As we were without Attila and Dave for our first trip to the newly refurbished Clevedon club room, we were especially glad that Andrew C. had recovered enough to make the Monday evening trip. After a disappointing five match sequence of draws and fairly narrow defeats, we were keen to try to stop the rot and Andrew M and I filled the gaps on the bottom boards.
It was indeed our pair of Andrews who drew first blood. On board 2 Andrew C had a fairly dull Benoni-type game with Michael T where soon neither party considered it worth expending any more energy. Job done!
Meanwhile, Andrew M on 6, playing that dratted Scandinavian yet again, found complications against Chris which led to the win of the exchange and, almost before we knew it, he had chalked up our first win. I suppose he will keep playing it come what may.
Boards 4 and 5 were next to finish. Oli was defending a very odd looking game against Paul, who advanced his b pawn against the French (using three of his first six moves) but Oli found enough counter-play to reach a comfortable position, blocked enough for Paul to offer a draw on move 19, making the score 2-1. I had a much better opening against their Andrew and was nicely up according to the engine although, once again, I had used rather too much time getting there. When I failed to follow up in the most effective way the position drifted to a much smaller advantage and I offered a draw which was quickly accepted.
Steve reached a Rook ending against Dave where he was never in danger of losing and, with some weaker pawns to aim at, some possibilities of forcing a win. But the possibilities turned out to be too faint so he also banked a draw, making it certain that we could not lose the match.
Which left the skipper, Mike, in a complex game with DPK. It was a level middle game but made difficult by the fact that Mike's Knight was somewhat inferior to the enemy Bishop. DPK played very well to maximise his chances with a K-side attack with the remaining pieces and despite Mike's best efforts it proved too difficult to rebut.
So a drawn match in the end. It just goes to show there are no pushovers in the top division. Nevertheless, it was one more point in the battle to be sure of avoiding relegation. While there is still much to be fought over for the teams in the relegation struggle (which is what a league is all about, after all!) it remains to be seen whether it will all be of purely academic interest, depending on who wants promotion. That will be very interesting to watch as the season draws to a close.