After a hugely successful season last year, University B were thrown to the lions facing Downend A for their first game in Division 1. New division, and an entirely new team look. Captain Jonas was the only player present from last season this week, with four new additions bolstering the squad. It’s great to have new players giving competitive, long-play, over the board chess a try. Welcome Ahmed Khenkar, Tommy Wilkins, Finn Slater and Thomas Gregory to the cool Division 1 team!
Skipping to the end, it was a shame that the result was a 6-0 loss, the correct match result but out play did not warrant such a drubbing. Hopefully, the chess gods will shine brighter on us in future matches. Things didn’t start great when Ahmed lost before thinking in the opening, but sadly these accidents can happen. Instead, let’s focus on some of the closer games.
Thomas had an interesting opposite side castling position, but as always, one small slip and his opponent crashed through with a bishop sacrifice that couldn’t be accepted. Finn bravely ventured a Smith-Morra gambit in his first OTB game and managed to fight back from being positionally worse to a drawn ending. I’ve leave it to the reader to decide if the two halves of that statement are related. Trying to force the draw, he blundered into a king and pawn ending which was lost.
Personally, the biggest tragic of the night was my game throwing away a won position after some homework without any help from James Clarke.
Once you know there is a tactic in the position, the move that jumps out the most is 14.Nxf7! but even knowing the first move, working your way through all the variations is not simple. I’ll leave this position as an exercise, but as a hint often White will put the queen on the e-file, but there are some subtle differences between Qe1 and Qe2 to be considered.
Anyway, we’re bound to get them next time. Who even are this University A team?