Although we won 6-1 we didn't so much outplay our opponents - a lot of the games were fairly level up to a point - but we won in the critical moments. Chess is not like tennis, football or rugby. Make a mistake in those games and you can come back. In chess, one bad mistake and it can all be over. Let's have a look.
On Board One Tim was playing with black against one of South Bristol's strong juniors, T. Jeevananth (TJ to you and me) who opened with a solid English Opening (1.c4). It was a bit like a sparring match, lots of probing, feinting, ducking and diving but no real knockout punches. Eventually we arrive at the position below
How do you evaluate this position? Who is best and why? Have a good look and try to work it out.
Well, white has his pieces aimed at the black king but black is adequately defended with the R on e2 and Q on d2 covering everything. If you looking at this position purely from a tactical point of view, after white's next (Nh5) white has FOUR pieces aiming at the f6 pawn. Look again, though. Black has "the two bishops" and in an open position, bishops are better than knights because they cover a lot more squares. Black has no serious pawn weaknesses while white has a sickly backward, isolated pawn on e3. Furthermore the absence of white's white square bishop means that the white squares are very weak. Unless white has some powerful tactical resource, black is much better.
White played 26. Nh5? (26.Raf1 makes more sense) Be5 (cutting out all threats) 27.Qc4+ Bd5 (total central domination) 28.Qh4 Bxb2 29. Rxb2 Rxe3 (now white is a pawn down with no attack, but notice how easily he crumbles) 30.Rf1 Qe6 31 Rbf2 Re1 32.Nxf6 (desperation) gxf6 33. Rxf6 Qe3+ 34. Rf2 Rf8 and white resigns in a hopeless position. White made positional concessions to get an attack that wasn't there while Tim accumulated little plusses and ended up with an easy win!
On Board Two, Andrew was up against another strong junior, Walter Rogers. It was another example of how positional play can trump tactical opportunism. Here is the position very early in the game:
We are only seven moves in. Black is ahead in development with all his major pieces on good squares. White, however, has more space and threatens to expand rapidly on the queenside with moves like c5 and b5 hitting the bishop and knight. The motto is "respond to w wing attack with an attack in the centre" - very sensible - BUT not before you have castled and only after having considering your opponent's reply! Here Walter hit out with 7....e5?? anticipating 8.dxe5 when all is well. Andrew, however, played 8.b5 and after 8...Na5 9.dxe5 black lost a piece due to the fork on the Bd6 and Nf6. Black never recovered.
On Board Three Dan, with the black pieces played a Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and won a pawn very early in the opening. They arrived at this position:
So white is a pawn down but may be white has chances with a kingside pawn storm (g4, h4, h5) when a pawn means nothing. May be there is a possibilty of a sacrifice at some point (Nxe6, fxe6, Bxg6, hxg6, Qxe6+). Dan (black) has a pawn and no weaknesses, but he can't relax. So he plays e5! The point being that if Bxe5 the knight on g5 drops off! If Bg3 the Bg5 wins the knight and more. White never got back into the game.
On the next board Edward was playing another junior experienced junior Charliey Cooper who countered Edward's 1.e4 with the Sicilian 1...c5. Edward then played the Alapin Variation 2.c3 - which I think is the best try if white doesn't fancy studying the huge reams of analysis in the main lines. Within a couple of moves he had total control of the centre. Sometimes when chess feels too easy we relax and feel over-confident - I don't know. Edward played one careless move that lost a pawn for nothing. Thankfully Edward still had the better development and more space and eventually reached this position:
Technically black still has an advantage being a pawn up and Qc6 would be fine when Qxc6 bxc6 improves black's pawn structure and ejust leaves white a pawn down. The queen can't move as black threatens both Nxc2+ and Nxe4. Instead Charliey played Nd7? Unfortunately this knight had an important job to do on f6 - prevent Nd5!
So - after 12...Nd7 13.Nd5! Now black has to find Qb8 but plays Qc6 which loses further material after Qxc6, and Nc7+ - and soon after the game.