Wednesday, 9 September 2015

That didn't go well

A new season, but the same bad start as last year, with the A team going down 3-1 against defending champions Olton in our opening match. While Olton fielded their strongest team, we didn't, but even so we basically matched them on average grade and should not have been turned over so comprehensively.

Bernard C (it could hardly be the inactive Bernard R, could it?) was first to finish, drawing with white after a Grand Prix Sicilian turned into a Classical French. The opening looked a bit dodgy for Bernard as his king was displaced to f2 and his d pawn came under pressure, but careful defence swapped off a few pieces and when white took over the c file the danger had passed. Although he was left with a nominally bad bishop he had no trouble securing the draw, and may even have been pressing towards the end.

Unfortunately, the next result was not so welcome, as Mike D succumbed to Richard Smith on Bd 4, after a pawn fell off on the black side of a Tarrasch Queen's Gambit. Mike seemed to be on the brink of winning it back for some moves, but it just didn't happen, and when he had to give up the exchange for the extra pawn the resultant R v B ending, with 4 pawns each on the kingside proved untenable, as the Black pawns were split.

Making his debut on Board 1 against Phil Holt, Andy unveiled a new opening style and seemed to be getting slightly the upper hand in a position where all 4 bishops got fianchettoed. However, a black rook got active on the h file and despite a space advantage, white had to go passive. With little time on the clock and a difficult position, a rare thing happened and Andy had to agree a draw.

This left me on Board 2 against Alan Lloyd, needing to win to save the match. Things had started promisingly when he played an early pawn sac in a variation which I had looked at that afternoon. Much good it did me, as I forgot what to do, couldn't work it out over the board and came under some pressure. He won his pawn back, but briefly let me off by allowing me to finally castle and stabilise the position. Instead, I stupidly blundered a pawn and was left hanging on for grim death. Shortly after the time control, though, he made a big oversight and I won the exchange out of nowhere. Surprisingly, he neglected to take a pawn for it, which would have produced an instant draw, and all of a sudden I thought I might be winning. But with my king wide open and my queenside pawns proving difficult to defend, let alone advance, it was basically a draw. Until I miscalculated horribly, and instead of my king blockading his two connected passed pawns (which I had generously given him), he played some neat moves with his bishop to force one of them to the 8th rank.

So a disappointing  result, but its a long season, and we have to hope that Olton won't be able to rack up the number of wins they managed last year - and that we start our recovery rather earlier, too!

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