Horfield B vs Downend B
We arrived at Horfield and were shocked to find that, apart from their regulars, we were facing two of their strongest from the list of occasional players registered for their C team. Their Captain, John, described it as showing respect which might have been sarcastic, I am not sure. If genuine I suppose we are a bit surprised.
I was the first to finish. I had had a hard day and was not feeling like taking risks. Neither was Peter I think. Knowing how difficult he is to beat, and with other games looking promising, I offered a draw which Peter accepted. At this stage the remarkable game was being played by Chirag. These players were taking risks! From a Sicilian a position arose a position in which black had a typical isolated queen pawn position except that white had his h-pawn in front his castled king left en prise as was the black d-pawn. At first neither could be taken for tactical reasons but soon Chirag did take the h-pawn with his bishop, Michael presumably thinking he could gain an advantage by trapping it. Perhaps it was almost trapped but it became a monster on g3, soon to be joined by its brother on d5 and the black queen on g6. The pressure was too great and with a flurry of tactics the game was over.
Roger had played a b4 gambit against Andrew's Scandinavian and although he did seem to have some play for it, Andrew seemed to be holding the position and the compensation looked insufficient. Although both Stephen and Martin had more space their advantage, if any, was small and seeing the match position both agreed to draws, leaving us needing a point from the remaining two games to win the match.
Oli's game with Paul became extraordinary! A Pirc had drifted into a drawish looking position with two bishops and major pieces each and balanced pawns. By using a zwischenzug Oli was going to be the first to occupy the open b file, but this didn't seem to be much. Paul then amazed the spectators by sacrificing his queen for a rook and bishop.This appeared all the more doubtful when Oli won a pawn creating a passed a-pawn. However credit Paul for the depth of his vision. Stockfish didn't like it at first, but after a bit of time rated the position not just equal but 0.00. Not at all easy to see why though the two bishops are powerful and Oli's bishop was poor. Both sides followed the engine for a while with Oli sacrificing his bishop to gain time for advancing his a-pawn. Still 0.00! Paul had to give up his rook for the a-pawn but did it in a way the engine didn't quite like so Oli now had an advantage. But how to use it as the black bishops were well place to shepherd home a passed c-pawn? Oli advanced his g-pawn to open the black king position (perhaps the h-pawn was a bit better says Stockfish) which duly happened. After several looks to assess Andrew's game, Oli took the perpetual. Praise to both players and a fair and correct decision I think. If you follow engine analysis you get a position with queen versus two coordinated bishops and pawn and it is hard to see progress being made.
Andrew, though short of time, now had a winning endgame but Roger was making things difficult. In desperation Roger took an h-pawn allowing a pin on his bishop. Superficially it didn't look too dangerous, but it allowed Andrew to find a nice sequence leading to loss of the bishop and the game was over.
So the B team march on with more success than we had anticipated. Everyone has done well but it is the performance of our juniors which gives special pleasure.