An all too familiar tale of missed opportunities after taking the lead
Grendel turned up with a strong team, despite the late withdrawal of Alistair on top board, whilst we were missing 3 players (including two of the top three), leaving us as slight underdogs.
James continued his excellent form with another miniature - this time 14 moves - when his opponent resigned after dropping a piece. However, on closer inspection, Roger may have thrown in the towel a bit early as James' extra piece would have been trapped and the material deficit would have ended as just a pawn in an admittedly poor position for the Grendel player.
My opponent opened with the Grob followed by too many pawn advances in an entertaining although also wild and loose game. I collected a pawn, castled, and then just had to develop my pieces to gain a significant advantage. This I failed to do and allowed him back into the game with some weak moves and a wild pawn advance of my own. I then faced some excellent play by my opponent, forcing me to resign with my king stuck in the middle of the board.
Nigel seemed to be having a tough time against Ken on bottom board, an exchange or a piece down in the opening and despite valiantly fighting on for many moves, he had to resign. 1-2 down with half an hour to go, with both David and Richard a pawn up and Dominique seemingly equal.
It seems that Richard's pawn advantage was difficult to capitalise on and Ben did well to swap off most of the remaining pieces to arrive at a drawn opposite coloured bishop ending. On top board, closer inspection revealed that Dominique's position was completely lost. Luckily, Mark missed a somewhat difficult to find winning tactic although still picked up a pawn. Whilst Dominique was able to manoeuvre to recover the material deficit, the end position was completely drawn, leaving us 2-3 down.
David had played well to get to a rook ending with an extra pawn and his chances of converting appeared to be reasonably good. However, concerned about his clock situation - and not realising that he needed to win to save the match - he offered a draw. In fact, his last move turned out to be a mistake and the position was probably drawn in any case. He was as disappointed as I and the rest of the team that we had missed chances to get at least a match point - but that just about sums up our season!
A difficult away fixture at the University is next. With both Cabot and our own D team picking up points last week, we need to do better if we are to avoid relegation in what is a really open Division which has four or five potential champions and four or five potential relegation candidates.