Banana skin avoided - just!

31st January 2017 - Downend E vs Downend D

Our E team can be tough cookies, even when missing their top board Mike P. who was indisposed yesterday. It meant they could give a game to one of the younger generation, which Nigel will reflect on for some time!

It was indeed Jack who drew first blood. Nigel had a cunning plan to take a pawn with a bishop check and whether Jack took it with his King or his Queen, he would lose a rook to a fork. So he didn't take the bishop! And Nigel found himself with two pieces en prise and a couple of moves later he succumbed to a Queen sacrifice which led to mate in one. Nice finish!

This was certainly not how it was meant to start, especially as Oli had somehow shed a pawn and reached a rook ending with five pawns against six. The only consolation was that his rook menaced a couple of John's pawns and his King could get more usefully into the action.

I had what looked like promising attacking chances against Will and the other three games seemed fairly even. At various times when I looked James had won a pawn against Richard but was under pressure, Matt was also a pawn up against Thomas but lost it back to a tactic and Neil had a complex game with Grant.

Then Oli turned the tables. First he won his pawn back, then mobilised his pieces well and won another one. Finally he pushed his passed b pawn and showed excellent technique to convert the win and bring the score back level. By now James, Neil and Matt had all settled their differences so the match stood at 2 1/2 each.

So I was last to finish again and, now having played it through on the machine, it's disappointing that the win was never as clear cut as I kidded myself at the time. But pressure told in the end and when we both got down to about six minutes I finally saw a winning line to pull of a somewhat lucky but much needed win for the team.

Oli, Jack and Thomas once again demonstrated the talent that we have coming through. I am looking forward to the day that, together maybe with Toby and a couple of other juniors, they all sit down together and scare the pants off a team of their elders. Preferably not any team I'm playing for, though!

Ian Pickup