Shrewsbury B team had their work cut out against Telford A last Friday. Although Telford were missing a couple of their stronger players in Mark Keady and Munroe Morrison, George Kolbusz was available, which he hadn’t been in the reverse fixture. The evening began with some hilarity over whether or not Wellington A were already promoted or not. Apparently not, strictly speaking, as they could in theory default points, or, as Dave Gostelow pointed out, there could be an earthquake!
Anyway onto the chess! In light of my recent performances and trying to take a rational view of my play, I have come to the conclusion that I am spending too much time looking at the other games and, to improve my results, that I must concentrate on my own game for a greater proportion of the three hours than I have been, especially early in the game. For this reason my impression of the other games early on is a bit sketchy!
Board 1 saw Dan with the black pieces against Dave Gostelow. No prizes for guessing the opening! Dave appeared to have a good position but I only glanced at it, really. Board 2 saw Ile take on George Kolbusz with white. Again no prizes for guessing the opening! The quickest of glances made me determined not to look more closely; it looked complicated. On board 5, Ivor was black against Richard Thompson; no prizes for guessing the opening! A superficial look suggested that Richard had some advantage. On board 4, Peter had white against Stefan Tennant. I didn’t see what the opening was but it looked lively.
On board 3, I was engaged in a tussle with Richard Szwajkun with black. The opening was a Torre attack against my favourite g6 structure. Richard surprised me on move 6 by playing c4, which effectively turned the opening into a Grüunfeld but with Richard’s knight on d2 rather than c3.
The result was a position with open c and d files; I got developed ok at the expense of exchanging my light squared bishop for a knight. It felt about even.
Feeling I had at least survived the opening, I decided it was time to put my captain’s hat on for a couple of minutes and check out the other games. Board 1 was looking really difficult for Dan. He was a pawn down and in danger of being overwhelmed; the one thing was that he’d used a lot less time than his opponent. Board 2 was a different matter; a complex ending with rooks & knights had arisen. It looked alright for Ile but he was well down on time. Peter’s game on board 3 appeared still to be in the opening and very tense. Meanwhile, Ivor’s position still looked dodgy to me; Richard was pressing but Ivor was scrapping hard. Back to my own game and I found a manoeuvre that led to exchanges and, by move 25, it was down to my queen and bishop against Richard’s queen and knight. I felt I had a small advantage but that it wouldn’t be enough if the queens were exchanged.
As we approached 10 pm things began to happen. Looking across to board 3, things had suddenly got wild; Peter appeared to be winning and so it turned out. I saw very little of this game, as it finished before mine did but Peter reckoned he was a bit lucky and that Stefan missed a good chance. Of course, Stefan has only just come back to the game after an absence of about a year so a little rustiness is understandable. It’s not normally like Stefan to miss a tactical opportunity!
Meanwhile, my game was hastening towards its inevitable conclusion. Possibly, I missed an opportunity on move 28. Even so, we’re talking advantage, not won! The problem was that I was having to think about where to put the queen next just about every move; all Richard had to do was keep offering to exchange queens. The result was that I was down to about 15 minutes to Richard’s 40. Having another quick look at the match situation, which was starting to look more hopeful, I took the draw.
1½ – ½ then, as we approached the death. On board 5, Ivor was putting up a terrific fight. The position was very sharp and, ominously for Richard, perhaps, it reminded me strongly of the position he should have won against Ile a couple of weeks ago!
Ile, meanwhile, was down to his last couple of minutes. His position was good, possibly even won at one point, but there was to be no repeat of Ile’s time trouble heroics of a fortnight ago. The position when Ile’s flag fell wasn’t lost but, as Ile said to an apologetic George afterwards, “It’s all part of the game!” (Editor’s note: George’s take on things was slightly different from this; he has provided his annotations to the game, which can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, Dan was performing heroics of his own against Dave. Dan told me afterwards that he decided to take a leaf out of David Everington’s book and throw some pawns at a difficult position. In any case, it certainly worked and Dave had to agree to a draw. Good stuff from Dan.
All square, with just board 5 to finish. Sometime around here Richard’s pen ran out! Fortunately for him, I noticed straight away and provided him with a replacement. This game was extremely sharp. One had the feeling that it ought to be a win for Richard, really, but a single slip would turn the game (and match) around completely! In the end what told was the clock. Ivor’s difficulties meant that he had to use more time and a fork that didn’t quite work led to his downfall.
So we came up just short this time and lost 3-2, pushing us back to third place in the league. Next up, Newport Juniors. I’m missing for that one, so Ivor will stand in as captain for the night. Hopefully, we can field a strong team.
Mark Smith, B Team Captain