|Tom Holmes (142)||0.5||0.5||Richard Livermore (127)|
|Piotr Zielinski (109)||0||1||Bilal Ahmed (125)|
|Graham Strickland (101)||0.5||0.5||Grant Daly (122)|
|Johnny Zeng (90)||0||1||Richard Palmer (120)|
|Kana Balasubramaniam (73)||1||0||John Paines (99)|
|Siobhan Campbell (20)||1||0||Billy Holland (88)|
|Horfield D||3||3||Downend E|
As is the norm this season we were heavily outgraded; Downend had brought a strong team and I wasn’t hopeful we would get much from the match. As it happened we squeezed out a draw in the most exciting (no really it’s true) circumstances.
First to finish was Siobhan and she won! After coming close to a result a few times before Christmas Siobhan broke her duck by mating Billy down the open g file. It was quite the coup and I am delighted that all the hard work has translated into a result. Shortly after this momentous event Richard P levelled it up by comfortably beating Johnny and then we were quickly 2-1 down as Bilal beat Piotr. Piotr had a solid position out of the opening with more space and one of Bilal’s rooks and his bishop tied up in passive defensive roles. However Piotr had overlooked that his bishop couldn’t be recaptured because of a pin on the supporting pawn and from a piece up Bilal eased his way to the win.
Looking at the boards there wasn’t much in the other games. Tom and Richard L were in a rooks and knight endgame where there were lots of central outposts for the knights to cause trouble for the rooks and it wasn’t clear how Richard, who looked like he had a slight advantage, could penetrate or exchange down. John was the exchange up but Kana had a wedge of four pawns to John’s two pawns and the game was balanced and on board 3 Grant had embedded a knight on d6 and reduced Graham (inevitably short on time) to passive defence, this looked the most likely to fall Downend’s way.
John and Kana exchanged queens which favoured Kana as he was now able to begin to roll his pawns forward without worrying about John’s queen getting in behind. The momentum of the pawns soon took their toll and Kana won the game levelling the match at two apiece. Kana’s grading performance is now +28 over his season-starting grade which is a terrific indicator of the improvements he is making. Next to finish were the top-board titans who agreed a draw as there didn’t seem to be any way to unblock the centre. 2.5-2.5 with one to go.
So Graham’s position had become even more precarious. He had no space and was shuffling his queen from one defensive square on to another as Grant’s pieces massed in attack. Additionally Grant had around 18 minutes to Graham’s 30 seconds. However Grant couldn’t see a way to breach the position (h4 looked the obvious route from the side lines where it is always easier to play someone else’s game) and tried to infiltrate on the queen side. This resulted in an exchange of queens, rook and bishop which helped Graham’s defensive duties as it gave him more space to operate with just king and knight. Grant created a passed pawn on the h file but Graham had a two to one advantage on the queen side. Grant’s time continued to tick and tick and Graham played at least two moves with one second left. Finally as Grant entered his last minute of time he ran out of steam and accepted Graham’s draw offer. A terrific hold for Graham who had played his last 15-20 moves on the increment.
Delighted we got something out of the match! Away to North Bristol next week so hopefully we can extend our unbeaten run to the heady heights of three matches.
Equally pleasing was we had six players playing friendly games last night including two juniors; the plan is to give all of our new players matches this season