A present tense match
I decided to try something new with this match report. Rather than relying on the utter lack of hearsay from Jerry and browsing an incomplete set of PGNs from the night, I actually went along and (quietly) wrote the report as the match unfolded. Apologies for the confusing tense shifts.
I've arrived a little after the start of play because I didn't want to seem too keen, but when it's a match like Horfield B vs Downend A, well, you just can't turn that down. The A-team are without Henry and Chris (is he still a member of the club?) but super subs Mike B and Stephen are filling in. By my reckoning that's the entirety of the B-team that's been asked to step up for the As, with the exception of me. If I didn't know better, I'd think I should be taking some offence, Jerry.
Jerry's game looks relatively calm against Jon, who has a development advantage at the cost of allowing black space on the queenside. Though it's early to be calling results, I predict a draw. Mike B has gone for sensible play though his dark-squared bishop may take its time getting into the fun, much like both of Mike L's bishops. An accidental king topple worries us all for a moment but Mike B assures Mike L it's not a resignation. I've no idea what's going on in Charlie's game which looks like an Italian gone horrendously wrong.
Nigel is weathering a festively spooky attack from Mike H, but I'm not convinced any severe blows are going to land in the near future. On the one hand Nige does like a draw, but Mike H is positively sickened by them. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Steve's got a solid position but it looks awfully cramped against Phil's four pawns on the fourth rank. Richard appears to be playing the opposite colour of Charlie's game, but he's played a bold Qg5.
A flurry of exchanges has left both Mike's with an isolated queen's pawn on board 5, but it's hard to see how either side presses. Clearly I'm about to see some of this so-called "positional chess". I predict a points for Mike. Despite Jon having a semi-open c-file it appears that Jerry will be the one to control it as Jon appears to be opening the a-file. Phil has pushed a pawn to the fifth but I'm not convinced the kingside hack can work with the white knight still at home on g1.
Mike H's black queen still looks menacing on h4, but I don't see where the reinforcements are coming from (yet).
Apparently Chris is at a parents' evening and the consensus is that it's a valid excuse. I'm just surprised he has children.
Have gone to the Tesco Express around the corner for a snack.
I'm in The Black Boy Inn for a swift half and fully expect Jerry to have drawn when I get back.
They're all still playing! Somehow Jon has got a rook to f4 in front of his pawns. I'm a fan of the aesthetic but I'm not convinced it can do enough damage to Jerry's king. The Mike's have exchanged udark squared bishops but Mike B has won Mike L's d-pawn in the process. Not a lot has changed in Charlie's game as far as I can tell but it's still a strange position. Mike H's queen remains planted on h4 but his other pieces seem even further from the attack than before so I think Nigel shouldn't be concerned. Phil has started to get his pieces going, but I'm still not seeing how he can break through. On the other hand, I don't see how Steve wins other than letting white exhaust himself on black's defences. Richard also has a bizarre rook on d5 ahead of not only his pawns but Peter's too. Possibly because I've not analysed it too deeply, I think Richard is doing well.
Steve has launched a counter attack! He's threatening to sacrifice the exchange to allow a queen-winning knight fork. I don't expect Phil to fall for it by any means but it gives back some initiative. There's also been a few quick moves on board 1, but nothing has fundamentally changed.
It worked. Phil's defence missed a tactical trick which won Steve at least a piece. 1-0 to Downend A.
Upon closer inspection of board 1, now that board 2 is out of the way, Peter has counter play. Despite the passed d-pawn (admittedly one d3) Peter has cleared a path for his a-pawn and has a significant advantage on the clock; nearly 40 minutes to Richard's 7. While I think I prefer white, I think Richard will be blitzing to finish this one way or another.
Mike B has been unable to hold his d-pawn and with a very level position coming has offered a draw. The time taken to write that was all Mike L needed to agree. 1½-½ to the As.
Charlie is also getting reasonably low on time but appears to have a reasonable position with the bishop pair and good pressure with a rook battery on the d-file. Mike H has finally had to retreat his queen but I'm not convinced yet by white's turn to attack.
Jerry's queenside dominance is quite something to behold, helped significantly by Jon's awkward rook with no way back into the action. I still predict a draw.
I think Richard is winning the a-pawn and I think the advantage will be significant as he takes his time (figuratively) to match his king into the middle rather than grabbing the pawn immediately. The d-pawn should settle the point there.
Charlie has won a pawn, though with two rooks and a dark-squared bishop each it may be some work yet to earn the full point. Jon has opened the centre to bring his rook back which looks like a smart move.
Richard is thoroughly into his blitz time, but his d-pawn is now on d5. The pressure is now very much on Peter to use his invading rook to cause problems. On board 6 it looks like Jon has won a central pawn but will still be required to blockade Jerry's a-pawn. Charlie has swapped off all the rooks and now looks very much in control of the endgame.
Jerry offers the inevitable draw and Jon doesn't have much alternative but to accept. Called it. 2-1.
Charlie also has very little time but has just taken the opposition. If he can free his pawns from white's bishop he stands a very good chance.
Richard now has connected d and e-pawns on the 6th rank and although he has very little time left, it's hard to believe he won't convert the point now. On the other hand, Mike H appears to have made good progress with the pressure of pins and discoveries to net himself a pawn.
Richard's pawns were too much and Peter has thrown in the towel. 3-1. The A-team remain undefeated. Having forced white into giving up the bishop (it may have been trapped) Charlie now has a straightforward task of converting king, bishop and three pawns vs king and three pawns though he has only a few minutes in which to accomplish it. Nigel and Mike H have gone for the king and pawn ending with Nigel hoping his better-placed king will compensate for the pawn deficit.
It looks like Nigel may be right. Charlie has converted the position smoothly and Nigel went to a king and pawn vs king endgame that results in stalemate so a draw has been agreed. 4½-1½!
Another great result for the A-team who remain undefeated heading into their match against the mighty B-team.
Edit: Stephen's tactical game from this match can be found here.