On Board 6, a close and tense game exploded into life at the end but black blundered into a mating net after rook to f4 to f7. Can you find the pattern?
Back in September we travelled to Bath and came back surprise winners. Since when, we have been surprising everyone, including ourselves, having beaten the champions, Downend A, as well as three other sides in the first half of the season. Never mind that all our victories have been by the smallest possible margin; we haven’t been slaughtered by anyone yet either, having scored at least 2 points in every match.
Still, this was a significantly stronger Bath side than last time. Just the previous week, they had held Horfield A to a draw. Bogdan and Walley, who occupied the middle boards in September, had shuffled down to 5 and 6. Regular Andrew Gregory was back in, but the main addition is Roy Phillips, well known to Bristol League players back in the nineties, who has been working abroad for a number of years, and also representing Mauritius in international events. The result was a side that outgraded us by nearly 20 points on average.
Peter was the lucky man to take on Roy, and was the first to finish, deciding a half was a fair result. Afterwards, Roy said to Peter, “Have I played you before? Was it in Frome?” Just a few thousand miles out, Roy. It was a repeat of board 1, Guernsey vs Mauritius, Olympiad, Istanbul 2012; a little bit more glamorous than Horfield B v Bath A in a church house in Redland on a chilly and damp January night.
David Buckley was grinding down Mike slowly but surely, as he so often does. There must be a way of playing David, but I haven’t found it myself yet. Once David’s queen and rook lined up along the 8th rank it looked like it might not last much longer. There was better news on board 4 where, glancing to my right, I could see Brent was the exchange up. Both games were suddenly over and we had got what seemed most likely. 1.5-1.5.
Chris seemed to have the worst of it in a knight and pawns ending. It didn’t get any better and he had to concede. 1.5-2.5.
Jon had achieved a position which I felt held great danger as Clive’s f and g pawns came charging down, backed up by queen and doubled rooks on the f file. But then what do I know? Jon had threats of his own on the queenside, with a passed pawn and an open a file, and was confident it would be okay. He was right, and mated his opponent to make it all level, 2.5-2.5.
It was all down to the skipper. I’d weathered some considerable pressure and now took advantage of a couple of inaccuracies. Possibly the temporary knight sac was a little showy, but it did the job, and Horia resigned before I could finish the mate.
Yet another 3.5-2.5 victory and a great start to 2018. It catapulted us up to third in the league with 12 points, behind Downend A with 14 and our own A team with 17. It also helped the A’s as we took points off a credible title contender. Next week we take on Downend B – one of the teams who beat us in the first half.
(1) Mike Harris 0 – 1 David Buckley
(2) Peter Kirby 0.5 – 0.5 Roy Phillips
(3) Chris Jones 0 – 1 Adam Musson
(4) Brent Perrin 1 – 0 Andrew Gregory
(5) John Richards 1 – 0 Horia Bogdan
(6) Jon Fisher 1 – 0 Clive Walley
HORFIELD B 3.5 – 2.5 BATH A
NB: Horfield were black on boards 1, 3 and 5.