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Spectacular Finishes by Curtis and Oliver!

There were two stand out moments from the matches on Monday night and both featuring our junior players - this time Oliver playing Board 6 for the A Team and Curtis playing Board 1 for the B Team.

Both players played with the Black pieces and both games were Closed Sicilians (1.e4 c5 and then white refrains from playing d4 on one of their next two moves). Both players equalised and Oliver gained a better position due to his opponent's weakened pawn structure. Both then lost a pawn, but rather than crumble, counter attacked. This is where we pick up the story:

J. Giltrap vs C. James-Britton

Here White is a pawn up and in the long run the passed d-pawn will win the game. White has also protected his knight on g1 with the other knight so that next move he can either play Rc6+ winning another pawn on g6 or Rc1 removing all danger from the position. It looks hopeless for Curtis, except there is a flaw in white's position - his King has no moves!

So Curtis plays 49...Nc5! ... I hope you can see what's coming! To which white, oblivious to the danger plays the planned 50. Rc1 aiming to exchange rooks. Curtis ignores this and plays 50...Nd3! and after white took the rook 51.Rxd1 was stunned by 51...Nf2 mate! A great finish by Curtis!

V. Sureshi vs O. Hammond

Here white has an extra pawn but it looks rather sickly on d3. Oliver has been playing energetically and this has pushed white back. His last move was 25. Kg1. Now comes thunderbolt from Oliver 25...Nf3+! The knight can't be taken because after 26.gxf3 Rg5 skewers the Q and K. So after 26. Kh1 Nd2 black wins not only the pawn on b3 but control of both the e-file and c-file. You will see what I mean when you look at the position below, which was arrived at a few moves later. Black will win the white knight and just about everything else. White resigned a little later. Great play by Oliver!

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