We lost. I expected we would but it could have been very different as we pushed the best team in the division all the way.
So after some typical Bath specific ‘where did you park?’ chat we settled into a really entertaining match. On board 1 Luke and Clive were testing each other’s theoretical knowledge and patience in a slow burn of a positional opening. Black had expanded on the queenside as both sides jockeyed for possibly decisive (or disastrous) pawn breaks, it looked even with maybe a slight edge for black. On board 2 Matt blitzed out his first eight moves to have 1:21 on the clock and I was struggling a little to not get caught up in his speed of play. Pleasingly the pace slowed and I was able to develop my pieces to decent squares whilst Matt was struggling to find where to put his queenside minor pieces, advantage black. On board 3 Piotr was very much in control. Oli, probably caught out in the opening, decided on complications and it became eye-wateringly difficult to work out who had what (both of them had everything and nothing probably). On board 4 Lionel had a reasonable position out of the opening against Bob. However white took black by surprise by developing his black bishop to a3 controlling the open centre of the board and stopping Lionel castling kingside. It looked like black was going to have to work hard to castle queenside and find counterplay. On board 5 Scott had been solid into the middle game with his pieces developed nicely. Mauro was pressing but white found some tactics to win a piece for two pawns and whilst his king was slightly exposed he had cover in the form of his knights. White’s compensation was an open centre with good lines for his bishops. Finally on six there had been opposite side castling and an early trade off of most of the minor pieces. Mike had started his pawn storm earlier than Tony. White probably had the better structure but Mike was first to move, although the lack of pieces meant the attack would be hard to deliver.
Board 2 finished first with Horfield claiming the point. Matt had struggled to find a plan and under some pressure he’d exchanged down including his prize g2 bishop but the pawn structure favoured me as I was certain to pick up his isolated d pawn and would be very well placed in the centre of the board. White tried a direct attack on black’s king but it left him vulnerable to tactics and allowed a mate on the empty g2 which he saw too late. The other games were boiling up nicely. On 1 Luke and Clive were still testing each other’s patience and Luke had provoked a closing of the pawn centre which might have favoured his knights over Clive’s bishops if the board stayed closed. On 3 Oli was rolling the dice with a knight sacrifice on f2 and pressure down the open f file and against e6, Piotr managed to close direct access to his king and had queen and bishop close to the black king but there were still threats for white to deal with as the black queen was very active. On 4 Bob looked like he had the advantage and was probing at Lionel’s defence, black was under pressure to find good moves every move but was just about holding on. On 5 Scott missed a pin on his king meant his knight was vulnerable to capture and Mauro jumped in to turn the game around. Black won material and with a strong passed central pawn he was able to trade down and his extra piece and passed pawn made the result inevitable levelling the match at 1-1. On 6 Mike’s pawn storm had passed and the question now was whether Tony could find a sequence to use his knight to exploit Mike’s bad bishop and cramped space.
Results began to flood in on the vidiprinter. Piotr restored our match lead by finishing Oli off in good style. Black had tried to keep asking questions but white calmly shut down threats and with a pair of passed pawns in the centre and the black king trapped in the corner denuded of pawn cover the game was won. Then it was 2-2 as Bob’s insistent questioning of Lionel’s defence resulted in a crack that cost a piece and from their the result was inevitable. Into the final throws and on board 1 rooks had been exchanged and then queens and it became apparent Clive was going to be able to create space on the queenside (he did) to allow his bishops in behind (they did) and Luke’s knights wouldn’t be able to hold onto the backward d pawn (they couldn’t). A toughly fought game but 3-2 to Bath. Just board 6 left but the match was done as Mike had no realistic counterplay but he set up his defence nicely meaning whilst he wasn’t able to level the match he could take some pride in holding onto a draw in a difficult ending.
So in the end the expected defeat but on another night we could have earned more from the balance of play. Bath have won nine in a row and they look set to take their deserved place in division 2 next season.
|1||Clive Walley (1909)||1||Luke Millard (1721)||0|
|2||Matt Timbrell (1818)||0||Pete Marks (1723)||1|
|3||Oli Thornley (1781)||0||Piotr Zielinski (1606)||1|
|4||Bob Gore (1681)||1||Lionel Germane (1619)||0|
|5||Mauro Farina (1647)||1||Scott White (1556)||0|
|6||Tony Sage (1632)||.5||Mike Jennings (1511)||.5|
|Bath B||3.5||Horfield C||2.5|