Black Springs Optimum Performance for a Clean Sheet in Bath
Bath have struggled to get a consistent team as well as a full contingent for their away fixtures this Season, contributing to their position near the base of the Division 2 table, though there was no doubt that they would have a full complement and a strong line-up at home. Indeed, their captain Peter Dimond decided to opt out due to the luxury of available players. Grading wise, the top three boards were almost equal, whilst in theory our advantage lay in the bottom three - and for once this was a reliable prediction of the way the contest was to go.
Early attention focussed on my board where despite me planning to play a sensible opening, Antony sprung his favourite surprise opening weapon which soon wrecked my King's safety. Whilst spectators looked thoroughly confused, my opponent explained to me afterwards that I had, at least in part, managed to follow standard book ideas. Nevertheless, I stood slightly worse against a weaker player.
Robert's game was difficult to judge: he looked to be on top and indeed thought so himself, yet his position soon appeared slightly uncomfortable. Martin and Clive played out 19 moves of Sicilian theory to arrive at a level endgame and soon agreed a draw. Dominique looked to have easy play and the better co-ordination. Dave looked relaxed and content with his opening, gaining space. Richard was performing as he has done so far this Season looking very comfortable and winning a pawn.
After a lot of manoeuvring and exchanging of pieces in my game, we had arrived a drawn looking position, yet I had to be very careful not to allow Antony any tactics. With just over half an hour to go, and the match seemingly safe, I accepted his draw offer. There followed a long discussion of the opening. By this stage, Richard had collected another pawn or two and eased to victory. Dominique thought that he had missed a winning line, though the rook endgame he arrived at was easily drawn.
I glanced over at Dave's game just as he found a neat tactic to pick up a piece and arrive at a crushing position. With Dave short of time, Mauro played on in the distant hope that he could promote an advanced pawn but it was never a real possibility. Dave queened one of his own pawns and his opponent called it a day shortly after. When I last saw Robert's game, it looked like he was just about to lose a rook and pawn ending, yet remarkably he managed a save to leave the final score 4-2 with no losses and two black wins.
Another excellent team performance against a side who will surely soon start to achieve more points. The result leaves us in our comfort zone above mid-table yet still with dangerous teams in the division to face. Our next match is against a tough Thornbury side, whose unusual fixture list has so far seen them play (and win) just one match.
Update: Dave has handed over his game which is now available to view.