A period of high activity as the University plays their games in hand with a trip to Bath as a post-exam treat. Clearly a very mentally taxing period as we managed to lose a player between the ticket barriers and the train at the station, but all’s well that ends well. Out the other side and a leisurely walk through Bath to the venue; thankfully, this doesn’t match the Clevedon levels of excitement.
The match had its first result almost immediately; the two most grandmaster-like players from both teams making the most grandmaster-like of draws. James spent more time travelling than actually playing, channelling his inner Varney, but at least he got to pub chess in good time.
The other games also happened; I wasn’t really paying attention despite getting up from my own board often enough. I believe Dan was next to finish, his opponent making an incredibly crazy tactical affair. His two-pawn sacrifice led to a dangerous attack when Dan felt the need to sacrifice his queen for a rook but with some advancing passed pawns. After an unfortunate touch-move, his opponent eventually had to give the queen back but converted the position into one with opposite coloured bishops and held the draw despite the pawn deficit. A wild game that swung both ways.
Zachary was unfortunate to lose after blundering a pawn in what was otherwise a very balanced and well-played game. This left the match in Bath’s favour 2.0-1.0 with the remaining positions approaching time trouble.
Jonas had a very slow game with a large chunk of time being spent by both players before move 10. The position warranted the think with Jonas arriving at a key decision point early when offering a gambit in an English Opening:
White finally grabbed the pawn with 10.dxe4 dxe4 11.Nxe4 when Jonas had compensation after 11…Rd8. However, there was an even better option with 11…Nxe4 12.Bxe4 Rd8 13.Bd2 Bh3! giving the White king serious issues being unable to castle kingside. With so many good options it can be hard to gauge which gives the most compensation and whether it justifies the sacrificed material. In time trouble the evaluation ebbed and flowed and the game ended in a draw.
Soon after, Tom continued his good series of results defending against an Evans Gambit. The opening seemed to go well obtaining the bishop pair and an extra pawn for a damaged structured, but his opponent had a better understanding of the resulting position, winning back his gambit pawn before nabbing a second. Despite being a pawn minus, Tom’s passed b pawn was incredibly fast, and his opponent blundered allowing the pawn to promote tying the match.
My own game was the last to finish with me not knowing what result I needed to win the match. I know the bar is very tempting, but you need to record your results immediately after your game is finished. My opponent unfortunately made a questionable move when otherwise making a very tempting draw offer. Certainly not losing by any stretch, but it gave me enough reason to continue with little time on both clocks. With seconds left, one last critical decision needed to be made:
There is no chance the move number is correct but 71…Rg3+ gives White two obvious ways to attack the rook; 72.Kf4 Rg2 73.g8=Q+ Rxg8 74.Ra8+ Kc7 75.Rxg8 h2 76.Rh1 and Black resigned having dipped to one second on the clock at one point. However, there was one last trap in the position; 72.Kh4? Rxg7! 73.Rxg7? h2 wins for Black. White must accept the draw with, for example, 73.Ra1. This win ended up being the decisive result for the match with University A winning 3.5-2.5.
Next week we are up against Downend B and, like James previously, I’m going to predict another 3.5-2.5 victory for the University, but that remains to be seen.