CC v OTB Practical Thoughts

As many of you know I captain several Hertfordshire Chess Association teams and a game from Board 7 of our ‘A’ Team playing in the C&DCCC Division 2 Sinclair attracted my attention by the insightful notes that our player, Ross Brennan, made after claiming a draw by threefold repetition. Ross, as well as being a correspondence chess player, is also a strong over-the-board club player and has kindly allowed me to show you his thinking in one of his two games against Trevor Bates playing for Surrey ‘B’ Team.

Ross (playing Black) states: – “Basically my opponent played a sound game as White – very solid Torre Attack, which presumably followed someone’s book for about the first 17 or 18 moves. The position reached around then is evaluated as about +0.3 or += in old money, so White supposedly has a small but stable advantage. Until recently this line seems to have been regarded as dead equal, but – presumably a fairly recent discovery – it is actually a bit awkward to play as Black and White has a slight initiative. (OTB I would certainly lose this position against any reasonably strong player.)

Certainly it meant coming up with some decent moves to hold the position, and allowing White ideas like Nd6 then Qxf7+ is just not something you would consider OTB, because it looks too scary – “my king position must be too compromised after that”. However, the point of the defence was that White needed to give up two pieces for rook and a couple of pawns if he wanted to keep playing to win. In correspondence play it was then possible to work out that the uncoordinated minor pieces could eventually be coordinated and compromise the White king position. At most points if Black exchanges queens then White just wins with the Q-side passed pawns…but with queens on his king is too exposed.

At the end, counter-intuitively, the way for Black to play for a win is, finally, to exchange queens and gamble that he might have a winning endgame. But I chickened out instead!”

I am grateful to Ross for his comments and the computer says that the game finished with an equal position. Incidentally, Ross did win his other game as White against the same opponent!

John Rhodes