With a limited pool of players to draw on, Aberystwyth has entered the Open section of the Welsh Chess Union Online League this session, so that our strongest player, Rudy van Kemenade, can take part. It is going to prove a tough challenge, as the match against 3½ Men on Tuesday 16th March showed. The disarming name belies a formidably strong team, with masters on the top two boards. Against FM Jonathan Blackburn Rudy deviated from his normal line in the Nc3 variation of the Petroff to avoid opening preparation, and soon found himself under kingside pressure. He was holding his own till an error meant that he must drop a piece – games can end very suddenly at this level. Adam Watkin-Jones’s pawn sacrifice in a London System against CM Tim Kett didn’t produce the hoped-for advantage: he was soon going backwards, and resigned on losing material. My French against Hugo Fowler produced a horribly cramped position, with White pressure all over the board. Losing a pawn did nothing to free the position and I limped into a hopeless ending before resigning. Tom Gunn looked to be doing OK against Duncan MacDonald’s dangerous Blumenfeld Gambit, but his complicated combination was miscalculated, leaving him behind on material and with Black dominating the board. A 4-0 defeat was a painful introduction to this section of the league.

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