2019-20 Rounds 5+6: report

In a remarkable turn of fortune over the weekend, Ox1 charged up the table. We registered these results:

  • Oxford 1 beat Barnet Knights 1 5-3 and Guildford 3 4½-3 ½ ;
  • Oxford 2 drew 3-3 with Iceni 1 and beat Wessex B 3 ½ -2 ½ ;
  • Oxford 3 lost both matches 1 ½ -4 ½ to CSC 1 and 2 ½ -3 ½ to Ashfield 1;
  • Oxford 4 lost 1-5 to Cambridge Uni 3 before duffing up Celtic Tigers 3 by the same score;
  • Oxford 5 did not appear.

Let’s start at the top. Our Saturday victory over Barnet Knights 1 was entirely unexpected by your skip – and I suspect also the rest of the team. We were fairly heavily outgraded on paper but Matt produced another of his brilliancies against one of Barnet’s best juniors and Nakul (who scored 2/2) enjoyed his debut in Division 2 chess at the first attempt. Jason completed the win, everyone else bar Yuting drawing – and she, after a mid-game mind-block dropping a piece, was last to finish after giving her opponent mucho mucho trouble to convert said piece. We consolidated that result with a win over bottom team Guildford 3, Nakul and Phil H scoring the wins. We find ourselves in second place and could secure Div 2 safety when the much-delayed Rounds 1 & 2 are played at the end of this month. However our “second-team” players will not be eligible to bail us out then for first-team unavailability as they have done – creditably well! – in the last two weekends.

Ox2 badly needed points this weekend and gained three to climb to fifth in the table. Skip was at Daventry all weekend with Ox1, so has no real news on the games to impart: but he does hear that Koichi scored a spectacular finish on top board Saturday while James (1½/2, like Nick) & Justin were our Sunday winners. Ox2 need to win the Round 7 match with Cambridge University 2, and keep an eye on the Wessex B v WiB 2 / Iceni 1 v MKP 1 matches to secure Division 3 status for next season. Goal difference may be a factor.

Ox3 also needed results but it was a very tough weekend for them, paired with CSC 1’s strong outfit. Tomasz got the short straw, playing board 1 both days against strong customers – thanks to him for his willingness. Skip tweeted laconically about Ox3’s Sunday match: “Ox3 loss”, to which Ian responds: “It’s ½-2½ with me, Tashika and Cyril playing. I’m only carrying on in a dead lost position as Tashika and Cyril both look better to me, though I thought Tashika was probably drawn in a same coloured B+efgh v. B+efh. Then my oppo blunders horribly and I get a draw, and a few minutes later Tashika finds a way to sac her bishop to force a pawn through, this is definitely one to look out for when the PGNs come out, a classy win!” He adds that Cyril was headed for a Q+P endgame with a pawn or two up when the Bush car departed, but “’twasn’t to be“. Tricky things, endgames with surplus pawns. Skip knows this from his own Sunday endgame effort 2P up – draw, naturally.

Ox3 have a “dead rubber” in Round 7 before they enter the Relegation Pool with 2 points from 6. Their Round 8 opponents might be Ox2 if our other Div 3 team don’t squeeze into the Promotion Pool. Awkward.

Ox4 had a bit of a massacre on Saturday against the old enemy, Alan doing well to avert the whitewash with his win. But we bounced back against a rather weak Celtic Tigers 3 to end the weekend mid-table in Division 4s.

Travel was potentially tricky with Storm Ciara arriving on the Sunday. Two of the Ox1 number chose to follow their sat-nav to Daventry, which believed (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the A361 was closed at Chipping Warden. They and their passengers took, shall we say, the “scenic” route, one of them encountering a tree collapsed across one of the back roads. At least they arrived safely! Skip hopes they didn’t follow their sat-nav on the way back.

Before that storm hit, another of our number – who shall remain nameless, but you may hazard a guess – failed to show up for his lift. Skip was notified of this, so he sent a message via the Daventry arbiters to Maidenhead: “please put our reserve in”. Then skip promptly had a tricky opening, forgot about it until 2:55pm when he remembered to check his reserve was in and asked the Chief Arbiter to verify. Call made. “Can you confirm <reserve> is playing for Ox4?” “Player who missed his lift has turned up, no need to.” Say again?! It turns out he’d hopped on the train instead!!