You never know quite what to expect with University, especially early in the season. We were at full strength and it turned out that they had sent a strong squad too.
Andrew had an off night. By the time he had lost (which wasn't very long) I thought Richard L was going the same way but Richard P had a complex game that looked promising. The top three were comfortable enough.
The Richards were next to finish. Richard P's game had deteriorated from promising to dodgy as he emerged the exchange down although his opponent's King was somewhat exposed. He was happy enough to force several checks, enough of them to amount to a draw by repetition. But the star turn of the evening was undoubtedly Richard L. He would have us believe that he had planned it all when he was losing but I tend to the view that his opponent must have played a howler or, more likely, several of them. Apparently Richard had bumped his head earlier in the evening. He should try that again! Anyway, he seemed happy enough with his win ("ecstatic" springs to mind) and his smile was still floating round the room like a Cheshire Cat, long after he had departed.
So, with the scores level, all we needed now was some solid play on the top three boards and no missed opportunities. What we got was just one draw. I had a solid enough Gruenfeld but for some reason rejected a previously planned move order that would have led to a stable position. I compounded it by losing the exchange but when my opponent spotted a cunning plan to return it for what looked like a crushing attack, we both missed a Queen sortie that would have turned the tables. Dominique had much the better of a very tricky game and Fritz annoyingly pointed out a couple of killer moves afterwards. We had both been running low on time and, while Dominique was able to bale out into a draw, my game went completely down the plug hole. So that was two missed chances and It was left to Robert to try to save the day. He was the exchange up but against rather too many pawns to be comfortable and very short of time. In the end his flag fell, when the threats had become too difficult to repel in the time available. A shame because the engine reckons there was a draw to be had.
The students had been too good for us in the end. But I just called the club room and you'll be pleased to know that smile is still there!