Match Reports: A and C team in action (14 February): Insert own Valentine’s Day clichés

Close on the scorecard but Downend were worthy winners. We were without our top two but Downend didn’t have Indy and Graham so neither side had a full complement. On board one Derek tried to undermine Michael’s system with an early e5 but it allowed white to play e4 and d5 to gain a strong positional advantage which Michael took all the way to secure the point. On two Steve considers he was rather fortunate his tussle with Oli. From a stodgy position where white was maybe a little better indifferent play let black build a position of control and Steve decided to give up a pawn which had the effect of freeing his pieces but with Oli so solid the compensation was minimal. After 40 moves white was still battling away but had got down to three minutes or so on the clock but had at least also made Oli burn time and now under time pressure black weakened his pawns on the queenside in an effort to activate his pieces. Instead it allowed white’s queen into his position and a combination of pins and forks allowed white to regain the pawn and a draw was in sight. Things got even better for Steve when he was able to force a liquidation into a knight and pawn ending with an outside passed pawn. Steve offered a draw because with only a minute on the clock he wasn’t remotely confident of calculating accurately, Oli turned down the offer only for Steve to win the ending as black’s king spent too much time winning white’s passed pawn and couldn’t get back in time to stop the action on the other side of the board.

On board 3 Peter was fine out of the opening; with the light squared bishops off the board the pawn structure gave black equality or slightly better. In the middlegame Mark castled kingside and Peter queenside and black pushed c4 to seal the queenside, so attention turned to the other side of the board where white had more space but needed to be careful of his king. A tactical mistake gave black an unpleasant choice between sacrificing a pawn in a queen endgame or passive defence that might have held for a draw. Peter chose the pawn sacrifice but Mark’s king avoided numerous checks and walked from g1 via c5 to a safe square on g8 prompting resignation. On board 4 Andy, despite the queens coming off early, was able to launch an attack against Reinhold’s king. However white’s attack didn’t deliver the promised goods allowing black to stay in the game. As time got short Andy lost his way and Reinhold was able to win the game.

On board 5 Phil had offered Steve a draw in the ending when he saw white could force an improved pawn structure. Steve rejected the offer but the players had both mis-assessed the position as black’s centralised king gave Phil the edge and led to the win of a key pawn which black converted into a win. Finally on board six Mike and Dominque drew early in the piece.

So 3.5-2.5 to Downend B but if anything they could have had more points. The table is still close and with a game in hand and still matches to play against Clifton and Downend A we’re not out of the title race yet.

1Derek Pugh (2139)0Michael Ashworth (2132)1
2Steve Dilleigh (2069)1Oli Stubbs (2201)0
3Peter Kirby (2051)0Mark Morris (1976)1
4Andy Hill (1951)0Reinhold Heinlein (2099)1
5Phil Nendick (2014)1Steve Williams (1840)0
6Mike Levene (1908).5Dominique Conterno (1839).5
 Horfield A2.5Downend B3.5

The C team match against Yate was also a tight affair but we came out on the right side of the result. James and Mike won easily on boards 5 and 6 to set us on our way. James had dominated against Will and even with a slightly unnecessary exchange sacrifice near the end had far far too much. Mike won a piece almost immediately against Ryan with a pin on the black king. From there he had no problem in picking up further material and easing to a comfortable win. Piotr and James drew on board 3. The game had some edge initially but became balanced with a single open file and neither side having realistic pawn breaks. A draw seemed right. Olly scored a full point for Yate on board 4 against Joaquim to bring the match score closer. Black was always in control with his pieces better placed on an open board and a little tactical sortie and an undefendable threat of a back rank mate settled the game. So 2.5-1.5 up with the top two boards to go.

On board one Nigel, a generous host, had tried to give Andy a piece on move 3. Andy didn’t see it. However he did accept black’s b pawn which gave Nigel an open file and counter-play. On board 2 Ben completely outplayed he in the opening and the middle game. I was just about hanging on. Fortunately black missed the best continuation and allowed white to make it difficult. Ben gave up his rook and a pawn for two pieces but I was able to coordinate my pieces better than his and in the end white got lucky when black overlooked a pinned piece could still be part of a mating trap. Finally on board one the position was still unresolved but with less pieces on the board the question was if white could shepherd his extra pawn home and keep black’s queen out from securing a draw by a perpetual. In the end we didn’t get to know as Nigel’s flag fell and Yate took home the consolation point. A good win against an admittedly weaker than normal Yate team but it is four out of the last five for the C team and we’ve reached mid-table respectability.

1Nigel Pollett (1760)0Andy Penn (1780)1
2Pete Marks (1723)1Ben Mumford (1640)0
3Piotr Zielinski (1606).5James Bartram (1516).5
4Joaquim Luque (1626)0Olly Blackford (1588)1
5James Kirk (1516)1Will Smith (1394)0
6Mike Jennings (1511)1Ryan Hamm (1493)0
 Horfield C3.5Yate A2.5

Puzzle for the day: Steve, following further analysis, noted black could have drawn the position below. Answers on a postcard (considering Oli had less than a minute on the clock no surprise he couldn’t find the continuation)


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