A tough loss against Horfield C B
With Andrew back and ready to go, the A-team were at full strength. Though Horfield B were missing a few players, they had pulled reserves from their C-team and somehow strengthened themselves by an average of 6 points a board. Either our reputation was preceding us or they were hoping to not repeat their season start drubbing by their A-team. In any case, the match ups were not insurmountable for either team.
Richard and Patryk opened slowly, with neither side taking much space. It wasn't long however until Richard managed to grab a pawn, and then a second, for what seemed like insufficient compensation. Maybe some queenside pieces were a little awkward and white had a little more space, but doesn't that describe playing as black? Maybe that's why I'm not a 200-strength player. Nigel's game was a lot more action packed (no, really, he's 2/2!) with clashes of pawns at the middle ranks all across the board. Peter quickly sacrificed his own king safety to sacrifice Nigel's , but after both sides stocked up their heavy weaponry near the g-file attentions were turned to the queenside. Andrew and Mike had a relatively symmetrical start, but white took a little more space and aimed bishops at the kingside. Andrew punted the early draw offer, but Mike isn't one for taking draws in a K+B vs K endgame, let alone when there's actual play to be found.
My game with Bob had an interrupted start as there was a clock situation in the other match, but my time deficit wasn't noticeable once it was settled. We'd began with a sort of Philidor Defence/English Attack, which I never get to see outside of a bullet arena. Bob launched at my king on the queenside with an extremely quick c6, b5 and Qa5 in response to my early g4. As it seemed like black's attack would come thundering through before mine even drizzled, I traded queens and snatched a pawn hoping to weather the compensation storm. Ian and Prakash seemed to go through about 4 or 5 different opening transpositions as the centre got bogged up, only for white to fire off a quick f4 break that seemed to pose black some difficult problems on d6. Dominique had a much quieter game than last week's excitement, which was surprising as black played virtually the same opening. (I'm writing this before having seen the PGNs, I could easily be wrong.)
Without the pawn storm to back up his attack, Dominique agreed a draw as bits started to swap off and a dull, level endgame was on the horizon. Ian seemed to be getting into difficulties on the kingside against an assortment of pins and discoveries. It wasn't long until a defensive exchange sacrifice proved the wrong course and Horfield were 1½-½ up.
In my game, white had to reorganise the bits to consolidate the position, but a blunder cost Bob another pawn and a bishop, which was not as defended by a 'discovery with check' as it first appeared. Andrew struck in the centre with f5 and e4 but his a2-g8 diagonal was weak and a cramped rook was lost for a bishop as a result. Nigel and Peter seemed to swap off a few bits and agreed it wasn't going to be any fun for either side to make progress. Another half point in the bag for both teams. As far as I can tell, nothing happened in Patryk and Richard's game all evening until the very end.
Andrew's material deficit soon cost him the game as Mike was able to take full advantage. Despite allowing a rook in and having to awkwardly fend off a few swindle attempts I managed to cling to my advantage and push a pawn across the board. We were now 2-3 down, but Richard did have those extra pawns. Sadly, just as the crowd rallied to watch the triumphant time-trouble win to draw the match, Patryk uncorked some moves revealing brutal mating threats.
Only 1/4 points to start the season is certainly disappointing, especially against two "B"-teams, but not the end of the world. Fingers crossed we can up our game next week against the mighty Horfield A!
Update: Horfield have also written a match report which is extremely useful if you want details about any games in which I wasn't playing!