The Curious Incident of the Bishop in the Knight time-scramble
As a result of Jerry's new year's resolution to include more early f-pawn moves in the A-team I was finally invited to play, though he did state that resolutions are normally broken by January 4th, so I won't be expecting another appearance. The clubhouse also seemed resolved to move away from its usual sweltering atmosphere in favour of no heating at all, which slowed the play down to a crawl.
Henry was first to finish after gaining an interesting attack on the kingside but giving/blundering a piece. With very few pawns on the board Andrew decided to offer a safe draw, which Henry agreed to quickly. Nutritionists are putting Henry's error in calculation down to both his snack choice; a large white chocolate snowman filled with yet more white chocolate buttons, and his inability to share it with me.
I finished second after quickly wandering far from the beaten theory track with some offbeat moves and, of course, pushing my f-pawn when my f-pawn didn't need to be pushed. Peter underestimated his position in the endgame, deciding that my more active king might compensate for my pawn weaknesses and offering a draw which I was very happy to accept.
The other four games appeared to be suffering from the refrigeration process as more spectators moved to the bar area. Jerry had gained a strong pawn centre and all the space from a Maroczy-style position, but was struggling to push the hanging pawns further than the fifth rank. Nigel, tremendous deer-stalker hat donned, found his game afoot as he gained a slight edge and was pressing. Richard had grabbed an extra pawn from Mike and the two were shoving their knights around the board. It wasn't clear how Richard could make the most of his extra pawn but it was clear he was willing to go to the wire to try. Chris had won an extra pawn or two but they sat nestled as tripled, isolated c-pawns. His king hiding on a1 wasn't all too secure in my opinion but Kajetan (with a far healthier banana snack - take note Henry) had a centralised king that was also looking a little open. It appeared that both sides were in a mild form of zugzwang with a number of pieces looking awkward, mostly Chris' bishop.
The space that Jerry had claimed came back to haunt him as queens were traded and the scary centralised pawns were swapped for ones on the wing and John was able to hold the draw, which was peaceably agreed before the inevitable and needless scramble. Chris also found a way to mitigate black's active rook and scary-looking queen by returning a pawn to open up the position, which showed the queen to be misplaced. With clocks running low Kajetan didn't have much time to formulate a defence but it may be that the position was simply going south. Finally the A-team had managed to pull ahead.
Scrambles ensued in the last two games, with Nigel's superior knight unable to find a way to win a key pawn in black's position. During the frantic shuffling of minor pieces, Phil needlessly left his bishop en prise but the pressure of the clock meant that it survived until the draw was agreed. Richard's extra pawn made the difference in the last scramble and he converted for a final full point.
This narrow 4-2 win means that it's now a fifteen game win-streak. Utterly disgusting.