The new Bedfordshire chess season kicked off in traditional style with a local derby between Bedford’s B team and the newly promoted C team. (Author’s note – still haven’t got round to engraving the trophy!) As per the pre-season selections which mixed up the players by rating, this match was expected to be keenly fought, and overall it was far more competitive than the result would suggest.
And so the stage was set: on the B side, a brilliant, brainy bunch, bullish about beating their brethren in battle; and on the C side, a cunning, crafty crowd, cautiously confident of clinching a coup.
Board 1 featured Mike Botteley versus Alex Taylor. Mike, with the white pieces, felt that he had got off to a decent start; he certainly had the initiative, but Alex defended well enough that the advantage never became decisive, and with all results on other boards already decided they agreed to split the point.
Board 2 was Steve Pike versus Richard Bodily. Richard seemed to get a very comfortable position early on, while Steve looked rather cramped. The pressure turned into one pawn, then two, before the players shook hands as the situation became overwhelming.
Board 3 saw a clash between two of last year’s most improved players, Callum Shields and Ramsey Dairi. Ramsey eventually got a strong-looking passed pawn, and I thought he would keep the queens on the board push to for a checkmate, but instead he elected to trade them off, winning the resulting rook-and-pawn endgame effortlessly.
Board 4 was unfortunately a bit of a wash – yours truly up against Rob Walker. I’ve been learning the black side of the Sicilian but had a moment of brain freeze where I got the lines wrong and lost a piece as early as move 7. The game didn’t last for too much longer after that; lesson learned that it’s never too early to blunder!
Finally on board 5 we had Andy Evans up against Richard McMorran. Huge thanks to Andy for volunteering himself as cover for Peter Gill, who was on holiday and not available for this fixture. He battled valiantly against a higher-rated player but it looks like he was positionally outplayed, and in the end Richard was able to line up all the heavy artillery for a decisive mating attack.
Overall this was a good match, and as stated above the final scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. Both teams move on, and with only one match down and still nine to come, there’s still everything to play for.
- Mike Botteley ½ – ½ Alex Taylor
- Steve Pike 0 – 1 Richard Bodily
- Callum Shields 0 – 1 Ramsey Dairi
- Alex Potts 0 – 1 Rob Walker
- Andy Evans 0 – 1 Richard McMorran
Alex Potts, C team captain, 12th October 2023