John Kilmister 0-1 Tom HomesDuncan MacArthur 1-0 Pete MarksBen Woodcock 1-0 Mike JenningsJim Rowlands 0.5-0.5 Graham StricklandDave Woodruff 0-1 Kana BalasubramaniamChris Hayden 1-0 Siobhan Campbell
We arrived on time and it all started particularly well (well apart from my game). Tom had a strong space advantage against John and looked very comfortable. Mike and Ben looked even out of a Ruy Lopez after exchanges of minor pieces and queens. Jim decided on a proper attack and went for the Bxh7, Ng5+ classic; Graham’s king ended up on g6 and the question was whether he could get himself safe and benefit from the material advantage. Kana was controlling the centre against David’s Pirc (or maybe a Modern) and squeezing the space. Finally on six Siobhan was very much even after 15-20 moves and was playing her most coherent chess of the season. Me? Hmmm. Duncan played the English against me and I got myself in a sticky knot. I decided to give up a pawn and try to exchange off a couple of minor pieces to free the position but one pawn became two. What a mess.
Kana won first without giving Dave a sniff and Tom spent the entire game asking John questions about how to arrange his pieces in limited space until he ran out of answers; a genuinely high class win. 2-0 up. Looking good (apart from the fact my game was lost and we were going through the formality of keeping Duncan honest). Then the wheels began to detach themselves from the wagon. Firstly Siobhan lost concentration, blundered a piece and lost the game. I threw in the towel as Duncan found a way to exchange off pieces and secure his advantage. Which left just two matches still playing with time running down. Graham with 22 seconds left agreed a draw. He’d stabilised the position, blocked Jim’s threats and with more time might have won the game but time management counted against him. All eyes on Mike’s match; Ben had created pressure with two connected central pawns and multiple threats likely to win material meant Mike resigned with under two minutes left on the clock.
A pity that we couldn’t build on our strong start but it is how you finish not how you start that counts. So stuck on 4 points. A tough season.