The addition of Toby gave the D team renewed hope of recording our first win of the season. The A6 seemed to be conspiring against us, being closed with no coherent diversion, but everyone eventually arrived before kick off. The University library makes for an excellent venue, which would have been further improved had the Union bar been open (which it normally is during term time) – apologies David!
Anyway, the match started at pace. Andy played the bishops opening with an early f4 and when his opponent swapped off the knight on g1, he simply recaptured with his rook and pushed his kingside pawns, not even stopping to castle long. Meanwhile, Lucian, who had castled queenside, was characteristically hurling pawns at a rather shaky looking Kings Indian setup. Toby’s game started complicated and stayed that way – the refusal of either side to swap material making for a very crowded kingside situation. My game which had started brightly against an advanced French was quickly becoming a familiar grovel. Richard’s middle game, to my eye at least, was looking solid wit more space.
First to finish was Andy. He never bothered castling, instead pushing pawns to h5, g5 and f6! Suddenly, the h file opened and mate followed swiftly.
Lucian was next. He maturely converted his attack to a R+N+4p v R+N+2p ending which he converted without trouble.
So 2-0 up but still some uncertainty. Toby’s game had drifted past my level of understanding, Richard seemed to be a pawn or so down but still more active whilst my game was showing some signs of opening up following a queen exchange.
My opponent suddenly lost patience and went for a petite combination which looked to win a pawn but actually lost a piece and, flattering swiftly, the game – I can take little credit but all gifts gratefully received at this time of year.
With Q+R+7p v Q+Rv6p, Richard’s opponent grabbed one too many pawns and suddenly Richard’s Q+R were causing havoc on the 7th rank. With creditable efficiency, Richard converted it to a 4v3 pawn endgame which he was never going to lose.
Toby’s game was still complicated with the added spice of very little time.! Both players had stopped recording the moves, leading to some concern amongst the spectators about how loss on time could be judged but there was no need to worry. With less than 2 minutes on his clock, Toby used the threat of a Knight fork to swap two Rooks for a Queen. The open board and his opponents lack of coordinated defence lead to swift resignation. When I asked Toby afterwards if it was all sound, “I have no idea” came back the reply – oh to be young again!
So a great result coupled with some impressive individual performances. The A6 still tried hard to annoy me on the way home but couldn’t dampen my first taste of victory as captain – Happy Christmas team !