Table Top Clash Almost Leaves No Room at The Inn for C Team to Deliver
Events at North Bristol provided an opportunity to compete with our web master for a striking match report title, though there's still a long way to go to keep up with Michael's most recent efforts. It was not a good start - but nothing to compete with our D teams trip to Horfield - with the first member of the opposition appearing at the Ratepayers Arms about 5 minutes before the scheduled start and the new playing room (which leaves the skittle alley spare) being occupied by other sportsmen of the table tennis variety.
Our first match of 2017 was a return of our last match of 2016 although since then, under exceptional circumstances, North Bristol signed up a new board 1 who had already played 16 games this season for Clifton, including 7 in Division 1. Despite this, we had a small overall grading advantage. With players being closely matched, it was not surprising that there were no early results and that things were looking balanced on most boards for the first half of the evening.
Martin developed a strong centre and advanced pieces, although there were no obvious chances, whilst Dominique looked to have equalised but no more in a position with all pawns remaining. Robert's game depended on the outcome of a contested half open c file where if he was not careful a piece could quite easily be lost. Dave's position looked by far the most promising as he had been able to develop and obtain space, whilst Steve had only developed a couple of pieces and these were uncoordinated. In my game, I had soundly sacrificed a pawn yet not followed up correctly, handing a small advantage to Michael. Facing the same player from his previous encounter, Richard was finding things much tougher with the black pieces: hemmed in and not being allowed to develop, it would be a struggle to break free.
Dave then almost trapped his opponent's queen, which was forced to the back rank, then picked up a pawn. With all of Steve's pieces now back on their starting rank and threats abounding the future was very bleak and he wisely chose to threw in the towel. Dave was certainly the Star and his game can be found here.
Dominique had been slowly gaining an advantage, building a central pawn storm, as his opponent seemed to struggle with the complexities of the position. A pawn push then tempted David's knight forward for a speculative attack yet a further subtle pawn advance trapped said knight and that was all she wrote. Another excellent performance by Dominique who (tempting fate) remains unbeaten. So 2-0, a score that based on our last two matches meant we would struggle to get more. However, after I made an unsound piece sacrifice I was helped by a seemingly natural move from Michael that luckily turned out to be a blunder, handing me the point.
Robert had managed to withstand Graham's possible threat and avoid dropping a piece. With time and pieces running out, a draw was agreed: a good result for Robert after his recent loss of form. By now Martin had a distinct advantage, appearing to have several difficult possibilities to cement his advantage, although with his time running short he took the safe and sensible option of a draw. That left Richard in what was now a horrid position, facing pins, a past pawn and with his King unable to assist. Although both players were down to under two minutes, their Richard easily found the win to make the result 4-2. Commiserations to our opponents, although with their stronger squad they should now rally.
Whilst the result leaves us near the top of the Division, our next two fixtures are against dangerous clubs and will decide if we can stabilise our position. We will need to continue to deliver our best as there is no room for letting things slip.