After a string of away matches, the University had a tough return facing the entirety of Bristol & Clifton A. This became even more apparent early on when the positions on the boards favouring the away team, especially sad for myself, spoiling some years old preparation. Dan Varney got the first draw while Alex Belsley went down against their IM on Board 1. Down 0.5-1.5, the stage was set for University’s first loss of the season.
Then, the University started doing what it does best. Dan Savidge, surviving the opening after being computer lost on move 4, managed to trick his opponent after going a pawn down. Fergus Skillen survived a strong looking attack:
23… Ng4+ Incredibly tempting but Black didn’t have to rush with this idea, 23…Nc2! and putting the knight on d4 before sacrificing is even stronger. 24.hxg4 hxg4+ 25.Kg1 g3 26.Rg2 Qh7 27. Bh5 Nxd3? Again, brave, but Black should take back the material with 27…Qxh5 when the attack is still strong. 28.Nxg3 Nf4 29.Bxf4 exf4 30.Rxa6! Black must have missed this idea. White goes full on counterattack. 30…fxg3 31.Qa4+ Bc6 32.Ra7+ and the attack crashes through.
With things now in the University’s favour, James Clarke won the match with a nice win with some strong opening knowledge, fully justifying his placement on Board 2. I finally lost my game that had gone south very early, but in the end, it didn’t matter in a 3.5-2.5 win for the University. A very close match that could have gone either way but the 100% streak continues!