Not exactly the sort of welcome we wanted!
It was nice to see the Salisbury Club cat welcoming us back to Bath again. But as soon as Mike saw their line-up, he reckoned we were in trouble. Not only did they bring in a face from the past (regular 190 for Clifton fifteen years ago) meaning that everyone else could budge down a board but they also roped in a 168 for board six! It was their strongest team of the season by far but why bother against our humble B team, you might ask. I can only put it down to the fear that the initials D&F send throughout the league and, if you think about it, it really is a very fine compliment!
And so to the action. Well, we started OK with three draws, believe it or not. I managed to find some reasonable defensive moves to Horia's Trompowski and he opted for a draw by repetition after just 18.
Steve was next and he had the pleasure of Black against Roy Philips, lately returned from Mauritius, and a look at the grading list shows us that his last outing in the Bristol league was on April Fool's Day, 2008, when he played, you guessed it, Steve Meek! Steve played a very enterprising combination which led to a plus of 2 or 3 according to the engine but unfortunately missed one continuation which would have cemented his advantage - still a creditable draw with Black.
Dave had White against Andrew and went hell for leather for a King side attack. Subsequent analysis seems to show that there was no killer sequence leading to one for the archives but the time Dave had spent did mean he missed the possible win of a pawn. Once the dust had settled they also agreed to share the point.
Oli drew a very short straw when he found himself up against Matthew with Black. It was one of those days when he didn't really get going and his struggles eventually turned out to be in vain.
All of which left us 2½-1½ down with just Attila and Mike to finish. Attila had a very strategic tussle with David, probing for weaknesses and fixing an isolated pawn but by no means clearly winning yet.
By his own admission Mike is cursing himself for spending too long on one or two moves where he finally chose second best. It meant that when they reached a tricky rook ending he had too little time. One sequence might have forced Adam to take a draw by repetition but, finally, two rooks on the seventh were able to clinch the game.
Meanwhile Attila continued his excellent season by winning that pawn and later a bishop. With accomplished use of the increments, he liquidated down to Rook, Bishop and Pawn against just a Rook, at which point David (unbeaten before this game) offered his hand.
So we lost 3½-2½ but it could have been 4-2 to us if three of the games had gone slightly better. That's the way it goes some of the time and there's no point in being too disappointed - rather we should take heart from what was really a creditable performance against a side which may very well upset the leaders in the Championship race before the season is over.