Match report: South Bristol A – Clifton A

Date: 16/03/2017
South Bristol A 1.5-4.5 Clifton A
Paul Helbig 0-1 James Cobb
Patryk Krzyzanowski 0-1 John Curtis
Shane Roberts 0.5-0.5 Gareth Morris
Richard Garrett 0.5-0.5 David Collier
Tony Harvey 0-1 Duncan Grossett
David Neagle 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Despite the comfortable-looking scoreline this was a tough match with hard-fought games. The exception to that was on board 4, where it didn’t seem like Richard and David were in the mood. A dull opening led to a quick handshake, and presumably a beer or two.

On top board James had played Bg5 then Bc1 by move 4, which I guess you can get away with without looking silly when you’re an IM. An unbalanced position arose which it looked like James played extremely well, causing Paul to have to cope with some crafty tactics. Paul lost or gave up his queen for rook and knight, and James converted smoothly. He’s played some really good stuff recently.

Dunc found himself in a slightly passive position against Tony, but at least he hadn’t blundered a pawn on move four like in the previous match. Tony was pressing, confidently advancing his g pawn and gaining more space, but while I was otherwise engaged things turned around, and next time I looked Dunc was a pawn up with a nice protected central passed pawn. Tony battled hard, but Dunc won through in the end.

Meanwhile Igor was embroiled in a fairly unexciting looking closed Sicilian. It was quite blocked, and pieces were slowly coning off. Igor tried to make something happen in the endgame, but it always looked like a draw.

My goal for the last couple of years has been to play more interesting games, and this was a fun one. We quickly reached a novel and very unbalanced position: I had a good structure but Patryk had two bishops and the initiative. Gradually I managed to gain space in the centre and nice squares for my knights, while Patryk was trying to aim at my king, who was feeling a bit breezy after castling long. Fortunately for me my central pressure was quicker than his attack, and when Patryk tried to hide his king on the kingside it got chopped down by a sneaky rook lift.

Meanwhile, Gareth had been lunging away as white in a Pirc, but his pawn advances only seemed to give Shane lots of nice squares, plus a rather scary bishop. In truth it looked horrible for Gareth, and he was holding on for dear life. Chess is tricky though, and Shane went wrong, leaving Gareth with a winning ending. He spent too much time however, and there followed a (rather comical to watch) period of mutual bashing out of moves. Gareth’s flag eventually fell, but by that time Shane was down to a bare king, so the point was split.

After this result we’re still in the hunt for second place (or first if all the Downend players decide to give up chess). South Bristol however have a real struggle on their hands to avoid the drop.