In case we haven’t mentioned this before, last year our best match was this very fixture, facing a team 30 grade points above us per board and somehow coming away 3.5-2.5 winners. This time despite only 2 regular B-team players available we were not such underdogs. We borrowed new superstar recruit Patryk and a host of other strong C-team players, and with Downend missing a few players as well the point difference was only about 2 points per board.
My game on 3 was an Alekhine with a very delayed d5 and I decided to fight caution with caution, settling in for a long manoeuvring battle. Peter looked like he got out the opening fine after some kingside scuffles with a stupendous knight and a semi-locked centre, Patryk and Richard took a fairly long time to get to move 3, whilst the lower boards were playing more adventurously – Prakash getting a good initiative with White and Bob and Nigel feeling the pressure. Nigel managed to quell the attack and agreed a draw, whilst Prakash swiftly finished off his opponent. 1.5-0.5.
Bob was struggling after Mike stole a pawn early on, traded queens and was pressuring through the centre. Bob allowed a piece to be won in exchange for two rooks on the open a-file against a naked king, but Mike casually quashed this with a neat tactic and calmly avoided all swindles to level the match.
On 2, Peter and Nigel prodded around for a bit but both saw more risk than reward and split the point, and at the bar eagerly analysed the various dynamic endgames that might have been. I had gradually made progress by keeping a knight at bay on a7 and keeping hold of the centre. A nice tactic won me the exchange after the very natural move Rae8:
This put us 3-2 up with just board 1 to finish. A good position to be in, especially when Patryk coolly spots a few pawn-grabbing tactics and is ahead on the clock. This levelled the material but White maintained a lot of pressure and the kingside pawn majority looked better than Black’s queen-side pawns, yet to get going. Richard did spot a lovely last-gasp trick to unleash a pin on the queen, but Patryk was more than aware and took the full point home. Quite a debut! All games won with White and two holds from Nigel and Peter meant that we did it again, and climb up to mid-table before our month-long game drought.
Despite our recent form at the cricket club, I’ll say one thing for Downend – they know how to write a match report – not only the wittiest, but also the fastest in the land (seriously Mike – when exactly do you sleep?)
Downend A 2 – Horfield B 4
R Savory 0 – 1 P Krzyzanowski
N Hosken 0.5 P Kirby
A Cooper 0 – 1 M Harris
M Meadows 1 – 0 R Radford
I Pickup 0 – 1 P Chatterjee
D Conterno 0.5 N Pollett
*Tactic answer: f4! (what else?) This forces the rook back to e7 whereby it is a sitting duck for the discovery of d6+! (n.b. playing d6+ first and then f4 also wins, curiously my engine gives +4.60 for that, and +4.62 for f4 first… very strange but glad the computer agrees with me…)