We had a significant rating advantage across the boards. However there is no such thing as an easy night against any of Downend’s teams and so it proved.
On board one John and Stephen had castled opposite sides meaning attacks on opposite wings was the likely outcome. Into the middle game and heavy batteries were being lined up on open files. On board two Mike and Jack seemed to have an even position with sensible pawn structures where breaks were difficult to see and pieces would have to do the work. On board three Rob and James were tussling for the centre and it looked as if black was creating the pressure and white responding. It was also noticeable white was burning through a lot of time which suggested who was having to think harder. On four Judd got slightly wrong footed out of the opening but had probably done enough to equalise. However with a loose centre and a fianchettoed bishop on g7 Alan certainly had assets. On five it wasn’t obvious either player had got much from the opening. Tom had a slight space advantage but Nigel had clearer access to the open a file with white focusing on the semi-open f file and possibly some backward pawn targets. Finally on board six a very (very) sharp game was underway. Opposite side castling and then Grant had given up knight and bishop for rook and pawn to diffuse kingside threats but James had a clear advantage with active pieces and the black king stuck in the centre.
The first result came in on board four; Alan had rooks on the open d and b files and Judd’s knight was out of position with black’s horse in a commanding position. There was a tactical chance for white to equalise with a two move bishop tactic but after that it was all about black controlling the position, and Alan has played enough chess to ensure the push on to the win was all but guaranteed. First blood to Downend. James levelled the match with a win on board 6. Grant had struggled to find a safe space for his king and with the white king safe pawns began to fall and the position was pretty much lost when Grant’s flag fell. James is now 5 from 5 this season, Mr 100%. Match score 1-1 and all to play for.
Board five finished next. A very equal position became a very dominant and then very winning position for Tom after Nigel, looking to keep the game going, over-pressed on the open a file allowing the white queen to penetrate, win pawns and destroy blacks pawn chain. Black recognised the futility of playing on and Downend were ahead again. Board two had looked like a draw for a while. Jack was quite short of time but with only a knight and bishop each and static pawns there was no real chances of progress for either side; pawn breaks would have done more damage to the attacker than the defender. A draw was sensibly agreed. Shortly afterwards Rob levelled the match winning through against James. Black had had the initiative for most of the game and then white, under clock pressure, misjudged a tactical sequence enabling Rob to win the exchange. James possibly could have played on a bit longer but with only 20 seconds left and a really tough position to hold he called it a day. So Rob is 3 from 3 this season, Mr 100% (no.2).
All eyes now onto the top board. After 33 moves the position below had been reached and John was worried about the wind blowing down the h file. Stephen decided to play the obvious 34. Qh2 threatening mate in 2. Fortunately black had a nice tactic. Any guesses?
Indeed. 34 … Qxh1+! 35. Qxh1 Rd1+.
After that the game petered into a drawn position and a draw was agreed to settle the match at 3-3.
|1||John Richards (1940)||.5||Stephen Williams (1889)||.5|
|2||Mike Levene (1921)||.5||Jack Tye (1793)||.5|
|3||Rob Attar (1895)||1||James Hennefeld (1760)||0|
|4||Judd Chidwick (1859)||0||Alan Papier (1738)||1|
|5||Nigel Pollett (1786)||0||Thomas Ash (1631)||1|
|6||James Facey (1715)||1||Grant Daly (1534)||0|
|Horfield B||3||Downend C||3|