The A team’s last fixture of the season was at Priorslee on Monday 27th March. As this occurred after the last B Team’s match, we could afford to have a free run of all our players – subject to availability, of course. On top board, David Everington faced Adrian Zdanowski, who essayed the Grünfeld against David’s 1.d4. David played one of his pet lines, combining 4.Bf4 with 5.Qa4+. Adrian failed to respond optimally and David was quickly pressing out of the opening. In order to try relieving some of this pressure, Adrian gave up his Queen for a Rook and Knight, although he remained two Pawns down and had an exposed King position. Within the next few moves, it was clear that Black had obtained no relief and David won convincingly, forcing through a winning attack against the Black King.
I was facing William Bates on board 2 and, for the second time this season, played the Scandinavian against William’s 1.e4. Afterwards, William asserted that he had played Bc4 too early in both games, although he had chosen a slightly different setup this time compared with the previous fixture. I have to confess I was a little cowardly and, when he offered me a draw on move 17, I accepted, even though I felt I was slightly better. It seemed to me we stood better in several of the other games – anyway, that was my excuse!
On board 3, Daniel Locket was White against Glyn Pugh and played the exchange variation against Glyn’s French Defence. After an early c4, a plan which Daniel has used effectively in a few recent games, he found his isolated d-Pawn under attack and lost it shortly afterwards. With the Bishop pair and an extra Pawn, Glyn continued to build up the pressure. On move 16, Daniel took a “poisoned Pawn” on b7. Although Glyn missed the most decisive follow up, the resultant open lines seemed to help Black’s position far more than White’s and Daniel resigned a few moves later.
Board 4 saw Mark Smith face Steve Tarr, who played his habitual London system. Although White (Steve) had an edge out of the opening, Mark defended accurately and even managed to progress to an ending where he was slightly better, having an extra outside passed Pawn in a Rook, Knight and Pawns ending. However, Steve managed to keep his pieces very active, harassing Black’s King position, as well as containing the passed Pawn. In the end, Steve forced the draw by threatening mate which Mark could only counter by repeating position. So the match was level, leaving just board 5 to finish, with Ivor Salter facing Gary White.
Gary offered the Alekhine’s defence against Ivor’s 1.e4, although Ivor avoided mainline theory by playing 2.Nc3 (funny how many White players do that!) Gary played the opening in a typically unorthodox fashion but Ivor responded energetically and developed a strong initiative with the Bishop pair, extra central space and a lead in development. In trying to solve his problems, Gary also consumed a lot of time on the clock and Ivor was about twenty minutes ahead. Things started to go wrong for Ivor around move 21, when he missed a golden opportunity to use his structural advantages against Gary’s King position. A few further inaccuracies followed and Gary kept causing Ivor problems. Steadily, we watched Ivor’s position deteriorate and his time advantage evaporate. All credit to Gary for keeping his chances alive; eventually Ivor gave up material in desperation to try to keep in the game but this, too, was unsuccessful. Gary managed to create a mating net against Ivor’s King with just 18 seconds left on his clock. Now I really wished I hadn’t accepted William’s draw offer!
At least we remained ahead of Priorslee on game points and finished the season in fifth position.
All of these games, with Chessbase 14’s “Tactical analysis” added, can be viewed here.
Thank you to all our players who have taken part over the course of the season. Just one Rapidplay fixture to complete now.
Francis Best, A Team Captain