The D’s almost push up the table but settle for one point:
Prakash Chatterjee (137) 0-1 Mohammed Hassan (137)
Tom Holmes (124) .5-.5 Jason Blaxill (132)
Howard Millbank (124) 0-1 Gareth Cullen (129)
Piotr Zielinski (UNG) .5-.5 Oliver Betts (95)
Pete Marks (110) 1-0 Ed Swann (90)
Alex Dunn (107) 1-0 Joan Molins (78)
South Bristol have seen an exodus of players since their A team was relegated from the top flight last year meaning they are now only fielding two teams. The team that rocked up had a top three of about equal grading to us and a bottom three where Horfield had a clear advantage. On this basis I was relatively confident that we should get a decent result.
On top board Prakash was matched with Mohammed. The game started as a French Advance but from early on Prakash broke open the white centre and switched his pieces to the kingside putting pressure on Mohammed’s position. Tom’s game looked reassuringly familiar as he began to develop his trademark central pawn advance (three connected pawns in this case). Again all the attacking options looked to be with him. Howard played a Pirc and owned the black squares early however in a slightly wild position both kings were vulnerable meaning chances and missed chances abounded. Piotr made a bit of a hash of an opening which was meant to be a London system and found himself a pawn down early but had some compensation re: his more active pieces. Captain vs captain on board 5: Ed played a sort of QGD exchange which let me equalise early and on board 6 Alex, guesting from the E team, played his stonewall approach vs Joan who had put together a passive cluster of pieces around his king and fianchettoed bishop. The centre of the board looked like a demilitarised zone.
In my game Ed exchanged off the knights on e4 leaving me with active pieces and space on the king side and his pieces the wrong side of the e3-d4 pawn chain. Against a rook lift onto h6 and a couple of strong pins from my bishops Ed was reduced to pushing pawns in front of his king to respond to threats and got into a tangle trying to keep me out. He didn’t. He lost his queen. Game over. 1-0
At this point it looked good for Horfield. Howard was next to finish. After exchanged blunders and the possibility of forced repetition after 37 moves Gareth allowed Howard’s queen to invade costing him a rook. However very short on time (1 minute vs 40 minutes) Howard returned the favour by allowing a back rank mate in one. Pah. 1-1 Prakash then took an almost won position (two pawns up) and fell for a one move trap. Fuming he was. 1-2 Alex evened it up taking time to develop his pieces into strong positions and forcing a material advantage. Hurrah. 2-2. Piotr has restored material equality and in a game where neither he nor Oliver created many threats it ended as a rook and three kingside pawns each. One you can lose by blundering but would struggle to win. They decided rightly a draw was the correct result. 2.5-2.5 Last to finish was Tom who had mainly controlled the game in terms of pressure and spatial advantage. However he was obliged to exchange queens to release a tricky pin and the trading down of pieces released the tension and a draw seemed about right. Sigh 3-3
A pity only to get half a point from the top three boards and it felt something of a missed opportunity overall. Anyhow onwards and upwards with North Bristol next week and probably a tougher challenge.