|Tom Holmes (140)||0||1||Dave Tipper (150)|
|Nigel Pollett (138)||.5||.5||James Hennefeld (142)|
|Pete Marks (126)||0||1||Aron Saunders (145)|
|Piotr Zielinski (113)||1||0||Jack Tye (137)|
|Mike Jennings (99)||0||1||Richard Livermore (129)|
|Johnny Zeng (81)||0||1||Bilal Ahmed (106)|
We expected Downend to outgrade us on all the boards and they did; their team had an average grading of 135 (right on the MKO limit) against our average of 116. The difference showed.
First to finish was Johnny who was pushed back by Bilal (yet another improving junior from the Downend conveyor belt) throughout the game. Bilal had a passed central pawn which squeezed Johnny’s position and forced him into material concessions which ended the game. Second to fall was Tom. He had arrived late having forgotten the match was on (at least he hadn’t gone to Downend for a home match as had happened last year [sorry Tom, promised never to mention it again….]) and struggled for equality throughout. At the end Tom had a rook pair and black bishop vs Dave’s queen and white bishop but with a lot of empty space on the board Tom couldn’t coordinate his rooks and ended up with them being lined up on a white diagonal which Dave exploited to win the game. Nigel finished next. The game was very much a Nigel type of game; fianchettoed bishops and long pawn chains. After a lot of manoeuvring and some pressure, a draw was agreed which was reasonable. Nigel would have played on but scanning the other boards it was clear that it would make little or no difference.
Mike had developed into his favoured dragon style pawn structure against Richard’s d4 system. He won a pawn early but gave it back after an error and was left with a weak backward and isolated d pawn became the point around which the game revolved. Richard being a canny campaigner recognised his structure was sounder and exchanged down into a K+R end game where his king was able to infiltrate and his rook owned the open file. Mike battled gamely but came up short. After a mainly equal game, Pete and Aron entered a bishop vs knight end game with Aron having excellent untouchable outposts for the knight. Pete created a solid (if passive) position which was drawing. Then after having a draw offer turned down, stopped concentrating, became careless and was forced to compromise his defensive wall allowing Aron’s king to infiltrate and win the game. Should have been a draw with a little more effort but credit to Aron for keeping on trying to win the game.
Finally the small shard of light from the match. Piotr who has been working immensely hard on his chess comfortably held his position with Jack. The end game looked completely drawn but Jack turned down the draw offer and pushed on but got his king in an awkward position between the pawn chains and Piotr delivered a mate with his knight with 30 seconds left on his clock. Wspaniałe!
So a comprehensive defeat against a stronger team and no end of season Wembley appearance for us. A few missed chances but on balance Downend deserved to win this one.