After the Easter break, University A had two big matches to hopefully make a big finish. The final game against Downend A is obviously huge, but first, we had to overcome a battling Grendel A who had previously beaten Horfield A in the previous round. Not a team to be taken lightly especially when the University was looking for board points to assist in the final push for back-to-back titles.
From a University perspective, it was effectively the perfect match. Tom won quickly and Julien managed to capitalise on his misremembered preparation on move 3 (chef finger kiss):
White had just played 9.d5 when it is possibly fair to say that Julien had spotted half a tactic. 9…Nxd5 10.Qxd5 Qxd5 11.Nxd5 Bxa1 It had dawned on Black that White has 12.Nc7+ to win back some material and it takes some calm realisation that the knight will remain trapped and Black has a pleasant advantage. I think it was something of a relief when White instead played 12.c3 trying to trap the bishop, and after some other adventures, Black won. Apparently, I need to work on my body language when sat next to other people’s boards.
James drew on the top board to make the match 2.5-0.5 and the remaining three games all went in favour of the University as our opponents all struggled in slightly wore positions with little time on the clock. My own game saw a nice manoeuvre that required some prophylactic thinking and full board vision as time ticked down:
White’s pressure on the queenside with the better minor piece had netted me a pawn, but with a little bit work to do to convert into the full point. Black had just played 31…Bf8 hoping to exchange queens and find salvation closer to an endgame. However, this idea has a flaw so I just make the useful move 32.Kg2 to see if Black misses it. 32…Qe7? 33.Qb5 Qc7 34.Qe2! Suddenly, the queen shoots over to the opposite side of the board attacking a pawn that can no longer be defended. Even worse, it will threaten mate so Black cannot use the time to find counterplay. Winning the second pawn made the conversion a whole lot simpler.
A convincing 5.5-0.5 victory in the end and importantly enough board points to give University A the best possible chance to win the division.