|Pete Marks (131)||0||1||Oli Clarke (146)|
|Piotr Zielinski (109)||1||0||Chris Kaye (119)|
|Mike Jennings (104)||0.5||0.5||Daniel Owusu (110)|
|Graham Strickland (101)||1||0||Asha Jina (127)|
|Johnny Zeng (90)||0||1||Carmel Barwick (122)|
|Kana Balasubramaniam (73)||1||0||Sebastian Skalski (105)|
|Horfield D||3.5||2.5||University B|
The University team outgraded us by a wide margin, an average of over 20 per board but we secured our first match win since September. This is how we did it:
My game was equal out of the opening so I took the chance to look across the boards. Piotr hadn’t got much advantage from the opening and they had already exchanged off minor pieces with balanced pawns but Chris’s rooks and queen looked the more active. On three Daniel (owning 100% record coming into the match) had created an active position and his pawn on e5 had cut Mike’s pieces off from his king; it didn’t look comfortable for Mike with a kingside storm brewing. On four Graham and Asha didn’t seem to have done very much at all. Graham had snaffled a (possibly poisoned) B-pawn with his queen but the game seemed to be progressing at glacial pace with most of the pieces still on their original squares. On five Johnny and Carmel were playing a quite unstructured position which I couldn’t assess so I’ll say it was equal. Finally on six Kana was building steady pressure on the kingside and his pieces looked better able to engage than Sebastian’s.
First to finish was Kana with a win. I didn’t see the end but I imagine it was authoritative; Kana is undoubtedly improving as the season goes along which is great to see. Second to finish was Johnny; Carmel had been short on time but won the exchange and with a strong central passed pawn had enough play to make the advantage count. 1-1 then after two. Then Piotr finished his game well; Chris’s play had become a little directionless and after queens were exchanged Piotr took control of the open file and won queenside pawns. Piotr’s pawn and rook technique was significantly the better and with his king in support Chris couldn’t stop a passed pawn without giving up a rook so resigned. 2-1 up. Then as if by magic Graham won. Again I didn’t see the end but Graham explained quite simply he had tied down Asha’s pieces and got his rooks onto the 7th forcing the win. Nice. 3-1 up and at worst a draw from the match.
So two matches left. Oli had created some pressure but it wasn’t serious and as we exchanged down into a rook and opposite coloured bishop ending I let myself down and missed the obvious route to drawing the game or better (taking a pawn as it happens) and got myself trapped in passive defence as Oli’s advanced pawns were better than my not advanced pawns (who knew?). 3-2.
So all on Mike and Daniel’s game. Daniel had won the exchange out of his pressure on the kingside but no more when it looked like the threats might have been terminal. Mike managed to set up a blockade on the open D and C files to hold the position so Daniel gave back the exchange for a 2-1 pawn advantage on the queenside. With just pawns and queens the question was whether Daniel could force one of the pawns through. Both players were down to under two minutes and a pair of pawns were exchanged meaning it was a single passed pawn but Mike managed to work his queen out of its defensive position and with Daniel’s kingside pawns not offering cover to the king Mike forced a perpetual check position. A good recovery from a pretty awful position.
With the B team winning comfortably against Downend B in the next room it was a good start to February for Horfield.