Our last match of the season resulted in a narrow defeat against Surbiton A. A slightly disappointing result given the run of play, but the good news is that it was close enough to ensure us second place in the league and a clutch of virtual silver medals. Even if Surbiton win their last two matches 6-0 we’ll still half a game point ahead.
- Chris Briscoe (2156) 0:1 Gavin Wall (2284)
- Altaf Chaudhry (2070) 1:0 Mike Healey (2267)
- Angus James (2012) ½:½ Bertie Barlow (2006)
- Paul Dupré (1968) ½:½ Andrew Hebron (2020)
- Nick Faulks (1906) 1:0 Raghu Kamath (1885)
- Graham Alcock (1793) ½:½ Maks Gajowniczek (1750)
For most of the match I was expecting somewhere between 3:3 and 4:2 in our favour. Board 6 witnessed some solid chess between Maks and Graham, with early exchanges leading to a fairly quick draw. Chris went wrong in the opening and Gavin had few problems crushing him in short order, giving us an early lead. Bertie had a powerful looking pawn centre with most of the pieces still on the board. Raghu and Nick’s game had seen the major pieces traded off on an open file and they were continuing to play out a bishop ending which looked totally drawn. Mike was a pawn down in the ending but seemed to have good drawing chances against his lower rated opponent. Andrew had, as usual, played resourcefully to survive a dodgy King’s Indian Defence and his position now looked unclear.
But then things started to go wrong. Complications on board 3 led to a draw, but the post mortem suggested that Bertie had missed a win. Altaf produced some excellent endgame play against Mike and managed to get his extra pawn through, putting Surbiton level. Board 4 was eventually, and inevitably, drawn by perpetual check. Finallly, Raghu, short of time, miscalculated something in the ending and lost his bishop.
The final score, then, went rather against the run of play, but all credit to Altaf and Nick for their outstanding endgame skill, and to Angus and Paul for their tactical opportunism.
There are two lessons here for everyone: two vital attributes in today’s faster chess are the ability to play endings very well at speed and the ability to manage your time well. (I should add that this is not just something for younger players: Altaf and Nick are, like me, members of the older generation.)
Congratulations to Gavin on his impressive win, and thanks to all who played in this match and supported the team during the season. I’ll write a full report shortly.