Having left the team do their own thing for the beginning of 2020, I (Ian Gallagher) returned as captain to show that I was not scared to get my hands dirty. Despite, or because of, my return, we were struggling for a lot of our usual first team players for a variety of reasons. This resulted in one of our weakest teams yet on paper, but a lot of the replacement players had big improvements in the January 2020 grading update, so we still had high hopes of getting a win. However, we did not let on that we weren’t fielding our usual array of 170+ players to our opponents until after the match!
Aaron Kelly played an interesting gambit in his game by missing the bus. Thankfully his opponent declined the gambit and kindly waited for him to arrive but, unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished. Aaron won a very short game due to a common tactic in the French. Some players on our team thought that Aaron had lost by default after seeing the early decisive result.
Black has just played 10… h6 putting the question to the bishop but after Aaron’s next move, he decided to resign. Can you find White’s winning blow? Answer at the bottom of the post.
Dorian Schiefer scored next for the university beating his opponent after what could kindly be described as a dubious pawn sacrifice in the opening. However, despite declining a draw offer in an objectively worse position, he managed to trick his opponent in a major pieces middlegame with lots of tactics floating around.
A draw by Conor Newton on his glorious return to the chess board but us in a strong position in the match. Daniel Savidge had made a move order mistake in his opening but was putting a lot of pressure on his opponent by playing quickly. The final few moves of the game were quite instructive:
Dan had just threatened mate with 1. Qg3, which Black guarded with 1… Rf7. Dan then spent a bit of his time advantage to check a few forcing lines to play quickly to add to the tension. 2. Rd8+ Kh7 3. Nf4 g5? Black picks a forcing line under time pressure, but this is the decisive mistake (Better was 3… Bf5 but 4. Qb3 is a scary move to counter with mates lurking on g8 but Black can counterattack with 4… Qxc2, which should hold.) 4. Qd3+ f5 5. Qd4! A quiet sacrifice that must have come as a shock. After Black’s next move, it is forced mate so calculate to the end if you want a good exercise. 5… gxf4 6. Rh8+ Kg6 7. Rg8+ Kh5 8. Qxf4! Another quiet move but with a deadly threat. Black lost on time trying to make his next move (8… Qe4 9. g4+! fxg4 10. Qh2 maters gonna mate.)
This gave the university the match win, but Andrew Porter put the icing on the cake with what I assume was a nice win if I could read his scoresheet. Finally, I cowardly offered a draw in a good position with the match won. Good, tenacious defence by my young opponent made converting the position a lot harder than computers claimed. Mainly I was terrified of losing after seeing ghosts and I didn’t fancy being a young scalp for my opponent!
Next game is on Tuesday away somewhere.
Downend C 1.0-5.0 University A
Dave Tipper 0-1 Daniel Savidge
Aron Saunders 0.5-0.5 Ian Gallagher
Jack Tye 0-1 Dorian Schiefer
James Hennesfeld 0-1 Andrew Porter
Richard Livermore 0-1 Aaron Kelly
Elmira Walker 0.5-0.5 Conor Newton
Puzzle solution: 11. Bxf6! wins material because after 11… Bxf6 12. Qe4 forks mate on h7 and the rook on a8.