Tuesday, 1 October 2019

A Cosy Evening at the Abbey Club

The A team kept up its 100% record for the season last night, with a very convincing 4-0 win over Shirley A - who less cheerfully kept up their 0% record for the season in the process.

Inevitably it was that man Pink who was fastest off the grid and first to finish. With Black against Dave Thomas on Board 3, the game got very tactical when Dave snatched a red hot pawn on d6 with a bishop. However, the pin Dave had been relying on to save himself against a double attack turned out not to work after Joshua's very nice reply which blocked the pin and left two White pieces hanging. After duly annexing a full piece for a pawn, Josh comfortably brought home the point.

There was a bit of confusion on Board 4 towards the end of the game between Mike and Eric Ward. I thought I heard Eric decline a draw offer, which was a surprise, since the last time I had looked Mike seemed to be crashing through against the Black king. Apparently, though, Mike's attack had got stuck, and he had offered to split the point. But right after declining the draw, Eric blundered the exchange (and also brought Mike's pieces to life) and had to resign immediately. As I was rather pre-occupied with my own game, it took me several minutes to discover what had actually happened, but thankfully it all turned out well for us. And Mike was spared the shame of being the only non-winner in the team!

My game finished next, when I was able to avenge last season's loss against Phil Purcell after a very exciting game.  After some well known moves in a King's Indian, I (accidentally) innovated by retreating a knight from c5 to b7. Kasparov - and everyone else to reach the position! - had put it on d7, but I have clearly fallen under the influence of the Manchester School of Chess, which as we know from this website, is a strong advocate of the knight fianchetto.  Wherever the knight goes, the variation involves a pawn sacrifice by Black, but in return the White king, castled queenside, starts to feel very draughty. Neither side played perfectly (surprise, surprise!) but I managed to get quite an attack going and an exchange sac opened up the White king even more. Phil refrained from taking the exchange, but this allowed me a nice combo which forced him to give up his queen for a rook and knight. Then my queen got active and one defensive slip allowed me to deliver mate - with my fianchettoed knight still on b7!

David wrapped up the match, and the clean sweep, with a win over Jonathan Dale on Board 2. Black got a very passive position from a Dutch Defence, and rather than sit behind his stonewall structure he tried to break the bind with an a5 pawn push. But this gave David's queen a way into the Black position and it zoomed down the a file to cause mayhem. With White's bishops raking across the board, the Black position came under considerable stress and a piece was lost. Then some pawns. Then a rook. And only then the game.

It was actually a very cosy evening at the Abbey Club, as the D team were also in action against Leamington C, and we all played in the same room. After starting the season with two narrow defeats, I'm pleased to report that the D team picked up its first match point after a 1.5-1.5 draw with youth was very much to the fore. Noah Seymour made his competitive debut for us (also becoming the first graduate of The Gauntlet chess school in the process!) and had a very solid draw on Board 3. From what I saw he had the better of the game and was never in any trouble. Well done, Noah! Roy, by contrast, played a rather abject game (with White!) on Board 2 and lost somewhat ignominiously. Which made it a good job that we had more youth on our side in the shape of William, who was the hero of the hour on Board 1. He won a couple of pawns but was seemingly under the threat of a big attack on his king. Despite inevitable time pressure, though, he defended well and after forcing the queens off he made no mistake in wrapping up the victory to level the score. With more juniors waiting in the wings the future is looking very bright for the D team.

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