Bedford C share the spoils

 Bedford C   Northampton 
1Ravi Arulnandhy17001Chris Ross211
2Darren Reed16710Szabolcs Fulop145 E
3Giuseppe Valerio1400.50.5Nigel Young146
4Robert S Walker12810David P Curran136
5Callum T Shields12801Graham Heilbuth139

Northampton arrived with two new faces, but as usual with the formidable Chis Ross on board 1.

Knowing that Mike might have work difficulties I had again picked myself as a reserve. Mike did indeed have to work but as I read his email on the train who should appear but Ravi: problem solved!

In my other role as equipment monitor I was busy for the first few minutes. When I returned there were only 4 games still going. Callum’s Queen had gobbled up what turned out to be a fatally toxic pawn. So one down after 10 minutes!

On board 2 Darren was playing newcomer Szabolcs Fulop who quickly won a pawn on a2 with his Queen and seemed to be on the verge of winning another. Darren was not at all bothered and launched an attack on the Kingside which to my untutored eye seemed far too slow. I was of course entirely wrong. A Knight which appeared to be simply en route to join the attack subtly set a trap for a deadly attack on the wayward Queen – which could only take down the Knight and a pawn in return.

Meanwhile neither Joe nor Nigel Young could get anywhere and with the major pieces eyeing each other down the only open file and no weaknesses elsewhere they settled on a draw.

Robert is definitely a changed man. For the second match running he and his opponent Dave Curran were deep into the game before either ventured far into enemy territory. After 20 moves or so neither had a pawn beyond the third rank. Robert has gone (in his style) from Fisher to Carlsen, playing for a small advantage in the endgame. It worked again! Once the pieces started to come off it became apparent that Robert’s pawn structure was better, he won a pawn, and duly cashed in for a win.

That left top board where Chris had been pressing down the Queen file all evening and Ravi had been skilfully rearranging his pieces to form an impenetrable defence. Ravi’s Queen went from d8 to b6 to b4 to e7, and his Knight danced around before settling on e6. Eventually Chris’s attack ground to a halt and, taking a deep breath I imagine, Ravi set his pawns rolling powerfully down the e and f files. In a thrilling finish, with both players short of time, Ravi gave up material in order to Queen a pawn but just failed to do so. After that the sacrificed material proved fatal. I don’t think anyone checked afterwards but Chris commented that you would need a computer to see through the complications. No less an authority than Joe was sure that Ravi missed a clear win by aiming to promote on e1 rather than on f1.

This was the first point Northampton had lost but it is another step towards their promotion and more or less puts an end to any chance we might have had of winning Division 2. Still a great effort and a thoroughly interesting evening.