Results - B team
It was an evening when we were struggling to get a team out. We were without Mike H, Peter, Phil and Mike L and the C's were due to play the following night. So we were very pleased that Chris, Harvey, Brent and Nigel were prepared to play and we also pulled in new recruit Tom for his B team debut. I was acting captain for the night, but it looked an uphill task against a very strong Downend B.
I lost quickly on 2 to Lewis Martin, and Chris took a draw on 3. Nigel got an excellent draw against Brigden on 5. But then Andrew Cooper ground down Brent on 4 to make it 3-1 to them.
We still had chances of saving a point. Tom had given up a piece for 2 pawns against Andrew Munn, but had a massive pawn roller coming down the centre. Harvey had a rook and two pawns for a bishop and knight and had a promising attack against Downend's new star player, Attila Reznak, an Hungarian with a FIDE rating of 2283. Tom duly won a fine game to make it 3-2 and it was all on Harvey. Attila was down to his last 90 seconds as Harvey tried to push through his h pawn. It looked like we might just snatch a point, but then Harvey put his rook on the wrong square and it was all over. 4-2. Such a blow for Harvey after playing such a good game against a very strong opponent. (JR)
We were desperate to get revenge on fellow relegation candidates Clifton B, after they pipped us before Christmas.
It started with an early draw offer on board 1 - Peter had seemingly won a pawn quickly with (I assume) a lovely bit of preparation. The queens were off and it would have been a bit of a slog - so Chris offered a surprise draw and Peter accepted. Conversely John W and I have never drawn a game - and this time it was his turn to throw some attacks my way and I crumbled into a worse ending and lost.
Brent stepped in on 6 at the last minute and got a solid draw - while John R had a fairly supreme knight outpost. Phil also looked in control, up a pawn and solid. Mike and Dominic's game was in the middlegame for most of the evening and was fairly predictably lost on time - but it wasn't obvious at all which way it would go. Mike had the more difficult decisions facing some pressure and although was way up on the clock at one point, ran out of time before the final stage of the game.
After John R converted it was down to Phil to save a point from the match. It was down to a queen ending with a couple of extra connected passers for Phil. With a minute left each they traded a few checks and eventually Phil had to walk up the board to try to take cover and then roll the pawns home - but in the tension stepped the wrong way and got snap-mated.
The B team are now in the danger-zone. (MH)
It's not often match predictions vs Clifton A turn so optimistic so quickly, but after about 40 minutes we were looking genuinely comfortable. The exception being Phil, who could see no way of avoiding a positional weakness and a long game of defending ahead of him. But with Duncan offering me pawn on move 4, John a piece up for a few not-really-scary pawns and with Mike and Jon out the openings with no troubles this was surely a chance to end a streak of tough games and claim a good scalp. 5 and 6 indeed drew out in middlegames with Mike slightly more cohesive than his opponent and Jon probably equal; and soon after I was the exchange up instead of a pawn. John was still a piece up but one of the pawns became scary enough to set up a devilish trick which suddenly gave Clifton John the upper hand. When the dust settled it was rook vs. knight but only pawns on one side. Normally a matter of technique, but Clifton John had similar blind spots and eventually 'ran out of bits' (pawns) and they agreed to a fairly bashful draw.
Phil's defence was about to be unpicked by James but it seemed like Peter had made up for it on 3, surviving a space-cramp by Gareth - and awakening to an imbalanced ending. Meanwhile I almost swapped off too many pieces and made it hard work for myself, but eventually could manoeuvre by trial and error until Duncan's knight ran out of space and levelled the score after James converted on 1.
All eyes on Peter and Gareth to decide the match. It was still a complicated endgame with two passed pawns each (though Peter's doubled, Gareth's connected) and two pieces each, but a couple of minutes each left to play it. It was a case of pushing pawns as fast as possible whilst avoiding nasty checks. The pawns became so strong that Gareth didn't care about his rook anymore, and let it be taken to allow a third pawn to join in the fun. Unfortunately, one move away from queening himself, Peter chose the wrong defence and had to allow Gareth to queen with check. There was a very fortuitous win available if he chose to give back the rook - but difficult to see in time pressure. With 3 seconds left, Gareth had won the match for Clifton, actually by resignation. There was a bishop block available and after that an easy mate in 3, and we'll all sleep a little better assuming he would have seen it in time. (MH)
After a string of matches battling the top of the table, it was only a marginally smaller task in taking on a resurgent University, who have rocketed out of the relegation battle since Christmas.
