Shrewsbury B team kept the pressure on their promotion rivals by beating Telepost B on Monday night.
The evening got off to a chilly start in a room that felt colder to me than it was outside; definitely “coats on” conditions!
Perhaps it was not so surprising then that the action included some fairly quick draws. First to finish was Ile on board 2, who had Black against Keith Tabner. The game began with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 d5 which is quite unusual; a favourite of Frank Marshall, I believe. A non-standard position arose, in which Ile had plenty of activity and a draw was agreed.
Matters on board 5 took a bit longer, as Tony took on John Westhead with White. I’m afraid that I saw very little of this game until it reached an ending, in which it seemed to me that Tony had some advantage but was happy to take the draw, bearing in mind his opponent’s higher rating and the position on the other boards.
Next to finish was my own game on board 3 against Steve Kempsell, a turgid affair in which my closed Sicilian got me no advantage at all. Looking at the other games, it seemed to me that in both games we at least shouldn’t lose and we could win, so I offered a draw, which Steve accepted.
All-square with 3 games completed and it wasn’t even 9.30 yet!
The most exciting action was definitely on board 4, where Ivor had Black against Peter Crean. The opening had been a Scandinavian and Ivor quickly obtained a very active position. At one point, while I was still trying to make something of my own position, I glanced across at this game and I thought it easily won by Ivor. Then a tactic from Peter got him back in the game. The resulting endgame saw Peter with Bishop and Knight versus Ivor’s Rook but Ivor had two extra Pawns. What followed was a very smooth display from Ivor, though I suspect resistance could have been stiffer. Ivor engineered a trade of Pawns which meant he had connected passed pawns on the b and a files. The a Pawn proved the killer, though, as his Bishop couldn’t get to the correct diagonal and his Knight was as useless as Knights trying to stop Rook Pawns usually are. The only slight complication was Ivor’s clock but he still had a good 5 minutes left after queening his a-Pawn so after a couple more moves, Peter accepted the inevitable and resigned, a very good game by Ivor.
This left us a point ahead with Dan’s game against Graham Shepherd the last to finish. Graham had chosen the Modern defence, which I thought a brave choice against Dan, who has been playing the Modern on and off for as long as I’ve known him. Dan’s position looked strong from the outset and Graham had issues developing and castling. He did in the end manage to castle but it cost him a Pawn. This was enough for Dan to win comfortably, the position rather resembling what can happen in the Catalan opening when it goes wrong for Black. Dans b-pawn was passed and far too strong; in the end, it was going to cost Graham a Rook. Rather than suffering unnecessarily, Graham resigned. A good technical display by Dan.
Final score 3½ – 1½ to Shrewsbury B. Only one game left against Telepost C at home. If we win that, Telford A will need 5 points from their last 3 games to overtake us. As one of those games is against Wellington A, this could be hard for them. Let’s see!
Mark Smith, B Team Captain