Due to holidays and work commitments it was a struggle to get a team together for our match at Ecclesall. I drafted myself into the team and with Steve managing to leave work early we’d got our 4 players. I lost the toss, as seems to be the norm, and Ivan chose white on the odd boards for Ecclesall. All the matches seemed to be tight and every game ended in a draw!
After a late withdrawal due to a Christmas party, my captaining skills were put to the test. Unfortunately, I was not up to the task and we arrived at Chesterfield one man short. I didn’t get chance to look at the other games as my match was last to finish. However, Peter tells me that he got a good position out of the opening before settling for a draw. Steve defended the English opening, I believe, but came unstuck against Robert. Dave played the petroff defence against Tim and kept giving me quizzical looks throughout his game, not liking the position he was in. Eventually he lost an exchange, resigning soon after. Martyn played a good game against Mike before succumbing to a knight fork. Although we had lost the match, I’d got a good position against John and played on, finally winning by resignation. A tough night for the team, losing 4.5-1.5.
It was a cold night last Monday when the B team headed to Handsworth to play SASCA – so cold that even I thought it necessary to wear a coat! SASCA’s team consisted of Nat and Marek, together with 4 juniors who seemed to eat an inordinate number of chewits as the match progressed. As is often the case, the younger players were playing very quickly, trying to intimidate the older Woodseats players. However, mistakes were being made and Martyn and Michael had soon wrapped up victories. Dave’s opponent unfortunately missed a good defensive pawn move which would have prolonged their game leaving us 3 up with 3 to play. My opponent played solidly until my pieces broke through resulting in the loss of a number of pawns. 4-0 to Woodseats. Steve was a pawn down in a rook and pawn endgame but defending stoutly. After declining the draw offer, Marek forced a pawn through to win. Although Peter was up an exchange, Nat’s queen and rook were terrorising his defensive set up and picking off the odd pawn here and there. In the end, Peter was forced to resign leaving us with a 4-2 win.
Our first league game of the season was the long trip to Barnsley, most of the journey at 50mph due to the never ending roadworks on the M1.
David was first to finish with a quick victory over Michael which I didn’t see any of unfortunately. I was playing a fairly uneventful game against Russell and once most of the pieces were exchanged a draw was quickly agreed. Bill had had a commanding position against Max but, as tiredness crept in, he let Max back into the game leading to our first loss of the night. Scores level at 1.5-1.5. Dave was ahead on material but down on time and fighting off a strong attack from Anthony. After an exchange of pieces just before the time control, Anthony’s attack had disappeared leading to his resignation. Steve had lost the exchange against Paul and this was all Paul needed to claim Barnsley’s 2nd win. Scores were now tied at 2.5-2.5. Michael was now defending an endgame down a piece and once Alan had managed to penetrate with his King it was all over. A tight game which we lost 3.5-2.5.
Arriving early at the Red Lion to set up the boards, I was called by Dave whose car had unfortunately broken down. A quick dash to pick him up meant the match started a little late. This didn’t trouble Michael, who is now on a run of playing white at last, as he quickly despatched his opponent. Dave was the exchange up against Barry before the latter moved his queen to a square where it could be captured. Dave now seems to be getting the luck that had deserted him earlier in the season. 2 up with 2 to play. Steve was entangled in his usual complicated game whilst I was up a couple of pawns against Roy. Despite this, I made no headway and a draw was agreed. Steve’s match also ended in a draw giving us a 3-1 win, maintaining our position at the top of the league.
It was 1st versus 2nd in last night’s match at the Red Lion. Having lost both away games at Sheffield Deaf earlier in the season, we were hoping for revenge in the home fixture. It did not start well as I was first to finish, losing to Peter. I had chances to repel his attack but missed them, allowing him to checkmate me in the corner. Dave had let David get his Queen into the action and it looked as though he would be checkmated. Very fortunately for us, David blundered his queen deciding the game in our favour. Steve was a pawn down in the end game but managed to force a draw by repetition which left the match all square with just Michael to finish. Michael built up a large attack, although this was well defended by Mick. After swapping a number of pieces, Michael emerged a rook up and was able to convert this to a win. The final result was a very close 2.5-1.5 win which cements our place at the top of the table.
It was an eventful match at Nomads, with the match result in the balance until the very end. Steve finished first with an early draw against Keith. In a very sporting gesture, Keith offered the draw after Steve had touched one of his pieces which, if moved, would have led to an immediate loss. Michael, who had won his last 7 games for the B team, came unstuck against Jo who mated him in the corner. My game against Eric finished in a draw with neither of us making much progress. At this point, Dave and Martyn were up on material whilst David seemed in a spot of bother with his opponent having both of his rooks on the 7th rank. Martyn finished next, checkmating his opponent leaving the match tied at 2-2. Dave had now gifted Robert a rook and was playing with a queen against two rooks. David meanwhile kept manoeuvring and although I couldn’t see a win for Sam, a draw by repetition could have been had. However, once the rooks were swapped off, David’s pawns raced down the board for another Woodseats win. Back to Dave and Robert’s game where Robert swapped both of his rooks for Dave’s queen leaving him a pawn up in a King and pawns ending. Dave, however, had a strong passed pawn. The pawn race resulted in them both queening, but with Robert giving check. It was not easy to see how either could make any progress and a draw was agreed.
This left us with a narrow 3.5-2.5 win, which was a little harsh on Nomads, but which was good enough for us to return to the top of the league!
This was the first time I had been to Dore & Totley golf club, the new venue for Ecclesall Chess Club, and I must say that I was very impressed! A nice, quiet large room with lots of golfing memorabilia on the walls.
Unfortunately, Alexander was unavailable so I stepped in as reserve. A Ruy Lopez was quickly on the board and although I thought I had a winning position at one point, I realised, just in time that my intended move would actually lose. A draw was quickly agreed. The other 3 matches were also tight affairs. Martyn’s game seemed to be up and then down but when Stuart got his queen into the corner with a clever move, Martyn’s defences were breached. Daid was playing a steady game, gradually moving his pawns up the board and forcing Ivan back. Once he got his rook to the seventh rank, a nasty pawn fork settled the game in his favour. It was all level with just Kypros’ game to finish. Kypros had been changing his angles of attack throughout the match and Mick seemed to be hemmed in. Once a breakthrough was made, Kypros’ rooks and queen harried the King into submission. It was a close match but we ended up winning 2.5-1.5.
With a number of players not available, it was hard work getting a team together for tonight’s match away at Sheffield Deaf. Dave Cook made his first appearance of the season, Michael debuted for the B team and Kevan made a welcome return after nearly two years. We were expecting a tough match and Dave and Kevan were both struggling in the opening. Brendan was defending solidly before an inaccuracy from his opponent resulted in a lost pawn. More pawns followed and it was soon all over for a 1 point lead. At this stage, Dave was battling on down a couple of pawns, Micheal looked to be level but Kevan was struggling. Not long after, Dave and Kevan resigned in quick succession leaving us 2-1 down. Unfortunately, Michael couldn’t turn around his position leaving us with a 3-1 defeat. Sheffield Deaf proved too strong on the night.