This time North Bristol A came to our home turf to try and take revenge after their defeat last time we played. The tension was high since we met some of their players in Pub Chess the night before! Hence, trying not to reveal any of our openings, we played some very dubious chess there. North Bristol A fielded an exceptionally strong team in hopes of not getting demoted to Division 3, and doing their best to stop us from getting promoted, as their Board 1 from our last encounter was now playing Board 4… They also may or may not have pulled a Downend on us by fielding an unrated player on Board 1. Regardless, I’m sure there was no malicious intent and I’m just stirring up some drama. Let us move on to the games.
Coming back from the dead after having not played since December, Llewellyn, with Black, swiftly executed his opponent on Board 5. White played a London and so naturally, Black was equal on move 4. Llewellyn continued taking over the centre and soon his opponent blundered.
After 12. Qf3?? e4 13. Bg5 e5 Black is winning material. However, what was missed is that after 14. Bxf6 gxf6 there is no 15. Qg4+ because of the optimally developed bishop on c8. Instead, Black wanted their opponent to suffer for a longer period of time and decided to go for a slight positional rather than a material advantage with 14. … exf3 15. Bxd8 fxg2 16. Kxg2 Rxd8. The game continued until it was decided with with a fatal blunder by White and we got off to an early lead.
Next to finish was Conor on Board 4 as White. The game was about as interesting as the opening, which was another London, and so we shall swiftly move on to Dan on Board 6. All you need to know is that Black won on Board 4.
Dan was playing with White and unfortunately, got slowly and methodically outplayed throughout the game with only one interesting tactical sequence which was missed by both players. I will show it from Black’s perspective in case you want to stop here (solution is just below lmao) and try to find the missed move as a puzzle:
Turns out that 15. Be3?? is a blunder since black has 15. … Ncb4!!. The idea is quite deep. First of all, both the White Queen and white Bishop are attacked and the only way to save both of them without taking the poisoned Knight on b4 is to go 16. Ba4+ Kf8 and then to move the Queen, hanging 17. … Bxe4. Now to see why the Knight is poisoned, let us look at what happens after 16. cxb4. Black responds with 16. … Nxe3 and taking this Knight is also death, since you lose the Queen after 17. Qxe3 Bd4. Since White cannot take the Knight which is now hitting the Rook on f1, White’s only other option is to try to trade Queen and save the Rook. However, this leaves the Bishop on c2 unprotected and moving it with check leads to Black gaining access to the c2 square should the f1 Rook be moved: 17. Qxd8+ Rxd8 18. Ba4+ Bd7 19. Bxd7+ Rxd7 and White cannot prevent both 20. … Nxf1 and 20. … Nc2, the latter because of back-rank issues (21. Rf2 Rd1+ 22. Rf1 Rxf1#).
It wasn’t looking good as it was now 1 – 2 as the remaining boards were entering rapid time controls. This Brings us to our Board 1 – Fergus, Mr. Couple Tactics and Win, playing with Black. Indeed, this game ended abruptly as Fergus honoured his title to it’s fullest. It started with an opening that was first invented in 1995 by IM Michael Schleifer and was modernised in 2022 by NM (Not a Master) Fergus Skillen himself. It was used to absolutely crush GM Nick Pert and was hence named the Anti-Pert Variation of the King’s Indian Defence, which is characterised by 7. … Nb8:
The rest of the game involved lots of shuffling and repositioning as both players attacked each other in an opposite-sides castle position, but ultimately Fergus lived up to his name by declining a Queen-trade in order to increase the chances for tactics to appear on the board:
In this position Black played 40. … Qe8!!!. This pawn sacrifice is more than a brilliancy as it not only keeps the Queen’s on, for the rest of the game, but also immediately allows tactics with 41. Qg7#. The fact that Black found this with such low time on the clock is truly awe-inspiring and is definitely in contention for the move of the season! Yet another masterpiece was created, unfortunately, the game was lost very very shortly after the brilliancy was played, and this put us at 1 – 3. The best we could hope for was now a draw.
This meant that both King Julien and I had to win both our games for the draw. I was playing with Black on Board 3 and managed to get into an equal but complicated late middlegame where I was torn between two different repositioning moves for my Queen. After playing what I thought was best on low time I spent the next three tempi undoing what I did which resulted in me moving my Queen for six move in a row at which point it was traded and I was in a completely lost endgame. Fortunately, my opponent decided to start throwing the game even though he had a significant time edge and it became a draw and eventually we got to a position in which I had mate in 28 moves… But as we all know, I am so bad at endgames that it is not even funny and in low time we agreed to a draw as it was about to be perpetual. Pain.
With my throw of the match, it did not matter what Julien’s result would be, but I was told that it was edgy and they were constantly teasing each other and that his opponent missed his chance, although to this day, I am still unsure as to whether Julien was talking about the chess game or something else… Regardless, it ended in a draw and we lost the match 2 – 4.
With this defeat, we have two more games left. Unfortunately, winning the League is now impossible, but congratulations to Horfield & Redland B for the well deserved win! We shall hopefully take our revenge next season in Division 1! Speaking of which, we only need a draw to guarantee promotion, however we will give it our all and try to finish both our matches with a sweep!