Shrewsbury B faced a tough challenge in their opening game of the season vs Church Stretton A. Church Stretton reformed as a club in the close season and I’m sure we all wish them well. We were somewhat weakened by a change of rota which made Ile unavailable; indeed we started the evening unsure if we might have to default a board as I’d had an issue with my email and was unsure whether to expect Heath or not. We started with just four boards with Tony on board 4. Fifteen minutes later, Ivor arrived whom I had thought unavailable. After some discussion, during which I offered to default the board, it was agreed that Tom Williamson, Church Stretton board 5 and captain, play Ivor anyway, despite it not being board order. Anyway, on to the chess!
On first board, I had black against Trevor Brotherton; quite a challenge. He played 1.g3 , which is a favourite of his and the game started quietly. Board 2 saw Norman O’Connor take on David Hodge and Norman also played one of his favourites, an English with an early g3, which looked ok to me early on. I didn’t catch the first few moves of Ian’s game but it all looked quite cagey against Stephen Chadaway, who is new to the area but, with a grade of 139, it looked like it could be a challenge for Ian, who has played very little competitive chess over the last year. On board 4, Tony was up against Karl Wakefield (good to see him back). Tony played his usual 1.Nf3, which has served him very well over the last year or so; he gets playable positions out of book. I didn’t catch the opening on board 5 but it looked even.
My position against Trevor looked ok to me (Trevor agreed after the game). I was developed and my pieces were on good squares. Norman’s game kept the tension but I quite liked the look of it. His bishop on g2 looked like a proper Catalan bishop; a Norman position. Ian looked as if he had work to do on board 3 to gain equality but his position looked solid enough. Board 5 looked dead level. The most interesting position was Tony’s on board 4. Karl’s king looked in grave danger but then it often does in Karl’s games!
Around 9.30 things started to happen and quickly. Tony could make no progress in his position and a draw was agreed. I’d probably have played on myself but it’s worth pointing out that Karl out-grades Tony by about 30 points, so it’s a good half for Tony. At around the same time, both Norman and I came to grief. Norman made a mistake which cost him the game quickly, while I bucked the trend against Trevor. Normally, it’s a tight game which goes to the wire, then I lose! On this occasion, I lost quickly, after an unwise b4; the idea was alright, but too impatient. Tom and Ivor agreed a draw, as did Ian, who had defended very well, and Stephen.
A loss to begin with but we’ll have better matches.
Mark Smith, B Team Captain