Bristol University B VS Keynsham A

With big goals this season to get the B team to division 1, which requires us to place top two in all of division 2, we had to start off strong. This was going to be a tall task as we were facing Keynsham A who had already played their first game and were currently tied for first in the league with South Bristol A. Nonetheless we were motivated to start the season off with a win and so we did!

First to finish was King Julien who ended his game in a swift, what felt like a 15 min, victory on board four. No one really knows why his opponent came to play a blitz game in a classical setting, but oh well, we’re not complaining.

It was an interesting Smith-Morra Gambit where black decided to not take the c-pawn and instead opted for quick development. To counter this white used a common tactical idea to protect the d4 pawn and catch up in development:

After 7. Be2 Bxf3 8. Bxf3 Qxd4 9. Bxc6+ winning the queen.

Black’s questionable bishop for knight trade let white take the lead in development to the point where a queen trade was made leaving a lone pony to defend against a knight and the bishop pair, while the other pieces remained spectators. However, it must be said that stockfish prefers to keep queens on even at the cost of the d5 pawn.

A dubious lashing out with 13. … f5 and a bishop fork blunder later, white had mate in 6 which makes for a nice little puzzle:

Next to finish was Llewellyn on board 6. It turned out to be a “straightforward” game according to him. Not only was it straightforward, but it also happened to be a near perfect game and his first classical OTB game at that as well. At this point I must state that I am unaware of any use of beads of any kind by any member of the B team, however I must say that this is a fantastic debut for Llewellyn in our team and we are proud to finally have him in the team this season.

As for the game itself it was an English which ended up with white having the only two centre pawns and black with doubled c-pawns. After unsuccessful attempts to win the centre pawns, black’s play started to appear more and more desperate as attack after attack was perfectly answered by white. Finally, black’s desperate attacks led to overextending and the loss of both c-pawns, after which, white proceeded to shove the two centre pawns down the board and trading pieces along the way to arrive at a position in which both d- and e-pawns were proudly standing side by side on the 7th rank, with the unstoppable threat of 41. e8=Q#, where black resigned.

My own game was a bit of a mess… As I described it to others, it felt like we were playing bullet, but not because of the pace we were playing at, rather the moves that we were playing. To paint the picture, it started with 1. b3 Nf6 2. Bb2 g6 3. g4 at which point I had to swiftly exit the room as I started laughing hysterically at what was transpiring. I came back to play 3. … h6 4. h4 which, although it was justified after my opponent had already played 3. g4, forced me to break out into another laughing fit and leave the room yet again… What followed was an equally chaotic game where white ended up making a blunder of a queen due to a discovered attack:

However, the queen did not come cheap as white did manage to get the bishop and the rook for it. And a couple of inaccuracies later white actually managed to equalise! But, after black got his queen to centralise the constant threats led to a break though which ended with white’s resignation on board three, after the h-pawn was a square away from promotion.

On board five, Freddie had an interesting game which turned into a closed positional game which involved the black pawns reaching c3 early on and g3 by the end of the game. The first pieces to leave the board was a pair of bishops on move 17, followed by a bishop and a night on move 31, and the fist pawn to fall was on move 45! It involved lots of shuffling and repositioning, and unfortunately, when the pawn fell, soon after, black was three pawns down. The position was completely lost. However, like any good chess player, Freddie started looking for counter-play and ended up saccing a rook for a knight. This spooked his opponent, and the advantage was now in black’s favour. White missed their chance to get into a drawn endgame at the very end and mate followed suit. A 60-move game of attrition.

Victory was already secured at this point, however both Fergus and Dougie were low on time on boards one and two respectively due to how long the games had been going, which meant that the pressure was still on. Dougie’s game was a Grunfeld which featured 5. … Nb6. This felt a bit awkward and white was comfortable with complete domination of the centre as well as control of any natural developing squares for the black pieces, not to mention the space advantage. However, the Fish being the all-seeing scumbag that it is finds a way for black to develop:

After 8. h3 stockfish finds 8. … Nc6 which looked impossible due to the follow up 9. e5 and the knight has to keep wasting tempi jumping around while white makes progress with constant pressure. However, 9. … f5!! 10. exc6 Qxd1+ 11. Rxd1 fxe4 wins back the piece, removes whites strong centre, and opens up lines allowing for quick and easy development while white’s king is still un-castled.

The rest of the game was gradual progress for white which led to black making some poor decisions due to the relentless pressure with constantly looming threats of sacrifices around black’s king. Unfortunately, none of them quite worked despite a knight on g5, doubled rooks on the half-open f-file and a queen on b3. Nonetheless, white finally broke through and entered a winning endgame where black refused to resign and so white got to a position in which it was mate in two, and then proceeded to get down to 6s on the clock before pushing a pawn to threaten a promotion. You know what they say, “When you see mate in one – look for better”. Dougie demonstrated how adaptable the B team is by applying this logic even in a position of mate in two. Great stuff!

Finally, we come to board 1. Fergus, as per usual was out of theory after 1. e4, but nonetheless he got into a very complicated position where he decided to lash out with 11. … g5, completely giving up a pawn to open up the opposite side castling position. This was a very interesting idea which put Fergus, “Mr. Couple Tactics and Win”, into his home territory – utter chaos. And after 12. Nxg5 Re1 13. g4 black even gave up his bishop 13. … Bxg4, however white decided to give a piece back at the sight of the oncoming attack. The computer hates pretty much all of this, however a brilliancy 16. … Nxg4!! threatening mate in two was found:

The follow up being: 17. Bxg4 h5. This equalised and put Fergus back in the game from an otherwise losing position.

What followed was white defending up until an endgame was reached, at which point both players were low on time with black living off of the increment. The time pressure and a pawn marching down the f-file proved to be too much in the end and black resigned. Even though it ended in a loss, and stockfish did not appreciate the game, I am sure no one will argue that what took place was art.

Overall, this was a fantastic start to the season with a defeat of a team which was tied for first, and almost a perfect score shows that we are in better form than ever. Division 1 here we come!

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