|James Cobb||1-0||Attila Reznak|
|John Curtis||1-0||Michael Brigden|
|Gareth Morris||0-1||Stephen Meek|
|Duncan Grossett||0-1||Ian Pickup|
|David Collier||0.5-0.5||Dave Tipper|
|Igor Doklestic||1-0||Oliver Stubbs|
Our first night back in our refurbished venue, and things looked much the same as ever. On there plus side there is a great range of bottled beer, which I’ll be working my way through over the coming weeks. The match was a very close one, not decided until late on in the evening.
Dunc was first to finish. A standard looking Open Sicilian against Ian seemed to be just getting going when I heard he’d resigned. He’d blundered something, losing a piece, or possibly a pawn, and had clearly had enough. We’ve all had days like that.
Dave and David drew soon after that, their Sicilian fizzling out into an endgame. Dave may have been a little better, but with one point already in the bank a safe draw seemed a good option.
Gareth was facing the same c3 Sicilian line as last week, and clearly hadn’t looked at it in the meantime. He went for a different variation, giving up a pawn to get an endgame where he hoped to have counterplay. Unfortunately for him it never arrived, and he got gradually pushed off the board on the queenside. I’m not sure that dropping his glass full of beer was a good idea, no matter how bad his position, but he wiped it up before resigning.
Mike went wrong early on against me, misjudging a queen exchange and subsequent pawn push. Rather than go for a sad looking endgame Mike tried an active defence, but unfortunately for him it didn’t really work, and I ended up with a couple of extra pawns as well as all the play. There wasn’t a lot Mike could do, and after I’d got all my bits out and pushed my central pawns he decided it was time to put the bits back in the box.
The last two games to finish were the most interesting. James and Attila reached a complex position which was difficult to call. A tactic won James a piece, or Attila may have sacrificed it, but either way there was plenty of compensation. From the sidelines it wasn’t at all clear to me, but James got his pieces into the white position and forced the win of queen for rook while also avoiding his back rank problems. It all looked rather impressive. All in all a very hard-fought game by two very strong players.
On board 6 Igor and Oliver had castled on opposite sides, which is always fun too watch. Early on Igor’s attack looked much the faster but no knockout blow was found. Igor won a pawn, and another complex position arose, with BvN, and a queen & rook each. I thought Igor might be a touch better, but Oliver played it well and the queens came off leaving him a pawn up. A rook and bishop with pawns can be dangerous though, and a march of his a pawn won Igor the exchange. It went on many more moves on the increment, but Igor eventually brought home the point.
Overall a fun and exciting match, with many thrills and spills, some of them literal. The Downend guys played well and we were a bit lucky (again), but as ever we’ll take the win.