Match report: University A – Clifton A

Date: 06/10/2016
University A 1.5-4.5 Clifton A
Bogdan Manghiuc 0-1 James Cobb
Philipp Prasse 0-1 John Curtis
Mark Cleary 0-1 Gareth Morris
Xuchao Wu 0.5-0.5 Duncan Grossett
Luka Rimanic 0.5-0.5 Dominic Bennett
Denis Fradki 0.5-0.5 Igor Doklestic

Our first match for a month, after South Bristol defaulted against us last week (I’ll have more to say about that another time). This was the University’s first match of the season, so were somewhat of an unknown quantity. My thoughts on the games below, with the usual proviso that I’m likely to be completely wrong about much of it.

Igor finished first, after a promising looking opening simplified into a level ending.

My game finished soon after that. Philipp missed a well hidden but rather devastating tactic that won two juicy queenside pawns, and from then on I just had to be a bit careful. The game simplified into an opposite-coloured bishop ending, and while these can often be drawish, in this version I had three connected passed pawns, and even I can win from there.

James did what James often does: playing sensible looking moves that eventually led to a nice win, without Bogdan seeming to do much wrong. The final combination was clever, and nicely geometrical.

Dominic faffed about with his pieces for a while, and may have been a little worse, but he eventually got his bits pointing at Luka’s king, and played a nice knight sac to open the position up. He won the piece back, then played a series of very good moves to reach an overwhelming position. Unfortunately he then had a slight mishap, changing the position from overwhelming to merely winning, but with only 40 seconds left he (probably sensibly) took the offered draw. A shame, because it was nearly brilliant.

Dunc’s game was complex: he sacced a pawn, then a tactical flurry gave him two rooks against a queen with two knights each. It boiled down to the two rooks against the queen, plus pawns each. I thought that Dunc had any winning chances that may be there, but the players clearly disagreed, with Dunc the one forcing the draw. I expect they were right.

Finally, Gareth and Mark had a long manoeuvring game, with Mark looking a bit better. Gareth lost/sacced a pawn, but gained the two bishops. Mark was still better, but a draw was looking most likely, when he blundered first a key pawn, then a knight on consecutive moves. A slightly sad way for the match to end, but these things happen.

A fairly comfortable win in the end then, albeit with a few small scares. I’m quite glad we played them early in the season; University have some talented players who will only get better. Another good sign was that in the (much improved) bar there were a dozen or so other people playing chess. Maybe there’s still some hope for the human race.