Dark Horses

13th February 2018 - Downend A vs Clifton B

It was a busy night at the club, with 4 of our teams in action, though 2 were playing each other, so it was a relief when Clifton B turned up with only 5 players. It meant there was a bit of space. Jerry graciously sat out, presumably worried about his now sullied reputation having managed only 10 consecutive wins before having to settle for a shameful draw.

Henry's game started in that typical over 200 game where bits are being moved positionally and nothing looks like fun. Every time I checked it appeared that they were swapping who was invading on the queenside. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a different game each time and I simply hadn't noticed. Chris, taking a rare break from both coaching and London was showing why he is the so hotly in demand. A bold 1.e4 followed by bravely settling every piece no further than the third rank. Riveting stuff.

Nigel accepted a space deficit to gain an isolated queen's pawn to play against and was carefully freeing his position. After some move order shenanigans I was able to play the Meadows Variation of the French, the best case of which is a transposition to a Blackmar-Diemer, but I regained my pawn and, I believe, got a comfortable position. Martin was defending a backward e6-pawn from quite early on, but managed to secure his position and batter white back.

Henry's game went south relatively quickly as exchanges were sacrificed or lost and despite some optimistic defence Chris Beaumont was able to crash through. I was trying for some ambitious and flashy finish but I couldn't justify my planned sacrifice and went for a level endgame. Despite grabbing a cheeky pawn, after some pieces were swapped and pawns were blockaded a draw was agreed.

Though there were some advantages to be had, Chris' attempted breakthrough failed to an unusual defence and that game was also drawn. Nigel's Karpov-style play was also overwhelming the white pieces and the match was decided with a comfortable 4-2 scoreline.

Martin won an exchange, but the cost of his dark-squared bishop did give him pause. Tomas was able to drum up enough complications to use up Martin's time and he was soon playing on increment alone against 10 minutes, though up a piece by this point. There was a constant threat of perpetual checks to draw the game and although Martin managed to get down to 2 seconds, it was Tomas whose flag fell in the end. In the final position there may have even been extra checks to be had, but all that can be said for sure is that it was "unclear".

With another win the A-team manage to technically keep the pressure on Horfield A, who have played one extra match but are ahead by a rather unnecessary 6 points.

Michael Meadows