Five Strong And Two Strong Leaving Three Strong = Unexpected Result of the Week
Time for a top of the table clash against one of our promotion rivals, Clevedon A, a club who had beaten us earlier in the Season. We expected them to bring a powerful team and were astonished that not only had they only arrived with 5 players, including two named Strong, but circumstances meant 3 of their top players - Jonathan Wood, DPK and Dave Peters - plus several of their 'super-subs' were missing (although it seems that their B team playing the previous evening may have been a factor in the latter). Our first point, therefore, came from a default. I had volunteered to sit out but Richard insisted that I play, whilst he enjoyed some relaxed friendly games.
First to finish were Martin and Dave, who were out of book by move 7 yet the excitement of a new position did not tempt them past a further 7 moves. A draw was agreed before their queensides were developed in a semi-closed position that trying to free might only weaken. Nonetheless, a good result for us and closer to achieving a match point which was our target before the evening.
A different type of game on board 3, where Chris was preparing for a king side attack whilst Robert was content to play good chess by castling and then developing his pieces to decent squares. Somehow Chris managed to manoeuvre his Queen to a square from where it could be attacked and then could only proceed to move to other such squares. Robert's pieces supported each other and finally trapped her majesty to give Robert a fine win and more confidence for the remaining matches. The game can be viewed here.
Half way through the evening, Dominique was looking cramped and seemed to be finding it difficult to co-ordinate his defences whilst running well behind on time. Dave looked to have come out of the opening well, having made good development and gain of space, whilst for once keeping level on the clock. I had started reasonably well but then tried to overcomplicate things and only ended up in a level position with quite a few pieces already exchanged.
Then Peter looked to build up on my king, yet only allowed me to win a pawn and obtain a centrally placed knight which dominated the board. Positionally it was won if I avoided back rank mates. This I did whilst grabbing open files with my rooks, leading Peter to try a desperate move which didn't work and soon brought us a point to seal the match.
With about 15 minutes remaining, Dave had managed to obtain a clear advantage and skilfully organised his pieces to both support a passed pawn and give plenty of attacking chances against Oliver's king, picking up a pawn and leaving his opponent's pieces uncoordinated. With time running out, Dave found all the right moves and Oliver had no option but to resign before he was overrun. Another well-played game which might have made our website had Robert's game not got there first.
That left Dominique, who had managed to pick up a piece yet had less than a minute on the clock, whilst Mike had a couple more minutes and a passed pawn as compensation. With time running out, it was no surprise that mistakes were made and whilst Dominique may regret missing a win in the dying seconds, he would have certainly settled for the draw that resulted to bring us a healthy 5-1 victory.
In some ways, this was a rather false result, with so many of Clevedon's squad missing, yet we still had to play well to beat them. After so many close matches, this shock result leaves us astonishingly top of the table - yet only marginally - with two of our nearest challengers still to play and things still very tight for the top positions.