If you thought Downend 1 had a tough night last week, this week they faced a team led by GM Mark Hebden. It wasn't any easier as we work through the matches, and yet, it was three convincing wins! I'm taking it as a very thoughtful gift from the club to me for my birthday, on which I'm writing this report.
What can you say? Attila may be a club legend, and he did reach a level-looking (to my untrained eye) endgame, but Mark Hebden did what he does and ground out the ending.
I thought Rob was struggling for some of his game, until I remembered he was playing as white. There was an exchange sacrifice from black, but Rob never seemed to suffer the supposed compensation. The endgame grind sorted the point out nicely.
Steve was under pressure very early on and perhaps there were some ideas for white in a different direction, but I suspect the thinking was that black was soon to collapse. When black didn't, white pushed a little too hard, not recognising that the attack was running out of steam. It may have been a time trouble that ended the game but it was white that was about to collapse at that point.
It's FIDE titles all the way down as board 4 still featured an FM. Oli worked very hard and very accurately to make incremental gains and get to an ending with a good advantage. Unfortunately, black was able to set enough problems to save half a point.
Chirag was back and certainly playing to win. There was some exciting play on the b1-h7 diagonal, which black was only able to defend against with a fianchettoed queen. Despite this pressure, there was a black rook invasion and Chirag took the practical decision to accept the draw, which also guaranteed the match for the team.
Once again my Tiger turned into a Hippo, meaning I take the dubious honour of being responsible for half the Hippo games on club record. I didn't do so well with it this week and an ending was reached where my advantage was symbolic at best. Fortunately for me, white missed the plan to keep my invasion out and I took half a point more than I earnt.
Aron set a cheeky trap early on and black took the free pawn. It only cost black a knight. This must have rattled black who almost immediately chucked another knight at Aron. When the dust settled, the point was clearly won.
The only game to outpace was this one, in which white got their move order confused. It was a natural recapture but the position falls apart immediately and the game was done by move 14.
White's play looked aggressive and by the middle it was hard to tell which way pawns were going, since they were so scattered. The trouble with that sort of play is that it leaves your king open to a potential attack and Dominique didn't need to be asked twice.
Steve made good headway with some exciting and dynamic play. Such is the way of chess that it therefore meant a symmetrical pawn endgame with the almost no imbalances whatsoever. Black attempted to bail out for a draw and a few moves later the offer was returned by white.
Samy has demonstrated his ability to handle the Italian before, but in case you haven't noticed, this is a good example. Development suffered for material gain, but as we've recently learnt, mastering "the secret art of tempo" doesn't mean much if your opponent has more material. A cheeky mate finished the game quickly, but the point was already going Samy's way.
Once again Elliott handled his opening nicely, and was unlucky to drop a pawn. Unfortunately, it was one of those key d4-pawns in a French Defence and black was able to invade for the full point.
In further exciting news, since the squad has grown so much, we're adding a third Downend team for the final few rounds (because inputting games and writing match reports doesn't already take long enough)!