Kings toppled as Horsham 1 beat holders

Horsham 1 took a big stride towards winning the top division by defeating current leaders and last year's winners Worthing 1 decisively on Tuesday night...

We were back to full strength at home but Worthing are a very dangerous team and things looked pretty balanced on paper. We got off to a great start on board 2, where Mike's preparation against Alekhine's Defence paid off handsomely in his game with Mike Nicholas. The black king was caught in the centre in a powerful crossfire and soon succumbed only just out of the opening - this game is given below. Next on board 5 I was involved in a fairly dour positional game with Nick Skinner which suited me fine - having got off the sleeper train from Glasgow that morning (with the usual lack of sleep) I was just content not to blunder! I thought I had allowed Nick a good continuation during post-match analysis but the computer reckons it was always pretty equal so a draw was the right result.

Meanwhile Horsham were stepping on the accelerator on the other boards. Following a fairly typical English structure, captain Dix sacrificed a pawn against Keith Homeyard on board 4, and his pieces swarmed into Black's position to guarantee Horsham at least a share of the spoils. Gavin's Caro-Kann on board 1 led to a double rook endgame against Dave Graham, but a dangerous advanced passed pawn and active rooks proved too much for White to handle and the match was ours! Finally on board 3 James applied the cherry on top by winning against Chris Jones. This was a closed Sicilian in which James equalised fairly straightforwardly and then picked up the White queenside pawns as Chris looked for a central attack. James neutralised this and his own queen then caused havoc and ended up winning a piece with Chris under pressure from both board and clock.

So a fantastic 4.5-0.5 win over the champions. Mike's game follows below after the results, the diagram above is the position after Black's 23rd move.

G.R. Lock 1-0 D.B. Graham
M.C. Forster 1-0 M.D. Nicholas
J.C. Mansson 1-0 C. Jones
D.N. Roberts 1-0 K. Homeyard
A.R.J. Higgs 1/2-1/2 N.H. Skinner

Mike Forster - Mike Nicholas
(Notes by the winner)

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bb3 dxe5 6.Qh5 e6 7.dxe5 Nc6 8.Nf3 g6 [Tempting to drive the queen back but weakens the dark squares] 9.Qh3 Na5?! [Questionable. White already has a lead in development. After this move it becomes significant and White is clearly better] 10.Nc3 Nxb3 11.axb3 [White threatens simply Bg5 and Rd1, with mounting threats] 11...Nd5 12.Ne4 f5 [Trying to complicate to stop Bg5, but with a lead in development the opening of lines will only help White] 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.Bg5 Bg7 15.Rd1 Qe7 16.0–0 [With threats of Ne5, Rfe1, and attack!] 16...h6 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Qg3 Rg8 19.Nxf6+ Qxf6 20.Qxc7 Qe7 21.Qc3 [So long as the queens stay on, Black's king cannot find safety] 21...Bd7 22.Ne5 Bb5 23.Rfe1 Rd8 24.Rxd8+ Qxd8 25.Ng4 Rf8 26.Rxe6+ and Black resigned. After Kd7 Re1 the threats include Rd1+, Qg7+ and Ne5+ 1–0