Horsham 2 win to remain in Division 1 next year

A close home win against Hastings 2 sees us safe...

A bit of a delay with this report as I went on holiday the morning after the match! Hastings 2 comprised only their top board when the clocks started but shortly thereafter the rest of the team appeared and we were off in this crucial relegation battle...

On board 5 Ian was nonplussed by Marc Bryant's 1.a3!? and a draw offer - much though I personally enjoy 1. e4 c5 2.a3, as a first move a3 leaves something to be desired and Ian proceeded to build up a nice advantage against the White king stranded in the centre. The pressure resulted in material gains and Ian crashed through to win, one up to Horsham. On board 3 Paul captured a pawn on e4 in the Dutch against Steve Blewitt - I was convinced White would regain the pawn with a slight positional advantage but somehow he never did and Paul kept his material plus. This eventually became a positional advantage as well and Paul won the endgame, a 2-0 lead now opening up.

On board 1 I was worried, as Andrew Fleming seemed to have built up a strong attack against Phil's king on f8, with his rook also marooned out of the game. Phil deftly managed to neutralise the threats and reached a Q,B&Ps vs Q&R position which was agreed drawn. Nearly there! On board 4 James Wheeler played the same variation of the Philidor that I had used against Roy earlier in the season, and I was pleased to see Roy counter with the move order including b2-b3 which can be awkward for Black if they are unprepared. Sadly later in the game Roy was unable to hold the position, as by his own admission his opponent played very well and inflicted Roy's only Division 1 defeat this season.

Down to the captain then, and I had memories of a few seasons back when I lost to Alan Barton on board 2 in the same fixture. This time we had a quieter game with lots of exchanges, but when down to just major pieces Alan launched a kingside attack. I sacrificed a pawn to slow it down and obtain the c-file for my rooks, and their activity was plenty of compensation. In the end we reached a drawn double rook and pawn endgame which was agreed after analysis.

So 3-2 to Horsham and we will finish either 7th or 8th in the division depending on how well Haywards Heath do in their last two fixtures, either way we are safe. Well done to everyone who played for the team this year and we look forward to next season.

P. Stimpson 1/2-1/2 A.S.J. Fleming
A.R.J. Higgs 1/2-1/2 R.A. Barton
P. Taylor 1-0 S.J. Blewitt
R.D. Page 0-1 J.M. Wheeler
I.S. Comley 1-0 M.A. Bryant