|Chesterfield A||2½||5½||Nomads A|
|1||6729||190 :12||Mike Alcock||W||0||1||Jonathan Nelson||202 :35||7062||S|
|2||2291||198 :09||Hubert Mossong||B||0||1||Chris C W Shephard||191 :23||1603||S|
|3||1284||186 :19||David Latham||W||0||1||Deji Jeje||183 :19||4156||S|
|4||7693||172 :25||D Martin Howard||B||0||1||Kieran O’Driscoll||179 :20||2028||S|
|5||4223||174 :32||Michael D Johnson||W||½||½||Andrew Hards||168 :26||2268||S|
|6||6732||157 :27||Andrew J Mort||B||½||½||Geoff Frost||163 :25||1297||S|
|7||3888||158 :09||David Ashcroft||W||1||0||Nicholas Mahoney||146 :46||4179||S|
|8||1541||161 :26||George Peters||B||½||½||Ray Trigg||147 :11||4199||S|
Although we have been top of the table most of the season, fact is that Chesterfield A were running at 100% with 6 wins from 6 and level on points with games in hand. With two draws and a loss already, anything less than victory against our closest rivals would likely see the title as good as ceded with several matches still to play. So it was the ideal time for Kieran to make his long awaited 2014-15 season debut – and face the same opponent he had taken on in our cup quarter-final tie. Chesterfield weren’t quite at full strength – but any team with Dave Latham on three and no room in for either Steve, Housley or Bracey, is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
It sort of goes without saying that Geoff’s game was the first to finish. as Andy mentioned to me after the match, they’ve played each other probably four dozen times over the course of many Woodhouse seasons, and 95% of those games have ended drawn. This time around, Geoff had an IQP but most of the space to play in – he thought he was worse whilst Andy was of the opposite opinion so a draw was fair enough. Chesterfield then took an early lead in the match as Dave’s kingside attack smashed Nick’s king’s defences apart. A well-timed bishop sacrifice stripped any vestiges of hope away and with mate looming, Nick resigned. That, however, was as good as it got for our gracious hosts. Jon and Mike appeared to be in for a long, drawn out struggle, and Jon’s protracted fianchetto of his kingside bishop (via f6), together with a knight that went to g6 and then h8, didn’t look overly promising. Clearly however there’s something to be said for that set up as I didn’t get to see the position again; next time I was free to look the game was over and we had a 1 in our column on the scoresheet.
Kieran had seemed slightly better against Martin for a while, but Martin was getting some play on the kingside; but an over-ambitious stretch resulted in a piece dropping off the board. A second one followed not too long afterwards and when Kieran managed to force off some of the heavy pieces as well there was only going to be one winner. On board two, meanwhile, Chris had managed some strong pawn advances and Hubert’s position seemed increasingly cramped – again I missed the denouement but it wasn’t a huge surprise that our man pulled the full point out of the bag. Three games left and we were now ahead in the match, requiring a point for the win.
At this point, a comedy interlude – in the match on the other side of the room Chesterfield were taking on Stannington and at a crucial juncture in our fixture, the room was deathly silent only for the plea ‘come on mate, give us a draw’ to be heard. Looking at the match card later on Chessnuts, it appears the plea was in vain…
My third match against Mike had gone the way of the other two – he got his attack in first and I was holding on desperately in the face of rook, queen and knight bearing down on my king – but somehow I came out of the complications with a safe-ish king and an extra pawn. Ahead on the clock as well, I thought I might even snatch victory from the jaws of defeat but in the final half dozen minutes, despite having two extra pawns, I was unable to stave off Mike’s mating threats sufficiently to convert and a draw by repetition, my first half of the season, was the conclusion.
All eyes to Deji – having sacrificed the exchange earlier in the game he was starting to bring his bishops to bear and Dave’s king looked increasingly at risk. A draw offer was rightly declined and the resulting endgame gave Deji two connected, passed pawns heading down the board supported by his bishop. Dave fought to the last, and on another day the flag-falling gods might have been kind; not this time though as Deji queened with check – faced with a second queen about to put in an appearance, Dave fell on his sword and the match was ours. So, very unusually for Ray, his game was the last one to end – an early pawn sacrifice had been recovered and for the longest time George was shuffling his queen and knight around the board to hold his position together. Finally, however, there was a breakthrough and both players invaded the other side simultaneously. It looked like George might make his extra pawns count, but Ray kept checking and threatening and a draw was agreed.
5.5 – 2.5 to us! A surprising and welcome result against such fine and honorable opponents and one which we’ll need to build on now for the remainder of the season – five more wins and we’ll be guaranteed a play-off!