Just last week saw Horfield just edge out Clifton in their much anticipated mega-match (read all about it here) to sit pretty on 16pts/9. The other ‘big three’ A teams are predictably in the chasing pack, with Bath joining Clifton and Downend after a long winning streak. At the other end, the University have been unlucky not to jump out of the relegation battle, joining South Bristol, Clifton B and Clevedon in what will be an interesting battle after the Christmas break.
Another mega-match saw Horfield on the losing end this time – the fearless South Bristol B pipped them to draw level at the top of the table – with Clevedon B in hot pursuit. Another club to watch are former division 1 team Grendel, now in a new venue and lurking with a few games in hand. They beat Downend C to propel up the league and leave their opponents staring at the relegation zone with their counterparts Downend D and Cabot A.
Hats off to Yate! They remain the only team in the land on 100% – let’s see how long they can keep it up. Looks like a three-horse race at the moment between them, Keynsham and Clifton C. Downend E are seeing the benefit of the club’s strong junior academy, the young guns winning their first match for them against Bath B – it’s all a bit too close to call at the bottom of the table.
Newcomers North Bristol B are sailing this ship steady – a game in hand and still top of the league. Their C team not faring too badly either; and it’s also great to see the University C team and Clevedon C team turning out regular sides – again seeing the benefits of coaching juniors. Quite ridiculously, there is only a 6 point gap between 1st and 12th in division 4! Literally anything could happen after Christmas!
Game of the Month
With the recent Winter Congress and the usual league action, we were spoilt for choice. Steve’s positional squeeze to win the Horfield-Clifton match mentioned above was a contender, as was Kandara’s 10-mover in the minor section of the congress (with 3/3 in the first three rounds, she surely had her much older opposition quaking with fear!). But we have to go for the sheer fun of the following game from the open section. Lewis Martin vs. Oliver Howell. – Play through full game. (game 3.3)
It started with an advance French; with early pawn advances on both wings and with 11.Kf2 by white you know you’re in for a lively game…
f6 in the above diagram is a typical move for Black in these sorts of structures; without it White gets to play a pressuring attack with a lot more space. With it, White has to find something more dynamic as it allows Black some dynamic play of his own. The game continued until this tactical position was reached below…
Talk about a dynamic position! Both kings are looking fairly open here. A few pieces come off in the middle and it’s a case of who can get to the king or spot the big tactics!
The game continued until white found the lovely defensive retreat 28. Nf3! in the diagram below. A cool retreat that covers the checks. A knight next to a king is a remarkable defender!
Here follows a long line where the queens come off: after 28..Nxd4! distracting the f3 knight, so forcing white to swap queens with 29. Nxg5.
Even though the knight has just taken the queen, the black rook on h7 was under threat so instead came rh2+ and rook takes queen.
However, in the final diagram below, Lewis had a final trick of Rxa6 Bxa6 and Nb4! Forking two pieces and there was no real way out.
Lewis wrapped up the game and went on to 4/5 – drawing with GM Keith Arkell in the process – a fantastic result. Join us next time for December where the fun of the KO cup begins and the Christmas #1 spots are finalised.
Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.