A winning start for Bedford A

 Milton Keynes B Bedford A 
2065Dominic Bartram½ – ½Steve Ledger (w)2173
2055Adrian Elwin½ – ½James Gardner2080
1960Graham Smith0 -1Ravi Arulnandhy2073
1863Peter Edwards½ – ½Toby Cox2058
1833Alan Heath½ – ½Mike Bottley2051
  2 – 3  

After more than a year of waiting, I’m sure the players couldn’t wait to get started again – until we were forced to by traffic on the A509. A few frantic calls later we arrived for a slightly late start in Milton Keynes.

And it seemed that as soon as we finally got started, Ravi’s game was over. He made light work of Graham Smith’s dubious gambit in the Reti in no more than 16 moves for a flying start to the season.

The board 2 matchup was by far the closest on paper, and it looked like it would be an important one in the context of the match. Adrian had used his advantage as white to gain a slight edge in an early middlegame, but apparently didn’t fancy working too hard in the first game back. He offered a quick draw, which James accepted.

Steve’s game was very interesting, stemming from a Benoni where Steve had the white pieces. He won an exchange for a pawn in the middlegame, but was facing lots of pressure on the queenside from the remaining black pieces – a queen, rook and knight, as well as having to deal with a couple of pawns being thrown at his king. He made the seemingly sensible decision to swap queens and simplify, but it left his king in a sticky spot and he was eventually left in a R v N endgame, where the exchange for a pawn wasn’t enough for a win.

That left me and Mike remaining to close the match out on the bottom boards. My opponent had gone for a French exchange, clearly aiming for a draw from move one. As pieces got swapped off and the position simplified, we found ourselves in a position with three minor pieces and seven pawns each, and no clear advantage for either side. Mike had quickly won a piece in his game, but apparently feeling generous, he gave it back a few moves later. The next thing I saw, he was in a very drawish Rook + Knight vs Rook + Bishop endgame and accepted a draw. This was all I needed to offer my opponent the draw he’s been waiting for 60 moves.

So a solid 3 – 2 win to start the season, before we play the B team in 2 weeks.

Toby Cox, 26th November 2021