|Nomads A||4 – 4||Nomads B|
|Jonathan Nelson (W)||0.5 – 0.5||Paul Cumbers|
|Deji Jeje||0.5 – 0.5||Ian Barwick|
|Chris C W Shephard||0 – 1||Mike Newett|
|Andrew Hards||1 – 0||Stuart Crosthwaite|
|Geoff Frost||0.5 – 0.5||Ken Dewhurst|
|Nicholas Mahoney||0.5 – 0.5||Joel C Thiruchelvan|
|Henry Withington||1 – 0||Keith Wicks|
|Steve Withington||0 – 1||Robert Shaw|
We were back to full strength for the home fixture against our B team – and unbeknownst to me both Jeremy (again) and Arjun were missing from the B team line-up so in theory we were stronger favourites for this one than we had been on the opening night of the season. Of course, that wasn’t how things panned out and yet again things went to the wire – in fact, we were even more fortuitous to take a point away from this tie than we were to get both in the away leg.
Henry was first to finish – a pawn sacrificed for some nasty discovered threats and Keith, a B team debutant, was unable to fend them all off – the first and only time we were ahead on the night. Steve’s game appeared to be going in a similar direction but he allowed Robert counterplay and his centre collapsed – facing an ending a piece down Steve conceded. A great result for Robert and a look around the rest of the boards suggested it could prove decisive. No one really appeared better, several of us (including myself) were definitely worse. On top board, Jon’s queen and knight seemed to be in and around Paul’s king – but a quick material count suggested Paul had the upper hand if he could survive the attack. A piece was handed back to prevent the perpetual but I missed the eventual draw so I’m not sure how exactly Jon managed to escape. Geoff was facing his bete noire – he does not have a good record against Ken – and a slow build up on the kingside appeared to favour the B team player. Somehow the exchanges worked out, however, and Geoff salvaged a half when left with a rook and five pawns each ending. 2-2. Deji and Ian had been heading for a drawn ending for some time, it seemed – opposite coloured bishops and a handful of pawns but no chances to make a breakthrough and after Deji tried a few tactics in vain, eventually they shook hands. Then things took a turn for the worse – Chris had managed to get his knight and bishop into a bit of a tangle on the kingside and Mike took full advantage – winning pieces and continuing to generate enough threats that any chance of Chris forcing a perpetual were snuffed out. We were behind with only two games to go.
Nick and Joel had played out a Scandinavian and play eventually seemed to be around Joel’s pawn majority on the queenside. A switch of focus from Nick resulted in the heavy pieces coming off and the question was – could Nick’s passed pawn and knight outplay Joel’s bishop and extra pawn on the queenside? The question as never answered though – mutual time trouble and a tricky, technical ending are not the best of bedfellows and they declined to put the position to the test – another draw and we were 3-4 down with one to play.
That one happened to be mine and to be frank it shouldn’t have been. I was worse almost from the get go and disastrously so at one point when Stuart fortunately overlooked a tactic that would have saw him picking up a free queen. I was on the back foot for the whole game, only finally breaking out at the death when Stuart’s time trouble started to have an effect – a king/rook fork was missed and this gave me a winning advantage – a queen sacrifice to ensure there were no last minute tricks in his armoury was enough for resignation and, somehow, I had won and somehow, we had drawn.
The B team get stronger every season and showed why they’ve only lost once in their first four matches. With Jeremy and Arjun back to bolster their line up going forward, I don’t see them scraping along the bottom of the table like last season – over two matches the score has been 8.5 – 7.5 and that tells its own story. We now need to recover from this shock in time for the trip to Barnsley.