It was another night of extremely strong opponents, but we were joined once again by club legend Attila, presumably with his new baby in arm and sleepless nights as preparation.
There was some high-level shuffling for the control of the centre early on, which left white looking like they held the initiative, but with a more exposed king. On this occasion, it was the exposed king that held more sway and despite a strong-looking passed pawn, black was able to convert the advantage.
Despite beginning with 1.e4, Rob's game quickly looked like a King's Indian Defence but without a fianchettoed bishop. White also didn't gain the customary queenside attack and instead opted for a g4 poke. After a series of exchanges the position opened up and although it's possible Rob held an edge, the rook and pawn endgame was too dry to convert the full point.
Oli (and the lichess analysis) had no time for the Dutch and set about dismantling it as soon as possible. With the centre opening up, black took some initiative and the bishop pair, but Oli's defence was far more tenacious. Earning points for style white swapped to an opposite coloured bishop ending, allowing black a host of ominious-looking extra pawns in the process, knowing full-well that the point would be split when the dust settled.
In what a few years ago could have been a local league pairing, Dominique contends that he went wrong in the opening even if the advantage didn't last for too long. Despite white starting a double rook invasion, both kings remained too exposed for either side to make significant progress.
From my perspective, it seemed as though something went wrong in the opening for Chirag and he was on the back foot for almost the entire game. Nevertheless, black found accurate moves to mop up the pawn they were occasionally behind and stay in the fight. In the endgame, just as white looked to be on the cusp of establishing a concrete advantage, Chirag was able to crack out a protected passed pawn pair to tie up the remaining rook and hold the half point.
I saw my opponent played an unusual line in blitz and decided to see how it held up under slower-play scrutiny. My conclusion? It holds up rather well. Then, as we were heading to an endgame in which black held the slight edge, black used 20 minutes for two moves and suffered as a result. I was hardly a paradigm of accuracy either, as I missed a way to win a piece and instead won a pawn. Fortunately, that was enough to convert a nervy-endgame.
Ian had another great win after white pressed very hard and very early. Black's patience allowed a sneaky b-pawn to run across the board and a stunning queen sacrifice finish won the full point.
There was almost no wild tactical excitement in Aron's game. During the game I was wondering what I'd be able to write about the game. Fortunately, as I say, there was almost no tactical excitement. Pouncing on the one weakness in black's position, white won a pawn, and very nearly held on to it. Unfortunately, the position was too level for the advantage to be maintained and a draw by repetition emerged in a very drawn endgame.
Downend 2 continue to be pushed hard after their surprise return to Division3. Ian pushed back hard in an Austrian Attack that went so far across the board (with g4) that it almost became a Slovakian Attack. While in the process of cracking open the black kingside a tactic was dropped that lost white's queen.
Samy was nearly the victim of opening tactics, but escaped with a pawn weakness. No sooner than the pawn dropped off, white fell victim to that most frustrating of blunders, in which a queen's rook defender is deflected by a sacrificial rook check. (Make sure you know it!) The rest was not without excitement, as black simplified to a pawn endgame, which required accurate play.
Shaun opened well, shattering black's structure. What followed was an imbalance of material with play for both sides. Without anyone noticing until it was too late, black managed to set up a mating net.
Sometimes we get caught in an opening trap that we've not seen before. This time, Elliott was on the educational end of problems on the a8-h1 diagonal. We've all been there and now we know what to avoid!
Despite the tough night, there were some gems and The Rook1Es taking home the points is certainly a silver lining!