The university team always tend to start slowly. Whether that's a product of the difficulty of coaxing their best players out of the woodwork to a different set of woodwork, or simply because their fixtures tend to start a month later (by which time Horfield A have already accrued 4 wins) is largely a moot point. Recently, they've been on fine form.
We had our full team out for the first time since November, but that was probably a bad sign as it meant we had no super-subs.
Henry began lazily with the white pieces, choosing not to develop at all on his queenside and instead chucking an h-pawn at black's Leningrad king (tzar?) and sacrificing the exchange. His attack looked fearsome but ultimately didn't last long. Richard and Victor played what looked like real chess for 30 or so moves. Richard decided expansion on the queenside as black wasn't enough and decided to use his kingside pawns as if he'd played a King's Indian Defence. He hadn't.
What can be said about Nigel's opening to truly express the solid, exciting and downright respectable chess that was unfolding? I suppose "it was an exchange Slav" just about covers it. Heavy pieces were exchanged on the c-file, minor pieces settled in for the long fight and queens spied on each other on their 2nd ranks. A draw was a fair, but very surprising, result.
My unusual opening bamboozled first my opponent, who was compelled to give up a pawn to free his development, but my unusual follow-up attack bamboozled only me. My endgame skills bamboozled only the spectators.
Martin got back to basics with a classic Martin-variation in the Sicilian which appeared to net him a rook for a number of pawns, and Jerry got tangled in some tactics and lost a piece in a sharp but patiently-played opening.
With both sides refusing to develop on board 1, black's queen got greedy on b2 and then trapped. Once Henry clarified the material imbalance to queen for rook the point was his. Jerry's queen was goaded into a trade and the missing knight was enough to persuade Jerry to visit the SU bar.
With the match score level and boards looking reasonable, things quickly took a turn for the worse. My ambitious plans backfired in a sharp position and Ethan was able to convert very smoothly. Richard's imposing pawns had come at the cost of the c-file and a sudden crack in the armour left white a cheeky mate in 2. I didn't see much of the end of Martin's game but Alice was able to save her game during what must have been relatively serious time pressure for both sides.
It's never nice to lose a match, but it's not so bad to lose to the University, because it's usually a safe bet that a few of their players will defect to us after graduation!