|Anton Muller (143)||0-1||Nigel Pollett (138)|
|James Aldred (141)||0-1||Peter Marks (126)|
|Robert Smolka (118)||1-0||Piotr Zielinski (113)|
|Simon Dunphy (UNG)||0.5-0.5||Mike Jennings (99)|
|David Budd (111)||0-1||Johnny Zeng (81)|
|Alan Warne (103)||0.5-0.5||Kana Balasubramaniam (68)|
We played Clifton C in the league earlier this season and lost 5-1. We were out-graded on all boards that night and we were again this time round.
James came at me with a London, not my favourite problem as black (although I think I pretty much hate everything d4 as black…) but I felt like I’d equalised relatively well as we went into the middle game. Nigel and Anton had transposed what I think was an English into what looked like a Grunfeld and I was slightly worried by Anton owning the c-file with both his rooks. Piotr and Robert seemed to have exchanged nearly all their minor pieces by the time I looked up and Robert had his king stranded unable to castle; advantage Piotr. Simon, who had won all six of his games this season, opened with an English which Mike managed to push towards a Dragon style structure in which he was comfortable and I couldn’t see any particular advantage for either side. David won a piece early against Johnny and without obvious counter-play Johnny looked doomed. Alan and Kana were happily pushing pawns and tangling the centre; again it looked even.
Johnny’s game did finish first. David had swapped his extra piece for two pawns and traded down into a very won end game of 3+2 pawns and queen vs 3+0 pawns and queen but Johnny kept fighting and David somehow got his king trapped between the groups of pawns looking for cover from the checks from Johnny’s queen and was mated in a top-draw swindle. A great lesson from Johnny not to quit too early. Next Kana and Alan agreed to a draw and Mike and Simon left with three symmetrical pawns and a rook each accepted the inevitability of a shared point. So 2 out of 3 points on the bottom three boards. Tidy.
I was comfortable with my position with James; even more so when he decided to try to develop some kingside activity but overlooked a hanging pawn which I could take with check and freed my position to advance my central pawns forcing him to give up his knight for two pawns. Very much advantage me. In the meantime Nigel had generated excellent control of the position with two bishops and Anton struggled to find squares to put his rooks on meaning Nigel won material and the game. A good win (and as per my note earlier about Anton being in the box seat shows how well I can assess positions!). Shortly afterwards I finished off my game as well; having locked down any possible counter play I slipped my knight inot the heart of James’ position meaning he would have lost at best the exchange and he decided enough was enough. 4-1. Match won.
Disappointingly in the last match to finish Piotr wasn’t able to convert his completely dominant position (+4.5 according to the engine) and spending too much time looking for good moves instead blundered a pierce and then under time stress missed his drawing options. A pity.
Anyhow a win! Into the semi finals and the first proper cup-run since I’ve been at the club. Forza Horfield!