Like many matches, the play in the first hour and a half looked fairly even across all the boards.
Daniel O’Dowd (B) slowly developed his pieces against Jeremy Handley’s favourite Sicilian variation, and Dave Jackson piled forward with a central push from his English opening with Phil Taylor steadily countering, while Peter Crichton and Jason Maxwell balanced each other with thrusts developed, a passed pawn contained and a very even position overall- perhaps with a slight edge to Peter.
In the game between Bruce Reed and Bill Burgess black developed a strong pawn counterattack on white’s castled kingside backed up by minor pieces and then the queen.
In the final half hour it all slowly changed.
Phil’s explanation of how he lost began with a minor lapse: “The game was fairly even until my position drifted away from me and I made a tactical error on move 27 losing a pawn. I was tired and playing too quickly and that’s never good against a similarly graded opponent. Eventually the game drifted even further away from me and I was left trying to get a result on time (my opponent was down to his last 3 minutes). When facing a barrage of pawns with only a rook to defend against them 3 minutes can be an awfully long time and it soon became apparent that it would be enough for my opponent to defeat me. ”
Peter Crichton, in a three pawn and minor pieces end game, explained “I suddenly lost a pawn, and although the rook and pawn ending was still ‘theoretically drawn I managed to lose.”
Bruce was slightly more fortunate as his opponent allowed him first to take control of an open d file, then to move his queen into a very attacking position, which, in combination with an advancing H file pawn, a rook and a knight quickly trapped the black queen as black tried to counter, and then overran his opponent’s king’s side defences – and secured a rare mate as Bill sought to promote a passed pawn.
Jeremy swapped a rook for a knight to break up the slowly building pressure in the middle game, and gradually become overwhelmed by Daniel’s well co-ordinated attack. Daniel’s excellent performances in the British championship (especially his second place in the under 160 section) suggest his current grading belies his real chess strength.
Match points (Handicap points in brackets)
Jeremy Handley (2) 0 4 (3) Daniel O’Dowd (white)
Peter Crichton (3) 0 4 (3) Jason Maxwell (black)
Phil Taylor (4) 0 4 (4) Dave Jackson (white)
Bruce Reed (4) 4 0 (5) Bill Burgess (black)
(13) 4 12 (15)
Combined totals 17 27