Local derby thrills and spills
Two evenly matched sides faced up for the bragging rights in division 3. First to finish was the slugfest between two former club champions (OK, I know, not for a few decades!). I took on the role of Jerry and Mike chose his namesake, Mike B (I suppose it could just as easily have been Mike M) so naturally the result was a comfortable draw. This had the plus that we were able to leave it to the others to decide the match. The minus was that we found ourselves in a room where England were playing football.
Boards 2 and 3 were next to finish and both were decisive. I thought James was doing OK against Richard but closer analysis shows that actually Richard had it all under control, with a knight against a bishop that was restricted by its own pawns. A few pawn swaps to unblock the position seemed to allow the bishop to escape and win a pawn but Richard had a simple tactic which won a piece and with it the game.
Meanwhile Neil managed to invade Will's position with B and N and the unraveling of his game cost Will a pawn. And then another one. And another. So, after a few pieces came off, oh, and another pawn went, Will quite reasonably decided to call it a day. Nice play by both Richard and Neil with Black.
Nigel may have missed an opportunity to win a pawn against Grant but it wasn't necessarily a game winning pawn and after about 30 moves they agreed to call it a day and allow the match to be decided on boards 5 and 6. Both of these lasted to the back of the score sheet and kept the rest of us highly entertained.
Oli and Jack were playing a cagey game on board 6. Oli had slightly the better of it but Jack's rook had enough activity to provide some compensation. It came down to K + R + N + 3 K-side pawns each but Oli had an extra QR pawn. It is a credit to both of them that they maintained threats and counter threats as Oli inched the pawn forward but Jack succeeded in preventing it from queening as Oli's King was unable to get near enough to help. Once that pawn fell they sensibly agreed to save their energy for another time.
Meanwhile, as early as move 10, Dave had undermined Thomas's KP, which had advanced to e5. The extra pawn enabled him to push his centre pawns and build steady pressure but at the cost of using considerably more time. Thomas succeeded in blocking the pawns' advance but when the pieces were reduced to R + N each David found new threats against Thomas's weak Q side pawns. He was able to pick them off one by one while his King remained safe but his time came down to less than 5 minutes against 30. It was this that caused him to provide us with a tragi-comic moment when he overlooked a mate in one! He realised it next move but overcame his disappointment by queening a pawn and avoiding a final stalemate trap set by Thomas. That is two matches running that David has crucially won in the last minutes to clinch a drawn or won match.
So the D team move ahead of the Es in a division which is difficult to call. While three matches have been 6-0 massacres, most of the others have been much closer and there is a clear opportunity for both our sides to progress higher up the division.