No Match Point but Set for Championship
Our A-team travelled to Horfield B for their final match of the Season, needing a draw - or failing that 2½ game points - to secure our first Division One title since 1994. On paper this may have appeared quite feasible, as we out-graded our opponents by an average of about 14 points. In reality, we were facing a team that was determined to get a win in an attempt to avoid relegation. Nigel, unbeaten all season, was unavailable so it wasn't going to be easy and the pressure was definitely on us.
Most of the games looked delicately poised, with the odd-pawn disadvantage probably compensated for in other ways. It stayed this way until after two hours, when the first game to finish was Henry who had managed to trap John's rook and then defend resolutely against an attempted attack, forcing resignation: 1-0. Just before 10 O'clock, Michael M, had to resign as a result of Phil's strong attack that had netted a piece: 1-1. At this point, the only other game that was clearly in our favour was Jerry's.
With 10 minutes to go, Jerry had won material but the position wasn't now clearly winning. Under pressure though from Queen and Rook, Harvey allowed a 'mate in one': 2-1. Chris had given up a-pawn early in his game and was giving Kajetan quite a few headaches. Unfortunately, Chris could not find a win and his opponent unravelled his position and then found a discovered check picking up a rook that was too much: 2-2 with Michael B now struggling and board 3 unclear.
Less than five minutes left and now with equal material, Alex and Richard agree a draw: 2½-2½ — Champions!! Meanwhile, our Captain Michael B had found himself in an opposite coloured bishops ending but facing two central connected-pawns and very short of time. A possible saving move was not to be found though: 2½-3½.
While a slightly disappointing result it was one which was almost optimal for both teams and now Horfield B have it in their own hands to retain Division One status. Thanks to both Horfield and South Bristol for their kind words and also commiserations to Horfield A, who for so long looked like they might be Champions. They both made it the closest of contests won and lost by the narrowest of margins.