Ah, the Big Cup.
Downend, as they always are, were very strong all the way down the boards, but the absence of Stephen give us some hope. The team sheets suggested we’d need to score our points in the top half of the draw and hope to get something from boards 5-8.
First to finish was board 6 with first blood going to Downend. Mikey had stepped in on the afternoon after Phil had to withdraw and was up against Aron. Black created pressure early and a pin forced white to give up a pawn and Aron then dominated with excellent outposts for his knight and it was just a matter of time. Matias, returning from his sojourn on the Thames, levelled the match on board three against Tyson. After a series of tactics black won the exchange and in a rook vs knight white wasn’t able to create a defensive structure with his advanced pawns and black got his rook behind the lines and pushed a pawn through. 1-1.
We then had to wait a while until the next result came through; Steve and Indy drew on board 4. Steve observed he thought Indy had made an inaccuracy in the opening but reflected opening theory may have changed in the last 30 years. The game was whittled down to a same-coloured bishop and pawn ending and whilst Indy had a passed pawn white’s bishop and king stopped the black king or pawn from making any progress and with the other side of the board blocked a draw was the inevitable result. Looking at the live games board 1 was too complex for me but others assured me Callum was well placed. Derek seemed to be ahead on board 2 against Nigel with black reduced to only defensive manoeuvres. On 5 Oli clearly had the edge, Reinhold looked better on 7 and board 8 seemed even.
As the games drew towards their conclusions Downend’s strength in depth began to tell. Mike had struggled throughout on board 5 against Oli, with white building a space advantage; having the more active and better placed pieces; and more time on the clock (apart from that it was pretty even). Having pulled black in every direction white broke through and Downend were 2.5-1.5 ahead. Next to finish was board 7. Rob had held a worse position in the endgame but once rooks came off white’s king was able to penetrate and gobble up the queenside pawns with black’s king stuck having to defend his weak kingside structure. The visitors were now close to closing out the match but with three games still live the chance to draw the match and win on board count was just about still on.
Judd delivered a result on board 8 to keep the match alive. Martin and he had reached an bishop and broken pawns vs knight and broken pawns. White was able to constrain the black king from getting into play and with patient knight play out-manoeuvred the bishop and picked up pawns meaning a decisive breakthrough was inevitable and Martin accepted the result. 3.5-2.5 now, with just the top two boards to go. Next to finish was board 1 where Callum had a knight and bishop and four against Oscars rook and three but all the pawns were on the same side and white showed excellent understanding to maintain the position and stop black from being able to press-on. With both players short of time a draw, for the second time between them this season, was the right result. So 4-3 to Downend and just board 2 left. The advantage Derek had built by this stage had dissipated and whilst he had outside passed pawns Nigel had an extra piece and control of the position. In the end a draw by repetition ended the game and the match meaning Downend took the match. Close but no cigar.
A hard fought match that could have gone either way but congratulations to the visitors who I imagine will strongly fancy their chances of retaining the cup this season.
|1||Callum Brewer (2248)||0.5||Oscar Garcia (2199)||0.5|
|2||Derek Pugh (2138)||0.5||Nigel Hosken (2044)||0.5|
|3||Matias Candelario (2125)||1||Tyson Mordue (2186)||0|
|4||Steve Dilleigh (2088)||0.5||Indy Southcott-Moyers (2025)||0.5|
|5||Mike Harris (2056)||0||Oli Stubbs (2100)||1|
|6||Mikey Wright (1702)||0||Aron Saunders (2065)||1|
|7||Rob Attar (1900)||0||Reinhold Heinlein (2097)||1|
|8||Judd Chidwick (1736)||1||Martin White (1873)||0|
Note: grades from March 2022.