Rock Cup Semi-Final Philip Burgess (118) vs Dave Wightman (165)
Dave Wightman met Philip Burgess on home ground, but as black, in the contest to fill the last place in the Rock Cup Final. The game was played at a good pace, with the first 10 moves taking just a few minutes. The opening yielded no clear advantage for either side, but then black unwisely chose to castle queenside and ran into an almost immediate attack. White surged forwards, giving up a pawn to open up the board and swarm the black king. A period of frantic defence followed, with pieces hanging all over the board, concluding with an extensive exchange. Thanks to a back rank mating threat, white was forced spend a move playing h3 at a crucial moment, and this allowed black to emerge from the exchange with a rook for knight and pawn advantage. With passed pawns on both sides of the board, the game became a race. White, however, was tied to the defence of an isolated central pawn and this slowed the progress. Black was able to run the b pawn and this proved to be crucial. Tied to holding up this pawn, white allowed sufficient space for black to break into the position and force off the queens and the game was won. Thanks are due to Philip Burgess for a fascinating game, full of excitement, played in the best of spirits.
By Dave Wightman