After our first and probably only defeat of the season (I don’t even think it’s even possible for me to get my comeuppance…), on paper the University had an easier match against Clevedon A, having defeated them 5-1 away earlier in the season. However, things are never that straightforward in a game of incomplete information like chess, although that’s mainly because I don’t know what I’m doing. The multiple spectators/cheerleaders even from rival teams certainly boosted our performance, so it’s best not to think about what might have happened otherwise.
Ravi was first to finish having what can only be described as a mare. Luckily, one of the team’s biggest advantages is its strength in depth, so we can offer to get away with the occasional misfire. Dan Varney immediately levelled up the match getting an objectively won position as quick as his opponent did last time they played. However, he couldn’t claw his way back into the game like Dan did in the away game, and he lost again and is probably glad to see the back of him.
Other Dan finished next from what initially appeared to be a very dry and equal position from the opening. Like a good captain, he refused the early draw offer and seemed to magically entice his opponent to overpress on the kingside in a queen-less middlegame eventually causing his pieces to get trapped. Sadly, from a University prospect, it was Clevedon’s turn to cancel out the lead after I got a bad position out of a dodgy and unprepared opening. It is unfair continuing to blame the new chess fleeces, so I think the blame this time lies at the feet of Richard Rapport.
At 2-2 the next win was obviously crucial, and James continues to deliver on top board. His opponent played strangely giving James an almost ideal setup in a REDACTED opening. James saw off the desperado sacrificial attack, which makes sense when you realise the queen is on h1 and your opponent is not AlphaZero. This meant that a draw by Tom was enough to win the match by the narrowest of margin, which he did.
A tough match, but ultimately a good result utilising the full strength of the squad.