Thanks to captain Nigel Gardner for the following division 5 Match report:
Crewe’s F team travelled, optimistically, to play Stafford on Monday expecting a hard match. Little did they know that finding the venue would be an unexpectedly challenging task. Firstly, an extended, guided tour of Stafford by car, followed by an equally “de-stressing” (not) walking tour of the back streets of Stafford, ably guided over the phone by Stafford captain’s wife (many thanks to Mrs Evans)!!
Anyway, it had taken our mind off the games ahead. They were soon, sharply refocussed when we arrived to find Stafford had gone for broke with their team selection, being 1 point short of the maximum 400 for the team total. It was suggested that we may as well just concede on all four boards and go home considering our paltry team’s total grade of 325; down over 18 points a board on average.
However, I don’t think the rest of the team could cope, immediately, with another hour of my driving so we decided we may as well play the match and see what would transpire!
In a very conducive venue and a cordial atmosphere battle commenced and all four games soon advanced with the opening series of moves happening more quickly than is often the case. There were no obvious advantages gained although Adam on board 2, from a fairly turgid position, suddenly entered a piece exchange that saw 8 of the major and minor pieces disappear in the space of a couple of minutes, greatly advancing the game, opening up the board and significantly helping Adam with his time management!
Debuting on board 1 Reinhard had played very solidly against an unfamiliar opening and the game was becoming enmeshed in a web from which neither side could see an escape. Stafford offered a draw and Reinhard gladly accepting. This recorded a half point against an opponent graded 21 points higher; off to the bar for Reinhard then, with a job well done!
Meanwhile on board 3 I had tried to force the game, always taking the more aggressive option which had pinned my opponent back and advanced two passed pawns down the queenside. Now an impasse was reached as I had 2 rooks, a knight and a queen behind the pawns and my opponent had the same forces defending them. Although there were possible ways forward any positive move by either side now had an air of high risk attached and again, we agreed a draw and the match remained all square.
By this time things were looking less than rosy on boards 2 and 4 for Crewe. Both Adam and Lukasz were a minor piece down although Adam did have two passed pawns in the centre. Not long after this Lukasz found me to confirm that he was certain all was lost, and we were doomed!! I advised him that it was a long walk home and to go back and battle to the death, never knowing what may transpire. 20 minutes later he found me again to inform me that he had just won; is it Lukasz or Lazarus? However, Lukasz did put a caveat on the good news saying that Adam was a dead man walking……but at this stage we were up 2-1. Lukasz and I went in to watch what we assumed to be the death throes of Adam’s match and the match score would then be tied.
In the meantime, Adam’s two passed pawns had managed to cause the material to be equalised and with 5 pawns and a rook apiece left an honourable, yet surprising, draw was agreed.
This gave Crewe a victory in the match 2.5-1.5 against all the odds and against the flow of the match throughout the evening. The good news was nobody had to walk home, and it goes to show grades don’t necessarily mean that much when the real games start; its just two players facing each other with 16 pieces each on the board and the best player/team on the night gets the decision. A great set of results both for all four individuals and for the team.
Quod erat demonstandum, carpe diem.