A Game of Two Baths Sees Us Coming Out Smelling of Roses
Valentine's Night and a visit from Bath B who are somehow at the base of the Division despite their very useful squad. It just shows how the strength of Division 2 has increased in recent years, helped partly by the reduction of teams in the top flight. The match was by no means a foregone conclusion despite us finding ourselves surprisingly at the other end of the table.
The first half of the contest saw some early baths, almost as if some members of the squads had pressing appointments. Firstly, Martin and Clive proceeded to swap off most pieces and call it a day after only 17 moves (although that's almost a marathon in comparison to some of our other teams). Then Dominique and David didn't take that much longer to agree on sharing the point in a level rook and minor piece ending. Unfortunately for Richard, his game finished early for rather different reasons after discovering that he had come out of a combination a piece down. Half time and struggling at 1-2.
Dave's game looked promising early on, with Peter's uncastled King the subject of a kingside pawn storm and possible tactics and with the way Dave has been playing this Season I suspected that victory might not be far off. Yet it seems that the wrong move order in a combination left the position less favourable that it might have been. However, it was to be our opponents who would blunder a piece this time though after a seemingly sensible move, yet one that was exploited by a deadly pin to bring the scores level.
I had been offered a pawn in the opening and proceeded to take it and gamble that I could survive the possible onslaught. A few moves later it looked like I had done so, yet after wasting a tempo I found myself under pressure and even more so after a move I played after working out why I couldn't play it. Luckily Mauro sacrificed his knight for probably the 'wrong' pawn, yet still I had to find the best moves to survive. After swapping off more pieces, and now a piece up, it was just a matter of me freeing my position and avoiding any nasty checkmates, which I did, to arrive at a won pawn ending.
That left Robert, who was still looking for his first win of the Season, against Christian who's grading performance has so far been much better. Whilst Robert had attained a two-pawn advantage, there still looked to be ways in which he could find himself the subject of an embarrassing back rank checkmate in a queen and rook ending. Thankfully Robert negotiated any such trickery and his opponent resigned with just seconds remaining.
Another match saved from the jaws of defeat: Bath must surely start to pick up points soon. Next are Clevedon A, a thorn in our side having beaten us once already. They are looking good for the title despite a surprising loss to South Bristol. We know that only our very best might be good enough to deny them the two points.