We’re halfway through the season now, everyone’s on the second leg of fixtures so that means previous match-ups are being replayed. So it was on Thursday, with another derby between Bedford’s B and C teams. On paper these teams were supposed to be evenly matched, but I’m not sure it’s turned out that way in practice…
Board 2, between Steve and Richard Bodily was the first to finish. I wasn’t able to see much of the game, but from what I heard it was a sharp opening that suddenly liquidated into a rather sterile position where a relatively quick draw was agreed. My editor will no doubt brand this decision cowardly, but from where I’m standing it was a pragmatic decision against a strong opponent. You’ll get a win soon enough, Steve (perhaps but on this occasion, I think my opponent’s offer was quite generous!-Ed).
Board 3 between Ramsey and Callum, was the standout game of the round. Something tells me that Callum won’t be accepting the Evans Gambit again any time soon; he was simply unprepared for a very sharp theoretical line where Ramsey had done his homework. Once Callum had taken a second pawn the white attack more-or-less played itself, Ramsey played at a formidable level of accuracy and Callum was never even able to throw a punch, allowing mate to play out on the board in just 19 moves, which you can go through at your leisure in the analysis below. We’ve all been there and I’m sure Callum will learn from the beating he took and come back stronger.
Mike and Alex Taylor met on the top board, but the story there was more about what happened away from the board than on it. Mike must have had some kind of work commitment that had overrun, and as his clock ticked down it looked like we were heading for a default for the second week running. But he managed to dash from the office to get here in the nick of time, immediately settled down and put up a decent performance. Based on his showing last week, Mike is totally unfazed by being at a disadvantage on the clock, and again he held a draw here.
Then the next game to finish was myself against Rob on board 4. Going into a King’s Indian, we reached a very complex middlegame where I don’t think either of us were playing particularly accurately. Nonetheless, your confident captain competed credibly until he capitulated with a calamitous clanger, lost a pawn, and allowed Rob plenty of initiative besides to attack on the kingside. Rob used his advantage to force off the pieces into a favourable rook ending where he won a second pawn, and I conceded defeat. (The engine actually finds resources to prolong the game, but I didn’t see them and I’d had enough of being tortured.)
That settled the tie already in favour of the B team, but we still had one more result to come in – Richard McMorran against young Jack Hale on board 5. This was a marathon game that went well over 60 moves, with Richard cunningly locking up the position and steering the game down a path where experience and the ability to make long-term plans mattered more than raw calculating ability. Once the queens came off, the game was always going to favour Richard with his space advantage and more active bishop, and he duly converted into a nice win. Still, Jack fought well for having such little over-the-board experience, and if nothing else he certainly tired Richard out ready for when I have to play him next week – thanks Jack!
Final result: Bedford C 1 – 4 Bedford B
Mike Botteley ½ – ½ Alex Taylor
Steve Pike ½ – ½ Richard Bodily
Callum Shields 0 – 1 Ramsey Dairi
Alex Potts 0 – 1 Rob Walker
Jack Hale 0 – 1 Richard McMorran
That makes the B team safe from relegation to all intents and purposes; for the Cs, it’s all coming down to Leighton Buzzard on 14th March…
Alex Potts, 10th February 2024