All Good Things
After a busy weekend of draws at the 4NCL it was probably important that the A-team was able to muster a full-strength team to face the ever-mighty Clifton A. As it happens they didn't, but Mike filling in for Charlie is no disappointment. I sauntered in after an hour having played a few rounds of a game more my level.
Apparently I had missed much of the excitement. Nigel had apparently gone wrong in the opening and paid the price in an endgame. Henry appeared to have just about equalised as black though James was holding more of the space. Richard had also given up a pawn, possibly by mistake and John was swapping off furiously for an endgame.
Chris had blundered two pieces for a rook and pawn, though as any expert knows that's 6 points apiece and therefore completely level. A closer look at his board showed that Gareth had threats on the queenside and the kingside while Chris held weaknesses in the centre. Jerry had rudely found himself having a more interesting game with Duncan than I had managed, but was also under significant pressure. There was opposite-side castling and pawns storms aplenty. Naturally, Ian suspected a draw to be on the cards. Mike was also under a little space pressure from Igor despite having the white pieces but there appeared to be no apparent weaknesses. Already it looked like a difficult day for the home team.
Despite a sudden swing in Jerry's favour, that game finished drawn as the rook and pawns were unable to escape the old adage. Henry also found his position going south, but insists that there was plenty of good moves to be found in the game (even if he wasn't necessarily the one to play them). At ½-2½, it was going to be virtually impossible to save the match based on the boards.
Despite a spirited push of a passed pawn down the centre of the board, Richard was unable to save the day and the match was officially gone. Gareth appeared to have over-pressed and Chris was suddenly back in contention and heading for a thoroughly undeserved and outrageous win. Mike also managed to hold his position and the match finished 2-4.
So ends the undefeated run that just managed to stretch over a year and comprised 17 matches. Not that the A-team will feel any immediate cause for concern (barring their match against the B-team next week); they're still effectively four points clear of their nearest rivals. Nevertheless, there may be some life in the title race yet!