Early Draws Exchanged for Unbelievable Late Wins
Since the beginning of the season, when we salvaged a draw against them, Horfield have lost several key players which has undoubtedly accounted for their inability to maintain their position in the top places of Division 2. Tonight's encounter saw us with an average 6-point grading advantage, although out-graded on top boards, with Harvey making an appearance from their A team. After some interesting (and somewhat blatant!) conversations on their board order by our opponents, play began on time.
Dominique gambitted a pawn for a sharp opening, and although enjoying better development, his position didn't ever seem to fully justify the sacrifice. In an unusual loss of concentration, no doubt caused by a tiring day, he captured a pawn only to allow Harvey to fork king and queen for a quick win. I was next to finish, as after Nigel had built up a decent centre and queen side pawn roller, my self-admitted jet-lagged opponent missed my attempted knight sacrifice and was forced to lose a pawn and a piece. Things only got worse for Nigel as I picked up more pawns to claim the point.
Chris Jones' Bird's Opening resulted in a strange set up of four black pawns on a5 to d5 followed later by semi-interlocking of pawns. With not much in the position, Chris offered Martin a draw which he very quickly accepted to leave the match equal at 1½ to 1½ although with Horfield looking very safe for at least a point. The remaining boards saw both Robert and Richard, who last week both took quick draws against the University, in drawn looking positions and clearly considering the option, if it were not for Dave who was getting short of time and struggling to hold his position a pawn down.
Robert's game was characterised by Prakash going for a king-side attack whilst Robert defended and pushed pawns on the queenside. With 10 minutes remaining and equal material, and the game now looking even more drawn, Prakash returned Dominique's blunder by overlooking a knight fork of king and rook, and immediately resigned. Dave meanwhile had very little time and had been forced to lose more pawns. Despite his best efforts, the game was lost to leave the match all square at 2½ to 2½.
The last game to finish saw a partially blocked position with Richard having a past pawn and more time but with Alex controlling open files with his rooks. Alex offered the draw, which Richard thought about for what seemed ages, but then perhaps surprisingly played on with now just 3 minutes each on the clock. Somehow - and I'm still not sure how - Richard just about held his nerve in a very tense finish to push his pawn to the 7th to strangle Alex with a minute left, then proceeded to win pawns and finally deliver checkmate with seconds remaining.
In the end, this was an unbelievable result which just about keeps the pressure on Clevedon A and South Bristol B for the top three places. Our next fixture will be another difficult affair, which we will certainly not be taking for granted after dropping a point to them earlier, with Keynsham now desperate to pick up points despite their very strong squad.