Sussex were leading our half of the division on points, having won all three matches, and even their Board 8 was graded over 200 before life at Oxford University stole some points away. So it was every man for himself to see who could scrape some points but in reality we knew it was going to be hard.
Max obtained split pawns on the queenside when his Grunfeld failed to take the initiative, and Grant lost no time in encircling the weak c pawn for which there was no counterplay. But first to finish was Phil, who exchanged disadvantageously in the centre and soon found his position surrounded. Meanwhile only Steve Dilleigh's game was looking particularly favourable, so the opponents seemed set for a decent result.
Daniel came under pressure on the queenside and his kingside attack was looking a bit ambitious, so we made unfounded assumptions while he blithely carried on pushing kingside pawns. Steve Meek sacrificed a pawn for initiative but in the meantime David found himself heavily outplayed from the opening and soon we were 3-0 down.
Mike managed a draw on bottom board which was a good result, and Steve DIlleigh transposed to a rook ending a pawn up. Steve Meek tied his opponent up which was good for a draw in the end, while Richard established a supported passed pawn with a complicated game.
Around the end of the first session Daniel broke through on the kingside and emerged a clear exchange ahead which soon resulted in victory. His claim that he was confidently ahead all game turned out to be fully accurate. It was looking hopeful that we might win the remaining games and draw the match, but Steve Dilleigh could only win the opponent's rook for a R v P ending which the opponent played confidently to the end. The young player proudly offered a draw only to find he had moved his king the wrong way on reaching the far end of the board and was in zugswang, so had to get mated.
This put terrible pressure on Richard to get a win from a minor piece ending with only two pawns each, and though he tried and tried the opponent found perfect defences and there was nothing to do but accept 3½ - 4½. So a scoreline that was in fact a very good result looked a little disappointing in the end. Well played Sussex who are a very good team and seem likely to be in Division 1 next season.
In keeping with emerging tradition we have stats from matches in which most players have only played two games. No less that 6 come out over 200, including Rich and Nigel on 211 and 212, Steve Dilleigh on 222 and top of the pack Daniel on 235 who will have to play all the remaining matches if he wishes to try for an IM norm.