A game of three halves

28th November 2017 - Downend C vs Downend D

If you're wondering why neither the C team nor the D team captain is writing this report it's because they had their heads down until the very end and, anyway, they would probably have been unnecessarily scathing about some of the performances.

So I shall only scathe moderately but in any case the two top boards are obviously immune from adverse criticism. “Cautious but stylish”, somebody said. James held Robert and Mike had his hand out to offer a draw even quicker (he just beat me to it!), so that was one third of the match completed before attention was turned to boards five and six.

With both sides missing a regular team member, Andrew's cunning idea to hire Grant to clinch a point against whomever Nigel called up on board six was going very nicely, thank you. A comfortable two pawns up against Aron by move 14, he opted to complete his development by castling. Normally sound but not so when a bishop was left en prise. Aron didn't need to be asked twice to cash in and converted his advantage in accomplished fashion.

But, fear not, Richard P was holding Dave fairly comfortably, well only a pawn down actually with a sligtly inferior position but he was soon able to change all that. Probably the most horrible move of the night saw him put his Queen next to her counterpart but, sadly, undefended!

We have developed quite a track record in division two this season for either letting a lead slip or clawing back a drawn match from a big deficit. So now it was the D team's turn to let a 3-1 lead dwindle away in the final third.

Richard L against Toby was always going to be an entertaining struggle. Both had knights on central outposts and it was certainly level up to move 17, after which a couple of inaccuracies by Toby gave Richard the opportunity to start to squeeze an advantage. He had much better freedom to manoeuvre and built what turned out to be a deadly attack against the castled King while a number of Toby's pieces were unable to assist in the defence. Nicely done, Richard!

Which left it to the esteemed captains to resolve the match. A very close fought affair with the main difference between the two sides being that Andrew (who stubbornly has still not given up the Scandinavian, by the way) had pressure against a backward pawn but had used far more time than Nigel. It was still level coming up to forty moves after which they reached an ending with a knight and opposite coloured bishop each with Andrew emerging with five pawns against four. He played his time shortage very well, so that in the end it was Nigel's flag that fell, leaving the match drawn. Having pulled back from the brink, it was arguably the Cs who were happier with this outcome but both sides will probably view it as a point dropped.

Ian Pickup