And so it begins again. We always seem to outgrade Hemel, sometimes by a large margin, sometimes
by a small one like last night, but always have difficulty. We've only beaten them twice, both narrowly, in the last
eight matches played, and this was to be no different. Though we missed Andrew and Ray, they missed Dignam and Gilfillan.
Spanking new tables (captains have to crack the whip at the start of the season with
a bit of S&M to shed the cobwebs) courtesy of Barry's efforts (the tables not the ...), and despite Watford hosting three
matches it was very comfortable.
On 2, Ed's lucky black coat was lured out of the wardrobe and flourished, but his Panov c-pawn
was lured to c6, where it sadly perished. Ed had pressure as compensation and Howard Tebbs had to be accurate in defence,
which took time. Tebbs survived and Ed could not make further inroads, so drawn at the time control.
On 3, Steve Law took Jerry right out of the Scheveningen theory by putting his knights and bishops
in odd places, and had a strong initiative, but despite big central knights and command of the f-file, Law was unable to dent
Jerry's solid defence. Jerry survived and a draw was agreed at the time control.
On 4, Roger had the most promising position at half-way, marshalled his forces behind a k-side
pawn push, but Dan Lambourne held firm, and a draw was agreed at the time control.
But things looked bleak overall. On 1, Venkat had been under the cosh from early on, and had
done well to break out with a q-side pawn advance to make Phil Bonafont think. I must confess I had contributed. I set up
Venkat's board with small black pawns, all about 7/8ths of the white ones, so it looked as though Venkat was giving pawn odds.
On 5, Mace, alone of the team playing to a finish, had been worse against a 2.Nc3 Tromp throughout,
with Kevin Williamson giving up a pawn and keeping Mace's king in the centre, but Mace was defending valiantly. With both players down to their last two minutes, and Williamson's heavy brigade trebled on the f-file,
Mace goes for one last sortie based on a3 and Qb2 mate tactics, but sadly white's Rf6xg6+ and Qxf8+ mated first. So it was
all down to Venkat to save the match.
Bonafont was probably winning outright around moves 25-28, but was unable to find the telling
strike, and Venkat's counterplay won him the exchange after Bonafont's oversight. At adjournment Venkat's advantage might
be decisive, and draw us the match. This would be an escape.
H Hempstead 1 (Hemel white on odd)
1 : Tiruchirapalli, Venkat. 217 P-P Bonafont,
Philip R 184
2 : Holland, Edward N 188
draw Tebbs, Howard 178
3 : Rudge, Jerry F 175 draw
Law, Stephen 172
4 : Lancaster,
Roger 165 draw Lambourne, Dan 166
: Carnochan, Mace 162 0-1 Williamson,
Kevin J 159
Match Score :
1.5 - 2.5, +1 unfinished