Sitting in a cricket club in December staring at zero winning opportunities whilst your team slowly get outplayed on all boards is no fun for a captain looking for his club’s only chance of sliverware. But sadly that’s where I was.
But the stresses of amateur captaincy melted away when, peeking to my left, I witnessed some wild and mysterious chess on the board next to me. It was none other than Meadows vs. Nendick – and is surely a contender for game of the season:
The Magician from Riga, Mikhail Tal, had a knack of landing in an endgame just one point of material ahead after a mind-boggling middlegame with several sacrifices. That’s what Mike achieved here, and the queen was simply dominant over the two rooks.
Here are some of Phil’s thoughts as it happened:
Phil (black): “This got me out of book (!) so I spent quite a while trying to refute it. As it happens Fischer has played it so it’s probably not too bad.
After a6 and Ba4: The knight can now be embarrassed in some lines with Bd7 as it is now pinned to the bishop but I couldn’t make the tactics work. I decided instead for active defense.”
Phil: “I had initially planned 14…o-o the point being that White now has 2 pieces en prise so I’ll get one of them and I’ve got my king relatively safe. The problem is he can open it up with Bxg7.”
BCT: Phil played hxg3 instead
“This time 0-0 works well and maintains a healthy advantage”
BCT: Alas Phil grabbed the bishop and got his king in no-mans land (of course White’s king is in such a traditional place!)
Phil: “I thought this was pretty much forced as Qxe4 is coming with my king stuck in the middle but Qd6 again seems to hold the balance (if you’re a computer)”
Phil: “I thought I would try and make something of my kingside majority but hanging on to the queenside and hoping for a draw would probably have been more prudent”
BCT: It was very tough to defend after this because the rooks had no active plans, any attempt to move them up the board falls to nasty queen-checks. It was all lost at this point and I could tell Mike was much more comfortable. A great win and an overwhelming performance from the Downend team.
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Mike is co-editor of the Bristol Chess Times and plays regular league and tournament chess