A somewhat depleted Bedford C team made its way to Leighton Buzzard on Tuesday. It has to be said that even arranging this fixture was a bit of a hassle; the game was supposed to be played last month but was rearranged after I was suffering a player crisis. Things weren’t much better this time around though, and I ended up having to cup-tie myself by playing somewhat out-of-position on board 2! Nevertheless, thanks to opposition team captain Adrian Matthews for being accommodating; and of course to Ramsey and Andy for filling in for missing players. (Ramsey in particular was extremely keen – such enthusiasm must be applauded.)
Nevertheless, we finally got there, and got the feeling it was going to be something of an uphill struggle – we were somewhat outrated, but felt that it would be competitive and so it proved.
Board 1 featured Steve Pike against Brian Valentine (who, I am reliably informed by our resident walking encyclopedia on local chess infrastructure Peter Gill, is the man responsible for running the ECFLMS website). Whenever I glanced at his board it looked like he had the edge – he seemed to have more space and activity. [Ed – I actually mis-played a Max Lange attack and was lucky to survive the opening. Brian took the gambited pawn and held on to it with advantage. Both of us ducked mad complexities on the kingside and I managed to sneak my pawn back and win another. The resultant position was probably worth more than a draw but my objectivity was shredded by then and a threefold repetition was too tempting to turn down]
As mentioned above, I was playing out-of-order on board 2 against Peter Taylor. He got off to a good start against my Caro-Kann defence, but then allowed me to trade off pieces to relieve the pressure and equalise the position. The fewer pieces were left on the board, the stronger I looked, and he was ultimately unable to defend his weak queenside pawns. He resigned when two pawns down in a rook endgame – and I must say I got a little overexcited! Further thoughts from both Steve and myself on the game are below.
Ramsey Dairi and Adrian Matthews were on board 3. This one looked like a real grandmaster draw (see below), with neither side ever getting an edge, both players too good to make a telling mistake. Ramsey always seemed very assured against a Sicilian defence, and they ended up splitting the point after 21 moves, though Ramsey told me afterwards he would definitely have played on if he’d had the other side.
Board 4 was Peter Gill versus Ian Woodward. Playing a board higher than usual, Peter appeared to be facing another Sicilian but with the colours reversed. I didn’t catch too much of his game, but I returned later to find all of Ian’s heavy artillery lined up menacingly on the e-file. I think he must have had to jettison a pawn just to nullify all the threats, which left him unfortunately with quite the unpleasant endgame, not only down a pawn but with Ian having a ferocious bishop pair and all the activity. In time trouble approaching move 35, Peter wandered into an aesthetic mating pattern, but the position was probably lost anyway.
Finally, board 5 was Andy Evans and Fred Dorn. Andy has made a habit of playing for every team but his own, and it’s always a pleasure to have him on board. Andy equipped himself well against a higher-rated player, but it seemed like Fred was slowly able to accumulate an ever-larger advantage – he converted a strong opening first into a pawn, and then a full knight. As the pieces came off the position became untenable and Andy resigned.
Final results are therefore as follows:
Brian Valentine ½ – ½ Steve Pike
Peter Taylor 0 – 1 Alex Potts
Adrian Matthews ½ – ½ Ramsey Dairi
Ian Woodward 1 – 0 Peter Gill
Fred Dorn 1 – 0 Andy Evans
Leighton Buzzard B 3 – 2 Bedford C
So close, and yet so far! Thanks to everyone for taking part and playing some gutsy chess.
Alex Potts, 13th December 2023