Having already secured promotion last game we went into this match without any concerns even though we were only able to field 5 players. It was great fun from start to finish as we were discussing 30 page documents of Bongcloud theory in preparation for the match. We even managed to arrive early to the match and kindly helped set up the boards with the other team’s Captain.
Unsurprisingly, first to finish was Default on Board 6 with Black and we were now down in the match. Might have to demote them to the Bristol University C for next year… After that however, we were right back in it when Dan on Board 4 won his game with Black as a result of a one move blunder of a Knight by his opponent. As I mentioned earlier, we all went into the games not taking things too seriously and for Dan this involved a King-walk:
Truly one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen – I am so proud. 12. … Kd7!! was completely uncalled for with a perfectly good 12. … Be6 available, which allows Black to castle justifying the fianchetto structure on the King-side as well as being an objectively better move. Not only does this surrender the right to castle, it also blocks the development of the Bishop! But hey – any position without Queen’s is an endgame, right? And everyone knows King activity is important in endgames. However as you can see, the disrespect did not end there. After 17. … Kd6!!!, once again a completely unnecessary move, Black’s opponent got so flustered that they went 18. Ng4?? losing the game immediately. This is exactly what Fergus would call a tactically winning position.
Next to finish was Samson who for the second time this season stepped up from Bristol University C so that we would not default (a second board in this case haha), although I must say that I am extremely impressed in Samson’s classical abilities and I think he should have joined Bristol University B from the get-go. Although it is always difficult to judge the abilities of new players. Samson, if you are not deterred from playing in Division 1 next year I strongly suggest you join Bristol University B ;).
Samson played with White on Board 5 and there is not much to say about this game other than that there was a missed tactic early on and a dubious sacrifice in the late opening. Other than that the game was a 61 mover and was a slow but extremely accurate conversion of a +6 position on move 12. To not have a 50 page match report we shall hence swiftly move on to Freddie on Board 3 with the Black pieces.
After spending all night preparing Bongcloud theory, Freddie couldn’t quite commit himself to playing it when it came time to play his second move. Instead, he decided to go for something slightly less dubious with 1. e4 e5 2. h3. The game continued with White launching a massive King-side attack with 6. g4 and a bishop sacrifice 8. Bxf7+. Although this sacrifice is sound, it is equal and White needed to open the centre up. Freddie tried to keep his focus on the King-side instead, and ended up simply a piece down. The game continued until at one point Black decided to try to trade Queen’s as they were up material. Turns out that due to the activity of White’s pieces this offer of a Queen trade blunders away all of blacks advantage:
25. … Qf4?? 26. Qxf4 exf4 27. Rxg7. Despite being down a piece, White has great activity and control of the centre as well as the safer King. In fact, Black must have got lost in their calculations as this was the first of four consecutive blunders that gave the game away… chess is a brutal game: 27. … Rh6??… The idea, I thought, is to untangle while trading pieces with 28. d5 Nd4 29. Rxh6?? (in fact even in this line White has 29. Rg8+ Kd7 30. Ne5+ Kc7 31. Rxh6 Nxh6 32. d6+ Kb6 33. d7 Bxd7 34. Nxd7+ Kc7 35. Rxb8 Nc2+ 36. Ke2 winning a full Rook) Nxf3+ 30. Ke2 Nxh6 31. Kxf3 b5 and now Black’s pieces are getting into the game with the White King far away from the passed c-pawn. Turns out that this might not have been the intention after all though, as after 28. d5, Black blundered with 28. … Ne5?? and it is now #12. The final nail in the coffin came with 29. Nxe5 Rxb6?? 30. Rg8#. An unfortunate turn of events for Black, but it happens to the best of us. Great game by Freddie.
Despite being down a player we had now guaranteed a draw. And thank God we did, as both King Julien and I managed to lose our games on Boards 1 & 2 respectively. Neither of our games are particularly interesting (because they are both very complicated with subtle nuances on every move in terms of both positioning of pieces and move orders) and I will thus only show how both of us went from a winning/better position to being lost, so remember to laugh with us but not at us, thank you!
Let’s start with Julien playing as White. He managed to get a completely winning position by move 15 and was doing well until this happened:
18. Nd7?? allows a skewer with 18. … Re8 and almost all the compensation that white had being down the exchange is gone. And finally, 21. Bb8??. The idea was that White is going to lose a piece regardless and that the light-squared Bishop is more important for White. Thus a tempting dark-squared Bishop is offered with a pseudo-threat of #1 should Black let their guard down. Unfortunately, it turns out that if Black is not fazed by the coordination on a7 and takes 21. … Rxd6+ with check, White is completely lost. The rest of the game was a slow grind for Black to convert the winning position into a win.
And last but not least let’s look at my beautiful, beautiful throw. I was playing against the English with Black and decided to end the season with extremely aggressive play. My aggression paid off as I prevented my opponent from castling and got a very comfortable position, at which point I decided that winning doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do:
In this position I was calculating how good my position is after I play 19. … Qh5 with a poisoned pawn on b7, a threat to capture the d4-pawn by exploiting the pin on the c3-pawn, and various threats of lashing out with g5. But instead my brain saw that the a2-pawn was hanging and without a second thought I went 19. … Qxa2?? losing on the spot to 20. Qxa2 Bxa2 21. Rxb7 Bd5 22. Rxc7. In reality, in my calculations I somehow managed to not consider 21. Rxb7 as I was too fixated on my opponent attacking my bishop first with 21. Rb2 or 21. Ra1. Extremely poor performance, but it is what it is.
With that, we ended the match in a draw which, considering the Default on Board 6, is not a bad result. After the games, the Captain of Keynsham A was kind enough to give Freddie, Julien and I a ride back to Bristol and we went to White Harte to celebrate the end of the season and the promotion to Division 1!
Keep a look out for my last report of the year, which will probably be published after my exams are over if I’m being honest. It’s going to be a good one – you don’t want to miss it!