Downend D 2.5 – 3.5 Horfield D
Mike Passmore (134) .5-.5 Prakash Chatterjee (137)
Dave Woodcock (129) .5-.5 Tom Holmes (124)
Tom Carter (110) 0-1 Howard Millbank (124)
Grant Daly (108) 0-1 James Facey (UNG)
Jack Tye (111) .5-.5 Pete Marks (110)
Elmera Walker (101) 1-0 Piotr Zielinski (UNG)
We got to Downend bang on time having weaved through the wet traffic-clogged streets of Bristol. I’d asked Howard to stall them with anecdotes about the golden age of chess if we were late but it wasn’t necessary. Downend were hosting three matches and the bar was also full so there was a decent hubbub about the place. Downend D’s best team outgrades us but we had probably our strongest side out and they were short of a couple of their stronger players meaning the grading was very even especially as Howard’s opponent on three didn’t show meaning Downend subbed in a less strong player.
Starting off Prakash worked a QGD exchange version (one of the few openings I am familiar with) and it looked like he was developing a nice calm position with a slight but tangible positional advantage as he and Mike followed a recognisable main line. On two Tom came up against a Grand Prix attack from Dave against his Sicilian and the pawns soon transformed into a sort of French with Tom having doubled c pawns and therefore a semi open b file to play with. Looked ok. On three Howard was playing the centre game against super-sub Tom who may (or may not) have come across it before and looked well placed early. James looked entirely comfortable on the black side of a QGD against Grant and quite quickly it became obvious his development was cleaner and Grant had set himself some problems with where best to place his pieces after the central pawns came off. In particular Grant’s black bishop required awkward pawn and white bishop repositioning to allow it into the game giving James the time to bring his rooks into the centre first. On five I had the white pieces against Jack on a game under junior time controls. We played an exchange Slav which afterwards we discussed how each of us were convinced we’d played it less accurately than each other. Finally on six Piotr and Elerma were being thoroughly continental playing an Italian game. Looked even early on.
Mindful of being on junior time (and assuming all juniors think and play faster than me because they are young and sharp) I didn’t do a much floor-walking but my occasional forays made me happy that all the games were quietly under control. Prakash continued to probe and it looked like his slight advantage may lead to something larger. Dave tried for some kingside action against Tom on two but his queenside required protection and neither player had obvious initiatives. Howard was working his position well and won a piece in the middle game meaning it would only be ‘a matter of technique’ to see him home. James had maintained his lead in development and Grant was now struggling with his time as well to find good moves. Piotr however was beginning to lose ground as Elmera had a significant spatial advantage and with so many pieces left on the board Piotr was in danger of his pieces getting in the way of each other. My game with Jack finished first. I’d won a pawn early (late opening/early middle game?) but in return Jack had broken my kingside pawns and begun to advance his pawns with his bishop nicely planted on f4. I exchanged down to rook and pawns and whilst I was a pawn up the game looked very even as I couldn’t see a way through nor one for him. Looking through on the computer afterwards it seemed to confirm the view a draw was reasonable. Shortly afterwards Prakash also took a draw as did Tom on board two. So 1.5-1.5 after three. What was left looked good. James had cleaned Grant up impressively, firstly winning the exchange and then dominating the board. 2.5-1.5 with two games left. It was now clear that it was a matter of time for Piotr and pressure told as he was forced into giving up material and the game. 2.5-2.5.
Just Howard and Tom left. Howard exchanged down smoothly into a bishop and three pawns versus three pawns. Then exchanged the bishop for two pawns leaving him with two connected passed pawns on one side and a pawn each on the other. Simply hopeless for Tom. However the game carried on and Howard bravely demonstrated his Carlsen-tastic ability to convert a tiny material advantage of two queens and king versus king into a checkmate.
So no fireworks. Just calm control across nearly all the boards. A super team effort as we controlled the match against one of the stronger teams in the division. After six we’ve won three, drawn two and lost one. Happy with that.