Can anyone stop the Horfield Juggernaut?

25th September 2018 - Downend B vs Horfield C

Horfield C arrived for their first visit of the season to the home of W.G.Grace, making it a triple special occasion! In addition to welcoming them as division one players, we also had new furniture, courtesy of Downend Cricket Club. Furthermore, this was the day that we celebrated being ushered into the Hall of Fame on the prestigious as one of the “Best Chess Clubs in the World”. Quite a night.

Horfield had some problems raising a team, which we fully sympathise with, as we, also, had four matches in three days this week. The Gods of Fixture-listing have ensured that next week will be even tougher for us with five matches in four days. Such is the price of fame!

As a result, we started at 1-0 with your scribe free to misunderstand what was happening on the remaining boards. But no such misunderstanding on board four where Nigel, in danger of being squashed by Chirag's big centre, chanced a dodgy piece sacrifice against the castled King. Suffice if to say that it never really looked like working but at least he lasted considerably longer against Chirag than I had done a couple of weeks before.

The top two boards were comfortable enough from our point of view with Steve looking safe-ish with Black against Patryk and Mike building pressure against Bob.

I was happier in my assessment of boards three and five. Martin had more than equalized against Jon and I surmised that he would grind out the point. But Andrew looked to be going one better against Prakash in a very messy game where it was impossible to predict all the best moves. But, in endeavouring to do so, Andrew of course went down on the clock in truly Tipperesque (or should that be Tipperonian?) style while maintaining multiple threats against the White King. Remembering to parry the counter-threat of a sneaky back rank mate he found just enough time to reach a winning endgame and, with the benefit of the increment, was able to relax and convert some 25 moves later. It had been an excellent demonstration of cool play under pressure.

So, now 3-0 up, and what could possibly go wrong? Well, the nightmare scenario was that Steve, by now a pawn down in a Queen ending could lose. Very much a doomsday possibility since his King was close enough to the extra pawn to liquidate it if the Queens came off but... you never know. Mike had sacrificed a pawn in a position with too many chances for either side to go wrong. And Martin became well down on the clock so that the possibility of a blunder in time trouble suddenly emerged. Would somebody please agree a draw?

Thank you, Martin. Eschewing the possibility of forcing a trickily winning ending, he shook hands to clinch the match point. Then Steve won back the pawn and another one, to boot. But Patryk's Queen was active enough to force numerous checks so this game was also halved. Finally Mike, having been pressing for a win all the game, slipped in time trouble to allow a fatal infiltration into his King's position.

In the end it was a comfortable enough victory and moves the B team above their seniors in the League. Next week we'll see if they can maintain their lead.

Ian Pickup