Match Report: Horfield A vs Downend A (12 April): Coming up a little short

Two evenly balanced teams. We were at full strength and Downend A were without Aron but managed to find a reasonable replacement calling on the services of Rob Thompson for the first time this season.

We got nothing out of boards 1 and 2. On 2 Oscar got the better of Matias in the all-Spanish clash and on board 1 Callum spent a lot of time early against Rob’s solid set-up with the black pieces. With about 3 minutes left white sacrificed a piece to open us the black king. After a lot of complications, multiple attempted sacrifices, and some successful ones, Rob managed to refute Callum’s attack in the time scramble and the threat of mate resulted in white resigning.

Draws on boards 3 to 5 with varying degrees of excitement. On board 3 Derek opted for an alternative opening to his and Steve’s regular repertoire and recognising black’s exemplary opening knowledge steered the game out of the main lines by gambitting a pawn, and then a second one to try to keep initiative. This was probably unsound but black didn’t find the correct path through the complications and facing mating threats give up queen for a rook and a couple of pawns. That should have been a win for white but Derek had run short of time and the game ended in a bishop ending which black was strong favourite to win however with play proceeding at a rapid pace the game ended in a draw. On board 4 you’d probably get very short odds on a draw between Nigel and Steve (if anyone was willing to take your bet at all). In the first half of the game black was somewhat on the defensive but held the position comfortably. Then one slightly rash move from white gave Steve’s knight an entry square and black was able to turn the tables. Nigel quickly realised the danger and accepted a very weak backward pawn and opted for a deep defensive mode. Steve missed the best plan whilst concerned by counterplay and settled for a draw. On board 5 there was an unusual opening which resulted in Peter (K) setting up a Maroczy Bind position, but Peter (C) had sufficient activity and crucially swapped a knight and dark squared bishop to limit the impact of his space disadvantage. The spectre of a good knight vs bad bishop endgame was a potential theme, but a draw was agreed by three-fold repetition early, when the position was still equal.

Our one full point was on board six where Aldrin set Andy a currently fashionable opening challenge. Black neglected his development somewhat but white failed to take full advantage of this. In opening up the centre too quickly Aldrin gave Andy the chance to breakthrough on the c-file with doubled rooks. Black’s active queen was able to pick up a couple of pawns and he went into the ending with a clear advantage. A time scramble of course, a few stressful moments, but once Andy got his king to safety on f3 there was no way for white to stop black delivering mate.

So Downend A march on to a possible first league title since 2017. If the University beat Grendel next week then the a title showdown on the 26th awaits.

1Rob Thompson (2220)1Callum Brewer (2217)0
2Oscar Garcia (2203)1Matias Candelario (2139)0
3Stephen Meek (2103).5Derek Pugh (2125).5
4Nigel Hosken (2079).5Steve Dilleigh (2052).5
5Peter Chaplin (2027).5Peter Kirby (2033).5
6Aldrin Malibiran (1944)0Andy Hill (1965)1
 Downend A3.5Horfield A2.5

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