Anything but!

23rd January 2018 - Downend B vs Downend A

In case anyone thinks from the score line that there was a contrived result to this clash of the A and B teams, it was anything but!

While the Bs were at full strength, Jerry had real problems and needed no less than three reserves. Fear not, the C team stepped up to fill the gaps.

The games can be split into three pairs: a couple of relatively quick draws on boards two and three; two much more long drawn out ones; and two where the result could have gone either way in time-trouble.

First off was a big surprise, when Jerry failed to continue his ten match winning streak! Well, perhaps not such a big surprise considering he was up against Andrew C, who solidly neutralised the advantage of the first move. Then Martin reciprocated for the A team by holding Steve comfortably. Once three pairs of minor pieces had been swapped off they shook hands after 24 moves.

The next pair of games concerned boards five and six. Oli arrived about 15 minutes late, having spent the early evening tiring out Keith Arkell in a simul. and then set about equalising with black against Andrew M. Andrew played some odd looking moves and was soon unable to castle but no great harm was done. They came down to two knights each and, while Oli's draw offer on move 32 was turned down in case the As needed a win, after one pair of knights came off the next draw offer was accepted. Dave, meanwhile had white against the Welsh Duffer. That game had some tense moments with first Dave perhaps missing a promising continuation and then Richard building threats with a couple of central pawns but no obvious means of forcing a decisive advantage in the time remaining.

That made four drawn games but the last two went right down to the wire. Mike built pressure steadily against Robert and by move 30 had a considerable advantage while Robert had also used far more time. He wasn't sure whether to hit him for six or four! As can happen when you are spoilt for choice, he made one or two second best moves and, although he was still winning by move 40, his own time started running away and Robert played most resourcefully to conjure threats of his own. When Mike moved his king into danger Robert could have turned the tables completely but with only seconds remaining settled for perpetual check. Phew!!

Meanwhile Henry's game with Attila was, like so many top board games, a bit beyond my humble analytical skills. Henry won the exchange but Attila had an extra pawn and the two bishops so I wasn't sure who was happier. Henry also had more time in hand but the next time I looked he had given back the exchange and recovered the missing pawn. Now came a period of threats against loose pawns, the exchange of queens and then Attila playing the last ten or fifteen minutes on the increment. He does this really well but Henry countered skilfully and eventually they reached a position with one pawn and one minor piece each and no possibility of shepherding the pawn home, making it six draws in all.

So who was happier with a three all draw? Have the A team's faint hopes of retaining the title vanished now or can Horfield still slip on a few banana skins? Have the B team done enough to be fairly certain to avoid relegation? Only time will tell but in the meantime this had been a fair result and neither of our combative teams could feel too badly about it.

(Incidentally Toby was also late arriving for his D team game against Cabot after he too had been tormenting Keith. He went one better than Oli by winning a very nicely played attack against an experienced opponent. This was the only win for anyone in the A, B and D teams.)

Ian Pickup