No tricks and no treat
As Jerry had dropped me (partly due to availability and partly due to form) and the club was refusing to pay Richard his customary appearance fees (which I'm sure would make Neymar blush), two juniors took up the gauntlet; Toby and Aron, fresh from their rapidplay successes. This was their first outing in Division 1 and, I say with absolute certainly, the first of many to come. Despite their recent impeccable form, this wasn't to be their night. The rumour is that they're saving themselves for the knockout.
With the team 0-2 down, it was time for Jerry to show why he's the captain. Smashing out a 6th straight win with yet more queenside action, the match was potentially coming back to us. All we needed was a little hope.
Naturally, the player to pull it level was Nigel "never-say-draw" Hosken, who belted down a million moves of theory to gain himself a huge time advantage. With Rob playing on little more than the increment Nige was able to swap off queens and grab some key pawns which brought the team level at 2-2.
Only two games to go. Unfortunately, Horia appeared to be taking great advantage of the white pieces (like 4 of the other boards) and was pressing his advantage home. While I'm told there was excellent play from Horia, it doesn't seem to have been Henry's night. After all, if he isn't pestering me by 8am the next day for a match report, how can I be sure he even played?
This left Martin in the uncomfortable position of needing a win with black. Though the Tipster suggests there may have been a good variation in the wild position that Andy had concocted, it was the strong white knight and passed pawn threats that used up the time and Martin was flagged.
Though it's certainly a shame to have lost to a weaker than expected Bath A, it's likely to force Rich out of retirement to come and win on several boards at once.
(Thanks to Dave for contributing almost everything factual to this match report. I've just toned down the abuse.)