This is a long overdue match report, however – better late than never.
The fun began, as always, before the match did. The attempt to coordinate to take the same bus to the venue ended up with Ignacio accidentally taking a bus that arrived earlier and then the rest of the team ended up letting the scheduled bus leave to wait for Ignacio who we had thought was on the way to the bus stop. The result was one player taking a bus too early and the rest of us taking a bus that was late. Everything would have been good and well if not for the driver deciding to park for about 20 minutes. When I went to ask what the hold up was I discovered the bus driver watching TikToks of E-girls on his phone… Nonetheless, when we finally did get moving, we spent the time well by solving blindfold chess puzzles.
Downend & Fishponds C kindly agreed to wait for us after being informed that our bus was going to arrive late and then the games commenced. Everyone was surprised when one of the slowest players on the team – Captain Zurba – finished his game in about 5 minutes. I was playing with White on Board 3 and some people thought I had gone into some theoretically forced draw, however the fact of the matter is that my opponent made three blunders and lost the game in 13 moves and resigned in the following position:
This was definitely not my opponents best moment as I’ve seen him play before and it never looked like this. We then proceeded to play some blitz where in one of the games we got rid of the clocks to see if my opponent could mate me with a knight and bishop, which he did…
Next to finish was Ignacio with Black on Board 6. Unfortunately for Ignacio and the team, he was taken out of book by move 3 and immediately made a mistake which his opponent capitalised on and had a +3 advantage out of the opening. The rest of the game was a brutal attack on the Black position, but to Ignacio’s credit, he did a good job complicating matters as best he could for some counter play, which led to some beautiful looking moves:
The idea played out exactly as Black wanted – after 14. gxf5 exf5 15. f4 Qc6 16. Rg1 dxe5 17. fxe5 Qxf3, Black relieved some of the pressure by removing the dark squared bishop which was harassing the black-squared weaknesses around the Black King. The evaluation of the position went from +12.6 to +3.3. Of course, White did not have to play out the sequence of moves that they did, however in a lost position it was a fantastic and successful try by Black. Unfortunately, in the end +3 is still more than enough to convert the position into a win which is exactly what happened.
Next to join us at the bar was Julien, after finishing his game on Board 2 with Black. He faced a Spanish which he had played against last game and had explored various ways to improve and ideas he would attempt to implement. Indeed he had successfully equalised out of the opening and an interesting game was about to take place. And interesting it was, at least for White, when Black got a little lost in the complications of the position and made an unfortunate blunder that threw away the game. After some stares of disbelief Julien’s opponent cleanly converted the position from being up a rook. Although personally, I do not agree with Julien’s resignation in the following position even though it is +8 for three reasons: 1. The three-on-two might have allowed some critical positions and require accurate play from his opponent; 2. You need to punish yourself for getting into that position in the first place haha :P; and 3. With a Knight on the board the game is never over ’till it’s over, just ask our Bristol University A Captain (sorry Dan ;D).
Regardless, it was now 1-2 in favour of Downend as we turn our attention to Board 1 where Fergus, Mr. Couple Tactics and Win, with White, was playing his whole game with the intention to find the most beautiful moves to create another masterpiece of a game. It started with a Cheeky-Scandi, 1. e4 d5, to which Fergus had this to say: “Yes, my opponent knows no opening theory!” And indeed by move 4 Fergus was out of book. His advantage slowly grew until he though it was about time to sacrifice all of his pieces:
23. Rxe4 fxe4 24. Rxe4 g6?? immediately succumbing to the attack. Best was to give back the exchange with 24. … Rf5 25. Rh4 h6 26. Bxf5 exf5, which is not the easiest defence to find. So naturally Fergus kept the sacrifices coming with 25. Nxg6!! hxg6 26. Rxd6 Bc8 27. Rxg6+ Kf7 28. Rg7+!! The best move for Black is to offer a draw and after White asks for Black to make a move first to go 28. … Ke8 and then it is mate in 20 (although Stockfish is bad at chess and can only find mate in 26)! Instead, Fergus’ opponent chose death with 28. … Kxg7 29. Qh7+ Kf6 30. Qg6#.
With the score now even and clocks running low it came down to Freddie and Conor on boards 4 and 5 respectively, to get us the W. Conor, with White, played an extremely high level game with a slight advantage throughout, right up until both players went under 5 minutes when White landed a nasty fork. But even then, the position is not clear at all with tactical compensations after every obvious move starting with Qb5. I shall not go into them but will include the position for interested readers to explore.
As a result of these tactical complications and low time Conor blundered back a piece and was now slightly worse. So when his opponent offered a draw with both players under a minute, he gladly accepted it having had flashback to his last game.
It all came down to the last game which would decide the match! Freddie played with Black and the game itself was not particularly interesting – after a 20 move middlegame they entered an endgame which turned into a completely drawn Bishop vs Knight position. However, what was interesting was the drama that took place as a result of this game. It began with both players going under 5 minutes. Since White had about 1 minute to his 5, Freddie decided to try and play on his opponents clock and make moves as fast as possible. This is a great strategy and it paid off:
White had to not rush and save his Knight with 56. Kf4 going for the Bishop should Black attempt to win White’s Knight. Instead, 56. h4?? was played and Black went on to win the game.
The drama – due to increment Freddie had gone back up above 5 minutes and had stopped writing down his moves. His opponent though that Freddie had never gone below 5 minutes which would mean that he should have spent his time writing down the moves as they happened. This made Black frustrated as they did not try call out what they thought was breaching of the rules at the time and ended up losing. What didn’t help was that upon the termination of the game Freddie had lightheartedly said that he was “blitzing him out”, which absolutely infuriated his opponent after the loss and the the misunderstanding of what happened regarding the notation of the moves.
In the end after a series of emails, everyone apologised for any rude behaviour and everything was well. Boy am I going to make a speech at the end of the year about my role as Captain this season haha, something to look forward to, I guess. You will get a better idea if you have been following the match reports this season, including the next one to come, where we played a home game (or two…) against Bristol Cabot.