Back On Course (to a Degree)
We played University B in their first match of the new Season, a team who had finished narrowly behind us at the top of Division 3 last year, for what was going to be a close match.
Half way through the evening, the match looked to be delicately poised, except for Richard's game where he had picked up an exchange and seemed to be in control. Robert's position looked uncomfortable, with his King stuck in the centre and unable to castle, Martin had suffered doubled isolated pawns although was trying to build an attack, Dominique was also pressing for an attack and had looked to be slightly better but maybe missed a chance, Dave had customarily fallen behind on the clock trying to get some play which had maybe backfired, whilst I was trying to break myself free of a pawn chain.
Then I managed to find a tactic to pick up a pawn and with Richard looking good for the point, the team decided to go in to their famous '20 move' draw mode, with Dave, Dominique and then Martin sharing the spoils. All looked reasonable enough to me, though, perhaps even we were slightly worse in one. Richard then queened a pawn and drove Jonathan's lonely King down the board all the way into a mating net to take the point.
With about half an hour remaining, Robert was still pondering long and hard. His King was firmly planted on its starting square whilst pawns and pieces were exchanged in front of it, yet he then managed to create sufficient complications to somehow arrive at a completely level position and a shake of hands resulted. Positionally my game was won, yet I allowed it to become tactical with my opponent short of time, which wasn't a good decision. Nevertheless, thankfully the tactics worked in my favour and he quickly called it a day due to his back rank weakness.
A very welcome win which puts us back on course for the second quartile of the table, yet maybe a degree lucky in the end. Bath are our next opponents and with their strong squad and home advantage we will need to be on top form for the challenge.