While the eyes of the chess world were on the final day of the Candidates’ tournament (well done Fabiano Caruana!) the Horfield A team faced our own battle – could we get the point we needed at Downend to secure our first League Division 1 title for 17 years?
The first challenge was to put out a strong team. Missing 3 of our regulars in the Easter holiday season we were able to find very able replacements in the recently arrived Dominic, a returning Kajetan, and Mike (Harris) to give us a more than fighting chance.
It started in the best possible way when the normally super-solid Andrew Cooper on board 4 made an uncharacteristic blunder against Dominic not far out of the opening, losing a piece and prompting immediate resignation.
In the meantime, Stephen Meek and I were playing an interesting variation of the Scotch, but when it settled down into a queenless middlegame with roughly equal chances, I decided to offer a draw. This was accepted putting us a half point closer to the finish line and giving me the chance to spectate the rest of the games.
Mike on 6 was next to finish against Jerry. Jerry appeared to have a comfortable space advantage, but then something went wrong with his calculations and suddenly an advancing central pawn couldn’t be prevented from forking and winning a piece. So 2.5 – 0.5 up with black, what could our white players do?
Well Kajetan was playing a tremendous game against Martin, exploiting holes around the black king to win material and the game. This was effectively the ‘winning putt’ to put us over the line. Then Aaron (who had enjoyed a pleasant advantage for most of the game) transposed into a winning rook endgame where his pawns were much too far advanced for the game to be saved. To round off a thoroughly extraordinary night, Steve also won in a technical rook endgame which was always difficult for Nigel to defend.
So 5.5 – 0.5 was final result and a night to remember!
(1) R Savory 0 – 1 A Guthrie
(2) S Meek 0.5 – 0.5 D Pugh
(3) N Hosken 0 – 1 S Dilleigh
(4) A Cooper 0 – 1 D Tunks
(5) M White 0 – 1 K Wandowicz
(6) J Humphreys 0 – 1 M Harris
DOWNEND A 0.5 – 5.5 HORFIELD A
NB: Horfield were black on boards 2, 4 and 6