University B vs. South Bristol A

The outcome of this matchup was 4.5 – 1.5, giving us another 2 points for this season. The University B team, as of writing this post is doing well in the Division 2 league, being tied with Horfield & Redland B in the top slots. Their strong performance has us on edge.

Two very close calls were had, which might have seen a final score of 3 – 3, and with such fierce competition where every point counts, we are happy that our players never gave up. Without further ado…

Asha’s opponent unleashed a powerful attack with an exchange sacrifice culminating to forced mate in 2… which was missed! The game ended three blunders later in Asha’s favor, where Black is simply up a full Rook and a piece. A great example of the idiom “Never resign!”

Sam faced a “cheeky Scandi”, a variation in the Scandanavian adopted by A Team member and Editor-in-Chief Ian, who has written a series of posts on the subject!

Sam relayed his frustration playing against the Scandanavian, as it looks quite silly in theory. How is it so difficult to counter an opening where Black moves his Queen out and puts it right back on its starting square?! And in the variation that was played, Black seems to be dropping a Pawn from the get-go by playing 2… Nf6 instead of recapturing…

However, trying to maintain the Pawn edge led to more trouble than it was worth, and White felt on the backfoot, having to give up material.

Sam persevered nonetheless and reached a drawn endgame… only to “blunder” on the last move.

I put “blunder” in quotations because it is not at all obvious to me, nor Sam or his opponent, that there was anything to play for. Indeed, the last 10 moves or so saw a lot of shuffling around and trading down, and it is hard to envision any way for Black to rescue his hopes of queening on the h-file.

Nonetheless, computer analysis suggests Black is totally winning, recommending to move the King out of a somewhat important fork with 50… Ke7. I cannot give anymore insight, as this endgame escapes my understanding as well.

In the end, a draw was agreed. Phew!

Jonas on Board 3 played extremely accurately with the Black pieces, exhibiting a meagre 17 centipawn lost in a 28 mover. Born out of a Grunfeld, many tactics were had on the Queenside, and Black would have already won if just on the basis of possessing extra passed Pawns.

But there seemed to be more to glean out of White’s predicament. Jonas pressed on with sharp tactics, the final blow coming from 25… e5, and White was forced to resign shortly thereafter, once their positional woes boiled down to the loss of a Queen.

In my own game, I faced an unusual opening which I rarely see even in Blitz games; the Latvian Gambit. Instead of a regular Open game with 1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6, Black plays 2… f5.

As a rule of thumb, when faced with a gambit from Black, one should always accept the Pawn and assume they are better. Additionally, it is often contraindicated to push one’s f-Pawn early in the game, especially in 1. e4, e5 openings.

This is not to say it is outright winning, and much time was spent to assess if I was in any danger, or if I could capitalize on my supposed advantage.
In this vein I was somewhat frustrated in the apparent absence of a crushing blow out of the opening, and instead felt obligated to develop slowly but surely.

The strategy I opted for then was to search for ways to exploit Black’s opening ‘sins’. Because Black pushed their f-Pawn, not only was the e6 square weakened, their King-side as a whole was more susceptible to attack. My plans came to fruition after I was allowed to play Ng5, going after both checkmate and a potential fork on e6. Mate followed soon after.

In the end, we had a nice collection of games this time around, and the dream to get to Division 1 is still well alive.

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