B Team Edge Thriller

There was no shortage of incident and excitement in Telford last week as two division 2 games took place on the same evening.  It’s not my place to comment on Telford A vs Telepost C, other than to say that it ended all square.  Telford B vs Shrewsbury B was an interesting one, to say the least. It started with a bit of a panic as Ile had not arrived yet. His opponent on board 2, Richard Thompson, was quite sporting but at 7.45 I felt I had to instruct him to start Ile’s clock.  This done, I excused myself to my opponent on board 3, Roger Brown, and went out to look for Ile. Fortunately, he arrived a minute or two later and he sat down, having lost just 6 or 7 minutes.

None of this excuses my abysmal performance against Roger. It all started well enough. Roger employed the Scandinavian, which was a bit of a surprise, as I’d always thought Roger was an e5 man, and he did confirm afterwards that this is his normal first move. He took on d5, then retreated his Queen to d8, which I’ve always thought was a bit passive. I quickly built up an imposing position, won according to Fritz, then…I had an idea!  It wasn’t sound, but then Roger made a mistake and, had I played the correct follow-up, the position would have been more than satisfactory for me. However, I didn’t and got mated: 1-0 to Telford.  You always know you’ve done really badly when your opponent apologises!

The other games all looked pretty tight, though Matt and Ivor both looked in control to me.  At this point, Roger very kindly bought me a pint and we spent the next half hour or so having a good chat about all things chess.  When we returned (I did keep checking once in a while), time had moved on but things weren’t much clearer.  Matt now appeared to be winning against Stefan Tennant on board 1, as long as he avoided the sort of debacle I had fallen prey to.  Ivor, too, was now in total control against Steve Szwajkun, not to mention a couple of Pawns to the good.  Peter’s position against Windsor Peck was tight and tricky; very hard to call.  Ile’s game was another matter entirely; Richard had started with his favourite 1.c4 and, as usual with Ile’s games, things became complicated.  I have to be honest, at around 9.45, I didn’t like Ile’s chances at all.  His position looked a bit creaky but, worse, he had less than 15 minutes left to Richard’s 50!  By this stage, Matt had duly won his game against Stefan and he sought to reassure me; we all know that Ile plays really well under pressure.

Meanwhile, Ivor converted his advantage and won.  He’s been very solid all season: 2-1 to Shrewsbury, as we reached the climax.  Peter’s game continued to baffle and his and Windsor’s time were almost equal; less than a quarter of an hour each, with most of the material still on the board.  All seemed to hinge on an open file but it was very difficult.  One has to give Windsor his due; he keeps on battling and, if he does get tired, it doesn’t appear to affect his play.

All eyes were drawn to the other game remaining, however.  Having enquired about the match position, Ile offered Richard a draw.  Richard quite correctly declined; he probably needed to win for Telford to win the match.  Also, his position looked fine, although his time advantage was not as great as it had been, as he had reached his last 20 minutes. Ile had about 5 minutes left and the position was still extremely complicated.  With 2 minutes left, Ile tried a very bold manoeuvre.  Matt and I looked on trying to see the point.  We saw that Ile would swing his Rook across to e8 but then what?  If Richard went wrong, there was a mate, that’s what!  Richard did go wrong.  Then he saw what was happening.  He shook his head, then shook Ile’s hand.  Ile had just 37 seconds on his clock when this happened: sensational!  Ile said to me afterwards, “I should have lost and Richard should have won!”

Peter and Windsor were both below 10 minutes in a still very tense and difficult game.  In view of the fact that the result of the match was decided, however, they agreed a draw.

Final score Telford B 1 ½  Shrewsbury B 3 ½.   Next up, Telford A at home.  Will the B team captain drop himself for this one?  He hasn’t decided yet!


Mark Smith, B Team Captain

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