D team strike it home

Horfield D 4-2 Clifton C

Prakash Chatterjee (137) .5-.5 Oleskii Novakov (119)

James Facey (UNG) 1-0 Peter Bradshaw (UNG)

Tom Holmes (124) 1-0 Robert Smolka (112)

Howard Millbank (124) .5-.5 David Budd (UNG)

Mike Jennings (110) 0-1 Alan Warne (91)

Pete Marks (110) 1-0 Paul Whitton (86)

The Whiteladies Road Derby, surely the most anticipated match in international chess and probably all sport; often front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport and L’Équipe where team selections and board orders are poured over in editorials. Clifton, La Vecchia Signora of the Bristol chess scene, demonstrated their top-end class last week as their A team dismantled our C team. This week the match-up was between our D team and Clifton Cs, two teams who have managed to gather one point between them from four matches. Clifton have lost players over the last year so previous stalwarts of their C team are now playing in the Bs and they have disbanded their D team. Surely a chance for Horfield, the noisy neighbours from up the road, to secure the points.

Games got going pretty much on time. I found myself involved in a QGD and won a pawn early with a basic tactic on d5. Quite smooth, quite low stress. Happy my position was in hand I had a stroll round. Prakash, taking a break from Div 1 duties, was making his first appearance on top board for the Ds. He chose the sharp and unbalanced McCutcheon French against Oleksii and was looking at creating threats with his g and f pawns, the downside was his potentially exposed king in the centre. James on board 2 came up against a sort of Najdorf with a fianchettoed bishop. Peter refused to castle so whilst James queenside castled and shaped for a kingside blast the target stayed in the middle. On three Tom deployed his signature a6 Sicilian and was material up early and Robert was playing very slowly indeed. Howard on four was in a Scandinavian where he offered the e4 pawn gambit; the centre was clogged with pieces rather than pawns and looked pretty complex with tactical threats lurking round every corner. Both players refused to commit to king safety with kings looking tempting in the middle. Finally on 5 Mike looked relatively equal out of yet another Sicilian.

I finished off my game at around 9.15 when Paul couldn’t stop my A pawn promoting. GOAL. 1-0 to Horfield. Prakash was next to finish with a draw. His exposed king meant progress on the kingside was nigh on impossible without loss of tempo in getting the king safe and Oleksii had queenside pawn shunts to work with.

Mike had become somewhat passive and found himself pushed back, and his pieces in a tangle, Alan finished the game nicely winning material and leaving Mike in a hopeless position. GOAL. 1-1, An equaliser. The result now in some doubt.

We were by now deep into the second half. Howard and David had ground each other into a draw where it was entirely possible they had both thought so hard they had no thinking left. It did look a fair result. Still level as the clock began to run down and the other two games were up for grabs. By now Robert was playing on increments against Tom who had over 25 minutes left and sensibly was not rushing. James and Peter were both short on time in a position which had opened out as James had decided to clarify things in the centre with his rooks opening the board out however Peter still had clear threats down the C file with a nicely placed bishop on h6. Into extra time and….

GOAL!! 2-1 Horfield. Tom finished off his game, neutralising threats in calm style and making his material advantage count.

GOAL!!!!! 3-1 Horfield. James won on time as Peter struggled to come up with a plan in what had become a rook and pawn ending.

A hard slog but I reckon we deserved it. A triumph for gegenpress over catenaccio (sort of). Forza Horfield!

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