|Bedford C||MK D|
|1||Michael T Botteley||160||1||0||Dominic Bartram||163|
|2||Giuseppe Valerio||140||1||0||Richard Keane||118|
|3||Robert S Walker||128||1||0||Colin Solloway||124|
|4||Callum T Shields||128||1||0||John McKeon||115|
|5||Andy Evans||100E||0.5||0.5||Steven Wayne||100e|
As I arrived at the club on Thursday, having picked myself on the bench, I was alarmed to see Milton Keynes C team regulars Colin Solloway and John McKeon as well as rising young star Dominic Bartram. Our D Team’s match against Milton Keynes C had been called off because they couldn’t raise a team. No wonder if most half the C Team were playing for the D Team!
I understand they are struggling to run four teams, and I hope they didn’t take my allegations of hanky-panky (straight out of the Eddie Jones rule book) too seriously!
First to finish was Callum on board 4 against John McKeon. Playing quickly as usual he stirred up a Tsunami of a pawn centre, compared to which John’s pair of passed pawns on the Queen side looked rather puny. There was only one winner.
Meanwhile something very odd was happening on board 2. Joe was ahead on the clock! Having won a pawn early on, as he often seems to do, and with time on his side for a change, he made it count. He was on the brink of winning a piece for ages. Richard Keene kept wriggling but he was only delaying the inevitable. I doubt if many players would hold out against Joe when he manages to enter an endgame well placed and with time on his side.
Meanwhile on board 5 Andy, sporting his new grade of 138, up from my estimate of 100, was having a tough time. He was cowering behind a rather flimsy looking wall of pawns, his pieces scurrying backwards and forwards as Steven Wayne shifted the point of attack. But when Andy ventured out, Steven missed the chance to exchange Queens, and that allowed a draw by perpetual check.
With two hours gone nothing much seemed to have happened on board 3 where Robert Walker and Colin Solloway, playing each other yet again, both had apparently forgotten how to capture pieces – all 32 were still on the board. When pieces did start to fall Colin seemed to have some pressure and more space but Robert spotted what I thought was a dodgy pawn grab. I was wrong and Robert comfortably converted to a won ending.
That left board 1 which was looking very tight. Mike’s Knights were snapping at Dominic’s Kingside but to my eye the King looked pretty safe. Mike’s Queen was nowhere near and there was no prospect of a mating attack. I thought the daring Knights were going to trip over each other and couldn’t see them both surviving. But Mike kept finding good moves and when the dust settled he was a pawn up having stripped the pawn shield from Dominic’s King. Dominic may have missed the chance to secure at least a draw when he hastily touched his Queen and lost the chance to gain some initiative but with Queen and Knight and an extra pawn against Dominic’s Queen and Bishop Mike still had to be very careful especially as he had only seconds left. Finally he was able to exchange Queens and Dominic finally cracked and allowed Mike to exchange off the Bishop into an easily won ending. A great game to watch!
We are now equal top of Division 2 with Leighton Buzzard B and Northampton but Northampton, our next opponents, have 2 matches in hand, so I doubt we are at risk of promotion.