November 8th 2016 will go down as an infamous day in history, because Downend B's unbeaten run came to an abrupt end against Bath A. I'm starting with the overall result because apparently it's ok to start with the results and then check the breakdown.
On our side we were missing both Javier and Andrew, but we had Martin and Dave fill in and they certainly came up trumps. Bath were missing ex-University (and Downend & Fishponds 4NCL star) Aitor, but had Horia to shore up the gap. All in all, they were a formidable-looking team.
The other games started on time while I waited for Rob to park, so I did see some of the openings. David took control of the centre while Stephen looked to attack it from afar or goad white into over-expanding. Lewis played a dull exchange variation (I'm not sorry Lewis) against Matthew Payne, but looked to have a solid position. Horia seemed to be playing very aggressively on the queenside against Mike with a queen on b3 and a rook on c3, but without any kingside development. Admittedly it left Mike's position tangled but there appeared to be plenty of defensive resources available. Martin had a quiet game, but appeared to be making progress building a kingside attack. Dave and Clive were churning out Sicilian theory that earnt black the bishop pair and a big centre, but white had his own tricks.
Ten minutes or so after the others I got started against Rob and once again was out-booked, with difficulties freeing my dark-squared bishop because of my e-pawn. Maybe it's time to just take up the French and let my other bishop share some of the frustration. Rob offered a cheeky pawn for some serious initiative but I declined it, attempting to build a wall and make him pay for it.
Right after leaving theory Dave offered Clive a draw who responded, "I was thinking the same thing", but then proceeded to surprise everyone by considering the offer for a further five minutes. Less surprisingly the offer was accepted. Matthew Staniforth had also found a neutralising defensive plan and offered Martin the draw which was also accepted lest they have to duke it out in a dry endgame.
Understandably the tension was rising but Stephen appeared to have some interesting ideas against David. Lewis had invaded with a rook and won a pawn with a great follow-up tactic to maintain his material advantage. Mike was exchanging off into a better endgame and may also have had an extra pawn. I had been attempting to build the pressure on white's isolated queen's pawn without conceding too much counter-play on the queenside while Rob very unfairly just took the initiative on the kingside without allowing me the d-pawn at all.
Matthew eventually conceded his endgame against Lewis which never looked to be in doubt once he consolidated his extra pawn. Admittedly Stephen's game was going downhill as he was forced to exchange his queen for a rook and bishop. Mike too was finding it more difficult to prove that black held an advantage and he agreed a draw. My game was heading towards a time scramble though I had more time on my clock to try to find defensive resources. Unfortunately for us, Mike was unable to breakthrough and a draw was agreed just before Stephen lost to Buckers. 2½ apiece.
Pressured by time Rob wasn't able to find anything to immediately finish the game and match off and I was hopeful that I could yet salvage my position. Giving a pawn to swap off queens took off the immediate pressure but my pieces were too badly placed with no co-ordination and I was still a good three or four tempo short of setting up the cheapest of mate in one threats. Unable to find even a stalemating trick I was forced into conceding the match.