Eight ways from Sunday
As we all know, the ability to perform fortunately on one night is far more impressive than the consistency and reliability required by the league. To help with that, on my drive down (from York, no less) I was informed that Grendel would only be bringing seven players giving us a 1-0 lead before I'd even reached the M5.
Though we were without my planned ringers, we had almost all of the club's strongest players available to us, plus Tyson, plus new star Reinhold. Grendel on the other hand were missing a few of their regulars.
Steve and Alistair played a symmetrical opening and they played it quite slowly overall, though one black started some tactics, they seemed to offer a lot of space and a pressure on the queenside in exchange for being saddled with an objectively worse bishop. Oscar played a gambit though he couldn't seem to give his pawns away this week. In the end, white claimed a large space advantage a marginally safer king.
Will surprised us all by playing something normal against Richard, who spiced things up very quickly. As confusing as the lack of development was, it appeared white was more tangled despite the slow play. Tyson had to make slow progress against the Fort Knox but it was becoming clear that the gold was up for grabs.
I'm not entirely sure what happened in Nigel's game. It looked like a reasonable line in the French where black has the option of snatching some pawns. Naturally, I was not surprised to see Nigel leave them were they were at first, but suddenly they appeared to be dropping from the centre while the kingside pawns were hurtling at white's king. Reinhold played a blinder, taking the space all across the board and neutralising any hack potential from black. After that the position looked like tactics training where the solution was almost there. In my game, an early queen exchange gave black the initiative and after snapping up two pawns, the endgame exchanges ultimately won a rook and the point.
Richard finished moments later, having taken advantage of white's tangle. Nigel's trademark attack was crushing and that finished shortly after that.
Steve pushed the queenside advantage and it switched to a central one. With that, the final pawn push left white needing to defend a loose bishop and a looming promotion threat, and the point was won. 5-0. Could we push for the first 8-0 on this site?
First it was Tyson to get his. The simplification on the queenside meant that although he was technically up only a pawn, two of his were were advanced, connected, and passed.
Reinhold was second, having seemingly pushed black into a monumental zugzwang, a sacrificial attack was launched and a mating royal fork finished the game in picturesque fashion.
Oscar was still working away. Most of my analysis was pretty much useless because it took me far too long to realise I was confusing black's king and queen, so it turns out Oscar wasn't steadfastly refusing to pick up a free knight. What he did manage was the win of an exchange during a flurry of swaps. After that, grabbing some pawns and swapping off queens sealed the match.
I think it's fair to say we're pretty chuffed with that, though the score seems to be much too unkind to Grendel who played well in spite of the grading disadvantage. Nevertheless, we march on to play Bath in April in the final! Can we take home the silverware for a fourth year running?