Match Report: Bath A vs Horfield A (6 April): A win to finish the season.

Wet in Bath last night (I know, I know).

Board 2 finished early. Derek, after the delight of dentistry in the afternoon, got the wrong side of Steve’s very sharp pet line. The pressure of the position and white playing his first 19 moves instantly told and a blunder on move 20 made the position untenable, although the best move, to give back the d pawn, wasn’t particularly obvious. Elsewhere it looked like Callum had a clear advantage on board 1 and Roy was burning a lot of time to make sure he was accurate enough to stay in the game. Steve and Patrick were playing a slow burn on board 3; the centre was completely blocked and both players had a bad bishop locked away behind the pawn walls but white had more space and the only possible pawn break. On 4 Peter had equalised out of the opening and had a long term strategic advantage whilst Clive had the short term initiative. Nigel on 5 had a favourable structure and Matthew didn’t seem to have anything to do apart from waiting to see if Nigel could capitalise on his positional advantage. Finally on 6 I had better control of the centre and was relatively confident that I wouldn’t be mated in 20 moves.

The next match to finish was board 4. Clive had exchanged a knight and opened the queenside possibly missing making the most of his initiative to launch a direct attack on the king. Some sharp tactical play followed and Steve won Clive’s queen with an intermezzo back rank trick. The match was level. We had a wait a while for next result which came on board 5. With black’s defence constrained, Nigel spotted a pleasing resource to break the position open; white was able to put one of his rooks en prise (but un-capturable) allowing his queen space to join the attack against black’s king. Matthew gave up material to save himself from mate but in the final position Nigel’s rooks were set to invade and sweep up black’s loose king side pawns; a solid win start to finish. Next to finish was board 1 where Roy had battled on in a worse position and clocks were ticking down. Callum gave away some of his advantage, re-established it then in a winning position saw his flag drop allowing Bath to level the match at 2-2.

On 6 Bob and I had entered a rook and pawn endgame with black being a passed pawn up. Unsurprisingly Bob’s defensive technique was significantly better than my random attempts to progress and I managed to convert a possible win into a certain draw. Match score 2.5-2.5; so any result was still possible with only board 3 live. Steve and Patrick had continued to jockey for position. After 30 moves the first pawns were exchanged and Patrick tried a speculative piece sacrifice to resolve his bad bishop issues. It didn’t look like it was enough but white’s king was under attack and his clock went under 10 seconds in a murky position. In the time scramble queens and rooks were exchanged and Steve emerged a piece up in the ending and the game and the match was won.

A 3.5-2.5 win in our final match of the season means we finish in third place, best of the rest behind the two run-away leaders. A positive season and hopefully if we can get our best team out regularly next season we’ll be looking up rather than down.

1Roy Philips (2194)1Callum Brewer (2248)0
2Steve Riley (1946)1Derek Pugh (2141)0
3Patrick Flores (1945)0Steve Dilleigh (2087)1
4Clive Walley (1903)0Peter Kirby (2069)1
5Matthew Timbrell (1762)0Nigel Pollett (1766)1
6Bob Gore (1783).5Pete Marks (1677).5
 Bath A2.5Horfield A3.5

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