Two Hour Advantage Leading to One Second Chance
After last weeks drawn match at now bottom club Keynsham, who could predict the result of a match against a club that only recently shared the same honour, before picking up a surprise win at Bath. North Bristol arrived with probably their strongest possible team, whilst terrible traffic meant that Dominique failed to arrive until shortly before the default cut-off, putting himself immediately at a disadvantage.
It was soon a case of déjà vu, with 2 early wins. I was the first to finish after my opponent went for an attack only to overlook my counter offence which picked up pieces. Richard netted a whole rook in the early middle game yet then perhaps relaxed and struggled to find the killer moves, but victory was never in doubt.
Then came a further repeat of our experience at Keynsham, with two draws securing a match point. Dominique's desire not to fall into any positions that would have required extensive analysis due to his time shortage made him simplify the game by exchanging pieces, although surely with more on the clock he would have opted for a more complex but probably stronger continuation. In the end a trick by his opponent only handed us a draw by repetition. Dave's game on the other hand had opposite side castling and pawn storms but after recapturing with the 'wrong' piece, a small advantage was handed to Steve. Shortly after further exchanges, and in a level position, a draw was agreed.
Now two hours into the match with the top two boards still playing. Martin had an advantage, but probably not sufficient for a win, a pawn up in a bishop and pawn ending, yet was running short of time. Robert was virtually lost, two pawns down with lots of pieces remaining, his King lacking any pawn shield and looking extremely vulnerable - although admittedly Roy's wasn't looking that comfortable either. With a few minutes remaining, Martin gave up his pawn advantage to leave a dead drawn position and a half point to win the match.
By this stage, and with time running very short, Robert's game was fluctuating between lost and won with both players missing opportunities for killer blows. Then a forced combination and piece exchange left a knight and three pawn each but with Robert having only 40 seconds and Roy over a minute. Further exchanges left knight and two isolated pawns each, with Robert just about to collect another pawn and offering a draw, which was declined. However, with one second remaining (after remembering to stop the clock) Robert made a claim under the two minute rule - and it is difficult to see how Roy can win with only one pawn whilst having to deal with two passers. Indeed, computer evaluations had been at 0.00 for many moves. We await a decision, but that will not affect the match result.
A rather eventful first half to the Season with quite a few matches that could have gone either way, where we perhaps were very fortunate to pick up both points. Merry Christmas everyone!