With two matches to go, a win against Clifton A would give us a strong lead going into the final match according to the people who actually studied the league table. That was a big, albeit non-existent, if as Clifton A can field a very strong team when the stars align. We can only hope they do for their final game against Downend A.
After some adventures in finding the venue, where I got lost in exactly the same way as I had done two years ago. Dan Savidge and I had to ask a tennis player for directions in between their first and second serve before immediately locating an equally lost Tom. Despite some injuries it didn’t seem to affect our play and the match starting approximately on time. The spectators came a little bit later, but next time, we ask that you save your requests for photos and signatures until after the match.
Strangely, my game was the first to finish rather than the last, but the position got incredibly dry early on and a draw was agreed. One point from the two 1.d4 Nc6 games isn’t a bad return from a stopgap opening until I learn some real theory. This was followed up by a loss for Alex missing a strong manoeuvre from his IM opponent, a somewhat brutal return to the team. Dan Savidge drew his game after an interesting opening where his opponent willing put his king on f7, leaving us behind in the match 2-1.
The next three games all finished in very quick succession, although Tom had been winning for some time (especially when, later on, you count the number of rooks correctly) from an early stage:
18…g5 finally cashed in on a position that had been consistently improving since the beginning. The knight is trapped since 19.Nf3 Nxf3+ 20.Bxf3 Qxd2 21.Rxd2 Rxd2 wins a rook.
Dan Varney amazingly played a novelty in the Alekhine Defence on move 4 and a later piece sacrifice gave him excellent practical chances, which is the polite way of saying that the computer is not a fan. The resulting position was much easier to play as the attacker rather than the defender, after while trying to break the shackles and counterattack, the attack finally landed for Dan. James continued his excellent form on the higher boards. After ten moves, White only had a developed knight on a4 and bishop on h6. Things progressed routinely until, seemingly out of nowhere, his opponent sacrificed both rooks and let a pawn promote for an attack like only glancing at vermouth while making a dry martini.
So, from 2-1 down, the University won the match 4-2 meaning we could potentially start the next match having already being crowned Division 1 champions, which is good as we will be away over Easter unless the match gets postponed.