Rook before you leap

(I think Alex may have won the competition for the best headline here, but keep trying!). The B Team hosted the A Team on “Leap Day”, looking to build on recent good results.  The A Team, fielding a full-strength squad had other ideas!

My game against Steve was an tight one.  Out of the opening there was tension in the centre but both sides had solid positions.  Steve then ventured his queen to the a file and it looked slightly trapped.  I then returned the favour by getting my queen stuck on b2.  After queens cam off I missed a tactic which lost a key pawn and I then failed to count properly after exchanging all the pieces off, which meant Steve was going to queen a pawn.

Richard seemed to be doing the early pressing against James on Board two and seemed to have more space and more of the game.  However, James pinned Richard’s e pawn to his queen and was able to win it and despite pressure, Richard’s attack did not seem to be making much headway.  After the exchange of queens, Richard unfortunately blundered a rook away and it was curtains.

Ramsey employed the Dutch against Ravi on board 3, but seemed to drift into trouble with Ravi having a lot of pressure on the e file.  This initially won a pawn and also left Ramsey in a very passive position.  Ravi ramped up the pressure which ultimately led him to win a queen for a rook and that was effectively game over.

Robert and Paul’s game was actually the last to finish.  An Alekhine opening led to a balanced position with Robert having a bit of a space advantage but nothing significant.  The next thing I saw Robert had exchanged his queen for a rook and bishop – whether this was forced I do not know.  The ending of Q,R plus five pawns v 2R, B and five pawns looked pretty level, but Robert had to defend carefully to avoid being squeezed.  Ultimately, Robert went wrong allowing a fork which lost the bishop.

Nick and Richard had an interesting battle on board 5.  Richard went pawn hunting on the queenside but the effect of this was to allow Nick to create a central pawn wedge which always looked threatening, when taking into account that Richard’s pieces looked tied up.  Ultimately this was to prove decisive as the pawns advanced, Nick was able to win a queen and the game.

The score line of 5-0 does not reflect the closeness of some of the games.  The B Team will have to wait until 2052 to have another chance of a Thursday Leap Day victory! 

Alex Taylor, 1st March 2024