We’ve had very mixed results against our B team over the years, to the extent that losses to them have cost us the title in the past, so this was a welcome banana skin avoided.
I was first to finish, largely because Manuel played very fast. He played a Schlechter Slav, but quite a passive version, and I greedily took lots of space in the centre, planting a knight on d6. In trying to swap it off Manuel missed a tactic that won me the exchange, but more importantly left his kingside pretty undefended. I crashed through, finishing with a completely unnecessary but satisfying queen sac.
Dunc won next. After playing some Hippo type rubbish he looked a bit worse, but gradually got his pieces to good squares, and won the exchange. He was dominating the centre of the board, and when Tomas tried to counter attack on the kingside it just made things worse. It didn’t last long after that.
Unbelievably, Gareth had exactly the same opening line for the third game running. It’s not that popular a line, so maybe his opponents are colluding? He’d at least looked it up after last week’s debacle and was looking pretty confident. Anton was playing normal-looking moves, but missed a tactic that won Gareth a piece. In compensation he had some scary looking queenside pawns, but Gareth kept them under control, and Anton resigned when he ran out of pieces.
Meanwhile, David was happily hacking on the white side of a London. He did everything right apart from one thing: for some reason he decided to castle queenside. He won some material, but his king started looking very lonely indeed, as James’ pieces starting pointing that way. Davis sacced the exchange back, leaving him three pawns for a piece, and an odd position ensued where it looked like a repetition might be the best for both sides. Instead James allowed a mate in one. Oops.
Igor and Robert had a closed Sicilian, with Igor having a normal slight advantage. That persisted into an endgame, and I assumed a long grind was on the cards. Igor had other ideas, ripping open the position and catching Robert’s king in a bishop/rook/pawn crossfire. Quite impressive, and fun to watch.
On top board the two IMs were playing a different brand of chess altogether. Answering an English with an early h5, James blocked the position, and he and Chris were jockeying for good squares for their bits. It looked to me that James was getting the upper hand, but a surprising late castling by Chris made it very tricky. Then a desirable but flawed central pawn push allowed Chris some tactics, and that was that.
Can’t complain about winning 5-1, so I won’t. The match finished fairly early, so there was a time for a couple (more) social beers afterwards. Which was nice.