Our last match of the season was a crucial relegation battle. We needed to score at least one and a half points on the night to send Marple B down. If we only scored one point (or less) then it was ourselves who would be relegated. No inspirational speeches were required this time - we knew what we had to do.....
David was first to finish. After his lengthy lay off, he has been able to regain match fitness really quickly and scored a very solid draw. Man of the moment, Tudor, was next to finish. Apparently the first 15 moves of his Kings Indian were all book moves but when the gloves finally came off, the middle game led to some sharp play. Unfortunately, Glenn took a few risks and his bold play paid off earning him the full point.
Keven managed to play his trusted Trompowsky and earned a valuable half point against a strong player. As per Kev: "Checked it on Fritz and a certain draw with Black never having an advantage
throughout. Given we only needed 1.5 points to stay up, I played a conservative
line of the Tromp which was not seriously tested by Black. If he tried to
force things on the Kingside, I would have been left with winning chances by
generating an outside A pawn -- hence he agreed the draw".
So we were 1-2 down - but were looking in good shape on the bottom 3 boards. I had got an edge in the opening against a Petrov and was able to transfer it into a winning same colour bishop end game. It secured a full point and made it 2-2 on the night - we were safe. I felt like Alastair Cook scoring the winning run!
Meanwhile, Bill was up against a Catalan specialist and did really well to equalize as black and then tried to set up a raid with Q and B but just couldn't quite break through and a draw was agreed. Nick seemed to be winning for long stages in his match and ended up a passed outside pawn up but the centre was quite blocked and his B couldn't get through against a strong defensive N - another important draw on the night though, and the match score finished 3-3.
So, we're obviously pleased to be staying in Division 2. The prospect of relegation was not a good one, not least because it would have meant playing on only 5 boards next season. We're fortunate that we have a good squad and we can rotate if necessary but juggling only 5 boards next season would have been difficult. I think we'll be stronger next season and obviously looking forward to playing our noisy neighbours from the A team.
A big thanks to everyone who turned out for us this season!
1/2 Paul Kirby (164) v Keven
1-0 Glenn Trueman (163) v Tudor
1/2 Andy Jenkins (130) v David
1/2 Terry Cowling (127) v Bill
0-1 David Preen (125) v Paul
1/2 Jeff Barlow (124) v Nick