Horsham Club Championship 2023-24: Martin – Mansson

Last night I played in the first round of Horsham Chess Club’s new format club championship. Rather than have separate sections as before, the championship is now a single Swiss tournament, with nine rounds spread over nine months; the overall champions wins the “Rook” trophy, while those who fall below the prescribed grading limits are eligible for the “Bishop” and “Knight”.

The first round consisted of a series of matches where there was a clear favourite due to the grading difference, as is usual in Swiss events. I had the Black pieces and was up against Oliver Martin, who is one of the improving Collyers players, and currently rated about 500 points below me.

The game started with a Reti move order but soon transposed into a main line of the Semi-Slav by a slightly unusual move order. My opponent was the first to deviate from the usual lines, and a series of weak moves by him allowed me the opportunity to seize a big advantage. However, I failed to take my chance, and the position soon drifted to equality and then, after a few careless moves by myself, a situation where my opponent had his chance to seize a big advantage. Fortunately for me, however, he then started to go wrong. First, he gave up the exchange for a pawn, which still left him with a good position, but not the clear advantage he had without sacrificing the material. Then he mistakenly opened up the position, allowing me to seize the initiative and bring my rooks and other pieces into play; this left him in a hopeless situation, and although he fought on, this was to no avail.

I give the game below with some notes.

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