After the ordeal of making the trip to Clevedon, University A were very happy to have their first home match of the season. The new players to the squad were clearly not traumatised enough, although the biggest team surprise was the return of Dan Varney coming back for one more job. When the captain can rest himself for a game, you know the strength of the University runs deep.
The Bath side could not match this strength in depth, and it was a bit of a race amongst the lower boards to see who would finish first. I just pipped Dan Varney to the post after winning too many pawns in the opening that couldn’t even kindly be called an unsuccessful gambit. However, Dan had the much nicer finish and can take solace in that.
White had trapped a knight in the centre during the opening, but he did not take his foot off the gas. 18.d5 exd5 19.cxd5 Bxb2 20.dxc6 bxc6 21.Rad1 Nd5 22.Bxd5 White continues to open up lines towards the enemy king. 22…cxd5 23.Qb3! Threatening the bishop but also mate on b8. Black plays the natural move to defend both but runs into a nice finishing move. 23…Qb7
24.Rc1+! Black resigned due to 24…Bxc1 25.Rxc1+ and Black can’t maintain defence of the queen.
2-0 quickly became 3-0 when Kevin won again to keep his 100% record for the University. The rest of the match was a little tense as there was a bit of a wait until the match-clenching point, but president Tom also kept his 100% win rate.
White went for a tempting, but incorrect sacrifice. The game earlier hadn’t really been going his way so perhaps this was still playing on his mind and felt he had to roll the dice, the 34th chess piece. 26.Rxd4?! exd4! An important decision. We will see why the other capture cxd4 fails soon. 27.Rb3 Qe5+ The key difference. By freeing up this square with tempo Black survives the attack. 28.Kd1 Kc7 The king just runs away to d6 and White lost.
While the match was in the bag, the remaining two boards obviously wanted to still do well. Zachary drew with another strong opponent, which will do his new ECF rating a world of good. James put up a good fight but lost an ending a pawn down leaving the match a 4.5-1.5 win for the University. A great start to the league for the University having won all three matches and only dropping 4 game points across the 18 boards.