|Clifton A||2-4||Downend A|
|James Cobb||0-1||Henry Duncanson|
|John Curtis||1-0||Chris Russell|
|Gareth Morris||0-1||Richard Savory|
|Duncan Grossett||0-1||Stephen Meek|
|Nick Frost||0.5-0.5||Nigel Hosken|
|David Collier||0.5-0.5||Jerry Humphreys|
Our title defence started with a tough match against a very strong Downend side.
David was the first to finish, after a short and placid game with Jerry. Not much to write about there. Nick and Nigel then also drew after a correct looking QID. Nick hasn’t played much recently, and it was good to see him back and playing well.
Dunc had an IQP position against Stephen, but not a particularly active one. The game seemed balanced though, until a mixture of vague play by Dunc and good play by Stephen led to a black advantage. The last I saw was Dunc giving up a rook, presumably to try to get a perpetual. It didn’t work.
My game finished next. Chris played very aggressively, including a piece sacrifice for a couple of my kingside pawns. He also had an unopposed bishop pointing at my king; the kind of bishop that chess players dream about. I wasn’t sure who (if anyone) was better, but I felt that I should be at least ok. It was easier to play for me too, since I spent most of the game just responding to Chris’s threats. We both got a bit short of time, Chris missed a tactic and then being a rook down, resigned. I think I’ll put that win down more to luck than judgement.
James played a French against Henry, with some early queenside expansion. It looked to me that Henry always had it under control, and one of the advanced pawns eventually dropped off. He then negotiated the traditional time scramble to secure the point.
Last to finish was Gareth. Richard seemed slightly better throughout, with a better pawn structure. Grim defence should have been the order of the day, but Gareth went for a sacrificial tactical solution instead. It didn’t work.
So, 4-2 to Downend, which is a fair reflection of the match. They must be favourites for the League this year, but as we found last year, the unexpected often happens.