Great result for Horsham 2

Horsham 2 made the long trek to play Hastings 1 away, more in hope than expectation, but defied the odds of an aggregate 140 grading points to share the spoils.

My own game was first to finish. My opponent’s opening system eschewing any early advance of the c pawn (d4, Bf4, Nc3, e4, h4) left me somewhat confused (it doesn’t take much) but I responded with my sole repertoire against a QP opening and seemed to do OK, so much so that after just 15 moves, white (graded 25 points higher) initiated a threefold repetition. I subsequently worked out that relative to the overall time I expended on the match inclusive of travel, each move was the equivalent of half an hour!

Phil’s game also finished fairly quickly. He employed the Ruy Gajewski variation (of which I’ve never heard, hope I’ve got that right, Phil!) against the Ruy Lopez which involves a pawn sacrifice for initiative. Unfortunately, some modest inaccuracies in subsequent play led to this rebounding on him with terminal consequences.

All three other games ‘went the distance’ with lengths of 42, 47 and 68 moves – Hastings have no time at which they have to vacate the building and as such there was not a 60-move cut off though they did at the outset generously offer this to us when given the distances involved. As it was, the unlimited length of the games led to some very good chess.

Dix established an element of initiative down a half open b file but ultimately came off second best against a very strong opponent in a complicated game. Subsequent analysis suggested that a difficult draw might still have been salvaged quite late on (indeed I understand he was OK up to move 39 of the 42 played) which would have made the final score even more creditable.

This left two games still outstanding with Horsham having to win both. Alex conducted a well-orchestrated attack and safely circumvented his way through various traps set by his opponent to enter an end game the exchange up which he swiftly converted into the full point.

Meanwhile Peter was involved in extended manoeuvring which seemed to be heading for a draw with just knights, queens and pawns left on the board. A clever tactic however won a pawn and also enabled the exchange of queens. Thereafter, despite fierce resistance from his opponent, Peter picked his way through the complexities of a knight endgame to tie the overall match.

Board Hastings 1 (Home) Result Horsham 2(Away)
1 Nicolas Varley 1-0 David N Roberts
2 Francis Rayner 1-0 Philip M Stimpson
3 John N Sugden 0-1 Peter Harbott
4 Howard L Tebbs 1/2-1/2 Chris W Heath
5 Brendan J Ruane 0-1 Alex B Taylor
2.5-2.5

Horsham 2 had White on odd-numbered boards.