We were at Telford for this weekend – the first time for this season, and the first time for a few seasons. Distance meant we could only field the second and third teams, who posted these results:
- Oxford 2 beat MASCeteers 4½-1 (default-related scoreline) and Sussex Martlets 3 4-2.
- Oxford 3 were trounced 0-6 by Desert Penguins then defeated War & Piece B 4½-1½.
- Oxford 4 were not present.
On Saturday, MASCeteers were a player short so Shambavi was left at home to claim a free point. Edgar was ready to play Mark Drugan but an emergency in Oxford 3 meant I dropped him to board 1 in that team and replaced him on board 5. Stefanus and Roman engaged in pin-related trickery that ended in one movebound opponent and another mated opponent. Jan reached a position where a perpetual was all that was available; sadly he tried to improve further and this did not work out. On top board Szymon was occupied for more than six hours holding a two-pawn down position. He managed it, impressively.
Not content with six hours’ Saturday play, Szymon doubled his board time on Sunday, being last to finish in the whole room for the second day running. Twelve hours in total, begor, and 172 moves. He may have overpressed a smidge, but Oxford 2 had already won by the time he was mated at move 99. Roman (2/2 for the weekend!), Edgar and Alex had already sewn up the points on the bottom three boards to go with Jan‘s Berlin draw on 2. Alex calmly defused a premature White attack; it seems to skip that White had to retreat the queen with 19. Qd1 but her Maj hadn’t charged out to g4 last move only to meekly return to base. No, she went boldly (rashly?) forward, hanging not only the c2 pawn but also the b2 bishop which could not be defended.
Stefanus‘s king worked tirelessly to save his half-point after his big passed b-pawn mysteriously went missing, going all the way to f7 and back while his counterpart dozed on h8.
What positive spin can skip put on a 0-6 Saturday start for the thirds? Edgar battled well against his IM opponent, Steve looked like he was stomping his opponent in a Closed Sicilian but skip forgot to count the rooks, for Steve was one light. Still, Steve’s attack looked promising. Had he inserted Bd5 at some point to prevent the deadly bishop being shut off on a2 with … c4, he might now be basking in “top game” status?
The thirds bounced back on Sunday. Richard won on the White side of a Panov Caro-Kann, several tactics netting Q v R. Phil got his centre pawns running and one quickly touched down. Barry took control of the centre and collected a free piece.
Neil tried to emulate Szymon’s stamina, being one of the last in the room to finish on both days. He declined three(!) draw offers pushing for a Sunday win, and perhaps missed Black’s move 43 when the pendulum swung. Skip makes it Neil occupied ten hours of board time over the weekend, sadly for zero return.
What was going on in Steve‘s game? His opponent contrived to bury his knight on h7 by move 25 (see picture); but then that same knight trapped the black King for a future endgame. We never got to one, for many (mis)adventures with pieces dropping off everywhere ended with the White king being mated in mid-board.
Top game. Having contemplated both of Steve‘s entertaining games, skip’s mind concentrated on other Black wins. Stefanus‘s Saturday win on 3 was a candidate, as was Alex‘s Sunday win. Phil‘s marching centre pawns were worthy of consideration. Skip gives the nod to Roman, as the only Oxford player with two wins. His Sunday effort was well-controlled.