Happy New Year!
Clifton are back at the Townhouse in a refurbished room that somehow now has plenty of room for two six-board matches. After Jerry dictated that boards 1 and 2 should be on special tables for the spectators we got underway.
Attila started cautiously, barely going beyond the third rank and James obliged by taking a huge chunk of space on the queenside. Gareth managed to storm in with a classic minority attack, which started to cause some problems on the queenside while black aimed for the kings. Martin and John opened with more caution than ambition and quickly decided the resulting position was much too dull for anything other than an early split point.
Dave transposed from 1.d4 to an Advance French which appeared confuse us both. I punted an exchange sacrifice to land a protected passed pawn on d3, though spectators may have more accurately termed it a "blunder with lucky compensation". Unfortunately proving the cynics right, the sacrifice was hampered by my refusal to swap off queens which cost me a piece, leaving me down a rook. I had the cheapest of swindle hopes, so I soldiered on. Oli played a blinder of a game, with a very nice sacrifice to crack open the kingside against an undeveloped black. I won't do it justice but it can be played through on our Games page. My apologies, but it is a London. Jerry's win-streak reached double figures after a quick d7-d5-d4 forked a knight and bishop.
After passing on what I thought was a more practical approach due to a stunning white mate that I'd initially overlooked, I was lucky enough to slip in an intermezzo that won back a rook. This was more due to Dave's time trouble rather than good play on my part. I may have even had an edge when the queens came off, but I suspected a relieving draw offer might end our misery quickly. For giggles, I've put this game online too, mostly for the fancy potential white mate on move 32 Requiring only half a point to secure the match, board 1 called it a day. Despite the locked queenside with a backward black pawn and plenty of kingside space for white a draw was probably a fair result.
Henry then barrelled on in a difficult endgame with both white and black under time pressure. There were some missed mates and wild sacrifices that were met with counter-sacrifices. Although the position may have been level after the excitement Gareth's excellent play trapped Henry's final piece in a rook vs knight endgame.
With Horfield A finally dropping a point (drawing away to Bath A) our A-team may finally be back to putting some pressure on the title race; in many ways like Manchester United are with Manchester City in the Premier League - attacking from distance, sort of like the Pirc.