Shrewsbury B faced a daunting challenge in their season’s opener: Wellington A away! With the exception of Norman on board 5, everybody was out-graded by some margin.
Two of the games were done and dusted quite quickly. On board 3, Peter Kitchen disposed of Toby Neal in swashbuckling style in the space of half an hour! (see “Interesting Games tab, play through it here). In a Marshall gambit Ruy Lopez, Toby played the old 11…Nf6 instead of the modern 11..c6. Indeed, up until Toby’s 13th move, they were following the original Marshall, Capablanca vs Marshall New York 1918! It wasn’t looking good for Toby anyway (Marshall himself came to the conclusion that …Nf6 wasn’t very good), when a further error led to a Queen sacrifice and back rank mate. Cracking stuff and a great result for Peter! 1-0 to Shrewsbury B.
Rather less inspiring was my lacklustre effort against Tiago Faustino on board 2. Tiago opened with Bird’s opening (1.f4). Immediately, I felt I could have done better, because I knew that I was playing black against either Toby or Tiago and, although I’d never played Tiago before, the one thing I knew about him was that he likes to play 1.f4. So I could have prepared a bit! As it was I was playing blind, trying to remember how the Dutch went!
It didn’t go well. Tiago moved quickly, moving with the assurance of a player who knows what he’s trying to do. It seemed to me at the time that he quickly built up an imposing position, then I made a mistake and lost quickly. Looking through the game afterwards, however, and the terrible truth emerged. My position from the opening was actually perfectly OK and I should have been able to hold it. Indeed, for one move it was winning for me (a very easy tactical trick which we both overlooked). Anyway I played poorly and lost. One each!
The remaining 3 games were tense. Norman’s game on board 5 saw an early removal of queens and a difficult manoeuvring game where it looked to me and Peter hard for either side to make progress. Norman reckons he was winning, though, and he may well be right; he knows far more about those sort of positions than I do.
Ile played the Orang Utan (1.b4) against Colin Roberts and a tense situation developed, eventually getting into a difficult ending, where Ile was a pawn down but Colin’s extra pawn was doubled and it was hard to see how he could create the passed pawn he’d need in order to secure the win. Both Ile and Norman had the same problem: time!
Meanwhile Ivor was playing really well against Craig Murray, easily holding the position and slightly ahead on the clock. All three games were entering the final phase and things started to go awry! Ile’s time was becoming a big problem as Colin managed to swap off the rooks to reach a winning bishop ending. Norman’s position started to deteriorate as his clock ran down. Ivor lost a pawn but was now noticeably ahead on the clock. It became obvious that both Ile and Norman were going to lose on time and so Ivor (with my permission ) accepted Craig’s draw offer. A very creditable draw for Ivor as his opponent has nearly 40 grading points over him, the biggest disparity over the five boards. Meanwhile, both Ile and Norman succumbed to the inevitable. Norman’s final position still looked tenable to me. Ile’s wasn’t but, with more time, I’m sure he could have defended while the rooks were still on. Final score: Wellington A 3 ½ Shrewsbury B 1 ½. Disappointing, but we can hold our heads up.
Next up Telford B at home.
Mark Smith, B Team Captain