‘Twas a cold night in Leighton Buzzard …

Leighton Buzzard BBedford D
1Brian J Valentine1670.50.5Steve C Pike163
2Peter Taylor15101Andrew J Chapman160
3C Fred H Dorn13801Richard McMorran138
4Tony Readman10610R David Cox80
5def 01RW (Mac) MacKenzie68

The evening started somewhat earlier than expected when I spotted an email in my overflowing inbox late afternoon informing me that they couldn’t field 5 players – coming from Bedford with up to 25 players to call upon, it’s difficult to understand the problem but we have certainly seen many clubs recently struggling to put teams together. Luckily, I was able to stand Mac down before he set out but this is the second match in a row when he has had not had a game.

Anyway, a traditionally warm welcome awaited us in Leighton Buzzard, 9 degrees to be precise, according to the thermostat! A radiator was coaxed into life and the temperature soared to about 16 by 9pm – coats were not removed!

Andy arrived a little late but wasted little time swapping queens off and achieving, to my eyes anyway, a rather cramped position. It was obviously all too subtle for me as suddenly, a pair or rooks was swapped, his other rook was bearing down an open c file and his knights were threatening forks all over the place. Pawns were gobbled up for fun and Peter threw in the towel with a hopeless endgame in prospect.

David played the “normal” Cox Dutch and an open game resulted with chances for both sides. His opponent had control of the g file but David looked to be defending well and had counter-attacking chances in the middle. Unfortunately, a momentary lapse saw the loss of a queen for rook and knight and the position quickly collapsed.

My own game was an all too typical grovel – why do I still not know how to play against 3 …Nge7 with the Spanish? Anyway, I went all passive and Brian achieved a pleasant game with ..Bg7, ..0-0, ..f5 etc. Just when it all looked a bit hopeless, I saw a freeing resource, exchanging pawns and offering to swap minor pieces (in a unexpected move order). Luckily for me, neither of us saw that had Brian accepted the swap, mate or heavy material loss would have befallen me quickly (as he explained to me in an email this morning!). As it was, we moved into an 2B’s+6P v B+N+6P endgame and the cramped nature of the position meant my bits were a reasonable match for the bishop pair – a peace treaty was agreed.

All this left Richard needing only a draw to seal the match. He had opened with the Bird and tried to flood the centre with pawns. An unusual queen exchange, involving the threat of a knight fork resulted in quite a simplification of things but Richard always looked to be on the front foot. When next I looked at it properly, he had converted his advantage into a N+B+4P v 2B+3P ending. Again, the horsie looked the trickiest but the best piece was the clock – as Richard explained in the pub later, “I thought Fred would either blunder or lose on time” and sure it enough, the latter ensued.

All in all, a much needed and welcome result. Thanks to all involved, especially Mac who will definitely play in the next game!