There are few events that stand out in the global calendar quite like Downend A vs Downend B. The trouble is, when writing a match report there's an implicit heroes vs villains vibe (sorry villains). In an internal derby match it's difficult to say who the bad guys are, so instead I've adopted a Captain Jerry: Civil War approach and let the reader decide who to support.
Considering that there were twelve Downend & Fishponds players involved, it came as something of a surprise that all the games started with real openings. Lewis kept things calm with a London-esque opening and Henry kept his play symmetrical which was good for keeping the spectators away. Chris and Stephen were entering a trap-filled option of a classical variation so both players were taking their time. Needless Chris was aiming for his standard 'hyper-aggressive' white-side pawn structure.
Andrew and Richard had a Najdorf and although it wasn't one of the more popular or contemporary variations, it's hard to consider any of white's sixth moves a sideline. I boldly side-stepped Nigel's preparation with a surprise Grünfeld only to realise that he hadn't prepared for me at all and was quite happy with his position. Mike took control of the centre against Charlie who attempted a steady queenside expansion aiming to break with c5 and equalise. Before we get to Jerry and Martin, it's worth pointing out that Andrew and Richard have already agreed a draw at move twelve. After winning a pawn at the expense of some black compensation, Andrew offered the draw and Richard decided to go and watch the England game. I haven't checked but I'm pretty sure their final position appears in the Chessbase database over four and a half million times, which suggests everything has been tried and with best play a draw was the only fair result.
Back to Jerry and Martin. El Jefe opted for flexibility in the English opening but found himself stretched back into the Martin-variation. In the post-match interview, Jerry insisted that an early knight trade prevented the fireworks that he had planned. Since we now live in a post-truth society, I can report that Jerry would indeed have set the board ablaze with the tactics he had coming.
Lewis, probably fearing match report retribution decided to spice his game up with a wild g4 push. The follow-up seemed to force both sides backwards and although Henry had all but one piece back on the starting rank he must've held a slight edge. Chris, having finally rid himself of his pesky pawn centre, then found a surprising and not entirely awful piece sacrifice. Although the position was difficult to play as black in any case, Stephen chose to ignore the piece and castled to safety. Unfortunately, this was only setting himself up for a worse ending. Thanks to an early queen sortie I had been able to catch up on my development but I was struggling to equalise and Nigel allowed a liquidation in the centre for sustained pressure on my weak queenside pawns.
Charlie managed to achieve his queenside break but over-pressed allowing a wonderful Bxh7+ sacrifice. With all the time in the world, Mike was able to follow-up with Qh5+ and a cheeky rook lift, followed by a half hour sojourn to the bar as Charlie realised how dire his position had become. His expression was worth the price of admission alone. From their opening, Jerry and Martin were exchanging pieces every other move and soon found themselves with nothing with which to attack. A draw was agreed. 1-1.
Realising his attack hadn't panned out as planned, Lewis bailed out with a bizarre knight perpetual, although the computer does rather favour white's chances with some even more unnatural moves. Chris was accumulating pawns and his win started to look upsettingly inevitable. With Mike looking likely to convert Charlie's panic into a point I was worried that I'd have to hold my game to save the match, which was looking less and less likely.
Matters got worse for the B-team when Mike pushed his f-pawn in attempt to restrict Charlie's king (don't let this sour you on f-pawn pushes) and Charlie's queen jumped in with a selfish perpetual check. After all, you don't start a season with 5/5 and a 220 performance if you get mated by Greek gift sacrifice. Clearly you can still fall for them, you just can't get mated. Nigel had also built enough pressure and decided to cash in, claiming the pawn. After that it's fair to say my position collapsed and Nigel converted very smoothly. While Stephen was putting up a tenacious defence, his position didn't have enough resources and it wasn't long until Chris was able to snap off material to claim the final point.
So it seems the A-team behemoth rolls on. They currently stand a disgusting six points clear of second place (the B-team of course), though they have played one extra match. Knowing as we do that the B-team is still destined to win the league, it'll be interesting to see how the A-team crumbles in the second half of the season.
For being the most entertaining game of the night, Mike's game against Charlie has been put up. It's hard to know who suffers most for it, but last night it was definitely Charlie.