Round 2 saw eight games on the night, two postponed and one “no-show” (resolved equitably…).
On the revamped “Board 1”, I won (those were the days) after being slightly outplayed by Cian, who fell to the third in a series of attempted “cheapos” (twtd), allowing a back-rank mate. Lewis was similarly slightly behind (according to engine) until Ben Snow chucked a knight in the middle-game, soon leading to a resignation. The other “top-half” games finished oddly. Craig won a wing pawn whilst Eric developed pinning pressures in the centre…which still harboured Craig’s king. This increased markedly until Eric opted for a repeated check, perhaps underestimating the entanglement of Black’s pieces. Scott had Robert in even more trouble with a powerful kingside attack, but missed a double-threat knight jump and Robert managed to exchange towards equality. Short on time (though there is an increment…) Scott resigned in an at least even position.
In other games, Danny and Jalal both stormed back from their surprise defeats in Round 1. Brian lost a piece in the opening, and Danny gave him no chance to recover, simplifying to a clear win. As Jalal told me afterwards, Andy played well, and had the advantage until an ill-advised pawn advance response of the “if you attack my knight, I’ll attack yours” variety saw the subsequent exchanges include a pawn check by Jalal. Andy opted not to expose his king by retaking, but using the pawn as a buffer did not compensate for now two pawns down and Jalal won through.
Richard as Black continued the “underdog” theme with an at least even match against Jainill until allowing a bishop skewer of Q and R. Escapable, but leaving him a central passed pawn down. There was one brief tactical opportunity to take it… and one wonders if Rd6 (+3.4) could possibly be a misclick for Rxd5 (=), but the momentarily bogus nature of a “pinned” knight was easy to miss.
Perhaps the most bizarre game was Alexander v Alistair. The latter thought the start was 7.30. White patiently waited… and again patiently waited while Black was considering a middle-game move for 20+ minutes. Only he wasn’t. Alexander’s interface somehow failed to register the move while his own clock ran down. His rushed (?) reply cost two pawns in an even position, but to everyone’s relief (including mine and his opponent’s), he fought back to draw.
The two arranged postponements again had lower-graded Alex perhaps edging Dairena until another ill-advised pawn advance (just keep them where they are!!) led to a complex exchange with varied possibilities. The smoke cleared and Black was 2, soon 3, pawns up when the single opposite bishops were never going to change things. A ding-dong battle between Michael Matar and Craig Anderson saw White well ahead with an early centre pawn push leaving him a pawn up with a powerful advancing centre. In this overcrowded battlefield, he played his knight to fork Black’s queen and rook…unfortunately also forking Black’s knight. Suddenly a piece up, Black took a few moves to get his bearings, and did not spot the saving interposition of said knight, to a forking Queen check, that would have covered the subsequently lost bishop. So, back to the pawn and initiative lead for White who made no mistake from there.
So…while waiting for the rearranged match between Austin and Larry (7.45 on Thursday) we have had only three draws in the (almost completed) first two rounds. But, for those who blame the reckless aggression of online chess, that is one more than last year at the same stage.