A Team Catch Up

Well, sort of… What I really mean is that I am catching up, having neglected the web write-ups for the A Team recently.  Perhaps one of the reasons for my neglect was the 0-5 drubbing we received at the Ludlow fixture on 10th October.  Things started badly when Norman had to pull out of the match with a bad back.  One advantage of that, however, was that the limited table space now only had to accommodate four boards; a serious plus!  Sadly, that was the extent of the good news for the evening, although the one-sided scoreline probably didn’t reflect the battles involved, as is often the case.

Things were not a lot better at the next fixture against Oswestry.  I personally was shielded from the pain for this one, as I was away at Scarborough (mediocre performance: 2/5) and so cannot report on many of the games.  Peter Kitchen said of his game, “I was the victim of a Dave Bennion attacking whirlwind…he played very well.”  Daniel and Ile managed draws, so we did one better than against Ludlow but it was still a pretty one-sided result: 1-4.

The fact is that there are no easy fixtures this year; we just have to cope with that and try to take advantage of the opportunities when they do come along.  Fortunately, for us, that was the next fixture against Telford A.  David was the first to finish, having been able to spring some opening preparation against Athar Ansari.  David had first come across this line against the Nimzo Indian in the fifties (subsequently, at the club, he was able to prove it by brandishing the very copy of Chess where he had first come across the Smyslov v Benko game where it was played).  The game finished with a King hunt and Athar’s resignation.

On board 2, I was facing David Gostelow’s London system.  Things went my way out of the opening and I gained control over the open a-file and better piece coordination.  Predictably, David battled on and we were clearly in for the long haul.  In the meantime, Ted Eales made his debut for the A team and quickly gained a nice position against Stefan Tennant.  Sadly, I didn’t see much of the game but this was the next game to finish and, once again, it was in our favour.

On board 3, Daniel faced George Kolbusz’s French Defence exchange variation which went according to book lines up until move nine, with Black placing very effective bishops on d6 and g4 and his King’s Knight on e7.  Daniel explains:

“I thought the game hinged on whether I could take advantage of the Knight being on e7 and therefore not protecting the castled King’s h7 pawn and that I could exploit the pin of my Knight on f3 by capturing with check with my Bishop on h7 and then if the King captures, advancing my f3 Knight to g5 with another check and picking up the Bishop on g4 with the Queen. Black had spotted this and initially supported the g4 Bishop but, keen to keep the pin when I played h3, had moved the Bishop back to h5, allowing the seemingly plausible capture on h7 to win the Pawn. I say plausible as when I put it through Fritz the next day, it simply says Black should take the Bishop and advance the king to g6 in front of all its own pieces and that it can weather whatever White throws at it! Pretty hard to spot for most of us and in the real game, Black simply gave up the Pawn and concentrated on development.

I then spent the rest of the game trying to untangle my other pieces and looking to get my Queen or another major piece to the half open h-file to get at Black’s King. My own King side was pretty leaky but I managed to get a Pawn to g6 to hamper the Black King’s escape and, as Black began to break my centre, I finally played the f3 Knight to e5 to clear the way for the Queen to get across to h5 and threaten a forced mate.”

You can play through Daniel’s game here, or check the interesting games tab.  We were now 3-0 up, so had won the match.  At last things were going our way.  On board 4, Peter was facing Richard Szwajkun’s Torre attack.  Again, I’ll let Peter explain in his own words:

“I felt on the night I had been very fortunate to win and benefited from a blunder having spent much of the night on the back foot, having not played particularly well.

But on reflection I think I was being a bit hard on myself. It wasn’t by any means a great win, and I know exactly what I need to work on. But I started very well and was guilty of one careless move in a very good position that somewhat turned the tables. After that I think I made some reasonable practical decisions that kept me in the game, and then in the ending I was the one being proactive and (without doing anything special) pressed him into a mistake.”

You can also play through Peter’s game here or find it on the interesting games tab.

So, we were 4-0 up and, while all this was going on, Dave and I were down to our last few minutes.  I felt that I still had a small advantage but it was going to be difficult to convert. Given the state of the match, I was happy to agree a draw to finalise a 4½-½ victory for the team.  So far, we have had lopsided scores, win or lose.  Let’s hope we win a few more like that!

Francis Best, A Team Captain

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