Excellent start to the new campaign
The B team's new look, necessitated by the unavailability at present of several of last season's stars, got off to a pretty much perfect start, albeit aided by the gifting of a bonus default point, which meant that Steve, unfortunately, went without a game.
Rather like the C team's effort at Clevedon the day before, it was a game of two halves with a dominating match position built up, only for much biting of nails to see if the last three games would bring home the bacon.
First to finish was Andrew, who, as Black, found himself in a wild version of the Alekhine's, with which I think neither he nor Paul was totally au fait! He had a slightly better game but maybe not enough to press for a win so he was happy to bank a half point.
Meanwhile Oli carefully nursed his position against Gareth and won an outside passed pawn. When Gareth tried a tactic that backfired he found himself a knight down and Oli wrapped up the win comfortably.
So, with two and a half points in the bag and about an hour to go, we looked reasonably OK for a win. Although Dave was under pressure, Attila was the one with more threats, while Mike's game was definitely at the hairy end of the spectrum. But overall we should be able to scrape together at least one more point, shouldn't we?
By the time they were down to their last ten minutes of normal time, Patryk, against Attila and Iain, against Mike were the ones running lower on time. Surprise, surprise, it was Dave, against Tony, who completed the picture. Dave had made a couple of iffy knight moves on moves 8 and 9, the second of which, to quote him, left him up against it. A tactic allowed Tony to win a central pawn and gain the bishop pair on an open board and after that pressure from both pieces and the clock led to an untenable ending. So 2½ - 1½ now and time for some serious nerves.
We needn't really have worried about Attila though. After a flurry of tactics, he liquidated down to a single rook ending with four against three on the K-side. They had both been down to their last seconds, then a few moves later they were back up to two minutes on the increment. Attila invested a whole minute checking a line where he forced the rooks off at the cost of his extra pawn but left him with a trivially won promotion race. Very coolly played!
In fact Mike had finished before Attila's final drama but we should save the most exciting till last. Punch and counter-punch, so many choices - win an exchange, win two bishops for a Rook, snaffle a loose pawn, go for a pawn promotion or go for mate. It was all there and Iain fully played his part in a thrilling middle game. But Mike prevailed in the end and, if the webmaster is awake, perhaps he will kindly attach this game for us all to enjoy (Edit: Cheek!). Much better than trying to explain second hand!
So, two welcome match points in the bag. I don't think anyone is under any illusions about how difficult division one is going to be this season, so it's great to have been able to notch up a first win.