Results - Minor KO
Although we had White on the odd boards, it felt as though we were Black on all five lower boards, as on Boards 3 and 5 both Robert and Graham, in quiet openings, played Bishops to c4, from which they were quickly dislodged by black developing moves, ceding the initiative to Black. By contrast the three Clevedon white players all pursued early initiatives. Early worries were confirmed when Robert got his pieces in a tangle and succumbed to an early mate, while Board 1 was quite quickly drawn.
At this point, the match took an interesting turn, as Clevedon players on Boards 2 and 4 tried to develop their promising positions by making speculative sacrifices. Brian sacced a piece for two pawns to expose Alan's King. Alan calmly placed pieces on good defensive squares, beat off the attack but then faced renewed difficulties fending off connected passed pawns in the ending – draw agreed. So – 2-1 to Clevedon. But what was going on on Board 2?! Chris had responded to Harvey's Sicilian Dragon by saccing two Pawns to push a P through to h6 and leave Harvey's King permanently stranded in the centre. There was no immediate decisive follow-up, but the prospect of continual pressure, and no easily visible way for Harvey to unscramble his position or simplify. In the end, the pressure told and Chris broke through for an impressive win that lived up to his surname.
Bearing in mind board count the match was now decided but there was still a lot of interest in the final games, on Boards 5 and 6. The game between Graham and Greg was a slow burner, with each side venturing beyond the fourth rank only once before 9.30. Graham managed to get the more imposing-looking position, but when the fireworks started (with both players now running short of time) it was Graham that went wrong, and a passed Pawn won the day for Greg. This left the fascinating game on Board 6, in which both players belied lowly grades. Mike withstood middle- game pressure and Oliver allowed a simplification after which Mike stood to win a Pawn. Oliver retained residual pressure, though, and when in the ending he won back the P he looked favourite to win – but after further ups and downs, the game was eventually agreed drawn, seconds from time control, when it was Mike who again had the better chances.
An enjoyable match to spectate, with some fine play and some high drama, even though the final outcome was not what we wanted! (CJ)
Erratum: the first version of this report had the wrong result for board 4, listing it as a win for Alan instead of a draw.
Mike's Game was the first to finish and a Draw was agreed after 15 moves with only a pawn apiece taken. It ended in a finish not by repetition but by a ruling similar. My opponent offered me a Draw with 7 pawns each on the board and a Knight each. Although one of his pawns looked vulnerable in the middle of the board and coudn't be protected by any of his pawns, some of his other pawns were quite advanced and a Draw was accepted. 1-1.
Robert won when he sacrificed a bishop for two pawns which opened things up for a strong attack with two rooks and a queen that forced his opponent's king into a corner enabling Robert to capture a rook. Harvey had taken 3 pawns and lost 1, when he pinned his opponents knight against his king with a bishop and knight and the advantage was too much. 3-1.
From early on Nigel was a pawn down, but made it very difficult for his opponent. Eventually though the extra pawn told as the game progressed and pieces exchanged and the game was conceded, when queening the pawn became inevitable. 3-2.
In Rob's game both players had about 6 minutes each left and we still needed at least a draw to win the Match. Rob's opponent built an attack and in a complicated position Rob took his queen and Rob's opponent couldn't retake Robs queen without losing a rook. (GS)