The Rook1Es and Downend 2, as it turns out, were facing very, very strong teams this week and the final scores don't reflect the quality of play shown by our teams. The reader may be quick to point out that I would say that because I'll need players for the matches in November, but in that case the reader is just being a cynic.
There's something impressive about the blasé attitude Rob adopts to a queenless middlegame (or opening) with doubled isolated king's pawns. I guess it's just one more file to work with for black. In contrast to the usual motif, Rob won the exchange instead of sacrificing it, and gave the material back for a winning king and pawn ending. If you ignore the draw black missed. Maybe we should all study up on opposition!
For reasons that I can't quite figure out, my opponent let me waltz in and snap a rook off for a knight. I wasn't subtle about it. It's not my style. The attack down the long-diagonal fizzled out and the endgame was fairly straightforward.
It can be hard enough to figure out Dominique's games at the best of times, but this was an Austrian Attack Pirc, so I really don't know. Dominique won.
Ian went for a Milner-Barry Gambit and had a lot of fun chasing the black queen around and lifting his rooks into quite an ominous attack. Something went wrong somewhere along the way and black's f-pawn assault more than equalised.
Oli's welcome return was a tough one. The theory looked sound enough but white's queenside was more imposing than the black attack on the king. Time got low around move 20 and the rest was played on increment.
Max also had a slow game and went for an interesting plan against the aggressive Accelerated Dragon, which only came unstuck when the white king became too exposed. The tactical efforts by both sides were great fun until one final trump card at the end finished it off.
We've seen this opening a few times on this site, but no amount of engine analysis is going to convince me it's sound. For either side. Apparently it is though, and a level game came about. Development was the issue for black and after going in for the tough exchange of queen for rook and bishop white was able to mop up.
Finn looked to have resolved the issues that black can stir in the Benko, but the pressure lasted and once white's passed a-pawn was gone, the result can only go one way.
Taking the first of our titled opponents of the night, Steve transposed into a good-looking Advance Caro-Kann. His castling by hand was a bold and entertaining effort too. Unfortunately, they don't give away titles lightly and white was able to crack open the position after which the black king looked perilous.
Even though the isolated queen's pawn looked to be a difficult one to liquidate, Samy played very well, getting down to a rook and pawn ending only down a pawn. After that black (our second titled opponent), showed some excellent technique to convert the endgame.
Out of the opening, Shaun won an exchange and looked to be in control. Even when white drummed up an attack it didn't look too problematic. If there hadn't been a mate on the cards, the last ditch queen sacrifice to run some pawns through looked good for black.
I was a fan of Elliott's attempt to sidestep the general slower lines of the Scandinavian Defence. There was an unfortunate trapping of a piece, but with careful play white regained the knight and there was only a pawn in it. Black forced white into passivity and came through with a devastating (and surprisingly pretty) attack on the queenside.
I'm sure we'll see a return to point-scoring form in the next matches, but if that isn't enough motivation to come back, remember I'm in York and likely to be in a Tier 3 area/lockdown/circuit breaker/firebreak/stormbreaker by the next matches, which means the unwelcome return of (Halloween-themed) film quiz pictures!