Even in our championship winning season the B Team struggled against Luton, so we were hoping for better things this time around. I managed to assume the role of non-playing captain for the match, but I think it is more stressful watching than playing.
The match proved to be an entertaining, and the overall theme was the B Team sacrificing at least the exchange early on (willingly or not!) and spending the rest of the evening trying to justify the approach.
Nick was first to finish on Board 4. An enterprising sacrifice on f7 gave him a strong attack and there was nothing in the position which made it look too hairy. Marek’s attempts to complicate came to nothing and Nick managed to achieve the classic smothered mate in the corner position to chalk up a fine win (see below)
Steve had sacrificed the exchange, which he had hoped would have been slightly more. The net effect was to leave him with a cramped position and not much counterplay. His position drifted from difficult to worse before his opponent opened up the kingside to win the point (Alex is far too kind as ever – “Steve played like an idiot and was routinely punished” is a more accurate summary)
Qais’s game on board 3 was a wild affair. After losing the exchange, but with the benefit of trapping Peter’s knight on the a file, Qais decided to sacrifice a bishop to open up the kingside. The attack never quite materialised and despite having 4 kingside passed pawns, Peter was able to threaten to penetrate the position firstly down the h file and then down the c file to win the game.
Marc’s position was cramped for much of the evening, and at one point it looked like Andrew’s pawns were going to steamroller through the position. However, a pawn sacrifice allowed Marc to generate some play down the d file and simplify the position to a rook and pawn ending. A draw was offered by Andrew which was gratefully received, which was reward for some good defence.
On Board 5 Mike had managed to get himself out of a sticky position and with a thematic rook for knight exchange on c3 also managed to get two pawns as well and shatter white’s position. Although better, precise play was required to convert the position and Mike duly did this by advancing his passed e pawn, supported by bishop, rook and knight and the pressure led to the decisive win of material.
Overall a 2.5 – 2.5 draw which leaves both sides in trouble at the wrong end of the table. The return match in the spring will most likely decide who survives in Div 1.