Match report: Downend A – Clifton A

Date: 14/02/2017
Downend A 2.0-4.0 Clifton A
Henry Duncanson 0-1 James Cobb
Richard Savory 0-1 John Curtis
Chris Russell 1-0 Gareth Morris
Nigel Hosken 0-1 David Collier
Jerry Humphreys 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Michael Brigden 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Could there possibly be a more romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day than a chess match at Downend? David’s email to the team reminding us of this match had the subject ‘St Valentine’s Day massacre?’ and it nearly was a massacre too, but not in the way we were expecting given the relative fortunes of our teams this year.

David led the way with the first win, playing an excellent game against Nigel. A normalish closed Catalan looked to offer equal chances, but Nigel seemed to overextend, which may have been asking too much of his position. David manoeuvred well, and picked up a queenside pawn. The ending looked tricky to me at first, but David brought home the point very smoothly.

Meanwhile Duncan had tried an early b3 in a Sicilian, an idea I’ve never understood. Jerry wasn’t seemingly concerned, and they both got their bits out sensibly. As he is wont to do, Dunc spiced things up a bit by castling queenside, although getting real attacking chances looked optimistic. He tried though, but Jerry kept things together, and eventually got into an ending that was quite a bit better for him. Dunc was certainly worried, but maybe Jerry went wrong sometime after that, because the next I knew they’d halved out. If I were writing the Downend report I’d no doubt insert a comment here about Jerry and draws, but I’m not, so I won’t.

My game was fun to play, albeit quite confusing. Richard played down the same line I’d had a couple of weeks ago, but deviated with what looked like an improvement. Some odd things happened, leading to Richard having a huge looking pawn chain (g4, f5, e6), but a nice sequence at least gave me all the black squares as compensation. It was probably around equal, but then a tactical oversight let me take his big e6 pawn for nothing, which was nice. Richard told me afterwards that he’d seen the refutation of his move, but had forgotten and played it anyway. I know the feeling. It took me quite a while to secure the win, probably making heavy weather of it, but it was really just a matter of time, particularly since Richard had very little time left.

James won soon after me. All his games with white against Henry look much the same to me: a Catalan, some subtle shuffling of bits, queenside pressure being applied, switch to kingside attack. Maybe it’s just me. In any case it worked this time, and looked impressive to me, much like Henry’s win against James earlier in the season.

While all this was going on Igor and Michael were happily chugging along in a QI. Michael looked to have a small edge early on, but it was nothing major. Next time I looked the position had changed somewhat: Igor’s kingside pawn structure was compromised, but his remaining minor pieces were very active. I missed everything after that, but apparently Igor missed a win somewhere along the line.

Finally, Gareth and Chris were battling it out in a Classical Dutch. Chris transformed it into a Stonewall in response to Gareth’s queenside lunges, but it still looked good for white to me. Suddenly a nice tactic appeared, and Gareth managed to nab a couple of bits for a rook, which was the cue for him to go and buy a pint. White must have been much better, but Chris is a very good, tricky player, and he also had a very active queen. Gareth decided to go for an attack, giving back his material advantage. Unfortunately for him he didn’t get it quite right, and Chris got into a winning endgame.

So, a few ups and downs but overall a successful evening. It almost certainly won’t have much effect on the final standings, but it’s good to remind people that we can, on occasion, still play chess.