The cup has finally begun with a preliminary clash between us and Clifton – two clubs at the top of division 1 but who both struggled for availability for the match. We were favourites on paper but after a ‘grandmaster draw’ on board 1 and a few early slips we weren’t looking too healthy. Derek vs Gareth on two was surely going to be unpredictable to the end – but aside from that I couldn’t see much advantage going our way. Brent was facing a dragon and had seemed to tame it but for not many chances either way – swapping queens and offering a draw; both John and I were on the back foot, and Alan was facing three marauding connected pawns in the centre. Louis on 8 was probably our safest bet with a tad more activity.
Clifton piled on more pressure with their captain scoring with a back rank mate against Pete. John managed to find a perpetual on 5 and I was looking for the same, but Manuel carefully hung on to the extra pawn and avoided all tricks.
It was 2.5-1.5 with a couple of worse positions, but then to my surprise I’d heard that both Louis and Alan had won! Alan had kept the pawns at bay and had more time left to find counter chances than his opponent. Louis had converted more smoothly and I had finally succumbed after a long, long defence.
So 3.5 apiece and it was all down to Derek – strangely reminiscent of our first round match against Bath two years ago. I lost on 3 which meant a draw from Derek (last to finish) would have lost us the match on board count. He won then and – thankfully – did it again this year, emerging from complications into a better attacking position and it was all over for Clifton.
Next up Downend – who will no doubt want revenge for our 4-4 win in the final that very same year.
(1) Steve Dilleigh 0.5 – 0.5 Duncan Grossett
(2) Derek Pugh 1 – 0 Gareth Morris
(3) Mike Harris 0 – 1 Manuel Sierra Jimenez
(4) Brent perrin 0.5 – 0.5 John Waterfield
(5) John Richards 0.5 – 0.5 Anton Muller
(6) Pete Marks 0 – 1 Tomas Jankowski
(7) Alan Clarke 1 – 0 Jim Coxwell
(8) Louis Martin 1 – 0 Robert Smolka
HORFIELD 4.5 – 3.5 CLIFTON
NB: Horfield were black on boards 1, 3, 5, and 7