Cabot. The Colosseum. The third fixture of the week for Horfield. Rain outside but the heaters were on so the room was much warmer than it was back in September when we visited last.
John had played the night before and Judd, Rob, and Mike weren’t available so a weaker than normal B team.
The early action looked positive for us. On board one Phil and John had descended into a really complex struggle revolving around white’s advanced extra pawn, versus John’s extra mobility and good squares for his pieces. With all the pieces on the board pointing toward the central four squares it looked tense and definitely unclear if either player stood better although Phil felt under pressure and was using more time. On board two Nigel had allowed Oleksii control of the kingside in return for control of an open b file. White had left his king in the centre and marched his kingside pawns forward, the question, of course, was whose attack would land first. Board three was a blink and miss it affair. Robbie had played a sharp response but it quickly became clear James was far more comfortable in the opening theory. Black decided to take white’s e pawn but almost immediately the pressure on the centre and uncastled black king became intense; black was reduced to blocking a bishop check with his rook and his king was stuck in a prison of pieces which were all paralysed in defence. It looked very much like either a) a rapid checkmate or b) a crushing material gain. On board four Mike and I played for the second time this season. Same opening as last time. I equalised early then picked up a lose pawn allowing me to feel very comfortable about the state of the world. On board five Luke and Phil reached an early middle game where black had shifted most of his pieces the queenside to attack the slightly weak white pawns. Luke decided it was Greek Gift time and went all in but Phil had an immediate defensive resource with his bishop and it was whether Luke could get extra pieces into the danger zone before black could shuffle defenders across. On board six Loni and James were playing fast and loose with the position and it looked like the position contained a whole load of tactics for the brave.
Board three was first to finish. Robbie had found a few resources but the untangling left James a full rook up then it desperation to find any counterplay black got his queen trapped and accepted the defeat. A splendid win for Mr 100%; six out of six now for James this season. Shorty afterwards board five finished. Luke had engineered a rook lift to h3 threatening mate down the open file and Phil, with few options took the rook with his defending bishop allowing a mate in one for white. We weren’t sure if it was most accurate of wins but it certainly was convincing. Next to conclude was board four. I’d kept hold of the pawn advantage, traded down, centralised my king, avoided counterplay, and turned the extra pawn into a passed pawn. Mike then got his knight trapped and it was then straightforward for me to ease through. 3-0 and surely we’d get something from the other games to secure the match. However it turned out to be more squeaky than expected.
On board six James had got himself material down but battled hard into a 3 vs 2 king and pawn endgame with concrete drawing chances, however he misplaced his king and Loni won through to make it 3-1. On board two Nigel had created an advantage but exchanging queens only favoured white as it turned out his queenside forays weren’t really existential without his most powerful piece. Oleksii stripped away the kingside pawns leaving Nigel’s king exposed without any flight squares due to the central pawn chains and his rooks stuck on the wrong side of the board. White’s better placed rooks and minor pieces were too strong and suddenly the match score was 3-2 with just the top board in play.
For the second time this season John was being asked to secure a win to level a match against Horfield with a material disadvantage. The game had continued to be complex with John controlling space around Phil’s advanced d pawn which was looking more a curse than a blessing as it was blocking white piece mobility. The game simplified as pieces came off and resulted in an endgame of knight, bishop and rook and split, loose pawns (white being a pawn up). It was also notable Phil had burned a lot of time and without increments (Cabot playing to a straight 1h30m time control) there was a real risk the fragmented and complex position would favour John. However it further simplified into a single minor piece each and with the removal of the pawns John’s route to victory via play or time disappeared and a draw was agreed.
A win after all that keeps the B team top of division 2. Glory days.
|1||John Guilfoyle (1914)||.5||Phil Nendick (1991)||.5|
|2||Oleksii Novakov (1571)||1||Nigel Pollett (1786)||0|
|3||Robbie Thornhill (1523)||0||James Facey (1715)||1|
|4||Mike Roberts (1529)||0||Pete Marks (1707)||1|
|5||Phil Burnett (1392)||0||Luke Millard (1914)||1|
|6||Loni Anderson (1198)||1||James Kirk (1656)||0|