A night of sacrifices
On arriving at Clifton and seeing their line up, it was soon apparent that our E-team had a tough task on their hands. It didn't help missing our top board Mr Passmore, and we were also heavily out graded. Nonetheless spirits were high, and the match started.
The first game to show real signs of action was Thomas' game. Before too long he trapped Francis' bishop and not only repelled his counter mating threat of a rook and queen combination, but began an overwhelming attack of his own with queen, rook and bishop. 1-0 to Downend.
With only an hour gone the next game to come to life was Jack's. Mark showed fantastic ingenuity in sacrificing both bishop and knight. This created space for a wicked queen and bishop attack down the g and h-files. With Jack's extra pieces not yet quite in the action, his queen suddenly had no real square to escape. Clifton 1 Downend 1. (Jack appreciated his opponents play, and was impressively philosophical after his game. After all Mark out-graded him by 25 points).
Next to finish was John whose game against Anthony was always double-edged. As the game progressed Anthony's two bishops (against two knights) became more and more menacing. As other pieces came off the board, John decided to protect his extra pawn. Unfortunately he lost a rook and resigned. 2-1 to Clifton.
Oli was fourth to finish and after two hours of play things were level with both players trying to create any sort of advantage they could. Then in a couple of moves Anton lost one pawn and then another. Queens were swapped off and Anton grabbed back a pawn with his rook on the 7th. Oli then manoeuvred his rooks to open files for a repost. In considerable time trouble, Anton quickly swept his other rook to b8! Unfortunately he forgot Oli's lurking bishop on h2. Oli took off the rook and with a wry smile Anton resigned. Clifton 2 - Downend 2 (after his game Oli said he was never sure if his black bishop was good or bad. For sure it was the winning bishop! ).
Next was Richard's game against Tim. I didn't see too much of this game, but it seemed well contested and fairly level throughout. Tim eventually went foraging with queen and rook on the 7th (I am beginning to realise how lovely a rook on the 7th can be). Richard was calm in his defence and had two active rooks himself. However, Tim slowly built up the pressure and eventually managed to breakthrough. Clifton 3 - Downend 2.
The last game to finish was board two; Grant vs Alan. This was a wild, unclear, and great game to watch. Grant had earlier traded his queen for rook and bishop, and a very open position occurred. Grant then won another piece and eventually two more pawns. Alan looked worried and it looked only a matter of time. However, Alan continued to play with guile and cunning, and in running short on time Grant couldn't fully calculate. He daren't remove Alan's remaining rook or their was an immediate stalemate. A draw was agreed.
Congratulations to a strong and experienced Clifton team on taking the points 3½ - 2½. I am sure they appreciate our E team pushed them extremely hard, and our mix of youth and experience is always determined to fight to the end.