There was a time, not that long ago, when this would be a clash of the Titans – but neither side is as strong as it once was and Woodseats’ issues were exacerbated by someone dropping out at around 7pm. All of which meant that Steve and Keith tossed a coin to see who would play, and Keith lost the coin toss… so played. Not sure how that worked but fair enough!
As it happens, Keith was first to finish. He entered a pretty drawish looking endgame with an extra pawn but the same coloured bishop as Dave. At some point, Dave exchanged those pieces and in the circumstances that was a mistake that let Keith invade with his king and make the extra pawn tell. The 2pt gap didn’t last long though. Simon got trapped by Bill’s trappy opening, and lost a piece. He picked up a couple of pawns for it but his own position was reminiscent of the Swiss cheese in my fridge – a second piece was lost and eventually his king was driven to mate in the middle of the board. Sadly for Woodseats, that was to be their only win of the night. Board 5 was next to conclude – Stuart picked up a piece for a couple of pawns during the opening at some point and Brendan found himself on the back foot for most of the remainder of the game – not sure how the game finished but it was our man that carried the day. Jon scored another full point a little later – his knights were causing havoc on Mark’s kingside and he eventually won the exchange before smoothly converting the win.
Mike and Dave on board four had been quite standoffish – a Rossolimo Sicilian had led to a relatively quiet middlegame with neither player making a great deal of headway and the minutes ticking by. A draw offer was accepted and that was the match sealed for us, leaving just myself and Chris still playing. I finished first this time – a potentially very sharp opening was avoided by Peter and we entered a rooks and pawns ending where I felt I had a slight space advantage and a centralised king. Naturally I didn’t play the ending so well, but Peter missed some defensive tricks and eventually I was able to do what I had set out to do and get a pawn to the 7th that was going to win a rook and the game. A fortuitous point. All of which left Chris playing out his match with Nigel. He had been exerting severe pressure on the queenside for most of the game, with Nigel’s pieces clumped together uncomfortably. When he did break through, however, his time was nearly up and Nigel found some tactics with queen and knight, including two mating threats that Chris did well to avoid with a minute or so left on his clock. Nigel then found himself a piece down with no checks and Chris threatening to consolidate – a deep think at just the wrong time saw his own clock tick down and over the line… giving Chris and Nomads the last win of the night and a 6.5 – 1.5 win. Some fun games, interesting positions… and the bonus of being able to do it all again in a fortnight when Woodseats visit us for our final match of the season.