New Season: The Good, The Bad, ... and The 'Easy'
Our first match of the season saw Horfield, missing Chris Jones on top board, calling on two of their D team players, yet still leaving our team out-graded on 5 boards. It's a sign of the increased strength of Division One in recent years that a 170s grade no longer guarantees a place.
The match started with an unorthodox time scramble, with one possibly inappropriately named 'Easy' clock set at 1 minute 30 seconds. Analogue clocks do have some advantages, seemingly also when it comes to adding that 2-minute penalty in a furious blitz when very few players seem to know what to do with digital ones. After this slight hiccup, normal service was resumed.
No need for clocks on boards 1, 2 and 5 where hostilities ended after around 20 moves in positions that might safely be described as innocuous. Nevertheless, respectable results for us. Things were not looking good for myself, after a poor opening, with tactically exciting opportunities for Brent against my uncastled King. Richard also was suffering, with his stronger opponent up by two pawns. Dominique's game saw him controlling the centre but with pawns starting to become interlocked.
At the same time as my position was becoming even more difficult, Richard was setting several problems for Prakash in a double rook ending. Richard then managed to force his opponent's King to the edge of the board where perpetual checks were unavoidable and a hard-earned draw the result of his efforts.
With my opponent having too many threats, I decided to try to muddy the waters but I sank too quickly and allowed a lovely queen sacrifice immediately followed by a discovered double check mate. A well-played attack from Brent which might well appear on Horfield's web site.
Dominique had spectacularly (and soundly) sacrificed a knight for two pawns to give himself a queen-side pawn roller. Rob attempted to create pressure on the king side but this was easily repelled. After picking up another pawn, Dominique was able to push both his passed pawns which tied down Rob's defences and shortly afterwards forced resignation.
3-3 the final result and definitely a point achieved rather than a point lost. Our next matches see us face last Season's demoted Division One teams in what will surely be difficult encounters.