Well, where to start with this one? We were missing James, but even so this was not a good performance. I could easily express that sentiment more strongly, as indeed I did in the pub afterwards. Never mind, it’s nearly Christmas.
On top board I had an interesting opening with Dan, but I couldn’t remember the lines at all. Instead of playing safe I went for a tactical solution that failed, leaving me with a horrid position. While waiting for the inevitable, I amused myself working out the various ways Dan could win, and he eventually went for the simplest (if not the prettiest) solution. Fair dos, Dan played well.
Gareth was on the white side of a QGA, but to my eyes it didn’t look like a good version for him. He accepted an isolated passed pawn, but it was well blocked and black was very active. Aaron gradually surrounded it, and the tactics that Gareth went for didn’t work. Tactics not working seems to be somewhat of a theme for the team this year.
Dunc and Michael played a complex looking game from a Hippo. I couldn’t really work out who was better for most of the game. Dunc was a pawn up, then the exchange up, but I’m not sure how relevant that was. In the end Michael had two connected passed pawns, the Dunc could do nothing to stop them.
On board four David and Alex were locked in one of their manoeuvring battles. They reached an endgame where Alex had the two bishops but a worse pawn structure. Watching them probing around was rather like watching Carlsen v Karjakin, but I’m not sure which was which. Unsurprisingly it ended peacefully.
From early in their game Steve had a stranglehold on Igor’s position. Igor had a big hole on d5, which at one point was occupied by a knight, and defended by five other pieces. Nimzowitsch would be proud. Despite that, it wasn’t clear how to break through, so when a tactic appeared Steve happily took an exchange. The downside of this was that Igor got a pawn on c6 to cover his hole, and his game freed up. It looked pretty level to me, but as is often the case a blunder decided the game.
There is a dispute about board six, so I won’t say anything about that. It obviously won’t affect the match result, and I’d like to congratulate Horfield on their play: they duffed us up good and proper.
On another note, apologies for the lack of a match report for the Clifton A v B match, clearly none of my team mates thought to write one. I was busy playing in the Guernsey tournament, which was great fun. I’d recommend it to anyone, and if you’re lucky you may get to play (and lose to) two GMs, which was what happened to me. I did win a few other games though, and also ate a lot of prawns.
UPDATE: The dispute on board six was amicably resolved, and has been agreed a draw. The final result is 5-1 to Horfield. We will lick our wounds and return to fight another day.