We started our defence of the cup with a home match against Clevedon. John had yet again assembled a strong team whilst Paul Spiller had not been able to get out his strongest players and arrived a player short. However we know that Clevedon have a reputation as giantkillers so much could go wrong.
Our first success was on Board 5 where Steve Meek quickly got some mobile queenside pawns in a Benoni structure and then won a piece with a queen fork. His opponent managed to conjure up some kingside threats but Steve countered these efficiently and then his queenside pawns rolled forward to clinch the game. I (Nigel) was next to finish; my opponent got a passive position while I was carefully preparing a c5 pawn break. This was duly executed and, although black made a gesture on the kingside, some simplification followed by control of the b file and the c pawn rolling forward made the score 3-0.
I then spent some time on a postmortem and by the time I returned to the match arena we were 7-0 up. On Board 1 Aron had had a sharp game in which he always seemed to have good play and this resolved into an endgame with level material but Aron had the initiative. An exchange sac liberated his central pawns which then rolled forward to win the game. On Board 2 Oli’s opponent set up a solid structure but then allowed Oli’s knights into d6 and e5. This set up a mobile kingside pawn structure which then rolled forward to open the f file and ensured the victory. On Board 3 Oscar had allowed his pawns to be doubled on the f file, but this gave him superior development and an open g file along which to attack the white king. Some tactics won a pawn and then a second one to reach an endgame which Oscar was never going to let slip and his e and f pawns rolled forward to clinch the game. On Board 7 Reinhold had a solid position in which he could launch a minority attack on the queenside. Dave was unable to get play quickly enough on the kingside and Reinhold won a pawn and then his active pieces enabled the win of a piece and more pawns so Dave resigned before the pawns could roll forward and complete the victory.
Only Board 4 left now. Mike had had a space advantage for some time but Dave Peters’ Stonewall structure was living up to its name. Eventually a pawn ending was reached in which Mike was striving for a breakthrough. Time was tight and Dave may well have drawn by sitting tight but … b5 let the king in and Mike’s b pawn could roll forward one step at a time to ensure zugszwang and complete an 8-0 match score.
As ever this flattered us as Clevedon put up a stout resistance on many boards before we managed to roll them up successfully