Newport sometimes complain that Shrewsbury are their bogey opponents. However, on Friday 24th November, they must have had a degree of confidence, especially as they didn’t turn up with GM Arkell plus bro! Even with this “under-strength” team, Newport still significantly out-graded us on all but the bottom board.
Nevertheless, we had some cause for optimism, having the services of both Jamie Hopkins on board one and Matthew Best on board 5, and felt that we could at least give Newport a serious run for their money. The first game to finish was Matt against Danny Griffiths on board 5. Matt played the French and Danny chose the exchange variation. By move 9, Black already stood better. Matt exchanged a Bishop for White’s Knight on f3, breaking Danny’s Pawn cover around the King and gradually built up pressure on the Kingside and down the e-file. Danny weakened his Kingside further and quickly succumbed to an attack against his exposed King. You can play through the game here, or see the “Interesting Games” tab. 1-0 to Shrewsbury.
Around this time, I looked at the remaining boards and saw that David seemed to be doing well, Daniel’s looked complicated and Jamie’s looked balanced, although Jamie was consuming vast amounts of time (no surprise there!) My own game against Ian Jamieson started out alright but I mixed up systems against Ian’s Bird’s opening. This meant that my pieces lacked coordination, which Ian accurately exploited to cause a breakthrough in the centre. Once White’s central passed Pawn was going to cause loss of material, I resigned: 1-1. Around this time, David managed to close out his game against Nathanael – a nice win, which you can play through here (link on “Interesting Games” tab). 2-1 to Shrewsbury.
I didn’t see much of Jamie’s game but shortly afterwards, Jamie resigned, shortly before his clock fell; it was always going to be a tough ask against Nick, especially with Jamie being somewhat rusty. This left the match at 2-2, with Daniel and Chris Lewis battling away to decide the outcome of the match. This is always a tricky time for the players left playing; everyone is watching, the clocks are usually pretty low at this point and the players know that a slip can prove fatal. The game had started as an Advance Variation against the Caro Kann and Chris’s King (castled Queenside) was a little exposed and Daniel was pressing hard. At the crucial moment, Chris retreated his dark squared Bishop, allowing Daniel to capture a Pawn on f6. More significant than the extra Pawn was that Daniel’s attack quickly gathered momentum and Chris was soon forced to resign. The game can be played through here (link on “Interesting Games” tab).
Thus, we scored a famous victory; for the first time this season, we actually find ourselves in the top half of the table!
Francis Best, A Team Captain