Match Report: Horfield A vs University A (2 February): Very much in the title race

We lost the home fixture 4-2 so were hoping for a better result this time to keep us in the title race.

Two draws first on boards 4 and 5. On 5 Peter was sharp out of the opening against Ian and obtained a slight advantage. Opposite side castling was followed by a pawn storm on each wing, however neither player could open up their opponent’s king and the position became rather blocked and still roughly equal when a draw was agreed. On 4 Steve and Tom had a game of two halves; the first part all theoretical and strategic and the second half all tactical. Tom was shading the strategic half of the game and was well ahead on the clock, in order to press home his advantage he decided on a thematic pawn sacrifice. Suddenly lines were opened and the poorly defended black king looked vulnerable. Black reacted vigorously by activating his queen to gain an initiative but white came up with a clever combinative idea of offering up two pieces for a rook. Tom had seen far enough ahead that if Steve took the material he had a way of regaining it with interest and if Steve didn’t capture his initiative would be over. Black plunged in and then white sacrificed a pawn to win a piece with check meaning it was into an endgame of Q+R v Q+N plus pawns. However Steve’s queen and knight coordinated nicely and he was quickly able to force a repetition for the draw.

There were positive results in all the other games. On board 1 Callum managed to get a good position against James from some pre-match preparation however he didn’t know all the continuations and ended up sacrificing a pawn on move 11 for an attack which was maybe slightly dubious but in practice not easy to deal with.  After some pressing white managed to win the pawn back with a cramping position and play against the black king. Black tried to gain play by winning white’s knight and bishop for a rook, however his king was too weak and Callum converted fairly quickly to secure the point. On board 2 Matias misplayed his opening and later made a mistake resulting in Zachary having a bishop and knight against rook. The advantage proved too much and it was a win for the University. On board 3 we went ahead in the match when Derek won to complete the double this season over Dan. Black had come prepared against white’s opening and it took Derek a long time to form a plan in the position and the game settled into an interesting middle game. White missed a tactically justified pawn break giving black a significant advantage but Dan in turn missed a counter-tactic which left a very complex position and Derek was better able to navigate the tactics, ultimately reaching a winning position where there were 4 queens on the board (with a brief kerfuffle when Derek had to stop the clocks whilst they tried to find an extra white queen).

Finally the match was won on board six with Andy continuing to show an uptick in form since Christmas. The game was quite wild with sharp play on both sides of the board. After blundering a pawn black managed to create quite a few complications and Kevin lost his way in the position. The last 10 moves were made with Andy in serious time trouble but he spotted a mate in 4 and delivered it with seconds to spare. Andy notes he woke up in the small hours and realised he’d missed a mate in two, but who is counting?

So a strong win from the A team meaning we are now only two points off the top of the table with a game in hand and a really good points difference. Another tough test coming up with Downend B on Valentine’s Day.

1James Clarke (2041)0Callum Brewer (2217)1
2Zachary Lee (2200)1Matias Candelario (2137)0
3Dan Savidge (2133)0Derek Pugh (2129)1
4Tom Shepherd (2083).5Steve Dilleigh (2069).5
5Ian Gallagher (2059).5Peter Kirby (2051).5
6Kevin Wu (1969)0Andy Hill (1937)1
 University A2Horfield A4

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