Points for all
It was an entirely internal affair with the A vs B-team and the D vs E-team matches opening the club's new season. The B-team were at full strength, but the A-team's new captain (apparently I'm only the fifth A-team captain for the club in 55 years!) was required to find an emergency stand-in after Andrew became unavailable that afternoon. Thankfully Dave was willing rush his dinner and race to step in.
Steve and Richard started their game with plenty of theory and white taking a little more of the space thanks to a dynamic isolated queen's pawn. Nigel, full of the optimism for the new season, played an enterprising line that exchanged a queen for three minor pieces and plenty of confusion. Oli launched into his opening system that duffed me up in the summer rapidplay last month, but I tried an odd move order to spice things up. Unfortunately, it left me on the back foot as my queen was almost stuck and my knights were rim-bound either defending a c7 fork or struggling to develop.
Dominique, having jumped up in the board order (and he may continue if he keeps playing like this!) deviated from the standard Martin System in the Sicilian and launched a kingside pawn storm. Ian recaptured a snaffled pawn with a Bxd4 grab that promptly lost to a Qa4+. An unfortunate blunder for the A-team, but a great welcome for new junior Chirag. Dave was late because he wasn't expecting to be playing, but Andrew sportingly held fire on the clocks and a calm open board was soon in play.
Having seen the dynamism that Steve had, Richard went for an IQP himself and the symmetry proved too exciting and the point was split early. As Nigel's position was harder to play and my position was worse this felt like it may have been a fair result for the top board, but a difficult one to swallow for the A-team.
Dominique's crushing attack came good as Nigel exchanged down to pawns, rook, and bishop against a queen and pawns. I offered a draw suspecting my position to finally be level and Oli's time pressure to be starting to weigh on his mind. Looking at his more active heavy pieces, Oli opted to play on.
Nigel put up a sturdy defence and it almost looked like he'd secure a fortress with symmetrical pawns and rook vs queen, but black's king marched up the board and put the score at 2½-1½ to the B-team.
Oli opened up our endgame but over-pressed and lost a pawn. In a resulting time scramble I was able to give up my final rook for a pawn and threaten an urgent enough promotion with two connected pawns on the 7th to win the point and pull the match level.
With time-trouble really pressing on Dave and Andrew, a draw was agreed in a level looking position.
It was a night of 3-3 draws but there were plenty of attacking games and some wild tactics! Let's hope for more of the same in the coming season!
Thanks again to Dave for agreeing to play having only been told he was needed at 7:30!