Calamity avoided - probably

21st March 2018 - Cabot A vs Downend C

Prior to this match we knew that (barring an implosion at Thornbury) the team to be relegated to division three along with our D team would be either Cabot A or our C team. We also knew that, on paper at least, Cabot could field a team that would give our regular C team a close fight, certainly closer than we fancied. So a special effort was called for and the two Richards, showing true club spirit, kindly agreed to stand down for this crunch match. Indeed the Duffer still came as he is the wheels to bring the Welsh contingent, which on this occasion comprised our two top boards, Adam and Robert. We were also very glad that Oli was available to play. As it turned out, Cabot were not at full strength and, on paper at least again, we should be favourites.

First to finish was Adam, who cashed in on an early oversight by Tim to win a central pawn and, not long after, the exchange. He was able to liquidate down to a simple winning endgame.

By then the two other White boards were also looking promising. Oli was strongly attacking Alastair D's K-side castling and I was doing the same against Alan. But Oli converted much more quickly after over-coming one or two tricky counter-threats. Once the queens came off he emerged the exchange ahead and soon we had two points on the board.

The three Black boards were not showing any particular advantage by now but no problems either. Dominique was pretty level for thirty moves until a mistake by Neil cost the exchange. When a bishop also fell, the ending was a foregone conclusion, making the score 3-0. Andrew also was held by John for twenty moves before an ill-judged knight sortie turned out simply to lose a piece. After that he was able to mop up pretty straightforwardly to confirm that the match points were ours.

Which left Robert and me still playing (again!). Robert and Alastair M jockeyed for position for two dozen moves for no significant advantage either way and they agreed to split the point with material level. I had won a clear two pawns from my attack but still found myself playing on the increment later on. A blunder by Alan fortunately for me spared the need to go right down to the wire. Most of the Cabot players had found themselves playing on considerably higher boards than usual but they fought hard to delay what turned out to be the inevitable result.

So, the upshot of all this is that we are not yet absolutely sure to avoid relegation. But the only sequence that will send us down now is if we lose our last three matches and Cabot win theirs, all against teams in the top half. As they explained afterwards, they simply can't get their best players to turn out regularly enough. (Wednesday apparently is a problem for some of them.) Barring an amazing turnaround it looks like their predicament will be our salvation and we shall avoid the calamity of having no team in division two next season.

Ian Pickup