The First of the Autumn Internationals
Many may think that Rugby is the highlight of the autumn season, but a select few know that for the past 20 years it is actually a chess match between Downend & Fishponds, and Pentyrch that provides the opening spectacle. This biannual event which has now played 52 matches since the first in 1984 is a chance to renew old friendships and play chess in the spirit it was meant to be.
The start of the match was delayed by heavy traffic on the M4, (maybe the word has spread after all) and so the time limits were reduced from the normal 2hrs each to our league time controls. The games started with the theme of entertainment being more important than the result. We always break for some food half way through, and for many I know the target is to reach that point with one's position still intact. Personally I didn't think I was going to achieve this and did consider calling the break early, when, in the process of mating me Nadi left the back door open and I was able to swindle a mate of my own.
Food came just in time too for Richard Livermore as Neil, after (by his own admission) having messed up the opening, had built a very strong attack. Most of the other boards looked quite even and as is quite common in this match contained a few strange positions. Plates emptied and glasses recharged the match resumed. Richard quickly succumbed to Neil's attack and the full game has been annotated by Ian and exemplifies the spirit in which these matches are played.
Pat gained a draw from the very solid Ray Angle, a veteran of these encounters, and soon afterwards Geoff pushed home his advantage over Mike McLoughlin with a nicely constructed mate. A little while later Grant and Matthew agreed a draw giving us the match.
Two games remained. Toby, entering into the spirit of the day, had decided to try a new opening as black against Viv, but it would appear to need a little bit more work as Viv weathered the storm and claimed Pentych's solitary win, though admitted afterwards he was completely shattered by twists and turns in the game. In the last match Robert had managed to get a pawn advantage, but with opposite coloured bishops it proved impossible for him to convert this and eventually, with darkness falling, a draw was agreed.
Once again, a very enjoyable afternoon with Downend & Fishponds retaining the Mike Wood Bridge Trophy. We have been invited to a return match in the Spring at Pentyrch which we are all very much looking forward to.