Just Not Quite Cricket?
Our second match in as many weeks and a trip to Clevedon A, one of last season's Division 1 relegated teams, for what was sure to be a tough fixture. The warm evening weather was completely unlike any other visit to the cricket club that I can remember and perfect for wafting the willow (except for the lack of floodlights). Not unlike Horfield last week, Clevedon were missing two players, yet their reserves still out-graded us. We also had a few changes as I struggled to find available players.
For the first half of the evening all games looked fairly even, with one main exception. Richard had launched an attack where he sacrificed and then regained a piece to leave himself two isolated pawns up and looking satisfied. By this time, I had no choice but to sacrifice a pawn to develop my pieces and eliminate any direct attacking threats from Paul. His draw offer, in an unclear position after not many moves, was gratefully accepted.
There then followed two more draws. Robert looked to have done well to hold a slightly worse position against Dave, although just how any progress could be made was difficult to see. Then Martin and Mike drew with just Queens and equal pawns remaining after lots of checking and shuffling.
By now, Dominique was trying for an attack; Richard's opponent had managed to regain a pawn and the position was looking more difficult to win; whilst Ian had created complications, although Chris' central pawns looked potentially very dangerous. It was board 3 that was next to finish, where David had counter-attacked with pawn pushes in the centre. Dominique did have one opportunity to gain a small advantage but was then fortunate that his adversary missed a winning opportunity a few moves later. The game then petered out to a drawn rook and pawn ending leaving the match all too finely balanced at 2-2.
Ian was desperately short of time and this was undoubtedly the crucial factor in what had for so long been a drawn looking ending, as he eventually succumbed to a dangerous passed pawn. That left Richard to try to extract a win in order to save the match. It seems that he was given one last obscure chance - according to the computer - although he would have done exceptionally well to find it in the time remaining. It was not to be another one of his famous Houdini performances to save the team as a draw offer from his opponent in not an inferior position begged to be accepted.
The narrowest margin of loss didn't do our excellent efforts real justice ... just not cricket! Next up we face the other relegation team from division one, Grendel. Matches are just not getting any easier.