Bristol Cabot VS Bristol University B

With the team facing fiercer resistance with each match – starting with a decisive victory, then a not so decisive one, followed by a draw and then our first loss – we did not think that this one could be any worse than the last. In fact, we were notified by our opponents that their Board 4 would have to default, so things were looking good for us with a 0 – 1 lead before the match even started. However, we could not have anticipated the drama that was about to unfold…

The match started chaotically as the Redcliff bridge was under construction which led to complications when getting to the venue and resulted in both myself and our Board 1 – Dougie – arriving last minute. This was amplified by the fact that the time controls were a little different than we are used to: instead of the usual 80 minutes and 10 second increment we had to switch to 90 minutes with no increment as the venue had an early closing time. In the rush to not lose any time I forgot to remind everyone to turn off their phones which resulted in the drama that, as of the moment of writing this report, is not yet resolved. As the issue is still ongoing I shall not be mentioning any names, however to summarise – 15 minutes and 9 moves in, our Board 2 got a text message in the middle of a the game and his opponent claimed a victory on the basis of a rule violation. The problem is, the claim was made on the misunderstanding of the rules as the penalty for such an offense is stated to be a 2 minute time penalty rather than an immediate disqualification. I will not go into the specifics, but what makes this especially unfortunate is that this game would prove to be the deciding factor of the outcome of the match.

That aside lets have a look at some of the games. Starting with Board 6, Llewellyn played a solid positional game with Black which left White with doubled pawn. Unfortunately the advantage was quickly lost and White reached a winning Queen endgame with 3 connected passed pawns vs 1 isolated passed pawn. In the end the time pressure must’ve gotten to Black’s opponent as their most advanced pawn was picked up with check while Black’s pawn is only two moves away from promotion!

Sadly, Llewellyn pushed his pawn too hastily as well, allowing a perpetual. Although the truly interesting thing about this game is the journey that Whites Knight took: 3. Nc3 12. Ne4 13. Ng3 19. Nf1 21. Ne3 23. Nd1 23. Nc3 finishing its lap of White’s side of the board, but it wasn’t finished there – 27. Nxb5 30. Nc3 32. Nxd5 where it finally perished. What a journey!

On Board 5, Freddie with White, was the team’s solid player of the night taking after our Solid President Tom. The problem occurred when he decided to change up plans and go for something fancy:

An interesting idea to win a pawn 20. Nxe6??. The idea is that if 20. … Rxe6 21. Rxd5 and two of Black’s pieces are hanging, the best black can do is either damage White’s structure with 21. … Nxb2 giving up the Bishop and ending up a pawn down or 21. … Bxe3 where the material remains balanced but White has a healthy three-on-two on the Queen’s side and various tactics of skewer’s with the white Bishop. So in fact 20. … Nxe3!! is required. And what White had missed was the back-rank mate 21. Nxc5 Nxd1 22. Bxd1 Re1# Which is fair enough given that at the beginning of the calculation three pieces are blocking the rook on the e-file. After going down the exchange the game slowly fell apart.

On Board 1 with White, Dougie was making conscious decision to play faster as he is used to outplaying his opponents at the cost of his time and usually ends up living off of the increment by the end of his games – a luxury we did not have. So even though he was dominating his opponent for 20 moves, he missed a chance to win a pawn which would eventually prove to be his downfall.

Instead of 21. Bxb5 axb5 22. Qxb5 winning a pawn, 21. Qb3 bxc4 22. Qxc4 was played. The a-pawn was swiftly marched down the board and White lost a tempo by executing an idea which he realised does not quite work as black has a tactical resource at the end. This meant the only way White could maintain equality was to curl up into a ball around the Black pawn. One mistake of attempting to stay more active was all it took to lose.

The score was now anything between 2.5 – 2.5 at best and 3.5 – 1.5 at worst depending on the outcome of the drama on Board 2. With no wins apart from the default on Board 4, I was the only one left playing. Needless to say morale was down and the pressure was on. Fortunately, I decided to complicate matters after having built up a sizeable advantage from the opening (Caro players, you stand no chance!). This led to a big attack which culminated in a mate in 4 which I leave as a simple puzzle for you.

So at the end of the day at least we clutched one victory. Whether the match will result in a loss, a draw or a win still remains unknown, however we will make sure that nothing like this happens again on our part.

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