Four Michaels is more than enough
It seems like it wouldn't be a proper season if one of our teams wasn't first pitted against one of Horfield's. As it happens the B-team wasn't the only one.
Although I arrived with seconds to spare I was still ahead of Lewis and Javier, but considering their results it wouldn't feel right to pass judgement, though I hope to be ruthless in future reports. In fairness, within a few minutes of us starting both had arrived and all the clocks were started by 19:35.
Lewis began by grabbing plenty of space as white and consolidated his position by taking complete control of the c-file with a rook battery and bishop pair. In Steve's game Mike (Levene) also found himself with plenty of space as white, though Steve quickly struck back with everybody's favourite move; f5. Very quickly it looked to be a toss-up between the weaknesses of Mike's (Levene) centralised king and Steve's king hiding from an open g-file on h8.
Javier was on the other side of the room but also appeared to be in control of his game, with a strong centre against Mike's (Harris) unorthodox opening that simply won't lose like you feel it should. Despite being on the defensive side of the game, Mike (Harris) appeared to be making strides towards equalising, though I was aware that I wasn't able to get the clearest picture of their game. Harvey's solid opening took some unusual turns against Andrew and despite some reasonable chances against a backward e-pawn, the two decided to call it a day before having to venture into their 20th moves.
Mike (Brigden) took his time working through a positional-looking Carlsbad, while I overestimated the threat of an sacrifice on e6 in a Caro-Kann-esque position and tried to untangle in a most awkward and unnecessary fashion. Realising I was not in a position to play for an attack, I was reduced to the most disappointing of all chess styles; sensible play.
Steve's lead in development appeared to be working in his favour but just as he appeared to be crashing through Mike (Levene) found a resourceful repetition to draw the game. 1-1. Meanwhile it appeared that in a flurry of excitement, Mike (Brigden) had gone for an enterprising two bishops for a queen blunder. Lewis had also allowed exchanges that appeared to ease Phil's position, though white maintained an edge.
Javier and Mike (Harris) had invaded with their queens and were taking it in turns to harass each other's queenside kings. When I first looked, I believed Javier was up significantly in material, but when Mike's (Harris) rook appeared later on in the game I realised my assessment may have been wrong. (Javier was actually up an exchange, not two rooks for a knight as I erroneously believed.) In my game Brent had finally found an opportunity to play the 'sacrifice' which netted three pawns for his piece. With time scrambles fast approaching Mike (Brigden) had to throw in the towel, but Lewis equalised the score by taking advantage of his active rook and better bishop against Phil's misplaced knight.
Despite missing an opportunity to play my own sacrifice, I restrained Brent's extra pawns and won the endgame with both of us down to little over a minute. A moment later Javier managed to convert his actual advantage and saw the match out at 4-2.
While it's very early in the season to be making judgements, I think it's fair to say that our B-team is now the likely favourite for the Division 1 title, closely followed by Horfield B and Downend A.