|Tom Holmes (140)||0||1||Roger Hardy (131)|
|Prakash Chatterjee (130)||0||1||Patrick Flexman (145)|
|Piotr Zielinski (113)||0||1||Ben Radford (129)|
|Johnny Zeng (81)||1||0||Richard Harris (UNG)|
|Kana Balasubramaniam (68)||0||1||Victor Snaith (UNG)|
|Siobhan Campbell (22)||0||1||Robin Brown (UNG)|
|Horfield D||1||5||Grendel B|
It is not unreasonable to say this is not our finest of seasons; we have in the main been outgraded across most boards and seem to be in the habit of losing close games. Tonight was no exception.
Out of the openings the picture was mixed; Tom misplayed his opening and gave up a central pawn for no compensation. Roger had a simple plan which was to incrementally extend his space advantage and slowly push his central pawns down the board but Tom was working hard to create counter play and set tactical problems around the edges. Patrick won the exchange against Prakash but the play, mostly on the queenside, was complex with four knights in space and Patrick was struggling to demonstrate his material superiority amounted to anything much. Piotr and Ben were playing regular solid chess out of a Slav and it looked very much even; Ben had slightly more space but Piotr’s pieces were well coordinated. On board 4 Johnny had activated his pieces nicely and the position was very loose with Richard’s king still in the centre and his pieces under-developed; Johnny was invading the position and seemed to have the advantage. Kana and Victor were playing through a Kings Indian; not for the first time this season Kana had put his knight on h5 without an obvious plan for it and it was looking like it was becoming both marooned and a target. Finally on 6 Siobhan was playing her most coherent chess of the season, her pieces were developed and it looked promising.
So in order of how the matches finished:
Johnny won in tremendous style; he broke into Richard’s position and chased the king across the board mating him with a pawn on b5. Lovely. Mikhail Tal used to watch junior chess because he loved the imagination and unconstrained play of players who had not been regimented into ‘the right way to play’. I certainly enjoyed watching Johnny’s game as it was so full of attacking intent. Next Kana failed to resolve the position of his knight (simply returning it to f6 looked best) and worse than that in trying to protect it got his queen trapped. He played on for a while but the game was done. Third to finish was Tom who succumbed to Roger’s steady pushing which resulted in Roger being able to break open the kingside and fatally expose Tom’s king. Next Piotr from a level position admitted he was so focused on his own plans he failed to pay attention to the latent threats Ben had built up. This resulted in a blunder that cost a piece, and allowed Ben to penetrate nicely with his king and close the game out comfortably. 3-1, but the last two games weren’t foregone conclusions.
Siobhan had two rooks versus rook, bishop and knight but had a significant advantage of three unopposed pawns on the queenside but sadly let the advantage slip by not using her rooks effectively or structuring her pawn advance which enabled Robin to pick off the pawns and then deliver a tidy mate. A shame but this was certainly Siobhan’s best game of the season and it is only a matter of time before she begins to get something from these games to reward the improvements she is making. Finally Prakash had continued to set difficult questions and had advanced his e pawn to the sixth rank causing Patrick serious problems and Patrick was down to his last minute on the clock. However like so many of our contests this season it went the wrong way. Prakash began to play too fast trying to pressure Patrick’s clock but inaccuracies allowed Patrick to simplify down and win further material.
Let us hope for a better second half of the season where we can turn close games into draws and wins.