With the Downend A battleship sweeping past the plucky, but out-gunned, Clevedon on Monday we had to get a win against Clifton at the tennis club to have any chance of staying in the title race. The match against Clifton, also still in the title race, and with two IMs, was likely to be a tough challenge.
So firstly Andy fell to Colin on board 5 with black forcing his way through with a well-played attack. Phil and Dave drew on board 6 having reached a locked position with no pawns exchanged. Phil reflected it was an improvement on his last game against Mr Collier when he lost in 14 moves on 10 March 2020 and then had 18 months of reflection before his next league game 18 months later (coincidently Downend had beaten Clevedon the night before back then as well). On board 2 Chris had a well-placed knight on d5 when Matias played g5 to prevent its retreat to f4 (which would have cut off his own attacked knight on f3). Chris made an unsuspecting reply, which was met by puzzled looks and c6 hitting the knight which lo and behold had no squares and the match was levelled. The venerable IMs first loss of the season. Derek then put us ahead by winning on board 3 in a wild game against Gareth. White had misplayed the opening losing a piece and getting into a tangle. However compensation was three pawns including a protected pawn on h6. Black then returned the piece for three pawns and set up his own passer on a2. However by this stage Derek had co-ordinated his pieces and had the safer king. He was able to win the a2 pawn whilst keeping the h6 pawn and after a few adventures in the endgame forced the h pawn home which cost Gareth his two rooks for Derek’s bishop. Black’s central passed pawns weren’t advanced enough and his flag fell in a lost position. Then on board 1 Callum preserved our lead by picking up a draw after James failed to convert his endgame advantage.
This left Steve to wrap things up by taking the draw offer from John being a piece for two pawns up. A draw is John and Steve’s usual result but this one was definitely not in the usual style. Earlier in the game John had twice sacrificed a piece looking for an advantage. The first sacrifice (the mighty bxh7+ no less) was followed by white quickly regaining the piece and getting a menacing looking attack. However Steve was comfortable in the position and felt black would get better long term chances as long as he defended accurately. John evidently had the same opinion and sacrificed a second piece to add fuel to the fire. The upshot of this was white got two pawns for a piece and a rook on the seventh. Moreover black’s extra piece was somewhat out of play and opposite coloured bishops favoured the side with the initiative. Over the next dozen moves Steve managed to improve his position but the complications took their toll and he ended up short on time hence prudently accepting the draw offer to secure the match victory.
Match won. We’re four points behind Downend A but have a game in hand and have to play them (and they have to play the University too) so our destiny is (just about) in our own hands (and Downend’s and probably the University’s too).
|1||James Cobb (2387)||.5||Callum Brewer (2212)||.5|
|2||Chris Beaumont (2312)||0||Matias Candelario (2129)||1|
|3||Gareth Morris (2067)||0||Derek Pugh (2130)||1|
|4||John Curtis (2009)||.5||Steve Dilleigh (2083)||.5|
|5||Colin Davis (1915)||1||Andy Hill (1945)||0|
|6||David Collier (1944)||.5||Phil Nendick (2025)||.5|
|Clifton A||2.5||Horfield A||3.5|