Many of the games were fairly ambiguous for a while. Lee kindly stepped up to play on 6 and went for it, enjoying some good space and attacking prospects in compensation for a passed pawn. But the pawn won this battle and attacking pieces had to come back and the tables turned quickly. Chris meanwhile was navigating as classically as possible through his opponent's un-classical play. His minor pieces were tied up though - it was either just enough space, or actually not enough - no one could tell.
I was playing fairly cautiously and my opponent made it difficult by playing just less cautiously than me, but slowly clarifying the position and then swapping down to a same-coloured bishop ending. I chose to continue by misplaying it horribly and lost. Phil had done much better on board 1, repelling a few creative ideas and emerging a few pawns up. He made the conversion look fairly comfortable. Unfortunately this came just after Chris had succumbed to some endgame pressure and with John drawing (didn't see what happened) that was that for the match.
Only Peter left to play and whilst it was only for consolation it was certainly entertaining. An earlier dispute had left both players not really in the mood to agree a draw; and so both declined the other's offer as endgame fortunes swung back and forth. Peter had been winning for more of the game, but had somehow got down to bishop and one pawn vs knight and two. More baffling than this was how he still managed to win.
Not the greatest chess but an interesting match and a deserved win for the students. (MH)
Another tricky situation with C and B team games in the same week. When stepping in for a long trip to play stronger opponents is not an enticing proposition in the first place, we found ourselves short and outgraded on each board. Peter took an early draw, Mike J was facing a strong opening set-up and John facing a menacing attack.
Phil and I were navigating relatively docile positions but were both eventually ground down, Phil on the board and me by the clock. Mike J couldn't stop the smooth attack crashing through and lost our third; but on the positive side John notched another good result, surviving until his opponent misplayed a promising attack and pouncing on the counter. (MH)
|Division 1||17 Jan 2017|
|Horfield B||Horfield A|
|1||b||Harris, Michael||0 - 1||Pugh, Derek|
|2||w||Wandowicz, Kajetan||0 - 1||Dilleigh, Steve|
|3||b||Nendick, Phil||1 - 0||Easton, Alex|
|4||w||Kirby, Peter||½ - ½||Atkinson, Harvey|
|5||b||Richards, John||1 - 0||Perrin, Brent|
|2½ - 2½|
Another fraught Horfield Derby, this time an agreed 5 board match and the A team with a couple of substitutes but no strangers to division 1. All turned out to be very entertaining games - although Kajetan's game only had the promise of a classic isolated pawn debate - would it be a target or could it get some energy and be a pest? There was no need for the argument to play out as Kajetan suddenly resigned as queen and knight were unstoppably looming into h2.
No matter - John was having none of Brent's sacrifice of a few pawns to open up an interesting opposite bishops game and accepted the challenge. He proved it a few moves later and was on to a win. Harvey and Peter had a dynamic position, as is hard to avoid against Harvey! There were chances either end but eventually a draw was reached.
Phil had some good preparation lined up and knew precisely where Alex went astray, but still needed to convert a knight vs bishop ending - which due to Alex burning time earlier in the game to stay alive meant this was easier done than said. The same could be said of my game - although it could also be said that I made three unsound sacrifices. Derek took two of them and defended solidly, eventually slipping but I had no time left and thus allowed the A's to save a point.
Not many favours done for an increasingly unlikely Horfield title challenge, but a solid point for the B's. (MH)
A bitterly cold start to the year with an equally challenging task - put a stop to Downend's 14 game unbeaten streak with almost their full team out. But with a little help from Mr. Harley on board 1 we had an outside chance. He and Henry played an enterprising opening and were fairly quickly in a queenless middlegame with many tactical ideas. Board 2 was similarly fearless as Chris and Kaj were both eyeing up the kingside - and seemed ready to sacrifice bits and pieces for an attack. The rest of the games were slowish - the only real cause for concern being Jerry's space advantage.
A while later board 1 was agreed drawn after Henry had apparently sacrificed a piece for some pawns; and we began to sense a couple of chances. To my left Kaj was doing everything he could to keep the danger - which meant giving up a couple of pawns and opening his king just as much as Chris'. The pawns were tripled and isolated though - so one could envisage some endings where they not only become useless but start to get in the way. To my right Phil managed to get a queen and bishop vs queen and knight ending where the bishop had the better chances of attack. After board 5 was agreed a draw we were looking okay if John and I could hold our games too. John managed it after Jerry missed a few lines which reached better endgames. Still all square.
As I was low on time I missed the culmination of board 2 - but Kaj had put Chris to the test and lunged in for an attack, each with a queen and rook left. Chris had to knuckle down and calculate who would get mated first, and by the look of the board at the end of the night, it seems like he calculated correctly.
