All good things
There wasn't a lot for the B-team to gain in our final match against Horfield A. We had already completed our own goal of finishing as the top B-team (after our initial goal of winning the league appeared to be slipping away from us). Horfield A on the other hand had plenty to aim for with second place still being fought for against Clifton A and Bath A.
As soon as he arrived, our new superstar Attila was called away again and the white boards were all shoved up two places, with Lewis being given board 1 and the black pieces and Mike Passmore bravely stepping in from the bar. Preparation thoroughly ruined, if indeed it ever existed, the match got underway.
Aaron played an old system against the Najdorf but Lewis quickly equalised and a despite some tricky looking tactics emerged into a queenless middlegame with a slight edge. Steve's game featured opposite-side castling, but with the centre and queenside blocked, it was white's king on g1 that looked like it would have to weather the storm. The crowds however, were mostly drawn in by board 3, which featured the hotly-anticipated Dilleigh-Cooper match. Despite the hype, once the bits were developed and pairs of pawns and knights were exchanged, the point was split.
I shouldn't be too critical, as my game lasted only four moves longer and featured one extra swap. Having established a solid centre and space advantage, I decided to punt the draw offer myself which Alex quickly accepted. Mike B found himself with an IQP position but managed to play dynamically and Phil was left with a king misplaced on f1. Mike P was attacking Harvey's dragon aggressively but the kingside pawns became locked and white's challenge became that much harder.
Stephen managed to defend solidly and after the rooks came off, was able to force a repetition to keep the score level at 1½-1½. Mike P's attack then became too wild and after some exchanges a knight was too committed to the cause and had to sacrifice itself for a pawn. Harvey was able to return the exchange sacrifice to consolidate his position. After the queenside was opened and there being no defence, Mike P resigned.
After going in for a cheeky pawn grab, Lewis found himself having to defend against a rook invasion. Although the position was certainly still tenable, a slip of the king meant Lewis walked into a mate. Certainly a disappointment considering the solid handling of the opening and midgame. Though the match was lost, Mike B was still pressing for a win in his game, though time trouble was setting in. With Phil trying to hoover up pawns, Mike was able to use his remaining material to set up an unstoppable mate.
It's not every Division 1 match that sees two checkmates! Though the B-team is among the half of Downend & Fishponds teams that haven't won a league this season, the team has finished with a very respectable 18 points from 16 match. Let's see if we can better that next season!