Victory not Light Work but Shining Stars Save the Day (or should that be night?)
A very strong Thornbury team arrived at the club looking to make amends for our narrow victory over them earlier in the Season. They would indeed have to look hard as the club lights had blown, not a good start to proceedings, but soon mostly remedied by some additional lighting. In our squad, Robert was indisposed and with our D Team playing in a couple of days I was fortunate to have Michael stand in as replacement. The teams were evenly balanced and another close match was in prospect.
Richard was first to finish after surviving an opening where he could easily have dropped a piece. Thankfully, after several exchanges, he arrived at a lifeless position where his draw offer was accepted. At this stage, there was little to choose between the two teams on most boards. I had given up a pawn for development although the position was unclear. Michael and David had a rather cagey opening which you felt could spring into life at any point, Martin and David had also barely crossed half way, whilst Dominique and Lynda had pushed quite a few pawns but not much more.
Dave was the clear exception though, as he had gambitted a pawn in the opening to enjoy a pin plus much better development and was soon contently grinning. A closer look revealed that he was guaranteed a piece. Indeed, shortly afterwards he picked up not only the knight but also had a firm bind on his opponent's king and a pretty much winning attack. Probably one of the best games that Dave has played, more than making up for his loss at Grendel, and a surprisingly quick defeat for Andrew.
Martin looked in control of his game, certainly not worse but then David tried to mix things up by offering a bishop; Martin declined and still things looked level. Then Martin maybe didn't see all the hidden dangers of a pin on his King and possibly thought all was covered. Almost out of nowhere David found more tactics that eliminated Martin's defence to swiftly end the game. All square.
Dominique's board then came to life following a kingside pawn storm by Lynda. He made a rare mistake which presented some clever tactics, fortunately not entirely seen, and was allowed to give up the exchange to bring himself back into the game. Lynda then handed back a piece for a further attack, which shouldn't have worked, yet the complications that followed led to another defensive slip which this time was fatal for our player, his first defeat, and the match was all but gone at 1½-2½.
I had been pressing with as many pieces as I could keep on the board, trying various tactics and although Jim's King looked awkward and several of his pieces were still on, or back on, their starting squares he was holding things together and still the pawn up. Then with my time running short, I tried one more double-edged tactic which fortunately neither of us played entirely accurately, but left me the exchange up. Despite Jim almost getting his own tactics to work, I managed to survive to a won pawn ending to bring the scores level.
The final game to finish saw Michael three pawns up with David having only a couple of minutes left. Our player's pieces were gathered in one corner whilst his King was in the other without any cover, yet his opponent's pieces were also mostly out of play. Michael picked up a piece, but also worryingly allowed David's Queen into the proceedings. The game looked won, then lost and then thankfully Michael kept his cool to find the only move to claim two points. Commiserations to Thornbury who were certainly unlucky not to have picked up at least one point.
Another incredibly tough match, yet with Dave and Michael the shining stars we came through to remain near the top of the Division.