspects of this outstanding performance was the manner in which the Essex players with the black pieces succeeded in neutralising any advantage Middlesex might have enjoyed through moving first. The seven games in which Essex had black yielded 6 draws and a win.
Kenworthy, G. - Cawte, Paul
Essex v Middlesex, 1996
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Qa4+ Bd7 8.Qxe4 Bc6 9.Qf4 Bc5 10.Bc4 0-0 11.Ne2 b5 12.Bb3 Qd3 13.Qg3! (A) Qxg3 14.hxg3 Bxg2 15.Rh4 Nc6?! 16.d4 Be7 17.Rh2 Bf3 18.Be3 Rad8 19.Rc1! (B) Bb4+ 20.Kf1 Ba5? 21.e6 (C) fxe6 22.Nf4 Nxd4 23.Bxd4 Rxf4 24.gxf4 Rxd4 25.f5 c5!? 26.Rh3 Bg4 27.Bxe6+ Kf8! 28.Rb3 Rd2 29.Kg2 Bb6 30.Rxb5 Be2 31.Bc4 Bg4 32.a4 Ke7 33.a5 Bd8 34.Rxc5 Rxb2 35.Kg3 Bh5 (D)1-0
Comments by Gary Kenworthy.
(A) Giving back the pawn in order to open lines.
(B) White controls the c-file. Although 11...b5 looked like a good idea at the time, there are now too many weak squares.
(C) The point of white's play. Black is threatened with a pretty mate after Bxe6 and Ng6, and it costs him the exchange.
(D) Black resigned without waiting for 36 f6+ winning the bishop. This game demonstrates the theme of domination, in which white's rooks cause black's bishops to run out of squares.
White to play and win.
Last week's solution: 1 Rh6 Qxh6 2 Nf7+ Kg8 3 Nxh6+ gxh6 4 Qe6+ 1 - 0