|South Bristol A
One might be surprised to be playing South Bristol in division 1 this year, given that they came last last year. I can only assume that they played their best match of the season at an LMC meeting. It’s good to have them there though, the division wouldn’t be nearly as strong if they weren’t.
Both teams were a bit under strength for this match, and we had defaulted board 6 in advance having failed to find another substitute. Seems our club members have a life outside chess, which I’m not sure is acceptable.
I finished first, after reaching an incomprehensible position against Shane. He offered the draw thus: “I offer a draw, since I have no idea what’s going on.” Made me smile, although I wouldn’t try it in a tournament with an officious arbiter. I had no idea either, and the other games looked ok for us, so accepted. We looked at if afterwards, and weren’t much the wiser. Unusually for me I put it through an engine, which said it was dead level. Most helpful.
Gareth and Iain were engaged in a Benoni/Benko type opening. All the initial play was on the queenside, with both players seemingly reluctant to touch their kingside pieces. Iain looked to have a bit of play, but Gareth neutralised it well, swapping into an endgame where he had all the space and much better pieces. Iain got horribly tied down, and while it might have been defensible it was very hard. Gareth missed the win of a piece, while carrying on with his plan of winning an exchange, but it didn’t matter as Iain resigned.
David played a QI against Tony, and lots of shuffling of bits was going on. I can’t say I liked David’s position much, as Tony gained space on the kingside. I think David was quite relieved when Tony offered a draw. It was by no means clearcut, but it did look like a position that Tony could have happily played on.
Alan has been cutting down on his chess to concentrate on other things, so it was very good of him to come out and play for us. His game with David was pretty balanced, with both probing for an advantage, and pieces slowly being exchanged. When I got back from looking at my game Alan was a pawn up in an endgame, with three minor pieces left each. Alan then left a piece en prise, and my first thought was “there goes the match”. Looking closer however, the position was fortunately still at least fine for him, as he was able to gather a few pawns. It looked to be heading for a draw, but then David returned the favour and dropped a piece too, and this time there was no compensation.
That left us one up with James & Patryk still playing. To my uncultured eyes it looked great for James early on, with Patryk playing a bit riskily. I was waiting for a big kingside attack, but I’d probably completely misjudged it since it never happened. Instead, Patryk slowly got his bits sorted out, and with pieces getting exchanged James’ looser structure was looking more and more relevant. It reached a R+B each endgame, with Patryk a bit better, but James put all his bits on the right squares, and once the bishops came off it was pretty even. They played on for a while with one minute plus increment each (still both writing the moves down, oddly), then agreed a draw.
So, a narrow win for us, which we’d have happily taken being one player short. We now have matches every week for the next 6 weeks, and some of us will need to improve if we want to stay near the top of the table.
There’s no report for our last match against Downend A since I was away. Gareth did send me some updates from the match, but they’re mostly the ramblings of a drunken man so I’ll spare you those. It seems like it was a close match; I’ll refer you to the Downend report for details (http://www.downendchess.com/report/242) despite it containing libellous accusations about me.
I missed the match because I was on my annual trip to the Guernsey tournament. As always it was a great week, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a friendly tournament with good conditions and lots of prawns. Three others from Bristol also went: David Collier, Steve Dilleigh & Peter Kirby, and while our chess didn’t set the world on fire we did enjoy the glorious weather and good food. Steve did best in the chess, winning about twelve bob, but I definitely won the beer drinking prize.