It’s not often that Nomads A are the underdogs, but on our return to league duty after a successful 2013-14 campaign we found ourselves slightly outgraded by Nomads B and, up until the morning of the match, actually at risk of defaulting a board – but when Arjun returned to feature for the B team, Les dropped down to the F team and Pasha stepped up to play board 8.
The actual match was a classic, and from memory I can’t recall a battle where the clock ticked past 9.30 with the score still at 0-0. Early impressions were that Jon had played a sharp line against Paul and sacc’ed a pawn, Deji and Mike were going to be at it all night with slow build-up on both sides, I was going to be defending against Ian for long periods (whilst hoping to hold onto a pawn I had grabbed), Joel was going to press with extra space and a pawn in his game with Nick, Henry was going to be fending off tactical shots from Stuart all evening, Arjun was going to try to eke Steve’s king out of the corner, Ray was going to try to demonstrate his extra rook was better than the two pieces that Ken had for it, and Pasha was going to try to do the same thing against John.
When things did start to sort themselves out… it looked like our 100% record against our clubmates might be under serious threat. There was one victorious Withington in the room tonight…but it wasn’t Steve who capitulated under Arjun’s kingside pressure to score first blood to the opposition. I missed the ending…but it seems that Ray quickly levelled things up as his rook did indeed prove superior to Ken’s two pieces (with the added help of a couple of passed pawns…). Not long afterwards, a glut of finishes as we moved into the lead. Joel’s attack against Nick was looking threatening, until he blundered a piece and Nick calmly dealt with a couple of desperate tactics before converting. With Paul accepting Jon’s offer of a draw on one, we were only two points away and I was then able to switch from defence to attack against Ian and prise open his kingside to take the full point, leaving us only a point from a win in the match. Pasha was now the exchange up against John – so when Henry finally succumbed to Stuart’s two pronged attack I was still confident we would get over the finish line.
Then, disaster. Pasha won an entire rook with a tactic and, 10 minutes ahead on the clock and John into his last five, it seemed a simple forced queen exchange would seal the deal. However… a deflection tactic that didn’t work when he looked at it before didn’t work this time either and after touching his rook, Pasha realised he was going to lose it. Under external time pressure, he resigned – and a certain win turned into a defeat to level the scores.
All eyes on Deji. He and Mike had kept each other at arm’s length and with the clocks winding down it seemed as though neither player could make any progress. Then Mike dropped his a-pawn. It *looked* innocuous but it gave Deji the chance to exchange queens and start a queenside pawn roller. So he did. With about 3 minutes left on the clock each he created two passed pawns and when Mike took one with his rook, unfortunately for him Deji then took his rook – and that was game, set and match. Phew!
As ever, we make things hard for ourselves but also, as ever, that Nomads A fighting spirit came to the fore once again as we managed to turn the match in our favour and bring home the points…hard on the B team who have now lost by the narrowest of margins to us in consecutive matches… and next week we get to do it all again as we go toe-to-toe with last year’s runners-up, Ecclesall A.