No one expects the Spanish in position
On board 1 that is. Given Javier's incredible recent form it seemed only fair that he got to have a crack at Henry. Now it's well-known that our A-team tends to struggle against our B-team , but this season the A-team has been formidable.
Henry immediately went wrong in his opening against Javier, justifying our board order, but within another 10 moves appeared to have overcome this problem and had a strong kingside position with the locked centre preventing Javier's defence. Chris decided that the best way to play was to stir up complications that only favoured Stephen. Richard played a pawn gambit and then resolved to play using only pieces on the first rank. Lewis found some surprisingly resourceful ways to hang on but with Richard steadfastly refusing to take back the pawn seemed to cause problems.
I was attempting to enter what I thought might have been a new line for Nigel, but after the game he explained that he had gone in for those complications once before, which explained why he didn't fancy going in for it. Instead he rudely decided to play solidly and wait for me to come up with an inevitably flawed plan. Martin entered the Martin variation and Andrew looked to be holding his position together despite the lack of space. Mike decided to try something that Jerry hadn't seen before and got a reasonable position without much effort.
As far as I could tell Chris was attempting to weaken his position further, but possibly suspecting a trap, Steve offered a draw. Chris snapped Steve's hand off. Martin had been unable to make any further progress against Andrew's backward e-pawn and before they were faced with too dull an endgame, they decided to split the point. Mike played a bold pawn push in the centre that we all assumed was going to favour white, but nothing more emerged than the type of level endgame in which Jerry thrives. A draw was agreed.
Henry appeared to have made good progress against Javier who was in his now trademark time trouble (50 minutes against 2), but over-pressed and missed a great swindle by Javier. Finally the good positions of the B-team were starting to pay off.
Lewis was struggling as he entered an endgame with much less active pieces and while I thought I'd done quite well I was actually entering an endgame that was slightly worse.
When Lewis finally threw in the towel, the match came down to my game with Nigel. Unfortunately for the spectators there was very quickly a repetition of moves and the match was drawn.
The A-team are now 4 matches without a win (look how quickly those statistics can turn around). Despite this Arsene Wenger-like decline, two wins from their final three matches (against struggling South Bristol A, unpredictable University A, and title hopefuls Bath A) will see off the title challenge.