Match Report: Horfield B vs University B (26 January): Top, unbeaten, maybe a touch lucky

A top of the table clash against the students. Win the match and clear daylight at the top of the table.

We’ll come back to the top match as it was the last to finish but will take them in order for boards 2 to 5.

On Board 2 John and Sam had a bit of a mad game. Black blundered early on (move 11), losing a pawn for not very much. Needless to say John put on his aggressive face and pretended it was a pawn sac, but recognised he probably wasn’t fooling anyone. White got two passers rolling on the queenside, which looked unstoppable, while Black’s kingside pawns were still on the starting line. Then clock management came into play and white got a bit short of time and the wheels came off granting John a mate in two. On 3 Mike was back after his Singapore sojourn but it was Julien who skilfully had the better of a same-colour bishop ending. Until quite late on Mike felt that, while inferior, he might be able to hold it but it wasn’t the case and the University had a point. On board 4 Rob had one of the more straightforward games of the evening against Jonas. White secured the bishop pair but it took a few moves to do it and as a result black was ahead on development. This allowed Rob to launch a direct attack on the king which Jonas could only defend with a loss of material. Rob emerged a piece up and still positionally better, the extra material counted and black won with a nicely constructed mating attack.

On board 5 Nigel was in a reasonable position into the middle game having castled long then won a pawn with a nice tactic. This encouraged Fred to launch a speculative sacrifice to remove one of the pawns in front of the white king. The computer says it was advantage white but not so easy to see over the board and with black having much more active pieces swinging into the breach and Nigel unable to find a safe place for his king the game went to the University team. On board 6 James had equalised out of the opening and Conor was taking a lot of time over his moves. Then in a fairly equal endgame white managed to trap a knight leaving him in an easily winning position. James played on as he had 30 minutes left and Conor only 2. White missed a number of winning moves and his flag fell giving the win to Horfield and in his frustration announced he would never play chess again…

So five games, five wins for black, 3-2 up for Horfield and just the top board left. Phil and Fergus had played down at the Beer Emporium last week and Phil had won comfortably. Fergus noted he’d have to do some homework before the league match and certainly handled the position with more aplomb than in the pub. The position below was reached with somewhere around 5 minutes each left. Phil played Rb1 but missed something much stronger. Any ideas?

Black replied to Rb1 with the awkward Qe4 forcing the exchange of queens and giving him two connected passed pawns. As it happens Phil was still fine and they reached a level position with a rook, knight and 2 pawns each.  With the match score 3-2 Phil offered a draw which Fergus obviously refused but black over-pressed to lose his knight and 2 pawns.  White kindly gave back one pawn and they reached this position.

Now this looks quite won although difficult (Nh2 is the way forward as it happens) but because a) time was short, b) a draw won the match, c) it was getting late and the room was possibly close to mutiny Phil made another draw offer which was accepted and the match was in the bag.

It could have gone the other way but time management matters and we’ll take it. 3.5-2.5. Top of the table, the only unbeaten team in any division. Glory be.

1Fergus Skillen (2039).5Phil Nendick (2013).5
2Sam Glenn (1774)0John Richards (1925)1
3Julien Astier (1662)1Mike Levene (1916)0
4Jonas Zurba (1697)0Rob Attar (1905)1
5Fred Magee (1698)1Nigel Pollett (1768)0
6Conor Newton (1553)0James Facey (1712)1
 University B2.5Horfield B3.5

Solution to diagram 1 is Rc7. The x-ray attack onto g7 has no reasonable defence since the rook can’t be taken. The x-ray defence Rb7 to the x-ray attack fails to Rxg7+


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