There were no gains for Phil's initiative either - and the queens were traded by Nigel suddenly making the knight better than the bishop. Nigel boldly refused a draw in the time scramble but accepted after Phil proved a solid defence. I was the last to finish again - not knowing whether my result affected the match - but I had been playing for a draw for a while as I had lost a pawn earlier. I remember thinking 'just don't get down to a rook ending a pawn down' as I had seen Richard convert these many a time, but it turns out he can also convert knight vs knight.
We were fairly close, losing 4-2, but I suspect that's also what the other 14 victims of the Downend streak have thought. (MH)
For an alternative view, see the Downend report.
The last chance before Christmas to put more distance between us and the relegation zone, facing a Clifton side even hungrier for points. The match started well for us when Peter - eager to finish early enough to sort out his broken down car - notched a quick win with some immense pawn chains cramping his opponent.
Phil took Chris out of well known opening territory and John and Mike L were playing more classically but in slightly worse positions. I had sacrificed a number of opening principles to get two outside pawns rolling and managed to survive the drawbacks.
Facing Mr. Waterfield always brings the prospect of wild tactics so John decided to give up a pawn to take the game into safer territory with opposite colour bishops. A draw offer was declined when John thought he had done enough, but a move later a resignation was accepted when the pressure told and John blundered. 1-1. I also declined a draw offer and had pushed yet more pawns to get a good bind, a similarly pressure induced blunder gave us the lead in the match.
Unfortunately this was where the good times ended for us, Mike managed to hold his game but Chris and Alan turned up the heat in the final minutes and stole the match. A much needed win for Clifton B who keep in touch with us and the bottom half of the table. (MH)29 Nov Horfield A 3½ - 2½ Horfield B
It was a whole club effort in turning out 6 players at South Bristol, but we made it and in good spirits. We had proven ourselves against other past champions but still had a calm ‘nothing to lose’ attitude about us. Our opponents were also missing a few players which evened up the boards a bit, setting up a good fight.
We all got off to a slow start with players staking their claim to key squares and developing sensibly. All apart from Patrick who wasn’t up for a slow closed Sicilian and went for an early d5, which I was determined to prove wrong. John and Harvey had promising positions out of the opening with the right pieces swapped off and the right targets to hit, while Mike on 6 was defending a kingside storm. He defended well – right down to the last pawn exchange where he could finally breathe with a draw.
Chris had reached a solid position and agreed a draw too – and Harvey did what he’s been doing a lot this season and smoothly converted a middlegame advantage. 2-1 up but with the inevitable uphill struggle on board 1 to come, it looked like another one going down to the wire – a familiar predicament for me and Phil. This time though, I was able to give the team some breathing room by capitalising on some ambitious play from Patrick. Similar to the earlier d7-d5! I played an even more challenging d2-d4! and opened up the whole position. A tactical mess wasn’t really what I wanted from the outset but when they all work in your favour it’s a pretty welcome sight against a top player.
John was the one who got us over the line this time – agreeing a draw in a better position to seal the match. The end scoreline flatters us a little as Phil managed to win a time scramble after somehow escaping a snap mate earlier. Another great result and with the halfway stage nearly upon us, we are in good shape creeping up behind a number of teams – including our own A team, whom we face next (MH).
We hosted a Downend side who have won all their matches so far – we were both missing a few players so whilst Downend were still clear favourites we had some faint chances. For a minute-by-minute report on the night – far more enlightening and entertaining than this one – I suggest you check out Downend’s website.
Suffice it to say it started fairly badly with a relatively quick win from Steve – but all other games were pleasantly equal with some vague hopes of advantage. A little later on and those vague hopes had turned mostly in Downend’s favour. I had thought Peter was looking good against Richard but then again I don’t know too much about knight vs bishop endings – and soon Richard had an extra pawn. Jerry had forced Jon to contort his position and it looked like a past pawn would seal it, and it was clear Charles had the better bishop in an ending - which later turned into an overwhelmingly better bishop as John's got itself trapped!
Downend were not about to show any mercy and pushed these advantages to the limit – and whilst Jon F managed to salvage a draw with some creative defence Jerry might have played on if the team needed it. The ‘Mike Match’ on 5 had reached an equal ending and a draw was agreed, and it was just me left to play for a consolation goal. The only error on an otherwise spotless account of the match on Downend’s website was interpreting an early Qh4 as aggression – when I was simply getting my queen out of the way for more useful pieces, always intending to bring her back to grind out some counter chances once White’s pressure dried up. I did so, and eventually gained advantage on the queenside and converted to a pawn. But so long was the struggle that I couldn’t recall any knowledge of pawn endings, and gifted Nigel half a point anyway.
Given the season so far, I think we can look on this one as no points lost, and roll on to the next match (MH).
