Close, but still no cigar
This week we travelled to Horfield for our match against another strong team, and missing our board 1, James, the task was certainly going to be a tough one. I decided to give Dave a bit of a break and drop him down a couple of boards, though he was still significantly out graded. Richard Livermore acting as reserve again volunteered for board 3 and I took the open seat at 2, with Mike gamely taking board 1.
Whilst most of the team got off to a steady start I was soon in trouble after a mistake in the opening and was quickly dispatched by my much stronger opponent. One benefit of finishing early was the opportunity to watch how the game should be played. The first to catch my eye was Toby who had managed to trap his opponent's Queen for the loss of a rook and knight. However, Prakash had two strong connected passed pawns that proved difficult to stop. A great battle ensued in one corner of the board and just when it looked like he had lost, Toby's opponent made a mistake that cost him the game. We were level, and a quick look at the boards showed Jack to be a piece up, but again his opponent had a strong passed pawn, and all the other games looked fairly even. Then, an alarm sounded, it was Mike's clock, he had lost on time after putting up a tremendous fight on board 1. Almost immediately Nigel offered Dave a draw, which after losing his last 3 matches and the board well locked up, he gratefully accepted. With Jack having to sacrifice his piece advantage to prevent his opponent queening he was now a pawn down, but in a drawn position. After a little manoeuvring a draw was agreed, giving Horfield the vital 3rd point.
In the last match Richard now needed a win to get us the draw, he had a strong passed pawn which Bob only just had enough material to stop. With pieces even and clocks running down Richard offered a draw but Bob declined and in the ensuing scramble Richard blundered and was forced to concede the game.
A surprisingly tight match given the difference in strength, there is a win coming I can feel it. Ccould it be next week against our own C team?