Eric swapped knight for bishop, then both players castled kingside. After a few more exchanges they were each left with a queen, rook, knight and four pawns, but while they had material parity Eric was coming under time pressure. When his opponent threatened promotion Eric lost a rook for a knight, then resigned.
Robert’s opponent played the English opening. Robert was quickly outmanoeuvred, and resigned on move 22, facing a mate in 2.
Gordon avoided any early exchanges, but eventually went a knight and pawn down, then his opponent won a rook with a knight fork. Faced with a decisive material loss Gordon resigned.
Jo was the last to finish. After a quiet opening she went into the endgame with a rook, bishop and five pawns against a rook, knight and five pawns, then won pawns with a discovered check, but her opponent regained one of the lost pawns. After 39 moves each, they ended up in this position, with Jo to move:
Here Jo and her opponent agreed a draw, thus preventing a complete whitewash of Nomads.
Eric and his opponent both castled kingside, swapping off pieces in an open position, but neither was able to gain any advantage. Eric described the final result as a hard-fought draw.
Robert Nield and his opponent also both castled kingside. After the initial exchanges Robert was left with a knight and four pawns against a bishop and five pawns, a slight material disadvantage, but his opponent’s bishop was badly placed so he resigned.
Gordon and Mick both advanced a rook pawn before move 9, on opposite sides of the board. Then Gordon lost material, going two bishops down, and resigned in the face of a mate threat.
Robert Shaw was the last to finish. He opened quite aggressively, but failed to make any headway. After some manoeuvring he swapped off queens, then minor pieces, ending up with three pawns and a dark squared bishop against four pawns and a light squared bishop. Unable to see any way for either player to get anywhere Robert offered a draw which was soon accepted.
The consensus on the night was that Lindsay had a slight advantage when he agreed the draw, but not sufficient to force mate. Robert might well have found defending the position challenging, but overall a draw was considered reasonable.
We found Sasca’s new venue easily enough, but ran into our first snag when we got out of the car to be met with a locked door. It turned out we’d gone to the wrong entrance, not exactly the best start to the evening.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good look at Ashley’s game, but he described it as a thrilling tactical battle, ending in his mate.
Sam pushed a pawn to the seventh rank, but then his opponent mated him on h8, with bishops of b2 and f7. Jo also succumbed to a similar mating pattern, attacked in the corner down the long diagonal.
Early on, Robert manoeuvred his opponent into doubling his pawns, leaving his king open. The game was looking promising, but then Robert blundered away a rook, placing himself at a decisive material disadvantage, and was unable to recover.
Waiting in the freezing rain on Bramall Lane for Les’s lift, I was reminded of the fact that a healthy dose of masochism is an asset in chess. As usual there was a warm welcome when we finally arrived at Clay Cross. They even had the heating on full blast.
Excellent wins for Withingtons on the top boards were not to be enough. Les, Robert and brand new Nomad, Mike, all fell to Clay Cross. Eric could still draw the match with a win, and although a pawn down, he had a big time advantage. In the end Eric had to offer his opponent a draw. Jerome, with only minutes left on the clock, mulled this over for what must have been an agonising amount of time for his captain as the seconds ticked away. He finally agreed the draw, winning the match for Clay Cross.
All in all, an enjoyable night out, and second place in division three is still up for grabs.