Match report: Clifton A – Clifton B

Date: 07/02/2017
Clifton A 3.5-2.5 Clifton B
James Cobb 0.5-0.5 Chris Beaumont
John Curtis 0-1 Dominic Bennett
Gareth Morris 0-1 Manuel Jiminez
Duncan Grossett 1-0 Anton Muller
David Collier 1-0 Abshir Ahmed
Igor Doklestic 1-0 Stefano Gallini

Our matches against the B team have been anything but straightforward over the years, and this one was no exception. I always find them a bit strange, playing your mates and pretending it’s important. I didn’t pay that much attention to the games this time, so the report may be even less factual than normal.

The games on the bottom two boards finished first. David got a level position out of the opening, and it looked pretty dull to be honest. After a while it started getting a bit spicy, and David won the tactical battles and cleaned up nicely. Igor won soon afterwards, gradually outplaying his opponent, whose king was wandering around the board, somewhat like me trying to get home after a heavy Friday night.

On board four Dunc and Anton were involved in an open Sicilian, just like real chess players. After a while Dunc got the upper hand, winning a pawn. The game still looked complex though, so I was surprised that when I next looked it had simplified to an ending where Dunc had two bits for a rook, which he duly converted.

3-0 at half way looks good, but then things started too go wrong. Against me Dom had essayed a slightly odd version of the Stonewall Dutch. After a bit of a ponder, I decided to make it interesting and castled queenside. I was a bit better all the way through, and we ended up in a position where I was a pawn up, albeit with some king issues. A pawn soon turned into an exchange, and I thought it was all under control. It might well have been too, but in the space of about four good moves from Dom (combined with a few bad moves from me) I was getting mated. Never mind, it was a fun game.

Meanwhile, Gareth had played a Czech Benoni, one of my old favourites. It was all fairly thematic, with Gareth exchanging his bad pieces to offset the space disadvantage. It didn’t really seem to be going anywhere though, and an ending ensued that looked very even. I don’t know what happened next, but the next three times I looked Gareth was a pawn down, then the exchange down, and finally a rook down. Manuel gave mate with about 10 seconds left on his clock.

That left the two IMs battling it out on top board. Watching while sat next to the game, I will admit to being baffled. Playing black, James got out of mainstream theory on move two, gave away all the central space, for ages only moved his knights and just for good measure pushed his h pawn up the board. I don’t feel qualified to say whether it was madness or genius. What it did leave was an interesting position, one that I won’t pretend to understand. I’m sure lots of interesting stuff happened next, but all I really remember is that it finished in perpetual check.

So, we won by a whisker. The B team’s loss will help the other teams near the foot of the table more than the win will help us near the top. As I say, these matches are strange.