After narrowly overcoming Northwich in our last outing we faced our traditional rival’s for the title in Atherton. Going back a few years we would have probably started as narrow favorites in this fixture, however it had now been at least 3 seasons since we had scored a win against them.
We we’re without Marek Mazek again for this one who was unwell, however this created a welcome opportunity for Tom Quilter to make his debut for us. Tom an experienced player from the London area was playing his first longplay game for several years, nevertheless his former rating makes him our current highest graded player and he had no qualms about taking board one.
We began the match in a packed venue (our Richard Furness C team also had a fixture on V St Helens). After about half an hours play I took a stroll to look at the other boards, Tom on board 1 faced a very tricky gambit line in the ever trendy Jobova London system as Black. His position looked not worse but very complex and he was already down on the clock as a result.
Jonathan on board 2 seemed solid enough but his young opponent Ethan Norris, who seems to be rapidly improving seemed to have already achieved equality as Black.
I was a bit concerned by Rob’s lack of piece development on board 3 and wondered at a glance whether he may be in a bit of trouble during the early stages.
Ilya’s position on board 5, to me also looked a little awkward to play. In fact at that stage the only game I felt we may have an edge in was my own.
I was facing Peter Mulleady, new WDCL President for this year whom I have played numerous times over the years. Peter has recently started playing the adventurous Sveshnikov Sicilian and it was already making for an exciting double edged type of game, but I felt at least in the early stages that I was doing quite well.
The first result of the night was a very long time in coming as all games seemed set to go down to the wire. Robert on board 3 managed to overcome his early difficulties and hold Lee Kay to a draw. game below: 0.5 – 0.5
Jonathan on board 2 unfortunately suffered a rare loss. I haven’t played through the game but from what I saw his opponent looked to have played an extremely good game, obtaining more space and better squares for his pieces. 0.5-1.5
When I had another look at top board I was beginning to fear the match was turning against us, Tom having invested vast amounts of his clock time nullifying his opponents dangerous opening, now had under 5 minutes left to play out what looked like still a very complex middlegame. Tom however is an expert at blitz chess (something he has proved with a couple of recent victory’s at the local Swinton Rapidplay tournament’s) when the smoke had cleared it was Tom who emerged with the crucial full point to level the match. 1.5 – 1.5
Hamer V Quilter (click for fullscreen)
My own game was interesting in the fact that it was a game of contrasts. Peter may have gone slightly wrong in the opening allowing me to win 2 pawns on the queenside and with one of them a protected passed pawn on a6 my longterm prospects in the endgame were winning. In order to get to that point however I would first have to survive the middlegame! Peter definately had some compensation in the nature of a kingside pawnstorm against my own king. As I got down to my final 2 minutes on the clock this pressure should have counted as Peter missed a sharp chance to sacrifice and deliver checkmate. Full of relief the game finally reached an ending where the longterm advantage of the pawn on a6 counted. 2.5-1.5
The final game to finish almost straight after my own was Ilya’s on board 5. Ilya playing Atherton veteran Martin Lythgoe did well to stay in the game and was a pawn down in a rook and bishop ending. Ilya however displayed his usual fighting spirit that we have come to expect from him and played on well into the ending when finally Lythgoe succumbed to an unfortunate skewer which game us the match victory! 3.5 – 1.5
An excellent result which for the time being at least puts us into an early lead in this year’s title race.
The A team will be back in action on Monday against a newly resurgent Winwick side who are fresh from a seemingly comprehensive win against St Helens!