The Great Escape
On paper at least, it was another fantastic night of results for Downend & Fishponds. While I certainly couldn't comment on the performances of the D and F-teams (and some may argue the B-team too), the scoreline of the B-team match was one of the least fair reflections of the chess played that I've witnessed for some time.
For our match everyone arrived early and the games started while the other two matches were settling in. Having shunted my customary 1. e4 Dominic sank into his usual deep thought. Considering the breadth of his opening knowledge I can only assume he was struggling to decide what to play. At least it gave me the opportunity to see a few of the other openings.
Chris played a different move order to that which I've seen before, possibly in the hopes of improving on the opening the two had played at a recent rapidplay. As such, queens were off by move 6. For that reason alone, I can't in good conscience explicitly state that this is an improvement, but the position that immediately followed did appear to cost Lewis a pawn. Stephen avoided an open Sicilian earnt himself a strong centre with a good bishop, though black retained the bishop pair. Javier took a sharper option in the anti-Sicilian than Ravi and appeared to be making quick progress as black.
Mike's game took on a solid look as both players went for the mainline in d4 theory, though really, that's how all d4 games look to me. Super-substitute Martin and Alan were playing the ultimate Martin vs Alan game, an Accelerated Dragon with a Maroczy bind. Considering the experience the two have there, only a top theoretical novelty was going to do.
Meanwhile, Dominic had settled on the same move as our last game, but followed it with a provocative Robatsch. Unfortunately for me, I knew nothing about it and remained unprovoked.
After turning down a draw offer, Martin went on to launch a huge tactical flurry that won him a rook, an exposed king to attack, and soon after, the game. Without Andrew to get the early draw, I decided to step up before I was forced to play some chess and Dominnic agreed to split the point. After making fun of the 14 moves last week, I must concede that my game had a paltry 13.
At this point, with the exception of board 1, we looked reasonably in control of the match, particularly with our 1½-½ lead. Confident in the knowledge that we would march on undefeated I went to bar for intensive post-game analysis/ridicule.
When I went back for a look at the games, Stephen's strong position appeared to have petered out for a level endgame. Lewis' difficult position cost him another pawn as Chris found a great tactic on the queenside. Javier's attack appeared to be becoming more double-edged than any of us would have cared to see and Mike had lost an exchange as his position opened. Although Lewis fought valiantly his game was eventually lost. At this point it looked like we had very little chance of making more than a generous half a point to maybe draw the match.
Heading back to the bar to commiserate both the match and the end my match report plans for the A vs B-team it did appear that our unbeaten streak was over. With such a defeatist attitude it was only fair that I then missed the most surprising turn around of the season (so far) playing bullet chess with Richard.
First, John attempted to convert his space advantage by snatching an a-pawn which left his bishop trapped (though not the way you may be thinking) and Javier rounded up the material to win the point.
Second, Ravi's phone rang (and rang and rang from what I'm told). Perhaps the LMC will remove that harsh rule for the 16-17 season. (Opinion my own, not necessarily that of the club, but... come on.)
With the match now in the bag, much to everyone's surprise, Mike was now playing for himself. That seemed to be all the motivation required. Setting up a number of swindle opportunities, my personal favourite being a queen and bishop mate threat, the time pressure told and Manuel blundered (though disappointingly not to the mate threat).
Though the final score was 4½-1½, Clifton B can certainly claim to have been robbed. With such a lucky team win, and having played so little chess personally, I think it would be in poor taste for me to end this report by pointing out that we retained our 100% win record which surely sets up as favourite to win the league.