There’s a special kind of pressure in chess that comes with being the higher-rated player. After all, the pieces are the same for both sides, and no one can be beaten unless they actually make a mistake. The longer the game goes on, the more nervous the favourite tends to feel. Aberystwyth A outrated Haverchess B on all boards in their match at the Emlyn Cafe, Tanygroes, on Wednesday 25 February, but it didn’t all go smoothly for them. Rudy van Kemenade is an exception to the comments above; he never seems to feel any nerves, and his game against Colin Denham was the least troublesome, as Black gave allowed a destructive fork and compounded the error by overlooking the more powerful of the two threats, to a rook. Adam Robinson, on the other hand, had the kind of heartbreaking experience most of us have had occasionally. He got a strong attack from the Black side of a Queen’s Gambit Declined, but an inaccuracy let Gwyn Evans in with a dangerous counterattack against his king; such double-edged positions always seem to be easier for the less fancied player. Mike Weston won a pawn, but Ray Greenwood had an active position in compensation, and Mike’s king was vulnerable to checks; he had little alternative but to take a draw. The tables were turned for James Corrigan when he found himself the underdog against the lower-rated Robbie Coles, after losing his queen for a rook and piece. Such unbalanced positions are technically challenging, and in this case it was Robbie who had the heartbreaker, as he turned down a draw and immediately played a losing move. (How often that happens!) The match finished 2½-1½ to Aber, but it was not one of their more comfortable experiences.

Rudy van Kemenade – Colin Denham 1-0

Gwyn Evans – Adam Robinson 1-0

Mike Weston – Ray Greenwood ½ – ½

Robbie Coles – James Corrigan 0-1

Things went a lot more smoothly for the A team in their home match against Cardigan B at the St David’s Club on Tuesday 3rd March, where, once again, they were higher-rated on all boards. Rudy gradually got the superior position in his queenless middlegame against Tony Haigh, who then allowed Black to take over the g-file with doubled rooks for a mating attack against the king trapped on the h-file. Julie van Kemenade sacrificed a pawn against Jamie Sen’s Caro-Kann, getting a dangerous passed f-pawn in return. Black spent so long working out how to counter it that he lost on time. Adam kept complete control in his attack against Awne Osinga’s passive formation, winning a couple of pawns and then neatly exchanging all the remaining pieces for a won ending. Most comfortably of all, on Board 4, I had my quickest ever win in a rated game. Courtney Probert was surprised by my early queen sortie, a book move in the little-known Vienna Game, and lost a piece in the opening, leading to a rapid collapse of his position and defeat in eleven moves. A 4-0 victory to Aber.

Tony Haigh – Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade – Jamie Sen 1-0

Awne Osinga – Adam Robinson 0-1

Matthew Francis – Courtney Probert 1-0

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