| ||Manningtree B ||27/03/19||Woodbridge B |
|1||Stephens, Robert W ||139 ||1 - 0||Gaffney, Samuel ||134|
|2||McAllister, John WF ||138 ||½ - ½||Lewis, Alan J ||121|
|3||Sanderson, Adrian ||111 ||½ - ½||Skirrow, Chris ||106|
|4||Webber, Simon ||e100 ||½ - ½||Pepper, Michael ||89|
| || || ||2½ - 1½ |
Manningtree B needed at least a draw tonight to avoid the embarrassment of dropping even further down the table, and for quite a
while it seemed more than likely that they weren't going to get it. |
Simon finished first in a somewhat unconventional opening in which his opponent delayed advancing any pawns beyond his third rank
for quite some time. Simon did the opposite and built quite a spatial advantage, but he didn't quite capitalise on it, and when his
opponent's pawns did start to advance, the position solidified with prospects for either side diminished.
John was next, responding to a French Defence with a pawn thrust through the centre, and when that didn't work he was about to try
one on the kingside when he was offered a draw. It was a fair offer, but because both Bob and Adrian were looking decidedly dodgy,
he turned it down. Hastily removing a knight that was hindering any kingside advance he suddenly realised he'd blundered and left
himself with two rooks and bishops of opposite colour, making any pawn advance impossible. Two moves later his opponent had locked
the pawns and that was that.
Now things got very tense, for Adrian was looking quite lost, and Bob was looking far from good, with a draw being the best he could
hope for, and that would mean our first league defeat of the season, and ending up third in the table. For over half an hour our
prospects looked bleak until Adrian made the first breakthrough.
He was on the black side of a Queen's Gambit, with a somewhat unconventional move order, but it left him on the defensive with a rook
for two pieces down. As the ending approached, his opponent added to his advantage an unopposed if isolated a-pawn far from the action.
Rather than play it strategically, his opponent was looking for a killer move, and this allowed Adrian to position his rooks for maximum
effect. Suddenly Adrian managed to pick off two pawns, including the lazy a-pawn, and offered a draw. This was accepted, for if anything,
Adrian was the one with the advantage now.
Meanwhile Bob's game was going to the wire, but the tension was calming, for by now his opponent's grip on the open c-file had been
neutralised and Bob was looking good for a draw. In the rook and queen ending his opponent's pieces had surrounded Bob's king's
position, with Bob's king hiding at the edge of the board behind his rook. It took a while to realise, but it was Bob who was in the
driving seat, for while his opponent was threatening mate in one, he had left his own king vulnerable. Spurning any repetition of moves,
Bob made a series of checks, picking up pawns as he went, and when he finally brought his rook back into play with a check, his opponent
resigned, for now he was the one facing mate.
We breathed a collective sigh of relief, but really, we cannot regard this season as a great success - we have had far too many slip ups.
It's somewhat ironic that the one match we won with a convincing 3½-½ score, was the one that was expunged after Bury E folded
at the beginning of the season.