Ever since we had all three teams (A,B and C) at the top of the division one table, we have not fared too well. The A team lost 5-1 to Bath a few weeks back, so it was the B team’s chance to improve on that. Alas, we managed the same paltry figure, although some would say that flatters the home team.
It didn’t start too well as Prakash and I had some difficulty getting there. We made it at 7:45 and were surprised to see that we were the 3rd and 4th Horfield players there!
As vice-captain I was anxious that I forgot to get a team together, or that we would start 2-0 down, but surprisingly I was able to play good opening moves and had my opponent on the ropes before any pieces came off. Dominic also showed up before the deadline and later gained a space edge against David on board 1. It was an open board though, so it was more a Karpovian ‘command from the back’ than a ‘Petrosian-esque constriction’, nevertheless we looked okay on 1 and 2. Peter was handling a bit of pressure on 3 and Paul and Prakash looked even. Unfortunately the various stars that control traffic, parking, roadworks and sat nav errors managed to align that night for Roger, who missed the default deadline by 5 minutes. 0-1.
Prakash shook hands a while later, a pawn down from a Grunfeld but with a super strong knight cemented in place, restricting both bishops. But on the top boards, the wheels came off. David played some creative middlegame moves which saw far ahead into the endgame, expertly making the most of his passed central pawn. Eventually the satisfying exchange sacrifice came and Dominic’s rook was helpless to stop the pawn. I had eschewed a queen chase resulting in winning a knight for two pawns in favour of looking for something even better, but Roy sneaked the queen out of trouble and managed to reclaim the pawn I thought I was winning. So close and yet so far, I was in an equal ending and down on time. Trying to defend some weaknesses I blundered a piece and couldn’t recover. Peter also fell to some constant pressure from Horia, who played a solid attacking game, and Paul saved us from total embarrassment by sensibly holding a draw in a rook ending. 1 – 5.
Given that the A team couldn’t do any better at home and with a full 6, we can’t be too dismayed. Bath look like favourites to win the league at the moment so we can only look forward to our next games to try to stay in the chasing pack.