Pluses and Minuses Transpose into an Equal Ending with All to Play For
Keynsham arrived for our return fixture having nearly beaten us earlier in the Season. Despite their lowly position in the table, their A team have a solid squad, nearly all with similar grades, which perhaps explains their variable board order. This was a very important fixture for both teams, with Keynsham looking to avoid relegation and ourselves looking to secure second place in the table. There was plenty of tension in the air augmented by our A team playing to determine the Division One champions.
Half way through the match, Bob looked to be much better against Robert on top board, whilst on two Michael, standing in for Martin, was just about to pick up a piece for a pawn. Dominique and Matias were having a repeat of their tussle and it was difficult to call. I was struggling to organise my pieces and Jerry was building up for an attack. Dave looked to be winning with his opponent's king looking somewhat undefended. On bottom board, there was little to choose between Richard and Ben.
With half an hour to go, the first game finished with Richard achieving a draw. By this stage, Robert looked to be lost, facing a central passed pawn; Michael had lost a piece to arrive at best a level ending, Dominique was a pawn down and in a lost position, I was in a horrible position and running out of time whilst Dave had surrendered his advantage and was very short of time. There didn't seem any possibility of us salvaging anything at all.
Board one finished, I assumed a loss for us and recorded it as such, although after a few minutes Bob pointed out that they had agreed a draw. Then Dave reported a draw. I abandoned my queenside and tried to get an attack going, which fortunately Jerry assisted with by opening a file and moving his king into a pin - and with a minute left I was threatening unstoppable checkmate forcing his resignation. Dominique then had to resign in a lost pawn ending to leave Michael now struggling for a draw. With time running out a draw was eventually agreed to bring about a level outcome which could have been better but also much worse.
The result leaves the door wide open for both Clevedon and South Bristol to claim promotion by winning their remaining fixtures, although we have a chance to redeem ourselves if we can somehow beat a very strong South Bristol force in our final match. All to play for but after tonight's result, despite in the end being better than it might, it is going to be very difficult for us now.