Apologies for not providing reports for our matches so far! Instead here is a summary of how we have got on over the first four matches of the season. A very short summary would be it has been mixed! The team is weaker than last season with a few of our stalwarts over the last couple of years (and in Howard’s case many, many years) no longer available.
The season started with two wins: Against the now defunct E team where we managed a four board match (one of which was a default) and indicated strongly the idea of being able to run five teams with the resources we had was not going to work and then in our second match away to Hanham we won 3.5-2.5 with impressive wins for James and Kana. So four points from two matches. A perfect start.
Next we hosted North Bristol, we’d beaten them in the Minor Cup match the week before but they arrived with a team that was stronger on every board and whilst the differences weren’t great they made it count every time. A 6-0 defeat was somewhat chastening and we certainly contributed through blunders and passive play. It did show us the gap between the team we have and the best teams in the division.
The fourth match saw us travel to Downend to play their E team who had lost both their matches so far . John Paines noted before that not a single E team player had won a match so far (all the points coming from play-downs). What could go wrong? To start with it looked like nothing as I won in 16 moves as John got in a pickle with his king stuck in the centre and lost material, Mike followed up shortly afterwards to make it 2-0 and the Prakash drew a very much drawn game. 2.5-.5 after three. Then the wheels began to creak before falling off completely. Kana was always positionally behind with isolated doubled pawns on the d-file which became targets and impeded his mobility; Jaspal (ex of these shires) won the game competently. On board six Jaspal’s son Aryan (the siren call of Downend’s vibrant junior section is the reason they are now playing there) was completely outplayed by Johnny for most of the game but in a fluid position he let Aryan recover material, released the pin he had on Aryan’s queen to king and then lost a rook vs two knights end game. A shame. Finally Graham lost to Bilal (another promising Downend junior). Graham couldn’t connect his rooks lost pawns on the king side and Bilal in an unhurried way maintained his advantage and Graham accepted the inevitable inevitably. If it is any consolation to Graham I watched some of the Isle of Man tournament last night and I saw Anand lose in the same way … good company.
So four matches, four points. We will get back into the swing of individual reports, although it may be grim reading as our next match is against Clifton C who look transformed this season.