We didn’t get the best of starts preparation–wise when upon arrival I saw to my horror that there were only 13 chairs in the room! So Richard Dunn and I were sweating it out, looking downstairs and upstairs for any spare chairs. I was visualising the scene where our players were standing up during their games! Fortunately we managed to borrow some chairs of different shapes and sizes and Barry’s 2 fold–up chairs were treated like royalty when they arrived.
When the Battersea captain joined me to exchange team lists and for the toss of coin, he informed me that they were defaulting on board 10. A shame for Des not to get a game but at least we were 1–0 up already. Then literally a few seconds before play was about to start their captain said that they had a 10th player available who had just arrived. That was too late of course as we had exchanged team lists and the default was already recorded (not to mention the hassle of moving chairs/sets/players from 9 boards to 10 boards!). I don’t know what happened there with them, most likely a breakdown in communication of some sorts!
Now onto the match, I was hoping that the bottom boards would do a good job for us so easing the pressure on the top board players. This they duly did with Richard, Michael, Robert and Raimundas all winning with ease on boards 6 to 9. This made up for the losses incurred on boards 2 and 3 when with white I overlooked a tactic which meant I was a pawn down but I had a little bit of compensation in having the better development and tried to get an attack going but my opponent seemed to find all the right defensive moves. I sacrificed some pawns to try and speed up an attack but this was easily repelled by my opponent who played well to win. On board 3 Barry also overlooked a similar tactic where as black, his knight was unprotected on c6 where his opponent’s queen was threatening to fork his king on e8 and rook on h8. This meant Barry had to concede the loss of a bishop for just a pawn and later on his king was under too much pressure being surrounded by his opponent’s pieces and soon lost.
On boards 4 and 5, Neil and Ilan played solidly to secure draws. On board 1, Chris recovered from his late arrival (those damned buses again!) and with black wriggled out from a Benoni type of position to one where he was looking better with the more active pieces and was ready to invade through the queenside. But the white squares were too weak around his king when his opponent was able to deliver perpetual check and so a draw was agreed.
So overall we won 6.5–3.5 our first match win of the season! I mentioned Crystal Palace before – coincidently they have been winning a few games now and are currently just above the bottom 3 teams. We are not quite in the same position where as you can see from the Division 3 League table we are 3rd from bottom. So we still need to continue to work hard to get away from the relegation zone.
Thanks to everyone who played and well done to Richard, Michael, Robert and Raimundas for winning their games.