Last week Grendel struggled to get their strongest players out for the knockout semi-final. That was not the case this week. Maybe they don't rate the knockout (madness, I know), or maybe they wanted revenge in the style of their namesake's matriarch.
Somehow, many of the games of the night slipped past Dave's camera and so we're back to "What can Michael remember?" for this one.
Oscar played some sort of wizardry. First to finish, there was a knight, a rook, and a queen encircling the white king. Sure, he said, "It's easier when your opponent makes a mistake", but it seems to me like more mistakes are made against very strong players. That we haven't yet got this game means other games are still in with a hope of winning the March game of the month vote.
The rest of the games went a reasonable distance and I'm fairly sure some degree of time trouble featured on each board.
I was next to finish, though not until about 10 o'clock. I'd played a Spanish for some reason (my first since 2014, notwithstanding guaranteed Schliemanns, which are always fun) and remembered why I'd stopped. Actual chess. I gained a small edge, got away with a game losing blunder that we both missed, and then finally swung the game back in my favour after the bizarre piece placements started to favour white over black.
Stephen had launched an exciting hack attack, snatching a cheeky pawn from in front of the black king. To save time he also made a defensive exchange sacrifice, which resulted in blunting black and rushing more pawns towards the king. Somewhere along the way the pawns must've charged in the wrong order because they suddenly found themselves providing more safety to the king. Despite this, white ploughed on, even spurning an endgame draw offer, with the idea that the remaining bishop could protect the pawns to the other side against the rook. Unfortunately, black's pawns could run just as fast and the game was settled by half a tempo.
Reinhold appeared to have a level game. White hadn't been too ambitious and I think black equalised though without either side having an obvious plan after that. Though material was equal, black had a passed a-pawn that never looked like a significant weakness. White tried a plan to gain some initiative but removed the blockade and ultimately, the a-pawn (now a b-pawn) claimed a white rook for its troubles.
Martin started very strongly and appeared to have control of the semi-open files and possibly to have also snagged a pawn. As exchanges ensued, the dogged play from white seemed to gain a touch of the initiative and an endgame of queen, rook, three pawns and a passer each was reached. While Martin's was further away from the action it was white's on d7 that seemed to be causing the problems. Time trouble definitely didn't help and Will found a way to manoeuvre his pieces to force the promotion of the pawn.
Nigel had seemed comfortable from the off. Afterwards he told me that he was playing to keep the option of a draw open. While I would never make a comment about that, I leave the reader to infer their own jokes. There was a space advantage and a won pawn, and while f2 was under some pressure, its defence simply improved white's position, culminating in a knight forking both rooks in black's time trouble.
4-2. A much more reasonable looking scoreline. While we may not be expecting to reach much higher in the league this season, we need all the game points we can if we're to avoid being overtaken by the B-team!