Thanks to Taunton captain Nick Wilson for the following report on the Yeovil- Taunton match from last night. I've included a link in the title to the Taunton home page.
Ok, we travelled to Yeovil last night for an away match. I'd tried to drum up support by frequently mentioning the game is being held "in a pub!" - you see to me this conjures images of crackling fires and beer delivered to the playing tables by buxom wenches... I think my imagination is stuck in late victorian times... Anyway, turns out it was in a cramped, dark, dingy skittle alley, but more of this later.
I was struggling to get a good team out. Both MikeRs couldn't play, followed by no Martin, Alex, Robin or Stan - yes the team of players who couldn't play was starting to look stronger than the one that did play!
Luckily Mike Richardt had a change of plans and could play. So the final team was a respectable - MarkH, MikeR, NickW, DaveL, JorgeP, VicM.
On arrival at Yeovil, we notice Krisy wasn't there - even though MikeRed hadn't turned up, has his reputation preceded him? (to those not getting the subtlety here, Mike had crushed Krisy 3 times and we jokingly assumed he didn't want any more beatings - although to be fair, Krisy has not been well, so our fishwifery gossiping is probably just that)
We eventually found the new pub, and by a tedious stumbling elimination of various rooms and bars we eventually found the skittle alley round the back. Dark, cramped and dingy, but it did have a Kareoke machine with a selection of pirate '80s CDs, so not all bad then...
On to the games. I decided we should stick to the rules and play our team in strict grading order. Now lets see... we are away.. so white on evens.. , I'm on 3, hey, I have white - fancy that. What good luck!
On to the games, yet again I forgot to take a copy of the score-sheet, so I've only got a vague recollection of last night's evens (it was held in a pub after-all...)
Board 6 - Vic McAndrew v small child
This board probably had the greatest age difference in the league. Vic keeps on beating me in casual club games, so I keep picking him for the team, only for him to make a slip and lose. Surely tonight would be different? No. He made a slip and lost. Mike R told me his opponent is a very promising junior who recently gave a 2000+ player a hard time, so don't feel bad Vic. Taunton now 0 - 1
Board 5 - Jorge Pineda Langford v N Mills
Jorge threw everything into a kingside attack and although he was an exchange down by mid-game, his strong bishop on d5 looked like it was a good piece. But his attack just needed an extra bit of fire power. I briefly turned away from the game, looked back and to my astonishment, Jorge's king had almost completed a march from g1 to h6! Surely this isn't the extra material the attack needed? Anyway, shortly after, and unsurprisingly, Jorge was mated on h6 or g5 or somewhere similarly inappropriate for a king to be during the middle game. Oh dear. Taunton now 0 - 2
Board 2 - Mike Richardt v Jim Fewkes
Jim is a strong, solid player, so imagine my surprise when I saw him happily advance the pawns in-front of his castled king, chasing Mike's bishop away. His position looked draughty, but it wasn't easy for Mike to nip in behind the mass of pawns. After much swapping, just the mass of pawns and queens were left. Both queens were behind enemy lines. Jim's was potentially threatening mate, but Mike had easy perpetual threats, so the game was drawn. Taunton now 0.5 - 2.5
Board 1 - Mark Hassall v Andrew Footner
Footner played the centre-counter and tried to play sharp. But Mark calmly swapped everything off, knowing his endgame knight was going to be stronger than Footner's bishop. Mark pressed ahead in the endgame and suddenly it was over with Mark winning. Good game! Taunton now 1.5 - 2.5
Board 4 - Dave Littlejohns v small child's Dad.
Dave's opponent played a very odd opening. I've got no idea if it has a name, but there were random pawns pushed forwards by a square or so, and somehow a knight was on h2. Dave, as black, constructed a caro-caan shell like pawn structure and then suddenly his opponent's briliiance struck us! In playing this odd opening, Dave played e6-e5, forcing him to attack, forcing him out of his comfort zone. Dave's caro-caan shell was ripped open and the juicy fleshy innards were now exposed for attack. Again, we were stunned at the psychological brilliance employed to open up Dave like that. However, maybe Dave is a fierce attacking animal after-all, as his e6-e5 advance lead to a winning a piece down said e-file. Round about now, Dave claimed the win, noticing his opponent's clock had fallen. There was some disagreement as they were playing on a replacement clock (Dave's clock had stopped earlier, so they used a new one, with adjusted times). I'm still unclear what Dave's opponent's argument was as you'd assume they'd both been happy with the clock when the replacement was started to be used. Anyway, Footner stepped in, did the right thing, and Dave was adjudged the winner. Form the position, he'd have won anyway, being a piece up. Taunton now 2.5 - 2.5
So, all on the final game - my game.. arrgh, not again!
Board 3 - Nick Wilson v Roger Knight
I was white and played the Evans Gambit. Everyone knows the evans is unsound, but very few actually can prove this over the board (including me!). And if black doesn't know what he is doing, he can get into a lot of trouble very quickly. Sure enough, after about 15 moves, I had a lovely position and cashed in with winning an exchange. But, after that, my pieces weren't very coordinated, and Roger played well. Then I made a mistake, effectively losing a peice. At a key moment, Roger was considering a (flashy) key move, that he thankfully didn't play. but even so, going into the endgame, I was 2R + 3P v RNB + 7P and in a worse position. Then I noticed on the Yeovil scoresheets that move 35 (the time control) wasn't halfway down the right side like on normal scoresheets, but was infact near the bottom of the right page! (dim lights, a small font on the scoresheet and my aged eyes are to blame..). So suddenly, not only was my position crap, but I had to make nearly 20 moves in under 15 mins (when I had thought it was less than 10 moves...). His N+B had my king tied up and was picking off what few pawns I had left. I swapped my R for the B+N+P to ease the pressure, but this just left me with a still lost looking R+2P v R+6P. I could see a glimmer of a draw chance, but realistically I knew I should lose. Then I was told of the 2.5 v 2.5 scoreline. Aw crap! I wanted to be the heroic captain, winning the final game for the team, not losing pathetically to a lower rated player, and therefore losing the match. Anyway, I played on. The only plusses for me was a good king position and 3 of his (many) pawns were isolated. I kept on hassling him with my rook, and suddenly he got a bit flustered partly to my threats, partly to being short on time and also because of the kerfuffle going on next to us regarding the on-going squabbles about Dave's clock. Suddenly I had a passed pawn racing up the board and in his dying minutes he offered me a draw. I accepted. The final position was definately double edged. I think he'd have to give up his rook for my pawn, but then I'd have to do the same for his best passer, while my king mopped up the other pawns.
So, final score - Taunton 3 - 3. A tough draw, but a fair result.
Man of the match is Mark for his calm, controlled win!
I'm also now able to add Yeovil captain Andrew Footner's comments on the match:
I lost to Mr Hasal on top board. Jim Fewkes drew with Mike Richardt on Bd 2(good result for Jim given the gap in grading). Roger Knight drew with Nick Wilson on board 3 ( 4 pawns up in a rook and pawn ending and managed to lose most of them in the time scramble! Mark you, he was the exchange down after about 15 moves and in a difficult position, so Nick has got some explaining to do as well). Colin Stanton lost to David Littlejohns on Bd 4 ,Nigel Mills beat J.Pineda Langford and Kells Stanton beat an ungraded V McAndrew. So a Draw!
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