Div 5 Report by Nigel Gardner

Wednesday saw the E team play Newcastle and ultimately our stronger
grades came through although it was a battle on some of the boards.
Newcastle had chosen to play a weaker team than they could have to
give people games and this gave an unbalanced appearance to the
match. Within a relatively short time Crewe had won on the even boards
as white with Dave Price and Lukasz gaining welcome wins. The remaining two games were much more protracted but eventually Julian wore down his opponent, gained an advantage and gradually tightened the screw to ensure a win in the match and a pleasing return to winning ways for him. That left Simon fighting a gritty battle on board 1 that could have gone either way but with the cleaners beginning to sweep the floor around them an honourable draw was agreed and a very solid win for the team was recorded at 3.5 – 0.5.

Friday saw an altogether different scenario with our F team travelling to
the table topping Cheddleton H. The team had been strengthened
somewhat by the inclusion of Harry on board 1 but we still expected to
be outgraded with a team total of 358. Indeed we were as Cheddleton
had significantly revised their team which totalled 398 on the night but if
it had been Monday would have weighed in at 410!
However, our mid-rating players are definitely improving and there was
a degree of confidence in our ranks as battle was joined. After a few
challenges Kobus managed to drive through his incrementing advantage
to a win on board 4 and first blood to the underdogs! On all boards 1 –
3 we were up at various occasions either in material or in Harry’s case,
in a very strong attack.
I had managed to gain a 2 pawn advantage through a series of
interesting puzzle like positions, which I am beginning to enjoy, but as
the board became more open my opponent’s greater experience was
beginning to threaten and I was possibly going to lose a pawn and was
on the defensive. I chickened out (no disrespect to any feathered
minorities intended) and offered a draw which was gratefully accepted.

This put us in a strong position at 1.5 – 0.5 with Adam up at least a
pawn and his opponent starting to get into time trouble. Things were
looking good! Unfortunately, a huge sigh was to be heard from board 1 where Harry’s strong attack had caused him to miscalculate and his opponent broke to gain a couple of pawns advantage which he continued to drive home and parity had been restored across the match. Harry had played really well and had even been declined the offer of a draw early on sensing he had a winning attack.
All eyes then switched to Adam who was now a rook to two pawns to
the good and an opponent who had less than 2 minutes on the clock.
Unfortunately the pawns were rapidly advancing and this caused a
degree of panic for Adam who was also now getting into time trouble.
To stop a promotion a rook was lost and whilst there was still moves
being made Adam was fighting a rearguard action and eventually his
clock ran out whilst he tried to avoid making a fatal mistake.
He can take a significant amount of solace from the game he played
where I’m sure on analysis he had a number of positions where he could
have forced a win in the end game but time was his opponent’s ally on
this occasion.
So overall, a narrow defeat against a much stronger team on paper but
it could have been 4 – 0 to us!!!!
Could have; should have; would have; ……..didn’t.