University A’s first team game in our season of quick promotion back into the Division 1 started against Downend D, the promoted team from Division 3 last season. On paper, this was one of the easier matches of the season but it’s usually tricky to get a new team together with many players leaving but lots of new players to take their place.
After a small debacle with uncertainty with buses, the team met at the Cross Hands pub on time for our first game. Tim was the first to finish after dropping a piece against some strong play from his opponent. However, massive thanks to Tim for agreeing to play so late in the day. He put up a fight and, while we hope it doesn’t come to this, the lack of a default may help across the full season.
Marc-Antoine was next to finish, happily accepting a draw in a slightly worse position. Not the start we wanted but we would drop only 0.5 more points throughout the match. Alex won his game on board 5 after a Greek gift sacrifice netted him a couple of pawns in the early middle game. The queen ending took a little care as both sides had passed pawns but the extra ones paid off in a well-converted ending.
New player and top board, Dan Savidge, had a slightly rougher time facing an up-and-coming junior who played well after a dodgy opening from Dan. However, more 2. a3 Sicilians from Dan and I’m sure he will fit into the squad just perfectly! His opponent was in serious time trouble and Dan used his grading to escape with a draw in a slightly inferior position.
The penultimate game to finish was my own, converting a queen versus two rook middle game after a sacrificial attack forced White to give up his queen. Materially, White was doing fine but his wide-open king meant the queen was absolutely dominant but some control was required for yet another nice game away at Downend for me.
Last to finish was Philipp in a game we only needed a draw to win the match. However, Philipp was right to continue and managed to convert a king and pawn ending into a queen ending two pawns up. Things got a little hairy when we noticed that the increments had not been added all game, a bit scary with a minute left on the clock! After a clock adjustment, Philipp could relax a little and bring home the win.
Overall, a strong start to the season. Admittedly, it is not going to be our hardest match but the team seemed to lose their rust relatively quickly and I expect our standard to only increase as the season goes on. Next game is at home on 17th October.
Dan Savidge 0.5-0.5 Toby Kan
Ian Gallagher 1-0 Jack Tye
Philipp Prasse 1-0 Mike Passmore
Marc-Antoine Campana 0.5-0.5 David Woodcock
Alex Vaughan 1-0 Tom Carter
Tim Harding 0-1 Christi Mancuvel