Our super-subs once again gave us an early boost - with Harvey coolly allowing a pawn to get to the 6th with a discovered-check available - but it was much less dangerous than it looked and he emerged with better development. Whilst the top 3 board were still jostling pawns around in the opening, Harvey had already created and survived numerous tactics; the last one a crushing checkmate trap. 0-1.
I then took a look around the boards and saw John was a whole piece down. I was trying to work out where his compensation was for a few minutes, which seemed negative, until I eventually realised he was actually level on material- I had been counting the pieces on the table and there was a spare knight loitering, so all was well. Brent and Phil had very promising attacks and I was feeling confident that if I held a draw we would win the match. However soon afterwards Brent was counter-attacked and forced to resign, and Phil's attack didn't yield anything... yet.
Peter was also in a spot of bother and so my confidence reversed, and I felt the need to press for a win. I was happy with the position but made the characteristic mistake of sacking a knight fairly dubiously on f7. Optically it was ridiculous, but a few moves later I had a strong attack. Meanwhile however, John managed to hold a draw (even though he was reduced to shuffling pieces) and Peter had capitalised on his opponent's time trouble and was looking at a winning ending. Phil was still on the verge of something tricky with a knight and rook invading - so I changed my aims a third time, forcing a perpetual after failing to find any more outlandish sacrifices. 2-2.
Peter had 7 minutes to his opponent's 4 seconds - which curiously didn't budge for 6 or 7 moves. Fortunately Peter was also completely winning and and managed to force a pawn home for the win. Phil immediately offered the draw (threatening a rook or a perpetual) to win the match. A great win for us which propels us up the table a little (MH).
After our narrow defeat last week to Bath, we faced another quality A team and were again natural underdogs. But we can hold any team on our day, and things got off to a brilliant start on this day when Rob swiftly punished an oversight by Dave in an early queenless middlegame, and mated before most middlegames had begun. Indeed Mike was facing increasing early pressure on the e3 pawn, and James gave no other real options but to try and defend it. Boards 2-5 all looked close, though Gareth's pieces were looking sharper than Peter's. And these suspicions about the Clifton players' advantages turned very real when Mike dropped a bishop and Peter dropped a rook.
We neeeed at least one more win - John and Duncan were debating whether to contend the open a-file or to look for other breaks, or swap off. In the end it was wise to agree to a draw instead - particularly as Phil had worked up a clear positional advantage on the next board. White had both the control of the c file and a strong knight the other side; with just me and Phil left I decided I'd be confident of our chances if I drew. Nevertheless my position warranted the riskier option anyway, by taking a pawn and inviting John's queen to invade. John found a blockade that I had overlooked, and was controlling a lot of the action. I offered a draw when two pawns up as there was still no real way of me winning unless John overpressed. A quick look at Igor and John wanted to play on but reluctantly accepted it. For the first time this season I wasn't the last to finish - but while analysing we missed Phil wrapping up his game with a few tactics. The whole game was a model rebuttal of a slowish opening and was finished in style to save the match, but the points for style must go to Rob - mating with 3 minor pieces.
Always good to get points away to the champions; let's hope the form continues. (MH)
Bath brought a strengthened squad for this battle, and even though most of their players were late they got right down to sharp business. Boards 2, 3 and 5 entered some fierce lines, Chris was even facing a confident piece sacrifice but managed to navigate through to a playable ending. The first to finish was Phil who was about to be on the end of a decisive attack, and a little while later John secured a draw after some accidental compensation for a pawn.
Peter and Chris were both being squeezed, whilst I was slowly ebbing towards a better ending. We grabbed a lifeline however when Harvey managed to confuse issues whilst on the defence and won a piece, and soon the game. Not long after Peter had to admit defeat in a difficult piece ending whilst Chris had hung on. Down to me again to win to draw the match, and this time it actually looked possible. However my opponent hung in there and saved enough badly placed pawns with the rook, eventually exchanging it into a pawn ending with no room to manoeuvre.
Another close call, proving that with a little more luck we will get the results. (MH)
A slow start for the B team - we don't have another match for a month and with 4 of our players missing we were underdogs for this one. I didn't see too much early on except Mike "L" frustrating Steven with a well-timed forced perpetual after being under some pressure, Phil seeming to hold on top board, Harvey shaking hands early and Rob cashing in heavily on a blunder from Mike "B". It was looking okay near the middle where Brent had a decent position and might have balanced out my likely loss, but Mike "M" had some tricks left to play and after he and Lewis both found a win I was suddenly left with the task of winning from a totally lost position to save the match. I should still have aimed for a draw to at least make my opponent play some more moves in a time scramble, but instead I confused myself and immediately dropped a queen. (Mike "H)