|Woodseats A||1||7||Nomads A|
|Daniel Sullivan (w)||0||1||Jon Nelson|
|Stuart Jones||0||1||Chris Shephard|
|Shane Frith||0.5||0.5||Andrew Hards|
|David Toft||0.5||0.5||Geoff Frost|
|Steve Moon||0||1||Ian Barwick|
|Brendan Ashmore||0||1||Mike Newett|
|Bill Ward||0||1||Stuart Crosthwaite|
|Stephen Daykin||0||1||Nick Mahoney|
And so to Woodseats and the Red Lion for our first match of 2018. Andrew was missing (we wish him and his family well, of course) and Woodseats were also missing one or two others towards the top end of the team that left them comfortably outgraded on nearly every board. However, that didn’t prevent them from making a fight of things and the scoreline, as ever it seems, flattered us somewhat. First to finish were David and Geoff – Geoff forgot the usual continuation in the opening he played and things petered out quickly. But his was the only game to finish (relatively) quickly. Elsewhere, the battles were fought hard and long into the night.
Stuart entered into a King’s Gambit of sorts with Bill and seemed to hold onto the extra pawn, and hold it, and hold it… and eventually his pawn became a thorn in Bill’s position that he wasn’t able to round up as Stuart picked up pawns elsewhere on the board. Nick followed a little while after, also winning a number of pawns in the endgame to break Steve’s resistance.
After this, everything was something of a blur as most of the remaining games finished at a similar point. Mike’s kingside pressing eventually told as he forced his way into Brendan’s position; Ian’s pieces initially seemed to be getting in a bit of a tangle but once he sorted them out he too, was able to eke an advantage and overturn Steve’s brave resistance. On three, I got dragged into a very drawish opening line (I am sure I didn’t play it well but that’s no surprise!) and once everything came off Shane and I were left with a very drawish rook and pawn ending (one where I nearly walked into a mate in 1!) that ended in a draw, unsurprisingly. On two, Chris gradually wore Stuart down and in the ending, Chris’ more active king and better placed pawns were crucial (aided and abetted by a pawn advantage, as I recall). And on top board Jon and Daniel were out of book on around move 4… the game became exceedingly sharp and when I thought Daniel might be lost, he managed to wiggle some more before eventually entering an endgame where he was a piece down. Jon’s technique at this point was flawless, though, culminating in a nice mating pattern without need to promote his final pawn.
A one-sided result, but not so much a one-sided match – and a convincing enough start to 2018.