Downend 1 were back in action in Division 2, though they've been joined by our very strong "junior" team. Fortunately for the seniors, they're in different groups (not everyone thought groups were how divisions work, but there's been a lot of entries!). Downend 2 narrowly missed out promotion last time, but thanks to arbiter sympathy (or malice) and a few returning teams not returning, they were making their Division 3 debut.
Richard came uncharacteristically unstuck in a Najdorf with an uncastled king and white launching a wild attack. I'm putting this one down to a karmic punishment for his leaving us for Liverpool. He'll be back.
Somehow Rob managed to move order himself into an e4 opening, which I thought was hilarious, but it turns out he's more than competent in them too. For my money the problems started when black went for e5 in a Dragon-structure, but the f-file opening for white was the death knell. Don't forget to check out Rob's now-trademark knight checkmate.
If your general plan is to play any and all openings you regularly find yourself being caught out in opening theory. I was under pressure for the whole game, until I snagged a pawn, which induced a game ending blunder from white.
I'm starting to think that Steve insists that his opponent plays a Dutch Defence. Both kingsides were opened quickly, but black was quicker and the endgame was a bishop pair against rook and bishop. Then it was an opposite coloured bishop ending where black was two pawns to the good. Then it was a rook-pawn and correct bishop and the point was lost.
There was a theoretical tussle in the Dragon where Max looked sure to be cracking open the kingside before the Rxc3 sacrifice made any difference. Somehow black weathered the storm and an endgame where almost all the pawns were passed ensued. Black managed to make the most of the exposed kings situation and took the point.
Oli played slowly, but accurately, but slowly. By move 20, he had under 7 minutes against 22. Slipping a pawn or two didn't matter as black fought back and soon took the material advantage. The rest was very smoothly handled on virtually incremement alone.
The slower time control rust was showing for both players in this game as a quick pawn blunder put Chirag in a great position early on. Unfortunately, the scourge of online chess, a mouseslip lost a piece and it wasn't worth continuing.
Fortunately for us both players missed a cheeky Légal's mate early on, and while there was sustained pressure to be dealt with, Aron came out with a bishop pair against a rook. Despite some tenacious play, a draw was the best that could be found.
It was a rusty move order that left Ian's Najdorf in a very sharp position. White went for a sacrifice to cement some attacking chances and before black could marshall a defence, the mate was found.
Black was very solid in Dave's game, and despite probing for weaknesses, it was black that managed to snaffle the occasional pawn until the endgame that was reached featured six pawns against three.
Samy went for the sharpest opening of the night with a Semi-Slav, but a pawn is a pawn. There was creative play by both sides and it was definitely one for the spectators, though in the end white was able to smash through with a devastating attack.
Shaun debuted in the 4NCL Online with a strong opening, cementing a knight on f5 in the Spanish. Black fought back and took space on the queenside. Material was exchanged and the levelest of level endgames resulted in a draw by repetition to save the team's blushes.
So it was not necessarily the dream start for any of us, but there's plenty more rounds to go! Remember if you want to join the team, it's not too late to add your name to the squads!